3:00 p.m. The favorite time of students, not because they have a fascination with the number three, or because there’s a special promo in the pizza parlor at that time, but because it’s their time to escape from what they thought of as their prison - the classroom.
Freedom. Such a wonderful word. As the sea of students flowed, rushing to the doors of the gates that would lead to their definition of salvation (and strawberry and chocolate milkshakes), one solitary figure seemed hesitant to join in the festivities.
Jenna stood in front of her locker, her hand�on the handle. Taking a deep breath, she opened it, and breathed a sigh of relief when she saw a yellow piece of paper folded neatly on top of her books. Geoffrey, she thought, her mouth quirking. Her cheesy best friend, or, she amended in her head, her former best friend. Now she doesn’t really know what their status is. Hurriedly, she�opened the piece of paper and she saw what she expected. Only one word appeared on it: Sherwood. She seemed to understand it though, because�she closed�her locker and then�she grabbed her bag, racing off to join the sea of people but veering off to turn at the corner to go to the woods.
“Nice of you to join me,” Geoffrey said, a little smile on his face as he saw Jenna approach. “What kept you?”
“Oh, you know, the typical problem of one who has to walk on foot instead of driving,” Jenna quipped, being too used to Geoff’s sense of humor to be annoyed. “What’s up?”
“Nothing much,” Geoffrey said, trying (and failing, Jenna thought) to look coolly bored.
“Really?” Jenna asked. “Why did you make me come here then? We haven’t been here since when we were seven and…”
“We hid from the eleven year olds,” Geoffrey finished for her, a hint of laughter in his voice because of the memory. “Yeah. I guess I just miss this place.”
“And?” Jenna prompted, knowing he wasn’t finished yet.
“And I want to talk to you privately. What’s going on between us, Jenna? It’s like we’re more than friends, but not really.”
“I don’t know,” she sighed. “You know the situation. I can’t go out with anyone until I’m twenty, which is three years from now. Besides,” she added with a hint of bitterness, “You have Ashley anyway.”
“Ashley is nothing,” Geoffrey dismissed. Catching the look on Jenna’s face, he amended, “I’m not playing her or anything. She’s the one who thinks that I’m into her, and that’s never going to be the case,” he said vehemently.
“What then?” Jenna asked.
“What’s with the age rule, anyway? A lot of kids our age are in relationships now, why couldn’t we?”
“That’s because I promised my parents, ok?” Jenna said. “I know you or the other kids may not understand, but I respect their decision. What about you?”
Geoffrey went silent.
“I see,” Jenna said, rising from the fallen tree trunk she was perched on and picking her bag. She walked away, not turning back, in case Geoffrey sees her tears.
3:00 p.m. Like a bunch of kindergarteners fed gallons of sugar during snacktime, the usual crowd of people rushed out of the school, clearing the area out in five minutes past, which was more than you can say in the morning,�when they would trudge to go to school �for 30 minutes when it’s just a five minute-walk. Again, a solitary figure was left by the crowd, staring at her locker.
Again, Jenna had her hand on her locker door, but unlike yesterday when she was excited, now she was just tired, her shoulders drooping. Geoffrey seemed to avoid her the entire day. Hurt, she also ignored him, even when he approached her during lunchtime and making him leave almost immediately, grabbing his tray and hanging out with his basketball buddies. She almost didn’t open her locker, but, peering outside and seeing that the skies were suspiciously dark and cloudy, she tugged the door to get her umbrella. A yellow note fluttered and fell on the floor. Her heart pounding, Jenna picked it up. Pulling it open slowly, she felt tears gather at the corners of her eyes when she read what was written there.
I’ll be waiting.