Welcome back to Tales on Tuesday! Please enjoy volume 2 of Check Yes or No.
After what felt like five spring breaks, it was finally Monday morning again. I’d never been more thankful to be going back to school. I just hoped that Marcus was wrong, or that Lily had come to her senses over the vacation. Either way was okay with me, so long as she kept her distance. The bus ride to school was normal, uneventful. So was school, and by the end of the day, I was wondering why I’d been so glad to go back.
I stood behind Lily in line for the bus, and noticed that she was wearing a pink dress. That seemed odd to me. I hadn’t noticed all day, for one thing, and for another, I’d never seen her in anything but jeans and a t-shirt. Why was she wearing a dress? And what was even weirder was that she had pink bows in her hair. I thought she lived with just her dad. That’s what Jennifer had said anyway. Her mom . . . well, she didn’t talk about her mom, so we weren’t really sure what the back story was there. But dads didn’t buy pink hair bows, did they? By the time we climbed aboard the bus, there was only one seat left. I sighed heavily. I would have to sit next to Lily. She scooted over to the window side of the seat and I plopped down next to her reluctantly.
The ride home was awkward to say the least. All I could think of the whole time I was stuck sitting next to her was, was Marcus telling the truth? Does she really like me? I got my answer just as it was my turn to get off the bus. I adjusted my backpack to get ready to stand and she leaned over and kissed me right on the cheek. A girl kissed me! I couldn’t believe it. I chanced a quick glance over at her and she was the reddest I’d ever seen her. We weren’t quite to my stop yet, so I hissed at her, “What do you think you’re doing?”
“I’m sorry,” she whispered shyly.
I glared at her one more time for good measure and then turned in my seat, scooting as far away from her as I could. The driver pulled up to my driveway then, and I looked over at Lily one more time.
She had a single tear slipping down each cheek. “Please don’t tell anyone that I did that,” she murmured. “Please?”
She was so weak and shy in that moment that I wasn’t sure how to respond. So I did what any sane red-blooded American boy would do. I agreed with the pretty girl. “Of course not. I won’t tell anybody.”
I felt oddly satisfied when I got off the bus. It seemed that Jennifer and Marcus were right. Lily did like me. That was what it meant when a girl kissed you, wasn’t it? I wanted nothing more than to ask my older brother, but I’d promised her I wouldn’t. So instead, at the ripe old age of eight, I was stuck figuring out girls on my own.
I didn’t know how to react to Lily’s kiss, so the next day I did the only thing I could think of. I smiled at her whenever she looked at me in the classroom, and then, during recess, I chased her all over the playground. She was swinging on the monkey bars when I first spotted her, and I ran over there, climbing up behind her. I was sure I’d be able to take her, but she was strong for a girl. She had an easier time holding her weight up on the bars than I did – and I was good at monkey bars, if I did say so myself. I’d barely made it a third of the way across when she was climbing off on the other end. She immediately took off for the merry-go-round and I dropped to the ground, not caring that I hadn’t completed the task of working my way across the bars. I darted around Jason Smith and his cronies, keeping my eye on Lily as she jumped on the merry-go-round. I was glad to see that she didn’t fall off as she climbed aboard.
She noticed me running after her, and blushed that brilliant shade of red that I’d noticed on her very first day. She took off running, again before I’d caught up with her. Unfortunately for me, the bell signaling the end of recess chimed before I ever caught her. I was afraid I’d lost my opportunity to try to talk to her about the kiss, even if it was just a peck on the cheek. I wondered why she had done it, and even more than that, I wondered why she’d asked me not to tell.
Our first lesson after recess was math. It was dreadfully easy for me, and I often found myself not paying attention to Mrs. Rose. She had handed a stack of worksheets to the student in the front of each row, and it was the ol’ “take one, pass them back” routine. When Lily turned around to pass me the last worksheet (as I was in the back seat), I saw a folded slip of paper stacked with my math paper. I carefully unfolded it and read
Do you love me?
Do you wanna be my friend?
And if you do, well, then don’t be afraid to take me by the hand.
I think this is how love goes.
Underneath were two small boxes, one next to the word yes and the other next to the word no. No sooner had I finished reading than Mrs. Rose walked down the row and rapped my desk sharply with her yardstick. “Something more interesting than math, Peter?”
“Er, no, ma’am,” I lied quickly, trying to hide Lily’s note. I was not fast enough for Mrs. Rose, though. She pulled the paper out of my hand and glanced swiftly down at it.
She looked from me to Lily and back again, and then said quietly, “I’d like to see the two of you after school today.”
Taking my note with her, she walked back to the front of the room to continue the lesson. I gaped after the teacher, desperately wanting that note back. If anyone asked me out loud which way I’d respond to that note, I’d tell them that I was going to check the “no” box, obviously. But if I was being honest with myself, I was totally ready to check the “yes” box. The girl had kissed me after all; the least I could do was be her friend.
The rest of school passed both too fast and too slowly at the same time. I was terrified of having to see Mrs. Rose after school, but at the same time, kind of excited about talking to Lily. It was amazing how in just over a week, I’d gone from thinking my mom was an absolute nut job for suggesting that I’d ever one day like a girl to this: actually considering becoming friends with one. I stood nervously next to Lily in front of Mrs. Rose’s desk after school. I hoped she wouldn’t talk too long; I didn’t want to miss the bus. Then I’d really be in trouble, if my mom had to come pick me up. Luckily, she got right to the chase. “I think it’s great that you guys are friends, but next time, let’s keep the note passing to your time instead of mine, okay?”
Lily turned that brilliant shade of red again, and even I felt the tips of my ears burning. “Yes, Mrs. Rose,” we chimed together.
Join me next week for the next installment of Peter and Lily’s story! (I have a Schoolhouse Review Crew that day as well, so Tales on Tuesday will hit in the afternoon.)