In case you missed the start of this story… Then come on back for Part 2!
The school day ends like any other day. I drifted through the high school hallways like an invisible princess, wearing an invisible crown, in search for my visible prince. My life is the kind of fairy tale girls envy. The girls who wish they were invisible, that is.
“Jay! We’re late for practice! Let’s jet before coach makes us do crawling push-ups across the field again!” Ben says loudly from near my locker.
Ben says everything loudly. But blond Ben is not who I’m listening for. Who I’m fixed on. Jason, Jay, my visible/invisible prince with dark waves that match his dark brown eyes, borrowed my pencil this morning. Visible because I can see him. Invisible because he can’t see me. He still has my pencil.
Just as I reach my locker, Ben and Jay slam their lockers closed and walk past me. No “Hey, what’s up?” No, “Thanks for the pencil.” Because no one can see the invisible girl.
My pencil! He stuck it to my locker, just above my combination lock. With the help of chewed up bubblegum. I glance left and right to make sure I don’t have an audience, pull off the pencil with the gum still stuck to it and pop the small pink wad into my mouth.
It’s still soft and sugary. Sweet gift from my prince. Knowing it was in his mouth first is enough to make me dizzy. A part of him is inside me now. I lean my back against my locker and stare down the hallway at Jay’s back. Like he senses I’m searching for him, suddenly Jay turns, catches my eye, and yells, “Thanks for the…” I hold the pencil up in the air. “Yeah! Thanks Mean-a!” Then he disappears around the corner to the boys’ locker room.
As I spin my combination, Margo, prom queen shoe-in, shoots a dart through the air. “Ewwww! Did you see what she did? Nas-to-the-ty!”
“Not even my two-year old sister would do that!” Lena, Margo’s shorter side-kick, aims her darts a little closer. “After school snack taste good, Meena? Be sure to share some recycled gum with the rest of us next time.” Followed by a birage of swords as the girls push past me and laugh even louder.
“Want some now?” I pull out a string of gum with a wide grin on my face. No one will steal this moment for me.
The girls make like I’m a leper the way they run down the hallway with Margo screaming, “Yuck to the yuckity yuck!” and Lena bellowing, “No thanks! Next time! Fo sho!”
As I walk home, I debate skipping school tomorrow. Texts and status updates about me and my bubblegum chew will be all over school before I enter my house. News never traveled so fast since the school pushed a must have a cellphone mandate on all students. Juicy news travels even faster.
Now that the juice of the gum has waned, I pull out my ziplock from my brown bag as I keep walking. Always in the habit of recycling. Always. I push the pink treasure into the center and zip my treasure closed. Then I push it flat and manipulate it until it resembles a soft-edged heart. Satisfied with the preservation of Jay’s first gift to me, I slip the ziplock between two textbooks, throw my pack back on my shoulder, and spend the last two blocks rehearsing his second gift to me. “Thanks Meana. Thanks Meana! Thanks Mean-a. Thanks…”
He knows my name. He knows I like pink. He knows a little. He knows nothing, still. But I want to think he knows something. So I let myself believe he does. Know me. Meena. Another day of me. Just me.
Continue to Part Three
Have you ever saved a chewed up piece of gum for later? Or used a wad of gum in an emergency when a piece of Scotch tape wasn’t available? Name one of the strangest things you saved when you were in crush? Still have it?