"Oh, my! She really did that?" Amy, another member of my friendship circle asks over lunch. I just told her what happened at first period and they were all in awe with Lea. Still is, as a matter of fact.
"Yeah, she did. It was awesome. At least somebody actually stood up for Jill," I reply.
"Who did what now?" Someone from behind me asks. I turned around in my seat with a really huge grin on my face. It’s my boyfriend, Matt. "Mind if I sit here?" He asks coyly, pointing at the seat I reserved for him. He sits down and I immediately reach for his hand to hold while he’s eating. Everyone in the table makes gagging gestures or rolls their eyes. I stick out my tongue at them in return.
That’s right. I’m actually the only one with the boyfriend in our group.
Lea, the sweet and pretty and nice Lea doesn’t have one. It’s actually kind of a surprise because she’s the most girlfriend-material in our group. When someone asks her about it, she just says she’s not ready yet. Well, we all know, she has some pretty high standards with the guys. And frankly speaking, her class and elegance and amazing table etiquette does make a person feel intimidated.
Amy, the chatty one is a bit of a tomboy, so I'm not at all surprised there. She’s a girl, through and through, no questions asked. But when it comes to boys, she’d just rather hang out with them or fight with them. Whichever is more fun for her at the moment. I don’t know, I think she’s currently exploring the world of casual dates since this summer and she did say she and a boy from another town (she went to her grandmother’s house last summer) have been texting each other ever since she got back. I hope it all goes well. She’s really kind at heart, underneath all that tough exterior.
Another of my friends is Cara. She’s Asian, Filipina in fact. She’s the brains of our group and our go-to for the tough questions and all of us consider ourselves lucky if we get to sit beside her during the major exams. She doesn’t have a boyfriend because… well, that’s just how Asians are, I guess. She said her parents don’t want her to have a boyfriend until she’s done with school (and I'm talking college here, folks!) and well, she’s OK with that. Apparently, from where she’s from, education is the priority. Not that I'm complaining, I actually benefit from that belief.
So yeah, there are four of us and Matt. I met Matt when we were freshmen. I never really noticed him until last year, during one of our computer classes and I was having trouble with how the computer works (the computer’s fine, it’s just that I think, I may not be the techy-type) and he helped me with it in time for the submission of our files. I thanked him after class and I can’t help but wonder… why is someone so cute as him to be THAT great with the computer? Well, anyway, long story short, he asked me out after that and then after a few months of steady dates, we’re officially together. And what makes our relationship so perfect is that he can be surrounded with a dozen pretty girls, but I know he’s all mine. He just has that effect on me. Like when he looks at me with those green eyes, I know he’s mine and just mine. Not that there’s any girl I should keep a lookout on, mind you. I guess most girls prefer the sporty and tan type, not the pale and nerdy cutie type. Huh. Works for me.
"Wow, Lea! And on the first day of school, too!" Matt exclaims in awe when he heard the story.
"You guys, you're all making a big deal out of it. It’s fine, it isn’t like she can do any real damage to me," Lea says, blushing.
"You're right. But, man! That’s gonna go down in the gossip history! Lea Matthews strikes again!" Amy says. "At the rate you're going, you're gonna be more badass than me!"
"No, she’s not, Amy. No other girl in this group is going to be more badass than you," Cara pipes in. At that, we all laugh.
"Wanna take a stroll on the grounds before the next subject?" Matt asks me, those eyes of his full of meaning.
I feel a little warm at his words and I know I'm blushing. The girls make some whistling sounds at us as we walk hand in hand out of the cafeteria. We all know there’s not gonna be much walking done so much as making out. And the making out part is what I'm anticipating. Matt is a good kisser. For a nerd. Haha.
Before we get to our secret spot though, I saw Jill sitting by herself on a bench, eating a sandwich all by herself. We keep walking a little when I couldn’t take it anymore.
"Matt, wait," I tug at his hand to make him stop. I look at Jill who’s still oblivious that someone’s looking at her.
Matt followed my gaze. "Come on, let’s go to her," he says with a smile. I melt at his words. He’s just really kind.
"Hey, Jill!" I say, sitting next to her. "Why are you all alone here? Don’t you wanna eat in the cafeteria?"
"No," she replies dully.
"Why not?" I ask, a little too late to realize my mistake.
"Cassie is there," she says, fear and sadness and rejection in her voice.
"Nonsense, you can sit with us! Amy, Lea, and Cara are still there. You can finish your sandwich with us!" I stand up and offer my hand to her by way of inviting her.
"No, thanks. You shouldn’t really associate yourself with the hippo," I feel sad about her sadness. I mean, this girl who is beautiful in her own way shouldn’t be made fun of by anyone.
"You're not a hippo, Jill. You shouldn’t believe what Cassie says. She’s dumb and you're smart. She’s just jealous of you, that’s why she’s always picking on you. Don’t worry about her. Amy and Lea will be there to protect you," I tell her confidently.
At that, Jill smiles, a little tentatively at first, "Is it really OK?"
"Of course," I smile at her.
She smiles fully then, packing her sandwich again, walking behind Matt and me.
"You’re amazing. I love you," Matt leans in and whispers in my ear.
My insides feel like butterflies suddenly waking up from a deep slumber which decided to fly around. I love how he makes me feel all butterfly-ish inside.
"I love you too," I reply. Never mind that I didn’t get to kiss my boyfriend, at least I made a friend.
The girls are thrilled over having Jill at our table for the remainder of lunch and I can tell Jill is having fun with them, too. Come to think of it, I never did see Jill with a friend before. She’s always alone wherever she goes. Maybe that’s why Cassie likes picking on her so much. Because nobody is there to protect her.
"Hey, Jill," I suddenly say, "From now on, we want you to have lunch with us. All six of us. What do you say?" I ask her. I know, I haven’t asked the girls, yet, whether or not they want her there during lunch, but the looks on their happy faces are enough to let me know that they also think it’s a good idea.
"Well… if it isn’t too much trouble for you, guys," Jill replies shyly.
"Are you kidding?! We’d love to have you here! Now we got two brainiacs! Ha! I’ll show them I can scrape a good 'B' or even an 'A'!" Says Amy. We all laugh, even Jill.
And from that day on, we got our new addition.