I started writing this short story a few years ago when I realized that grown women at or about my age were still acting like the pre-teen and teenage girls I remember from my youth. While I had my share of good friends who were able to be friends with anyone regardless of their social stature and popularity, there were some girls who could not help being competitive and catty. Unfortunately, some of these girls grew up to be exaggerrated versions of their younger selves. While the subject of the competition and jealousy might be different, when we are grown ups, it is still evident in all social circles. Being the type of person who avoided and still avoids the pushy, catty girls and women, when writing this story, I may have presented the jealous, competitive girls in a less flattering light....but I do believe that being nice and uncomplicated is always the best choice and will reap the better relationships in the end. I hope that this simple story inspires my daughter and other girls to take the less "high maintenance" road to friendships and relationships.....and life.
Deana looked in the mirror. The jeans and top her mom bought for her were just right. If there was time she would make coffee. Mom drank instant most days. Usually, they rushed around getting ready for school and work, but today was Tuesday and Deana woke up early so that she wouldn’t have to. Deana tried to look her best every Tuesday because that was the day she saw “him”. Deana did not know his name. He was just a guy she saw every Tuesday as she walked from English to Art. In the beginning of the year, they would just pass each other by. Lately, Deana noticed that he smiled at her.
When she told her friend Chrissy about “him”, she just rolled her eyes and said, “are you kidding me? You don’t even know who he hangs out with.” Deana wished she had never told Chrissy. Chrissy always teased her. Deana thought Chrissy was a friend, when they met, but now she kept their relationship at a strictly social level and did not confide in her.
Deana grabbed her books and purse and went down to the kitchen. Looking at the clock, Deana put on the coffee and got herself cereal. While she ate, she thought about seeing “him”. “You’re up early,” said mom as she enterred the kitchen. “I just felt like being on time for a change and not rushing like we usually do,” replied Deana. “The coffee smells delicious.” “I just wanted to thank you for the outfit; it’s perfect,” said Deana.
“You’re welcome,” responded mom, “I shouldn’t be late, how about we go out to the new pizza place tonight?” “Sure, will Nick be joining us?” Nick was mom’s new “friend”. It had been three years since Deana’s parents got divorced and her mom had just started seeing Nick. They had met at work and he was a nice guy. Deana could not find a reason not to like him; he made her mom happy. “Not tonight; I enjoy spending time with Nick, but tonight is just for us,” said mom.
Deana finished her cereal and cleared her bowl while mom finished her coffee. “That was good,” sighed mom, “Let’s get going; we’re actually ahead of schedule.” Just then, mom’s phone rang. Deana locked up while mom answered the call. Mom mouthed “sorry” to Deana which indicated she’d be on the phone for all of the ride to school. Deana didn’t mind. She liked to daydream as mom drove. Deana had two things to look forward to today, seeing “him” and going out to dinner with her mom. Some of her friends didn’t understand how Deana actually liked spending time with her mom. Since the divorce, Deana and her mom had become closer. As they approached school, mom asked the caller to hold on. “Goodbye sweetie,” she said and gave Deana a kiss, “have a great day.” “Love you,” said Deana. “Love you too,” said mom as the door closed.
Off to homeroom, thought Deana as she waved and said hello to a few of her friends. As she approached her class, she saw Misty waiting in the hallway. “Misty, what’s wrong?” “I’m just waiting for Chrissy,” answered Misty, “I’m not sure if I should go to Astrid’s party.” “I’m going, it should be fun,” responded Deana. “Here comes Chrissy, I’ll ask her,” said Misty. “Sure, whatever,” replied Deana, “hey Chrissy, see you guys later.” “Too bad Misty can’t make up her own mind about the party,” thought Deana, “she’s a nice girl, but totally dependent on Chrissy.” Deana thought it was odd how some girls could not do anything without someone else’s approval.
“Hey girls,” said Chrissy, “Rushing off to see your boyfriend Deana?” Before Deana could answer, Chrissy was already telling Misty about Deana’s crush on the “guy”. “It’s really nothing Misty, see you later,” said Deana, as she walked to her class room. She could hear Chrissy laughing. It’s too bad she had trusted her. Chrissy was the first of their group to have a boyfriend so she thought she was the official on relationships and dating. In fact, Chrissy thought she knew it all about everything.
Misty couldn’t do a single thing without getting Chrissy’s approval first. Deana could not understand that. Chrissy was always in competition with the other girls, especially her cousin Margaret. They were close one day and not speaking the next. Too bad, they both had such nice boyfriends. Josh and P.J. were nice guys. If only.....
“Miss Gregory, are you with us today?” asked Mr. Kemble. “Sorry,” answered Deana, blushing. “Well then,” he continued, “you have been selected to represent our school in the math competition at Cliffside High School. Report to Ms. Simpson’s room after school for details.” Deana was shocked as several of her classmates congratulated her. “Okay class settle down; on another note you will be able to order your class rings.....”
When the bell rang, Deana almost ran to her first class. She wanted to tell her friends her news. “Hi Deana,” called Daphne, “I love your sweater.” “Thanks Daphne, guess what ...” gushed Deana. Deana told Daphne how Mr. Kemble caught her off guard and then told her she was chosen for the competition. Daphne answered with a big hug, “I’m so happy for you.”
First period dragged. Deana was too excited to concentrate. Finally, the bell rang, “see you later Daphne.” Deana casually walked to Art. Hopefully, she would see him... and there he is! Is he smiling? “Hi,” smiled the guy. “Hi,” said Deana as she passed, right before her cheeks turned beet red. What a great day she was having!
Only a nasal annoying voice could ruin it. “Did you see lover boy?” called Chrissy. “Deana do you have a boyfriend, who is he?" asked Margaret. “No, Margaret, it’s nothing,” responded Deana. Of course, Chrissy told Margaret the details. Deana was very pleased when Ms. Murray asked both girls to “zip it.”
When the bell rang, Deana left quickly. “See you guys at lunch.” Margaret and Chrissy waved. “What’s up with her?” asked Margaret testily. “Who knows? By the way are you going to Astrid’s?” asked Chrissy.
They deserve each other thought Deana. The day dragged. Finally, it was lunch period. On her way into the cafeteria, Deana ran into Astrid. “Hi Astrid, I can’t wait until your party,” exclaimed Deana, “I’m sure it will be a lot of fun.” “You can bring a date if you like Deana,” answered Astrid. “Thanks,” blushed Deana, “but probably not. Why don’t you sit with us today?” “Matthew likes to sit with the guys and I always sit with him,” answered Astrid. “Yeah, I know, I just thought you would like a change,” said Deana. “No, but thanks,” smiled Astrid, “it was nice of you to ask, and by the way, congratulations on the math competition. Matthew told me; he’ll be there also.” “Thanks,” said Deana.
Astrid headed off to Matthew’s table. Every one who sat there was on the chess club except for Astrid. Deana felt sorry for her; even though she had a boyfriend, she had to do everything Matthew wanted. Astrid always tried to make Matthew happy. “It shouldn’t be so hard to have a relationship,” thought Deana. When Deana got to her table, Daphne and Hillary cheered. “Not yet,” answered Deana as Misty, Margaret, and Chrissy approached the table, “I’m sure I’m up for some stiff competition.”
“What’s that all about, what competition?” asked Chrissy. “Oh, I found out that I was chosen for the Math Competition at Cliffside ....” “When did you find out, interrupted Margaret, “I wonder why I wasn’t chosen? I’m going to go speak to the principal.....”
Chrissy rolled her eyes, “Ms. Simpson must have chosen her own students first. Anyway, I’m starving; let’s go get lunch.” They ran to be the first on the lunch line. “You think they could have said congratulations,” said Hillary. “I don’t care,” laughed Deana. “Well, we think you deserve it; let us know when the competition is so we can come,” said Hillary. The three friends went to get lunch. Deana was quite pleased with herself. She didn’t care what Chrissy thought anymore and she didn’t need her “congratulations” either.
Deana was finished eating and thought she was off the hook until Chrissy interrupted a conversation to ask “so did you see your boyfriend Deana?” “No,” Deana lied. “Well, you don’t look too upset. You can’t expect to get a boyfriend like that,” whined Chrissy, “I’ve known my boyfriend since I was a baby; we’ve lived on the same block since we were born. Our parents ....” “I’ve got to go,” interrupted Deana, “see you guys later. I have science next period and I want to study.”
Deana did not like to lie, but she had to in order to keep from getting hurt again by Chrissy. Besides, she and everybody else had heard the story about Chrissy and her boyfriend too many times.
The rest of the day was a breeze. The science quiz was easy and the rest of her classes were uneventful. Finally, the dismissal bell rang. Most of the students ran to their busses or to the diner up the road. Some were picked up by their parents and most of the seniors had their own cars. Deana called her mom to tell her she would be late because of the meeting. Mom was so excited; she told her whole office. “Good luck,” gushed her mom, “I’m so proud of you.” “Thanks mom, love you, bye,” said Deana.
Deana reached Ms. Simpson’s room. She recognized Matthew and his friends and waved hello. She took a seat in the second row. Since she had a few minutes, Deana began her homework. Finally, Ms. Simpson walked in and Deana quickly closed her books and put them on the desk next to hers. She took out a note pad in case she had to jot anything down. She was both nervous and excited.
“Is anyone sitting here?” Deana heard a voice above her. When Deana looked up, it was “him.” “Yes, I mean no,” said Deana as she gathered her books. He took the seat next to Deana. How could she concentrate now!?!
Many thoughts were going through Deana’s head, but at least she was able to answer when Ms. Simpson called out names for attendance. Deana was thrilled when she found our his name was Nicholas. It was a short meeting, and all Deana had to do was jot down a few dates and times for future meetings and practices. “That’s all for today; don’t forget to pick up a permission slip and have it signed by a parent or guardian before the next meeting,” instructed Ms. Simpson.
Deana collected her things. “Sounds like fun, huh?” asked Nicholas.“Yeah,” answered Deana. “I’m Nicholas, your name is Deana right?
“Yes, hi Nicholas,” Deana smiled, “it’s nice to meet you.” “You too,” blushed Nicholas, “we finally, get to meet.”
“Are you new to the school?” Deana asked.
“Yeah, this is my first year here,” responded Nicholas.
“Are you a junior?” asked Deana tentatively. “Yes,” Nicholas answered. “Me too,” said Deana as she put her pen away.
“Here, I got a permission slip for you,” said Nicholas as he handed the piece of paper to Deana. “Thanks,” smiled Deana. “You have a great smile,” said Nicholas shyly, “uh would you like to get a soda?” “Sure, that would be great,” answered Deana.
Deana was nervous, but able to speak easily with Nicholas as they walked to the diner. “Do you know any of the other kids in the competition?” asked Nicholas. “One or two,” responded Deana “most of them are from the chess club.”
“Yeah,” agreed Matthew, “that’s how I know a few of them also.” “Are you on the chess club too?” asked Deana. “I was, but I got bored and stopped going,” responded Nicholas. “I don’t blame you,” Deana agreed “my friend’s boyfriend is on the chess club, and it is very hard trying to have a conversation with him that does not revolve around the game.”
When they reached the diner, Deana noticed some of her friends in the back. Luckily, the hostess gave them a small booth in the front. Deana could hear Chrissy and Margaret; they were pretty loud. Chrissy seemed to be upset. Deana would have to call her later.
Once they started talking, Nicholas and Deana couldn’t stop. Deana found out that Nicholas moved to her town from New York because his dad was transferred. His mom did not work and he had a younger sister. Deana found it was very easy to tell him about her family and her parents’ divorce. “It seems like you and your mom are happy though,” said Nicholas. “Yes, we are, my mom is great” answered Deana.
Deana was just about to tell him about going to dinner with her mom that night, when ... “Deana, is that you?” called Chrissy “what are you doing here?” “Um .... having a soda” answered Deana. “You could have come over to say hello” said Chrissy as she stormed away. “Don’t worry about her,” whispered Hillary, “Josh just broke up with her.”
“Are you serious?” asked Deana, “What happened?” “Don’t worry about it now; we’ll talk later. Have fun,” said Daphne with a wink. “I’ll talk to you later,” answered Deana. Misty and Margaret were already outside calming Chrissy. To Deana’s surprise, Chrissy wasn’t even crying. Deana felt badly for Chrissy but now looking at her out there, she felt worse for Josh; he would never hear the end of this.
“Friends?” asked Nicholas. “Sorry I didn’t introduce you,” apologized Deana, “but there’s a crisis.” “My sister and her friends have them all the time,” answered Nicholas, “I’ve learned to stay out of it.” “Sometimes, I wish I could do the same,” agreed Deana.
“Should we get going?” asked Nicholas. He had left money for the sodas and tip on the table. “Sure, thanks for the soda,” said Deana. “You’re welcome,” Nicholas smiled, “next time maybe we can grab a bite to eat?” “Sure”, beamed Deana, “that would be great.”
“My mom should be here by now. Would you like a ride home?” asked Nicholas. “Thanks, but I don’t want to put you out of your way,” answered Deana. “Where do you live?” “On Burnside between Cambridge and Cloverdale,” responded Deana. “I live on Cloverdale just off of Burnside,” laughed Nicholas.
“Would you like a ride then?” asked Nicholas. “Okay”, Deana said, “as long as your mom doesn’t mind.” “She won’t,” said Nicholas. They walked to the car and Nicholas opened the door for Deana. “Hi mom,” said Nicholas, “this is Deana .... “Gregory” filled in Deana. “Deana it’s nice to meet you,” said his mom. “Thank you,” said Deana, “it’s nice to meet you also Mrs. ....“Bernini, ” filled in Nicholas.
Nicholas went on to explain how they met and how they only live around the block from each other. “Say, is your mom Constance Gregory from Hillside Realty?” asked Mrs. Bernini. “Yes, that’s my mom.” We bought our house from her; she was very helpful,” said Mrs. Bernini.
It was great to hear such nice things about her mom. “After the closing, we said we would get together again,” continued Mrs. Bernini, “please tell her I’ll call. “Okay,” said Deana. Nicholas and Deana sat in the back and spoke quietly. Deana was in heaven.
It was just a few minutes before the car stopped in front of her house. Deana looked surprised. “Your mom showed me your house while she was driving me around to see the neighborhood,” explained Mrs. Bernini, “too bad, we didn’t introduce the two of you sooner; Nicholas would have had an easier time adjusting to a new school.”
Nicholas opened the door and waited for Deana to get out of the car. “Thanks for the ride Mrs. Bernini; it was nice meeting you,” said Deana. “Don’t forget to give my regards to your mom.” “I won’t,” said Deana.
Deana felt a little awkward, but luckily Nicholas spoke just as she got out. “So, where’s your homeroom?” he asked. “Room 209,” answered Deana. “I’ll see you in the morning?” asked Nicholas. Deana couldn’t help but smile. “That would be great” she answered, “thanks again for the soda and the ride home.” “Bye Deana.” “Bye Nicholas,” Deana smiled.
Deana almost skipped to the door and let herself in. What a day this has been! She couldn’t wait to tell her mom about everything that happened to her today.
Deana checked her messages. There were three, all of them were about Chrissy’s breakup. She could call Daphne, Misty, and Hillary back, but Deana did not want to. The gossip could wait until later tonight or tomorrow. Deana just wanted to finish her homework and daydream about Nicholas until her mother got home.
Deana was so happy; she had a permanent smile attached to her face. No matter how things went with Nicholas, she felt that she had made a friend. Whether he turned into a boyfriend or not remained to be seen. Deep in her heart, Deana knew that she had met someone special. “I can’t wait until school tomorrow,” thought Deana, “what will I wear ....”
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