Sasha's Ride Home
Dad Wants To Know About School
When the Powell’s came out to the pier the Sunday before, Michael was able to convince Roger to let Sasha ride home with him and Sean after ball practice. Michael pointed out that it only seemed fair since Sean was riding to school with Sasha.
Sean did have to help Sasha up into the backseat of the Cherokee, but Sasha didn't seem to mind. Rather than join his father up front, Sean walked around the Cherokee and got in the back seat beside Sasha.
Sean and Michael went through their usual after school routine of Sean telling his dad about his day and Michael asking for specifics on what had been covered in class. In the rear view mirror Michael saw Sean give Sasha an apologetic look.
She smiled and shrugged as if to say “parents, what you gonna do.”
Michael chuckled, and said, “Okay, I'll shut up now and let you two talk.”
How Does Love Grow?
What Kayla Said
Sasha's face became very serious. She turned to Sean, and said, “I heard that you and Kayla got into an argument this morning, about me.”
Abashed, Sean nodded. “Kayla said something she didn't really mean and I kind of got pi.., mad about it. We worked it out. We're cool now.”
Michael glanced in the rear view mirror and noted an expression on Sasha's face somewhere between being upset that Sean had lost his temper and pleased that he'd jumped to her defense.
“What did she say to get you so upset?” Sasha had already heard from other kids who'd heard and scene the incident what had happened, but she wanted to hear it from Sean. She wanted to know if Sean would be honest with her about it.
Sean wanted to say that it didn't matter. The look on Sasha's face stopped him. Opting to just be honest about it, Sean told Sasha exactly what Kayla said about Sasha being a poor little cripple girl always looking for attention.
Sasha swallowed hard and nodded.
“Is that how you see me?” she asked Sean, her voice trembling.
Sitting up front, Michael could tell by the way Sasha asked the question that she’d had to work up the courage to be willing to hear Sean’s answer.
If Sasha had tazered Sean, he couldn't have looked more shocked. “No way! I think you're pretty hot.”
Sean stopped when he realized what he'd just said.
“I mean, I think you're, well, so what, I do think you're hot.”
The set of Sean’s brow dared Sasha to contradict him. Hearing his twelve-year-old son say that to a girl, it was all Michael could do not to comment.
If Sean had been afraid of how Sasha would react, she soon put those fears to rest.
“You do?” she asked as a smile lit up her face. “You really think I'm pretty?”
Sean reddened a little. Not because he hadn't mean it, but because he hadn't meant to put it quite the way he had.
“Yes, yes I do. You are really pretty, Sasha.”
They were quiet for a moment, and then Michael heard Sean say, “Hey, don't cry. Why are you crying?”
Sasha shook her head. “You dumb boy. Sometimes girls cry when boys say something really nice to them.”
Revealing A Feeling
Poor Sean, he looked into the mirror trying to catch his father’s eye. Seeing Michael was going to be of no help he turned back to Sasha, and said, “I don't understand. You're crying because I think you're pretty.”
Sasha pulled a tissue from her purse, wiped her eyes, and blew her nose.
Sean wrinkled his nose. That’s a little gross, he thought, wisely keeping the thought to himself.
“Yes, that's why I'm crying. No boy ever told me I was pretty before, except my father and he doesn't count. Besides, we're buddies Sean. Buddies aren't supposed to think their buddies are pretty.”
Sasha’s words echoed in Michael’s mind, so reminiscent were they of Rhiannon’s rules for why she and Michael couldn’t date when they were Sean and Sasha’s age.
Sean decided that was enough. “What is with the buddy thing anyway?”
It took Sasha a moment to begin trying to explain.
“When we first started hanging out I realized I was starting to like you, a lot. But I didn't think a guy like you would like a girl like me, you know, on crutches.”
Sean started to protest but Sasha waved him quiet.
“So I told myself that if we were buddies - friends - that would be cool. That way I wouldn't get my hopes up.”
A glimmer of understanding began to glow in Sean's mind. Cautiously, he asked, “You wouldn't get your hopes up about what?”
“I wouldn't start hoping you'd want me to be your girlfriend,” Sasha declared. She sat back and waited for Sean's reaction.
Suddenly, Sean felt a certainty in his heart. He didn't know how or why, but he knew it for sure.
“It's too late for that because I do want you to be my girlfriend. According to Mrs. English everyone thinks we're already a couple. Maybe they know something we don't.”
Sasha’s tears started again but this time she was smiling. Michael couldn't be sure but he thought he saw through the mirror some moisture brimming in Sean's eyes as well. Sean reached out, took Sasha’s hand and held it the rest of the way to her house.
Do You Trust Me
When he pulled into the Powell’s driveway, Michael hooted the horn lightly to let Sasha’s folks know they’d arrived. By the time Sean helped Sasha down out of the Cherokee, Annette was standing on the front porch. Sasha waved to her mom and then handed her crutches to Sean.
“Can you carry these in one hand and kind of hold me up with the other?”
Not sure what she wanted, Sean said, “I suppose, sure. What are you going to do?”
Sasha smiled and put her arm around Sean’s waist. “I'm going to walk up to the porch, with your help. Don't let me fall.”
His eyes wide, Sean cautioned Sasha, “I don't know if that's such a good idea.”
Sasha’s eyes were filled with trust and confidence in Sean. “I know you won't let me fall.”
Buoyed by Sasha's faith in him, Sean nodded and put his arm around her. Together they made their way slowly but steadily toward the door. Michael waited in the Jeep until they were almost to steps. Annette was obviously concerned but didn't say a word until they reached the porch.
Sasha was beaming. “Okay, Sean. Unless you want to carry me up the steps I'll need those things,” she said gesturing to her crutches.
Annette had come down the steps until she was just one step up from them. Sean looked at Sasha’s mother with a conspiratorial smile. Annette grinned in reply and reached for the crutches.
Sasha looked at him suspiciously. “What do you think you're doing?”
“Do you trust me?” was all Sean said, but he said it with a confidence that reassured her.
“Yes, I trust you,” Sasha replied.
Sasha put her arms around Sean’s neck as he bent to lift her. Holding Sasha close, Sean carefully climbed the steps and set her down gently on the porch. Sasha's arms lingered around his neck as she kissed him softly on the cheek.
Annette handed Sasha her the crutches, a question in her eyes. Sasha inched closer to Sean.
“It's okay, Mom. He's my boyfriend.”
Michael, who’d reached the steps just in time to hear Sasha’s announcement, expected Annette to act surprised. Instead, Annette said to Sasha, “Yes dear, I know. It's about time the two of you figured it out.”
Turning to Michael, Annette invited them inside. “I just baked cupcakes.”