“Stop it!” Erika turned to face Jerry. Despite his stealth, she’d heard him approach her locker.
He feigned surprise. “What?” At six-foot-five, Jerry stood a foot taller than the seventeen-year-old junior.
The senior athlete wore Keens hiking boots, Dockers pleated khakis, and a tight Samantha Fish concert-t that showed off his muscular chest. He stood stiff-backed, resisting the temptation to lean down towards her. His mother told him that good posture gave him majesty.
“You know what,” Erika hissed, as she pulled a pink envelope from her locker. A white lace valentine slipped out and fell to the floor. Jerry bent down to retrieve it. “The valentines have to stop. Valentine’s Day isn’t for two weeks.”
“I wanted you to know how I feel.”
Erika snatched the card from him and tore it apart. “I’m sick of hearing how you feel, and I want it to stop.”
Her statement troubled Jerry. He hesitated. “What do you want to stop?”
“Valentines. No more! Not in my locker, not in the mail, not on my front step, or wedged into my Physics book. None.” As he processed her statement, Jerry bent down to pick up the pieces. Erika stamped on them, just missing his fingers. “Don’t touch that valentine!”
Erica wore a short white skirt, grungy Nike cross-trainers, and a Quad City Mallards hockey jersey. Curly red hair exploded on her head. He’d never wanted to kiss her more than now, but a crowd had gathered in the locker bay. He knew she wouldn’t let him.
He’s clueless, Erica mused. She noted his brown-eyed hurt-puppy-dog face. She knew she needed to be firm. “No more roses dropped on my desk before class,” she said, pushing her index finger into Jerry’s chest to accentuate her point. “No more notes left on my car windshield, no more UPS packages sent to the restaurant where I work, no more lawn gnomes, no more stuffed penguins, no more photos taped to my gym locker, no more gun magazine subscriptions, and for God’s sake, stop Tweeting my grandmother.”
“What am I supposed to do?” Jerry whined.
“Wait for it.” Erika slammed the locker shut, spun the dial, and faced him. “You need to just wait for it.”
He blinked. “Wait for what?”
She shouldered her battered red sports bag and grabbed her lacrosse stick. She needed to get to Physics class. “Wait for the remotest hint that I am interested in another date. Then, and only then, can you ask me out.”
Jerry reached out to stop her, but she turned on him. “And if you ever touch me, without my consent, I’ll break every fucking bone in your hand.” She made eye contact. “Your pitching hand….” Erika noted the fear in his eyes. “You know I’m capable of doing that, don’t you?”
He nodded. “You’ve made that very clear.”
“Give me some space.” She started down the hall.
Just before he was out of earshot, while Erica imagined he was still staring at her athletic thighs, she stopped and spoke without turning around. “But when lacrosse season starts, I damn well better see you in the stands.”
Erika smiled, but, of course, Jerry couldn’t see it. It wasn’t time for him to see how much he amused her. Wait for it, she told herself. Wait for it.
Paul Lewellan lives in Davenport, Iowa, overlooking the Mississippi River. He shares the space with his wife Pamela, an annoying little Shi Tzu named Mannie, and Sunny, a ginger tabby and the queen of the cottage. Paul’s short stories have recently been anthologized in Down the Rabbit Hole; 7 Deadly Sins, Volume 1; Lust; and Lost and Found: Tales of Things Gone Missing.