Connor and Daisy made their way through the school cafeteria food line then went looking for a table. When Daisy spotted Willie and Grace, she immediately gravitated in that direction. Connor reluctantly followed.
“Hey, Willie. Hey, Grace,” Daisy said. “Can we sit here?”
Willie glanced at Connor. His expression told Connor that he was not at all interested in eating with him.
Connor looked down at Daisy’s big brown eyes for a brief moment. “Day…,” He wanted to object, but instead he humbled himself and took the plunge. Clearing his throat he said, “I should not have gotten so pissed off with you, man. It was a real low life thing that I did to both you and Daisy and uh… well, I’m sorry.” There, he did it. Inside his heart, he sighed a sigh of relief for accomplishing the difficult task, but externally he maintained a perfectly blank cardboard poker face.
Willie looked him over for a minute. “That sounded rehearsed. Did Daisy make you say it?”
“What difference does it make? I said it didn’t I?” he defended in a hushed tone. His blank cardboard mask slid to the ground revealing a soft spot for Daisy underneath.
“Okay, man.” Willie held out his hand to the bench across from him. “Have a seat.”
“Thank you,” Connor tried to speak nicely as he sat down but it sounded just a tad like, “I’ll kick your butt later when Daisy’s not look’in.” But of course, that wasn’t what he actually said out loud.
“I heard Andy and Jason really nailed your ass.” Willie laughed loosely as he twirled spaghetti on the end of his fork.
Connor put the sandwich, that he had not even bitten into yet, down on his plate and glared at Willie. He wanted to retaliate, but Daisy put her hand on his leg under the table. He looked down at her big brown eyes again and sighed. “Okay, okay,” he mumbled quietly, just for her.
The whole thing was sort of funny now that it was over with. He picked up his sandwich and took a big bite, trying to see it all as a passing event that he would one day laugh about.
Willie saw his opportunity to continue, so he did. “I thought the locker room prank they came up with was pretty cool. I mean, if I had a friend who did a something stupid I’d want to get involved and do something about it. Wouldn’t you?” Willie smiled coolly as he waited for a response.
“It depends on how well I knew him. If I’d known this friend a really long time, I probably would confront him. But if I’d only known the guy for say three days…,” Connor stopped there for emphasis then continued, “I’d stay out of it because it’s not any of my business.” Connor smiled just as coolly right back at Willie.
“Well, say you knew the other party involved for a month or so.” Willie pointed at Daisy.
“I’d still stay out of it because a month isn’t long enough either.” Connor put his hand on top of Daisy’s hand that was resting on his leg and laced his fingers into hers.
“Well, haven’t you and Andy been friends for like years and years or something?” Willie smiled and took a swig of his drink.
Daisy raised her hands in a T shape over her head. “Okay you two. Time Out! Willie… Connor apologized and you accepted it. Now just drop it!”
Willie looked at Connor for a moment. “Alright, I’m cool.” He went back to eating his food without another word.
“I’m going shopping with Grandma Rose after school today, Connor. So I can’t run with you guys tonight.” Daisy suddenly remembered.
“Okay. Well, come over later in the evening then,” he suggested. “Oh yea, I almost forgot to tell you. Dad said he thinks he can get me a part-time job at the machine shop where he works. They just want someone to sweep up after everyone goes home. It is only twice a week, and the pay is real good. If you came and helped me it would go super fast.” Connor squeezed her hand a bit to show he really wanted her with him.
“Will I get paid too?” she asked.
“I’ll share everything I get with you, fifty-fifty. Let’s do it!” Connor gave her hand another little squeeze.
“Sounds good to me. We need some money of our own anyway,” Daisy said as she finished her sandwich.
The way she said “our own” caused an unusual tingle to stir deep in his heart. He had not expected it, but he liked it.
The bell suddenly rang.
“Can I walk you to class, Day-Day?”
“Catch you guys later man.” Connor gave Willie and Grace quick nods as he stood with Daisy to leave.
“Yea, see ya later.” Willie and Grace stood as well. “Here… we can get those.” They took all four trays and walked them to the disposal counter.
“Thanks man.” Connor walked Daisy upstairs to her English class. In front of her class door, she handed him a sealed envelope.
“What’s this?” He smiled.
“It’s for you, but don’t let anybody see it okay?” she whispered shyly.
He leaned over and whispered in her ear, “You’re the cutest thing Daisy-Ray, thank you.”
She beamed a huge grin at his praise.
He touched her cheek briefly. “I better get going. Thanks again for this.” He stuck the envelope in his book, ran up one more flight of stairs to his own English class and slid into his desk in the front row. His last name started with a B so he was always put in the front row no matter who his teacher was. He opened his book and looked at Daisy’s letter with a curious smile. The envelope was yellow and so was the notepaper within. It read:
My criterion for the perfect boyfriend
Never leaves me alone
Resolves to do what’s right
Believes in me
Loves kids because I hope to have some one day
Years of fun together
Connor’s smile got bigger and bigger as he looked over Daisy’s note. “Man, she’s cute. She really has put some thought into this. What can I do back?” He pondered in his own world, unconscious of what others were doing around him.
Suddenly Jeremiah’s hand reached over Connor’s shoulder and snatched Daisy’s yellow note right out of his hand!
Connor whirled around furiously. “That’s mine give it back!”
“What have we here?” Jeremiah grinned happily. He put the yellow note paper up to his nose and shut his eyes blissfully as he inhaled. Connor jumped out of his desk and lunged towards Jeremiah! Jeremiah dodged him and tossed the yellow note across the aisle to Jason.
Jason fanned himself with the yellow note. “Whew-wee, it’s so hot in here! This note just turns the temperature of the whole dang room right up to boiling man!”
Connor leapt over two rows of desks in Jason’s direction! “I’m gonna kill you guys! Give it back,” he growled.
John grabbed the note out of Jason’s hand. He cleared his throat like he was going to read it out loud. “My Criterion for…”
Connor made another leap over another row of desks furiously!
Andy and Maria walk into class. Standing right behind John, they took in the wild scene. Andy grabbed the note quick as lightning before John had a chance to read any further. “What’s this?” he asked the group politely.
Everyone in the class roared with laughter as they shouted out different things to him. Andy looked at Connor’s horrified face.
Connor mouthed the words, “It’s Daisy’s, man. She’ll die if anyone sees it.”
Jeremiah jumped out into the aisle near Andy. With jovial laughter he shouted, “It’s mine man, give it back!”
Andy shoved the yellow note deep into the pocket of his blue jeans and handed his books to Maria. “Lying is an unbecoming trait, Jeremiah. If it’s really yours… come and get it.” Andy took a challenging step forward.
Jeremiah was a well known wrestler in the school. The thought of a wrestling match between Andy and Jeremiah was, well, delightfully tantalizing to all. Everyone was cheering… but Connor. He was way too pissed off to be enjoying the prospects of a wrestling match in English class.
Mrs. Peterson rushed into her disorganized classroom oblivious to the commotion at hand. “Everyone, get to your desks! I’m sorry I’m late. I hit a car in the parking lot. I had to wait for the police to come and fill out all those stupid papers…,” Mrs. Peterson drifted off in her speech as she searched her desk for her role book. When she found her book she took attendance quickly. “Today’s lesson was on poetry. But because we are so late in starting why don’t we skip my presentation, and I’ll just give you your assignments. Everyone needs to prepare five poems for tomorrow. The description of the type of poetry I am looking for is outlined on pages 315 to 320. You can work the remainder of the period on your poems. If you have any questions just come up to my desk and ask me, alright?” She slumped down in her chair exhausted by the car accident ordeal. She shut her eyes in an attempt to relax.
The teens opened their books and got started on the poetry assignment. Connor looked over his shoulder at Andy on the back row.
“Want it?” Andy mouthed.
“Don’t pass it through these insane monkeys, man. I’ll never get it that way. Just hold onto it for now,” Connor mouthed back.
Andy nodded in agreement.
Connor knew Jeremiah couldn’t possibly get the note away from Andy so he relaxed and focused on his assignment.
Near the end of the period Andy strolled up to Mrs. Peterson’s desk. He asked a quick question then strolled back down Connor’s aisle to his seat. He dropped Daisy’s note on Connor’s desk in the process.
“Thanks.” Connor stuck it back in his book with relief.
The bell rang, and everyone packed up their things and rushed out the door to their next class.
“Thanks, Andy. I don’t know what I would have done if Daisy’s note was read out loud to the whole class man. She would have been so embarrassed,” Connor said as he, Andy and Maria made their way through the bustling halls.
“No problem. Are you and Daisy running with us after school?”
“I am, but Daisy is going somewhere with her Grandmother. She’ll come over later on.”
Jeremiah and Jason jogged up to Connor’s side. “Hey, no hard feeling huh, Connor? We were just messing around.” Jeremiah slapped Connor’s back playfully.
Connor made no answer.
“Aw come on Connor, don’t be sore. We weren’t going to read it. That was John, not us man,” Jason whined.
Connor still made no answer.
“I’m sorry Connor. We were just playing around. It won’t happen again, right Jason?” Jeremiah hit Jason in the chest as he spoke.
“Never again, man,” Jason agreed.
Connor turned and looked at his buddies. “I know I messed up at that party and all. That makes it look like I don’t care about Daisy. But I do man. I really like her a lot. Don’t mess with her or anything that belongs to her, you got it?”
“Yea, okay, we got it. Stay off the grass man, no– Daisy picking–what–so –ever–.” Jeremiah sliced the air smoothly with his hand and dragged out his words as he spoke.
“So are we cool?” Jason held his hand up the air hoping for a high-five.
“We’re cool.” Connor slapped their hands and then turned down a different hallway in search of Daisy’s locker.
Andy, Maria, Jeremiah and Jason all moved on to their next class.
Connor wandered down the hall to Daisy’s locker. He wasn’t really expecting to see her. He’d just written her a poem and wanted to slip it into her locker. But when he approached the sophomore locker section of the school, he saw her in the midst of a sea of busy tenth graders. She was exchanging English books for Algebra books at her locker. The way she did it made several of the other books in the locker fall out.
“Aw man,” she moaned and stooped down to pick them up.
Connor stooped down next to her. “Need some help?”
“Connor!” she exclaimed happily. She wrapped her arms around his neck and hugged him.
He turned his face into her hair and nuzzled her neck. He rested his head there for a minute letting her hug him. “That’s nice Babe, thank you.”
“Are you okay?” She looked at his face concerned by his tone.
“I’m fine. I just need to get out and go running. You know, clear my head a bit, that’s all. I came down here to give you this.” He handed her a sheet of paper then picked up her books and lined them up in her locker for her.
Daisy opened the paper inquisitively. “What’s this?”
“You wrote me a note so I wrote you one back.” He watched her read it with a shy smile. It read:
Lilly’s are for Easter
Poinsettia’s are for Christmas
Roses are for dining tables
Sunflower’s are for fields
But Daisy’s are for Connor
It’s her, he adores
Her kisses are like candy, her smiles are like s’mores
Below the poem he had drawn a five petal flower. Each petal had a word written in it:
The center circle of the flower had the word kissable written in it.
Daisy grinned ear to ear as tears formed in her eyes. “That’s beautiful Connor, thank you.”
“You’re not supposed to cry, Babe.” He reached for her and pulled her close.
“It’s so beautiful,” she whispered again into his chest.
He smiled shyly as a warm feeling flooded his whole being. He dropped his head to her shoulder and rested it in her hair again.
“You’re beautiful Daisy, and I…I…I love you,” he whispered into hair.
The bell suddenly busted into their sweet moment giving them both a jolt.
“Oh crap, I made you late for class.” Connor straightened up.
“I’ll just tell them all the books fell out of my locker and you stopped to help me pick them up.” She grabbed her Algebra book and slammed her locker shut.
They ran down to the first floor where the Principles office was and got
in line for tardy slips.