Janie sat in her mish-mash decorated room reading. Pink frou frou little-girl décor clashed with black and gray goth-ish scarves and assorted ornamentation. It was, she knew even at fourteen, a thinly veiled attempt at self-expression, distancing herself, her “self” from that of the girl her parents raised. She sat, her back against the huge pile of frilly pillows and the stuffed bear with its black button eyes in the corner of her room. She sat with the telephone placed strategically within arms reach just in case Johnnie called.
It had been four days.
She looked at his phone number both fading on her all too unwashed palm and at where she just wrote it inside the cover of her copy of The Great God Pan (and Other Tales) as she really thought it was about time to wash her hand. She stood. She paced. She noted her mother calling her to dinner (“Janice” as opposed to Janie which she preferred). Janie looked out the window upon the moonlit copse of trees in the field beyond her back fence.. A fog was developing.
She closed her curtains, flicked off the light, replaced the phone on the bedside table, sighed heavily and began to slink downstairs to the awaiting meal with questions about “that boy” that she should never have mentioned, for dessert.
Janie’s parents brought her to this town so they could have a new start, they, her, together. They wanted to be far, far away from the controversy. They wanted to be free of the looks, the whispers, the silent accusations at the checkout. She did not start the fire. She is the one that didn’t run away. It was the others, the “friends”, the very ones whose parents vociferously blamed her for the event, for the fire, for the death.
She was cleared of all wrongdoing, but as usual, the court of the public mind was a jury of blind fools.
So they moved.
And they were happy.
Janie was happy. She was happier when she met Johnnie.
Janie ate in silence. Janie answered “no” when asked if “the boy” had called but did not elaborate. There was no elaboration to add. Janie cleaned off her plate and placed it into the dishwasher and took her pie upstairs (with a “thank you” and a kiss for both on their cheeks as they chatted about their days to one another).
Janie looked at her phone. She opened the curtains and looked out upon the foggy field.
It was Johnnie.
Janie answered with a stammered “hi.. hi Jonnie!” and danced silently in her room as he spoke, equally nervously, as boys are apt to do. She shut her door and chatted and became less awkward and discussed school and television and books and eventually they planned to get together again the next day after school, after dinner. They talked till both received notifications from their respective parents that it was time for bed.
Laying in the dark, gazing out into the mist beyond the curtains lit up by moonlight like a dim fluorescent bulb, Janie thought long into the night. She woke, she wrote in her little book, she lay back down, she slept for the first time in ages with contentment. Her last thought before passing on into the expanse of dreams was that yes, he would be the one to tell.
Johnnie, blankets pulled up to his ears, a thin pillow half over his head to block out the streetlights that always fought their way through and past his blinds also slept. His last thought of the night was of what he saw in the park. What kept him from sleeping well these past four nights.
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