The girl leaned against the back wall of the bus stop shed as the water splashed through the hole in the roof and doused her Doc Martins. It promised to be a very, very long week for Ashley Spinelli….
“Son of a…” she exclaimed. It was a moment that demanded a flick of a cigarette butt onto the wet sidewalk, but she had taken to the new electronic ciggies for the fourth and hopefully last time. She blew out a breath of menthol steam and turned off the cigarette and shoved it into her jeans pocket. She pulled the collar up on her leather jacket in a futile effort against the wind, which by now had already begun to drive the raindrops sideways and into the shed, covering every one. All four of them.
“Hey, Spee….” The tall boy got her attention.
“Here…let me help.”
Mikey stepped in front of her and took the brunt of the raindrops, leaving a Mikey-shaped eclipse of water on the back of the shed. It made little difference as the cheap fiberboard roof had already sagged enough at the seams to douse all four of the teens waiting for the bus. The shorter boy shook his head and laughed as a near-torrent of water began to pour through like a demented waterfall. The only thing missing, T.J. thought, was the new age music his therapist played in the background during his now-monthly sessions.
“I don’t think…” The third boy looked at the other three teens, gauging their mood. He stopped himself from repeating a pithy remark about the weather and said instead,
“Oh fuck!” Gus Grunwold rarely swore, and virtually never used the queen mother of curse words. He was about to continue when a late-model Challenger drove up to the stop. The driver’s window powered down and the handsome boy leaned out only slightly.
“You guys want a ride?” Vince La Salle chuckled. “Dad said I can give rides now that I got my license. But just back and forth, okay?”
He grinned and everyone clammored through the passenger door. Ashley Spinelli stepped in first and expected to be mushed against the driver’s side rear panel, but instead found herself settling in awkwardly against something…some ONE soft. She turned and came face to face with Gretchen Grundler.
“Hi, everybody…” the girl spoke haltingly, her embarrassed speech impediment magnifed by the new braces she wore on her prominent but thankful receeding front teeth. She put her head down as Ashley shot her a curious glare.
“Okay…everybody set…let’s go…” Vince shifted into second gear right off and the car chirped before peeling out and down the street.
Fourth Street High School…RECESS….
“Anybody wanna go with me to the Coldplay concert on Friday?” Ashley looked around at the table. Mikey shook his head no.
“Mario and I are finally going into the city to see Ghost.” Mikey and Mario hung out all the time; Mario and he hooked up after a recital Mikey performed at the Unitarian Church when the boy provided more than just piano accompaniment. They’d been an item for nearly a year, and both planned on being each other’s escorts for the upcoming prom.
“Nah… Me and my sister Becky are going to a family picnic. Sorry…” T.J.’s voice trailed off. He’d really would have taken Ashley up at her offer if he could, since he had an unspoken marginal crush on the girl since grade school. And who could pass up Coldplay if they didn’t have to?
“Gotta game on Saturday,” Vince said with a grin. He had games almost all the time, but this weekend his girlfriend was flying in from St. Pete. She was three years older than him and a flight attendant for Southwest.
Gus just shook his head. He didn’t really care for Coldplay, preferring to listen to show tunes from the Glee soundtrack while seated at his computer; clad in black leggings and a plum mini dress while typing his blog for the weekend.
Which left Ashley Spinelli forced to either be as mean as all the other Ashleys in school; the combination of seven in their senior class alone was almost exponentially cruel save for her and the Ashley Martin who was a very nice trans-girl who had transferred in to Fourth Street High the previous November. She looked at Gretchen and caught herself from frowning.
“You don’t want to go, do you?” She said it with as much effort to keep from being negative as possible while hoping the girl would refuse. Gretchen was okay after a fashion, but Ashley would rather have eaten the $95 she had paid for the second ticket. As it was she had taken a bath, like they say, on the other two; StubHub bought them back for only fifty dollars a piece. So much for Ashleys sticking together.
“You don’t want to go?”
“No…I do. How much?” Gretchen had never been known to spend that much money on anything but software or new gadgets for her megatower desktop.
“Uh…$75?” Ashley panicked. She figured the girl wouldn’t agree to spend that much for a concert ticket when she could listen on line. She squinted slightly as she peered over her glasses before pulling a plum colored wallet out of her backpack. Reaching in, she pulled out a hundred dollar bill and handed it to the girl.
“I don’t have any change.” Ashley Spinelli rarely carried cash and the Visa in her wallet was pre-loaded with a $200 limit. Of course her Shell card would do nothing but make sure there was enough gas in the minivan for Saturday. Her mother made sure that she didn’t overspend.
“Oh…don’t worry about it.” She said softly, trying not to speak at all. Her friends had always been supportive, but still with a toothy drawl in high school, she had become the target of bullies. The most recent King of the Playground, Nathan Birnbaum, was no longer the protector he had been in grade school, having graduated and now attending Yeshiva in New York City.
“Oh…oh kay…” Ashley swallowed hard. She imagined that there must be many more things that were worse than spending an evening with a geeky Goth girl at a concert, but none of them came to mind.
Gretchen’s house….late Friday afternoon….
The minvan pulled up to the curb and Ashley climbed out; still a short girl even at nearly nineteen, she stepped across the gap between the van and the sidewalk, nearly slipping into a puddle. She turned around and looked in the sideview mirror, checking her teeth for any leftover broccoli rabb. Satisfied, she walked up and knocked on Gretchen’s front door.
“Come on in….sorry…but I've got bad news.” Ashley pushed the screen door aside and stepped past the open front door. Gretchen was no where to be seen, but a disemboided voice called from down the hall.
“I just heard over the net that the concert is cancelled. Their bass player broke his arm in a skateboard accident, and they figured they needed the time off anyway…at least that’s what it said. I called the arena and they confirmed it.
“Oh shit….” Ashley shook her head but then she realized she’d get a refund on her ticket and she wouldn’t be stuck going to a concert with Gretchen. At least that’s what she thought until she heard the footfalls on the hallway carpet. She looked up and saw someone she had never met…from what she could recall.
“Maybe we can just watch something on Netflix and order a pizza?” The girl’s voice sounded familiar; vowels and consonants normally filtered through saliva and and metal-clad teeth. But the face and body didn’t match. The girl before her wore no glasses. Her reddish brown hair framed a pretty face which bore a very attractive if somewhat enhanced smile, complete with clear colored braces. She wore little makeup and her look seemed much more like a ‘natural’ model complete with an earthiness Ashley had never seen.
“Holy fucking…” Ashley muttered under her breath as the girl approached her, neatly gliding across the carpet. She wore no shoes and her dress was something out of a Time-Life book on the 60’s. Gauzey and light, it was a hue akin to the color that the sky looks like just before dusk; the dress reached to just above her ankles. The neck was almost a scoop, but notched in the center and unbuttoned, revealing ample breasts. Ashley’s eyes widened as the girl stepped closer, her breath redolent with mint and her body almost enveloped by a hint of honeysuckle.
“I hope that’s okay.” Gretchen had always been a tall girl, and even with Ashley’s two-inch heels, the girl still towered over her.
“Oh…okay.” Ashley had never been at a loss for words until that moment. She looked up into Gretchen’s face and stared blankly into what had to be to prettiest green eyes she had ever seen.
“Or we could talk?”
“Oh…okay.” Ashley nodded.
“I’ve always wanted to get to know you better.” The girl leaned into Ashley’s ‘space’ and grinned; a toothy smile to be sure, but as welcoming an invitation as Ashley had ever experienced. A second later they were kissing, and not like the silly pecks they had exchanged as elementary schoolgirls years ago.
“I…I…” Ashley stammered. Gretchen put her finger on Ashley’s lips.
“My family is gone for the weekend.” She grabbed Ashley’s hands with hers, almost as a dance. They practically waltzed down the hallway, coming to Gretchen’s bedroom.
“I…I…” Ashley stammered and Gretchen repeated her gesture on her own lips this time before opening the door.
“What…what do you want to do?” Ashley practically blurted out, nervous but feeling an unfamiliar safety as the girl ushered her in.
“Let’s just say that I can’t think of any one with whom I’d want to spend One Saturday Morning?”
Theme to Recess
by Denis M. Hannigan
words and music by
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