The End Of The School Year
Jenna tossed the basketball up in the air and with a swoosh it went right through the hoop. It bounced once and she caught it. She took a giant step backwards. She wanted to see how far away from the basketball hoop she could stand and still make a basket. She aimed and shot. It bumped the backboard but went through the hoop.
“Not bad,” said a voice.
As Jenna turned to her left she saw Cameron catch the basketball. “Are you on the girls’ basketball team?” He asked.
“No,” Jenna said with a bit of an awkward laugh. “Are you?”
Cameron aimed and swished the ball through the hoop. “No, I’m not on the girls’ basketball team.”
“Sorry, I meant the boys’ team,” added Jenna as she caught the ball and held it.
“I’m not on any sports teams,” said Cameron. “I’m more into art and music. Are you going to shoot, or what?”
“Oh, yeah,” Jenna said. She tried to impress him with a side lay-up which didn’t go as planned. The ball arched right over the basket and Cameron caught it. Then Cameron actually laughed! She had never seen the kid laugh before, possibly not even smile. It was worth the embarrassment to see him laugh. It kind of made him… handsome.
“What was that?” Cameron asked.
“My try at an impressive lay-up?” She said as a question.
They both laughed. “I hope you’re not trying to make the team,” Cameron said and then successfully made a basket.
“No, but I could if I wanted to,” she said.
“I bet you could,” said Cameron.
Jenna felt herself blush and hoped he didn’t notice.
After dinner, Jenna went to her room to finish up some homework. Her mind was somewhere else though. She kept picturing Cameron laughing. They had shot hoops for over an hour. She learned a lot about him. He was definitely different then she thought he was. He wasn’t emo, he just likes dark colors. Wearing headphones all the time had more to do with his love of music than shutting others out. Jenna found him really interesting.
Her cell phone rang, jolting her out of her daydream-like state. It was Katie. It turns out what happens in their cul-de-sac doesn’t stay in their cul-de-sac. Somehow, news of Jenna and Cameron playing basketball spread and Katie’s little sister heard about it at a friend’s house a couple blocks down. After dinner Danielle shared this piece of gossip with her big sister and Katie did not believe it. So, she of course called Jenna immediately to prove her little sister wrong. Dani was so happy to find out she was right and Katie was wrong. Jenna could hear Dani in the background singing, “I told you! I told you!” Katie was annoyed and forced her sister out of her room. Then she asked Jenna to dish on every detail of her time with Cameron.
That night, Jenna reflected on how things were going. The girls had held four B.U.L.L.Y. Club meetings now. It seemed to be going well. There were still some reports of bullying now and then, but, they were reported and dealt with, which was an improvement. Tara’s ‘too cool for school’ group had drastically shrunk. A couple of her friends hung out with her occasionally, but she was often seen brooding alone. Jenna was sure there was a definite positive change in their school. Even if it wasn’t a huge change. Mira had become a little ray of sunshine walking through the middle school. The front of the bus kids, like Cameron, seemed more social and happy and the back of the bus kids mostly seemed a bit nicer; however, Jenna would still be fine with cool aliens sucking the popular kids out of the back of the bus and giving them that one way ride in their UFO to Planet Pretentious, the party planet. Although she hoped they would be nicer, Jenna was sure they wouldn’t change that much. There was no way they were going to start inviting girls like herself and Mira to their slumber parties or to try out for cheerleading. Or invite the chess team to a summer pool bash. She couldn’t see the cool kids attending a chess meet, watching the Mathletes compete, or going to a Dungeons and Dragons party. Changes like that might never happen, unless Jenna could come up with a plan to change things. She and her friends were perfectly happy being the middle of the bus type of students, anyway. It really had been quite a year.
The highlights were definitely meeting Mira, getting her school to hold an anti-bullying assembly, letting them hold B.U.L.L.Y. Club meetings at school, their tennis team taking first place, and seeing Cameron laugh. Plus the school year wasn’t over yet.
The bell echoed through the empty school hallways. Followed by doors swinging open and students filing out to fill up the halls. Quiet abruptly replaced with the noise of walking and running feet, talking, laughter, yelling, locker doors slamming shut, and the crinkle of paper bags containing lunch.
Jenna entered the cafeteria and sneaked up behind Katie in the lunch line. “Boo!” Jenna said loudly.
Katie jumped, “Oh, you! You scared me.”
Jenna laughed and then asked, “Where’s Mary?”
Katie pointed to their table. Mary was laying out her healthy lunch and placing her napkin on her lap. Kevin, Colby, Freddy and another boy joined her.
“Who is that tall kid?” Asked Jenna.
“Um,” Katie said looking. “That’s corner boy.”
“Who?” Asked Jenna.
“The tall kid that sits in the corner and gets tripped on purpose sometimes by the jocks,” said Katie.
“Wow. He wouldn’t sit with us when I invited him,” said Jenna.
“Well, Kevin is prettier,” teased Katie.
“Ha-ha,” said Jenna.
By the time Katie and Jenna got their lunches and made their way to the table there were three more people sitting there. The girls sat down.
“Introduce your friends, Kevin,” said Katie bluntly.
“This is my new buddy, Warren,” Kevin said pointing to tall corner table guy, “And these two guys are Jake and Devon, and their friend Keri. New friends, these are my female friends Jenna and Katie.”
“Female friends?” Laughed Katie. “You forgot about Mary here, your girlfriend!”
“Uh, I introduced her before you two got here thank you very much,” said Kevin.
Katie smiled enjoying the fact that she had made both Kevin and Mary blush.
“I think the guys and I have convinced Warren here to join the B.U.L.L.Y. Club,” announced Freddy.
All eyes turned to Warren, who awkwardly nodded.
“That’s awesome,” encouraged Jenna.
Jenna’s mind wandered. She found it so interesting how people were all different. So many different personalities. Some were easy to figure out, some would completely surprise you when you got to know them, and some you may never get a chance to figure out. She wondered if Warren would ever open up and let them get to know him or if he would stay quiet and guarded. Cameron had sure surprised her.
“Jenna!” yelled Katie. “Are you in there?”
“Sorry. What?” Said Jenna.
“We were talking about having a B.U.L.L.Y. Club party for our final meeting,” said Mary. “Like the Spanish Club is having a party in the park and everyone is bringing their favorite Spanish dish.”
“The video game club is going to an arcade downtown and playing laser tag,” said Jake.
“Sure, that would be fun,” said Jenna. “What would we do?”
“We could each bring a bully and whoever can get their bully to change gets a prize,” suggested Kevin.
“As amusing as that is, no,” said Mary.
“We can just bring food,” suggested Katie. “Oh!! Pizza and root beer for all!”
Everyone seemed to like that idea. They would all split the bill evenly.
As Jenna, Katie and Mary headed to English class they heard someone sniffling in a short hall by the janitor’s closet. Jenna stopped and walked down the hall. Katie and Mary followed. On the other side of some garbage cans sat Tara crying.
“Are you okay?” Asked Jenna.
“What do you care, loser?” Snapped Tara.
“I’m not sure why I would, but I do,” said Jenna.
“Mind your own business!” Snapped Tara.
“Let’s go, she doesn’t want our help,” said Katie.
“Why are you so mean?” Asked Mary. “Even though you bully everyone, Jenna is nice enough to be there for you when you’re down and you just call her a loser and tell her to get lost. Real nice!”
“Do you want to talk?” Asked Jenna.
“No, I don’t want to talk with you goody-goodies! Just get lost,” demanded Tara through gritted teeth.
The girls walked away.
“You’re too nice, Jenna,” said Katie.
“Really, Tara doesn’t deserve or want any friends,” added Mary.
“She is still a human being with feelings,” Jenna said defending herself.
“True, but she obviously doesn’t want friends,” said Mary.
“I think she just doesn’t know how to be a friend,” suggested Jenna.
The girls went into English class.
“Which one of you put my poem on the B.U.L.L.Y. Blog?” Asked Mira.
“Guilty,” said Jenna.
“It’s embarrassing,” whispered Mira.
“Are you kidding? It’s awesome! Last I checked it had 29 likes,” said Jenna.
“It is really good,” added Mary. “You should let Jenna leave it there.”
“Okay,” said Mira. “Thanks you guys.”
“Don’t mention it,” said Jenna. “Is it me or is that a weird phrase? I mean she already mentioned it and it was nice.”
“You’re cray-cray,” said Katie.
Before Jenna could say anything Mr. Washburn started class.
After school Katie and Jenna got together to hang out. The ice cream truck was already making rounds before school was even out for the summer. The girls each got a Popsicle and sat on the hot curb in front of Jenna’s house. Some younger kids were riding scooters around the cul-de-sac.
“How’s your brother’s B.U.L.L.Y. Club going?” Asked Katie.
“Well,” said Jenna. “I think they spent about five minutes talking about bullying, ten minutes eating cookies and juice, and then they ran around shooting those Nerf foam darts at each other for an hour or so.”
“So it was successful,” laughed Katie.
“They had fun,” said Jenna. “I’m not sure how into bullying awareness they are. Hey, litterbug!”
“What? I just set my wrapper down,” said Katie.
“You threw it on the street!” Said Jenna.
“Nuh-uh,” said Katie as she leaned to pick it up. “Here, hold this for a minute.” Katie handed the wrapper to Jenna, then went back to licking her Popsicle.
“Seriously? You think I’m going to hold your sticky wrapper?” Asked Jenna.
“No, you can set it down with yours, if you want,” said Katie.
“I’m not responsible for throwing yours away,” said Jenna as she set Katie’s wrapper on her own.
“I know,” said Katie smiling.
“I’m serious, I know your tricks,” said Jenna.
“I know,” said Katie again.
Jenna shook her head knowing she was going to be throwing away Katie’s wrapper with her own.
They talked about the last B.U.L.L.Y. Club meeting and then they decided to have a sleepover on the last day of school. They would invite Mary and Mira, too. Plus, they had to make a plan to get tickets for the Taylor Swift concert at the end of July the day they go on sale.
Before they knew it they were heading to the final B.U.L.L.Y. Club meeting. Mr. Washburn walked in pushing a cart from the cafeteria with a stack of pizza boxes, four bottles of root beer, napkins, and a stack of plastic cups.
“Alright Mr. W! Let’s start this party,” called out Kevin.
Everyone talked and had fun. Mr. Washburn made a toast to Jenna for never giving up and making this club for everyone interested. Then Mr. Washburn announced they had permission to meet two times a month next year. They all cheered.
They got to turn up the music, eat, drink and have fun. Even Warren (tall kid at corner table) seemed to have some fun and even talked a bit.
On the last day of school, there was not much to do but chat, sign yearbooks, and make sure lockers were empty. Some of their eighth grade friends would be moving on to high school next fall, which was sad; however, the girls would be the top-dogs in eighth grade next year which was exciting.
In English class they got to listen to music, too.
“I can’t wait for the sleepover tonight,” said Mira.
“Me neither!” Said Jenna.
“You guys are so lucky you will be eighth graders next year!” Said Mira.
“Hey, seventh grade is a pretty cool year,” said Mary.
“Yeah, I guess,” said Mira. “Do you know what the best thing about next year will be?”
“What?” Asked Jenna.
“Tara and some of the other bullies will be gone,” Mira said happily.
“That’s right!” Katie said. “I completely forgot about that.”
“Maybe that’s why she was crying,” suggested Mary. “She knows next year she will be low man, or girl, on the totem pole.”
“Tara was crying?” Asked Mira.
“Yeah,” said Katie. “Jenna tried to talk to her and everything but she just told us to go away.”
“Weird. I wonder if she is regretting being mean now that her friends are leaving her?” Asked Mira.
“It would be nice for everyone if she takes a good look at herself this summer and makes some changes,” said Jenna.
“I wouldn’t hold my breath,” said Katie.
“I wouldn’t either, but we can always hope for a change,” added Jenna.
When the final bell of the day rang the halls flooded with excited kids. The girls said some final goodbyes to some of their friends. Jenna headed toward the front exit. Mira was hugging a boy good bye.
“Who was that? A boyfriend?” Asked Jenna.
“No! Just a friend who happens to be a boy,” said Mira.
“I can’t believe it is officially summer vacation!” Said Jenna.
“I know!” Said Mira.
“I bet this is going to be a great summer,” added Jenna. “I hope I get to see you a lot.”
“You will,” promised Mira. “I’ll see you at the swimming pool and I signed up for tennis lessons.”
“That is great,” said Jenna. “I will happily practice with you whenever you like.”
“Thanks, I could use the help,” admitted Mira. “You don’t think Katie and Mary will laugh at my Scooby Doo sleeping bag do you?”
“No way! Scooby Doo is cool,” smiled Jenna.
“Cool,” said Mira.
“This is going to be a fun sleepover,” said Mira. “Thanks for inviting me.”
“It wouldn’t be as fun without you. We are like the four Musketeers now,” smiled Jenna.
“I like that!” Said Mira.
The two girls hopped on the bus and sat in the middle with Katie and Mary. They were all chatty and laughing as the bus started to move and honked its horn along with the other buses. It was kind of an obnoxious tradition but they all loved it. “Yep, it was going to be a great summer,” thought Jenna as the bus drove down the road.
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