Happy belated birthday, Moms! I hope you enjoy this short little story about Bobby, your favoritest character. Love, Your Favoritest Daughter *veg*
When I was a little kid, my cousin Hallie came to visit us for the summer, and the one thing that always sticks out in my mind about her were her green toenails. They mesmerized me as a kid, and to this day Iím still not sure why. It could be that my older sister, Trixie, used to be a tomboy and didnít even own a bottle of nail polish. Hallie was a bit of a tomboy, too, but she also had a girly side that Trixie definitely did not.
A lot of other things happened that summer. Jim Frayneís only living relative got married. Dan Manganís old New York City street gang, the Cowhands, settled into Sleepyside and wreaked havoc. Their leader, it turns out, was an accomplished thief who could change identities at the drop of a hat...or the placement of a wig. He masterminded a lot of break-ins that summer. He managed to steal Di Lynchís invitation to Juliana and Hansí wedding and posed as both an "old family friend" and her nephew. Oh, and he managed to kidnap both Hallie and Dan.
Like I said, it was a busy summer.
But no matter how much happened, and how eventful it was, and how exciting it eventually was when Trixie and the rest of the Bob-Whites managed to capture the ringleader, the memory that stands out for me is the one of Hallieís marvelously green toes.
They were just so exotic. Hallie herself was exotic, coming all the way from that "far off land" of Idaho.
I still remember the day she arrived. While she was downstairs in the kitchen visiting with Moms and waiting for Trixie, Brian, and Mart to get home, I helped myself to the binoculars in her suitcase. (In my defense, I was only six. I didnít have a very good grasp of personal property and privacy at the time. Thatís my story, and Iím sticking to it.) Thatís when I saw the thief stealing Diís wedding invitation. I also prompted the first fight between my hot-tempered sister and Hallie. Trixie, who is a master at jumping to conclusions, assumed when she got home and saw the binoculars in the window that it was Hallie spying. I didnít mean to cause a fight between the two girls. I was six years old and bored, and spying out the window was a cure for boredom.
So, whatís got me on this kick about Hallieís green toes, you wonder? Why is a strapping and handsome seventeen-year-old guy thinking about his cousinís nail polish choices from a decade ago?
Well, see, thereís this girl in my senior math class, Olivia Torres, who I kinda like. Okay, who I really like. Everybody calls her Liv. Isnít that a great nickname? Anyway, itís finally warming up here in Sleepyside, with the sun shining, the snow all melted, green buds all over the trees, and warm spring air alive with possibilities.
That means its sandal weather. And Liv wore sandals today for the first time.
And her toenails were painted green. A gorgeous, shimmery emerald green.
I already thought Liv was pretty perfect. I mean, sheís captain of the girlsí volleyball team, and man, can she lay down a well-timed and well-placed spike when she needs to! Sheís sporty, which I really like, but sheís also girly, too. Sheís got really long, straight, shiny dark brown hair with bangs that brush her eyebrows. Her eyes are a really deep blue, and they sparkle when she laughs. Sheís really good in school, too. She doesnít play an instrument or sing in the choir or anything like that, but she likes good music. She even likes a lot of the same bands that I like.
And sheís nice, too. She has friends in a lot of the different groupsóthe sporty ones, the arty ones, the nerdy ones. She really doesnít care about labels. If she likes you, it doesnít matter if youíre a jock or a nerd or arty or whatever. Pretty cool, huh?
Thereís a lot to like about Olivia Torres. I mean, I think sheís perfectly perfect, as my sister, Honey, and Di like to say.
But when I saw those sparkly green toenailsówell, she went from perfectly perfect to...whatever is even better than perfectly perfect.
I really want to ask her to the Sleepyside High spring dance, which is coming up in a few weeks. The spring dance always reminds me of the time that my brother, Mart, wrote an advice column as Miss Lonelyheart for the school newspaper. Keeping that secret got him in a lot of hot water because it looked like he was a vandal known as the Midnight Marauder. My sister, of course, got her nose in the middle of that mystery and cleared Martís name and caught the real culprit.
Anyway, I donít think anyoneís asked Liv yet, and I know if I wait too long, Iím going to miss my chance. Like I said, Liv is pretty perfect, so Iím sure someone is going to come along and ask her soon. But for some reason, I just canít get up the guts to ask her. Iím not sure why this is so hard. I mean, Iíve known her practically my whole life. Of course, back in elementary school, I didnít appreciate her very much. I didnít even really notice her in junior high, either.
Once we were in high school, she always seemed to have a boyfriend, but Iíve noticed that sheís been unattached since she and her last boyfriend broke up last fall right before he left for college, Columbia to be exact. Clearly, she likes smart guys. Iím no slouch in the brains department, but I also wonít be heading off to Columbia, either. Iím going to Purchase College, one of the SUNY (State University of New York) schools.
My parents and I havenít actually worked out yet whether or not Iíll be living on campus. Itís only a half-hour drive, but I would like to live in the dorm and experience true college life. Both of my older brothers did, Brian at Columbia and Mart at Cornell, but they both got scholarships. My sister, Trixie, went to John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City, which was perfect for her because all sheís ever wanted to do is see that criminals get the justice they deserve, but she had to commute from home. She actually rode the train in every morning with Mr. Wheeler and Mr. Lynch. Oh, and with Dan, too. He always wanted to become a police officer, so John Jay was perfect for him, too, but he couldnít afford to live in the city, either. Honey and Di roomed together at Ithaca College. Honey got her business degree at Ithaca so that she and Trixie could open up a detective agency together and not "run it into the ground," as Mr. Wheeler said. It seems to be working, as the Belden-Frayne Detective Agency is growing these days. Honeyís the Belden, though, not Trixie. A slight change from their planned name of Belden-Wheeler, but everyoneís happy.
Wow. So, I just realized that Iíve daydreamed most of the math class away, and Mr. Sanborn just wrote our homework assignment on the board. I hurriedly scribble it down before I take a peek over at Liv, who sits one row over and one seat up from me.
Oh, crap! Sheís turning around and looking at me!
And sheís smiling.
What do I do?!?
Keep cool, Belden. Keep cool. Smile back.
I grin back at her, hoping itís a cool, laidback smile and not some really dopey smile, like the kind Mart gives Di. Or Brian gives Honey. Or the really goofy one Jim gives Trixie.
No, Iím going for the Dan Mangan "lady killer" smile.
The bell rings, and Liv gathers up her books, while I sit there, staring at her like an idiot.
Oh my god! Sheís coming over here. To my desk. To talk to me.
While I sit here like an idiot.
"Hey, Bob," she says, in her perfect, feminine-but-not-too-feminine voice.
"Hey, Liv," I say, trying to project cool Dan vibes, but I have a feeling Iím projecting dopey Jim-in-love vibes. "Whatís up?"
"Well, Kenny Jacobs asked me to the spring dance today," she begins, and I can feel my heart drop like a lead weight into my toes.
Well, Belden, you missed your chance, a voice inside my head taunts.
"But, well, I..." Liv pauses, and I realize that sheís really nervous.
Sheís even blushing. Itís so cute. Sheís even more gorgeous like this.
I also realize Iím still sitting there like an idiot, so I stand up.
Livís pretty tall, so now weíre almost eye to eye, and the world kind of stops as we stare at each other.
"Did you tell him yes?" I blurt out.
Liv smiles shyly and shakes her head. "No," she says quietly. Then, in a rush, she says, "I really want to go with you."
But she says it so fast it comes out "Ireallywanttogowithyou" so Iím not sure that I heard her right. Could I have heard her right? She wants to go to the dance with me?
"You want to go with me?" I ask, stunned. Liv shyly nods her head, her gorgeous mane of shiny, dark brown hair moving with the effort.
As I take this in, I canít help but smile. And, suddenly, I donít care if itís a cool Dan smile or a dopey Mart smile. That doesnít matter right now. All that matters is that Olivia Torres wants to go to the spring dance with me.
"What a coincidence. Because I happen to want to go with you. And you should definitely paint your toenails green for the dance."
Author's notes: This is a quasi-entry for Mary Nís Jixemitri is 17!: A Picture is Worth 1000 Words CWC, which happens to be Jixemitri Circle Writing Challenge #27. I chose the green toenail picture (picture #4), which Iíve made the header of the story. Thank you, Mary, for the inspiration! I say itís a quasi-entry because even though I announced the story on March 31, it wasnít uploaded by March 8.
This is also the story I wrote for the February Crawl of Jixemitri Circle Writing Event 15. Itís self-edited, because I appear to do everything fiction-writing-related at the last minute, so I hope I caught all of the many mistakes that occur during writing crawls!
Word count: 1,644
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Story and graphics copyright © GSDana