Originally posted February 22, 2013
Janie was jumping rope with her red braids flying up and down like bird’s wings. She moved down the sidewalk with each jump. Then she saw him. This must be the new boy in town her friend, Rose, told her about. Rose was right. He is a looker. What did Rose say his name was? Jimmy, Johnny, Jacob…she was sure it started with a J, didn’t it? Or maybe an R, like Ricky, Robert? No, none of those was right. What did it matter anyway? She didn’t have a chance of catching his eye when Rose was the most beautiful girl in town.
Janie turned around jumping down the sidewalk in the opposite direction. Half way down the block, a cracking voice said, “Hey, Red, which way to the malt shop?” stopped her in a midair jump.
She hit the sidewalk hard, her awkward limbs tangling up in rope. The skinned knee and scraped elbow was nothing compared to her embarrassment.
The new boy reached out a hand to help her up, but she declined. She untied the rope and scrambled to a standing position, sort of. Janie tried to find her voice, but all that came out were small animal-like sounds. It didn’t help matters any that this new boy was looking at her.
She took a deep breathe and began again. “The malt shop is on Alpine Street. That is two blocks over, turn right. The sign out front is Share-A-Freeze.” She turned to go.
“Are you ok?”
“I’m new in town.” Like she didn’t know that. This town was so small everyone knew what you did before you did it. “My name is Randy Johnson. Let me buy you a malt. It’s the least I can do after startling you.”
Janie didn’t move for a minute as her mind raced. Finally, she decided it would be the only time he would ask her once he met the other girls in town.
“OK. I can show you where the shop is. I’m Janie Fitzpatrick.”