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It's my first time ever writing in first person or a simple romance.
Book Description: Dawn, the neighborhood tomboy is happy to be her best friend’s shadow. Acceptance comes from playing football after school with the guys on the block while hiding safely behind her glasses, braces and boyish ways. But Tony moves in, becomes the star quarterback on her school’s team and changes her world and her view of herself forever.
This is a short story told in ten episodes similar to an anthology of short stories over the course of Dawn’s and Tony’s realization of how much they mean to one another.
Nothing much happened on my block in the summer in the morning, but on this first day of summer there were moving trucks outside. I was rocking back and forth on the metal chair my Nana kept on the porch of our row house in the city when they first drove up. There was no houses across the street from us, but the huge hill topped off with a fence had grass littered with daisies. It was beautiful to me, since the city didn’t offer much in the way of grass or flowers.
Not many people moved into our neighborhood. I guess it’s because when you were able to live in a place close to the train station you had convenience – so why leave it? At least that’s what my great-grandma Nana told me was the reason she’d lived there for over 20 years.
It was early in the morning, much earlier than my friends came out. But I loved the morning, it was the time I got to just sit outside and not hear a thing. No fire engines, ambulances, kids fighting, cars honking—well I always hear those, but it’s quieter than most times. And the time I got to spend staring at the high school I hated going too. It set on top of the hill as an ugly reminder that I’d have to go back at the end of the summer.
Ninth grade stunk, and I had all summer to figure out how I was going to get through the tenth grade without getting into cat fights with stupid girls who liked to pick out the fact that my boobs hadn’t grown in, my teeth protrude a bit, and my braces were ugly on me. Oh, and let me not forget, I wore thick welfare glasses. You know, the kind with the plastic brown trim. Not even the boys let me forget that. But contact lenses weren’t something I was ever going to get. My mother could barely afford the braces. No way could I get contacts, the eye doctor told us, because I had some type of irritation that caused little bumps to pop up under my eyelids. Just my rotten luck—as always.
Everyone else in ninth grade had seemed to go through their beauty makeover stage, but me; my stupid luck kept me grounded with the appearance of a middle schooler with my short height and ‘kiddy’ figure my best friend Poochie liked to point out.
I stood up and walked down the first five steps of my cement porch. Our row house was squeezed between two others, but our porches were separated by large bushes that came just under the rail framing. Why my Nana insisted on painting the porch and stairs blue I’d never know. It doesn’t match the red brick house, but whatever makes her happy, I guess. I don’t have a choice but to like it since it’s the only home I’ve got—at least until my mom can afford her own place.
A blue sedan pulled up behind the u-haul moving truck. And I stood up on my toes in my high-top tennis shoes wondering who the new kid or new ‘blood’ was that was moving in. The kids on the block loved getting to know if the new blood would be easily bullied or not. Lately though, no one had moved in for them to torment.
Rodney came down his steps. His house was next to mine which made it easy for him to spy on me in the morning. It usually didn’t take him long to come out after I did – which made me wonder if he had a permanent eye attached to his bedroom window. “Hey Dawn! Whatcha doing? Checkin’ out the new blood?” His unkempt curly bush seemed to shrink in the early morning dew. It resembled a hat atop his pale face and bushy black eyebrows.
I rolled my eyes at him. “No…well maybe.” Rodney was my next door neighbor and got a kick out of teasing me as much as possible. Maybe because with him being rather chunky, he got his fair share of being the butt of the other kid’s jokes and he just needed to torment someone else to feel better.
“We could get a closer look before Poochie comes out.” Rodney stuffed the rest of a jelly doughnut in his mouth. His chubby fingers oozed with the goo and he loudly sucked off the red excess.
Rodney would point out that Poochie was going to be snooping around the new kids soon. Everyone knew he was in love with her and she considered him her pet. Anything Poochie wanted from a boy she got, and Rodney gave her everything. Money from his lunch, food from his dinner table, and clothes from his sister. Poochie never outright asked for the stuff, but she made it known to Rodney that she needed it.
Absently, I tilted my face toward the hill. Right across from my house was the big oak tree that hid the corner side of the high school. The huge tree set on a hill I liked to climb everyday. Didn’t get to climb the hill much since my Nana always yelled at me to get down and embarrassed me to no end about it. But this year I’ll be running to the High School with my cousins who’d be starting ninth grade. Doubtful they’d like it anymore than I do.
My hearing perked up at the sounds of kids. New kids.
And then my eyes landed on him. The boy who got out of the car had to be the most...gosh, gorgeous boy I’d ever seen. He had a football in his hand and kept tossing it up in the air and catching it. He was tall and slightly muscular. Tight, curly cropped hair framed his dark brown face, and large dimples cut deeply in his cheeks. His husky laugh added to his jock—bad boy hotness—as Poochie would say. Some younger kid bumped into him, causing him to drop the ball. At that moment, that very moment, our eyes met.
I shivered inside. A huge smile broke out on his face and he waved at me. I froze. Couldn’t move, speak, or respond.
“Dufas! Dawn. Are you coming with me to say hello to him or not?” Rodney asked.
Still, nothing on me would move. I stood there like some dumb statue. The boy’s eyebrows pitched down like he thought something was wrong with me—like I was a mute or something.
Rodney laughed at me. Something I knew he’d never let me forget. But now I was just too embarrassed to move after my moment of paralysis. So I relaxed a bit, but still stayed planted where I was.
“Hey kid! Throw me the ball!” Rodney jumped down his bottom steps.
Then gorgeous, the boy who’d just moved into my neighborhood and changed my life, spun away from me to toss the football over his head to Rodney.
I watched them for hours. Rodney and the new boy played tag football with some of the other kids in the neighborhood in the middle of our street. There weren’t many cars that came up our one way city block which made it safe for the kids to play the day away without interruption.
Rodney took a break and came over to the bottom of my stairs. “You playin’ or what? We need a quarterback.”
Still tongue-tied and in no way ready to play football with the new guy on the block I shook my head.
“What you can talk now? Tony’s pretty good. I think he might try out for the school team. I told him about how the coach plays favorites and that I’m the team ‘manager’ until I make it on the field.”
I rolled my eyes, there was no way Rodney was ever going to make it on the field. And he wasn’t a ‘manager’ he was the water boy. “Yeah, you told him all that?”
Rodney frowned. “What ya mean?” He looked hurt, then accusatory like he knew what I was thinking.
“I meant with all the playing you guys were doing, it didn’t look like you had time for talking.” Okay, I didn’t want to lie outright but all of us on the block had an unwritten rule not to snub Rodney’s lack of football skills. The kid was a bit full of himself but he had a big heart and he fed us after our street games. His mom was so happy somebody was playing with him that she put a cooler of food and drinks on her porch after our games. And we would sit out on the grass in his lawn to eat and punch each other while Rodney told the latest dirty joke he heard from his uncle.
The new kid, Tony, threw the ball at Rodney’s chest, and it bounced off.
“Hey Tony! Come over here and help me get Dawn to be our quarterback!” Rodney yelled.
Oh, that was dirty and Rodney knew it. I could tell when he winked at me as Tony came up beside him, that Rodney was about to set me up.
Confusion sprung out on Tony’s face, “Quarterback?” He looked up at me, frowned like he didn’t know what to say. Then he pointed in my direction, “She’s ya’lls quarterback?”
“Yeah, and she’s good too! We play on the field in back of the school every Friday after dinner.” Rodney winked at me again. I’m gonna punch him. Really, like as soon as Tony leaves I’m going to punch him.
Tony whispered to Rodney, “Is she okay? Does she talk?”
No way did he just ask Rodney if I was normal? Shoot me now. My eyes started to water I was so humiliated. Thank God for my glasses that hid my girly shame. And the truth was, I still couldn’t form two words around this guy.
Rodney answered for me. “Yeah, she must think you’re cute or something. You know how girls get all shy and stuff when a new guy’s around. She acted the same way when I moved it.”
My jaw dropped. That liar, “I did not!” I ground out clearly and delivered him the ‘death’ glare.
Rodney burst out laughing so hard he held his stomach.
Tony appeared shocked that I could actually speak.
And I was just plain angry at Rodney. At least now I could form some words. But all that came out was a hoarse, “Hi.”
Tony still looking doubtful of my sanity gave me a hesitant wave.
“So you comin’ to play or not?” Rodney asked totally entertained at my humiliation.
I shook my head, and managed a, “I can’t.”
Tony just stared at me a moment, as if he wasn’t quite sure I was mentally right or not, then he tapped Rodney lightly with his fist and said, “Maybe she’ll do it another time. Let’s go before my dad changes his mind and makes me help them unpack.”The sad thing was, even though Tony thought I was a complete wierdo, I couldn’t help staring at his back, all the way until they climbed the hill and out of sight, and felt completely happy to just watch him without restraint.