Phil, please let this through!
Okay, this is weird. Molly doesn’t seem completely disgusted with Allison today. I’m not trying to say that Allison deserves Molly’s rudeness, it’s just strange coming from her.
Me, on the other hand, is still receiving all kinds of rudeness from Molly. She didn’t object too strongly to holding my hand today, although she had asked Randall if we had to have the same hand-holding partners today.
Today, we’re going to the L.A. Zoo. I’d been here once, way back in like, second grade. Actually, Mom had taken Molly with us that time, you know, back before she hated me.
Mom still has the picture of Molly and me posing in front of the elephants. Some days, when I’m feeling really pathetic, I look through the pictures from that day and pretend things are still like that.
I’d never admit it out loud, but the zoo is still pretty cool. The area with the birds was pretty awesome. Allison stood in front of the flamingos and pretended to stand like them.
The reptile exhibit would be cool…if I didn’t have an intense fear of snakes. Seriously, give me the choice between being in a room full of spiders and a room full of snakes, I’d take the spiders any day. Unfortunately for me, Randall really, really wanted to go inside the reptile exhibit, so we all went in. I kept my eyes closed the whole time.
There was a part where we were walking past one of the artists drawing one of those caricature things, and he called out to Molly and me, “Do you want a picture of you and your girlfriend?” And Molly turned bright red and called out, “He’s not my boyfriend!” I was probably just as red as she was, and I was hoping none of my friends heard this exchange.
Just before we were going to head to the fish area, Randall calls for a bathroom break. I think it’s about time. Andre is squirming like crazy.
Molly releases my hand with a sigh, “Finally.”
Andre releases Allison’s hand and rushes inside the men’s room and I follow him in because I figure that it’s probably better to go now.
“So, what’s going on with you and Allison today?” I ask him as we’re washing our hands. He’s more nervous around Allison today than yesterday. I mean, I don’t blame him, but it’s funny watching him squirm as I interrogate him.
He jumps, “What are you talking about?”
Every time he speaks, I get just a little surprised. I don’t ever remember him speaking in my presence before this trip and I have to keep getting used to his voice – I kept expecting to hear a little squeaky chipmunk voice, I wasn’t expecting it to have dropped already.
“You’re acting weird around her,” I say.
“You would too if you had to hold her hand all day!” He objects. “You know she’s crazy!” The minute the words are out of his mouth, he looks like he wants to cram them back in. I’m a little taken aback too. I mean, we both knew she was weird, but calling her crazy seems a little harsh.
He clams up again and dries off his hands with a paper towel. I wipe mine on my jeans and follow him outside, rejoining the girls and Randall. Looks like Randall finished before us.
I reluctantly grab Molly’s hand again and she rolls her eyes, sighing loudly. What is her problem? I’m not especially thrilled at holding hands with Molly Pearson, but does she have to be so obvious about it?
“Can I ask you something?” I ask her, slowing a bit so that Andre, Allison, and Randall are a good distance ahead of us.
She looks at me scornfully, like I just interrupted whatever “important” thoughts she was having at the moment, “What is it?”
I just blurt it out, “Why do you hate me so much?”
She scoffs, “You mean other than you completely ditching me in third-grade, throwing sand at me, and just generally being a dirtbag to me?”
I cringe. I forgot how awful I’d been back in elementary school. The two of us were cool up until second-grade, but the summer between second and third-grade, guys started to make fun of me because apparently, it wasn’t “cool” to be friends with a girl. So, I became friends with Lucas and Adam and they thought it was cool to mess with Molly. I have to admit, it was kind of funny seeing her get all worked up like that. Then, once we hit sixth-grade, it was suddenly cool to like girls and hang out with them. By that point, Molly and I never spoke to each other.
I guess I had never apologized for being a complete turd to her in elementary school, but then again, she’d never given me the chance.
“Okay, fine,” I say. “I’m sorry about the way I acted back then. I don’t throw dirt at you anymore. Is that still why you hate me?”
She turns to me and raises an eyebrow at me, “Do you not remember?”
I’m confused, “Remember what? Did I do something else to you back then?”
She bristles, “Seventh-grade? Picture at the football game? Nothing?”
Picture at the football game? I think. Seventh grade?
Then, I remember.
It was sometime in the fall of last year, during football season. Bryce had been being an idiot again, caught with a can of beer at the school dance. I bet you can guess who caught him? That’s right, Molly. She told the principal and he suspended Bryce and a few other kids who were caught for three days.
When Bryce came back, he was not happy. “I’m gonna get her back, Logan,” he said that day. “You better believe I am.”
I wasn’t really paying attention to what he was saying. I just assumed that it was one of those times that he talked a big game but never carried through with it. Plus, why should anything that happened to Molly Pearson at that point in time bother me?
About a week later, at our last football game of the season during half-time, while Lucas and I were going over our next play, I noticed that people were going crazy over what was on the big screen. I looked up, and that’s when I saw it.
It was a picture of Molly. Only…it wasn’t. It just looked like it was her. Basically, it was a picture of Molly’s head photoshopped onto some Victoria’s Secret ad.
I looked over at the table with the AV club’s laptop sitting on it and saw that they were trying to take the picture down.
A lot of kids were laughing, and when Molly looked up from the table that the rest of the Student Council were sitting at and saw the picture, her cheeks flamed beet red and she ran out of there, Lorelai Hart and Blake Jones following her out. Courtney Hall rushed over to the AV club’s table, trying to help them take the picture down and started screaming at the onlooking students.
I felt bad for Molly. Really bad. At this point I time, I couldn’t figure out who would do that to her. Surely it couldn’t have been Bryce, right? He’s kind of an idiot turd, but he wouldn’t go this far, would he?
After the game I overheard Bryce laughing with some of the other guys.
“Dude, that was awesome!” Nick told him.
“I know!” Derek echoed, “It looked so real! How’d you do it?”
Bryce shrugged, “Just some simple photoshop. That’ll teach her not to mess with us anymore.”
Nick and Derek laughed with him and I could feel myself getting angrier and angrier. Maybe she wouldn’t have messed with them if they hadn’t been being complete idiots at the dance.
This is probably the part where you’re expecting me to go up to Bryce, beat him up for being a jerk, and find Molly to console her. But that isn’t what happened. Instead, what happened is I kept my mouth shut about it. I never told Bryce off, nor did I say anything to poor Molly, who was probably humiliated. I just went on my merry way.
But I swear, I had nothing to do with the picture. I had no idea he was gonna do that. I honestly thought he was just going to pull a harmless prank on her – something funny.
“God, Molly,” I tell her now. “I’m so sorry about that. I didn’t even remember that whole incident.”
Molly bristles, “The heck you didn’t. You had to have been part of it.”
I shake my head, “I didn’t, honestly. I knew Bryce was planning on getting you back for telling on him at the dance, but I didn’t think he was gonna take things that far.”
“And you didn’t think it was important to tell me that he was going to do something?” She asks.
I shrug, “It’s not like you’d have believed me.”
She doesn’t say anything more except to mutter, “We should probably catch up with Randall and the others.”