The first day of eighth grade was off to a miserable start. Javan had spent the morning clunking around the halls with a cast on his right leg. Fortunately he didn’t have to deal with crutches, but wearing a boot on his cast and lugging his heavy leg around was exhausting.
None of his classmates had asked him about his leg, and only one of his teachers had noticed. Javan didn’t mind. He preferred keeping to himself and was used to being ignored.
What bothered Javan was the fact that Julianne wasn’t in any of his morning classes. He had yet to even catch a glimpse of her. That concerned him. Was she sick? Had she transferred to another school? Had she moved away?
He breathed a sigh of relief when he walked into the cafeteria and saw her giggling with some of her friends at the table for the popular kids. Her eyes sparkled when she laughed, and she looked more beautiful than ever.
As was his custom, Javan found an uninhabited table in the corner, sat down and began eating the lunch he brought from home. His leg started throbbing, so he propped it up on one of the empty chairs across from him. That’s when he noticed Julianne walking his way.
Surely she wasn’t coming to talk to him. They had never even spoken before. Maybe someone more interesting than him was behind him, and that’s why she was headed in his direction.
He glanced back. All he saw was a window.
“Hey,” she said, in that smooth, friendly voice of hers. “You’re Javan, right?”
Javan almost choked on his peanut butter and jelly sandwich. She knew his name? He was too shocked to talk, so he just nodded.
“I saw you limping around, and I wondering what happened to your leg.”
“I…umm.” Javan swallowed his half-chewed bite and coughed to clear his throat. “I…ah…I broke it.”
She smiled. “The cast kinda gave that away. How did you break it?”
“Oh. Well, I was riding my horse. A snake spooked him. He tossed me off. My leg broke on the landing.”
“Yeah.” He sat up a little straighter. She liked athletes, and this was his chance to tell her he was almost an athlete. “I was gonna play football this year, but I broke it the day before tryouts.”
“What a bummer! I would have come to see you play.”
“Sure! I love playing sports, and I love watching sports.”
“So…umm…if I make the high school team next year, you’ll come watch the games?”
“Don’t go breaking any more bones before tryouts next year.”
“Well, I gotta go. See ya around.”
Javan took a deep breath and smiled. It turns out that eighth grade was off to a great start after all. 00000