Palms and Pockets
by Paul Diaz
by Paul Diaz
Chapter 4: A Good Feeling
Two months have passed and Anne has never enjoyed school like she was right now. Aside from John’s group, she had more friends now. She was already accepted for who she was but there was still one group that never changed.
In campus there is a group of students who consider themselves the high and mighty. Most of them are members of the basketball varsity team of the school and a few students who wanted to be associated with them.
Every morning they would hang out at the gate and they never fail to catch Anne’s attention with their name calling and teases. This morning was no different, as Anne and John were about to enter the campus the untouchables were at it again.
Morgan, the top star player approached Anne and blocked her path. “Such a pretty face” he said and then moved to the young woman’s left side and acted all shocked and scared. “Oh my what a sudden change! What happened?” he yelled as the so called elite group started laughing.
“Excuse me” Anne softly said as she smiled at Morgan who let them pass. John had his fists clenched and his eyes were seething with anger. “John don’t get mad. I am okay with it. You taught me how to get over those type of people and I am not bothered anymore” she told him. “Yeah but they should grow up. Why cant they be like the others who have accepted you?” John softly replied.
“Don’t mind them, I don’t. We cant change everyone, if we try to then we would just be wasting time. Honestly I am okay, so cheer up now okay?” Anne told him. John smiled at her but again glanced at the group and saw one imitating how Anne walks. The young held his face and made him look at her. “John can you see the smile on my face, that means I am okay” she said.
John grinned and scratched his head and began to laugh, “For a moment the I thought you were going to kiss me” he said. Anne pinched him and likewise laughed as they began to walk again. “If that’s what it takes for you to calm down then I would” she said and John was surprised and looked at her.
“I am really mad, really angry!” John said and acted all grumpy and Anne burst in laughter. “You really want me to kiss you?” she asked. “I was just kidding, you should not be just kissing anyone. Your smile is enough for me to calm down” he told her.
“Have you ever kissed someone besides your parents?” Anne asked. “Nope” he answered. “Why is that?” she asked and John laughed. “Well I just cant go kissing anyone right? Unlike others who kiss because they just want to, for me I believe that when I kiss there should be meaning” he told her and Anne nodded her head.
“But you know what some say that they kiss because they don’t know what else to say or they don’t know how to express themselves. So instead of speaking, they just kiss. And that kiss would speak for them” John added. Anne paused and looked at him, “Whats wrong?” he asked. “Oh nothing” she said and then smiled.
Classes ended in the afternoon and the two were happily exchanging stories as Rick and the others joined them. They were about to exit the gate when they crossed paths with Morgan’s posse. “Hey I don’t remember Two-face being a girl. I am sure he was a guy” the ace player said and his group laughed.
John stepped forward and stared Morgan in the face. “You want to step outside with me?” he asked and everyone was surprised. It was the first time someone stepped up and confronted Morgan and everyone on campus was quick to notice the commotion. “Oh please lead the way” Morgan replied.
John walked out of campus mad as Anne was holding on to his arm. “John what are you going to do?” she asked. “I cant take it anymore, this has to stop right now” he told her. “But John, I told you I am okay with it. It doesn’t bother me. You taught me how to ignore them and you don’t have to do this” she pleaded.
The young man was not listening, Rick took Anne aside as John and Morgan faced each other. “Fight! Fight! Fight!” shouts were heard all around as the students formed a circle to surround the two combatants.
“Make him stop!” Anne shouted but Rick shook his head. “We cant, he cannot back out now” he told her. “I got 911 on speed dial” Kevin said. “Oh boy John is going to need that because he doesn’t know how to fight” Jeremy said and the more Anne became frightened. “Anne, John isn’t a violent person” Rick said. “How am I supposed to believe that? Please make him stop” she replied.
It was too late, John threw the first punch and missed. The crowd started to laugh for Morgan was just dancing around him touching his opponent’s face from time to time. John didn’t know how to fight and it was evident on his stance, he threw another punch which was easily blocked by Morgan who retaliated with his own that landed on John’s face.
The latter fell to the ground and Anne screamed and wanted to go to him but Rick and the other held her back. Morgan was like a pro boxer who kept dancing around his opponent, landing jabs after jabs which made the smaller guy all dizzy. John threw another wild punch only to be met by another fist on his face. Again he fell to the ground and the crowd who were jeering and cheering suddenly fell silent.
The students started to feel sorry for John as Morgan just stood in front of him taunting. “Oh come on stand up, I cant beat up a fallen opponent. That would be foul” he said. John slowly stood up wiping the blood on his lip, he shouted with all his might as he lounged forward.
He threw a left punch that Morgan easily avoided but little did he know John threw a right punch at the same time. For the first time John landed a solid blow on Morgan’s face that made the latter smile. Left and right punches landed but Morgan retaliated with on strong blow to John’s chest that downed him again.
John quickly stood up and threw wayward punches from all directions. “I am fed up with you and your group calling her names!!!” he shouted as more punches landed on Morgan’s face. “I get it you are famous but that does not give you the right to look down on others!!!” John shouted. Like a wild animal he was relentless.
Morgan was not hurt, the speed of John’s punches just made him to busy defending himself. The crowd started to cheer for the underdog and Morgan glanced at Anne for a moment and saw her cheering. The ace basketball player saw a vicious left coming, instead of avoiding it he stood still and braced himself.
Morgan absorbed a solid blow to his chin, he fell to the ground and lifted his arm to signal defeat. John stood in front of him seething in anger as the crowd cheered wildly for the victorious underdog.
The crowd dispersed and Morgan was attended to by his friends. “What happened?” one asked they slowly got the top player to his feet. “I let him win” Morgan said as he glanced over to see Anne wiping John’s bloody lip but she was all smiles.
“You let him win? Are you out of your mind? What are the others going to say tomorrow? Did you even think about that?” a girl asked. “Hey if I won would guys be happy?” Morgan asked. “Of course, did you have to ask?” one replied and the ace player shook his head. “You are happy because a bully won?” he told them.
“Look at her? She seems to be so happy. Will you all feel the same if I won? Or would you just pat my back? No matter how much I hurt him he just gets back up even if he knew he had no chance. I have had many fights in the past but his eyes were different. I didn’t see fear at all. I was fighting to defend myself for being a bully, but he was fighting to defend her”
“Among all students he was the only one who befriended her. If I won I would have broken him…at the same time it might have broken her. I can clearly see she needs him, and if he was broken she didn’t have anyone else left” Morgan said.
“Oh man I don’t know what happened to you. His punch might have rattled your brains” his friend said. “Yeah, I guess so” Morgan replied as he saw John and Anne walking away. “Lets leave them alone from now on” he added.
John was silent and Anne was worried and kept looking at him. “You didn’t have to do that” she said softly. “I am sorry, but I just couldn’t take it anymore” he replied. “But they were not teasing you, they were teasing me and I told you I was okay with it” she explained. “Yeah maybe its okay with you but for me it isn’t. I don’t want them doing that to you” he told her.
Anne felt happy hearing those words and didn’t know what to say so she just bumped her body against his. “Has it been twenty minutes? Oh sorry I wasn’t paying attention to the time. Come on lets rest” John said. “No, I am fine I just…” Anne said but John grabbed her arm as they proceeded to the nearby grassy area.
As the two were seated Anne could not help stare at John’s swollen hand. “Does it hurt?” she asked. “A little but its worth it” he told her. Anne took his hand and started to massage it as the young man bowed his head. “Are you mad at me for what I did?” he asked.
“Very mad” she replied. John shook his head and sighed but Anne started to giggle. “I felt so much pain each time you got hit and fell down. I was so scared of losing you that is why I was so mad at you” she explained. “I am really sorry” was all John could say as he kept his head bowed.
“But you know what I felt happy at the same time because you were standing up for me. Really very happy when you knocked him down” Anne said. John grinned and looked at her, “I made him surrender, right?” he said but the young woman pressed on his hand and John grimaced in pain. “I don’t want you to get violent and fight anymore do you understand?!” she scolded him.
“Okay I promise. But if I do I promise to win” John said. “No John, no more fighting. I don’t care if you win anymore. I just don’t like worrying about you. I don’t want to go through that bad feeling of holding my breath and watching you get hurt. No more fighting John” she told him as she leaned against his body.
“Okay, I promise” he replied as he too leaned on her.
The following day as John got out of the car, Anne heard metal clinging at his bag slightly hit the door. As the car sped away Anne touched the bag but John quickly moved it away from her. “What’s inside your bag?” she asked.
“Its nothing, come on we are going to be late” he told her. They entered the gate to see Morgan and his group there, all were looking at them silently. John held his bag in front of him so Anne started to worry. “John whats in the bag?” she asked.
“I told you its nothing” he replied. “John!” Anne insisted and he started laughing. “Trust me its something good” he assured her. “Is something metallic good? Are you going to pick a fight again with them? I saw your angry eyes again” she said. “Of course not, I promised you remember?” he told her. “Show whats in the bag then” she insisted. “Sorry but I cant” John replied.
Anne fell silent and walked faster. “Anne, wait up. I promise it’s a good thing but I just cant show you now” John said but the young woman didn’t budge. The bell rang and he had to just let her go as she entered her classroom.
Lunch time was different, Anne was not speaking to John and the other pretended not to notice. John tried to make her laugh by cracking jokes but the young woman kept pouting. The bell rang again and he barely touched his food, what made things worse was when Anne left without him.
The final bell of the day rang and as soon as Anne got out of her classroom, John was already there waiting. “Still mad?” he asked. “Not anymore. I understand if you don’t want to show me. I just wish you good luck” she replied. “Shall we go then?” he asked. “To your fight? No thanks” Anne told him.
John began laughing as they walked towards the gate. “What are you waiting for? There he is and he is even looking at you” Anne said. John glanced over at Morgan, the two nodded their heads and looked away. “See, we are not enemies anymore. I have proven my point to him. And I don’t know why the first thing you thought was even fighting” John said. “So what is it then? Oh don’t bother I don’t want to know anymore” Anne said.
A few meters away from the gate John stopped and began to open his bag. “I told you I don’t care anymore, lets just go home okay?” Anne said. John took out a silver metallic object and Anne pretended not to care. The young man knelt down on the ground and assembled the metallic contraption. Anne pouted and looked away as she waited for him to finish.
“There its done” John said. Anne slowly turned around, one eyebrow raised as she kept pouting. The young woman’s jaw dropped and she immediately looked at John who was smiling at her. “A scooter!” she exclaimed. “I told you it was a good thing. Sorry I could not show it to you earlier, I wanted it to be a surprise” he told her.
Anne placed her hands at the handle bars but then looked at John. “You have to use one leg to push right? I think I wont be able to do that” she said as she again began to frown. “Come on get on, both feet that is and trust me” he told her.
Anne held tightly on the handle bars as got on the scooter. John stood beside placing his hands on top of her hers. The young man started to push forward and the scooter began to move. Anne started giggling and holding on tighter as she enjoyed the ride.
“I am sorry I didn’t think of this sooner. But from now on you are never going to get tired going home. Again Anne felt something different inside her chest, she noticed his hands over hers and still saw them swollen. She looked at John’s face and noticed for the first time its bruised state. “Your eye…does it hurt?” she asked and John just smiled and shook his head.
Anne moved closer to John and kissed his bruised eye. The young man was surprised and looked at her in awe. “Im sorry, was it wrong?” she asked. John smiled and felt embarrassed then shook his head. “Nope, it was something good” he told her. They both smiled at each other and Anne leaned her body on his. “Faster” she said.
“What?” John asked. “Lets move faster” she said. “Okay, hand on tight or you might fall then” he told her. “No I wont, because your beside me” she replied. Again they both smiled at each other as John began to run.
Anne started screaming and laughing as they sped along the neighborhood. She removed her left hand from the handle bar and wrapped it around John’s waist and then shouted.
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