Judith listened intently as Mr. Gregory discussed the techniques the class would be using on their next art project. This class was, by far, her favorite of the day and she was so glad she was able to take it this semester.
At first she wasn't sure what Maura was talking about when she'd said that all the girls had a crush on Mr. Gregory. Frankly, she didn't think he was all that good looking. He was pretty nice though. He always seemed to show interest in all of his students and seemed eager to give personal attention to each one of them. She wondered if that had more to do with it than just his looks or if it was just that the other girls were so boy crazy they would latch onto the idea of anyone remotely appealing.
She didn't get it sometimes. Sometimes she wondered if she should just pick someone to have a crush on just so she wouldn't feel like such an outsider when all of the boy talk started.
As she reached for her brush, she accidently knocked her sketching pencil from the easel to the floor with a clatter. Before she could bend down to pick it up, the boy at the easel next to her beat her to it.
"Thanks," she said flatly.
"No problem," he replied as he handed her the pencil and turned back to his canvas.
As Judith turned back to her work, she couldn't help casting a quick glance or two in his direction. With his shaggy hair and dark eyes and nonchalant attitude, David was kind of cute. Maybe he would do.
When the class was over and the bell rang, Mr. Gregory gave the class a reminder, "Next Tuesday the art club meets after school in this room. I hope to see some of you there."
As the students filed out of the room, Mr. Gregory called one out as he passed. "You'll be there, won't you, Vince?"
Vince shrugged, "Maybe. I guess."
"I hope you make it," he said, before turning his attention to the next student headed out the door. "Good work today. I'll see you next week."
"Hey, there," Jeremy said, pleasantly surprised to run into Natalie as he was on his way into a classroom and she was on her way out. "No map today?" he asked with a teasing glint in his eye.
"No, no more map," Natalie replied. "I think I can manage to find my way on my own now."
"That's a shame."
"A shame?" Natalie repeated, confused.
"Yeah, I missed my chance to offer to show you around."
Natalie looked away shyly as she felt her cheeks flush.
"But that's okay," Jeremy said thoughtfully as he started to walk away. "It just means I'll have to think up something better."
Natalie stood speechless as Jeremy walked away. When he turned back a moment to smile at her, she smiled back before going out into the hallway.
"Meghan. Hey. I'm glad I ran into you," Julian said.
Meghan beamed at him. "Hey, I'm glad too. Want to walk to the cafeteria with me?"
"Yeah, but about that," he said, hesitating as Meghan looked at him curiously. "Some of the others were talking to me earlier and, well, it's kind of a tradition that only Juniors and Seniors sit at our table. Once in a great while they'll let a Sophomore sit there, but never a Freshman."
"I guess I'm pretty lucky to know you then."
"It's totally my fault," he said apologetically. "I should have realized it was breaking this unspoken rule by inviting you to sit there. I really hate that I have to say this to you, but I guess you're going to have to sit at another table for lunch from now on. I'm really sorry."
"Whatever," Meghan rolled her eyes. "Forget them. They can have their stupid table to themselves. What do I care. We'll find some place better to sit without them."
"Well . . . actually," Julian said slowly. "You've started to make some of your own friends by now, haven't you? Surely you know someone else you can sit with, like what about your cousin?"
"I guess they'd let us sit with them," Meghan said thoughtfully.
"Or maybe just you could," Julian suggested hesitantly. He knew he was starting to parrot back the points Melanie had made to him earlier and even though he felt like a heel for doing it, he still found himself repeating her words. "I mean, we see each other all the time. We live in the same house. It's not a big deal if we don't sit at the same lunch table too, right?"
Meghan tried to mask any reaction she was feeling and played cool. "I guess not."
"I mean it when I say I'm really sorry about this, Meghan. It wasn't my . . . it's not the way I want it to be."
"Don't worry about it," Meghan said and quickly walked away.
"Hey, girlies," Meghan said as she set her tray down at Judith and Maura's table. "It looks like I'm going to be joining you."
Before Judith could voice her skepticism at this change, Maura was welcoming Meghan to the table. "Hey, have a seat. Do you know Natalie, Meghan?"
As the girls greeted each other Judith found her voice, "So why aren't you sitting at 'the cool table' anymore?"
"Well," Meghan said with a dramatic sigh. "Somehow someone got wind that I was only a freshman and apparently they felt threatened by that and had to send Julian to ask me to sit at another table. Normally, I wouldn't let anyone push me around like that, but I didn't want to make things difficult for Julian. Since he obviously didn't want me to sit somewhere else and they were already putting him in an uncomfortable situation."
"It's probably better that way," Maura said. "There's no point in making waves over something so petty. Besides, we're glad to have you sit with us."
Meghan smiled at Maura, glad to be appreciated. "I invited Julian to come with me, but he decided not to. He probably didn't want to sit with just girls."
"I think that's why Jeremy doesn't sit with us," Maura mused. "Maybe if we could convince them the other one was going to sit with us they both would."
"I doubt it," Judith scoffed. "Besides I see Jeremy everyday at home, I don't need to sit with him at lunch everyday either. I'm surprised you don't feel the same way about Julian, Meghan."
"That's different. Julian isn't my brother. He's my dad's girlfriend's son. We aren't related, so there's always the chance that we could be . . . friends," Meghan smiled.
"Well, I guess there would be something good about my brother sitting here," Judith said. "At least Maura wouldn't have to strain her neck all period just to stare at the back of his head."
"That guy over there, Jeremy, is your brother?" Natalie asked.
"Uh huh," Judith replied.
"And he and Maura are going out?"
"She wishes," Judith replied.
"Oh," Natalie simply said, not sure how she felt about that revelation.
"Ohhh," Meghan said, coming to a realization. "You've never had a boyfriend, have you?"
"She's never even had a serious crush," Maura chipped in.
"Maybe I'm just not as obvious about it," Judith replied, stubbornly crossing her arms over her chest.
"You've had a crush? Ooh, who is it?" Maura asked eagerly.
"I don't like to say . . ."
"She's just making it up," Meghan shook her head.
"Well, there is this guy in my art class, David. He's kind of cute and maybe we had a little moment today."
Maura smiled brightly and clapped her hands together. "I'm so excited for you. This would be so great. If David would ask you out and Jeremy would ask me out we could go on double dates. And if Natalie finds a guy she likes too, we could all go out together, wouldn't that be so much fun?"
Maura was too excited making plans in her mind for the future dating lives to notice that neither Judith or Natalie seemed too eager about the idea.