The name's Romeo. Yeah, alright. Don't bother. Whatever you were about to say, I've already heard it: considering the fact that probably everyone in the world is force-fed Shakespeare at some point or other, it's not surprising that all the stupid puns that come my way aren't exactly original. I've had English teachers yell lines at me, thinking that, for some dumb reason, I've got the whole play memorised. Not likely. My parents didn't call me Romeo because they're Die Hard Bard fans. Dad lost a bet to a mate. Not exactly enchanting.
I was watching TV in the living room, minding my own business. All of a sudden the door slammed open, and there was Mum, glaring at me as though I'd left a week's worth of socks stuffed behind the radiator. I was about to remind her that I'd taken out the rubbish that morning, but before I could say anything, she strode over to the windows and wrenched the curtains open.
Now, whatever I'd done, this this was uncalled for. I couldn't even see the screen anymore! "Uh, Mum," I said, hitting the pause button (gotta love Sky), "I was in the middle of something."
"Do you know what day it is today?"
I gave that one a full three seconds before concluding, "No." There weren't any birthdays or anniversaries I could remember.
"It is," Mum answered, "the first day of summer. And here you are, rotting your eyes instead of going outside get your shoes on and leave! I don't want to see you before lunch!"
She pointed menacingly towards the door and flicked the power switch on the plug socket, shutting down the whole system. I quietly got to my feet, went to the hall, slipped on my shoes, and left.
You do not argue with Mum when she's that angry.
At first, I considered going to Jimmy's, but he never has anything to eat at his house. My stomach was actually churning. It was eleven in the morning hottest time of the day, might I add not nearly time for breakfast. But, accepting my lot, I contemplated the rest of my options.
My wallet and keys were in my jacket, hanging on the peg. No chance of grabbing a bite to eat somewhere
not much chance of getting back into the house, either. Dad was at work. My other mate Colin was already on holiday, and Rich moved recently I didn't even know where his new house was. I couldn't really be bothered to turn up on anyone else's doorstep (wish I had some reliable aunts or something), so I decided on going to the park.
I sat on a bench for about twenty minutes. I was lucky: shaded by a tree, I was missing the worst of the morning heat. It's not that I burn, but I have to admit, too much sunshine makes me uncomfortable. And summer herds all that farm stink.
"Excuse me," I looked up to see a freckled girl frowning at me. She was holding a heavy book. "Are you planning to stay there?"
I glanced down at my shoes. Nope, no holes. What the heck did she mean by stay here? Did I really look like the type of guy who sleeps in a park? "Until lunch," I told her, moving up so she could sit down. She did so real carefully, as though I'd scattered thumb tacks on the bench. No joke. "I got kicked out."
"Poor you." She opened up the book and immediately started scribbling.
I nodded. "It's not as though I did anything wrong. One pair of socks, maybe."
"It builds up."
I gave that some thought. "I guess."
"Also," she went on, flipping a highlighter out of nowhere, "some of us
still have work to do." She began scoring the page with a lurid pink. Seriously. Dad bought a shirt that colour once
Mum took one look at it and off he went, back to the store. He bought her roses with the refund money. Still the same shade of pink. "Some of us aren't out of school yet."
"It's the middle of July."
"Exactly," she replied tersely. "There are only two days left in the school year."
Wow. I was suddenly grateful for my own lame school, that I didn't attend Geek Academy. "You," I said breezily, "should drop the studying. What stupid teacher gives a test on the last day? Let's go nick a Frisbee off one of those kids."
She glanced up then, giving me a derisive scowl.
"It's the hottest part of the day."
Huh. Apparently, she was smarter than she looked.
I stayed for the next half an hour, reading over her shoulder. It didn't surprise me that it was a History book in her hands, though why she had to make all these annotations was beyond me. I realised that the reason the girl hadn't told me to go away had to have something to do with my voice sometimes, it's easier to study when you've got background noise.
So I talked, while she gave one words responses, often expressing little sympathy. I told her about the house Rich used to live in, where he had his own trampoline, pond and gym (the kid was aptly named); I told her about Colin, who we'd freaked out over the past week by telling him horror stories about malaria; I told her about Jimmy, who, if you were lucky, offered you a glass of water when you went round his house, because he'd probably eaten everything else. When I'd finally run out of things to say and anyway, my throat was feeling sore I asked about her friends.
"My friends," she answered, closing the book, "are ten times more annoying than yours."
I stared like a dope for a good two seconds before remembering that I was meant to react. So I went for a laugh late, but hey. "What's your name?"