Olga (PG-13)

Brock Briggs' major claim to fame was his athletic abilities. He wasn't the most gifted jock at Hillsboro High but he was a well known and popular student three-sport athlete who got his name in the paper enough times to be noticed. He didn't get wrapped up in the celebrity and ego of his sports status like some of his teammates. He just liked to play the game and try to do his best which was what his father always taught him.

Brock's status as a student athlete gave him certain advantages he might not have otherwise enjoyed. Teachers cut him slack, students worshiped him, and girls who might not have otherwise noticed him were happy to socialize with him and that made his social and romantic life much more successful. His current girlfriend was Ashley, one of the prettier girls in the school and a good catch in anybody's book although now that they had been together for a few months Brock was beginning to realize that she was a bit of a spoiled, rude, conceited and self center person and he wasn't sure if she was the girl of his dreams after all.

But Ashley was good friends with Hillary who was dating Brock's good friend Pete so it made it convenient all around and Brock wasn't sure if he was in the position to upset the apple cart just yet. Hillary was President of the Student Council and Pete was one of the best athletes in the school so Brock found himself in the higher echelon of personalities by dating Ashley even though sometimes he wasn't sure if he belonged there. Hillary and Ashley both lived in the Hilltop section of town with those three story Victorian homes and upper middle class families. Pete's father was a lawyer and his mother a dentist and they lived in a five-hundred thousand dollar modern home down by the Blue River. They drove newer cars, wore expensive wardrobes, and could afford weekend ski trips to Vermont whenever they wanted.

Brock's father was a maintenance guy at a housing complex in Miller City and his mom worked in sale sat Dovovan's Department Store in Greenville. They lived in a two-bedroom fifty year old ranch in the flats section of Hillsboro and Brock drove a ten year old car he bought with his own money from the part time job his mother got him at Donovan's. But he could catch a football, shoot a basketball, and hit a baseball so some of that was overlooked by his teammates and their circle of influence.

Brock knew that if he broke his leg or somehow lost his talent he'd be just another nameless face among the masses so he didn't question his good fortune to much. He liked being seen in the company of the beautiful people and even if Ashley could be a snot sometimes she was still a great kisser and he didn't mind putting up with some of her antics if it meant some Friday night make out sessions in her family room.

On this Friday night, Brock accompanied Ashley, Hillary and Pete into the Greenville Denny's for a late meal after an early movie and they took their seats in a booth by the front windows. Another successful basketball season was over and Pete and Brock were waiting for baseball practice to start when the weather got a little better.

Denny's Waitress in Trainee Olga Pirozhkov was working her third shift since being hired and tonight she was flying solo for the first time. She recognized the Hillsboro students as soon as they walked through the door. She was a junior and those guys were Seniors but who didn't know Pete Zimmerman and his girlfriend Hillary Kraft along with the ever perfect Ashley Wilson and that Brock Briggs guy who made the game winning touchdown catch during the big Turkey Day Football showdown against arch rival Greenville? They were the pretty people, popular and well liked, power brokers within the school setting.

Olga was nervous as she approached the table. The foursome were laughing and joking around and they barely looked at her when she arrived.

"Hello, I am Olga and I will be taking care of you tonight," She said.

"Oh, yeah?" Ashley laughed, tossing her long blonde hair back "Are you a nurse?"

Olga ignored the crack. "Can I start you off with drinks while you look at the menu?" She asked.

"I'll have a coke, please," that Brock guy said politely and with a pleasant smile.

"I'll go with a coke too," Pete said easily enough, his moppy hair hanging in his face.

"And I'll have an iced tea, please," Hillary ordered nicely. She was wearing her hair in a bun and was dressed nicely.

"I want you to bring me a glass of water with only four ice cubes in it," Ashley announced. "I want a lemon on the side, okay? Not in the water. Not under all the ice. On the side, got it?"

"Got it," Olga replied as she finished writing down the order. She smiled and started walking away.

"And could we get our drinks before Christmas?" Ashley called after her.

Brock hated going to restaurants with Ashley because she always treated the wait staff like indentured servants and she went out of her way to be bitchy and rude to them. It was one of her many power trips and it usually made Brock cringe. He glanced after the waitress and he tried to place her. He was pretty sure he had seen her somewhere before but he couldn't be sure. She was tall and thin and may have been Russian or some other Eastern Europe ethnicity. There was a touch of a light accent in her voice and she had dark features. She was attractive in a nice way although she may have been wearing just a tad too much make up.

Olga went to the soda machine and poured the two cokes. She also poured the iced tea in a tall glass an she made sure the water class was spotless knowing that the Ashley girl would probably be inspecting it. She counted out four ice cubes and dropped them in the water and she found the most perfect lemon slice which she carefully attached to the side of the glass. Placing all four glasses on the round tray, Olga returned to the table. Hillary and Pete were sitting on one side of the booth with that Brock guy and Miss Ashley opposite them.

"Oh, good," Ashley remarked when Olga arrived with the drinks and for some reason Olga suddenly felt extremely nervous.

"Here we go," Olga said warmly, giving Hillary her iced tea and Pete his coke first because they were on her dominant side.

But when Olga put the coke down in front of Pete and started to turn toward Ashley and that Brock guy, the weight of the tray shifted in her hand and before she could compensate, the tray turned over, dumping both drinks onto Ashley and Brock.

Ashley screamed as if she had just been goosed as the ice water rained all over her and Brock tried to duck out of the way of the flying coke but the splatters from the table still got his yellow sweater and dripped into his lap.

"You stupid bitch!" Ashley screamed as she jumped out of the booth (that Brock guy was on the inside). "What kind of spazes do they hire around here!"

Olga looked horrified and she dropped the tray and put both hands to her mouth. "Oh My God! I am so sorry!"

"Yeah, well sorry doesn't pay for my dry cleaning," the enraged Ashley barked. "What are you, a retard?" She brushed the water off her pretty blouse.

"It was an accident, Ashley," that Brock guy said calmly as he started pulling napkins out of the holder on the table. "No harm, no foul."

"No harm?" Ashley complained, pulling the lemon slice out of her hair. "I'm soaked, god damn it!"

"It's just water," that Brock guy said.

"Yeah, it's a free shower, Ash," Pete joked.

"Oh, what do you know?" Ashley groaned before returning her attention to the waitress. "How in the hell did you even get this job, you loser?"

Another waitress arrived with several rags and clothes to help wipe up the mess.

"I will go get you new drinks," Olga said, looking like she had just witnessed a mass murder.

"Forget it!" Ashley seethed. "We're leaving!"

"But we haven't eaten yet," Pete protested.

"I'm not putting my life in this twat's hands," Ashley said. "If you're an uncoordinated spazmod, you really shouldn't being waitressing, clod," Ashley said to Olga. "Why don't you go clean toilets somewhere? You're good for shit anyway."

"Ashley, is that really necessary?" that Brock guy said with annoyance. "Don't worry about it, it was an accident," he said to Olga.

"Don't you try to defend her, Brock!" Ashley complained. "She could kill somebody. She's a menace and an embarrassment to the Denny chain and I for one am not coming back here as long as she's working here." She turned to Hillary. "Come on, Hills, lets blow this popsicle stand."

Hillary rolled her eyes and followed her friend out of the Dennys. Pete took a long swig from his coke before sliding out of the booth. "Sorry," he said to Olga. "But thanks for the free drink. Next time, see if you can get it all over her head!" Then he followed the two girls out of the restaurant.

"Look, it really wasn't your fault," that Brock guy told the waitress as he helped her and the other waitress finish cleaning the table.

"Then whose fault was it?" Olga asked as she tried not to cry. "You should better go before you Princess from Hell girlfriend leaves you here with no ride."

"I'm really sorry," that Brock guy said. "She had no right to talk to you like that."

"Who is going to stop her?" Olga challenged angrily. "You?" She made a face at him. "Please, just go."

"Maybe you should put the tray down on the table before you unload it," that Brock guy suggested.

"Thank you for the tip," Olga sighed with defeat. "Would you like to humiliate me in any other way before you go?"

That Brock guy sighed and then they heard a car horn tooting outside.

"Your chariot awaits," Olga noted as she finished wiping the seat and picking the ice cubes off the floor. "Hurry, Cinderfella."

"Again, really sorry," that Brock guy told her before he followed his friends out the door.

"Yeah, well sorry does not pay my tips," Olga said sadly as she wiped the tears from her eyes.

Ashley bitched all the way back to Hillsboro while Pete and Hillary mostly tried to laugh it off. Pete was driving with Hillary next to him in the front while Ashley continued to rant and rave in the backseat. Brock kept his eyes out the window thinking about the embarrassment, humiliation and pain on the waitress's face. He had noticed her name tag before he left: Olga, but it didn't ring any bells.

Brock knew his mother didn't think much of Ashley and her behavior tonight was Exhibit 1A why. Brock was raised to always be respectful and polite in public, to treat people with honor and respect and to always appreciate those who were performing customer service jobs. Ashley certainly did not demonstrate any of those attributes for the most part. But she was a good kisser so who was he to argue?

As usual, Ashley turned her attack on Brock. "I can't believe you spoke up for that slob," she complained. "You're supposed to back me, you asshole."

"You didn't have to go off on her, Ash," Brock defended. "It was an accident."

"You know, Brock, we can dress you up and treat you like one of us but in the end you're always going to be a kid from the flats," Ashley remarked sadly. "Sometimes I don't even know what I'm doing with you."

"I heard he's great in bed," Pete joked from the front seat.

"I'm sorry if I embarrass you, Ashley," Brock replied with annoyance.

The rest of the ride was spent in silence and Brock was glad when Pete dropped him off first since his house was first in route.

"See you guys tomorrow," Brock said as he opened the door. He turned to Ashley and tried to give her a peck but she was still pissed off at him and she turned her head away with an audible "Humpf".

"Whatever," Brock mumbled as he climbed out of the car and closed the door, watching the vehicle speed away.

He walked into the house and said hello to his parents who were still up, sitting in the living room watching television.

"We weren't expecting you so early, Dear," her mother remarked, looking up when Brock entered the room.

"Yeah, well things were cut short," Brock replied.

"What happened?" His mother asked with a raised eyebrow.

"Ashley being Ashley," Brock replied, shaking his head with annoyance.

"I miss Pam," his mother sighed. "You never should have broken up with her, Brock."

She was right, of course, but Brock wasn't about to admit to that. He thought he was moving up when he and Ashley became an item half way through football season but now nearly six months later he missed Pam too but he had blown that one by dumping her and now Pam was happily dating Erick Haas and he knew she'd never take him back. He didn't deserve her anyway and he had come to realize that he didn't deserve Ashley either - actually, Ashley didn't deserve him - and tonight's little performance was just one more example of how wrong she was for him.

"Oh well, goodnight folks," Brock said.

"Maybe we can hit some this weekend, son," his father called out.

"Sure, Dad, that would be great," Brock replied as he headed for the stairs.

He went up to his room and he knew he should call, text or e-mail Ashley but he just wasn't in the mood. He wished he knew who that Olga person was so he could call, text, or e-mail her and tell her how sorry he was that he had a bitch for a girlfriend.

Olga noticed that Brock Briggs guy walking through the hallway first thing on Monday morning which struck her as rather ironic since she was trying to forget all about him and his creep girlfriend after Friday night's disaster.

Yet, she couldn't help but look at him. He wasn't the hottest guy in school but he was slightly popular and he had at least tried to be nice to her the other night. He had shaggy blonde hair that hung loose around his shoulders and penetrating blue eyes that had a way of looking right through people. She glared at him even though she felt her knees go weak.

And then he looked up from something he was looking at in his hand and saw her looking at him and his face lit up with recognition.

"Olga!" He called out, rushing across the hall to her. "You go to Hillsboro High?"

"Uh, yeah," she confirmed.

"How come I never noticed you before?" that Brock guy wanted to know.

"Probably because you were not looking," she muttered.

'Well, I'm really glad you're here," he replied. "I feel really bad about Friday night."

"Do not worry about it," Olga sighed. "I got fired."

"What?" that Brock guy asked with shock. "Why?"

"Because I apparently suck as a waitress," Olga replied, trying not to let her voice crack. "It would appear that I suck at everything."

"I'm really sorry, Olga," that Brock guy said with sympathy.

"That is what I get for being a dipshit, right?" She sighed.

"You're not that," he assured her. "It's probably all Ashley's fault anyway for making such an ugly big deal out of it."

"Well, it is not your problem," Olga replied. "I can not deny I am a klutz anyway." And then she disappeared down the hall feeling like a total failure.

Brock felt terrible. He couldn't believe the poor kid lost her job because of them. Well, Ashley mostly. What surprised him the most was that he had never noticed her around the school before. Was he really that blind? Really that lost in his own little protected jock world? He shuttered at the thought.

Olga felt her eyes tear up as she walked down the hall towards her locker trying to regain her breath. She was surprised that Brock guy had actually talked to her and she was beginning to think maybe he wasn't such a bad guy after all although there had to be something wrong with him if he was dating such a horrible person as Ashley what's-her-name. Besides, he had to think she was an idiot anyway. She did spill the damn tray, there was no denying that.

She couldn't seem to find a job and when she did she couldn't seem to keep it very long. She was frustrated and she knew part of the problem was her own inability to master the skills required but she also felt that she was treated differently because she was the daughter of immigrants who spoke with a noticeable accent.

Brock thought about Olga as the morning went on. Her presence made him realize all the more that Ashley had become tedious, tiresome, and an embarrassment. Olga, on the other hand, seemed to be a normal person and that's exactly the kind of girl he wanted to be with.

Brock entered the cafeteria and saw Ashley sitting with Pete and Hillary as usual over in the cool section and he sighed as he started for the table but then out of the corner of his eye he saw Olga sitting by herself over in the corner and he stopped in his tracks. She was eating an apple and reading a book.

Ashley was waving at him impatiently and he nodded as he headed for the food line to grab his lunch. When he was done paying for it, he came out of the line but instead of heading toward his regular table with the gang, he walked across the cafeteria and took a seat kitty corner Olga.

She looked up and did a double take when she realized who it was. "What are you doing here?" She asked with stunned awkwardness.

"Is it okay if I sit with you?" that Brock guy asked.

Olga looked around the room feeling like she had just been exposed in some sick gag. "Are not those your friends over there?" She asked when she saw Ashley frowning at them.

"Don't worry about it," that Brock guy grinned.

"You do not have to feel sorry for me," Olga muttered. "You said you were sorry and I accept your apology. You do not have to make a big deal out of it."

"I just want to get to know you a little," that Brock guy replied. "You seem like a nice person."

Olga stared at him with disbelief. "Are you trying to collect some kind of bet?" She frowned, glancing over her shoulder at the others. "Did they put you up to this?"

"No, of course not," that Brock said, sounding slightly offended. "I'm here because I want to be here."

"I think you lost your way," Olga replied. "I am not your kind."

"My kind?" that Brock asked with surprise. "What do you mean?"

"I am not a member of the in-crowd," she said knowingly. "I am not one of you."

"I'm not one of me either," that Brock guy grinned.

"Anyway, you do not want to get to know me," Olga advised.

"Why not?" He asked innocently.

Olga glanced down at the table. "I do not belong."

"Who does?" that Brock guy challenged her.

"I do not want your pity," Olga said defiantly, feeling her voice crack.

"That's not why I'm here," that Brock guy insisted.

"Yeah, right," she said, not believing him. "I hate it when people pity me," she said with disgust.

"Why are you so bitter?" that Brock guy whispered.

She looked at him, definitely taken aback by his question but they were interrupted by Ashley who had charged across the cafeteria.

"Brock?" She asked with concern. "What in the hell are you doing?"

"Just talking to Olga," that Brock guy replied easily.

"Am I being tortured or what?" Ashley groaned, throwing Olga a hateful look. "Figures you go to school here," she said angrily. "Just stay away from me you foreigner trailer park trash."

Olga gathered her things and hastily left the table while Ashley dragged that Brock guy back to the right side of the cafeteria.

Olga was sitting on the grass behind the school with her nose stuffed in her book. People rarely paid attention to her or bothered her back here and she liked the peace and quiet.

"Hey."

She felt someone sit next to her on the grass and she was stunned when she looked up to that Brock guy sitting beside her.

"Can not you just leave me alone?" Olga sighed.

"No," he answered honestly.

"What the hell do you want then?" She asked uncomfortably.

"I'm not stalking you, Olga," that Brock guy said gently. "I'm just trying to get to know you a little."

"Because you feel sorry for me," she sniped.

"Well, I do feel guilty about what happened to you," that Brock guy confessed. "I'm kind of responsible in a way."

"Because your girlfriend is a bitch?" Olga asked.

That Brock guy shrugged.

"Oh, what does it matter anyway?" Olga sighed. "Look, you did your little bit of social justice work. Congratulations. You can move on now."

"I don't want to move on," that Brock guy sighed.

"Well, I wish you would," Olga replied curtly.

"What happened to you?" That Brock guy wanted to know. "Why are you so angry?"

"I am not," she said, but she had to suck in her breath. "I just want to be left alone."

Brock glanced around the school yard and didn't say anything for a few minutes. "I'm really not one of them, you know," he finally remarked.

"Huh?" She wasn't sure what he meant.

"I don't live on the hill. My family is not all upper crust stuck ups. My old man is a janitor and my mother is a salesperson at a department store. I just happen to be sort of good at sports."

Olga looked at him with surprise. "Oh," she said, seeing him differently for the first time.

"I live in the flats," that Brock guy revealed.

"How did you end up with Ashley?" She wondered.

"Bad luck," he grinned and she couldn't help but laugh. "I'm Brock, by the way."

"Yes, Brock Briggs, I know," Olga replied, smiling for the first time. "I am Olga. Olga Pirozhkov."

"Well, Olga," he smiled. "It's nice meeting you. And I'm really sorry about the other day."

She shrugged. "I really wanted that job."

He nodded with understanding. "There are other jobs. I work at Donovan's Department store sometimes. I'll let you know if there are any openings."

"I already checked there," she said. "There is not."

"I have an in," that Brock guy replied. "My mother is one of the senior sales people there."

"Oh, well, gee, thanks," Olga said, surprised he even made the offer.

"So, well, can I have your number?" that Brock guy asked.

Olga hesitated, caught off guard. "My number?" She asked in disbelief.

That Brock guy grinned. "Sure."

She nervously recited it to him and he punched it into his cell phone.

He smiled with contentment. "Thanks. So, I'll call you sometime." He stood up but she stopped him with a question.

"What about your girlfriend?"

He laughed and scratched the back of his neck. "I've been thinking about ending that for a while now," he confessed. "I think the other night was the final straw, don't you?" He smiled and then he walked off.

Olga was in complete shock. She got up and walked home trying to figure out what was going on and why a guy like Brock Briggs would even give her a second look.

Olga was surprised that she kept waiting for her phone to go off. She didn't get a lot of calls so if it went off it would most likely be Brock calling. But the phone never rang.

She hoped that maybe he actually liked her and that maybe they would become friends but now she was realizing that she was just being foolish to think such things. That Brock guy probably really was just one of those people who couldn't be bothered with someone like her. She wanted to cry but she didn't. She had learned not to cry a long time ago. Besides she was used to being a loner. She wouldn't know how to act around him anyway. When everyone else was out being social butterflies, Olga was in her room reading while listening to music.

Which was exactly what she was doing when her phone suddenly started ringing. She jumped and fished around the couch for her cell and once finding it, she pushed the 'Talk' button and held it to her ear.

"Hello?"

"Hey, Olga, it's Brock Briggs."

She almost dropped the phone she was so thrilled and excited that he actually called. "Uh, hello."

"How are you?"

"Okay," she muttered nervously.

"What are you doing?"

"Reading."

There was prolonged silence and Brock realized that Olga didn't have a lot of experience in the telephone conversation department.

"So, I'm good," Brock let her know.

"Oh. Yeah. Sorry. I was supposed to ask 'How are you, right? Duh."

He laughed. "That's alright. So, anyway, I broke up with Ashley today," he announced.

"What?" She wasn't sure if she heard him right.

"Yeah. I've had enough."

"Did she scream, call you names, degrade you, and make you feel like shit when you told her?"

"Oh, yeah," Brock groaned. "It was worse than spilling ice water on her!"

Olga couldn't help but laugh this time. "Sorry about that."

"It's okay," Brock replied. "It's done with now."

"Yeah."

"So maybe I can sit with you in the cafeteria from now on?"

"If you want," she replied, swallowing hard.

"Why wouldn't I?" He teased.

"Well, I do not exactly like have an image like you do," she pointed out. "I am basically invisible."

"I think that's about to change," Brock remarked. "Anyway, I'll let you go back to your reading. I'll see you around."

"Okay," she said, trying to sound calm and collected but she felt like standing up on the couch and jumping up and down in joy.

Brock anticipated a fall from grace once the news that he and Ashley were on the rocks got around so he was surprised when not much changed during the next few days other than Ashley giving him death stares and bad-mouthing him to anybody who would listen.

Word got back to Brock that he was everything from frigid to gay and everything in between thanks to the crummy rumors, gossip and innuendo Ashley was spreading around. Apparently, Brock was a sexual deviant who wanted to do perverted things. According to the feedback he received, Ashley accused him of doing disgusting things and of being a loser who's only claim to fame was being able to play sports, otherwise he'd be a nobody just like the rest of the nobodies.

Brock didn't worry too much about Ashley's bitter revenge knowing that most wouldn't take her all that seriously anyway. Everybody knew that breakups could be bitter and bloody and that Ashley had a reputation of being a vindictive bitch anyway so he assumed that most of the charges levied against him would be dismissed by most of the student body who knew him better than that.

Pete was okay with the breakup knowing first hand how difficult it was to be Ashley's boyfriend. They sat in study hall together a few days after the break up.

"Unless she was the best lay in history, it probably wasn't worth the drama," Pete told Brock. "Ashley can be a real pain in the ass but because she's got a great ass most of us just accept that about her."

"Not me," Brock replied. "Not anymore."

"So," Pete grinned. "Was she good in bed? How does she look naked?" He asked with raised eyebrows.

"She's definitely got the body and the looks," Brock admitted. "But she's pretty ugly in the personality department."

Ashley was basically an exhibitionist which was one reason why Brock stayed with her for so long. She liked to prance around her room in the nude even when Brock was there because she loved showing off her body. And, yeah the sex was memorable because Ashley was aggressive and almost rough but even that became a turn off when Brock began to realize how much he truly disliked her as a person.

So, he was officially single now, free to pursue Olga if that something he was interested in doing. Hanging out with Pete would be a little more difficult now since Ashley was best friends with Pete's girl Hillary but Brock didn't mind working around that.

He started meeting Olga in the cafeteria at lunch time and she definitely didn't know what to make of it. Was this Brock guy really interested in her? Did he truly want to talk with her? Did he not mind being seen in public with her? It was the first time any guy really showed any legitimate interest in her other than trying to grab at her ass or make some snide sexual comment toward her.

Olga really had no idea what she was supposed to talk about with this Brock guy. Did they have anything in common? Would he find her a bore? How could she possibly complete coming after such a pretty girl as Ashley?

She didn't have much to say the first few times they shared lunch together so Brock filled in the empty spaces with his stories of athletic accomplishments over the years. Olga didn't think he was bragging or showing off when he talked about his love for the games and his early memories learning how to play with his father and his first successes in little league and other venues. She hadn't paid attention to sports before and she gained a new appreciation for it by listening to his stories of team camaraderie, shared vision and goals, the thrill of making a play, and the determination to get better when he blew a play.

After a few weeks of lunch time (mostly one sided) conversations, Olga got a pretty good idea of who this Brock Briggs guy was and she had to admit that she liked him. He was unassuming, polite, interesting, grounded and he appeared to be of good character, noticeably different from some of the other jocks who ruled the school with egotistical attitudes, strutting themselves around as if they were God's gift to humanity.

Brock was reasonably smart but he didn't talk down to people. He said hello to the 'common folk' students who weren't members of the higher echelon and he seemed sincere in his outlook and his attitude. Olga had yet to hear him utter a negative or insulting word or comment and he barely even mentioned Ashley even in passing even though Olga had heard all sorts of wild rumors and gossip about their relationship.

Olga knew she would have to reveal more of herself to him as time went on. So far she was able to make general and generic remarks about school but she hadn't talked a lot about her personal life, home situation, or herself and she wanted to keep it that way for as long as she could knowing that Brock guy would probably be scared away once he found out who she truly was.

Her first test came on a rainy morning when her cell phone rang just as she finished folding up the blankets from the living room couch where she slept.

"Hello?" She answered with uncertainty.

"Hey Olga, its Brock Briggs," the voice on the other end said. "You walk to school, right?"

"Most of the time," she replied. "It is not that far."

"Well, it's raining cats and dogs out there," he said. "How 'bout I pick you up today?"

"Oh, you do not have to do that," Olga said nervously.

"I want to," Brock replied. "Where exactly do you live?"

Olga's mother appeared in the doorway to the living room and was giving her daughter the eye so Olga knew she couldn't lie or try to squirm her way out of it.

"Thirteen Canal Street," she sighed. "I will be out front in ten minutes."

"Okay," Brock replied and the line went dead.

"Who was that?" Olga's mother asked.

"Just some guy from school," Olga replied. "He is giving me a ride because of the rain."

"A guy?" Olga's mother asked with surprise.

Olga shrugged and followed her mother into the kitchen to grab something to eat before she had to leave.

"What guy?" Her mother wanted to know.

"He plays sports," Olga replied. "He seems okay."

Olga's mother nodded and studied her daughter for a moment. "Just be careful."

"I know, Mom," Olga nodded.

Her two younger sisters charged into the room followed more slowly by their grandmother. The apartment only had four rooms so it was a little crowded which is why Olga slept on the couch. Most of her clothes were kept in a trunk in the small hall by the bathroom. The building looked dumpy from the outside and the common space stairwells and hallways were dirty, graffiti-covered and dark, but Olga's mother kept their apartment as neat and clean as possible with tag sale paintings on the wall and presentable used furniture in the rooms.

The bathroom finally free, Olga rushed in to use the toilet, brush her teeth and quickly look at herself in the mirror. Passable, she supposed. She threw on her old raincoat – most of their clothes came from the Goodwill and Salvation Army – and said goodbye to her family before heading for the door.

"Have a good day, Olga!" her mother called after her.

Olga skipped down the stairs hoping to avoid some of the shady characters that were out there sometimes and she stood in the doorway waiting for that Brock guy to arrive.

Canal Street housed the remaining old tenements from the old mill days in Hillsboro. Some had been rehabbed and fixed up and most were low-income housing. The apartment building at 13 Canal Street was old, run down and ugly and Olga wished she had thought quickly enough to say '18 Canal Street' which at least had been rehabilitated with federal grant money a few years ago. Canal Street overlooked the old power canal and the embankment between the street and the canal was full of empty beer cans and other trash. Junky cars were parked on the street and Olga wondered what that Brock guy would think when he arrived.

Her mother was on subsidy and that was one of the reasons why Olga wanted to find a job she could do without screwing up. Any money coming into the household would help and she wanted to do her part although her mother said getting good grades in school and studying hard should be her first priority.

An older car pulled in front of the apartment building and Olga could see Brock waving at her so she ran out from under the cover of the overhang and scooted into his car.

"Hey," that Brock guy greeted her with a smile.

"Hello," she said sheepishly, waiting for him to levy some insult about the neighborhood but instead he mentioned that baseball practice would probably be washed out today as he drove them to school.

"You know, the school is almost two miles from here," Brock remarked as he drove. "You walk every day?"

"Most days," she confirmed.

"Aren't you on the bus route?"

She shrugged, not wanting to tell him that she was often harassed and bothered on the bus and that it was easier to walk even in bad weather.

"Well, from now on, I'm your ride," that Brock guy announced. "Every morning, same time, okay?"

She swallowed but didn't say anything.

A few minutes later, he was pulling the car into the student parking lot. "My mother tries to make me use an umbrella but my theory is real men don't use umbrellas," he grinned. "So, we'll have to make a run for it."

She nodded and they both jumped out of the car and sprinted to the school. Brock was surprised that Olga actually beat him.

"Geez, you're fast!" that Brock guy remarked when they reached the school's overhang. "You should run track or cross country or something."

"I do not do sports," Olga replied, barely breathing hard.

"Too bad," that Brock guy told her. "You'd be good."

It was the first time somebody said something nice to her in she didn't know how long.

That Brock guy continued to eat lunch with her and now he was driving her to school in the morning. He had baseball practice (and soon games) in the afternoon and he told her if she hung around and watched he'd give her a ride home afterwards. To her own surprise, sometimes Olga did even though she knew nothing about baseball.

That Brock guy was happy to explain the game to her and after a few weeks she was beginning to get the hang of it.

"Dude, are your really hanging out with that waitress from Denny's?" Pete asked when he finally figured out what was going on.

They were dressing in the locker room for baseball practice.

"She's not a waitress," Brock revealed. "She got canned the day she dumped the water on Ashley."

"Oh yeah?" Pete asked, not really interested though.

I really like her," Brock told Pete.

"You're kidding, right?" Pete laughed. "I mean, geez Brock."

"What?" Brock wondered.

"Well, she's a Ruskie for one, right?"

"So what?" Brock replied.

"And I've heard stuff about her too," Pete added.

"Like what?" Brock frowned.

"Just stuff," Pete muttered. "I mean, didn't Ashley call her poor white trash?"

"Who cares what Ashley says?" Brock rebutted. "She's really a nice girl. Quiet and shy, but nice."

"Well, she's definitely never going to be among the populars," Pete noted.

"I don't think I'm even among the populars!" Brock said.

"You won't be if you're serious about this, Brock," Pete warned. "People will think you're nuts."

"Who cares?"

"You sure you're not doing this just to piss off Ashley?" Pete asked.

"Ashley is over," Brock replied. "I wouldn't go back to her even if you paid me."

"Hillary says that Ashley said that you've gone off the deep end," Pete remarked as they began walking out of the locker room to head for the practice field.

"Do you think I'm going off the deep end?" Brock challenged.

Pete shrugged. "I don't know what I think," he admitted. "I just hope you know what you're doing."

"So why does it brother you if I like this girl?" Brock wanted to know.

"It's just not going to be the same, that's all," Pete replied. "She'd never fit in with our group."

"I don't even fit in with our group," Brock remarked.

"Sure you do," Pete assured him.

"If I quit the baseball team today, would we still hang out?" Brock wondered.

"You'd never quit the baseball team," Pete replied. "It's in your blood."

Brock sighed once again realizing that his entire identity was caught up in his athletic skills and abilities and not who he was as a person. Folks were happy when he was with the good looking and popular Ashley because that's the way it was supposed to be. Nobody cared that Brock really didn't think she was that nice of a person because they looked good together and that was all that really mattered.

But now Brock was hanging out with Olga, the invisible girl nobody noticed before and that upset the image of the populars and some just didn't like it. Brock was accepted by the populars even though he really wasn't one but he'd better not rock the boat was the message or he might find himself on the outs. Not that he really cared anymore.

Brock asked Olga if she wanted to come over to his house on Friday night after the game to watch a movie. She was flabbergasted by the invitation and she knew she should probably say no but it wasn't everyday that some guy asked her to watch a movie with him.

Olga called her mom and explained that she was going to watch the baseball game and then go over to that Brock Briggs guy's house."

"Brock Briggs?" Her mother asked. "That is guy's name?"

"Yes," Olga revealed.

"Have not I heard his name before?" Olga's mother asked with her heavy accent. "In newspaper maybe?"

"Yes, Mom, but not in the court log," Olga replied. "He plays sports."

"Make sure you home before eleven," her mother replied. "And you call me if there is any problems."

"Of course, Mom," Olga replied.

She sat in the bleachers alone and watched the Hillsboro Hurricanes beat the St. Anne's Saints, 11-3. Brock had three hits and he made a nice catch in the outfield. Olga saw Ashley sitting further down with Hillary but Olga tried not to look at her and she prayed that that Ashley wouldn't say anything to her but during the seventh inning stretch Ashley walked down the bleachers and stood in front of Olga.

"I don't care if you get my seconds," Ashley said nastily. "But just remember. I'm way better than you and I had him first. I think he must have gotten in the head with a baseball or something to want to be seen with someone like you. I wish you'd just go back to wherever you came from, Foreigner."

Olga refused to look at her and she didn't say anything either.

"What's the matter, Moscow?" Ashley asked snidely. "Too stupid to talk?"

"Come on, Ashley," Hillary called from her spot on the bleachers. "Leave her alone."

Ashley grumbled something underneath her breath before turning and walking back to Hillary. Olga sucked in her breath and tried to remain calm and unemotional.

Brock could tell that Olga was upset when he met her by the backstop after the game.

"Something wrong?" He asked.

She shook her head no and tried to force a smile.

"Anyway, it was a good game, huh?" He asked as he led her from the field to the parking lot, still in his baseball uniform.

She nodded again but didn't say much as he drove her home.

"That's Beano Field," he said, slowing the car down in front of a baseball park in the middle of a neighborhood. "I think I'm gonna get to play there this summer," he said with excitement. "It's an amateur baseball league that's been around since the 1940s. I'm pretty excited."

"That is nice," Olga replied with a smile.

"That's The Bullpen Tavern on the side of it," Brock went on. "My father and I go there for lunch on Saturdays sometimes. And we watched a lot of Serguci League games in the past. It would be great if I get to play there."

She nodded and he drove a few more blocks and pulled his car into the driveway of an attractive but older and slightly small house in an older neighborhood.

"All this land used to be an old Army base," he explained. "Beano Field was part of it and it and that old warehouse you saw is all that is left. And some old Quonset huts that are still around. All these houses were built after World War II."

Olga knew nothing about any of this. All she really knew about Hillsboro was that she lived on Canal Street.

They climbed out of the car and walked toward the house. Olga's plan was to just try and to act and appear as normal as possible and hope she didn't make a fool of herself in front of that Brock guy or his parents.

"Mom, we're home," Brock announced as he led Olga through the front door.

Olga noticed how attractive and pleasant the place looked. A middle aged woman stepped out of the kitchen with a smile on her face.

"Mom, this is Olga," Brock said. "Olga, my mom."

"It's a pleasure to meet you, Dear," Brock's mom said with a smile, shaking her hand. "Welcome to our home."

"Thank you," Olga said with a pasted smile on her face. "It is nice to be here."

"Your father should be home soon, Brock," his mother said. "He's bringing the pizza."

"Great," Brock replied. "I'm just going to show Olga my room for a minute."

"Of course," his mother smiled.

Olga followed Brock down a short hall and he led her into his room which looked like a sports shrine. Trophies, posters, and sports equipment was everywhere.

"I know I get a little carried away," Brock grinned when he noticed her staring at all the photos, banners, and other memorabilia. "I should probably get rid of some of this stuff but I just can't."

"It is okay to be proud," Olga remarked.

"Ashley thought I was being stupid," he sighed. "Opps. Sorry, I promised myself I'd never mention her name in your presence!"

She smiled. "I do appreciate that."

Brock broke out in a huge smile, amused by her sense of humor. "That's pretty funny," he said with a laugh. "Anyway, I should probably shower and change," he said. "I know you don't want to smell baseball!"

She smiled.

"Why don't you go out and wait with my Mom?" Brock suggested. "She'd be thrilled to chat with you."

Olga tried not to look horrified. Go meet his mother? Alone? What would she say? She nodded and left the room to give Brock his privacy, floating down the hall slowly, stalling by glancing at the various family photos on the wall, most of them with Brock in some sort of sports uniform.

"Hello," Brock's mother smiled when Olga stepped into the living room.

"Hello," Olga replied shyly.

"Please, have a seat," Brock's mother said warmly. "My husband should be here with the pizza any minute."

Olga nodded and took a seat on the couch.

"So, you go to Hillsboro High?" Brock's mother asked to make conversation.

"I am Junior," Olga replied.

"You're very tall for your age," Brock's mother smiled.

"Yes," Olga agreed.

"So, where did you and Brock meet?"

"Denny's," Olga revealed. "I spilled his coke all over him."

"Oh dear," Brock's mother smiled.

"And Ice water all over Ashley," Olga added.

At this, Brock's mother burst out in laughter. "Oh, she must have loved that."

"Yes, she used very colorful language toward me."

"I just wish I could have seen the look on her face when the water first hit her," Brock's mother laughed.

"She was not happy," Olga admitted.

"Well, thank you, Olga," Brock's mother said, sounding strangely serious. "If that's what led to their break up, I'm in your debt."

Olga was surprised by that comment and she realized that Brock's mother didn't like Ashley either.

"I got fired because of it," Olga sighed.

"Oh, I'm sorry," Brock's mother said sincerely. "That surely wasn't fair or right." She looked around and then whispered to Olga: "But it was probably worth it, dear. Ashley is history and now Brock has himself a lovely new friend."

Olga blushed and just then the front door opened and a middle aged man with graying streaks on his sideburns came in carrying a large rectangular pizza box.

"Did Hillsboro win?" was the first thing out of his mouth.

"Yes, 11 to 3," Olga reported.

Brock's father stopped and looked at the unfamiliar girl sitting in his living room.

"This is Olga, dear," Brock's mother said.

"Well, hello," Brock's father beamed. "Welcome!"

Brock's mother stood and took the pizza box from her husband and disappeared into the kitchen.

"How'd Brock do?" His father wanted to know.

"Three hits," Olga replied.

"And a great catch if I do say so myself," Brock said with a grin as he entered the living room freshly showered and wearing gym shorts and a long Hurricanes tee shirt with sneakers.

"Sorry I missed the game, Brock," his father said, slapping him on the back.

"Its okay, Dad," Brock smiled.

"So, Olga, are you a baseball fan?" Brock's father asked.

"I am becoming one now," she smiled.

Brock's mother called them into the kitchen and they sat at the table eating the pizza along with soft drinks, although Brock's father had a beer. The two men talked mostly about the ball game while Brock's mother tried to ask Olga questions about herself when there was the opportunity and Olga replied with her usual general and generic comments.

"Olga isn't a big talker, Mom," Brock said with a grin when he realized that his mother was trying to pump Olga for information. "We've know each other for weeks and I don't even know what her middle name is!"

"Rita," Olga responded and that got another laugh from Brock.

"Great, at this pace I'll know your parents names in about ten years!" he laughed and that caused Olga to blush with embarrassment.

"Nothing wrong with being quiet," Brock's father remarked. He glanced at Olga. "You don't have to say anything if you don't want to, Olga. But you do have to eat!"

She smiled and took another piece of pizza.

She actually liked Brock's family and she enjoyed the meal, listening to Brock banter with his father and enjoying how his father teased his wife. It was obviously a happy family and she was glad for that.

When they were done with the meal, Brock brought Olga down into the cellar which was partly done over with a make shift family room with a couple of old couches over an old rug and a television with a DVD machine.

"I only have mostly sports movies," Brock admitted. "Is there anything you'd like to see?"

She shrugged so he started listening off movie titles. "I've got Field of Dreams, Bull Durham, The Natural, A League of Their Own, Bang the Drum Slowly, Major League, The Rookie, Damn Yankees, Fever Pitch, Hoosiers, Raging Bull, the first two and last Rockys, Breaking Away, the original Longest Yard, Rudy, Remember the Titans, North Dallas Forty, Brian's Song, Caddyshack, Tin Cup, Slap Shot, Miracle, Sea biscut, National Velvet, The Karate Kid, Chariots of Fire…."

He looked at her. "You have no clue, do you?"

"Not really," she admitted.

"Well, let's go with Rudy then," he said. "That's a real feel good movie. I think of him whenever I try to get fired up for a game when I don't feel like I'm the best player out there. I know as long as I have Rudy's heart, I'll be okay."

They sat on the couch together watching the movie. They were interrupted by Brock's mother once who brought down popcorn and some soda and Brock stopped the movie once so Olga could use the bathroom.

She actually liked the movie although she didn't' understand football all that much. She like Rudy's determination and his never give up attitude and she felt inspired to be more like him when it came to her own life.

Brock's parents were seated in the living room watching television when Brock and Olga emerged from the cellar and they wished Olga a pleasant good night. She smiled and thanked them for their hospitality before Brock led her to the car.

"I hope tonight was okay," Brock said as he drove her home.

"It was nice," she said warmly.

"I like spending time with you, Olga," he let her know. "I totally get it that you don't like talking about stuff and its okay."

Olga looked straight into Brock's eyes. "No, I want to tell you things. I really do."

"Well, when you're ready," he replied with a smile.

They arrived in front of her Canal Street dumpy apartment building.

"Why do you like me?" She asked him bluntly.

"I think you're nice and I think you're interesting," he replied quickly. "I want to get to know you better."

"Are you sure?" She asked with doubt.

"Yes," he answered with certainty. He leaned across the seat and kissed her on her cheek. "Good night, Olga."

Good night," she said as she climbed out of the car, not quite believing this was happening to her. Finally, a guy who seemed to care.

Brock took Olga to lunch at Johnny C's Diner one Saturday. It took Olga nearly an hour to decide what she should wear, not that she had that many clothes to choose from anyway. She decided on a mini light gray mini skirt and a light yellow jersey with a light gray border with sandals. She curled her hair and wore a little bit of makeup but not enough for her mother to make a big deal out of.

Brock and Olga were seated in the booth across from one another silently waiting for their order to arrive when Pete and Hillary joined them, Hillary sitting next to Brock while Pete surprised Olga by sitting next to her.

"Hey, you guys!' Pete said warmly.

"What are you guys doing?" Brock asked suspiciously. "Aren't you afraid to be seen in public with us?"

"Ashley's out of town," Hillary explained with a laugh. "The coast is clear!"

"Geez, are you really that much afraid of her?" Brock wondered.

"Yes," Hillary admitted, looking at Olga. "I want to apologize for everything that happened," she said. "I know Ashley is unbearable but she's been my best friend since kindergarten so I'm kind of stuck with her."

"Is it okay if we stay?" Pete asked hopefully, throwing Olga a look.

"I guess," Olga replied nervously.

"Just don't say anything stupid," Brock warned.

"We'll let you do that!" Pete laughed.

The lunch went surprisingly well and Olga actually enjoyed sitting there listening to those three banter back and forth. Hillary was kind enough to ask for Olga's opinion or response from time to time and Olga could see that she was actually a kind of nice girl. Pete was a teaser and a joker, full of one liners and humorous comments that actually got Olga laughing a few times. It was a welcomed change from her usual lonely routine and for a minute Olga actually felt like she belonged. Of course she knew she didn't though.

When they were done eating, Pete and Hillary said their farewells. They were all smiles and full of good cheer and they complimented and thanked Olga for eating with them. Olga felt her cheeks get hot and she laughed bashfully.

"Great, now that they're gone there's no time for us to chat," Brock said with a grin.

"We have plenty of time," Olga remarked. "Unless this is our last date."

"No way," Brock said, smiling.

He walked her out of the diner and boldly took her hand in his for the first time. "Thanks for having lunch with me," he said with a smile.

"Thanks for inviting me," she said with a rare smile back.

Olga was finally willing to trust Brock and to believe that he was sincere in his intentions with her. He really was a nice guy with a nice family and Olga looked forward to seeing him and spending time with him She knew she was going to have to come clean with him if they were going to have any sort of future together. He had been patient and understanding so far, not pressuring her to do or say anything and accepting things as they were.

One day when he drove her home after baseball practice she took the brave step of asking if he wanted to come upstairs for a minute and met her family. She knew she was taking the plunge but she figured if it was going to fall apart she might as well get it over with.

"Sure!" Brock said with excited surprise. "I'd like that."

He followed her up the stairs to Apartment 203 and he was a little surprised by the neglected and dirty look of the stairwell with peeling paint and graffiti on the walls. Olga knocked on the door before she opened it just in case her family wasn't ready for visitors.

Brock saw an older woman sitting at the small table in the small kitchen peeling potatoes while a younger woman was standing at the stove stirring something in a pot.

"Mom? Grandma?" Olga spoke up. "This is Brock Briggs."

Both women looked up and smiled at him. The grandmother said something to him that was obviously Russian and he nodded and smiled.

"Hello, Brock Briggs," the other woman said in English but with a heavy accent. "You like stay for supper?"

"No, thank you, Mrs. Pirozhkov," Brock replied politely. "I'm all sweaty from practice."

"Another time then," she replied with a smile.

"Yes, of course," he agreed.

Olga stepped into the living room and Brock noticed two bedrooms off the main room. Two girls – one maybe twelve, the other perhaps ten – were in the second bedroom and he noticed only two beds.

"Where do you sleep?" He wondered.

She gestured to the living room couch. "That is my bedroom," she said.

"Oh, a pull out," Brock nodded.

"No, it does not pull out," Olga replied and he gave her a surprised look.

"Well, I should get going," Brock said and Olga was wondering if this was the beginning of the end.

Now he knew and now he would be done with her.

"I will see you?" Olga asked hopefully.

"Sure, I'll pick you up tomorrow morning as usual," he said with a smile, starting for the door but the two girls came spilling out of the bedroom to meet him.

"This is Nadia and Inga," Olga said. "They are my sisters."

"It is a pleasure to meet you, girls!" Brock said cheerfully. "How are you?"

The two girls giggled and ran back to their rooms.

"I see they talk almost as much as you do!" Brock teased and Olga blushed. "I'll see you tomorrow." Brock opened the door. "Nice to meet you, ladies!" He waved to Olga's mother and grandmother in the kitchen.

Olga sighed as soon as the door closed and she looked at her mother with worry.

"He be back," her mother assured her. "He like you. I can tell."

Olga went into the bathroom – the only room with any privacy and tried not to cry.

Olga was relieved when Brock showed up at his usual time in the morning to pick her up for school.

She was stunned when she got into the car and he leaned over the front seat and kissed her on the lips. "Good morning, Olga," he said warmly and she wanted to cry.

"Even though some people do not think I am an American citizen I am and I know I am blessed to be here and thankful for the freedom of this country," she said all of a sudden as Brock began the drive to school. "My parents were born in Latvia a former USSR country but I was born here. My heritage, my upbringing, my first language, my taste in food, and all things cultural are American but everybody thinks I am a Russian."

"I don't," Brock replied.

"They think I am an immigrant. A foreigner as Ashley would say. My parents had family in the United States and they petitioned for them to come so their voyage here was very much legal and direct. However, coming here was a struggle and their lives changed drastically. Their life was wonderful in Russia. They had financial freedom, a beautiful house, and a very care-free life. My parents came here with nothing and worked hard for what they have. I know you think we are poor because of where we live and what we have or do not have but I do not feel that way at all."

"I wish you had your own bedroom," Brock remarked.

"It is okay like it is."

"Where's your Dad?"

Olga looked out the window but didn't say anything.

"Dead?" Brock guessed.

"I wish he were," Olga replied.

"Why would you say that?"

"My father is in jail," Olga told him.

"Oh, that's too bad," Brock said awkwardly as he pulled the car into the student parking lot.

"No, it is not too bad," Olga assured him.

"Why? What did he do?" Brock asked.

The final hurdle for Olga. She looked at him and wiped a tear from her eye. "He rape me."

Brock fell back in his seat. "What?"

"When I twelve or so," Olga revealed. "He come to my bed. Other girls too, but I do no know much about that. That is why we moved here to Hillsboro. To start over. But my father was the bread winner so it is tough now. That is why I wanted to find job to help my mother."

"Damn that Ashley," Brock mumbled.

She looked at him. "You must hate me now."

"I could never hate you, Olga," Brock told her. "Today, after school, lets go talk to my mother. Maybe she can help you get a job."

"I would like that," she said with a sad smile. "But now you understand why I am not one of you?"

"You are just as much one of us as any of us are," Brock assured her. He leaned across the seat and kissed her again.