Friday – First Football Game Night
The first week of school for me had been outlandish to settle in. I had continued to socialize with Margaret and Edmund. I hadn't seen Johnny or Freddie all too often, besides at lunch. Of all the area of interests I studied that school year amongst humans; my favorite thus far was English Literature with Mrs. Robinson. On my home planet, I often lingered into the early morning hours reading as many books I could get my hands on. The library in the capital was colossal – many books from all around the cosmos.
Every class I often spoke with Mrs. Robinson. Some days she would give me titles of Terran books to read. The bell rang. Before I left, Mrs. Robinson handed me a copy of Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie. I looked at the cover with interest and hummed.
"It was my brother's favorite when we were in school. I think you will like it, Gertrude. Mr. Barrie had originally intended the novel for as a book for boys but I enjoyed reading it, as did some other girls previous in my class."
"Thank you, Mrs. Robinson." I replied, with a smile.
I put the book with care into my knapsack and headed to my next lecture. I found myself even more distracted since Edmund sat behind me today. I knew he was staring at me, rather than listening to Mr. Lee talking about the history of the human anatomy. I flinched as I felt something hit the back of my head. Don't let him aggravate you. I thought to myself. If I reacted, Mr. Lee wouldn't be too pleased with either of us. And I was certain then my father would hear of the troublesome issue.
It happened again, much to my disappointment. Edmund was profoundly irritable now. I glanced behind me and saw him smiling.
"Stop it." I hissed, quietly.
"Stop what?" he whispered, calmly.
"Miss Baker, Mr. Kelly, is there a problem?" Mr. Lee inquired, stopping the lecture.
"No sir, I was only asking Gertrude if she had gotten the last part of the note you had said to write down." Edmund replied.
"I don't want any more disturbances in my class, understood? This goes for all of you."
There were murmurs of agreement and then he went on to lecture more about the classical elements of their biology. As I wrote in my book the notes, I felt something brush over my shoulder and fall into my lap. I looked down as I stopped writing and opened the crumpled paper.
Will I see you at the game tonight?
Would you be my date to the diner after?
I scribbled my reply and as Mr. Lee turned to look at the board to write a list of bones down to begin memorizing for this week's homework, I quickly and accurately threw the crumpled ball back at Edmund, hitting his face with it. I had answered, 'I will go only if you stop teasing me in this class.'
I glanced back at him quickly again and saw him smile. Before Mr. Lee could notice, I returned my attention to the blackboard and wrote down the assignments just as the lunch bell rang.
"And, ladies and gentlemen, that is lunch. I look forward to having your assignments next Monday."
"But, sir, the football game is tonight and we have practice again tomorrow after." One of the football players announced.
"Then I suggest you get it done quickly. I will make no exceptions for my classes. Good day."
Before Edmund could walk ahead of me to the cafeteria, I stopped him. He raised a brow at me and gave me a small smirk. I sighed and kept my stone façade.
"I don't appreciate being teased in class, Edmund Kelly. I prefer you to not continue your mockery anymore. It really is quite cumbersome and I would like to actually learn something in class." I exclaimed, fully annoyed. "Please, do not tease me. If you continue to do so, I won't go to your football game, nor will I be your date to dinner after."
Before he could respond, I half circled around him and left hurriedly to the cafeteria.
"Gertrude! Gertrude, wait," Edmund shouted, running up behind me. "Look, I'm sorry for teasing you. I didn't want to upset you. I was just trying—,"
"You were trying to make me angry?"
"No, I just wanted to see you and get your attention so I could ask you to go on a date with me."
"Go on a date with you? I know I agreed but—,"
"What – you don't have dates where you're from?" Edmund asked and I froze.
Did he know something? I began to panic inwardly and hoped he didn't know anything about my kind. It would cause trouble for all of us – my kind and his.
"Er, well – it's not so much dating as it is courtship." I replied, nervously. "It is rather antiquated you might say."
"So you do the whole knight in shining armor who stands outside your tower window reciting ballads to you sort of thing huh?"
I felt my cheeks growing hot with embarrassment.
"Something of the nature," I replied, as we got handed our lunches.
"I will accept your challenge and prove to you that I can be gallant and that chivalry isn't outdated or dead."
"I made no such challenge but I will concur and go on with your ideas."
"What's with the strange way of talking? I noticed that a lot lately. You always talk so properly. Don't you ever just take it easy? You talk like the Queen of England is here."
"I'm sorry if it's bothersome. My parents prefer formality with anyone. My mother believes it is one way of showing sophistication at its finest. It's a hard practice to break, I suppose. Once I am comfortable I'm sure I will relax."
I was afraid to mention that about my extraterrestrial race. We all spoke with high formality. It was something taught at a young age to all. It showed respect to a certain extent all those to whom we spoke. I had to remind myself that I was no longer on my home planet. I was here amongst other Terran youth. If I didn't blend soon enough, they would start noticing. Then the questions would arise, as Edmund already started to question my 'odd behaviors'.
"No, it's swell, I was just curious. I don't mind, but it's rare when we hear any teens speak like that. It's usually the older generation or then people in professional careers who also speak the way you do."
"Oh," was the only thing I could say.
We made our way outside to the picnic table by the parking lot to eat. Maggie was adjusting the shade for us and smiled when she saw me coming her way. I had noticed she hadn't been to class that morning in English but she was here now for lunch. I had taken the liberty to write down the assignments for her and pulled them out of my notebook.
"Mrs. Robinson assigned us this for homework tonight. I didn't see you in class today."
"I had a doctor's appointment this morning." Maggie said as she continued to smile. "Thanks for taking the homework down for me, Gertrude."
"Yeah, sure – you had a 'doctor's appointment', Mags." I noticed the air quotes that Johnny made while saying 'doctor's appointment' as he laughed.
Maggie sent him a look that stopped him immediately. I sent Maggie a curious look and she shook her head. I began to wonder if it was a doctor's appointment at all.
"So, Gertrude – hey, why don't we come up with a nickname for you? Gertrude is great and all but just so boring to say all the time. I don't even like it when people call me Margaret. It's too formal. What about Gerttie?"
I scrunched up my nose in disgust.
"That sounds like a name you'd give a cow. Gertrude ain't no cow, Mags." Johnny exclaimed, snorting. "Trudy…now Trudy is a good nickname."
"I like Trudy," I replied.
"Trudy it is then!" Maggie said, with a smile.
I liked the changes that were happening. I had friends here who liked me, several more than on my home planet, Xentera. I was even given a pet name. Of course, my father liked to call me 'stardust' on occasion but this was different. Perhaps it was due to the fact that they were authentic. The companions I had on Xentera were polite but that is all they were. I knew I was different. They knew, of course, so they treated me apathetically.
The more superior one's status was on Xentera, the more association one had with another. My family had little in terms of privileged circumstances and influence, thus the cold treatment from my fellow Xenterans.
"…oh my god, Trudy, you are really going with Edmund as his date?" Maggie asked, exaggerating her excitement, which drew me from my thoughts. "THIS is the best news I've heard all day!"
"Margaret, please – it's – please don't tell anyone of this. I would like to keep this personal." I answered, shyly.
"It's terrifying how much you sound like my own mother when you call me Margaret. I promise, Gertrude Baker, to not reveal a word of your date with the wonderful Edmund Kelly so long as you agree to never call me Margaret."
"Agreed," I said, understandingly.
Maggie leaned in to whisper to me about Edmund as the boys got up. We watched as they jumped around and shouted playfully in the sun.
"You know, you're a lucky girl to get someone like Edmund. He's a rare species of boys at this school and really sweet to the girls. He's a gentleman, Gertrude Baker."
I noticed Maggie look down and fumble with the ring on her finger. I hadn't seen the staid, quiet personality of Maggie until it was the two of us. She showed confidence and was animated in actions and spoken word.
"Can I trust you, Trudy?" Maggie asked, softly.
"Of course," I said.
"I did go to the doctor's this morning. It wasn't for the usual yearly check up to make sure everything's alright. Everything is – but it also isn't. You see, the last week of summer – Johnny and I, well…" she paused and held back tears. "My mama knows but my daddy, if he knew he'd throw me out of the house. It's senior year and I don't know how I'm going to do all this."
"Maggie, what is it?"
Though I had inklings as to what she was going to tell me. I had never known anything quite like it since I was the youngest of my own family. My mother and father never talked of having more children after me and I didn't think they ever would again.
"I'm pregnant. It's mine and Johnny's and I'm almost two months along. I can hide it now but once I start showing – I don't know what I'm gonna do."
"Does Johnny know?" I asked, in a whisper.
"No. I don't want to ruin senior year for him. Please don't say anything to anyone about this, not even Edmund."
"I promise. I won't."
"Trudy, I want you to be my baby's godmother." Maggie added, quickly.
"You wish me to be a what?"
"Godmother, you know if something happens to me one day, I'll know that my baby will be okay since you'll be there to take care of him or her."
I was dumbfounded by this request. Maggie chuckled as she saw the expression I had across my face.
"Don't look so surprised, Gertrude Baker. I liked you the moment I met you and knew we were going to be good friends."
"I should be honored to be your child's godmother, Margaret Allen." I said, barely above a whisper.
She gave me an embrace and held me for a moment or two. I returned her embrace and smiled. Would it be possible for me to trust Maggie with my secret? She had entrusted me with the greatest of hers. I promised my father that I would never reveal who I was. I could not break my oath. It would be dangerous for all, including Maggie. I did not wish to lose her friendship for she was dearer to me than all the stars in the cosmos. She was the first genuine companion I have had since I was a youngling.
"I hate to interrupt this lovely girl time, but ladies, lunch is nearly over and we oughta get to class before we're late." Johnny said, as he walked back over to the table. "Anyway what were you two gossiping about over here so quietly?"
"We were discussing how ridiculous and childish you, Freddie and Edmund look chasing one another like children." I remarked, smirking playfully at the boys.
"Aren't you a big tickle?" Johnny retorted.
Maggie giggled as we cleaned up the picnic table and made our way back towards the school buildings.
"So, before the game, Edmund and I can pick you gals up after school. Game starts at six tonight. I'll ask my old man if I can take the truck." Johnny exclaimed, as the four of us walked down the stairs of the school.
"I would like to ask my mother and father if it would be alright for me to go to the school game tonight. If it's possible, I can give Maggie a call once I find out and I will give her directions to where I live." I commented, as we stopped at the corner.
"Hey, sure thing, Trudy – Mags, are you gonna give your digits to your friend here?"
Maggie pulled out her notebook from her bag and scribbled down a number for me to dial. I folded the paper after she gave it to me and put it where I would remember it was there.
"See you tonight, Trudy."
Johnny and Maggie walked down the opposite end of the street. I remained still with Edmund. It was a strange silence between us and he smiled at me.
"So – uh, you don't mind if you're my date tonight?" he asked.
"No," I said.
"Oh, that's good—good to hear, yeah. Well hey, um, can I – can I walk you home?"
"Er, my father is going to pick me up, in fact that would be my father. I hope to see you tonight, Edmund." I exclaimed, seeing my father's pickup truck arrive on the opposite side of the school.
"Bye, Trudy…" I could hear Edmund say, quietly as I hurried to the truck.
I was grateful that my father came quickly. He glanced at me and I fastened my seatbelt, eagerly waiting to get home.
"Who was the human boy to whom you were speaking, Zalika?" father asked.
"He is only an acquaintance – Edmund is in my anatomy and physiology class. I was wondering, father, if I may attend the school football game this evening. Maggie said she would like to go with me. Would it be alright if she picked me up from—,"
"No, I am sure your mother and I will not mind that we bring you. I do not want any strangers coming to our home, Zalika. It could put us all in danger."
"I will bring you and that is the end of it."
"Very well," I answered, quietly.
Later that evening, I changed into more comfortable wear after I had finished my homework and dinner. It was half hour to six and I was worried that I would not be able to go to the football game tonight. My mother reassured me that my father would bring me once dinner was cleaned up.
"Would it be alright then if Maggie brought me home at least after the game? I wouldn't want to trouble you if we stay out a little later. Maggie told me there is a diner they like to go to for dancing and music and milkshakes after any big football game at home. I would really like to go, Father. And you encouraged me when I started that I should assimilate and learn more about the humans." I explained. "Though I believe I would need a small amount of Terran currency—,"
"Very well, you may go. I do not wish for you to stay out past the midnight hour. Be home by eleven, Zalika." Father complied.
He gave me a small amount of Terran currency before we left for the school. I found the football field and saw people piling in. I saw Maggie waiting by the entrance, looking frustrated. As soon as she saw me, her demeanor changed.
"Why didn't you give me a ring?!" Maggie exclaimed.
"I – my father – well, my parents are rather strict. But my father is allowing me to go to the diner tonight after the game. I just need to return home before midnight."
"Oh! Well, that's good news – anyway, I'm glad you could come out to the game tonight! Both Johnny and Edmund are playing. Freddie isn't – he's gotten a bit sick but he'll sit with us and cheer our team on. Would you want to get some popped corn and fizzy?"
"I would love to."
Not long after, the game started. The away team was atrocious, from what I could see. Our home team only scored once whilst the other scored a handful more – they were at five points.
"It's the half time now. The guys are regrouping to come up with a plan of attack, so to speak, to make the other team lose. That's the huddle." Freddie explained, noticing my confusion.
I could hear the team shout below and then readied their stance. I spotted Edmund lined up at the front, he glanced up and the game resumed again. I winced as he was shoved down, the opponent pinning him down for a brief moment before getting up with the ball. He threw it to his teammate. Edmund got up and continued on.
"What a bestial game," I muttered, under my breath.
Maggie glanced at me and smiled.
"It's normal in football. I guess it's a way for guys to show off."
"Hey, it's an adrenaline rush. Sure, some guys do it to show off – I play for the rush." Freddie commented, finishing off his popped corn. "And if I didn't have this damn sick, I'd be out there helping Ed and Johnny. I'm the lead quarterback. Ed's taken my place from second. He's doin' good though."
The buzzer went off and the final score was made, it was a close match – two to five. Afterwards, Freddie, Maggie and I found Johnny, Edmund and the other players outside the stadium. They had all gotten ready for the diner – blue and gold jerseys, some wore jeans and others beige pants like I had seen during the school day. Edmund saw me and I could have sworn I felt the cosmos pause for a moment as we glanced at one another. He had a bruise under one eye and a small cut on his lower lip. He walked up to me and smiled.
"I'm glad you could make it."
"I am as well." I replied, slightly breathless.
"How did you like the game?"
"What – your girl has never been to a football game?" one of the players asked, as he wrapped his arm around a blonde girl who I had seen once in my anatomy and physiology class.
"She's from outside the States they don't have football where she's from."
"Oh, where's she from?" the girl asked.
"My – my father and mother were – originally from the United States but during the war they had moved to England. I was born here but I grew up in England." I lied.
I confessed to myself I had a long while to plan my alternate reality – I had learned that the world had faced a great war only a decade ago and some years. It had been a perilous time – and the same time my own planet was experiencing war.
"How come you don't have an English accent?"
"We only lived abroad for a few years before returning home." I answered. "We had to leave – our enemies destroyed our home."
"Well, it's a fortunate thing you've made it out alive and are here to enjoy the great American past times! Come on, we're all going to the diner." Maggie exclaimed quickly before any more questions could be brought up.
I sent her a thankful look and she nodded. I got into the truck with Edmund, Maggie, Freddie and Johnny. The rest of the teammates would meet us at the diner not far from the school in the downtown main strip. The lights were bright and I was afraid the translucence of my skin would show. I slipped my sweater on over my dress. I looked around the main strip of downtown, noticing here and there some signs that said WHITES ONLY and other horrid things I would not dare to mention. I sent Edmund a confused look and he pulled me aside.
"It's segregation, Gertrude." Edmund whispered.
"I know what it is, Edmund. I have seen it also where I come from. It isn't right. How can you even dare to exclude someone because they are different?" I asked, softly.
"Look, it's just how things are currently. I don't approve of it but you can't tell people that. I'd rather not get my ass handed to me right now." Edmund muttered.
"Someone needs to do something about it." I commented, feeling the anger build.
"Gertrude, please, can we just go to the diner and have some fun with everyone else?" Edmund asked.
"Fine," I remarked, with a heavy sigh.
He gave me a half smile and nodded as he placed his hand on the small of my back, guiding me to the diner across the street. Some of the teammates were there and other girls from the school. I sat down at the table, soaking in the atmosphere. It was an interesting choice to have a good time at – as well as the music that was played in the background. There had been nothing like it on Xentera. Some minutes later, Edmund came back with two milkshakes, one chocolate and another strawberry – both with what he said had whipped cream and cherries on top.
"I don't know how often you drink milkshakes in England, but don't drink too fast."
"Why ever not?" I asked, tasting the chocolate drink.
I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. I smiled as my eyes closed in delight. This was my new preferred Terran drink.
"You like it?" Edmund inquired, chuckling.
"I am in raptures – this is divine." I exclaimed.
Edmund raised a brow and smiled, a curious look etched across his face. Before I could say something, his expression darkened as the door opened. The room around us silenced and I turned around to see who had caused the disruption. It had only been a boy – though he was quite tall, muscular. He had a head of blonde hair; his clothes were dark and tattered – as was his leather jacket. The boy looked at me and raised a brow.
I froze and turned around as he made his way to the table were we sat. Edmund tensed as the blonde haired boy chuckled.
"I don't think I've seen you around before. The name's McMillan, Ronnie McMillan."
I looked up at Ronnie, wanting nothing more than for him leave us. As subtly as I could, I averted my gaze. I glanced at Edmund. His jaw clenched as he rounded his fist on the table.
"Aren't you going to tell me your name?" he asked. "It's rude to not introduce yourself."
"She's with me, McMillan." Edmund snapped, standing up.
"Beat it, slick, nobody asked you."
"I'd get the hell out of here if I were you."
"I ain't afraid of you, Kelly – you may be on the football team and your ma is the school secretary but I could kick your ass outta town."
"Alright, cut it out!" Johnny growled, getting up. "Enough – get your ass out of here, McMillan, we're not here to pick a fight tonight."
Ronnie chuckled and glanced at me, a smirk on his face.
"As soon as I get the gal's name, I'll go."
"It would be of little relevance to you, Mr. McMillan; likewise a waste of your time. I have no interest in cavorting with a vagrant such as you." I remarked, coolly. "I believe you were leaving."
I sent him a sharp look before he scoffed and shoved his hands in his pockets. He left shortly after and sauntered off down the street. The others around the table looked at me in surprise. Edmund and Johnny sat down and the conversation in the diner resumed.
"Wow." Johnny said. "How – you just made an enemy today of Ronnie McMillan."
"Who is he?"
"He's the school bully. I can't believe I was once his girlfriend." Maggie answered, looking down.
We soon all started laughing and finished the food that had been brought out and drinks. I looked at the clock on the wall. My eyes widened and I gasped. It was almost midnight. I needed to be home shortly.
"I should have been home already!" I exclaimed, getting up.
Edmund got up as well and stepped aside.
"I can take you home, Gertrude," he said.
"Wait, let me pay—,"
"No sweat, Gertrude. I already paid for it." Edmund interrupted, with a smile.
"Oh, thank you."
I looked at him surprised – before we left I said my goodbyes to our friends. I was grateful for Edmund's company the way home. It was a quiet evening during our walk. I couldn't help but smile. Every time I did, I would look down as I walked, afraid that Edmund would see. Sometimes we would glance at each other. When we did, he would chuckle and shake his head.
"What?" he asked.
"Nothing," I answered.
"You keep looking at me. I know I'm handsome, but—,"
I giggled and rolled my eyes.
"You are a horrible tease, Edmund Kelly."
"Would you like to go on another date with me?" he asked, quickly.
I saw my house when we came up to a familiar street corner and stopped. We turned towards each other and I sighed.
"I would like to. I had a lovely evening tonight, thank you."
"I shall see you at school then?"
"Sure. Good night, Gertrude."
He leaned down – uncertain of what he was doing, I backed away. He looked at me with confusion.
"What is it?"
"What are you doing?" I asked.
"I was going to give you a kiss on the cheek."
I felt my cheeks blush as I stepped closer to him. Edmund gave me a small smile as he leaned down again to kiss my cheek. I closed my eyes, restraining myself.
"Thanks, Trudy." Edmund whispered to me.
It had indeed been a wonderful evening this night. I smiled as I walked the last few steps home. I never in all my life imagined that a Terran boy could ever fancy someone like me.