Detention. A lonely place to be. No fun, no talking, no anything. Calhoun just sat there writing “I will not fight in school” over and over again. This was dumb. Why was she here? Oh yeah because half pint squealed like a little piggy that’s why. She squeezed her pencil until her knuckles grew white. What was his problem? Why couldn’t he just play along like everybody else? Because he’s a goodie two shoes that’s why. Nerdy kid with his stupid sweater vest, baseball cap, and cute bangs. Wait what?
“Ugh. Stop it! You’re getting loopy over a guy again.”
“No talking over there,” the detention teacher said.
“Sorry,” she whispered back.
Didn’t you learn from last time? she thought. How can she forget Brad Scott….
“Tamora, I can’t hang out with you for awhile….”
What does he mean? Calhoun thought. “Brad what are you saying? We can’t be friends anymore?”
Brad didn’t know how to say it. It was scary for an 8 year old. But he could never keep secrets from her.
“It’s not that. It’s just. My mom and dad said that I have to stay at the hospital now. I don’t know how long it’ll be. Days, weeks, months maybe.”
Calhoun stared at the ground. “It’s because of your heart isn’t it?”
Brad solemnly nodded. “It’s making me sick. The doctor said I have to get surgery. Then I’ll have to stay in the hospital for them to watch me.” He rung his hands. He was so scared.
Calhoun asked him, “When are you going in?”
He was sad. “Tonight. I start surgery tomorrow morning.”
“But that’s my birthday!” He was going to miss her 8th birthday.
“I know. But that’s why I’m giving you this.” He gave her a little black box.
Calhoun took it and opened it. Inside was a sterling silver chain. “It’s beautiful,” she breathed.
“I know how much you love your parent’s dog tags, so I used my allowance and got you a chain to put them on.”
Calhoun didn’t know what to say. Tears welled up in her eyes. “This is the best gift ever, Brad. Thank you.” She jumped up and hugged him. He hugged her back. She didn’t want him to leave.
“Brad honey, it’s time to go,” his mother said sadly as she walked up to him.
Calhoun held him tighter. “I want to go with you,” she whimpered.
He patted her back. “It’s ok. Maybe you can visit me when I get out of surgery.”
“I’ll do that,” she said, but she didn’t meet his eyes.
He lifted her chin to look at him. “Hey, cheer up. When I get better, it’ll be like old times. Right Dynamite gal?”
Calhoun smiled. “Right soldier. And you better get well or I’ll slug you.” She playfully punched his arm. They laughed and gave each other one last hug. As he left she was going to tell him something. How much she liked him. You know, liked him liked him…
Nah, I’ll tell him later, Calhoun thought.
But there wasn’t going to be a later….
During her birthday she sat there at the party waiting to hear from his parents on the progress of his surgery. They were friends of the family. Calhoun was just going through the motions of cake and presents. It went on long into the night when the guests all left. Her mother tried to usher her to bed. “Time for bed, cadet.”
Calhoun wouldn’t budge. “But mommy what if they call me about Brad.”
Her mother gently picked her up. “If they call, I’ll wake you up and tell you, ok?” The little girl yawned. “Ok mommy.”
It was morning time when Calhoun woke up and walked into the kitchen. She saw her parents sitting at the dinner table with sorrowful looks on their faces. She sat down and rubbed her eyes. “Did they call?”
Her parents looked at each other and breathed deep. Her mother was the first to speak.
“Sweetheart, we need to talk to you about Brad, and please don’t get hysterical.” She took a deep breath, “Something happened….”
The funeral was sweet and heartfelt. There was a lot of flowers and pictures of Brad. Her favorite was the little league one. He had hit a home-run that day. But she was far from good spirits. She had lost a best friend, someone close to her. She didn’t even get to tell him how she felt. Calhoun was angry. She hated everything. She wanted to hit something so bad. Hit it and never stop. And that’s what she did. She hit anyone who crossed her or looked at her funny. She wanted to hit all the pain out of her broken heart.
A flash of blue passed the doorway and caught Calhoun’s eye. The pencil in her grasp snapped in two. “I know that baseball cap,” she growled. He was in for it now. First she had to get out.
“Hey Mr. Frogger-”
“It’s Mr. Frògget.” (AN: pronounced frō-shey)
“Yeah whatever. I have to use the bathroom.”
Mr. Frògget sighed. “Fine take the bathroom pass. But come straight back,” he warned.
A smug grin laced her features. “Oh don’t worry. I’ll only take a minute.”