It was a wonder the neighbors didn't complain. And I know it's irrational, maybe even paranoid, but I imagined the old guy upstairs must have heard me crying lately and was mocking my... [+]
Jada had a serious problem. The problem was named Kyle, a 5’6”, blond example of what happens when you give your kids too much praise when they’re young. Jada was our best friend, and despite being beautiful, smart, and musically talented in a way that both awed us and made us proud to call ourselves her friends, she was beginning to absorb Kyle as a part of her personality. She talked about him all the time: what she liked about him, his laugh, the way he said hello instead of hi and how that made her feel like he was different from other guys. It had become an obsession. So, when Kyle rejected her, it crushed her self-worth down to a point that we had never seen before.
One Saturday, we were sitting on Kristin’s porch. It was the first week of October and the weather was getting cool. A breeze picked up the leaves on the street and made them dance around in little circles for us to watch while we drank hot chocolate that Kristin’s mom made. We were eighth graders now and that meant we had a newfound sense of rebellion and an urgent need for meaning in our trivial childish lives. Or at least we thought we did. We laughed loudly with each other with unwavering confidence, not stopping even when people glared at us as they passed by walking their dogs. Jada was not participating in our usual fanfare today, on account of her semi-recent heartbreak. She sat forlorn on the step, resting her head on her hand and sighing occasionally. She tended to be a bit dramatic.
“Hey. Wanna go to the store?” Kristin prompted.
“Sure,” I said. It was what we always did.
We walked along the side of the road, side by side, kicking rocks and stepping on crunchy leaves. It was a long walk, but we didn’t care. The breeze was light and chilly, and made us shiver through our jackets. Cars whizzed past us and reminded us of how good it would be to have a license one day.
“Wait a minute, is that a shopping cart?” Kristin said, pointing to what was indeed a shopping cart sitting on the side of the road.
“Let’s take it!”
There was a glimmer of excitement in her eye. You could see the wheels turning in her head.
“Why?” I asked, genuinely puzzled. “Why do you want it?”
“I don’t know,” she said, rocking her heels back and forth. “We can do something with it, ride around in it maybe.”
I locked eyes with her. Her creativity was contagious.
So we took it. I sat inside while Kristin pushed me. Jada walked beside us, her frown starting to dissolve. We were laughing so loud now, feeling free from the gazes of other people on the street.
“That’s Kyle’s neighborhood,” Jada pointed out, her ears pricking up a little, just to be let down, as if she remembered his feelings towards her as soon as she was reminded of him.
“Yeah,” I said, thinking about how I could engage her somehow. “Wanna put the cart on his lawn?”
“Why?” Her eyes glimmered at any activity involving him, but she kept her stern, skeptical expression.
“Because it would be funny,” Kristin said, joining in.
“We should teach him a lesson,” I added, giggling.
“Yeah. When my older sister got cheated on, she went to his house at night and put a hundred forks in his lawn, just to confuse him.”
“Where are we going to get a hundred forks, Kristin?” Jada was still frowning but it was cracking a little bit.
“That’s not the point,” I explained. “Let’s just do it to freak him out!”
We started walking towards his house, pushing the cart with determined precision. None of it made any sense but it gave us a rush, as if we were committing a felony and this was the crucial moment to pull it all off. We propped the shopping cart on its side and left it there, before running home as fast as we could. It was like the police were chasing us and we could hear their blaring sirens and running men behind us. By the time we got back to Kristin's porch we were hysterically laughing, we couldn’t contain ourselves. Jada’s smile was brighter than anyone’s.
“That was stupid,” she said.
“Yeah, but it made you laugh,” Kristin said, shoving her arm lightly.