The final days of summer could always be like this – two siblings skating their way to school in shorts, laughing their asses off about inside jokes only people of the same family could have; one of them topless, the other with just a sport bra, their school supplies left in the girl’s boyfriend’s car.
Soon, their junior year of high school would officially start, with brand new sports week to “break the ice”, and – to the girl’s terror – plenty of English classes.
“I think I’ll try out for the ice hockey team,” El told Will as they rolled down the street that would take them to Hawkins High.
“So, you do One Good Season in field hockey and decide it’s time to change?” he asked and she shrugged.
“Indiana is practically freezing most of the year anyway, it’s ridiculous that there aren’t any ice hockey teams here.”
“Ellie, sweetheart,” Will said condescendingly. “When will you understand that there’s nothing in this shithole people call a state?”
“It has a massive Ley line,” she argued.
“That you blew up.”
“It still works,” she pointed out. They were close to the school already, plenty of cars parking in front. “And it has the football team-“
“And the basketball team! Pacers have what? Three rings?”
“Three ABA rings!” Will exclaimed. “That’s ridiculous! You know how many rings the Celtics have?”
“Excuse me,” Lucas said stepping in front of them in the parking lot and almost making the siblings trip. “Did I just hear Will make a sports reference?”
“You most certainly did,” El said with a hint of surprise herself. Lucas turned to her with both eyebrows up.
“Can you repeat that part about the Celtics, please?” Lucas bugged Will walking between the two of them to Mike’s car.
“I know how many rings the Celtics have!” El said instead. “Sixteen, they were saying it on TV all the time.”
“Sixteen, really?” Will asked frowning. “I really only listen to half the things they say.”
“I’m telling you, man, finals this year were rigged,” El said with a convinced nod.
“They weren’t!” Lucas protested. “Magic Johnson is the best player there ever was, it’s as simple as that.”
“What the- Dude, you’re rooting for a west team?” she said pushing Lucas’ shoulder. “Larry Bird is the best player ever!”
“Oh, Jesus Christ, are they talking sports again?” Mike asked leaning against his car, the passenger door open. Will nodded tiredly.
“It was my fault this time, sorry,” he apologized reaching for his backpack, where he could get his shoes and shirt. He passed El’s bag to her and she sat on the passenger seat to take off her roller skates, still engrossed in her argument with Lucas.
“What did you say?” Mike asked Will, who made a face.
“Told her there’s nothing interesting in Indiana?”
Mike face-palmed dramatically.
“William!” he exclaimed. “You know that Lucas fed her that bullshit story of the Pacers winning an NBA title someday!”
“It’s not bullshit!” Lucas and El exclaimed at the same time, and both Mike and Will rolled their eyes.
“Whatever you say, babe,” Mike said with little to no conviction.
“Oh, you finished your tattoo!” Lucas exclaimed pointing at El’s arm, and she opened a big smile. Whatever discussion they were having half a minute ago already forgotten.
“Yes! Doesn’t it look neat?” she said extending her arm to show the glistering tattoo better. El’s inside of her forearm was covered with colorful tattoos of different flowers intertwined all the way to her elbow. “I have spring always with me now.”
It had been half hers and half Will’s idea during one of the sessions of his second tattoo – a phoenix burning on his right side. He had suggested she’d cover the 011 with something small and nice, and El confessed she had thought about it, only she wanted something big and pretty, so he made the drawing and together they convinced their parents to let her get tattooed.
To be honest, it hadn’t even been that hard. The hard part was actually to convince them that Will needed another tattoo after the phoenix was finished. He still hadn’t convinced them yet.
“Why do you want another tattoo anyway?” Mike asked poking Will’s recently finished phoenix as the other boy put on his shirt. Its open beak was right over his last rib. “You already have two!”
“It’s got to be an odd number, Mike!” Will said putting both hands on Mike’s shoulder and shaking him a little. “Don’t you know anything about life?”
“You two are so fucking dramatic,” Mike said pushing Will’s arms away and El snorted. She had her shirt on now, too and she got up, leaned against her boyfriend, one arm around his waist.
“And so damn good looking, it’s annoying,” Jennifer said coming in their direction with Dustin, his arm around her shoulder. “I swear I saw a freshman trip when he saw Will putting on his shirt.”
“I can confirm,” Dustin said and they all looked around trying to spot said freshman, even though they knew they couldn’t. Will just shook his head as if it had been expected.
“When will you understand, Jenny sweetie, that I’m just too hot, people can’t handle.”
“Oh, my God!” they all exclaimed, deciding to get their things and close car doors to go to school instead of feeding Will’s ego one more time. He was too aware of his looks, and sometimes it was too annoying to be around him.
“What?” Will exclaimed, left behind by his friends. “I am!”
“No one likes a show-off!” Dustin shouted back, sure that Will would be just on their heels.
“It’s not showing off if it’s the truth!” Will replied before he jogged to catch up with them. “At least I bark and bite.”
Lucas shook his head and turned to look at his friend.
“Sometimes I wonder why we didn’t leave you in the Upside Down, you know?”
Will gasped dramatically.
“You take that back!”
“Lucas, that’s the meanest thing you’ve ever said to me,” Will continued protesting. “Lucas, how could you! Lucas!”
Needless to say, Lucas just ignored him. Another normal day in Hawkins High. Every end of summer could be like this.