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Fireflies

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The gentle ding of a bike bell rang softly in the spring air as a pair of babydoll shoes gently pushed on the pedals of a bike to keep its wheels turning. It was the perfect whether for a bike ride anyway. Clear skies, warm air, cool breeze, and it was only half-passed-three. Who was riding this bike, you may ask? Why, this bike belonged to Jack Pent of course. Who else would have a little red bike with streamers blue on the handles? They were only her two favorite colors. Jack had just gotten out of school for the day so she still had her backpack on and was on her way to drop it off. But of course. Before she could do that, she had to make a pit stop first. 40E0D0, Mill way. Where she stopped everyday at the same time after school for one reason and one reason only. She got off her bike and walked over the the driveway, where a group of teens were tuning instruments in the garage of a light blue house. She looked around and saw the familiar faces from school. Jeffery stood at the mic with his black bass and curly blonde hair. He was quite the know it all. Despite not being too bright. He was in her chemistry and algebra two classes and never got a single answer right despite raising his hand every single day. Next was Ruther. A rather smart nearly-14-year-old who had ended up in her junior year of highschool already. She sat at her drum set which was nearly two times bigger than she was. And lastly...Victor Alifrazier, or better known as, Smack. The handsome guitarist. His dark skin contrasted with his turquoise afro so perfectly that it could cause someone to scream. He was the main reason that Jack even came around. Jeffery wasn't a great bassist and Ruther was easily distracted by her 3DS. But Smack? Smack was an amazing guitarist, real handsome, too. She parked her bike and sat down on the pavement aa the three began to play their instruments, mesmerized by Smack despite him not being front and center. About an hour of their rehearsal passed and a few passers by came and went, but Jack stayed.

 

After another thirty minutes, the makeshift band began to pack up their things, and Jack applauded them before coming over to chat with them. “You guys sound good.” Jack said sweetly, “Have you booked any gigs recently?” “We're gonna be playing at my church, you know the one. The Mormon Church of Being A Mormon.” Jeffery replied. “So uh...no. We haven't booked a real gig.” Ruther replied apathetically in her nasal congested sounding voice. Jack chuckled before turning to Smack, who was re-tuning his guitar. “You sounded really good.” She said softly, brushing a lock of hair behind her ear. “Thanks.” Smack replied, looking up at her with a smile, “I’ve been practicing a lot more.” He and Jack smiled at one another before being interrupted by the sound sound of Jack’s cell phone buzzing with a text message from none other than Shelby Uavou, the head cheerleader of Nickville Square Highschool and Jack’s best friend. Jack quickly checked her cell phone and read the message:

 

“Heyyy Jackie!!! R u coming 2 the park?? U said u were!!! We were gunna catch fireflies after dark!!!!”

 

Jack sighed and replied simply with “be there in 10 <3” before returning to Smack. “I’m guessing that was Shelby?” Smack giggled, knowing how inseparable the two were. “Yeah she uh...she wanted  to meet up the park tonight.” “Ah.” Smack replied, “Very cool. The park is always quiet at this time of day.” “You can come with us if you want to! I-I mean--” She felt embarrassed over sounding so excited, “I-if you uhm..if you feel like it and your parents are fine with it…” “I’ll check with my--” “ Victor! ” Smack was cut off by his mother calling from the garage door, “It’s time to start up on your homework! Tell your friends goodbye and come inside, remember you have to finish it before you can mess around.” “Coming, mama.” Smack turned to Jack, “Maybe we can on a night where I’ve finished my homework before study all ends.” “Uh--yeah!” She replied, “Sounds good!” The two bid one another goodbye and Jack got back onto her bike, riding down to the public park where Shelby and Dilly sat and waited for her. Shelby had on her usual attire of a skirt and crop top with her letterman jacket over it to guard her from the cool spring winds. Dilly sat on a swing in her comfortable daily-after-school-uniform of joggers, a t-shirt, and a flannel over top with her signature backwards snapback cap. Shelby was relieved to see that pent had made it. It was nearly five o’clock already. “Jackie!” Shelby yelled, running up to her to give her a hug as she got off of her bike, “Where were you!? Oh-ehm-gee, don’t answer that, we know where you were.” “Alright then, genius.” Jack giggled, tell me where I was?” “You were at that Alifrazier kid’s house!” Dilly called from the swingset. “Ding ding ding, you got it.” Jack replied walking over to the swingset and having a set in the grass beside it. “Sorry i’m later than usual, their rehearsal ran long and I didn’t wanna up n’ leave.” Jack sighed, putting her hair up in a high ponytail.

 

“You didn’t even get to go home, did you?” Shelby sighed, “You still have your uniform on.” This was true; Jack still had on the uniform of a white polo and burgundy sweater over top with the initials “NVSH” on the left hand side as well as her khaki skirt and knee high socks. Shelby and Dilly had obviously had time to go home because they weren’t gawking over their crushes like Jack had been. “Well, I love a free concert.” Jack joked with a shrug of her shoulders. “Free concert?” Dilly laughed, “Jackie, please. Jeffery is tone deaf and can’t write music. Can’t believe Smack hasn’t gone solo yet. He’s way better.” “I dunno, Jeff’s kinda cute.” Shelby teased, “Not in ‘I would date you’ but in an ugly puppy way.” Jack and Dilly both laughed at their friend for her silly remark before Shelby put the focus back on Jack. “So...have you and Smack talked at all?” “A little.” She replied, “We talked at school for a few minutes between classes and then I talked to him after his band rehearsal.” “Why didn’t you invite him to come with us!?” Shelby exclaimed, grabbing her friend’s shoulders. “His mom has him on a schedule for homework now or something so he couldn’t come with us.” Shelby whined in protest and un-handed her friend. “Stupid Mrs. Alifrazier! Keeping my bestie from seeing her boyfriend!” “Okay, okay, he is not my boyfriend. We’re just friends.” “Not for long.” Dilly chuckled, “You know...unless you two are chicken.” “I am not a chicken.”

 

“Are to.”

 

“Are not”

 

“You totally are.”

 

“Am not.

 

“Whatever you say, Jackie. But uh...it won’t change my opinion.”

 

Jack rolled her eyes at her ginger haired friend and laughed. “I am so hungry, let’s go get something to eat.” Shelby whined, “I think I have a Fratelli’s Pizza coupon we can use in my backpack. “I’ve got ten dollars.” Jack added. “I’ve got like eight I think and some change.” Dilly added. “Okay, great!” Shelby replied, “I’ve got fifteen.” The three of them made their way to the bike rack and retrieved their means of transportation. Shelby of course had a sleek black racing bike with a pink seat while Dilly had just come on her beaten up, old skateboard. The three made their way down to Fratelli’s Pizzeria and parked their vehicles outside before walking in and being greeted by the smell of sauce and oil. “Hey, Gino!” Shelby said happily as the three approached the counter. “Oh, hey ladies.” Gino said with a smile, removing his cigar from his mouth, “What can I get for ya?” “Just four slices of pepperoni pizza, please!” Shelby replied. “Alrighty.” He said, writing it down on a sheet of paper in a notepad.  “And some waters.” Jack added. “Can do.” The three girls handed him their money and had a seat at a booth. Shelby and Dilly sat beside one another across from Jack as they waited for their food. “Doesn’t your uncle own this place?” Shelby asked, “Can’t you get free pizza?” “I don’t like not paying Gino.” She replied, “He works hard to make good food. I don’t want to shorten his paycheck.” “You’re too nice.” Dilly laughed, “I would eat so much free pizza if I were you.”

 

Jack laughed and rolled her eyes before the table was finally served their food. A slice for Shelby, a slice for Dilly, and two slices for Jack. What they always got. “Jackie, eat my peppies.” Shelby whined, picking the peperoni from her pizza, “I can’t eat them, I’m trying to go vegetarian.” “Sure thing, Shelly.” Jack sighed, taking them from her friend and eating them, “I don't know why you don't just get cheese only.” “Because, I'm a provider who likes to give her bestie free peppy.” Jack giggled and rolled her eyes. The three giggled and gossiped as they ate their makeshift dinner together and upon finishing, they immediately went back to the park to catch fireflies like they did nearly every night. “Ugh, the stuff is like all grease.” Shelby whined, parking her bike, “It tastes so good but I feel like I just gained twenty pounds from a single bite.” Jack rolled her eyes and giggled at her friend as the three walked down to a grassier area of the park. Dilly immediately began to chase after the fireflies followed by the other two. Shelby jumped and ran while Jack sat quietly and watched them drifting by in the darkness. “I bet Smack would’ve lived this. There are so many out tonight.” Pent sighed, looking at them dreamily. “Really?” Dilly laughed, catching ome the luminescent bugs in her hands, “You say you don't like him that way but you say that so romantically?” The redhead allowed the insect to fly off, “That sounds a lot like someone who has a crush.” “Does not!--” “Totally does.” Jack sighed, “Okay, maybe a little but...he only knows I'm alive because I watch his rehearsals and we have, like, two classes together.” she leaned back on her palms, “Besides, I'm not the kind of girl people fall for. I'm heavy and I'm tall but I'm not model body tall. Plus, he's popular anyway. Everyone likes him.” “People like you too.” Shelby protested, taking a picture of the fireflies resting on her palm, “And what's wrong with being heavy? I think you're adorable. If he doesn't like you back, I bet plenty of other guys like you.” Jack smiled at her friend before feeling her phone buzz with a text from her father:

 

“Babygirl, it's time to come home for the night. Say goodnight to your friends and come back. Xoxo”

 

“That's my cue to bust a move outta here.” Jack said, standing up and putting her backpack back on, “Dad says I gotta head back to the house.” “Aw, bye!” Shelby gave her friend a big hug for letting go of her to let Dilly do the same before she biked home. The streets were so quiet at night, the ride was incredibly peaceful. Upon arriving home, Pent parked her bike in the garage and unlocked the side door leading toward the kitchen before walking inside to great her mother and father, Daria and Harrison. “Mom, dad, I'm back!” She called as she removed her shoes on the mat. “Hello, honey. How was school?” He mother asked, finishing up washing the dishes. “School was fine. I got most of my work done.” She replied. “That's wonderful, darling.” Her mother replied with a smile, “Go say hi to your father. He's in the living room.” Salut, dad.” Jack said as she walked into the living room where he sat in his armchair. “Bonjour.” He mispronounced purposefully. Jack giggled and went over to her father and sitting in his lap as she wrapped her arms around him. Sure, she was pretty big at five foot ten inches, but he father stood at around six foot two. “How's my little girl doin’?” He asked. “She's doing good.” She replied, “I talked to Smack again today.” “About?” “About his guitar playing but his mom wanted him to do homework.” He nodded. “Well, shouldn't you be doing homework?” He asked. “I did most of it.” She replied, trying not to giggle. “You better finish it before bed.” He laughed, kissing her forehead, “Now go get your pajamas on and get to work.” “Why don’t you get your pajamas on and get to work?” She teased, looking at her father. “Because I already did all my work.” He said smugly. Jack laughed at her father and gave him a kiss on the cheek before going upstairs to her bedroom. Jack was relieved to be out of her uniform and into her soft, warm pajamas as she sat down at her desk and began to work on her remaining homework. School was just so absolutely mundane but at least there were a few upsides. She had all of her classes with Dilly, Shelby, or both of them, she was reasonably smart so she kept decent enough grades, and best of all...she and Smack were lab partners in Chemistry. The absolute best part of it all. Sure, all of their talking was limited to discussing the periodic table and chemical reactions, but it was still enough to send Jack’s heart beating out of her chest. After about and hour of slaving over her math and AP US homework, she finally shut off the lights and cuddled into her bed as she rested her head on the pillow. Maybe tomorrow she’d have to time to change out of her uniform before bolting off to meet with her friends.

 

-----

 

“Morning, guys.” Jack yawned as she walked toward her friends who were standing by Shelby’s locker. “Jackie!” shouted Shelby happily. “Mornin’ Jax.” Dilly replied, “How’d ya sleep?” “I slept okay.” She replied, “It’s just too early to be in school.” “Did you dream about Victor?~ ” Shelby teased as she took her Algebra two book and binder out of her locker. “Pfft, no way!” Jack laughed. “But you can’t deny that some nights it happens, can ya?” Dilly added. “Okay, maybe I’ve dreamed about him a few times, but innocent dreams! Like dreams about being his wife.” Shelby laughed and rolled her eyes. The three of them then went to Jack’s locker and waited for her to get her Algebra two textbook, since the three of them had the same first period class together. “Morning, girls.” said Jeffery, whos loker was placed next to Jack’s. “Morning, dumbass.” Shelby sighed as she rolled her eyes. “Be nice.” Jack laughed, pretending to scold her friends, “Good morning. Jeff. What’s up?” She was a bit confused because they hardly talked outside of her going to see his band play. “Ah, nothing.” He said as he shut his locker, “Just remembering something Smack said.” “What did he say?” She asked, a bit worried. “Oh, I shouldn’t say.” Jeffery replied, scratching the back of his neck, “But don’t worry! It’s all bueno. I mean...if he ever tells you, you get to decide if it is or not but--” He cleared his throat, “Ah, I’ve said too much already. See ya at lunch.” Jeffery quickly walked away leaving the three girls confused. “That was weird.” Dilly said, scratching her head. “All bueno...” Shelby sighed ponderously, “ Bueno means good. But he said it’s up to you if it is. That is weird.” “Yeah…” Pent whispered, closing her locker, “ Really weird.” She sighed, “I hope I find it good.” “It’s probably nothing.” Dilly affirmed, putting her hands in the pockets of her uniform shorts. Jack agreed with her as the the bell rang, alerting the three that they needed to get to class.

 

Jack sat down at her desk, putting her book down in front of her and taking her homework out of her binder. She didn’t quite listen to the teacher speak. She was far too invested in thinking about what Smack could have said about her. Something that Jeffery called good but might not be good in her mind? What does that mean? The poor girl was running on autopilot, going from class to class without really paying that much attention. She was taking notes, she was writing her assignments in her planner, but she wasn’t completely present during class. Thankfully, her teachers didn’t ask her any questions or tell her to read anything, because she would surely stammer or re-read the same line over and over again. Thankfully, chemistry was a note taking day so she didn’t have to speak to Smack and show him how nervous she had become, though he did notice that she seemed off. When the end of the day came around Jack quickly put her things in her backpack and headed towards the commons of the building to get ready to leave when she was stopped by Smack. “Hey.” he said with a smile, approaching her, “I wanted to ask if you were still open to hanging out after school later. I got all my homework done so I thought maybe we could hang out today since yesterday didn’t work out.” “I’d love to!--I mean--” She cleared her throat, “That sounds like fun.” She blushed and smiled at him shyly. “Alright. There’s no band practice so...see you around five?” He asked. “Yeah…” She brushed a lock of hair behind her ear, “Sounds good.” “Great.” Smack smiled and walked back over to his group of friends. Jack kept her cool as she walked outside and got on her bike before peddling home as fast as she could, laughing and cheering out of joy over what had just happened. Victor Alifrazier was going to hand out with her! This could not be real life. As soon as she got in the door of her house, she immediately dug through her closet to find something nice to wear and texted Shelby:

 

“Guess what, Shelly?”