Late as usual…here’s my Middle Grade PG Love Scene for Simon’s Blogfest. To view the other entries, check out the sign up sheet.
I’d like to apologize in advance for the grammar and spelling errors. I’m off my game today.
The rain pounded the bus from the moment they left school to the moment they pulled out of the Glen Eagle Estates subdivision. The houses here were huge, with pools and three car garages. The students, all popular, had brand new shoes and their jeans had designer made holes scratched into the denim. They didn’t worry about stepping in the mud or kicking puddles of water at their friends. If they got their clothes dirty, their parents would wash them. If they ruined their shoes, they would buy new ones. The kids of Glen Eagle Estates were rich. Hope Arnold was not.
Hope looked away from the window and down at her ratty jeans—jeans with holes made from falling onto the black asphalt on the playground. The jeans were too short, but Hope didn’t complain. Her mother wouldn’t like it if she complained about her clothes. They didn’t have money for luxuries, her mother would say.
Past her too short jeans, Hope wore her only pair of shoes, a pair of Keds sneakers. They used to be white, but now, they were so old that they had grass stains and rub marks from where her toes were straining against their bindings.
She heard the laughter from the kids in the back of the bus. Now that the Glen Eagle kids were gone, the bus had come alive and the poorer kids shouted and tossed paper airplanes from one end of the bus to the other. Hope could have gone to sit with them in the back of the bus, but she didn’t feel like it. She was tired. Ian had been sick with a stomach ache, and she’d been up with him for most of the night. The three year old had thrown up twice before her mother had returned her calls.
“Don’t let him puke on the linens, Hope, or you’ll be the one to wash them,” Mother had said, annoyed. “Give him extra cough syrup so he’ll sleep. I’ll be home after my shift.”
Hope hadn’t given her brother the extra cough syrup. Instead, she fed him saltines and water, and stayed up to rub his back until he’d fallen asleep on his own. Ian had woken up three more times before their mother came home from her shift at the diner, and by then, it was past five and Hope was running late for school.
By the end of the school day, Hope was dead tired and dozed as the bus made its way out of town and into the country. Thirty minutes later, it stopped at the entrance to the Shady Oak Trailer Park and the remaining kids stood up from their seats.
Hope was at the front of the line and so busy looking up at the sun peeking between the clouds, that she stepped straight off the bus and into a mud puddle. The mud shifted beneath her foot and she lost her balance. She started to scream as her mind flashed to images of mud soaked jeans and ruined Keds—her mother would be furious. But faster than she could fall, an arm shot out, grabbing her by the upper arm and hauling her backward into to the bus. She fell back against the hard steps, and against him—the only boy strong enough to have saved her. Shaun Preston.
“Jeeze, Hope, you know better than to step in a mud puddle in Shady Oak. They’ll swallow you whole,” he said with a laugh.
“I didn’t…see it. Thanks Shaun,” she said, staring at the mud covering her right sneaker in dread.
“Archie,” Shaun called to the bus driver. “You gotta watch where you park this thing. You know Shady Oak is full of pot holes. She could have broken her ankle just stepping off the bus.”
“Whole Park is a pothole,” Archie muttered and he put the bus in gear and pulled up another two feet. “Happy, kid?”
“Thanks, Archie,” Shaun said, helping Hope to her feet. “Come on, Hope, I’ll carry your backpack. We can hose off your shoe by the front office.”
Hope looked back at her muddy shoe before nodding. She wanted to get home to check on Ian, but she had to clean her sneaker before her mother saw it.
And she wanted to spend an extra minute with Shaun. He was the cutest boy in Shady Oak—maybe even the cutest boy in school. Even the Glen Eagles kids liked him. He was tall and tanned with blonde hair and blue eyes. Her mother said he looked like a young Brad Pitt but Hope didn’t think so. Shaun looked like…Shaun. He was cute and funny and really nice. Especially to her.
The other kids teased him when he talked to Hope or hung out with her in the park, but Shaun just smiled and told her that he’d rather hang out with her than with his other friends. He was a year older than Hope but he didn’t care. And whenever he looked at her, Hope got butterflies in her belly.
Shaun took her backpack and together, they walked to the front office to an old, ratty looking hose. Shaun helped her wash off her muddy sneaker and wiped the excess water off on his shirt tail.
“We heard Ian crying last night,” Shaun said, timidly. “Mom thought he might have been sick or something.”
“Oh, sorry. He wasn’t feeling good.”
“Didn’t you call your mom at the diner?”
“Yeah, but they were really busy...she couldn’t leave.” Hope said, feeling uncomfortable. Shaun’s mom was nice and worked during the day so she could stay home with her kids at night.
“My mom said that you can come over tonight, if you want…if Ian’s still sick. She said she thought you were up all night with him. Her room is close to yours and Ian’s so she hears him through the walls.”
“Oh, that’s nice of her. I think he’ll be okay tonight…”
“Sure,” Shaun said. “But if you need help, you know where to find us.”
Hope felt her cheeks heat up as a blush spread across her face. She looked at the ground so her hair fell down around her face. “Thanks.”
“Hope! Get in here now and get dinner started for your brother,” her mother yelled from their trailer in a gravelly voice, caused from a lifetime of heavy smoking.
“See you later, Hope,” Shaun said, handing over her pink backpack.
“See you later,” she replied.
Hope walked into the trailer and past her mother, to the small kitchen. Dropping her backpack by the table, she went to the pantry and pulled out a box of Mac and Cheese.
“Why was he walking you home?” her mother asked, coming into the kitchen as she tied a new red scarf around her neck. She was dressed up in a red mini skirt, black tank top, and high heels.
Must have a date before her shift starts, Hope thought.
“Shaun? I fell getting off the bus and he offered to carry my bag for me.”
“Hmph,” Mother sighed. “Boys are trouble, Hope, even boys like Shaun. Stay away from them. They only like girls like you for one reason and I’m too young to be a grandmother.”
“Shaun’s not like that, Mom. He’s nice.”
“Of course he’s nice. He wants something that the girls at Glen Eagles won’t give him, so he’s looking to you to scratch an itch.”
Hope ignored her mother’s lecture. Shaun wasn’t like the men she dated. Shaun was different. He was special.