They both reached the railroad at the same time. George flopped down on the track, his face reflecting his foggy mood, which matched the day. Jess delicately took a seat on the other track, carefully adjusting her skirt across her knees.
“What sort of dark cloud is hanging over you today?” She asked with a smile. “Perhaps I can brush it away.”
“Yeah, right. Just brush away the grades on my last six weeks of math tests.” He shrugged, taking off his hat and resting his elbows loosely on his knees.
“Oh come on George! A math class isn’t the end of the world.” Jess laughed cheerfully.
“Easy for you to say. You act it.” George looked at his hands and fiddled with his coal-grey hat.
“George,” Jess brushed back her bands and leaned forward. “It’s ok. You don’t need to have perfect grades to be secure in who you are.”
“Says the girl who makes extra credit.” He fidgeted with his hands. “I don’t mean to be rude, or brush off what you’re saying, but I don’t think you understand.”
Jess brushed back her bangs in contemplation before beginning again. “Surely there’s something else you can dwell on! Did you ask out that girl you mentioned?”
“. . .No,” his shoulders drooped even more. “She’s too good for me. I don’t think she’d even want to go out.”
“Oh, come on! I’m sure she would! You can’t give up without trying!”
“But she doesn’t see me that way. When I’ve tried to bring it up she just misses the point entirely.” He grew a little heated, coming out of his complacently wilted mood.
“Then stop beating around the bush!” She felt uncomfortable as she tried to be gentle with her prodding.
George was silent for a moment. “It would be awkward now.”
Jess tried to give a comeback, but it took a while in coming. As she sat in thought all his comments came together. She slowly ran her fingers through her bangs and took a deep breath as she began. “. . .you mean me, don’t you?”
George started back, abashed. “Well, I didn’t want to put you on the spot! Since we’re already close, it might make everything all weird.”
“Oh come on, George!” Jess blushed and laughed. “I wouldn’t have spent every afternoon talking to you if I didn’t at least like you a little bit! Of course I’ll go out with you!”