Katrina Hayes ©2003
She sat in the stands, cheering madly. This was the first time she had ever been to any sort of sporting event, willingly at least (she preferred either being active herself instead of watching someone else be active, or watching sports on TV from the relative comfort of her couch), although there were plenty of people she knew who would not consider skateboarding a sport. But she was here with two guys she had just met, trying desperately to fit into the world of her high school, as tomboys such as herself became rarer with each passing year. Through the past few years she had watched almost all her female friends leave her for the world of fashion, makeup, shopping, dating and gossip: everything she could not stand. So her peer group became composed purely of guys. Her parents did not appreciate this, insisting that as she was growing up she needed more female companions because members of her own gender would understand her better, but they had no idea what they were talking about, did they? So she ignored their whining. And she focused on the skateboarders, rolling, jumping, flipping around on the half-pipe and tracks before the small crowd.
Nathan eventually got bored, insisting that none of the boarders were doing anything he himself could not do, and Leslie and Tyler agreed, so they left the noisy spectators behind, walking out to the parking lot and standing around the back of Tyler's car. They talked for a few minutes about how pathetically easy some of the various moves that they had just seen performed were, or that someone had to have been trying to mess up some of the stunts, essentially just vocalizing their frustrations at the lack of skill at a public showing. There was only so much criticism possible, though, as not much had even been done to criticize. Nathan pulled out his cell phone and walked around to the front of the car, leaving Tyler and Leslie to talk. Or rather, stand looking awkwardly at one another, not knowing what to talk about besides skateboarding.
Tyler, for some reason, decided their companion was a good enough topic. If she was going to try to befriend them, which is what seemed the case, and she was interesting enough for a freshman so he was perfectly willing to accept her, she would want to know more about him and it seemed easier to talk about his friend of eleven years than to talk about himself.
"He's calling his girlfriend. If he's gone a full day without talking to her since they started going out, some five months ago, I'd be very surprised. It becomes rather disgusting sometimes, actually. I've never thought of dating as something I'd be very interested in, I hate the idea of being so bound up with another person at this time in my life." So maybe some facts came out about himself in the process. So much the better, she would need to learn more about him, too. And he needed to know more about her, actually. Why had he immediately thrown out his aversion to dating? What a way to introduce yourself to a member of the opposite gender. Although it did not really don on him until a couple seconds after the words were out of his mouth, and there was another awkward silence, that Leslie was, in fact, a girl. So he tried to recover, "Although I guess me and Nathan do hang out a lot." That only made it worse, and there was yet another awkward silence, which Leslie did nothing about. She had only halfway been listening to him, having withdrawn into her own chaos of thoughts as soon as the vocalization of frustration ended.
It wasn't until Nathan ended his phone call and came back around the car that the silence ended. "So, what do you guys want to do? I don't think any of us are expected anywhere for at least another hour or so, am I right?"
"Hitting it off well already, I see," he said with an amused expression on his face. He'd always found Tyler's awkwardness around females a source of amusement. But the girl seemed to hardly notice that Tyler even existed, much less his awkwardness.
"You want to just stand here for the next hour?"
"Oh... no, let's go somewhere. Not here."
"Leslie...? You have an opinion?"
"Well, pile in, we can drive around until we see someplace worth stopping at. Or we could just cruise, no problems with that." So the trio climbed into the car, and ended up cruising and chatting until Leslie realized she was already half an hour late getting home.
"See ya at school tomorrow Leslie!"
She watched them pull out with some degree of regret, knowing what she was now going to be stepping into, and how much fun she'd had with the pair just "cruising" as they called it, especially being half an hour late.
"Where have you been?!?!" Here it goes, she thought. She took the verbal lashing from her mother, initially for being home late, and this eventually led into criticism for her choice of friends once again.
"I don't care mom! People are people, whether they're guys or girls!" Leslie finally exploded, and escaped into her room. She didn't have to face her parents again until the morning, at least. She didn't need dinner; she knew even if she decided to come out for it she probably wouldn't get it anyway.
The following weekend, Nathan, Tyler, and some other friends of theirs had already planned a hang-out around the skate park, which was not an unusual activity for them. Actually, it was not so much planned as assumed. But Tyler made sure the activity was opened up to Leslie, and he offered her a ride there. Leslie thought nothing of it.
When he showed up without Nathan was when she first found things a little odd. She had rarely seen the pair separated at school, and she had never seen them apart outside of school. Then again, the only time she had seen them outside school was the previous weekend, at the skating show. She climbed into the car, willing him to be out of the driveway and beyond her parent's sight before they decided to look out a window or something.
They were. "Sorry, Nathan apparently didn't feel like skating today."
"'s fine. You know who else is coming?"
"Jarad, Matt, Gabriel and Carson, and possibly David."
"Wow, quite a few of them coming. I have yet to meet Carson, this should be fun."
All five of the others were already there by the time Tyler and Leslie arrived, and they all rolled over and hopped off their boards to greet the final two boarders. There was a cultish air about them, as if they shared some secret that the rest of the world would never know, could never know. In a way, they probably did. After a few minutes of small talk, they all got onto the boards and flipped, rolled and spun their way out of the world they hadn't ever quite fit into. Leslie fit right in.
The sun was resting on top of the forest surrounding their half-pipes and railings before they came back down from their flight, and greeted one another again. All were impressed with Leslie's "maiden flight" with them, and there was no longer even the slightest question of whether they would accept her or not. They had never really doubted her, however, especially because few girls were willing to admit to being skateboarders, especially if they weren't worth anything on the board. And then the seven parted ways, with "see ya at school monday!"s and "sayonara!"s.
On the way back to Leslie's house, Tyler and Leslie continued talking, mostly Leslie spouting impressed impressions of Tyler's friends and their skating abilities, and Tyler trying to assure her that they were no less impressed with her. Eventually, though, Tyler tried to turn the conversation to themselves.
"Leslie, you know how last weekend I was telling you about my aversion to dating?"
"Probably; was that when Nathan was talking to his girlfriend?"
"Yea... well, I think I just realized it was because I'd never met anyone who would have worked for me."
"Cool! Who'd you meet?" Tyler didn't know how much more direct she needed, maybe she'd also assumed the male tendency to not see any but the most obvious hints. Although he'd thought that was a pretty obvious one. He continued driving in silence, not knowing what else to say.
When he pulled into Leslie's driveway, he was still trying to decide what to do. Trying to rip the steering wheel right out of the dashboard in frustration. He'd only known this girl for a couple weeks and she had already occupied more of his thoughts than any skateboarding stunt he'd tried to figure out. Which was saying something; that 720 reverse tailtap on the grind rail had taken him a while.
She climbed out of the car and walked around the front, straight through his headlights, waving and smiling at him. He could see her mouth forming the words "Bye! Thanks!" but couldn't hear her voice over the motor.
He, too, climbed out of the car, determined to close the evening differently. She turned, already halfway up the sidewalk to the front door, upon hearing his car door.
"Just wanted to say goodbye."
"No, I mean better than that. Mind if I hug you or something?"
"Sure!" she smiled. She set down her skateboard, and stepped over to him, and embraced him. Rather quickŠ she thought. He brushed his lips across her cheek, and then let her go. "Well, good-bye..." she said, and he thought he caught a tear tracing a line across the cheek he'd just kissed.
"Yea, maybe we can do something again next weekend. See ya at school!" He got back into his car and drove off.
As if my parents hadn't already felt like disowning me, wait until they hear about this! She thought. But it was too much to hope for, that he'd actually meant her when he'd said he'd met "someone." What guy would actually feel that way about... well, a tomboy?