Amanda walked to lunch later that day and found Nick sitting there with a French lesson book propped open in front of him, reading intently with his eyebrow length blonde hair falling In his face.
“Hi, Nick.” she said, sitting down with her tray of food.
“Tu es belle.” Nick said softly. The words flowed so easily and slid of his tongue, Amanda was definitely impressed but she giggled.
“Excuse me? Nick….I don’t speak French.” she laughed. He blushed and continued reading.
“Sorry.” he mumbled.
Brian bounded over to them, patting Nick on the back before tossing his bagged lunch on the table. Nick went back to reading as they talked.
“Did your mommy make your lunch?” Amanda teased as Brian started eating his baloney and cheese sandwich.
“She wants me to be healthy for basketball. Nick’s gonna play next year, aren’t you?” he teased, nudging him and causing him to drop his book. Nick blushed redder and picked it up, shaking his head.
“I didn’t know Nick played basketball.”
“One of his many talents.” Brian joked. Nick suddenly became aware of Amanda staring at him and shook his head again.
“I….I don’t think so.” Nick stammered. Amanda thought it was cute how shy he was. She and Brian bantered until they heard a funny noise, and Brian glared at Nick.
“You’re hungry, aren’t you?”
“What? No….I already…um….I already ate.” Nick said.
“I can hear your stomach growling,” Brian continued. Amanda saw how uncomfortable he looked, he definitely looked hungry. She sat there as the two boys bickered, Nick insisting that he’d eaten until she pushed her tray towards him.
“I can’t take that.” Nick said, pushing it back. Amanda pushed it again and got up to buy another lunch, leaving him stunned.
“You’d better eat it. She means business.” Brian said, taking a bite of his apple and chewing thoughtfully. Nick stared at the slice of pizza, he was hungrier than he let on and wasn’t sure what to make of the gesture. Nobody had shared their food with him before. Sure, Brian tried sneaking him sandwiches but he had always refused.
“It’s not going to bite you. Eat it.”
Nick stared hard at Brian and cautiously nibbled at the pizza. It didn’t taste the best, but it was better than anything he’d had in a long time.
“Geez, Nick. You act like you’ve never eaten a pizza before.” Amanda commented as she came back.
“He hasn’t.” Brian said matter-of-factly.
“My mom doesn’t like me eating junk food.” Nick added.
“She doesn’t like you eating at-” Brian started until Nick kicked him under the table. The last thing he wanted was Amanda to find out anything about his mother….he knew he’d be in for it if she smelled pizza on him later.
“I can’t believe you’ve never had it. That’s so weird. We’re teenagers, you must have had it sometime.” Amanda continued, eyeing the boys strangely. She knew there was something Nick was hiding, but she couldn’t put her finger on it. He was wearing a few layers of clothes as well, and this worried her a little. She decided not to push Nick for info right now, but she was glad he at least was eating something. He seemed to feel better.
Nick walked home from school alone because Brian still took his karate lessons, he was brought home by his father. Brian had a very normal family, with a mom and a dad. Nick often wished he could trade places even for one day, to see what being a normal kid was like. Unfortunately, with a mother like his….he didn’t have a choice.
“You’re late. Get inside and start your chores before anything else.”
“Hi, mom.” Nick smiled as he walked into the house. There was chores to be done of course. Washing, dusting, vacuuming and laundry. Cutting the grass when it needed to be done….and just when he finished all of that there was his homework. He was also responsible for cooking dinner for his mother.
“Don’t even think about sneaking any of it to your room, there isn’t enough money to feed both of us. I already made your dinner.”
Nick knew not to expect much. There was half of a peanut butter sandwich waiting….with no jelly. Nope, jelly was too much to ask. He didn’t dare to.
As Nick did his French homework he thought about Amanda. It was wonderful to see her again and he smiled when he thought of her….she had been his first friend and she had even bought him lunch today.
“Tu es belle…” he whispered. He wished one day he could tell her she was beautiful in english but knew he was too shy to tell her he liked her. The feelings had been there for quite some time and only intensified now that she was back in his life. He took out a notebook from under the floorboards and began to write some words into it….he had been writing some lyrics when he had the urge to do them. Most of them didn’t mean anything, but he enjoyed it.
“Nickolas, turn off that goddamn light and go to bed.” he heard his mother shout from the hallway.
“I’m just doing my homework.” Nick lied, stowing the notebook away. He turned off the light laid back on the mattress on the floor, not comfortable but it was better than nothing.
His stomach was hurting, but it wasn’t as empty as it usually was….thanks to the pizza. Nick wondered if he could somehow repay her for that lunch, but how could he? He didn’t have any money.
“You’d better be asleep!”
Nick sighed, tomorrow would be another day. He much preferred school to being home.