As expected, Becky won the race by a clear margin, and Lucy…well, Lucy finished, which she considered to be some achievement in itself. Sports really didn’t interest her, and whilst she wasn’t bad at playing games like netball and tennis, she couldn’t see the point in just running around in a circle.
As she’d jogged past though, she couldn’t help nothing little Lottie again – this time, because she was standing right at the front of her class, on the very edge of the track, and cheering wildly for Lucy. Bless her, she really was cute.
Her single race complete, Lucy gladly took a seat on the floor at the back again, and spent a happy hour daydreaming to herself about nothing in particular, whilst Becky took part in just about every event going, and seemed to collect a medal from most of them too.
Her reverie was eventually broken, however, by a small nervous voice “Er, hi Lucy, on your own?”
Opening her eyes, and blinking in the bright sunlight, it took a few moments for Lucy to recognise the stranger, dressed in a very athletic looking tracksuit. It was Daniel, the lad who really had been a stranger up until a couple of days ago, but now seemed to be there every day. “Ah, hiya Daniel. Yep, Becks is doing something far too energetic over there somewhere.” She chuckled, with a wave of the hand in the direction of the running track. “Here, pull up a…well, a bit of floor, haha.” And this time she patted the tarmac beside her.
Folding his tall, ungainly frame Daniel dropped to the ground next to her and grinned. “You not fancy running in any races then?”
“Nah, too much effort! Miss made me do one, but that’s more than enough. I’m quite happy just chilling and not being stuck in a boring class. How about you?”
Unzipping his tracksuit top a little, Daniel fished out quite a collection of medals which were hanging around his neck, and held them out proudly for Lucy to inspect.
“Wow! Looks like you’ve won just about everything! See, we’ve been in the same class all these years, and I never even realised you were such a fast runner. Amazing, isn’t it. Well done Daniel, that’s very impressive.”
Daniel blushed, but looked very pleased with the praise all the same. “’t’s nothing, I just love to run, it’s a great way to ‘lose yourself’ if you know what I mean? Gives me something to focus on, but that I don’t need to really think about. Sorry, I’m not doing a very good job of explaining what I mean am I?”
Lucy smiled and nodded. “Yes, don’t worry, I get you completely. Running doesn’t do that for me, but reading does. I can really lose myself in a book for hours. And it takes a lot less effort than running too, hehe.”
The pair sat and made idle smalltalk for most of the remainder of the afternoon, chatting easily, and soon they knew an awful lot more about each other. Funny, Lucy thought, he was alright to talk to, y’know, for a boy and all.
Eventually the conversation again made its way around to Emily and her birthday, and then of course naturally to the sleepover that was taking place the following night. Lucy took the opportunity to again probe Daniel about whether he was going, and when he shook his head, began badgering him about how much fun they were going to have, determined to convince him. She may have only really known him for a couple of days, and she had no ‘interest’ in boys at only 11 years old, but she found that they got on really well and she just knew that he’d fit right in with the group who would be at the sleepover.
Unlike the previous day, when he’d got quite worked up about it, with just Lucy pushing gently he did seem to at least give the possibility some consideration, and she knew that if she carried on she’d be able to wear him down.
Daniel was in real turmoil, he’d become friends with this amazing girl who just seemed to connect perfectly with him, and everything she was saying to him made him wasn’t to agree to go to Emily’s sleepover. But he just couldn’t, it wasn’t even an option, and he knew that. There was no way it could happen.
And then, he heard it.
“Yeah, yeah, ok. You’ve made your point Luce. Lemme talk to my Mum tonight, and I’ll see. I can’t make any promises, but I’ll try to be there. Sounds like it’s going to be a great night.”
It took a few seconds, but he realised what he’d heard. And he realised that he’d heard himself saying it. WHAT ON EARTH WAS HE DOING??? How could he get himself back out of this hole he’d now dug? And did he really want to? No, of course he didn’t, but he had to. Somehow, anyhow. He needed an idea, and he needed one fast.
Lucy, meanwhile, was oblivious to the battle playing out inside her new friends head. All she’d heard was what he’d said, and she knew that no matter what Daniel would be there for the sleepover. She couldn’t wait to tell everybody, and she really couldn’t wait for tomorrow night, they were all going to have so much fun. It was only as she played back in her mind what she’d actually heard that she realised Daniel had called her ‘Luce’ for the first time too, and she felt that same little flutter that she had the first time he’d stood up for her.2
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