During the last period of the day, Will, Julie, Lizzie and Amy sat in the library and worked on an essay for their English class. As usual, Will and Amy had written far more than either of the other two by the time the bell rang to signal the end of the school day. Julie quickly packed her things away and hurried off to meet Bobby, who’d had a maths class.
“Are you two coming?” Lizzie asked as she packed her books into her bag. Amy and Will were both still writing.
“I’m staying,” said Will. “I’m nearly done with the first draft. I’d like to finish it.”
“Okay. Are you doing anything tonight?”
“I don’t know yet. Give me a shout if you’ve got any plans.”
“Yeah, okay. What about you, Amy? Coming?”
She shook her head. “No. I’m nearly finished too. It’s probably not as good as William’s, but…”
“Fine. I’ll walk home by myself then.” She faked indignation then giggled. “I’ll call you later and see what’s what.”
She left Amy and Will alone as they kept writing. Will put his pen down and stretched. Their favourite table was by a window which most pupils had to pass on their way home, so there was a lot of bustle and noise at the end of the day. Whenever he stayed late, Will always found it hard to concentrate for these first few minutes after the bell rang.
“Fancy a drink?” he said. “I’m going to the vending machine for a Coke.”
“Thanks. Coke would be nice. Here—” She pulled her purse out of her bag but Will held his hand up.
“It’s okay. I’ll get it.”
She smiled her radiant smile at him. “Thanks. That’s kind.”
When he returned with two cold cans, the hubbub had died down and he was able to concentrate again. Within half an hour, he’d finished. He put his pen down and picked up the manuscript to read through it.
“How much have you written?” Amy asked.
Will flipped through his work. “About ten sides.”
“That much? That’s way more than you need.”
“I know. It’s how I work. Cram loads in on a first draft, then refine and cut out what I don’t need afterwards.”
“Maybe that explains it.”
“Why you get better marks than me.” She grinned. “I work the other way round. Do a bare bones first draft and add in detail later.”
Will shrugged. “Don’t see why it would matter. You work the way that’s best for you.”
“I suppose.” She put her pen down. “If you’re done, I think I’ll stop too. I don’t want to stay here on my own. It’s getting dark.”
“Okay. I’ll walk you home if you like.”
They packed and left the library. Amy’s house was on a relatively new, privately built estate next to the council estate that Will lived on. It was on his way home—if he went the long way. But he didn’t mind going the long way for Amy. They chatted about nothing in particular until they got to her house. Instead of going straight in, she waited. Her bag was flung over her shoulder and she fiddled with the strap and shuffled her feet as she looked at the floor.
“Thanks. For last night. You know, for sticking up for me. Again.” She stared into his eyes as she spoke. He could see she meant every word. “You always stick up for me.”
“Well… I mean, I couldn’t stand by and let him say those things. Could I?”
“I know. They were pretty hurtful.”
“I didn’t manage to stop him though. He’s been spreading his lies all day.”
“Yeah. It’s a good job no one believes him.”
“Ray seems to think he might have a point.”
“That’s because Ray’s an idiot. Plus, I’ve turned him down more than a few times too, remember.”
“William, you do know there’s only one reason why I didn’t dance with John this weekend, don’t you?”
“Because he’s an ignorant tosser?”
She giggled. “Okay, two reasons.”
“So what’s the other one?”
She reached out her hand to touch his.
“Oh,” he said.
She smiled. “Like the song says, It’s always been you. And it always will be. You’ll be in my heart, Eternally and evermore.”
Eternally and evermore. Her hand moved up to his face and she said, “So when are you going to ask me out? Or do I need to wait for a leap year?”
Will shook his head. “No. I mean, not no, just… I don’t know. I always thought…”
“I think this is the part where you kiss me.” She stepped forward, moved her hand to the back of his head and brought her lips to his. It was a child’s kiss. Lips pressed together with the slightest pressure. Mouths and eyes closed. It lasted but seconds, but they were the most exciting seconds Will could remember.
She pulled away but slid her hand down his arm to hold his and she squeezed and said, “I have to go. My tea will be ready. But I’ll call you later. Okay?”
He nodded. He was still in shock. “Okay.”
“We can talk. Or something.”