Castle Roland

Dreams Don't Grow On Trees

by Owen Hudson

In Progres

Chapter 2

Posted: 9 Apr 15

Dreams Don't Grow on Trees

Copyright © 2011 Owen Hudson

To say that everything was idyllic while Perry was home on leave would be an understatement. Brenda still prepared the family meals, but afterward retreated to her bedroom as soon as dinner was over. Meals were mostly eaten in silence until one day Perry said, "I can't take this any longer. I have just a week left of my leave and I'm going to go stay at Kyle's until I leave for Fort Bliss."

"You'll do no such thing," Amy said. "I know we've been a dysfunctional family in the past, but now we're going to carry on as a family with or without Mom. We're not going to let her destroy what we have left of our family."

"That's easy for you to say," Perry countered without resentment. "It's me that brought on all of these problems."

"You did no such thing," Amy argued. "She's the one that got pregnant. She's the one that can't be happy with what she has. We've lost too many years by being a half-ass family. Now it's time we become a real family."

"How will we do that with Mom treating Perry like she does?" Haden asked. "I know how Perry feels because I feel the tension when she's in the same room with him."

"The problem's Mom's," Amy said. "We'll have a normal conversation and if she wants to join in, fine. Tonight at dinner I want us to be a real family with real conversation."

"Like that is going to be possible with Mom glaring at me the whole time," Perry said. "I don't really recall this family ever sitting down to a meal and having a normal family discussion."

"Then don't you think it's time we changed that?" Amy asked. "Just pretend she isn't there. She just sits there in anger anyway."

"I still think it would be best if I go stay at Kyle's and never come back home," Perry said.

"It's only one more week," Haden said. "It won't be that bad since Mom avoids you like the plague anyway. Promise that you'll at least try."

"Alright, I'll try," Perry relented.

"What will you major in when you get out of the army and start college?" Amy asked as she handed Perry the platter of fried chicken during dinner.

"I've always loved history," Perry said. "I've thought about teaching high school history."

"You're not smart enough to teach anything," Brenda screeched. "You may as well stay in that damn army where you fit in."

"Oh, Perry, I think that's wonderful," Amy said, ignoring her mother and before anyone else could respond to Brenda. "History was your strong subject, you always made an A in all your history classes."

"Yeah, I remember how proud of you I was when you got that award for the outstanding history student," Darrell said.

"You were smart enough to have good grades in your other subjects too," Haden said. "You were just too busy being a football jock."

"Well, it got me out of a lot of work around here and you had to do it," Perry teased.

"It was worth it to not have you around," Haden shot back with a smile, showing that he was enjoying the banter with his brother.

Haden could see that his mother was infuriated and he couldn't help but wonder why she was so bitter. She stood up and glared at Perry before leaving for her bedroom.

"See, I told you that it would be better if I just went to Kyle's," Perry said. "Nothing has changed."

"You're wrong, Son," Darrell said. "It's good to see all of my kids doing what I never did in trying to make this family function the same as other families. Perry, don't forget, you are part of this family. I saw what you kids were doing during dinner and I think it's wonderful that the three of you are doing something that I've never taken the responsibility to do. I know that I've made a lot of mistakes myself, but I've always loved the three of you."

The four sat and talked until late when Darrell finally said, "Kids, I have to get some sleep. Somebody around here has to work." He winked and headed off to bed.

Perry began cleaning the kitchen, something that he'd never voluntarily done in the past. Amy and Haden joined in and they soon had the kitchen clean and ready for the next meal.

"I don't know about you two, but I'm ready for bed," Perry said.

"So am I," Amy yawned. "Haden, you have to be up early to pick the corn from the garden for Mom and me to put in the freezer."

"I'll help you, then later Kyle is coming by and we're going to hang out in town and maybe meet some of the guys from the football team for something to eat," Perry said. "Haden, do you want to tag along?"

"No, I'd better stay here," Haden said, but he felt good about the invitation. "I have a feeling that Mom will either be over at the church or hidden away in her room all day."

True to Haden's prediction, Brenda was only in the kitchen long enough for toast and coffee before she was dressed and on her way to her church. He and Perry had already gathered the corn for freezing. Brenda seemed to ignore that it was there.

"What do you think she's doing at that church all the time?" Haden asked.

"She said that she's helping out in the office," Amy said. "I think she just goes to get out of the house."

"I'll call Kyle and tell him not to come by and I'll help with the corn," Perry said.

"No, you go on and spend some time with your friends," Haden said. "Amy and I can take care of this."

"I feel bad about leaving all this work for you two," Perry said. "I can meet Kyle some other time."

"Go," Amy ordered. "If you weren't here we'd have to do this anyway. Besides, you only have a week left of your leave."

By late morning Amy and Haden had all of the corn bagged and in the freezer when Amy said, "It looks like Mom won't be home to start dinner. I guess I'll have to do it."

"I'll help you with it," Haden offered. "What can I do?"

"You could take the rest of this corn out and put it in the freezer, and while you're out there you could bring in a roast for dinner. I know that it's one of Perry's favorite meals."

By the time Darrell arrived home from work, Brenda still hadn't returned. "Where's your Mother?" He asked.

"I guess she's still at the church," Amy quietly answered. She had noticed that her parents were arguing more than in the past. She didn't want to give her father something else to argue about.

"Has she been there all day?" Darrell asked.

"Most of it," Amy admitted.

"I guess we'll have to have a discussion when she gets home," Darrell said, unable to hide his anger. "She had no business leaving all the work for you kids. I don't mind her spending an hour or two at her church, but not all day."

"No, Dad," Amy pleaded. "At least don't say anything while Perry's still here. It just makes things too tense. Haden and I'll keep things going.

"Yeah, Dad, we don't mind," Haden agreed.

"Where's Perry?" Darrell asked.

He's spending the day with Kyle and some other guys he played football with," Amy said. "He offered to stay and help with the corn, but Haden and I told him to go and spend some time with his football buddies. He said he'd be home in time for dinner. Dinner's just about ready, we'll eat as soon as he gets home. Dad, would you promise not to argue with Mom while Perry's home? He feels bad enough about everything as it is."

"Amy, none of this is Perry's fault," Darrell said. "I saw years ago that your mother never really bonded with any of you kids, but especially with Perry. I tried to do what I could to make up for it rather than putting my foot down. Now, I guess it's too late. I'll have to say something, but I promise not to say anything until after Perry's leave is over."

After dinner, the family went to the front porch to take advantage of a rare, cool, summer, evening breeze. Perry talked about being in the army and how it had made him think about his family and how much he missed them. His voice wavered as he talked about how he'd had time to think about how he'd treated Amy and Haden because of his anger. "I decided that when I came home things would be different," he said. "For everything I've ever done, I'm truly sorry."

"Son, you're not the one at fault here," Darrell said as he gazed at the faces of his children by the light of a full moon. "You're all great kids and I realized that things weren't exactly right with this family. I should've known that inside of each of you something was missing. I always hoped that eventually things would get better, but when it didn't, I guess it was easier to just ignore it."

As the conversation continued, Haden noticed a car stop at their driveway. The courtesy light came on momentarily and a figure exited and began walking down the long driveway toward the house. As the figure came closer he realized that it was his mother. She stepped upon the porch, looked briefly at her family, and entered the house without saying a word.

"I can't stand this," Haden said. "She stays gone all day and then strolls in here like we're nothing but garbage sitting here. Dad, you should go in there and tell her off."

"No, Son, Amy was right, this isn't the right time to do that," Darrell said. "Let's let it go for now. I'll talk to her when the time's right."

Haden wasn't sure what his father had in mind, but the look that Amy gave him told him to let it go. After a period of uncomfortable silence, Amy stood and said, "I'm tired and I think I'll call it a night."

"Yeah, me too," Darrell agreed. "Good night."

"Good night, Dad," Perry said.

"Yeah, good night," Haden said. He was still angry about his mother and not ready for bed.

Haden and Perry sat in silence for some time, not feeling a need for conversation. It was one of those perfect southern summer nights. The moon illuminated the barn and the pasture next to it. The cows could be seen bedded down chewing their cud. Ranger, the family dog, came trotting from behind the barn. He appeared to be returning from his nightly patrol or whatever dogs do when they have the freedom to roam.

"How old is he now?" Haden asked as Ranger plopped down at his feet.

"How old is who?" Perry asked as he was brought back from his private thought and hadn't noticed Ranger.

"Ranger," Haden said. "It seems that he has been part of the family for as long as I can remember."

"I guess he's about ten, or maybe eleven. You were about five or six when someone dumped him as a just weaned puppy. Mom wanted to send him to the pound, but you cried and carried on so much that Dad made her let you keep him."

"Perry, I wish that you hadn't joined the army. But you and ranger have a kind of freedom that's hard to describe. You and he don't have to be here unless you choose. Amy and I are stuck here, at least for now."

"I knew the best thing for me and the rest of the family was for me to leave. I guess I have no regrets about joining the army. I do wish I had done things differently while I still lived at home. For one thing, I would have treated you and Amy differently. "

"Don't worry about that, I understand now."

"Do you really?"

"Yeah, there are times that I want to leave this place and never come back. I know I can't do that because Amy and Dad are still here."

"Where would you go? Surely you wouldn't join the army as I've done."

"I don't know where I'd go. I think I'd like to find someplace where people aren't so judgmental. Maybe Mom is like she is because people judge what you have rather than what you are. People here are so phony. I see how most of the merchants in town treat their black customers different than their white ones."

"What do you mean they treat them different?"

"When they have a black customer, they're friendly enough, but if it's a white customer, they'll pat them on the back or shake their hand. They act as if they're afraid to touch a black person. If a white customer and a black customer enter the store at the same time, they'll see to the white customer first. If a black person goes into a store, the employees follow them around as if they're afraid they're going to steal something."

"You know, Haden, you're right. I hadn't noticed that, but when I think about it, you're right."

"Have you also noticed how those with money treat people like us differently? To them we're just white trash."

"I have friends with money."

"Think about it, Perry. When you were growing up, were you ever invited to spend the night with any of them? No, you weren't. Your best friend is Kyle, who has little more than we do. You never had your own car, but none of your rich friends ever offered to drive out here and pick you up. No, it was Kyle or maybe Butch. The only person with money that treats us differently is Tony, but his family moved here from Nebraska."

Perry sat in silence while he seemed to be analyzing what his brother had just said. Finally he said, "Damn, you're right. Why couldn't I have seen all of this?"

"You're the football jock that had football friends, but I'm the..." He almost said gay one, but stopped himself.

"You're the what, Haden? You're the smart one?"

"No, I'm no smarter than you. I just worked harder for my grades. I guess I don't know what I am. Maybe I'm the nerdy one."

"No, you're not a nerd. That would be Brandon Murphy."

"There you go labeling people. Brandon isn't a nerd. He's very intelligent, but he's also small for his age. Did you know that he had hypothyroidism and that caused him to grow more slowly than normal?"

"I'm sorry, I didn't know that. I should've done more to stop people from bullying him."

"He did say that you stopped a couple of football jocks from pushing him around once. I told him that he must have you confused with someone else."

Perry laughed and then said, "I think I'll go to bed, are you coming?"

"No, I think I'll set out here for a while longer."

"Don't stay up too late. I have a feeling Mom will disappear again tomorrow and we'll need to help Amy with some of the work around here."

"I won't. Good night."

"Good night."

Haden felt a closeness to his brother that he'd never felt before. He wanted to tell his brother that he was gay, but he remembered his remark 'That old queer' when he was telling Perry about how he got the material from Hal Campbell to build the third bedroom.

Ranger stood, stretched and then went to stand at the edge of the porch as if he were trying to decide if he should make another patrol of his territory. He then meandered over to Darrell's truck, sniffed a tire, hiked his leg, and urinated on it. Haden giggled to himself because he knew how irritated his dad got when he saw Ranger doing this.

Ranger trotted toward the porch, suddenly stopped, turned, and trotted off toward the pasture. 'Why do dogs do that?' Haden wondered. They seem to have a plan where they want to go and then suddenly stop and head in a different direction with no particular plan at all. 'Just like this family,' he thought. 'We just seem to be going along with no particular plan at all.'

Although he wasn't sleepy, Haden decided he should go to bed since there was no sleeping in when there was farm work to be done. He undressed and quietly slipped into his bed so as to not wake Perry who was in the other bed quietly snoring.

"Alright, you two lazy bums, breakfast is ready," Amy called at their bedroom door the next morning.

"We're up, aren't we, Haden?" Perry called back as he stood to slip on his jeans and headed for the bathroom. After Perry finished in the bathroom and came back into the room to make sure Haden was awake, he saw Haden sitting on the edge of his bed staring out the window.

"Is something wrong, little brother?" Perry questioned.

"No, I was just thinking how messed up things are," Haden said. He was thinking about their mother, and also about his being gay and unable to talk to his brother about it.

"Are you talking about the way Mom's acting?" Perry questioned.

"Yeah," Haden said. "I wish everything could be normal."

"These past few days are the closest this family has ever been to normal," Perry said. "I think we've all finally seen that Mom is the way she is, and isn't going to change. Now hurry up and get ready for breakfast before Amy comes in here after you."

"This looks good, did you cook it?" Haden asked as he sat down to a plate of pancakes and bacon.

"Who else would cook it?" Amy asked. "It appears that Mother Dearest left shortly after Dad left for work. "But you know, it's been nice not having her around. It's just too tense when she's here."

"What's on our work list for today?" Haden asked. He assumed that Amy was in charge since their mother wasn't there to give orders.

"I don't know for sure what's in the garden that's ready," Amy said. "There's usually squash to freeze. The freezer is pretty full. I suppose we could find room for a little more, but I don't know what we'll do with any additional squash."

"We used to just toss it over the fence for the pigs," Perry said. "Hey, let's get it done and then go into town for lunch, my treat."

"How would we get into town?" Haden asked.

"I'll call Kyle and ask him to drive us," Perry said.

"I told Tony that I'd go to lunch with him if I finished my work in time," Amy blushed.

The three made short work of the small amount of squash they decided to freeze. They showered and were ready for their rides into town. Tony was the first to arrive, and after giving Amy a kiss gave Perry a proper bear hug greeting. He then greeted Haden with, "Hey, Haden, you've grown some this summer. Maybe you should think about going out for football."

"Nah, if I were going to play football I should've started at least by ninth grade," Haden said. "There's Kyle now," he added to change the subject.

Kyle was the only friend of Perry's that ever treated Haden like a regular guy. They had become casual friends after Haden spotted Kyle in the library one day struggling to finish an essay for his English class and he offered his help. Kyle was forever grateful to Haden and often asked him to proof his papers and make suggestions for improvement.

"Where did you want to go for lunch?" Kyle asked as he turned onto the highway toward town.

"How about we go out to Billy's Bar-B-Que in Covington?" Perry suggested. "I haven't had any good bar-b-que since I went into the army."

"It's your choice, since you're paying," Kyle joked.

Billy's was busy as usual during the lunch hour, but they found a table in the back corner of the restaurant. "Hey, Lacey," Perry greeted the pretty waitress who came to take their order. "I didn't know you worked here."

"Billy's my uncle and I work part-time during the summer," Lacey said. "I thought you were in the army."

"I'm home on leave before I go to Fort Bliss in Texas," Perry said.

"I'll give you my address and we can write to each other," Lacey said. "My brother said that there was nothing he liked better than receiving a letter from back home."

"It's always nice to receive mail," Perry agreed.

"Oh, no," Haden said after they had consumed their meal.

"What is it?" Perry asked.

"Mom just walked in with the preacher," Haden said. "And it looks like it's more than just a friendly meal."

Perry looked toward the entrance to see their mother with her arm locked into the crook of Reverend McFadden's arm.

"She's cheating on Dad," Perry said.

"Maybe it's just a friendly lunch," Kyle suggested.

"A little too friendly," Perry said. "I'm going to go ask her what the hell she thinks she's doing."

"No, Perry," Haden said. "Let it go. It would only hurt Dad if word got out about this."

"Your brother's right," Kyle agreed.

"Let's get the hell out of here," Perry said as soon as Brenda and the reverend disappeared into another part of the restaurant.

"Where to now?" Kyle asked as he pulled out of the parking lot onto the highway.

"Let's go swimming," Perry suggested.

"I'll need to go by the house and get my swim trunks," Kyle said.

Haden recognized the neighborhood and Hal's house as soon as Kyle turned into his neighborhood. "Hi, Kyle," Hal said as he paused from trimming the hedge that separated his property from Kyle's parent's property. "Well, if it isn't Haden too. I haven't seen you since you helped me with the apartment."

"I've been busy around the farm," Haden said, remembering the promise to visit. "Hal, this is my brother Perry. He's home on leave from the army."

"It's nice to meet you, Perry," Hal said. "I hope you don't get sent off to that useless war in Iraq."

"Well, I probably will," Perry said. "I'm being sent to Fort Bliss for training."

Perry turned and walked toward Kyle's house. Haden stood in shock since he hadn't thought about the fact that his brother could be killed.

"Are you okay?" Hal asked when he saw that Haden hadn't followed his brother and Kyle toward the house.

"I just realized that Perry could be killed in Iraq," Haden confessed.

"I understand that it's better now than it was," Hal said when he saw how worried Haden was about his brother.

"Hey, are you coming?" Perry called to Haden.

"Yeah, I'll be right there," Haden said. "Bye, Hal."

"Take care, Haden. It'll all work out."

"I didn't know that you knew Hal," Kyle said as he unlocked the door.

"Yeah, like he said, I did some work for him," Haden said. "He gave us the material from the apartment and we used it to add mine and Perry's bedroom"

"It's your bedroom," Perry corrected him. "I don't live there anymore."

"It's your bedroom too when you come home on leave," Haden contradicted him.

They followed Kyle into his bedroom and Haden noted that the house, while not elaborate, indicated that the family had much more money than his family.

"Hey, you got a new laptop," Perry said as Kyle dug through a drawer looking for a pair of swim trunks.

"Yeah, I got it for my birthday," Kyle said. "My aunt and uncle sent it to me. I really didn't need it since my old one was still good."

"What did you do with your old one?" Perry asked.

"It's in my closet, do you want it?" Kyle asked.

"No thanks, things like that are difficult to keep when in the army," Perry said.

"How about you, Haden, do you want it?" Kyle asked.

"How much do you want for it?" Haden asked, knowing he still had the money he'd earned and probably could afford it.

"I was going to just give it away," Kyle said. "Take it if you want it."

"Wow, thanks Kyle," Haden said. Haden then noticed that Kyle was stripping to put on his swim trunks. 'It must be a football jock thing,' he thought as Kyle undressed without embarrassment. He noted that Kyle had a great looking body.

Haden quickly looked away and thought about his computer rather than how good looking Kyle was. He knew he must avoid any embarrassment of being turned on by a good looking guy, especially a nude good looking guy.

"Where are we going swimming?" Kyle asked as he slipped his jeans back on over his swim trunks.

"Since we have to go to the house for Haden and me to get our swim trunks, we may as well go to the swimming hole on our farm," Perry suggested.

Haden quickly found his swim trunks and went directly to the bathroom to change. He was too embarrassed to undress in the room with Kyle and Perry. He took a towel and wrapped it around his waist before returning to the bedroom.

Kyle saw Haden with his towel and smiled as if to say, 'What have you got to hide?'

"I guess I'm ready," Haden said, feeling somewhat self-conscious in his swim trunks.

"Grab some Cokes from the refrigerator and I'll get the cooler from the utility room," Perry said.

"There's Amy and Tony," Haden said when he saw Tony's car coming down the driveway. "Maybe they'll want to go swimming with us."

"We're going swimming. Do you want to go with us?" Perry asked as he opened the car door for his sister.

"Want to go?" Amy asked Tony.

"I don't have anything to swim in," Tony said.

"Come on inside," Perry said. "I have extra swim trunks."

The stream was refreshingly cool on this hot late summer day. They alternated between swimming and basking in the sun until Amy said, "I should get up to the house and start dinner."

"Don't bother," Perry said. "I'll grill some steaks, we can make a salad and bake some potatoes to go with them. Kyle, you and Tony are staying for dinner aren't you?"

"Sure, but I'll need to call home and let my folks know I won't be home for dinner," Kyle said.

"Me too," Tony said.

After swimming for a while longer, the five leisurely strolled back to the house to start dinner. "Make yourselves comfortable and I'll put the potatoes in the oven to bake," Amy said to Tony and Kyle.

While Kyle and Tony went to change out of their wet swimwear, the brothers and sister set about preparing dinner.

"Haden, why don't you go get the steaks out of the freezer while I start the fire in the grill?"

"How many steaks should I get?"

"Six should be enough," Perry said. "I suspect Mom will be eating with the preacher again."

"What do you mean, again?" Amy asked.

"We went to Billy's for lunch and Mom came in draped all over the preacher," Haden explained before Perry could answer.

"She what?" Amy asked in anger.

"Don't say anything to Dad," Perry said.

"Why not, he should know?" Amy asked.

"He'll find out on his own," Perry said.

"I guess you're right," Amy admitted.

If Darrell noticed that his children were hiding anything from him he never let on. Nor did he mention the fact that their mother was missing.

The dreaded day arrived when it was time for Perry to end his leave. Unlike his first departure, Amy and Haden were sorry to see him go. Amy cried as their father drove away to take Perry to the airport. Haden hugged his sister, not just to comfort her, but to comfort himself also. He too had a few tears as he already missed his brother.

Haden woke the next morning to the smell of bacon coming from the kitchen. He smiled thinking of how Amy had taken charge of the house since their mother had developed the habit of disappearing every morning. To his surprise, it was his mother who was cooking breakfast as if everything was now normal.

"Eat your breakfast and then I want you to pick the green beans for Amy and me to can," She said with no emotion.

Amy entered the kitchen and looked as surprised as Haden had when she saw their mother there. She opened her mouth as if to say something, then changed her mind.

"Amy, after you finish your breakfast I want you to go out to the storage building and bring in some jars for the green beans," Brenda ordered.

Amy nodded her acknowledgement, envious of Haden for having the task away from their mother. She brought the jars back into the house and began washing and scalding them, getting them ready to fill with green beans. She and her mother worked in near silence, the only exchange of words were those necessary to complete the task at hand.

School began with the Harrington family back to normal, normal for them anyway. "Remember last year how nervous you were?" Amy asked as they waited for the bus.

"I'm nervous again this year too," Haden confessed.

"Why are you nervous?" Amy asked.

"I don't know, I guess it's having all new teachers," Haden said.

"You worry too much," Amy teased as she saw the bus coming down the highway.

Haden's first class was Algebra II, a class he wasn't looking forward to. He had made an A in Algebra I, but only because Amy helped him. Mrs. Griffin, his previous teacher, gave the material once and expected the students to understand it. If Amy hadn't taught him, Haden was sure he'd have failed. Haden made his way to his classroom and found a seat near the middle of the classroom. He'd come to the conclusion that sitting in the back of the room drew a label from the teachers that the students there were troublemakers. He also believed that sitting in the front of the classroom labeled him as a nerd by his classmates.

The bell rang and to Haden's surprise, in walked Hal Campbell. He'd forgotten that Hal mentioned that he would be teaching math this fall.

"Good morning," Hal began, and after a half-hearted good morning from the students, he began. "I'm new here, but some of you may already know me as Hal Campbell." He looked directly at Haden before continuing. "However, here at school I'm Mr. Campbell, the school's rules not mine. I promise that none of you will fail my class."

This got the attention of the class as some said, "Cool" and "Great."

"However," Hal paused to emphasize the however. He then continued, "However, you have to put forth some effort. I will not just give you a grade. You'll have to earn it. I'll do whatever I can to help you learn. But you have to make an effort. I pulled your math grades from last year and have divided you into study groups. If your name is underlined, you're a group leader. Study groups will meet weekly, or more often as needed."

Haden was taken aback to see his name underlined on his list. He was further stunned to see Kyle's name on his list. He turned and spotted Kyle sitting on the back row and motioned for him to come sit in the empty chair next to him. Kyle gathered up his books and moved to the empty seat. This got Hal's attention and he asked, "Is there a problem?"

"No, we're in the same group," Haden said.

"Oh, groups don't have to sit together," Hal explained. "But since you've already moved, you may as well stay there."

Haden thought he saw Hal suppressing a smile.

"This is mostly a sophomore class, what are you doing in this class as a junior?" Haden whispered to Kyle.

"I've put it off because I hate math," Kyle answered back.

"Would you mind telling us why you hate math?" Hal asked. He had apparently overheard Kyle's response.

"Well, it seems there are too many rules," Kyle said. "And I don't understand any of them."

"The only rule really required in my class is that you get the correct answer," Hal said. "I don't care what method you use. I'll show you how I do it, but if you have a method that works better, feel free to use it. I too used to hate math until I had this really great math teacher. She made math fun and I hope to do the same with this class."

At lunch time, Haden spotted Amy at a table where she could watch for Tony. "Where's your boyfriend?" He asked.

"He'll be here soon," she answered. "Where's yours?"

"He..." Haden started to answer. "What are you talking about, Amy?"

"I could tell that you like Kyle," Amy said. "I think he likes you too."

"How do you know?" Haden leaned forward, so others couldn't hear their conversation.

"Didn't I know about you? I see how Kyle looks at you. I can also hear it in his voice when he talks about you too."

"Kyle's a jock and isn't like me. He even had a girlfriend."

"There they are now," Amy said when she spotted Tony and Kyle in the lunch line. "You watch, Kyle will look at you before he even says hi to me. Glance at him when Tony or I are talking, and you'll see that he'll be looking at you."

Haden realized that Amy was correct when Tony and Kyle joined them at their table. 'Kyle couldn't be interested in me, could he?' Haden thought.

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