I didn't have to wait long for Kevin's response: "My summer has been all right, but slightly busy. I just moved here about a month ago so I've spent most of my time unpacking my belongings, taking care of my little sisters, helping them unpack, and trying out for sports teams for my father. I've hardly had much time to myself. Basically, I only know how to get from my house to the park and you are the first person I've held a conversation with for more than three seconds. How about you? Have you had a pleasant summer?"
"My summer's been pretty busy, too," I replied. "Most of it I've spent running after my brothers and sisters—there's five siblings total, and most of them are a handful—taking them to different places here in town, making sure none of them wander off, etc., etc. It's been okay, though; at this point, I'm just glad I'm the kind of person who can at least tolerate doing that all summer."
At that moment, I heard a voice in front of me—not Kevin's voice, someone else's—call out, "Julie, get over here, will ya?"
"Sounds like I'm being called," I said to him.
"Okay—Wait, I thought you said you went by Lexi," Kevin replied. "Do you have, like, two nicknames or something?"
"Something like that," I answered. "See you later, Kevin." Quickly, I sidestepped around him and walked briskly to the bench that some of my friends were already sitting on.
"Hey, Julie," said a black-haired, green-eyed girl by the name of Taylor. "What're your sibs doing here?"
"Dad's at work, Mom had to go to an appointment, and I can't exactly leave the five of them home alone. Anything new happen since we last met up?"
"You know how I tried out for this year's cheer squad last week?" Sophia, a blond, gray-eyed wisp of a girl, asked the group. We all nodded, since she had already told us last time of her plans to try out. "Well...I made it in!"
The next ten seconds were filled with female voices (mine included) saying things like "Nice job, Sophie!", "Wow, you must've blown them away!", "Congratulations!", etc., etc. Eventually, it all died down to silence.
A carrot-topped, brown-eyed girl broke the silence with, "So, is this our ticket to the popular crowd or what?"
"Seriously, Hannah? Is that whatcha have to say about it?" Taylor interjected, clearly irritated with the redhead's statement.
Hannah's pale, freckled face turned bright red as Taylor kept talking. The moment the latter fell silent, Hannah responded, "OK, OK, I get it, that was a dumb thing to say. But—haven't any of you ever wondered what it would be like to be popular? Or ever wanted to be?"
Sophie replied, "I have wondered what it's like, yes, but I don't think I've had any desire to be popular." She paused for a moment, then continued in a slightly quieter voice, "Though if I do end up leaping to the top of the social ladder because of what I'm part of now, I guess I'll just have to live with whatever comes along with it."
"Like all the drama, rumors, that sort of thing, all about you and your friends? Uh, no thanks," I added.
"Though it would be nice to maybe be able to set the trends at school," Hannah mentioned.
"Yeah, it probably would be nice to have that ability," Taylor replied. "But let's face it: if I were the one to set the trends, everyone at school would be wearing hoodies and high-tops—in the summer!"
All four of us laughed. I mean, if that actually happened, there would be so many kids complaining about the heat yet absolutely refusing to even consider the simplest way to cool down. I still wonder, to this day, how she could pull it off without overheating.
"Yeah, let's not,' said Sophie after she finished guffawing hysterically.
"No offense, Taylor," Hannah piped up after her giggles subsided, "but if that became a thing, you'd probably fall from the top to the bottom of the social ladder just like-" she snapped her fingers "-that because of it."
"Yeah...if I ever reach the top," Taylor replied in a way that made it sound like the possibility of that was somewhere between slim and nil.
Cue another round of laughter.