|Over the Fence
Author: Where-or-When PM
John Bender was my next-door neighbor. I wasn't sure what I was to him, and I wasn't sure what he was to me; we were more than just neighbors and more than just friends, but I could never come up with the right word. This is the day we spent in detention. If you like this, check out Behind the Fence as well!Rated: Fiction T - English - Friendship/Drama - John B. & Andrew C. - Chapters: 8 - Words: 21,559 - Reviews: 19 - Favs: 42 - Follows: 18 - Updated: 06-13-13 - Published: 03-03-12 - Status: Complete - id: 7893787
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Well hello there, kind reader. A few weeks ago, I decided to reread this and I really wasn't satisfied with it. So over the next few weeks, I started to pick at this and I've finally finished revising it. I even added a little something something! You'll know it when you get to it. And if this is your first time reading this, then ENJOYYY. Tell me what you think!
I was only seven years old when my mother first struck me. How was I supposed to react all alone? There was nobody to help me and there was nobody on my side. That is, until I stopped to see what lived over the fence.
My mother was fed up with me and for the very first time and she let me have it right on the nose. Horrified, I locked my bedroom door, crawled out of my window and sat alone in my backyard where I didn't think she'd look to find me. All of the sudden when I was about to have my break-down, some boy poked his head over the tall wooden fence, standing on the step ladder that his father left outside. He climbed over and sat beside me. I felt stupid sitting next to a boy while I was pinching my nose and having tears still rolling down my cheeks, but I didn't shoo him away just yet.
He looked at me and asked me bluntly, "What happened to you?"
"I...ran into my door." I lied.
"Really? So what, did it just jump out at you and nail you?"
"Uh, yeah," I scooted away from him, embarrassed.
"So why are you crying then?"
"Well being punched by your mom-DOOR doesn't really feel nice."
He cocked his head to the side and scrunched his eyebrows. "Your mom-door?" he asked suspiciously, "You mean your mom?"
I felt the color flush out of my face and my heart starting to beat like a jackhammer. "Maybe,"
"My parents hit me too. My dad mostly, but my mom's hit me before." he explained as-a-matter-of-factly. "It's OK," he awkwardly put a hand on my shoulder for minimal comfort.
"No it's not!" I resented, shrugging out of his touch, "I've never been punched by them before! Spanked and yelled at, but not punched! I don't even know what I did wrong!" I listened to my voice and realized that I was still pinching my nose and sounding like an idiot. "Have you ever gotten a bloody nose before? From your parents?"
The boy nodded, "Sure,"
"So what am I supposed to do?" I asked desperately.
"Wait here," he got up quickly and ran through the side gate and over to his house. Within a minute or two, he came back over and stood on his knees in front of me. He took a few tissues out of the box that he brought over and, while panting from his previous running, he shaped the tissues into funny things that looked like torpedoes. Once he successfully made two, he told me to tilt my head up. I did so and then he walked over on his knees to my side and stuck the tissues up my nostrils. "There you go," he said confidently.
I carefully screwed them tighter into my nose and said quietly. "I feel silly."
"You looksilly." he told me. I put my hands on my hips and glared. The boy shrugged and told me truthfully, "You look like you have a white mustache that starts from inside your nose."
I got up, crossed my arms and walked away from him.
My neighbor followed me until we were both standing in front of my still open window, "If you ever you need help or anything, I'm right over the fence. My room has the window like... Like that." he pointed at my window. "Your house looks kind of like mine... But it's backwards."
"So your house is like my opposite house?"
"No, your house is like myopposite house." he said stubbornly.
Not wanting to fight with him and lose a potential friend, I raised my hands innocently and agreed with him.
"But if you ever do come over, go through the side gate, not the front door. My parents would get real mad." he warned.
"Well you can come over if you want to, too. But you'd have to go through the side gate too." I said back.
"Alright, thanks. Bye," he said quickly as he went back through the gate.
"Wait!" I called.
He turned back to me and stared for a minute. "What?"
"What's your name?"
"I'm Jennifer," I said, even though he probably couldn't care less.
John waved again and let himself out of my yard.
Saturday, April 7, 1984. 5925 Gerard Street. Shermer, Illinois. 60062.
It wasn't because I felt sick, and it wasn't because I had been up for an hour and a half already, but I had a strange feeling inside me like something was going to happen. It had been like that since I woke up. I didn't know what came over me, but something felt a bit off. But before I would let anything happen, I had to get through step one: breakfast.
Reluctantly, I brought myself out of my warm bed and slowly let my feet touch the cold hardwood floor. I still hadn't fully opened my eyes yet, but at the sight of John Bender asleep on my couch again, I rushed into the bathroom to splash cold water onto my face and to yank the tangles out of my hair. I for some reason always went through the trouble to make myself at least a little presentable to him, even though he never bothered to for me, but that's how it always went between the two of us. I wasn't sure what I was to him, and I wasn't sure what he was to me. We were more than just neighbors and more than just friends, but I could never come up with the right word. There were even times where I thought we would make a decent couple, but then I remembered that I was never any good with relationships and I needed Bender to be my friend no matter what. John tried to look like a burnout to the kids at school, but when he was alone with me, it was like he forgot about all of that and changed into a completely different person. I still don't know exactly why he did that, but I always went with the idea of him always feeling sorry for me. It wasn't a very self-encouraging reason, but it made sense to me. And in a way, I depended on him. But time was running out and I had no idea what either of us were planning on doing after we graduated from high school. I wasn't going to college and I assumed he wasn't either. I guess we never really talked about that.
I cleared my mind of these thoughts and snuck out into the kitchen and started to make my breakfast. Apparently I wasn't as silent as I tried to be, because John soon stumbled into the kitchen just after the coffee was ready. He sat down in one of the stools in front of the counter and buried his face into his hands.
"I'm sorry," I got out two mugs, "I woke you up, didn't I?"
John shook his head and with a muffle from his hands, said, "No, don't worry about it."
"Here, it'll wake you up," I put the hot mug of coffee in front of him.
"Thanks," he took a big gulp, "Whoa!"
"Oh yeah," I laughed and put the bacon I made on a plate, "It's hot,"
"I figured," John got up and walked up behind me. For a moment, I was strangely excited, but it didn't last when I saw his arm reached beside me to grab a piece of bacon.
"Sorry I woke you up, John." I said while trying to casually spread butter on my toast.
"Don't worry about it," he snagged a few more pieces of bacon and sat on top of the counter across from me. "Hey, what time is it anyway?" he reached back for his coffee.
I looked past him at the clock on the wall. "Almost 6:00,"
"Damn, I gotta be at school at seven."
"You have detention?"
"Not really. Actually, I'm glad. I thought I was gonna be alone." I sipped my coffee and stood in front of him, delicately nibbling at my toast.
John's eyes widened and a small smirk crawled across his face. "Youhave detention? Jennifer Henson, I can't believe it."
I nodded my head and smirked back. "Aren't you proud?"
"Alright, Jen!" he hopped down and took a rather large bite out of my toast, "What'd you do?"
I stared at him for a moment. "Don't talk with your mouth full. It's gross."
John swallowed and tried again, "What'd you do?"
I nervously walked away to put the empty bacon plate in the sink. "It wasn't all that much."
"What did you do?" he asked, enunciating every word as he came up to me.
"I slapped some girl in History."
"Really?" he was even more eager, "Who?"
I slowly turned around and nervously answered, "Claire Standish,"
"Claire?" he echoed softly. I remembered him walking around the school with his arm around her a couple of weeks ago and then both of them suddenly keeping at least ten million miles away from each other.
"Yeah," I crossed my arms sheepishly, "It was my fault, though. I overreacted to what she was doing. See, we were partners for this thing and she criticized everything that I did and she always picked on me. But in my defense, she completely blew it out of proportion. I didn't deserve detention." I explained.
John randomly put his hands behind his back. "Slap me as hard as you slapped her."
"So I can tell you if it's worth a detention or not."
"Well, OK." I wasn't going to look like a wimp in front of him, so I went ahead and slapped him across the face like I did for Claire.
John paused for a moment to evaluate and shrugged, "Yeah, I guess that's worth a detention."
"What?" I exclaimed. "Oh, come on! Both of my parents have slapped me way harder than that!"
"I know that," he said much more calmly than I did, "But richies like her haven't had as much as one finger laid on them." I could tell that he was lying for my benefit. He tended to do that.
"Alright, but it's still totally lame that I have to go to detention on a Saturday for it."
"Do you regret slapping her?"
I laughed and shook my head, "Why would I?"
John smiled at me and looked back at the clock. "Hurry up and get dressed or Vernon'll have you in detention again next week."
"Aren't you gonna change?" I looked at his worn out and faded jeans, stained green flannel long-sleeve, and wrinkled black shirt underneath that he presumably wore the day before.
"Me? What for? It's detention, Jen, not a wedding."
"Even if you were going to a wedding, you wouldn't change." I giggled.
John leaned back on the counter and looked down at himself. He smiled and looked back up at me, "I'd consider changing my socks."
I began to walk backwards to my room. "You would not," I challenged.
John crept up to me and held out his hands. I knew what was coming and spun around and started to run away from him. He was right behind me, his hands still out and getting closer to my sides. I shrieked as his arms wrapped around me and he leaned forward over me, "You're such a smart-ass, you know that?"
"Really? You only tell me all the time!"
"Well it's still true," he straightened and pushed me in the direction of my room. "Now get dressed, before you get me late!"
"I will because I want to, not because you told me to!" I answered stubbornly.
"Want the rest of your coffee to-go?" he called back, changing the subject.
"Yes, please!" I said as I closed my door and opened my dresser, figuring that that's what I felt was going to happen all morning. John and I have had our fair shares of being with each other, but never for a whole entire day.
Knowing that I had nothing else to expect other than a day of nothing with good 'ol Bender, I put on my blue jeans, red sweater, and red Chuck Taylor high tops that looked about ready to fall apart. I ran out to the front door and found Bender leaning on the wall falling back asleep with my coffee by his feet. I laughed and flicked his nose. "We'll have plenty of time to sleep when we get to school."
"Don't hold your breath," he reached down and took a gulp of my drink while I hung my beige scarf around my neck and slipped on my denim jacket. Bender looked at me for a moment and smirked, "You still wear my old jacket?"
"Yep," I looked down at the jacket and remembered him handing it over to me about a year before. Don't think that it was in great shape or even clean when he gave it to me, because it definitely wasn't, but it was still a really kind gesture for him to do. "I haven't got anything else since my dad sold my old one, and I haven't any spare money for myself anymore. I just thank God that I've finished growing." I grabbed my coffee from him and opened the door for us.
Bender put on his sunglasses and tweed coat and walked out in front of me, "At least you don't have to worry about your old man anymore." he said, casually walking backwards with his hands already deep in his pockets.
I caught up to him and held my cup tightly in my hands to try and keep them warm, "Well, A, you have my couch to crash on and B, you know where your dad is at. Mine left me and my mom, but he can always come right back! Have I ever told you how paranoid I am?"
"I figured that one out myself," he took my scarf which was still carelessly draped around my neck and wrapped it around. "But you know how to hop the fence and you know that I never lock my window, so if he ever does come back, and he won't, then you can come to my place and crash with me. It works both ways, Jen." he took my coffee out of my hands and took a swig.
If you had been anybody but me and known John Bender, you wouldn't have believed me when I described him. I've heard what people say about him and I've even seen him in the act at school, but around me he was an entirely different person. Granted, he still could be an ass, but nobody's perfect.
"Thanks, John," I rubbed my hands together and crossed my arms, "Damn, it's cold,"
"We'll be at school in no time," he handed back the cup.
I sipped the lukewarm coffee, "What did you do this time, anyway?"
"Vernon gave me two months of detention a couple of weeks ago."
"How'd you get yourself in that mess?"
"He was just pissing me off, that's all."
"Well what'd you do to get the first detention?"
"I pulled a fire alarm the Friday before." he laughed, reminiscing.
"Really? That was you?" he smiled with pride and nodded. "You saved my life, man!"
"That day Mr. Taylor was bitching at me for not doing my homework again and was about to give me an essay for the weekend, but after that alarm, he forgot all about it!"
"So what's that worth to you?"
"What do you mean?"
"How much do you owe me now?"
I felt my face drop, "I made you breakfast, John."
"No, you made it then I took it."
"Well you owe me more than that." he said stubbornly.
"What did you have in mind?" John's eyebrows rose and he smiled seductively. "Pardon?" he made a hole with one hand and put his index finger through it with his other hand. I was repulsed and smacked his hands away, "John!"
He laughed, "I'm just messing with you!" he put an arm around my shoulders, making me actually quite a bit warmer. "This one's on the house."
I brought my blood pressure down a few hundred notches and put my arm around his middle under his tweed coat.
As we walked the rest of the way over to the school in dead silence, I looked up at Bender and remembered how he always treated me; I was like his little girl. Granted, he was still annoying sometimes and didn't know when the joke was over, but he was so gentle and kind when he wanted to be.
I never forgot that day when we first met. He was the best thing that could have ever walked into, or rather hopped over into my life. And throughout the ten years we had known each other, we had grown so attached to one another. Only then it looked like it was coming to an end. I looked back up at Bender, memorizing every detail of his face.
John smirked and looked down at me, "What are you looking at me for?"
"I remember when your voice used to be so high." I giggled.
He ruffled my hair, "And I remember when you used to put your hair in braids every day."
I groaned out loud and smoothed my hair back down self-consciously, "I can't believe I thought that looked good!"
"Yeah, you looked like Pippi Longstocking." he laughed.
"Was it really that bad?" I held my hair, embarrassed of the thought.
"Aw," he pulled me in closer. "No, you were a lot less creepy than Pippi Longstocking." he assured me.
"Oh, so I was still creepy?"
John thought about it for a moment then nodded, "You still kind of are."
"And you're just as obnoxious as you were when you were eight!"
"Yeah," he squeezed my shoulder, "And that's how it's gonna stay for a while."