A/N: A big thank-you to all of the reviewers. I don't think I'll be doing a middle school fic after this; once you read the ending of this final chapter you may understand why it could be kinda complicated. Thanks again! Much love -Jenna
June 15th. The last day of fifth grade. Mimi couldn't believe it. She would be in middle school once the summer ended. And the thing that upset her most was the fact that she and her friends wouldn't all be going to the same middle schools. What would she do without Roger and the rest of her friends she'd known for six years? Mimi knew that she and Angel would be attending the same middle school next year...at least she still had him.
She gulped as she carried her unusually lightweight backpack on her shoulders and entered the classroom, Roger walking behind her with his hands stuffed in his pockets. He himself looked very uneasy.
"So, Mark, Tom, Maureen, and I are all going to the same middle school," he muttered to her as they walked to their seats. "The rest of us are split, right?"
Mimi just nodded. "Me and Angel are gonna stick together 'cause my mom and his mom are like peanut butter and jelly...and Joanne's all by herself."
"Seriously. I think she's moving to Rhode Island or something so that when she grows up she can go to one of those smart colleges. She didn't wanna talk about it much."
She looked Roger in the eye. "We'll hang out over the summer, though. We can hang out on weekends, too."
Roger just looked down at his shoes. "Yeah. Sure."
Lunchtime brought many a conversation amongst the seven friends.
"Dude, my older brother told me that at Perri Middle School, there's this wacky old teacher that you have for Social Studies that makes you do 100 push-ups if you don't have your homework ready in class," Roger said.
Mark straightened his glasses and shuddered, imagining himself as a 6th grader doing push-ups in front of a cackling, white-haired old lady. His future at Perri Middle School seemed dim, mainly because he'd be separated from some of his closest friends: Joanne, Mimi, and Angel. Of course, he was happy that he would still be with Roger, Tom, and Maureen, but he knew it wouldn't be the same.
Mark looked up and down the table at each of his friends. Roger was, of course, stuffing his face and talking at the same time, sending half of the contents of his lunch flying everywhere as he spoke whatever nonsense he felt needed to be said while eating. Mimi was smiling, examining her perfectly painted nails, her face lit up like a lantern. Maureen was laughing loudly (this didn't surprise Mark at all; sometimes he could hear her laugh from across the schoolyard) and flinging an arm around his shoulders. He glanced over to the other side where Angel was breaking a cookie in half and handing the other half to Tom, who happily accepted it. Joanne, sitting at the very end of the table, looked as if she might cry. Mark couldn't blame her. After all, she was moving to a completely different state and had to make new friends and start a new life. But once Angel leaned over and said something or other, a smile spread across Joanne's face. Leave it to Angel to make anyone smile.
Mark dreaded the end of the day. But unfortunately, it came.
"Maureen...We're both going to the same school next year...Ow." Mark tried to pull away from a hysterical Maureen who had pulled him into a tight hug.
Maureen sniffed and pulled away. "Oh, yeah. Sorry."
Mark felt sick. He glanced over at Roger, who was now hugging Mimi. Roger never hugged anyone. But the sad expression on his face that he rarely displayed told Mark that this hug was genuine.
Joanne was hugging everybody, bawling her eyes out. Mark tapped her on the shoulder and awkwardly wrapped his arms around her.
"We'll keep in touch, okay? When do you leave New York?" he inquired.
Joanne sniffed. "A couple of weeks." This prompted her to hug him again. "Mark, you were always such a nerd, but I love ya anyway."
Mark laughed shakily, trying not to cry himself. Joanne squeezed his arm before moving on to someone else to hug. That was when Angel ran up to Mark and flung his arms around him.
"Marky, you'd better call this summer and not be an idiot like you were last summer, okay?!" he reprimanded.
Mark smiled. "Don't worry, Angel, I will. And make sure Mimi doesn't act too crazy over the summer."
"Got it," Angel said with tears in his eyes. Mark watched as he wandered over to Tom and simply looked at him. Mark had a feeling Angel's goodbye to Tom would be the hardest for both of them. He shook his head as he ran over to Mimi to give her a hug as well.
"Angel, come on, man, don't get mushy on me," Tom said quietly, putting a comforting arm around his friend's shoulders.
"Bu-bu-but...We've been friends for...s-s-so long and I...I..." Angel stuttered, tears rolling down his caramel skin.
"Angel, we're still gonna see each other over the summer...and...we can call each other. And we'll hang out on weekends with the rest of 'em. That stuff isn't gonna change."
"I'm g-g-gonna m-m-miss you."
Those four words caused a lump to form in Tom's throat. Crap. Crud, crud, crap.
The only thing he could do was let Angel hug him and say, "I'll miss you too, Angel. I'll miss you, too."
After a good long time of everyone hugging and crying, the friends were forced to disperse.
"Joanne, you are going to call me or I am going to kill you," Maureen said flatly as she grabbed her backpack. "Love you guys, talk to ya later!"
Mark was yet again amazed at how Maureen could go from crying to sarcastic death-threats.
Angel was looking down at the ground, fidgeting with his fingers. Tom put an arm around his shoulders once again, and Mark heard him say, "I'll walk with ya outside, okay?"
Mimi was clutching onto Roger, who waved to Mark. "Oh yeah, my mom wants some recipe or something from your mom so I think I'm coming over your house for a little bit tomorrow, okay?"
Mark nodded. "See you then." Mimi pulled away from Roger for a brief moment to hug him. "Love ya. I'll call you and harass you soon, okay?" she said with a smirk. Mark laughed and waved goodbye to both of them.
Joanne pulled him into a hug once more. "Bye, Marky."
"Bye," Mark choked.
It was then he realized that he was the only one left in the classroom.
I'm really gonna miss them... Mark thought, trying to shake away the sickening feeling of nostalgia coming over him.
He remembered, just faintly, when he'd been in kindergarten and fallen on his knee in the hallway. Who had come to help him and told him to stop crying like a baby? Roger, of course. Who had been his very first "Valentine"? Maureen. And how could he forget quizzical, curious Mimi, always asking "What's this?" or "What does that mean?" Then there was sporty, smart Joanne, who thought that boys were meanies and that being a doctor would be her life-long dream. And Angel, the feminine 5-year-old boy who wore his sister's nail polish and always made everyone smile. Tom had been the know-it-all who always found it necessary to correct everyone.
Six years with the six people who meant the world to him. It was all too much. There were tears rolling down his cheeks at this point. He hadn't even realized it. Just as he was wiping the tears away, Maureen poked her head into the room.
"Marky, what the heck are you still doing in here? My mom's picking both of us up today, remember?"
Mark quickly finished wiping away the tears and replied, "Oh, yeah. Okay, I'll be there in a second."
Maureen nodded and mock-flirtatiously blew him a kiss before skipping away. He sighed and picked up his backpack.
The final item he had packed earlier was the notebook he'd used at the beginning of the year: What NOT to do in 5th Grade.
Mark smiled at the memory. He was in middle school now. He was growing up. And so were Roger, Mimi, Maureen, Joanne, Tom and Angel. But he had a strong feeling that they'd remain close for a very, very long time. Mark hoped they could even push for forever. After all, as Tom would always say, "Well, you never know!"
After one more glance at the classroom, Mark Cohen was out the door. 6th grade, here I come.