Arnold stared silently down at the blankly lined page, his blue ink pen poised in his hand as he tried to will some thought to come into his mind, but thus far all he could think of was Helga. It wasn't like he liked the girl, but he didn't dislike her either.
She can't possibly be that mean, he scribbled along the first line, if she was she wouldn't be nice as she is on occasion. He tapped his chin with the pen, letting its end slip between his lips to ultimately be clasped between his incisors. It was true, if the girl really did hate him like she loved to tell him, then she wouldn't be nice to him on the many occasions that she did; he started on the second line in his notebook.
I know that she tries to be mean to everyone but inside she's not that bad, she can be nice if she wants to be.
The boy looked over what he'd written for a long moment, they were true observations but did he really want to talk about Helga in this notebook? It was just one that he'd found, small and black with a spiral ring holding it together, he'd decided to use it as something of a journal, did he really want to write about the one girl who frustrated him beyond all else?
He stretched and glanced at the clock that took up residence on his shelves, it was almost time to go catch the bus, but he had a little more time to waste. Pressing the pen to the third line on his paper, he started scribbling down a train of thought.
Her family doesn't seem to notice her much, so maybe she craves the attention. It would make sense; maybe the attention makes her happy, specifically my attention… Could this have anything to do with what happened on top of FTI? Maybe she really does love me like she said she did. But if she did, why did she take it back?
Arnold stopped having filled another four lines in his little book with his scribbled handwriting. In all honesty he was sure that he wouldn't be able to talk to anyone about these thoughts, simply because no one else seemed to see the side of Helga that he did, even through her barbed words and cruel actions. Stretching back he stared at the ceiling, absently reminding himself of the events that occurred during the entire FTI episode in his life. Helga was supposed to have gotten rich off of the deal, but she had elected to help him and Gerald save the neighborhood instead. Why?
His alarm went off and he put the book and pen safely into his backpack, it was time to head for the bus stop, otherwise he was sure to be late for school if grandpa had to drive him, the old man got side tracked easily.
- - -
Helga scrawled impatiently in the little pink book with her shockingly neat cursive, trying desperately to get her inspiration into writing before it escaped her. It was yet another poem about Arnold; the boy enthralled her, haunted her thoughts day and night and served as muse to her inwardly poetic mind. There was no other person that inspired her so much, no other person that held her heart in their hand and no other person that was so subjected to the barbs that closely guarded her inner most self.
Finishing her thought, she scrawled her signature, not her full name of course but her initials, as a way of reminding herself that this was her little piece of him that she had made. Once she was done, she checked the time and shoved her journal into her bag before she headed downstairs and then out to the bus stop.
It was a frigid morning, the only reason Helga noticed this was because her scarf was missing, no doubt taken by the infamous Olga who was yet again visiting from college. Her family didn't seem to notice her, Olga was the only one that even made an attempt but the older girl was so wrapped up in herself that she really didn't provide Helga with any of the affection that she wanted or needed. What she got from Arnold may not have been the affection that she wanted, but it was certainly what she needed to go on with life, if she didn't have him she was sure that she wouldn't have survived this long. Her love of him was the only thing that she had to wake up to every day and somehow it was enough.
Leaning against the door, she laid her head back and watched her breath escape her in visible puffs, that was why she liked winter, it was a peaceful time; at least until people came along and ruined it.
- - -
Why did she take it back? It couldn't really have been just in the heat of the moment, could it? Even after all that stuff that she said about stalking, shrines and poetry? Could it really have just been in the heat of the moment? I don't know why but that thought makes me a little sad.
The bus rattled and shook as it traveled on its route to PS.118, picking up children as it went. Arnold was sitting in his usual seat with his knees propped up and his notebook resting against them as he wrote, Gerald was listening to music beside him, not paying much attention to what he was doing; they never spoke much in the morning, he supposed it was because they were both not fully awake.
At the moment he was fully awake but he had no want to talk to his best friend who was half asleep with his headphones pulled over his ears, the music's perforating base the only thing between them. Instead he was scribbling away, his musings over Helga slowly developing; they raised questions as they went. Questions like "Why did he feel sad just because she had taken back her profession of love for him?" or "Why was he thinking about her so much?"
When the bus pulled to a stop in front of the bully's usual stop, he instinctively closed the little book, for some reason even the remote idea of her reading what was written in it embarrassed him. True there was nothing incriminating of embarrassing in it that she didn't already know about, but just the thought of her seeing proof of just how much he thought of her left him unsettled.
The usual insults erupted from the girl as she made her way to her usual seat kitty-corner in front of him, Phoebe was already there and she eagerly scooted to the side to make way for the girl. Neither of them was very large-unlike Harold who needed a seat to himself-and they easily filled the seat with room to spare. Down she sat, propping her back pack up in the remaining space and hiding behind it, Phoebe greeted her with a pleasant good morning but when the bully barely responded, the young oriental girl returned to staring out the window. Arnold supposed that they were much like he and Gerald, too tired to talk so early.
He hadn't really intended to watch her so long, he had meant to simply look at her briefly, determine if it was safe to reopen his notebook and then continue writing; but what she did next peaked his curiosity. Digging into her bag, she pulled out a little pink notebook as well as a pen and flipped it open; there was a lot of writing in the book, he couldn't read from the distance that he was at but right now that didn't interest him, just her actions did. Hunkering down right there beside the obstruction that was her book bag, she started scribbling away, her writing slowly filling the pale pink of the pages with dark blue ink, some of her writing on other pages was colors such as pink and purple, but the page that she was writing on right now was being covered in dark blue ink. She stayed completely absorbed in it, save for a few insults thrown at those that came too close, until the bus pulled into PS.118, then she closed the small book, shoved it back into her bag along with the pen and proceeded off the bus.
He'd seen that notebook before…
Where have I seen that notebook before? It has a pink cover, pale pink pages and loopy cursive handwriting that covers most of the pages, she was writing in it this morning and I just can't place where I have seen that book before. I know I have, maybe she writes in it in class? No, I've never seen her do anything other than argue, pull pranks and do class work in class.
Arnold tapped his chin with his pen again as he stared at the half filled page in his notebook, pretending to be working on the assignment that he had been given to do which was now shoved under the notebook waiting to be done as the boy frustrated himself trying to remember just where he'd seen that little pink book before.
Wait a second, a few months ago, before the FTI incident; there was a little pink book that I found, the one that had all of those poems in it. Everyone read it out loud until the last day when Helga ripped out the last poem and used it as fodder for a spitball to shoot at me. The book disappeared after that, could that book and hers be the same one?
The pen fell from his hand and he stared at the paper, all of those poems, she had been standing there every time someone read one out loud and made fun of it, every single one. They had all been love poems, seemingly about him as one person had observed, all heartfelt and handsomely written if not a little corny. She'd had to stand there while her heart had been anonymously paraded before the entire class and then made fun of; she'd had to stand there while he was sure her heart had been breaking and do nothing.
"Arnold is something the matter?", the boy's head snapped up from the page that he'd been blankly staring at for some time to stare at his teacher who had become worried over him; quick as a flash he closed the notebook.
"I'm fine Mr. Simmons", he said lightly, taking the bag and putting it into his bag, the man gave him a concerned look but took the answer and returned to his desk. Thankfully it was lunch time, he had a lot of thinking to do.