During the summer, the recognition and fame faded for Casey Connor, Herrington High's hero during an alleged alien assault. As the summer days flew by, filled with summer homework, scholarship essays, and a few sci-fi and fantasy novels, September quickly rolled in with fall weather and school.
It was the night before the first day of school, Casey finished packing his backpack and picking out a flannel and pair of jeans, when the phone rang. After two rings, his mother downstairs picked it up. A few seconds later, she called up to Casey
"Casey, it's for you!"
With that, Casey flew down the staircase to pick up the phone. He hadn't gotten very many calls over the summer, save for a few from Delilah (his ex-girlfriend), some interviewers, and college scouts. "Hello?" he said.
"Hey, Casey?" the voice said. It was a girl, but Casey couldn't recognize who it was.
"Yea, may I ask who's talking?" he said curiously.
There was a giggle on the other line. "It's me, Superman!"
Casey froze, no one except one person ever called him by that nickname. "Christina? This can't really be you..." he said, smiling.
"You better believe it! We just got finished moving to our old house, I would've called you sooner, but-"
"Hey, can I ride my bike over? I haven't seen you in years!" he asked.
"Sure, I'll meet you at the corner!"
"See ya there!" Casey said, and then hung up the phone. He grabbed his denim jacket and headed to the door.
"Hey mom, I'm taking my bike down the street, I'll see you in a while!" he called to his mother in the kitchen.
"All right, be home soon, it'll be dark in a while. Who was that on the phone?"
Casey rolled the bike out of the garage, and took off down the street, seeing a figure waiting for him by the street sign at the corner.
His best friend for all three years of middle school, he was so eager to see her again!As he got closer, he could tell it was Christina, but she was definitely different. She was a bit taller than she was in eighth grade when she moved. She had matured just as much as he had: he recognized the sandy-blonde hair, the ever-smiling face that greeted him, and was pleasantly surprised at how beautiful she was. She had always been picked on for being much more mature than the other girls, and looking it. But now, Christina looked just her age, which delighted Casey.
As he got to the corner, he hopped off, and rolled the bike up against the sign, and was greeted by a large hug. "It's been so long!" she said. Christina stepped back, and looked at Casey.
"You've changed so much, and yet, you're still good ol' Superman!" she smiled. "I've heard about everything that happened, I'm just sad I wasn't there to be with you, it sounded thrillingly adventurous!"
Casey smiled. "It was crazy!" He took a good look at her. "You have changed too! I haven't heard from you since last year, what happened?"
His friend's smiling face darkened as she looked down. "My little brother died, and my mother had a heart attack, and dad left us." she said with very little emotion. "We came back here because we still hadn't sold the house, and there was no point continuing to live in a city apartment for dad's job if he wasn't there, so we just finished signing the papers and moved back here yesterday. We spent today shopping and registering me for school." She took a breath as she noticed the look on Casey's face.
"So...wanna sit next to me on the bus tomorrow?" he asked, trying to change the subject.
She smiled, coming out of her mournful state. "I'd like that."
They sat down on the curb, and began to talk about school, life, and such things.
"So...how's that girl Delilah? Are you… going steady?" she asked nervously.
Casey laughed a bit. "Oh no...she's over me, she's back to dating this jock who was all over her last year." He looked down, thinking about the day she broke up with him, the last day of school before Spring break. "It was a just a joke to her I guess..."
Christina shifted closer to him, and placed her head on his shoulder as the sun began to set. In response, Casey placed his on her head.
"I've missed talking to you..." she said.
Once the sun had gone down, Casey broke the sweet, peaceful silence they had kept. "I better head home. See you on the bus?" He said, as he hopped onto his bike.
"Of course!" She smiled, and waved as he took off down the street.
"Chris!" her mother called from the house.
Casey rolled the bike into the garage, and walked back into the house. "I'm back!"
"Hey Casey," his dad said, not looking up from his newspaper in the living room.
"Are you all packed for school tomorrow, dear?" his mother asked.
"Yup, I got everything in my bag." he said, as he began to climb the stairs.
"So, how's Christina? Is she the same as ever?" his mother asked.
His father folded up his paper. "Didn't she move?" His father looked over toward Casey.
"Ummm, yeah, they moved back though...she's doing OK."
His father nodded and went back to his paper.
"All right, see you in the morning, dear." his mom smiled as he turned to climb the stairs.
"G'night, mom. Night, dad." he called back.
When he got upstairs, Casey flopped himself onto his bed, smiling. He swore to himself that he would try to win Christina's affection. It was a new year, and a new chance to show his love for her.
The next morning, his alarm clock beeped at 6:30, and he rolled out of bed as he pressed the "snooze" button. He shook himself awake, threw on the clothes he had laid out the night before, and quickly flew down the stairs to meet Christina at the bus stop after a quick breakfast.
"Morning, Casey." his mother said, still sleepy-eyed as she began to brew her coffee.
"Morning," he said, and kissed his mother on the cheek. He pulled open a cupboard and grabbed the box of Cheerios and poured them into a bowl. He quickly ate the bowl with a glass of orange juice, grabbed his bag, and began to walk to the corner where the bus stopped to pick up the kids on his road. Just like last night, he saw a figure standing at the bus stop waiting for him.
Casey ran down the sidewalk and across the road to join her.
"Good mornin', Superman!" she said cheerfully.
It was sixth grade, the first day of school for Casey Connor. The beginning of the day went fine, his schedule was decently filled with the basic classes and a study hall, and he got all of the teachers he had hoped for.
He walked into the lunch room to find many other kids in his grade already sitting at tables with their friends. Then, at the last available table, there was a girl, who he recognized from his math class the period before.
He walked over toward her, as she ate her sandwich.
"Umm, is there anybody else sitting here?" he asked, shyly. He had very little experience talking to girls. The girl looked up at him.
"No." she said quietly.
Casey quickly took the seat next to her. He pinched himself to make sure he wasn't dreaming; he was sitting next to a girl. But more amazingly: a pretty girl. He glanced over at her lunch, a sandwich with a small apple and a juice box. Then, he noticed something unusual underneath it all: a Superman comic.
"You read...comic books?" he asked. Casey immediately regretted saying that, when he saw her face blush up. He panicked. "I'm sorry...it's just...I think that's really cool...ya know?"
She took a little gasp when he said then, then looked over at him. "Would you like to read it? It's...it's the new issue..." She slid the magazine out from underneath her lunch bag, and held it out for him.
But, as she did so, it was swiped from behind the two of them by another boy in their grade, who was being cheered on by the football team at another table. "Do you seriously read these, Christina? You're just as pathetic as all the girls say!" the group of them chuckled as the kid showed them the book. "Get yourself some lipstick and then maybe the other girls will like you..."
"Can...I have that back, please?" she asked quietly.
But, he just walked away, taking the book with him, and when he arrived at his table, he and the football team tore through it.
Casey sat in slight shock, as Christina put her lunch back into her bag and silently cried.
"That wasn't even my comic book...it's my little brother's...I'm in so much trouble, he'll tell mom and dad and..." she silently whispered to herself.
Casey became furious that a bunch of boys would do that to such a pretty girl. "I'll be right back," he said to her. She stopped crying and watched as he got up and walked toward the other table.
Casey, his adrenaline pulsing through his veins, walked over to the table where the thieves were sitting. "Give her the comic book back, it isn't yours!" he said, intently.
The boy who took it from her stood up with the comic book in his hand, lifted his arm up above where Casey could reach. "Then take it."
Casey, thinking quickly, poked the kid's belly. As the boy cringed, he grabbed the comic book, and quickly walked back to the table. "I...think this is yours..." he said, handing the book to Christina.
The two of them laughed as they reminisced about the beginning of their friendship. A few more kids stood behind them, talking amongst themselves. The bus pulled up, and the two sat down in a seat together. Casey had missed being able to talk about anything to someone.
The bus ride was fairly quiet, since most people were still half-asleep. Casey explained to her the details of the crazy events of last year. She listened with delight of her friend's incredible bravery. Then, they remembered the summer they spent between 6th and 7th grade.
It was fairly warm all season, so the two of them rode their bikes a lot. They would race up and down the block, and there was always a tie, because neither one wanted the other to lose.
Just around noon, they decided to ride underneath over to the large tree at the other end of the road to have lunch in the shade. They did this almost every day the entire summer. Except for one.
Around the end of July, when the weather was particularly hot and humid, they spent their lunch time they would bike down the rode to a small ice cream store with a window facing a patio of picnic tables.
As they paid for their ice cream and sat down to their table, Christina noticed some of the former 7th graders standing near in the shade of the shop She ignored them, and continued to talk and enjoy the chocolate ice cream. When they were done, Casey volunteered to throw out the napkins and paper strips that were on the cones. Christina thanked him, and watched the traffic go by, until she realized the garbage can was near where the kids in the shade were standing. When she turned around, she saw them holding Casey up against the brick wall.
She ran as fast as she could toward them, and heard them say to Casey "Hey look, your little girl friend has come to save you." And then another one said. "This'll be funny..."
Once she got there, she stood right up the the three of them without any fear. "Let him go. Now." she said.
They all laughed. The one holding Casey turned to her and said smirkly "It's you and three. How much of a chance do you think you have?"
"Why do you bother bullying him anyway. We don't have any money, and I'm sure you're just doing it to make yourself look tough, right? What looks tough, is doing that to somebody who is tougher than yourself." she said. Then she laughed for a moment. "Look at me, for instance. The three of you could very well beat me up, but, I'm a girl and can scream without holding back."
The kid holding Casey let go of him, and nudged his head, and the three of them left.
The bus pulled into the bus loop at school. "Wow, we're here already?" Christina said.
Casey sighed, he knew what he was in for once he got off the bus. "Here we go. New year, here I come." he said to himself.