Chapter Two- Three Peas in a Pod
I had survived my first day of John Adams. And happily too, may I add. Everyone was surprisingly nice to me, unlike the schools I had been unwillingly transferred to in Pittsburgh. I had a strong feeling that Topanga was right; it was going to be a good year. I made my way to my locker and when I got there, I rhythmically banged on it twice, just like the mysterious boy, Jason, had shown me earlier. When it opened, I grinned with pride and pulled out my backpack, shoving my books inside. Before I had the chance to close it, Topanga strolled over to me chipper as ever. "Hey," I said, the proud grin still present on my face.
"Hey there cuz," she said in a song-like tone. "Cory wanted to go to Chubbies after school, so, I was wondering if you wanted to tag along?" she asked, more out of curiosity then pity. "Seeing as how your technically new here and all,"
I shut my locker and threw the straps over my shoulder, following her as she walked down the hall, her beautiful hair flowing flawlessly. "Sure," I said almost to quickly. "What's Chubbies though? Is that some kind of restaurant or something?"
Topanga let out a small laugh. "It is but it's more like John Adams' hotspot for hanging out, everyone goes there, popular or not," she said as a matter of fact like.
I gave a half smile. I was never good around crowds, mainly because I wasn't really a people person. Not because people didn't like me, but because I chose to not give them the opportunity to chose such options. "Okay, sounds good," I agreed.
Topanga lit up. "Perfect!" She laced her arm through mine and we picked up the pace. "Now you can finally meet Cory and our best friend, Shawn," She held her head high, proudly almost. I knew how much she cared about Cory. Even when we were knee high to grasshoppers, she always spoke highly of him. They had the kind of relationship that most people envied because it was real and full of nothing but love, hope and promise.
"I can't wait," I said truthfully. She smiled happily one last time but this time no words were spoken in return. Instead, she marched me on to what she refereed to several times as her favorite place in the world. I was excited but a little nervous too. I knew I shouldn't have been nervous though. I was with my cousin, so I wasn't alone or anything. I mean, after all, what was the worst thing that could happen?
It didn't take us long to get there. In fact, Chubbies was not even two blocks away from where I lived, which was actually quite convenient considering I loved burgers and fries like a fat kid loved chocolate. I followed her down a small flight of stairs and watched her be greeted by a tall, curled haired boy with a bright smile. I assumed he was Cory, mainly because of the hair. Topanga had once referred to him as a "brillow-head" and I hadn't forgotten it since. He pulled her into a tight hug and kissed her on the cheek motioning her to come and sit beside him, rambling indistinctly. I stood awkwardly at the bottom of the stairs and looked around, tugging at the loop on my dark blue jeans. The place was nice, there were lots of seats, decorations that made you feel more at home and it reeked of grease, in the best way possible. The smell instantly made my mouth want to water and my tummy grumble; I couldn't wait to eat. Food was a necessity for me. I ate every chance I got. It was a shock I didn't weigh at least two hundred pounds more then what I did.
"Actually,"Topanga let go of Cory's hand and looked over towards me. She took a few steps over to me, grabbed me by the hand and pulled me back over to the table. "I wanted to introduce you to my cousin, Sarah." she told him sweetly.
Cory gave me a genuine, nice to meet you smile and held out his hand. "Well, it's nice to meet you, Sarah!" Hesitating for a second, I shook his hand and smiled back. "Topanga has actually mentioned you quite a few times. I thought you lived in Pittsburgh, though?"
I pulled my hand back and awkwardly stuck both of them into my jean pockets and kicked a stray french fry away from the table. "I did," I said. "But my Grandmother got sick, so it was best for me in more then one way to come back to Philly," I explained. "I live with my," I looked at Topanga. "Our, Aunt Julie now," I corrected. "My parents are both flakes, so,"
"Oh, well, I'm sorry to hear," he said. "But at the same time, welcome back to Philadelphia. It really is a great town!" he beamed.
"Yeah," I agreed. I couldn't help but return a smile. "Thanks,"
Without warning, a set of footsteps barreled down the steps and over to us. A boy with a dark brown shag and worn out leather jacket stood before us. He easily moved his hair from his eyes with one swipe and took a breath, bending over for a second to catch his breath. "Sorry, I'm late you guys," Regaining his posture and breath, he continued. "Something happened at the trailer park that I-" he then noticed another person in their conversation. His tired eyes quickly flickered to interested ones. "Whose this?"
Topanga looked at me encouragingly, as if telling me to speak up with her eyes. I hesitated again for a minute but then realized that by being a chicken-shit, was no way of going to make new friends. "Sarah," I smiled at him. "And you must be Shawn." I said. He looked at me questionably and then at his two best friends. I let out a small laugh. "I swear I'm not a stalker or anything," I continued. "I'm Topanga's older cousin. She talks about you and Cory quite a bit," I rambled.
Cory looked over at Topanga with a big goofy grin, running his hand through his thick curly brown hair. "We-ell Topanga," he chuckled cockily. "You talk about me?"
Topanga playfully hit him. "Oh shush, you already know I do,"
"So, Sarah," Shawn said with a sly grin moving his hair from his forehead again, except for this time less frantic.
Topanga looked at him. "Don't even think about it,"
"What? I'm just being friendly," he nearly pouted.
"Well, be friendly," she said emphasizing the last word. "To any other girl that isn't my cousin," she said. Shawn looked at me and shrugged.
"Hey, it never hurts to try,"
I let out a small giggle and with one last exchange of friendly glances, we all made our way back into the booth; Cory beside Topanga and Shawn beside me. The boys ordered a hamburger each with a side of fries and Topanga ordered a salad with extra dressing and croutons. I ordered a plate of onion rings. Our drinks were served first and we laughed about old memories, making new ones in the process, embarrassing moments and just simple things really. I knew my return Philadelphia would be a good one but I had no idea it would it be that good. I had been back less then two days and I already felt like I never wanted to leave.
Having my cousin finally living in Philadelphia was amazing. As little kids we were super close and even through the distance, I liked to believe it didn't change anything. Sarah was one of the very few people, along with Cory of course, that I could trust with anything and the fact that she was family made it just that much better. I watched with a smile as she talked with Cory and Shawn, well, mostly Shawn mainly because Cory was either too busy stuffing his face cutely with fries or was turned towards me, rambling about something either completely irrelevant to the conversation we were having or was making excellent points towards it. Sarah had always been the person I went to about anything. From crying over a lost crayon, to being mad about being grounded, from gushing over Cory and some heart ache that had followed suit. It didn't matter what it was, she was there and vice-versa. I was glad she was not only my cousin but one of my best friends.
"So, Pangers, where to after this?" Sarah asked, grabbing one of the very few onion rings that was left on her nearly clean plate. Cory and Shawn looked at me in sync, chuckles threatening to escape from their lips. I shot a simple "if you ever repeat that again" glare and their grins slowly faded after they looked at each other and let a small one slip. I glared at them again but they didn't dare look back. Little turds.
"How about we all go and see a movie or something?" Shawn suggested, stuffing three french fries into his mouth nonchalantly. Sarah moved a stray piece of blonde hair away from her face and her blue eyes seemed to lit up.
"Sure! I haven't been to see a movie in God knows how long," she said excitedly.
I frowned. "I'd love to, but Feeny already assigned homework so I should probably go home after this and do it," My statement was followed by a nod of agreement but Cory and Sarah and Shawn rolling their eyes. "What? I need to get good grades if I ever want to get into Yale or another high end college," I concluded.
Sarah laughed and ate another onion ring. "Topanga, you're fifteen years old, you have plenty of time to get good grades," She said air quoting. "Just do it after the movie," she said telling me, more then suggesting so. I looked at Shawn and then I looked at Cory, who thus shrugged as if in agreement.
"Well, I don't know," And at that, Sarah practically shoved Shawn out of the booth and skipped over to me, yanking me past Cory and up the stairs, leaving them both behind.
"Come on Pangers! Live a little, life isn't just about grades, you know!" Lacing her arm through mine, she proudly moved up them and out the doors.
"I like this girl," I had heard Shawn laugh before we were fully up the stairs and out. I knew she probably didn't remember where the theater was but I also knew at that moment she probably didn't care. I was jealous of the fact that Sarah was spontaneous and felt like she could live a little. I fixed my red blouse and followed her regretfully.
See, I was raised to believe grades were everything. My parents weren't super strict. If anything, they might as well have been hippies but they did, obviously, love me and they taught me how important someones education really was. And I still strongly believe it to this day. Without an education, how could anyone be anything, right? The mind set didn't last long. Before I knew it, all four of us were at the theater in a row of four, laughing at something silly that was playing on the screen. Cory put his arm shyly around me and I bit my lip at his cuteness. We had been together since we were in diapers, yet, he still treated me as if I was fragile enough to break and as if I was a new crush. He was always doing little things to try and impress me. But that wasn't why I loved him. I loved him because he accepted me for who I was and never expected me to change; even when I was a weird kid who danced around his kitchen with a make up heart painted on my face. His unconditional love and pure heart is what kept me on cloud nine. I glanced over at Sarah and smiled when I saw her staring at the screen, her eyes lit up and a smile plastered on her face like it was her first memorable Christmas. I know she had been through a lot. So maybe putting aside my grades, for one night, wouldn't be so bad after all. I was surrounded by the three people I cared about the most in the entire world. So for once, nothing else seemed to matter.