by: Essy Jane
I was out running that morning, like I normally did, when I saw this guy speed past me. A very familiar face. Judd had found me again. Now we were racing. This meant war. I sped up beside him. “I didn’t think I would see you for a while. This is the ninth time this month,” I told him. I ran ahead of him. Now it was his turn to catch up.
“You want the truth?” He asked, panting. I slowed down, going behind him. He slowed down also.
“I assume you’ll give it to me whether I want it or not.”
“I asked Bo.” He sped up again. Oh great, he asked Bo. Oh boy, this wasn’t good at all. My friend Bo wasn’t exactly going to take that too well. After all, the guy still had a thing for me.
Now imagine for a second…another man, Judd, asking about what my daily activities were. I didn’t know how Judd became such good friends with the Dukes, especially considering he doesn’t live anywhere near there, I wasn’t ready to find out though. I sped up after Judd.
“You asked Bo?” I questioned.
“Yeah and you know what? It was hard to get it out of him,” Judd answered. I slowed down again. Judd followed my example. “Do you have any idea why?” Now I came to a total stop. I put my hands on my knees and panted. I pulled off my backpack and grabbed the water bottle from inside and took a drink. “Oh come on Essy!” I handed the blue sports bottle to Judd. He held it far from him and squirted the water in his mouth.
“Bo was sort of looking in my direction a while back.” I began to laugh for a second and suddenly stopped. “He couldn’t even get the words out of his mouth to talk to me.”
“Dang, doesn’t sound like Bo at all.”
“I was surprised myself.”
“Then again, look who I’m talking to. Essy, you are…”
“One minute you make total sense the next you don’t. You have a mean streak a mile wide but it is tamed in a minute. You can make me think and not a lot of people do that.” I blushed and pulled away. I could feel that hot feeling. My face turning a bright strawberry red. “Oh Miss Tizdale, did I make you uncomfortable? I never thought I would see the day.”
“Oh come on!”
“You know, I had to find out your last name from Luke. I don’t think I should have to learn more about you like that.”
“Are you sure you want to know?”
“Yeah but not here.”
“Where then, your place?”
“Nah, how about the small café around the corner let’s say about 7ish?”
“Are you asking me out on a date?”
“I don’t know, do you accept?”
“I guess so.”
“Then it’s a date.” I smiled and pulled away. “What is it?”
“You know, the only time you have seen me is when I’m completely sweaty and running. Or in the morning when I get breakfast”
“Oh never mind.” I began to walk away slowly towards my place.
“I am grabbing your shoulder and turning you around because I want to know what’s bugging you, but I don’t need another black eye so I am doing it verbally.” I laughed and turned around.
“Judd, I’m afraid.”
“I am afraid of getting too close to you so fast.”
“What do you see in me?”
“Why do you doubt yourself?”
“Why are you answering my question with a question?”
“Why are you doing the same thing?”
“How come you keep annoying me like this?”
“What makes you think I am trying to annoy you?”
“You just did the same thing.” I took a deep breath and let it out slow. I shook my head. I walked over to a park bench and sat down. I looked up at him. “And you said I was tiring?” Judd chuckled softly to himself. He sat down beside me and touched my hair gently. I wanted to pull away at first but it felt so right. I don’t know, it seemed to be going way too fast but at the same time, I didn’t want it to stop.
“You are exhausting and you’re beautiful.” I pulled away and looked at the green grass. I didn’t know what to say to that. I thought Judd was different. I had received so many lines about my beauty. How I was like a flower, shinning my colors so vividly. Now I had received another one. A different line but still a line. I didn’t need an additional line from a different guy. A guy I thought was the one.
“Yeah, thanks,” I mumbled. Judd looked at me with those big blue eyes. Something was familiar about them but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. I shook it off.
“You’re welcome.” That’s it! I had to know. Why did he like me so much? I wasn’t exactly Loretta Lynn. I didn’t entertain people. I didn’t have a singing career or anything. I am Essy, plain old Essy and that’s all I would ever be. My goodness, why did he want to get with me? I would never be one of those girls. “What’s wrong Miss Essy?”
“Nothing!” I couldn’t say it again, I didn’t have it in me. I didn’t want to tell him that I wasn’t good enough for him. I couldn’t say that. He was so kind. He deserved a lady not a tom boy.
“Yes there is Essy, I can see it in your eyes.”
“Hey, don’t try to change the topic, I can hear it in your voice.”
“You barely know me. How would you know what I am trying to do. You know me what, a few days?”
“I have met a lot of people and I know when they’re trying to switch topics. You my friend are uncomfortable.”
“I am not.”
“You can pretend it away all you want but I know it. You can tell me I don’t know you but I do.”
“You think so do you?”
“When you’re angry you turn a bright shade of red. You have a short fuse when people challenge you, honey you get defensive. That’s your biggest weakness.”
“I’m not defensive!” I crossed my arms and looked at him. I didn’t want him to be right. I walked away and he walked in front of me. I tried to go to the left and he stepped in front of me. When I went right, he stepped in front of me.
“I am not going away Essy, I can’t afford to. I don’t care what excuse you hand me or what line you push on me to get me to back up. I can’t do it, I won’t loose you. I feel like I have known you forever.”
“What do you see in me? I don’t act like normal girls though I know my Auntie would like me to. I am not into the proper lady junk. What is this because of my beauty?”
“You are very beautiful to me.” Tears flowed from my eyes. I pushed them away. Judd was confused. I knew it, I could see it in his eyes. He wanted to know why I was so upset yet he wasn’t listening.
“Everyone wants the face right? Why couldn’t I have been someone else? Someone with scars where a man loves her because of her insides? I am sick of being dazzling to every man. Why can’t they just see me?” I leaned over and sobbed some more. Judd sighed. He pulled me up.
“Essy, if you think I like you just because of your face, you’re dead wrong.”
“You just said I was beautiful. You’re just like all the rest of them.”
“No, when I said you were attractive I meant every part of you—more than your skin.” My eyebrows rose. I couldn’t believe he was saying this. Was it a lie to get me to love him? I didn’t know.
“I like everything about you. Your personality is so different like you said. You’re unique.” Was I out of the ordinary? No, I couldn’t let him win. I knew who I was inside.
“I am not.”
“I don’t know a person in the world who would do what you do. Essy, you walked me back to my apartment and listened to me babble on and on about my mother.”
“It was interesting.” He shook his head. “What? It was.”
“I didn’t tell you she was dead did I?” What was he looking for with that comment?
“Are you saying that because you want me to feel sorry for you?” The anger within me was rising. “My mother’s dead too and so is my father.”
“There, now I know something else about you.”
“Stop torturing me! I know you don’t think of me as unique or intelligent or anything else.”
“Essy, give me a chance. I do care about you. Okay, I gave you a weakness, you want to know your strengths?” I was puzzled by his question and really didn’t know how to answer. “Essy, you’re a great boxer. You showed mercy to the other boxer when she had enough. You could have pounded her to the ground.”
“You watched my game?” Judd’s eyes shifted upward avoiding eye contact. I pulled his face towards mine. He looked me in the eyes once again. Judd’s eyes were filled with frustration. He didn’t know how to put his feelings out there for me to see without me getting upset. “You watched my game?”
“Yeah I did and you have spirit. You have a great love for it and I can see that. But that’s not your only strength. You are also very gifted with music. You sing down the halls when you go to school.”
“You follow me?”
“Okay, I know that’s weird but…”
“You actually followed me?”
“You intrigue me.” I began to laugh.
“No one has ever followed me. You like me that much?”
“You’re like an amazing book that I have never seen before and want to go through a million times just to know it better.”
“What now you’re a poet?”
“Look into my eyes Essy, know that I’m not making this up.” I rolled my eyes at first but then I did as he said. Judd’s eyes, his truthful spirit shone through them.
“You really like me?” I said emotionally.
“With every bit of my heart.” I bit on my bottom lip. I couldn’t believe he said that about me. No one has ever truly liked both sides of me. Well, Bo certainly did but he fell for the beauty first and my personality later. “I’ll see you tonight then?”
“You can count on it.” I walked away slowly wondering if he was going to turn me around verbally again. When I looked back, he had disappeared. I couldn’t believe this. I was falling for a total stranger.