Chapter 15:

Maria's Room

The Lonely Lovers Club

“She was really upset, you know,” said Maria.

Maria sat on her bed with her legs crossed. At night she wore an extra-large tee shirt with shorts. Quite a difference from her typically classy school outfits. She looked much more comfortable than Willie, who was sitting at Maria’s desk in his school clothes from that day.

But the conversation made Willie more uncomfortable than his outfit. It had been three days since Sandra fled the Lonely Lovers Club classroom. After the conversation about Miles’ failed proposal, Sandra did not come to any of the club meetings after school. Willie had not seen Sandra at all since then. Ginko and Maria also had not heard from her. When Sandra left that day, Willie couldn’t help but feel a knot in his stomach. It was something that Willie avoided thinking about. Now, in Maria’s bedroom, he did not want to talk about it either, especially considering Maria’s parent’s strict “doors must be open when boys are in your room” rule.

“Did you talk to her?,” said Willie softly.

“Yeah,” said Maria. “I was able to catch her after class today.”

Sandra and Maria both shared the same biology class. It was something that Willie had not remembered until Maria mentioned it. Whenever Willie thought of biology, he could only think of the time his class dissected frogs. It only took about five minutes for Willie to faint. He woke up on the biology room floor with the school nurse’s ice cold eyes staring at him. Willie was not sure what he hated more; dissecting frogs or the school nurse. She was a mean old lady. And not that good of a nurse, as far as Willie could tell. Luckily Willie did not have to see her often.

“What did she say?” asked Willie. He did not want to talk about Miles’ failed proposal, but it was better than sitting there thinking about the school nurse.

“Not much,” said Maria. “She ran off to her next class before we could really talk. But she sounded…”

Maria’s voice faded off as she searched for the right word.

“What?” asked Willie.

“I don’t know,” said Sandra. “She sounded sad. Maybe hurt.”

Hurt. That word stung in Willie’s ears. The thought of Miles going to the school dance alone was painful. Watching Rena dance with someone else would be torture for Miles. The thought was excruciating.

Maria had a way with words. Willie always admired Maria’s intelligence. She took every advanced class she could at school. Sometimes she would work after school and still study into the night. Even now, legs crossed on the bed, a binder rested in her lap with a textbook next to her. Last year, Willie would not have been able to be with Maria in this room. Maria shared the room with her sister. Her sister graduated high school and moved out, finding a job somewhere far away. But Maria was focused on college. No doubt she would have the grades and the course credit. Maybe one day Maria would move far away to a university.

“But we didn’t talk for more than a second,” said Maria. “It felt like she was avoiding me. It felt, weird.”

“Well, like Ginko said the other day, she probably needs some space.”

“Yeah,” said Maria. Her eyes drifted to the notes in her lap, but she was not reading. “It's just, Sandra is our friend, you know? I feel like we should be able to talk to her.”

“Did you try texting her?” asked Willie.

“I did, before you came over. She said she had field hockey practice.”

That stung in Willie’s heart. When Maria texted him tonight, he came right over. That meant she texted Sandra to hang out before him. Supposedly it’s good to have girl time, but still.

“It still felt like she was avoiding me,” said Maria.

“You don’t think she actually had practice?”

“No, I do… Well, I don’t know.”

“I’m sure she’s not avoiding you,” said Willie. “She probably just doesn’t want to think about Miles for a while.”

Willie certainly did not want to think about it. Sandra accused Willie of not caring about Miles. Ever since then, Miles was all Willie could think about. Of course Willie cared. He could not believe that Sandra could think that. But maybe she had some point.

No doubt Sandra was thinking the same thing. Willie couldn’t blame her.

“She probably doesn’t,” said Maria. “But you could have been a little nicer to her too.”

Willie tilted his head. “Me?”

“Yeah,” said Maria. “You were really mean to her when we told you what happened with Miles. You were mean to me too. I didn’t like it.”

“I wasn’t being mean,” said Willie. “I was just shocked to hear what happened.”

“Well you took it out on us.”

Willie started to feel warm. He did not want to be mean. He wanted to consider other people’s feelings.

It felt bad enough that Miles was suffering when Willie could have done something. It was worse when Sandra said Willie did not care. Now, on top of all that, Maria said that he hurt her. No doubt that put more pressure on Sandra.

After a moment of silence, Willie spoke softly, “I didn’t mean to.”

“I know,” said Maria.

She smiled in a way that always made Willie happy. It was soft and subtle, but truly genuine. Like that smile was for Willie and no one else in the world. It made him feel like all his problems disappeared. Willie smiled back.

Maria said, “you should probably tell Sandra you didn’t mean it.”

For a second Willie felt like his problems disappeared, but they came flooding back. Sandra was drowning in guilt and Willie had pushed her further under.

“Yeah, you’re right,” said Willie. “I just wish there was something we could do for Miles.”

“Well he can’t go to the dance with his crush,” said Maria. “I don’t think we can do anything for him.”

“Yeah, but maybe there is someone else we could set him up with. I don’t know. At least something to make his night special,” said Willie. “I still feel like if I had a chance we could have gotten him together with Rena.”

“I know you wish there was something you had done, but Rena is going to the dance with someone else. This time it just didn’t work out.”

Willie did not like that. He knew that he could get Rena and Miles together if he just had the time. But everyone in the Lonely Lovers Club had already given up. There was no doubt in his mind that Willie could make Rena fall in love with Miles. Why couldn’t the others see there was still a chance?

But without the support of the Lonely Lovers Club, what could Willie do? They all told him to stop. And with Rena all set to go to the dance with someone else, could Willie really break them up?

“Okay,” said Willie with a sigh.

What am I going to do?  Willie thought.
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