by H. E. Dunkle
It was an accident. But from that accident emerged a strange yet promising alliance.
| It was September twenty-first, 2017, at precisely twelve-thirty-seven in the afternoon. It happened at Roosevelt High School, when lunch was being served. It was the usual Thursday setup: macaroni and cheese with green beans, chicken nuggets, and milk (2%, skim free). Delores had just received her meal from the cafeteria ladies and sat down in her usual spot: two tables away from the exit, facing the center of the cafeteria so she could see everything going on. She usually sat by herself; she didn’t have time for friends, and no one had time for her.
But when she sat down to eat her lunch on September twenty-first of 2017, something was different. There was some unspoken tension that was weaving its way through the masses of hungry teenagers. Delores knew it probably had something to do with the latest gossip: Amos, captain of the football team, and Monica, captain of the cheerleading squad, had broken up (how cliché). Now Amos was sulking with the jocks, and Monica was fuming with her popular girly-girl squad, and everyone else was walking on eggshells trying to keep them appeased.
Now, normally, this wouldn’t affect Delores. After all, she wasn’t popular. No one knew her. She was invisible. But for some reason, she felt on edge. She felt like something was going to happen. And that something wasn’t good.
And that something did happen. It happened in the form of someone running into Amos as he was carrying his lunch back to his table of buddies, causing him to trip and drop his lunch tray. It hit the floor with a loud crash, and his food flew everywhere.
“What the heck!” Amos hollered. “Look what you did!” he gestured to the food all over the floor, and at his sports coat, which was covered in milk and cheese sauce. He turned to face the person who had bumped into him. “Anything to say for yourself, punk?!”
“Sorry. I didn’t see you there.”
Delores’s eyes widened. She recognized that voice. The person who had run into Amos was Samuel Jameson. He was new to Roosevelt, so he didn’t know who Amos was or what happened to people who crossed him the wrong way. And boy, he had just crossed Amos the wrong way.
“Didn’t see me, MY EYE!” Amos roared. He grabbed Samuel by the front of his gray sweatshirt and effortlessly lifted him off the ground; Samuel was a tiny sophomore, so it wasn’t much of a challenge for the muscular six-foot-seven-inch senior. Samuel’s eyes widened as he suddenly found himself dangling a few inches off the ground.
Suddenly, Delores was filled with the desire to help Samuel not get his lights punched out. She walked over to where Amos was. By now, Amos’s group of friends had also stood up from their seats and had surrounded Amos and Samuel; they knew a good show when they saw one. Some of the other kids in the cafeteria were moving closer to the imminent brawl. Some even had their phones out and were filming what was promising to be an epic throwdown.
“Amos!” she yelled just as Amos was about to punch Samuel. He glared at her, his fist inches from Samuel’s face. “Put him down,” Delores said as she returned his cold stare. “Now.”
Samuel looked at her with the face of a bewildered dog. Amos looked at her with the face of an angry lion.
But then, he started laughing. “Oh, and how are you gonna make me?” he jeered.
Delores scowled as she clenched her fists and assumed a fighting stance.
The smug look on Amos’s face was replaced with a look of confusion.
“If you’re so eager for a fight,” Delores declared, “Fight me.”
Amos looked at her, then at Samuel, then at his friends around him. He appeared to be contemplating her challenge. Would he go against the unspoken code of not hitting a girl?
Delores smirked. “What’s wrong? Scared a girl can hit harder than you?”
Now Amos had to fight her; she had just openly mocked him in front of not only his friends, but over half the school. Delores knew it, and Amos did, too. He dropped Samuel and sauntered a few feet closer to her and was getting ready to attack when—
“THAT’S ENOUGH!” roared Mr. Stevenson, the social studies teacher who was the cafeteria supervisor for the day. He stormed over to Amos as he muttered, “Good grief, I leave for five minutes to use the bathroom and a brawl breaks out. Why me?” His eyes narrowed, he motioned for Amos, Delores, and Samuel to follow him to the principal’s office to “sort this whole mess out”.
While they were walking down the hall, Samuel whispered to Delores, “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome,” she whispered back.
“I’m Samuel Jameson. What’s your name?”
“You’re welcome, Samuel.”
And so, on September twenty-first of 2017, a friendship of unusual circumstance was forged.