And that summer flew by, and pretty soon, Allie woke up to a bright and clear Monday morning that marked her first day of starting high school. Allie never knew that she would get this far, but it was a major accomplishment, and one thing she hoped to accomplish was going steady with Quincy. She had written about it in her diary and her letters to Gladys, Peggy Ann, and Mary Louise---that she was excited to start high school only because she hoped that she and Quincy would starting seeing each other and going steady. She fantasized about him driving her to the movies so they could kiss and make out for a long time, and when they were out on their other dates. He would ask her to Prom, and he would give her his class pin, and more of that romantic stuff.
That morning during breakfast, Paul said to Alexandra, "I can't believe it, Alex. Our little girl is now starting high school!" He gave an exaggerated sniff.
"Time really flies, huh?" Alexandra said as she delivered Allie's breakfast to her, which was French toasts with scrambled eggs and breakfast sausages with a cup of chocolate milk. "A perfect, healthy way to start off your first day."
"Oh, Daddy, please," Allie said, laughing as she rolled her eyes. "Don't embarrass me."
"You be a good girl and try not to let any boys become a distraction to you," Paul said, "not even that MacKenzie kid who lives next door."
"Daddy, he has a name, you know," Allie said. "It's Quincy, and he and I are simply very good friends, that's all."
"I think Allie can have as many boy crushes as she can," Alexandra said. "As long as they're not too distracting."
"Okay, I suppose," said Allie.
"She's gonna be just fine, Paul," Alexandra said. "Allie sweetheart, you have any problems, you can always come to me."
"I will, Mama. I promise," said Allie.
Pretty soon, Allie was finished eating her breakfast. She hugged and kissed her mother good-bye and waved to Paul as she started leaving. Walking to school, Allie felt very confident. During that summer, she'd undergone a rapid growth spurt. She'd grown three more inches in height, and had lost most of that baby fat. Afar from that, she'd also gotten a haircut, and her hair was now neatly styled into a bouffant along with a headband. She looked beautiful, and she seemed ready to take on the day with her radiance and charm. She couldn't wait to see Quincy and Betty Jane again.
Allie met up with Betty Jane when they walked into the halls of Fort Chester High School. Betty Jane greeted her and said, "Hey, Allie, how was your summer?"
"It was swell," replied Allie. "I see you've gone blonde." During the summer, Betty Jane had decided to give herself a make-over---the "high school make-over", as she called it---by bleaching her hair and neatly styling it into the bouffant quite similar to Allie's, which also included wearing tons of lip gloss and carrying her make-up bag with her, just for self-esteem purposes.
"Yeah, well, I just wanted to try something new," Betty Jane said with a shrug.
"I hope our lockers are right next to each other," Allie said with a giggle.
"Me too," Betty Jane said, also giggling.
Just then, Quincy appeared, wearing a red varsity jacket and sunglasses, trying to look "hip", or cool. Allie and Betty Jane gazed at him, awestruck. To Allie, this felt like heaven, the perfect opportunity to accept his offer to go steady with her. At that moment, the bell rang, and all the other kids appeared into the picture, immediately filling up the whole hallway by scrambling around the halls to get to their homeroom classes on time. Betty Jane said to Allie, "Did you see that? He's wearing a leather jacket!"
"I know," said Allie, fascinated. "I wonder where he got it from."
"He must be rich," said Betty Jane.
"I know that he is. He told me once."
"Well, good luck with getting him to go steady with you."
But unfortunately for Allie, she never really had the chance to ask Quincy to go steady with her. All that day long, they were both separated from each other in the midst of all the new students. They weren't even in the same classes together at all, and even during lunchtime, Quincy wouldn't even notice her! Allie wasn't having the best day ever, and whenever she glanced at the upperclassman girls, she felt a little intimidated on the inside. Betty Jane, on the other hand, was having much better luck at making newer friends, drawing the attention of the other boys, and even trying out for the cheerleading team. Quincy was having the time of his life, becoming really cool with the guys, being the ladies' man, and also trying out for the football team. The school's mascot was the swan.
Eventually, the day was over, and Allie could not have been more relieved. She was a little devastated that Quincy didn't even talk to her at all, or even notice her, but she knew there was a next time. And when that time came, she was determined to be the first one to take the initiative. During locker time, Betty Jane said to Allie, "So, I forgot to tell you........during the summer when Mary Beth and I were speaking on the phone, she said that Esmeralda is now going to a Catholic school."
Allie became surprised. "No way, you mean right now, right there in San Francisco?"
Betty Jane nodded. "That's right. Apparently, her mother still doesn't think that she has turned over a new leaf, so she's sent her to this all-girls Catholic school, and Mary Beth says that Esme is trying her hardest to deal with it and not break down again." She grinned. "Isn't that just something?"
"Yeah, that is.........something alright," Allie said, trying to remain enthusiastic but to no avail.
"Hey, what's the matter? You look like such a Debbie Downer. No offense, though," added Betty Jane.
"None taken. It's just---it's just, I thought I had a chance with Quincy. I mean, he was the one who asked me to go steady with him once we approached high school, and now that we're here, he's acting like I barely exist anymore. All those other girls keep staring at him like he's Rock Hudson or something."
"Yeah, I understand exactly how you feel," Betty Jane said. "Boys are rather strange sometimes, you know."
"No kidding," said Allie in agreement.
"He'll notice you eventually. Just give it some time, and if he doesn't..........then we can only wish to throw him out the window," she joked.
Allie nudged her best friend as she laughed. "You and your crazy thoughts."
Fortunately for Allie, Quincy was dealing with a quite similar problem. He was getting ready to go to the football tryout meeting, and he was talking to his three new friends, Peter Ruffin, Jerry, and Spike, about his girl issue. He said, "So guys, I want you three to give me a useful word of advice here."
"No problem, buddy," said Peter. "Whatever you do, never, ever piss off Coach Donnelly. I hear he is the toughest of the tough, and you do not wanna mess with him."
"Also, the other jocks say that he gives out a pink slip whenever you don't attend P.E.," Jerry said. "Or was it a blue slip? Wait a sec, is the blue slip the one for football practice and whatnot?" He shrugged. "Ah, it's only the first day, who knows things?"
"They're freaking upperclassmen, Jerry," Spike said with a laugh. "What would they know about getting detention and such?"
"No, not that," said Quincy. "It's a girl trouble, actually."
"Ah," said the three guys with sudden intrigue. "Our man MacKenzie is dealing with a little lady drama."
"Pray tell us, MacKenzie, what seems to be the issue?" Peter asked.
"Well, you see, there's this girl I wanna go steady with, and she's actually my neighbor," Quincy said. "She's this girl that I went to middle school with, and we used to hang out together and such, and I made her promise that when we reached high school that we'll start seeing each other more and more. She's really swell, and the prettiest girl you've ever seen. Also, it'd be helpful if you knew she was kind of quiet sometimes." He saw Allie and Betty Jane walking out the door together, and he couldn't help feeling more attracted to her. "And there she goes."
Peter, Jerry, and Spike glanced after Allie and Betty Jane. Quincy said, "She's the brunette, as you can tell."
Peter made a whistling noise. "Sounds like she's way outta your league, man. Wow, what a major babe!"
"I know, right?" said Quincy. "I can't even talk to her. But I want her to know that I know she exists, which is kinda hard."
"Well, the Homecoming is coming up later this month," said Spike. "Why don't you ask her to go with you?"
"Gee whiz, you really think I should ask her, Spike?" asked Quincy.
Spike shrugged. "Why not? Girls really like those kinds of things."
"Ah, I suppose I could ask her to Homecoming," Quincy said after he thought about it for a moment.
"Problem solved," said Peter, Jerry, and Spike in unison. Quincy merely shrugged with agreement.
The rest of that week went by quite average for Allie. Quincy finally worked up the courage the following day to ask her to the Homecoming with him, and she said yes. Allie thought that was Quincy's way of asking her to go steady with him, so she did what any normal person would do---go with the flow of things. She was so thrilled to be asked to the Homecoming dance by Quincy that she asked her mother to take her shopping to buy a nice dress to wear for that evening. Completely forgetting that incident with the man a year ago, Alexandra offered to take her to the mall. The man was never to be seen or heard from in their lives ever again, now that he was in a rehab facility of some kind to deal with his childhood trauma that he was gradually passing on to Allie, which he had failed to do.
However, Paul had an opposing view of the Homecoming dance. Allie and her mother returned back from the mall, laughing and telling stories as they entered the house. For once, Allie had a more positive experience at the mall than she did a year ago.
Paul, who was in the kitchen washing the dishes, came to the living room and said, "What's with the cheery mood? Did someone win the lottery or something?"
"No, Paul," said Alexandra. "Allie and I went shopping for the dress that she'll be wearing for the Homecoming dance at school."
"Homecoming?" Paul repeated.
"Yes, Daddy. It's coming up on the last Friday of this month, and Quincy asked me to go with him. Oh, please, can I go? I wanna have a great time with my friends."
"No," said Paul firmly. "I won't allow you to go any parties with boys, especially boys that you don't even know. Do you think high school is like middle school, where you get less homework? You're wrong; you get tons of homework, and it's all studying, studying, studying! I forbid you to leave this house on any Friday night, and you better listen to me, young lady."
"But, Daddy......." Allie protested.
"And no buts, Alessandra! Alex, please tell her that she can't let boys such as that MacKenzie neighbor of ours become a distraction to her. Remember back when Quincy wasn't speaking to you for months, and you've failed all your classes? I am not gonna allow that to happen again. You focus on your own self, and as long as you do that, you won't have any more distractions, and that is a clear order."
Allie stamped her foot, now irate. "I'm almost fifteen years old, I am quite capable of making my own choices on what I'm supposed to do with myself and my life! Mama, tell him that he is being unreasonable."
Alexandra was very mild-tempered and usually stayed calm in times of disagreements. She said calmly, "I'm sorry, honey, but I don't wish to take any sides right now. You just go on to your room and get started on your homework."
"You know, Daddy, they say that the high school years go by very fast. Wanna know why? 'Cause once they're gone and over, I'll be lucky enough to move out of this house and become my own person when I start college, and I won't need any parental control telling me when to go to bed, when to do this, when to do that. You'll be darned grateful you still have me while I'm still here!" She stormed off to her room and slammed shut the door.
Paul was astonished and said to his wife, "Since when did we bring her up to be cynical with us?"
"Paul, I think you are being rather unreasonable," Alexandra said, glaring at him. "A school Homecoming dance is a milestone of one's lifetime."
"Well, I personally think those dances are stupid. What would she want to see a sports game for? She's not even the athletic type, Alex! She's an artist---she dances, she sings, she paints, she writes. I think this Quincy fella has gotten way into her head, and I am not too fond of that. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that he's asked her to go steady with him."
"Paul, she's still young; cut her some slack. Let her spread her wings once in a while."
"No, Alexandra. Don't you remember the time when Quincy never spoke to her in over six months? She was miserable, for crying out loud! She couldn't eat, or sleep, almost as if she couldn't even breathe anymore. I'm not gonna let some foolish boys interfere with my daughter's life."
"Paul, I know you want what's best for her, and you have your heart set in the right place," said Alexandra gently, "but all that was ancient history. She and Quincy were getting along very well this past summer. They really like each other now, and I think he is a very positive influence on her. You just need to give him a chance to prove it."
Paul thought about it for a while, only to realize that Alexandra was right. "I suppose you're right, dear. I don't like Quincy 100%, but I am willing to give him a chance."
"Wonderful. I knew you'd change your mind." Alexandra gave him a kiss.
"But if he ever hurts her, or even lay a dirty finger on her in an inappropriate way, then I am gonna make sure he will never have any fingers again."
Alexandra chuckled as she gave him another kiss.