The suburban scenery zipped past Francis's speeding bicycle. Brisk air smelling of both ocean and fresh cut lawns blasted his face. He reveled in the clicks and whirs his bike made as it wove through empty streets, but better yet was the view of the girl riding ahead. She shot back a coy smile as she jumped the curb and dove down a dirt path. Francis grinned from cheek to freckled cheek as he tightened his grimy grip and followed her down.
The girl stopped her bike at a precipice overlooking the craggy shore. She removed her helmet and fixed her tight brown curls into a quick ponytail. “Isn't she beautiful today, Frankie?” she asked, surveying the frothy waves.
“Yeah, she really is.” Francis smiled sheepishly at the intended double meaning.
The girl either didn't get it or she chose to ignore it. “Race you to the caves!”
Tattered sneakers slid on slick stones as the kids scampered down the slope and bolted along the pebbly beach. Francis was exuberant over this flash of childish fun, so rare in his friend lately. The lanky girl outpaced her shorter, pudgier companion and was soon sitting down resting and laughing as a wheezing Francis caught up.
“Not even...close, Frankie!” she said between breaths.
Francis stuck his tongue out and retorted, “Just wait till my growth spurt.”
She stopped laughing at that. Turning to him she sighed and began, “Frankie...you know I'll be going into high school next week and well...there are certain things high schoolers just don't do anymore. I just don't think I can keep hanging out with a twelve year old. I'm really hoping you'll understand.”
Her stammering rejection slapped Francis across the face and left him thoughtless.
“Are you okay, Frankie?”
His bottom lip quivered slightly as he shot back, “No! I'm not okay! We've been friends for years and now you think I'm not the right size for you? This is not cool.” He turned and strode back to the bicycles, his ears burning.
“Frankie! It's not like that!” the brunette chased after him. “I want us to stay friends but-”
“But what?” Francis interrupted, still marching. “But you don't want your new friends to see you with a little kid? Don't worry I won't be annoying you anymore.”
The girl looked flustered but effectively silenced by the boy's biting responses. Francis yanked his bike off the ground and mounted to go.
“Please, Frankie, can we not leave it like this? I feel terrible.”
He paused for a second, then quoting her favorite movie answered, “I'm disinclined to acquiesce your request.”
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