The year is 1990 and 12 years old Ken is at that awkward stage in his life where girls are becoming his only reason to exist. Being one of the few black students in his school, Ken battles to overcome his shyness to gain the attention of the opposite sex. He finds minor success as he works through several middle school relationships that, unknowingly to him at the time, change the course of his life.
Just as things are starting to settle down for him, his family relocates from the safe haven of the Kansas military life to the grim inner-city life of New Orleans forcing Ken to grow up a lot more quickly. His innocence and worldly outlook change with the move as he deals with racism, stereotypes, and puberty all while trying to adjust to the new culture he’s faced with.
As Ken works through his struggles in high school and beyond, each new experience in life adds a song in Ken’s songbook which he started back in Kansas. Each crush and each girlfriend are all represented in the book by a song that best describes moments such as his first heartbreak, his first kiss, and his first sexual encounter. Music is his way of dealing with the world and can take him back to any moment in his life, good or bad.
Taking place throughout 9 years, this is a coming of age story looking at the life of a once young innocent teen who is not only trying to find his way in the world but also trying to connect to that special someone amidst all the death and racial tension that surrounds him.
The Love I Never Had (NKOTB - Please Don't Go Girl) - 1990
The clock has just struck noon in Fort Riley Middle School, setting off the bell for lunch. The puberty-filled adolescents quickly fill the school hallway heading in various directions laughing and joking with there peers. The school itself is a typical school in the early 90s, just a little more clean being that’s it’s located on an army base.
Walking down the hallway with a couple of friends throughout the crowd of kids is Ken, who is holding a couple of books joking with two of his friends. One of the friends split from Ken and his best friend Gilbert as they both make it to Ken’s locker.
“So, how you think you did on Mr. Haynes's test?” The pudgy Gilbert asks his friend while running his hand through his jet-black hair.
Ken opens his locker as shakes his head.
“Probably failed,” Ken admits. “I don’t think we even went over all that stuff on that test.”
“Well, I didn’t have to worry about it. I copied off Jessica's paper. She normally aces these things,” Gilbert admits with a slick grin.
Ken scratches his high top fade before placing his books in his locker.
“Are you going to eat today?” Gilbert asks.
“I don’t know. I’m not really that hungry, to be honest,” Ken answers as he takes a look at several of the passing females in his grade with a smirk.
Both he and Gilbert are in the seventh grade, which meant that their hormones were running wild. Girls started to stand out more and more as the year progressed. While Gilbert adjusted well during this puberty transition, Ken is still struggling to adjust to his newfound attraction to the opposite sex.
Gilbert notices his lanky friend’s wandering eyes and shakes his hand.
“Why don’t you just go talk to one of them?” He said snapping Ken out of his gaze.
“What are you talking about?” Ken questions.
“Come on! All you do is sit there a look at girls. It’s probably why you failed that test,” Gilbert points out. “Why you act so scared all the time? Girls aren’t gonna bite you, you know.”
Ken shakes his head when he suddenly notices a couple of the school bullies walking through the hallway towards them. He quickly covers his crouch as Gilbert continues to ridicule him.
“How are you ever gonna get a girlfriend if you’re scared to talk to girls?” Gilbert continues.
“Gil, you better---,”
“No, don’t try and change the subject,” Gilbert interrupts. “I’m gonna start thinking you like the guys more than the ladies if you keep this up.”
“Dude, I’m just trying to---,”
“That’s why you let Jody get away from you at the dance,” Gilbert states, hitting a nerve with Ken.
Jody was the one girl Ken was close to getting the courage to ask to dance with him during the winter dance several weeks ago. Just as he was about to ask her, another one of his classmates asked her to dance and because of that, the two are now a couple which frustrated Ken. He didn’t sleep for days knowing he missed his shot to have his first official girlfriend. It is especially hard for Ken because he was black in a predominantly white school. The few black females that attended the school normally find themselves with the school athletes, not an unpopular quiet teen like himself.
Still, that Jody comment irritates Ken, and he remains silent while Gilbert laughs at him.
“I mean, you know Jody and Kevin are going together, right?” Gilbert continues while laughing. “It could have been you. All you had to do is---,”
Gilbert is silenced as one of the bullies quickly moves in and punches him in crouch sending him falling to the ground grimacing in pain. The bully looks at Ken, and notices he’s guarded before laughing and running off. Gilbert looks up and notices Ken is guarded as well with a smirk on his face.
“I tried to tell you,” Ken said with a grin.
“Okay, okay. I… I deserved that,” Gilbert said while gritting his teeth.
Ken looks around for several moments before letting his guard down and helping his friend up.
Gilbert bends over trying to catch his breath, as Ken watches the bullies from a distance punch several other students in their crouch.
“I told you that you have to be careful during lunchtime,” Ken said. “Ball tag isn’t a game you take lightly. You could get some serious damage.”
“This has been going on for months!” Gilbert exclaims as she stands straight still in pain. “When does it end?”
“Well my guess is since those are eight graders, the game will end at the end of this year,” Ken answers. “Until then, my friend, hands on your balls at all times, or maybe ask your parents to buy you a cup.”
Gilbert straightens up once more and he and Ken make their way down the hall. Gilbert walks with a noticeable limp as Ken chuckles to himself.
In the lunchroom, Gilbert and Ken take a seat at an unoccupied table after getting their food from the lunch line. Gilbert takes his milk carton and places it on his crouch causing Ken to burst into laughter.
“I was wondering why you didn’t a Hi-C today,” Ken said with a chuckle.
“All the good flavors were gone anyway,” Gilbert replies as he begins eating his food. “I mean if you know everyone likes the orange, why don’t you make more of the orange? Just doesn’t make sense to me.”
“Stop complaining. I used to go to a school where that milk you have on your balls was the only option you had to drink,” Ken points out. “And we also didn’t have the option for Pizza Hut pizza, just a cardboard square pizza.”
“You’re lying,” Gilbert said with a smirk. “What school you ever went to like that? Compton?”
“Nope. New Orleans,” Ken responds before taking a sip of his drink.
He spent his fourth-grade year at a public school in New Orleans that still gives him nightmares. It wasn’t as clean or privileged as the schools on the military bases. To him, it was the single worst year of his life.
“Yeah right,” Gilbert said before taking a bite of his pizza. “You never lived in any place like that. Everyone knows that Compton is the worse place in the world, and you have never lived in Compton.”
Ken shakes his head as he starts looking around the cafeteria. Ever since ‘Boyz in the Hood’ came out in the theaters, kids in his school thought that Compton was the worst place in the world to live. It didn’t help when two brothers from Compton joined their school a couple of months ago. Everyone is scared of them, but Ken knew that there were a lot of other places like that scattered throughout the states.
Gilbert notices his friend looking around the cafeteria and smiles.
“Looking for your made-up girlfriend aren’t you?” He said.
“I know you’re looking for Sharon,” Gilbert responds. “What you gonna do when you find her? Just look at her just like every other day.”
“Shut up,” an irritated Ken responds as he begins eating his pizza.
“I mean that’s all you do. Tell me I’m wrong,” Gilbert responds with a mouth full of pizza.
“Why are we always talking about me?” Ken questions. “What about you? Who is your girlfriend?”
“I told you she doesn’t go to this school,” Gilbert responds causing Ken to smirk.
A girlfriend who doesn’t go to the same school as him was a convenient lie in Ken’s mind. Typical middle school chatter to make someone feel they’re more of an adult than others around them.
Ken shakes his head when he notices Sharon walking into the cafeteria with her friends. He is mesmerized as he watches her get into the lunch line gossiping with her classmates. Sharon’s smile could light up anyone’s day Ken thinks to himself as he admires her from afar. Her blonde shoulder-length hair sways with her every movement as the lip-gloss she was wearing was almost perfect. She is the type of girl that puts her make up on after her parents drop her off to avoid them knowing of her sinister deed. It made her feel grown, and it attracted many guys including Ken.
Gilbert looks up from his meal, notices Ken gazing at Sharon, and shakes his head with disappointment.
“Dude, this is getting old,” he said while finishing his meal. “I mean we talked about seventh grade being our year last summer remember? You said this would be the year you would have a girlfriend. What happened?”
Ken sighs as he takes a sip of his drink trying to figure that out himself.
“I don’t know,” he answers. “I guess, maybe… I don’t know.”
Ken looks over towards Sharon once more as the two share a look with each other. Both were interested in each other, but neither knew how to communicate it. They kept eye contact with each other until Sharon reached the front of the line and grabbed her tray. It was the highlight of Ken’s day to have those eye contact connections with his crush.
Gilbert, on the other hand, is embarrassed for his friend and shakes his head mocking Ken’s infatuation.
“Sad, just sad,” he said. “You know I can talk to Brianna and see if she can set you up with her.”
“Absolutely not,” Ken snaps back.
“Because I don’t want to, okay,” Ken replies.
Before Gilbert can respond, he notices Brianna, who is standing in front of Sharon in the lunch line paying for her food. He admires the flowing brunette hair down her back, and even though she had a mouth full of braces, her dimples when she smiled was alluring to him. He also likes her freckles, which he always envisions himself playing connect the dots on her face. Before she’s able to walk off, Gilbert jumps up with a flirtatious smile on his face blocking her path.
“Bri, what’s up?” He said to an unbothered Brianna.
“Gilbert,” she softly replies.
“Hey, I was just seeing how you were doing?” Gilbert continues with a smirk.
Brianna frowns waiting for him to get to the point. While Gilbert thought she was cute, she had nothing but hatred towards him. Brianna was Gilbert’s first official girlfriend at the beginning of the school year. They were together for about a month, which in middle school is the equivalent of several years. The two had an awful break up the back to school dance when Gilbert was caught dancing with another female. It wasn’t intentional as he didn’t think Brianna was coming to the dance, but he was quickly surprised by her presence. Since then, Gilbert has only been with his alleged girlfriend from another school.
Before the two could continue, Sharon walks over and taps Brianna on the shoulder.
“Hey, I’m going to go get us a seat,” she said before looking at Gilbert. “Hey, Gilbert.”
“Hey, Sharon. I was just talking about you,” he responds with a smile.
“Oh really? About?”
Gilbert notices Ken out of the corner of his eyes shaking his head and decides to keep their conversation a secret for the moment.
“Nothing important. Just that you’re the only person I know with blue eyes,” he said chuckling.
Sharon rolls her eyes before looking towards Ken.
“Hey,” she softly said.
Ken opens his mouth to respond, but nothing comes out. He instead nods his head much to his embarrassment. Sharon smiles at him before making her way off to the other side of the cafeteria.
Gilbert turns his attention back towards Brianna who is still frowning at him.
“What do you want, Gilbert?” she asks. “My food is getting cold.”
“That it is. Hey, listen, my homebody Ken here likes your girl Sharon. Anything you can do to set them up?” Gilbert responds stunning Ken.
Brianna looks at Ken with a smile on her face.
“He does? Oh my god, that is so cute,” she said, as Ken nervously looks on still stunned by Gilbert’s words.
“I know, it really is,” Gilbert replies with a big smile on his face. “So, what can you do to help him out? Does she like him too?”
Ken is quiet as every last bit of his existence hinges on her response to that question.
“I don’t know. She mentioned once that he’s cute, but I don’t know if she likes him as a boyfriend or not,” Brianna answers.
Ken’s heart almost explodes in happiness hearing the fact not only did Sharon talk about him, but mentioned the fact that he’s cute. That was more than enough praise from her as far as he was concerned.
“Cool, so back to my first question. Can you set him up?” Gilbert repeats.
Brianna thinks for a few moments before nodding her head with approval.
“Hey, this is gonna sound crazy, but why don’t you two come to our friendship bracelet class after school,” Brianna suggests. “Me and her are both in it. I can set them up there.”
Gilbert cringes hearing that plan.
“Friendship bracelet class?” He replies. “Isn’t that just for girls?”
“No jerk,” Brianna snaps back. “Tim is in there, and Maurice comes in every now and then. Look, if you want me to set you up, be in Ms. Hardy’s room after school.”
Gilbert nods his head with agreement while Ken is filled with nervousness.
“We’ll be there,” Gilbert responds. “Now, let’s talk about us, and where we went wrong?”
The smile on Brianna’s face quickly fades as she frowns at her ex once more.
“In your dreams. Besides, you have your made-up girlfriend from another school you’re going with now,” Brianna responds before walking off.
“She’s not made up! She’s real!” Gilbert exclaims to Brianna before taking a seat across from his friend. “Don’t know why everyone keeps saying that!”
He glances over towards Ken and notices the rage in his friend’s eyes.
“You seem like something’s bothering you,” Gilbert nonchalantly said as Ken can no longer hold it in.
“Are you out of your mind?!” He exclaims. “I just told you I didn’t want you to ask Brianna to set me up! It wasn’t even a full two minutes before you did the very thing I asked you not to do!”
“I did it for your own good,” Gilbert fires back. “Besides, if it wasn’t for me, you wouldn’t know that Sharon thought you were cute.”
Ken backs down a bit knowing his friend was right. He still is fearful of talking to Sharon about his feelings. Gilbert notices his friend is tense and tries to calm him down.
“Relax. The hard part is over,” Gilbert says. “You see, I know girls, and the thing about them is that they are easy to control. I just planted the seed about you liking Sharon. You think Brianna is gonna keep that to herself? She ran right over there and told Sharon what we just were talking about. I promise you. When we get to the class, it’ll be a piece of cake.”
Ken looks at his friend strangely.
“You know girls? Weren’t you the one being chased by Brianna at the back to school dance? The same girl you claim to know?” Ken points out.
“Never said I never made a mistake or two,” Gilbert retorts. “Besides, that wasn’t my fault.”
“Whatever you say. All I know is I never saw a fat kid run that fast in my life,” Ken responds with a chuckle. “She almost caught you.”
“Yeah, yeah, whatever,” Gilbert said as the two continued to go back and forth with each other.
Just before class dismissal later that day, Ken is a nervous wreck sitting in the back of his English class looking at the clock over the chalkboard. His stomach is bubbling as he’s almost hyperventilating watching the clock about to strike three knowing what he needed to do after school. He can feel his heart racing, and it increases once he hears the dismissal bell.
The classroom quickly clears out as Ken remains in his seat shaking from the nervousness overtaking his senses. His teacher, Ms. Kurth, notices he’s still in the class and can tell something’s not right.
“Ken. Are you okay?” she asks.
“Huh? Oh, yeah, I’m fine Ms. Kurth,” Ken says snapping out of his thoughts. “Just a little under the weather, that’s all.”
“Do you need to go to the nurse’s office?”
“Oh, no, it’s nothing like that. I’ll be fine,” Ken says as he nervously begins to pack his things.
Ms. Kurth looks on with concern and is about to approach her student when a smiling Gilbert pokes his head in the class.
“Hello, Ms. Kurth,” he said cheerfully.
“Hello Gilbert,” she responds. “Did you need something?”
“No, I’m just fine,” he answers walking into the class. “I’m just here picking up my friend Ken.”
Gilbert walks over to Ken’s desk ready to lead him to victory. He thought Ken might try to sneak out and head home. He was determined to make sure his friend made it to the after school class to get with the girl of his dreams.
“You ready to go?” he asks.
Ken sighs before grabbing his backpack from the ground. Ms. Kurth is still concerned as she approaches Ken.
“Ken, are you sure you’re okay?” she asks.
“Yes, Ms. Kurth. I’m fine,” he answers before he and Gilbert make their way out of the room.
Once they’re in the hallway, an excited Gilbert pats his friend on the back trying to hype him up.
“This is gonna be the defining moment of your life,” he said. “By the end of the day, you’re going to be going with Sharon Miller. Do you realize what this means for you?”
Ken doesn’t hear Gilbert’s words. He’s completely zoned out as fear overwhelms him.
Twenty minutes later, Ken, Gilbert, Sharon, Brianna, and several other students including the handsome looking Tim, are all lying on several beanbags in the middle of the class working on their friendship bracelets. Ken and Gilbert are sharing one beanbag, and Brianna and Sharon are sharing one just across from them. The tops of the bracelets are safety-pinned to their jeans as they weave their bracelets. Gilbert is frustrated as he struggles to put his together, much to Brianna’s delight.
“You’re doing it wrong, stupid,” she said bringing the group’s attention to his struggles. “You have to loop it like a four.”
“Well I’m sorry if I’m not the bracelet guru that you are,” Gilbert grumbles as he starts his thread over.
After a few moments of silence, Gilbert nods to Brianna who smiles as she turns to Sharon.
“So, Sharon, what’s up with you?” she asks her friend who is stealing glimpses of Ken when she can.
“Nothing,” Sharon responds. “Why?”
“I don’t know. You just seem a little quiet, that’s all.”
“I’m just sitting here getting my bracelets done, that’s---,”
“Oh my God, I can’t take this anymore,” an impatient Gilbert responds cutting Sharon off. “Look, let’s be honest here. I’ve seen how you and my homeboy Ken here look at each other all day every day. I mean you two look at each other during lunch, assemblies, and even at Ken’s sister’s cheerleader practices. You two might as well be boyfriend and girlfriend, don’t you agree?”
Ken is stunned as he looks at his friend with his eyes wide opened. Sharon turns red with embarrassment as Brianna scowls at her former boyfriend.
“Are you crazy?” Brianna replies. “This is you letting me set them up?”
“You were taking too long,” Gilbert responds turning his attention back to Sharon. “So how bout it? You two are going to go together or what?”
The group is quiet as Sharon slowly nods her head.
“Sure, I can do that,” she said giving Ken the answer he’s been waiting a lifetime for.
Gilbert smiles as he turns his attention towards his friend.
“You see! I told you!” he replies congratulating his friend. “I mean who else was there? Unless you wanted to go with Tim over there.”
Sharon thinks for a few moments before nodding her head.
“I could go with Tim,” she replies stunning Ken and confusing Tim, who is leaning on a nearby beanbag next to the crew.
“Um… Okay, I guess,” Tim answers solidifying their new relationship.
Ken is devastated as he struggles to hold himself together. Brianna and Gilbert are stunned as another student close by chimes in on the situation laughing at Ken.
“Damn, dude. She broke up with you real quick,” he said.
“What are you talking about? We weren’t going together,” Ken fires back.
“If you say so,” the student replies before going back to his bracelet.
Sharon walks over and joins Tim on his beanbag as the two start talking with each other. A heartbroken Ken continues to work on his bracelet in silence while Gilbert and Brianna are still trying to figure out what just happened.
Twenty minutes later Ken is rushing outside the school when Gilbert rushes to catch up with him.
“Ken I’m sorry. I didn’t know this would happen,” he pleads with his friend. “I thought this was a sure thing.”
“Don’t worry about it,” Ken said walking down the street. “It’s not your fault.”
“Ken, please. I feel bad man. I don’t know what else to say.”
Ken stops and turns to his friend, trying to keep from crying as best he can.
“Sometimes things just don’t work out,” he said. “It wasn’t your fault. It wasn’t my fault. It wasn’t Tim’s fault. Things just happen and you can’t control them. Look, I gotta go. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
Ken quickly turns off and starts walking down the street once more. Tears slowly make their way down his face as the rejection is too much for him to handle. All he’s ever wanted is a girlfriend to call his own, and for a brief moment, he had exactly what he wanted before it was cruelly snatched from him.
A couple of weeks later, at the DYA which is middle school local hangout, the school is having a dance for their students as the gym area has been converted over to a dance floor. The DJ is at the far end of the gym area playing music, while the concession stand and the lounging portion of the DYA remain largely the same with added dance streamer decorations for the event.
Leaning on the wall just outside of the dance floor is Ken who seems disinterested in what’s going on around him. He observes several couples laughing and joking with each other and shakes his head in disgust, sick of seeing others happy in their relationships. He also watches a couple of the younger sixth-graders playing tag and running around the gym. He rolls his eyes as he felt that was beneath him as a seventh-grader.
Gilbert has arrived at the dance and quickly makes his way over to him as Ken chuckles at his outfit.
“What in the world are you dressed in?” Ken said with a chuckle. “You look like you’re on an episode of Miami Vice!”
Ken is referring to Gilbert’s Don Johnson like appearance complete with a white blazer, t-shirt, and white matching pants. His hair is also slicked back finishing the look. Gilbert dismisses his friend’s critique of him.
“Dude, whatever,” he responds. “This outfit is cool. Much cooler than the simple school day outfit you’re wearing.”
Ken shakes his head as he turns his attention back towards the dancefloor. Gilbert leans back on the wall as well while checking out the atmosphere.
“Why you over here by yourself anyway?” Gilbert asks.
“I’m just hangin’ I guess,” Ken answers.
“You’re supposed to be having a good time,” Gilbert said while checking out a few of the girls walking by. “I mean, look at all these girls! How can you not enjoy yourself with all this?”
“I see them,” Ken replies. “Lots of couples here too.”
“Couples? Like who?” Gilbert asks before Ken points out Tim and Sharon arriving through the main exit.
“Well, them for starters,” he said watching them greet a few people on their way in.
“Oh, damn. I didn’t see them,” Gilbert responds still feeling a little responsible for the fiasco that happened weeks ago between Ken and Sharon. “Hey, look, I know you said we’re cool and all, but I still feel like crap with all that---,”
“Dude, it’s alright,” Ken responds cutting him off. “Trust me, I’m over it. I’m no drag.”
Gilbert nods his head when he notices Shannon, a classmate of theirs, making her way into the building. His eyes light up as a smile grows on his face.
“My girl Shannon is in the building,” an excited Gilbert said confusing Ken.
“Your girl?” he quips. “Your girl since when? I thought she was with Ben.”
“Broke up last week my good friend,” Gilbert responds. “You need to keep up with your hallway gossip. Anyway, their split up was my gain.”
Ken nods his head impressed with his friend.
“Well congratulations,” he responds. “Now you can stop going around talking about your fake girlfriend that goes to another school.”
Gilbert chuckles while shaking his head.
“Dude, whatever. One day you’re gonna meet Carissa for real. Then how dumb are you gonna feel,” Gilbert fires back.
“I thought her name was Sonja?” Ken points out.
“It doesn’t matter,” Gilbert quickly responds as he straightens out his blazer. “How do I look?”
“Like a fool,” Ken jokes as Gilbert shakes his head.
“Says the guy holding up the wall,” Gilbert fires back.
“True. So true,” Ken replies with a smirk. “Good luck.”
Gilbert gives his friend thumbs up before rushing off to meet with Shannon. The two share a brief hug before making their way towards the lounging area.
Ken sighs as he quietly watches Tim and Sharon laugh and joke with a few friends on the dance floor. Sharon catches a glimpse of Ken from the distance making eye contact with him. Ken nods his head to her acknowledging that he sees her. A small smile enters her face as she nods back at him before going back to her conversation with her friends.
A few moments later, the gym fills with music from New Kids on the Block, specifically the slow song ‘Please Don’t Go Girl’, which has the couples in the gym heading to the middle of the dancefloor. Ken watches Gilbert and Shannon dancing and chuckles to himself when Gilbert makes eye contact with him and gives him a thumbs up. Watching Sharon and Tim dancing, however, wasn’t as pleasurable. Tim holding and dancing with his girl because of his lack of confidence irks him. He was dancing with his girl and as the song continues, Ken realizes he’s not over it as much as he thought he was.
Sharon catches a glimpse of him once more and notices his reaction to her and Tim. After a few moments, Ken walks off towards the lounging area. His heart is still broken, and he couldn’t torment himself any longer with it. He’s about to take a seat at an unoccupied area when one of the six graders who was running around playing tag taps him on his arm.
“You’re it!” the sixth-grader yells before running off.
Ken frowns at the immaturity of the sixth-grader, but after a few moments, a sinister smile enters his face as he runs off chasing the sixth-grader and others who are in the game. He was able to let go of his pain for a while longer while just being a kid again.
A couple of weeks later at the end of a grueling school day, Ken is walking to his locker with his books when he notices several of his classmates, including Brianna, gathered around Sharon’s locker looking at her with sadness in their eyes. Ken drops his books in his locker as he tries to figure out what’s going on. Brianna starts to walk off when Ken notices she has tears in her eyes.
“Brianna, what’s going on?” Ken asks as he walks up to her.
“You didn’t hear?” Brianna responds with tears still streaming down her face. “Sharon’s moving. Her dad was stationed in Colorado. This is her last day.”
Ken is caught off guard with the news as he looks in Sharon’s direction.
“Wow, no… I… I didn’t know,” he said.
“I can’t believe it,” Brianna said before rushing off, still upset with the news.
A saddened Ken shakes his head when he notices the group around Sharon walk off leaving her alone. He takes a deep breath as he makes his way over to her locker as she collects her things.
“Hey,” he said startling her slightly.
“I just heard. Colorado. Wow,” Ken said trying to overcome his fears of speaking with girls.
“I know. I’m gonna miss everybody,” Sharon said. “In a whole new city by myself without any friends. I don’t know what I’m gonna do with myself.”
“You’ll make friends, what are you talking about?” Ken responds. “I mean you’re like one of the most popular girls in seventh grade. I’m sure you’ll be on the top of the Colorado popular list in no time.”
Sharon smiles as Ken’s words mean a lot to her. In the couple of years that they’ve known each other, this was the most they had ever spoken. She closes her locker for one last time as the two share an awkward silence with each other.
“Well, I guess I better get going,” she said.
“Yeah, do you need any help or anything?” Ken offers.
“No, I’m good. I guess this is goodbye,” she replied.
“Yeah, I guess it is,” Ken responds with sadness in his eyes.
Sharon notices his mood, and goes into her book bag and pulls out a notebook and a pen. She writes something on the paper, rips the page out of the notebook, and folds it before handing it to Ken.
“Something to remember me by,” she said before hugging Ken.
Although the hug was a brief one, it meant the world to Ken. After a few moments, the two look at each other still feeling a little awkward. Ken finally fights his fears as he tries to express himself.
“Sharon, I… look, I know that I have been… I guess I just want to…,” Ken stutters.
“I know,” Sharon said saving him. “I feel the same way. I guess we’ll never know, right?”
Ken nods his head as Sharon smiles before collecting her things and walking down the hallway and out of the exit. After she’s gone, Ken opens the note she had given him. It is a drawing of a heart inside of a box, with a line going down the middle of it. While he didn’t know what the meaning of the symbol meant to her, he knew what it would mean to him. It would always be a reminder of lost love, and how he should never live with regret. He sighs before folding the note back up and putting it in his pocket. After he ponders for a few moments, he finally makes his way down the hall and out of the school.