By JD Rockel
Monday, Sept. 21, 2026
There was still time before first period and Ella was getting books out of her locker. Rosa was in and out of her locker like lightning so Ella was alone.
“Hello, Beautiful. Remember me?”
Ella turned toward the voice. “Jerry. I’m so glad to see you. You remembered where you ran me over.”
“That would be rather hard to forget. How was your weekend?”
“I didn’t sleep much after the dance just thinking about everything that happened.”
“Same with me. At least I got to sleep in on Saturday.”
“Lucky you. We had driving practice. I hit a light pole.”
“What? Was anyone hurt?”
“Just the car’s bumper a bit. We practiced parking and my brother marked the spot where a light pole was. I pulled in and stopped in time, but I forgot to put the car in Park. When I took my foot off the brake, BAM.”
“Ouch! I’m so sorry. How mad was your dad?”
“Oh, he was sweet. He said that was part of learning.”
“I don’t think my dad would be so understanding. But I’m glad you’re OK. Anyway, I’m hoping we can see each other again soon. You know, spend some time together.”
“That would be delightful, though probably a little difficult since neither of us drives.”
“Yeah, well I have an idea. There are sports activity buses that run Tuesday through Friday, but they run pretty late. Thursday has another set of buses for the club activities. You probably saw them in the packet you got the first day.”
“Yes, but I didn’t see anything that interested me.”
“Me neither, but I have an idea of something we can do together on activity night. Then we will have time to get to know each other better.”
The bell rang for first period.
“Sounds good to me. I’m sure I’ll see you before then, but Thursday after school, right?”
“It’s a date. See you, Beautiful.”
Ella felt her face blush as Jerry turned to go. She ran to get to her first-period class. Mr. Edward’s voice faded as she thought about her encounter. What could Jerry be planning?
There were no other surprises during the school day. Ella got on the bus first and Rosa found her halfway back.
“This seat taken?”
“Not until you sit down.”
Rosa always took an interest in her sister’s life, sometimes to Ella’s dismay.
“How was your day? Did you happen to see Jerry?”
“In fact, I did. He found me at my locker before first period.”
“Well, that was nice of him. I hope he’s still interested in you.”
“In fact, he is. I had trouble focusing on anything this morning.”
“I’m really happy for you, sis. This is the same Jerry that ran you down in the hall, right?”
“Yes. He kept apologizing during the dance.”
Ella was quiet for a moment and then asked, “Rosa, have you heard anything about the club activities night on Thursday after school? I was thinking about going and seeing if there’s anything interesting.”
“Only a little bit. There’s a girl in my English class that’s always talking about her club.”
“What club is she in?”
“She’s part of the Black Student Union. She’s African American. Really nice but a bit outspoken.”
“I’m mostly wondering how the buses work on Thursday night. Maybe she has a route schedule?”
“Maybe. I can check for you in the office too. What club are you interested in?”
“I have no idea, but maybe if I spend some time snooping around I can find one I like.”
“Well, you don’t need to find a club with a lot of boys in it since Jerry seems to like you.”
“That’s for sure. At this point, as long as Jerry doesn’t dump me, I’m happy.”
“Well then, I hope you find a fun club.”
Ella had difficulty concentrating all week. Jerry was good to his word and found Ella at least once each day. He said everything was taking shape for Thursday after school. Now was the moment of truth. Thursday had finally arrived and she was waiting at her locker as everyone was heading to their buses. She felt a bit of foreboding. After all, they had met less than a week ago. Was he going to try to take advantage of her?
Rosa had found a bus schedule and several maps for her. There were four buses that took everyone home after club activities. Her bus, number 57, went through several apartment complexes north of Mequon Road, and then came down Pilgrim Road before entering her subdivision. Rosa’s friend said to move to the front of the bus a few blocks before getting off, so the driver knew where to stop. Ella didn’t like to walk much, but the bus would drop her off at the end of her road. Not too bad, but further than she wanted.
Ella spun around. Would she ever get used to his soft, pleasant voice?
“Hello Jerry. I’ve been looking forward to tonight but honestly, I’m a little nervous. What are we going to do? You’re not going to drag me into the locker room and have your way with me, are you?”
“Heaven’s no. Although I do admit I have dreamed of spending time alone with you.” Ella was relieved at Jerry’s response. He even turned a little red at Ella’s comments.
“So then, what are we doing?”
“I got permission to use one of the classrooms to just talk. I hope that doesn’t disappoint you too much.”
“Not at all. That sounds wonderful.”
Jerry took Ella by the hand and led her upstairs near her Algebra classroom. They entered a room that Ella could tell was a science classroom. There were science models and equipment around the outer edge of the room. A tall table sat in the front of the room where the teacher could demonstrate things. Otherwise, there were normal desks.
“I really hope our relationship can grow, Ella. I’m not saying I have specific plans for the future, I just don’t want to do anything that disappoints or hurts you. So, let’s sit down and talk.”
Ella was dumbfounded. She didn’t expect any boy would care enough to be this careful not to hurt her. Jerry turned two desks so they could sit and face each other.
“So, Jerry, what should be talk about. This seems harder than it did at the dance.”
“I’m not sure what to talk about either. How about… what does your dad do for work?”
“He runs an Italian restaurant. It’s called DeLuca’s Cucina. He’s the owner and head chef.”
“I think we’ve eaten there. Wait, your name is DeLuca? I guess we didn’t get that far at the dance. My last name is Weston.”
“Glad to meet you Jerry Weston. I’m sorry but I don’t recognize your last name. What does your dad do?”
“He repairs commercial kitchen appliances. Who knows, he might know your dad. Wouldn’t that be weird.”
“Totally. So, tell me what you like to do. Hobbies; indoor; outdoor?”
Their conversation went on and on. Fortunately, there was a big clock on the wall. Otherwise, they may have missed the bus.
“Jerry, I think we should get out to the bus. Mine is number 57.”
“Mine too. With only four buses, each one covers a lot of territory.”
“I was wondering… why would our bus number be 57 if there are only 4 buses?”
“They both laughed and got up from their seats.”
“Ella, I picked this classroom for another reason. There are no windows and no club activities across the hall. Would it be OK if I kissed you before we go?”
“OK? OH, PLEASE DO.”
Jerry led Ella over to a corner of the room out of sight from the door. They embraced and kissed deeply. Ella lost track of time. Her mind raced, reminiscing the chance hallway encounter, the first glance through the doorway, his kindness at the dance and that first kiss behind the bushes. The details of their deep conversation flashed before her. Who was this wonderful guy who cared so deeply for her? Was it a dream?
When they slowly parted, Jerry gently guided Ella by the hand to the door. As they walked to the bus, Jerry asked, “I do have a question, Ella. Would you like spending more time on the kissing part and less time on the talking part some nights?”
“I would like that very much, Jerr.”
“And please understand, I don’t mean ALL the time. But sometimes.”
“I don’t think all the time would be so bad some of the time.”
They stopped, looked in each other’s eyes and laughed again. How could something so wonderful be happening? Ella was in a daze.
On the bus ride home, Jerry stole a few more kisses before Ella had to get off. She looked forward to the shorter days of winter so the ride home would be in the dark. Hopefully, the bus driver will keep the inside lights off.