I was at the mall waiting for my friend, Shelly, who was supposed to be meeting me there so we could see a movie. But she was late, as usual, so I was just sitting by the food court. I'd have been in trouble if my parents knew I was there alone, they didn't let me go anyplace by myself since I had just turned 14 a month ago. I didn't know why, since I knew what was going on anyway, it wasn't like I was a little kid anymore. And besides, it wasn't my fault Shelly was late, was it?
There were a lot of people around, especially teenagers, but they were mostly with someone, or in groups of three or four, all laughing and joking. That made me feel even more alone, and sort of dumb, since I was by myself. I noticed guys looking at me too, which always made me feel a little funny about myself. Guys have been looking at me all my life though, it seems like sometimes, so I was sorta used to it though.
Mostly they were older guys, like I don't know, in their twenties or thirties, I guess, maybe even older. Some of them were with their wives and they looked at me sort of sneaky, like they didn't want to get caught. Other guys, who were with their friends, wouldn't be sneaky at all, they'd just look and sometimes give their friend a nudge so he could look too. And the guys who walked around alone were the worst. Some of them tried to look like they were looking for someone, and they'd let their eyes go over me and come back, lingering longer and longer every time. Other guys would sit down and just watch me. That made me a little nervous, and I'd blush and look down, or even turn around if it was really bad.
I finally got tired of waiting for Shelly. She was like half an hour late already and I didn't know what to do, really. I didn't want to go home, especially since it was sort of boring there. But I didn't much feel like walking around the mall alone either. That was pretty boring too, unless you had a lot of money, which I definitely didn't. I decided I'd go watch the movie anyway, even though I wondered how much fun that would really be, sitting there in the dark all by myself.
Mostly I didn't really pay too much attention to what was going on around me. I sort of kept my eyes open for Shelly, but that was about it. We always met at the same place, so I seriously doubted she'd have been waiting for me anyplace else. I got in line and bought my one lonely ticket, trying to look like I was expecting to meet a whole bunch of friends inside. But the old lady selling tickets probably didn't care anyway.
I always like popcorn. It tastes better at the movies for some reason. But it's kind of expensive too. I figured I could get a small one, maybe, and so I got in the line for the concession stand, which was sorta long, like it always is.
"What movie are you seeing?" some guy asked, and it took a couple seconds before I figured out he was talking to me.
I turned around a little, expecting to recognize him, but I didn't. He was older, like in his thirties, I guess, maybe as old as my dad. He wasn't really tall, but bigger than me, and he looked pretty normal with brown eyes and black hair. He had a nice smile, I thought, and it sort of reassured me for some reason. Maybe he knew me or something.
"Bring It On Some More," I told him. I brushed a little bit of blonde hair out of my eyes; it's long and I keep thinking I should cut it, but I never do. I just had it loose that day and it kept blowing all over the place, even when it seemed like there wasn't any wind.
"Me too." He kept smiling at me.
"Oh." I didn't really know what else to say. I took a little step as the line moved, but it was slow.
"I was supposed to meet my friend here, but I guess she couldn't make it," the man explained after a few seconds. "She goes to college."
"Yeah." I nodded sympathetically, he was pretty nice, I thought. "My friend was sposed to be here too. I don't know where she is."
"Really?" He frowned a little, as if it were no big deal that he was alone, but it made him sad to know that I was by myself too. "That's too bad." We shuffled forward a couple feet. "What college do you go to?" he asked me.
"What?" I laughed and he blushed a little, looking confused. "I don't go to college..."
"Oh. I thought you said you..."
"I go to the middle school." I smiled at his embarrassment. "I'm only in the eighth grade."
"Oh wow! Um..." He sort of looked away, probably feeling pretty dumb, I thought.
"That's okay." I stopped giggling and just smiled. "You really thought I was in college?"
"Well, yeah ... I mean, the way you look? Sure." He nodded seriously. "I thought you were 18 or 19 maybe."
That sort of warmed me up all over. I guess I always knew that I'm attractive, without being all stuck on myself or anything. But I didn't think I looked like a full grown woman yet. I was just 5'3" tall and kind of thin, but not like skinny. My boobs were growing, but just still A cups, with bubblegum pink nipples that got kind of sore and puffy sometimes, like I could feel them trying to grow. I had nice legs, everybody said so, and I wasn't sure, but I guess my butt was pretty nice. I'd heard guys talking about it at school and it had made me seriously embarrassed, but kind of happy too.
"I wish I was." I giggled and we moved up a little more.
"You'll get there." He chuckled softly. "My name is Paul." He held out his hand and I shook it without thinking too much about it, really.
"I'm Jennifer." I felt his hand smooth and dry and holding mine gently, he didn't let go right away, but just looked at me for a long count of three. I sort of liked it.
We kind of stood there for a little while, not saying anything and just moving slowly with the line. "So I guess you must have a boyfriend, huh?" he said to me. "I'm surprised he's not taking you to see the movie."
"Oh no." I shook my head with a little self-conscious smile. "I don't have a boyfriend. My folks don't want me to date or anything until I'm older."
"Older?" He looked me up and down, taking in my Skechers, and loose khaki painter pants, and the white cotton halter top I was wearing; it had a green and yellow daisy stitched into the front. "How old are you?"
"Fourteen," I told him. "My dad says I can have a boyfriend when I'm 16, maybe."
"That doesn't seem fair." Paul shook his head. "That's just a number, anybody can see you're not some little girl."
I blushed at that, smiling and looking down at my hands. That was exactly what I thought too. It really made me feel good to hear someone else saying it, especially a nice guy like Paul. He really believed it too, I could see it in his eyes when I glanced up, brushing hair from my bright blue eyes again.
"But, maybe it's a good thing too," Paul told me with a smile and before I could ask him why he was telling me. "I mean, a girl as beautiful as you is going to have a lot of guys asking her out."
"Ah, no..." I giggled, rolling my eyes a little like I knew he was teasing me.
"I'm serious," Paul insisted, smiling and looking into my eyes. "I'd love to have a girlfriend like you."
"You would?" I didn't really believe that. Paul was so nice and he had a girlfriend in college. I bet she was really pretty too, way more pretty than I was. "You're teasing!" I laughed nervously.
"What? Me? No! I wouldn't ever tease you, Jennifer. No way." He grinned and leaned a little closer. "Not unless you wanted me to."
I wasn't sure why anyone would ever want to be teased, but it didn't matter. He was making me smile again and I really started to wish I had a boyfriend like him to take me to the movies. This was way more fun than listening to Shelly's gossip.
We were getting close to the counter now and I suddenly realized that in a minute or two I'd get my popcorn and then I'd be alone again. I can't say I really thought about it, but sometimes that's what happens, you know? You just do stuff for no good reason than it seems like a good idea.
"Hey do, uh..." I was nervous and my heart was beating a little faster, but I didn't know why. This wasn't a big deal, was it? "Do you want to sit with me?" I looked at Paul's face and spoke quickly. "I mean um, you know, just sit by me and we can sort of watch the movie together?"
"Uh, well..." Paul seemed to think about it and he smiled and nodded. "Sure, yeah, I'd like that a lot, Jennifer. But..." he tilted his head a little, looking serious, " ... only if you let me buy your popcorn, okay?"
"Yeah. Sure, okay," I said, smiling with relief. I hadn't known what he was gonna say!
"Good." Paul smiled down at me. "It'll be nice to watch the movie with someone else."
"Yeah," I agreed.
We were sort of late getting into the movie, since that line for popcorn had been so long. Paul had got me a super large popcorn and a giant coke and even some of those sticky candies that get stuck in your teeth. I hardly ever got those cause it was like two dollars for a box of them. Paul didn't care though, he just smiled at me and paid for everything. The previews were on already though, like I said, and so we just ended up sitting close to the back of the theater, instead of up front where me and Shelly usually sat. That was okay though. At least we weren't sitting behind anybody really tall, or close to those people who talk too much during the movie. We had some space around us, and I liked it.
.... There is more of this story ...