In Brooksburg, when September ends the golden colors of autumn really start to kick in. The air turns crisp and fall activities start popping up left and right. October this year marked the beginning of Homecoming week, filled with much-anticipated events such as the pep rally, the dance, and most importantly, the football game on Friday.
In the days leading up to these events, the vibe in the high school hallways was bright and energetic. Somehow Jonah missed the memo. He was anything but peppy at the moment. Instead he stood lamenting at his locker, his forehead resting on the metal door like he would start banging his head against it at any second.
Annie was a bit bewildered as she approached him on her way to her locker after arriving at school that Monday morning. In a cartoon, there’d be storming rain clouds above Jonah’s head right about now.
“Good morning.” she said as she got close. Jonah merely banged against the locker. “What’s wrong?”
He was too glum to move, seemingly glued to the wall. “My mom took away my mp3 player and headphones. Again.” he answered, his voice despondent.
“Because I stole them.”
Jonah finally popped up from locker to defend himself, “I wouldn’t have to steal things if she’d just let me have anything enjoyable in life! Like this! Or my guitar!”
“Can’t you listen on your phone at least?”
“Don’t have one of those either.” he answered, mindlessly twisting his lock and then popping the locker door open. “Don’t really want one, and besides my Mom thinks I’m too irresponsible or like it’s a punishment or something.”
“Oh…” Annie replied. “Well, I have an iPod. I don’t use it much, so you can borrow it if you want.”
“Seriously?” Jonah’s eyes lit up in a way that Annie had never seen before. Like a dog with a promise of a treat in front of them, or a kid seeing the presents under the tree on Christmas morning. Annie was surprised at Jonah’s childlike excitement; it made her elated inside. She was starting to count the layers of the real Jonah she’s unpeeled.
“Yeah!” she confirmed smiling. She proceeded to dig through her backpack to retrieve the devices. First, she extracted a pair of behind-the-ear headphones that twisted into a fold and handed them to Jonah.
Annie pulled out the iPod Touch soon after and displayed it in her hand.
“It’s pink…” Jonah mumbled.
“It’s whatever. I don’t really care.” Pink or not, the thing still played music, which he needed desperately.
“Well, here are the cords, too. You can put whatever you want on there. And if your mom sees them, tell her you didn’t steal these ones.” Annie grinned cheekily, sensing a hint of bashfulness from Jonah as he glanced away.
“You really like music, huh?” Annie asked sincerely.
Jonah’s answer was instant. “I can’t live without it.”