Through My Eyes by dmscranton
Summary:

How Jim and Pam might have grown up together if they'd met in Kindergarten.The Memoirs of Pamela Beesly.

 


Categories: Jim and Pam, Past, Alternate Universe Characters: Andy, Angela, Dwight, Ensemble, Jim, Katy, Kelly, Michael, Pam, Phyllis, Roy, Ryan
Genres: Childhood
Warnings: None
Challenges: None
Series: None
Chapters: 17 Completed: Yes Word count: 20747 Read: 12810 Published: August 07, 2008 Updated: October 16, 2022
Story Notes:

This will be so AU you won't even know what hit you. The premise of the story is Pam explaining how she met Jim and how their relationship evolved over their childhood school years. There will be everyone from The Office in some capacity or another. It's told through Pam's eyes, from her own mouth.

I had originally written this about 2 years ago, without a beta, and it was a disaster. I've since re-worked it and have it pretty much done so the updates shouldn't be too far apart.

 

*10/16/2022* Well here I am probably 10 years later now. I finished this story at some point in the last decade but never posted it up. So here we are. I ran through and did some tweaks of previously posted chapters and will be updating and then finally posting the final chapters. I also crossposted this on AO3. This is still my home fandom <3 

1. Introduction by dmscranton

2. Chapter 1 by dmscranton

3. Chapter 2 by dmscranton

4. Chapter 3 by dmscranton

5. Chapter 4 by dmscranton

6. Chapter 5 by dmscranton

7. Chapter 6 by dmscranton

8. Chapter 7 by dmscranton

9. Chapter 8 by dmscranton

10. Chapter 9 by dmscranton

11. Chapter 10 by dmscranton

12. Chapter 11 by dmscranton

13. Chapter 12 by dmscranton

14. Chapter 13 by dmscranton

15. Chapter 14 by dmscranton

16. Chapter 15 by dmscranton

17. Chapter 16 by dmscranton

Introduction by dmscranton

How did it happen?

Well, I guess I should start from the beginning.

When a little girl starts her first day of kindergarten, she never imagines it will change her life. She doesn’t think that at the age of 5, she’ll meet the man of her dreams or a friend for life. To her, it was just a new day. To me, it was so much more.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

My first day of school was very hectic. I remember my mom trying to calm my hair down for what felt like hours and eventually giving up and pulling it into a barrette with a heavy sigh. When my mom finished with my hair, she flung her arms around me, squeezing so hard I thought, at the time, my eyes would pop out of my head. She handed me my lunch bag and hurried me out the door.

The big yellow bus that would take me to my new adventure was bursting with children and waiting for little ol’ me. I skipped down our walkway, swinging my lunch and grinning ear to ear. I hopped onto the first step and turned to see my mom wiping a tear from her cheek. I couldn't understand, at the time, why she would be so sad.

I stepped foot onto the bustling bus and felt my heart drop to my feet. My house wasn’t too far from school, so the bus was massively full of children hopping up and down, throwing paper airplanes, and screaming at one another.

Panic set in when I couldn’t find an empty seat. When I imagined my first day of school, trying to find a seat on the bus had never popped into my mind. A few rows back, I saw a young blonde girl, who looked a little older than me, reading what appeared to be the bible and an empty seat to her right. I held my breath as I approached her, silently praying that she wouldn’t mind if I sat next to her.

“Hi?” I looked up at her with those wide innocent eyes my mother always fell victim to.

She placed her finger below a line, marking her place, and looked up at me with a firm expression. She appeared to be evaluating me. She didn’t speak to me. She just nodded and then returned to her reading. I slid in smoothly beside, avoiding disturbing her.

The drive to school was short but very informative for my little mind. I remember looking around and soaking it all in. The sounds, smells, and texture of it all were so new, and I loved every second of it. I sat there with my little lunch box on my lap, smiling as wide as possible.

When the bus pulled up to the front of the school, everyone instantly stood up. We weren't even at a complete stop yet, and it was a mad dash to the exit. The blonde girl beside me pushed me aside, and I almost fell to my knees. I ended up dropping my lunch box, and when I reached down to grab it, a young boy, who looked about my age, reached for it first. We made eye contact, and I smiled gratefully. In return, he gave me a weird sideways half smile. It was utterly adorable.

 

He handed me my lunch and ran off down the steps to meet the other boys outside. I looked out the window and saw a woman standing outside, surrounded by kids my age. There she was, my first teacher. She looked perfect. When a child imagines their first teacher, she would be the dream. She had kind eyes, a soft smile, and a welcoming aura. And it was just my luck that adorable little boy was standing just to her right. I knew right there that this was going to be a good day.


End Notes:
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
Chapter 1 by dmscranton

Chapter 1.

I marched down the last step of the bus and froze. Kids were running everywhere, screaming and laughing. Kids of all sizes and shapes were rushing by me, and here I was, little Pamela, tiny and so shy. I looked up to see the smile on my teacher’s face and felt my little feet move again. She introduced herself as Ms. Daniels and told us to follow her. We all lined up and carefully followed behind—the wide eyes on our tiny faces soaking up the scenery.

We walked into the large school building, and my little heart rate increased. There were lockers lining the halls and drinking fountains scattered about. Doors were mathematically spaced along the walls. I was overwhelmed by the size, the smell, and the noise. It was the scariest place I’d ever been. After Ms. Daniels opened the door to our classroom and took us inside, my nerves subsided, and I could relax. The room was spacious, with round tables scattered around. Each table had six small pint-sized chairs. She told us to all grab a seat, and we rushed about trying to find the best one.

Ms. Daniels took role after we all got settled in, and I found out the boy’s name from the bus was James Halpert, but he went by Jimmy. He was the cutest boy I’d ever seen. He had messy brown hair and hazel green eyes. He made me smile with a look, a sideways glance, or even a furrowing brow. He was generally a skinny boy, a little more height than the others. He was wearing jeans with a black sweater that accentuated his eyes. His hands, however, were tugging at the collar around his neck all day. It was obvious that his mother chose the outfit.

The first day of school turned out to be a good day. We played most of the time, and I met new children. I befriended a girl named Kelly Kapoor, who, as it turned out, liked to talk immensely, and since I was generally a shy kid, we made an excellent team. I used to take my box of crayons to class every day, Kelly by my side, and we talked about everything. She talked about everything while I sat beside her, coloring away.

I remember one specific morning when Jimmy asked if he could borrow one of my crayons. The box I had was a 64-pack, with the built-in sharpener, of course, and I was cautious with it. I coveted that box of crayons, which was generally tough for me to share, but in that instance, it was a piece of cake. Jimmy was using one of the school boxes with only eight colors. He explained to me that his box didn’t have the right color blue that he needed. When I told him he could borrow any color he needed, I saw that smile again, that same one from the bus. I could feel my cheeks flush when he looked at me. He turned to his paper and wrapped his arm around it, shielding it from peering eyes; I always wondered what he was drawing that could cause such seriousness.

One of the other boys ran up to the table, his name was Ryan, and he tapped Jimmy on the shoulder. He looked up at him, and Ryan turned, pointing to the other side of the room. When I looked over to see the commotion, I saw Kelly covered in marker. She looked like a clown, but she thought she looked pretty. I remember her trying to convince Ms. Daniels that it was make-up, but to no avail. Kelly still had to remove it. Ryan had thought that was the funniest thing he'd ever seen, but Jimmy just scrunched his face, expressing himself without words. I found it incredibly easy to read him and his emotions. That talent almost came instantly like instincts. He just turned back down to his paper while Ryan walked away defeated.

After Ryan was out of earshot, I whispered to him, “What are you drawing?”

He looked at me and smiled, “I don’t want to show anyone yet. It’s not done.”

I just nodded and understood his diligence; I saw myself as an artist and wanted my work to be perfect before showing it off too.

 

I don't remember seeing the finished masterpiece. It probably got forgotten in the short attention span of our little young minds.

End Notes:
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
Chapter 2 by dmscranton

Chapter 2


A few weeks into my new world, I found myself racing to my favorite spot across the playground for recess—the swings. Jimmy was running alongside me to get there first, which had caught me by surprise since he hadn't played on them yet. I remember picking up the pace, sprinting across the grass, just trying to beat him. He teased me as we ran side by side, pushing me a little on the shoulder. Not enough to make me fall but sufficient for me to lose my stride. Just as we both stepped onto the sand, he pushed me harder, and I stumbled away from the swing. He sat down first and started pumping his legs before I even got the chance to grab the chains.

I quickly sat down, pulled my skirt from below me, and kicked my legs, pulling my arms harder than I ever had. My skirt was floating behind me, flapping gently against my legs. After a few minutes, I looked to my right and saw him sitting there watching me. I hadn't noticed, in my enthusiasm, that he had stopped and was kicking the sand beneath him. He was just watching me pump like a mad woman. I smiled, thinking I had beaten him, but when the left corner of his mouth curved upwards in a sly smile, I was embarrassed and looked away quickly. He jumped off and let the next kid jump on, and my palms began to sweat against the cool metal chains.

He carefully walked behind my swing and leaned against the metal pole staring at me. This movement made me incredibly uncomfortable and nervous. I couldn’t understand what he was doing and why. I stopped kicking my legs and dragged them along the ground, messing up my perfectly white tennis shoes. When I stepped off the swing, I held my head high and walked away. I heard him chuckle behind me and run toward the other boys. When I turned back, we made eye contact, and I stuck out my tongue. Boys, they were so complicated.

 

I remember sitting on those swings every day, trying to reach higher and higher up to the sky. The boys would always jump off and land flat on their bottoms, but I didn’t have the guts to jump. Still, to this day, I can't bring myself to jump. I wasn’t very adventurous. I even acquired the nickname Lammy Pammy at one point. It didn't matter, though. I adored the swings. The way the air ran through my thick mess of hair felt so good and calming. The air would pull it off my shoulders and away from my neck, letting the cool breeze rush across my skin. To this day, I still walk by parks and eye the swing set.

End Notes:
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
Chapter 3 by dmscranton
Author's Notes:
Christmas time for our kindergarteners.

That first Christmas holiday snuck up on us quickly that year. Christmas was always fun when I was young, and it still is, but there was something magical about the whole experience as a child. Waiting for Santa, all the cookies and candies, the gorgeous tree we had in our front window, plus don't forget the gifts. The simplest things have always pleased me, and my gifts were no exception.

My first Christmas in school was so much fun. Remembering it now still brings a smile to my face. My little heart could barely contain itself that morning. My mother didn't need to rush me out the door like usual. I was sitting on the front steps waiting for the bus when it rolled in front of my house. I yelled out to my mom and ran to the bus, tripping on my dress shoes. I had asked my mom if I could wear one of my nice dresses to school that day because I wanted to look as pretty as possible. She even put a bow in my hair to keep my hair out of my face. She had to force me to wear my coat that morning.

Ms. Daniels said we could all get our bags of gifts and pass them out around nine o'clock. Each of us walked around, placing little boxes, bags, and fun-wrapped presents on the seats of our friends. After handing mine out, I returned to my chair and saw a giant pile of gifts. My eyes grew wide with wonder. It was the most amount of present I had ever received before.

While perusing through the shiny, wrapped objects, I held my breath, looking for a specific name. I finally saw his handwriting and what appeared to be "Jimmy" scrawled across the little card. I grabbed the gift and ripped off the wrapping, tossing it aside. I ran my little finger beneath the tape, holding the box lid, and lifted it. Gleaming brightly, I saw a petite porcelain girl flying through the air on a swing. I lifted it cautiously, making sure not to break it. The little girl looked just like me, or I projected myself upon it.

“My mommy helped me pick it out.”

He had startled me. I looked up, and he stood to my left, observing, hoping I would love it. A smile spread wide across my face. I set the figurine back into the box and jumped out of my seat, hugging him tight around the waist. He stood stiff in my grip. When I let go, I told him I loved it and would have my mother put it on top of the fireplace "where she puts all of her pretty things."

He lifted his right hand and had my gift, to him, in it. He hadn’t opened it yet.

"Open it!"

He gently tore the wrapping paper back. Unable to control myself, I took it from his hands and finished ripping the paper off. He just stood there, watching me rip away his gift's paper. I still don't understand the careful unwrapping technique. It's not as if you can use it again.

A wide grin slowly grew across his face when he saw the large black letters of Crayola along the top of the big yellow box. He took it from my fingers and turned it over in his hands.

“I told my mommy that you needed the biggest box they had; now I’ll have to borrow some of yours." I was a little jealous when my mom brought the box home, there were more than 100 crayons within, and I still had my measly 64 count. “Now you can be an artist just like me!”

He hugged the box close to his chest and smiled. When he pulled it down and looked at it, he whispered a thank you without looking up from the pack. I remember thinking he looked so sad, but when he looked back at me, I saw the ultimate smile. I could see the space between his bottom teeth, from the tooth he’d lost the week before.

Our moment, however, was burst when Kelly pushed him out of the way and showed me what Ryan got her. I watched Jimmy walk away, returning to the gifts he hadn’t opened. I wasn't listening to Kelly as she sputtered about a ring or an earring.

“Did you open mine yet? My mommy was so great. She got the best gifts for everyone. I told her what you liked, and I think she did a good job of getting it just right. I wanted to get you a matching purse like mine that she had gotten me for my birthday, but they were out at the store. So I thought maybe that new Barbie, the one with the baby? But she said it was too expensive. But I think you should have it, and I have that Barbie, and I know you don’t have any, and I thought we could play Barbie this weekend when you came over. Oh, you’re still coming over, right? My mom said she’d keep my little sister out of the way. She’s drooling all over my stuff now. My mom says she loves putting things in her mouth, ew!”

I wanted to catch my breath for her, but she just kept going.

“Did you open it yet?! Open it, open it!”

She grabbed the gift from my pile and practically threw it at me. I started peeling the paper off when she held it back. The ultimate definition of déjà vu. She turned it around in front of her chest and showed me.

“It’s a coloring book, but look! It comes with a paintbrush, and you dip it in water, color the pages and paint it, but it won’t make a mess. My mom got me one of these, and I loved it. You will love it too.”

I took it from her hands and eyed it enthusiastically. She was right. I did love it.

“Thanks, Kelly”

I also knew my mom would love it. No more paint messes on the kitchen table.

“I opened yours. It was so great! I loved the drawing. I didn’t show Ryan yet though he might not like it. But I LOVED it! I’m going to hang it right above my bed so I can look up at it before I go to sleep every night.”

I had given her a drawing of Ryan with a big heart around it. It didn’t quite look like him, but at least it wasn’t a stick figure. I gave him a blue shirt with matching blue eyes. I knew it was a success when she knew it was Ryan, without me explaining it. I was just happy someone loved my artwork. My mom always hung it on the fridge, but it was lovely having someone else appreciate my hard work. Kelly turned away, running to Ryan to see what other gifts he’d gotten, when I noticed the new boy sitting on the floor, playing with trucks. He didn’t have any gifts beside him, and I felt sorry for him.

He had just started in our class a week ago, so he was new. His name was Roy, and he appeared to be a nice boy. He was husky and looked tough, but I didn't think he was a bully. I put my new gift from Kelly on my pile and walked over to him.

“Can I play with you?”

I must have startled him because he knocked one of the trucks over.

“'kay," he answered slowly.

He eyed me cautiously.

“Hi, I’m Pammy. Do you like our class?”

“I guess so” He turned back to the truck and continued playing.

“Um…”

“What?”

“Can I play with that other truck?” I pointed towards the fire truck that was to his left.

“Girls don’t play with trucks. Go find a doll.” He put his left arm around the fire truck.

I was hurt, but I didn’t want him to know. “Fine, I won’t be your friend, be alone. I don’t even like dolls, so what do you know?” I stomped off, flipping my hair violently over my shoulder. I acted so toughly, but deep down, I was crushed. I was trying to be friendly, and he rejected me. That small act made me more cautious in approaching new people from there on out.

 

When I returned to my seat, I saw Jimmy looking across the room with a puzzled look. I had made eye contact with him but looked away quickly, shuffling my feet across the carpet in embarrassment. I sat down, picked the little swing girl out of the box, and silently smiled. The day ended up being good, even with the attitude I received from Roy. I couldn’t wait to get home and show my mom my gifts.

End Notes:
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
Chapter 4 by dmscranton
Author's Notes:

The beginning of 1st grade where we meet the ever charming Mr. Scott.

 

The rest of Kindergarten played out uneventfully. We all parted for our summer vacations and vowed to be best friends when we returned to school that fall. When first grade came around, it was a little scarier than Kindergarten. I knew it would be a full day of school instead of the half days I had grown accustomed to the year before. Also, there was a chance Kelly and my other friends wouldn’t be in my class anymore. I was incredibly relieved when I heard her voice from the other side of the classroom door that first day. When I slid quietly into the new room, I saw Jimmy's face seated in the middle of the class. He smiled and waved, and I bit my bottom lip while a grin tried to escape my face. I sat down at the desk beside him and slung my backpack over the back of the chair.

“How was your summer?”

“It was good. I went to my gramma's. What did you do?”

“I went to the YMCA, and my dad took me to basketball camp. It was so much fun. I want to be a basketball player when I grow up.” He looked so sure of himself. At that moment, I believed he would be the best basketball player in the world. I had missed him over the break. At one point during the break, I had wanted to ask my mom if he could come over, but I figured she would say no since he was a boy. I should’ve just asked.

“Hey, Jimmy, what did you do this summer?” We turned in our seats to see Roy heading toward us.

“Hi, Pammy.” He smiled sheepishly.

“Hi, Roy,” I responded with a pout. I was still incredibly guarded with that boy.

I looked at Jimmy, smiled, and turned away to organize my things. I knew the boys would want to talk boy stuff, and I had no idea what boy things were. 

*****

Our new teacher was friendly that year. His name was Mr. Scott, and he was a smidge goofy but still fun nonetheless. On our first day, he told us that it didn’t matter where we wanted to sit as long as it made us feel good. I hadn't understood what he meant since all the chairs felt the same to me: hard. Kelly ended up sitting behind me, and a new girl named Katy sat in front.

I remember thinking she had the prettiest hair I'd ever seen. It was a vibrant red color with soft, bouncy curls. My mother had cut mine over the break, so now it was short and messy instead of long and messy. Plus, without the added weight, it appeared to have grown outwards. I was incredibly jealous of Katy's hair at that point. I had begged my mom not to cut my hair, but she thought it would help. She was sadly mistaken. I stared at the back of this new girl's head and hoped she would like me.

The bell rang, and we settled into our desks. Mr. Scott’s desk was to the side facing the wall and had all sorts of toys. There was a small statue, some toy trucks, a ball of sorts, strange stuffed squirrels, or chipmunks I couldn’t tell from my view. There was an easel with a large book sitting in front of the chalkboard and above the chalkboard were a row of letters. We would later find out it was the alphabet, but at that moment, it just looked like letters.

My mom had been reading to me for a long time, as long as I could remember. I had memorized words from some of my favorite books, but none of the letters above the chalkboard looked like them. Also, it was way too long to be just one word. When I remember that, it makes me smile—the innocence and naivety of a young child.

“Hello, class. I am going to be your teacher for the next nine months. This is so exciting. You are officially my first class. So it’s like the first day of school for me too!" Mr. Scott was a loud talker, bugging his eyes out as he got more excited when he spoke. He began clapping, expecting us to follow suit, but we just sat watching the madman.

“OK, so what should we do? Does anyone want to tell us what you did over the summer?”

Kelly’s arm shot up behind me. I felt the wind across my head.

“Yes,” he pointed to her, “what’s your name?”

Kelly stood up from her desk.

“My name’s Kelly Kapoor, and I’m six years old. I have a mommy and a daddy, and a baby sister. I went to Disneyworld over the vacation. And oh my goodness, it was so much fun! I saw Mickey and Minnie and rode on all the rides. My baby sister couldn’t go on anything. She should’ve just stayed home, but I had fun! I rode this one rollercoaster that was soooo scary! And I ate this cotton candy one day for lunch and got so sick after. My mom said it was because I ate it all too fast. Then when we rode the plane home, we hit these bumps, and I thought the plane was going to fall, but it didn’t, and we made it home in one piece. It was great. I have all sorts of stuffed animals, and now my mom says we can get new stuff for my bed with Minnie Mouse on it. I’m excited I’m hoping we go today after school.”

She paused enough to catch her breath and for Mr. Scott to interrupt.

“That’s great, Kelly! Does anyone else want to share what they did over the break?”

Katy’s hand in front of me slowly slid up.

“Yes, YES! What’s your name?”

“Katy and I visited my gramma over vacation.”

“Okay, what did you do?” He knelt before her desk and bopped up and down on his heels.

“We went to New York City, and I got to see the Statute of Liberty.”

“Statue”

“What?”

“Oh, it’s Statue, dear.”

I couldn't see Katy's face, but I saw her head drop in embarrassment. She sat down slowly in her seat and refused to look at Mr. Scott.

“Okay, I guess that’s it. Anyone, anyone else?……… Come on, kids, we’re a family now, and you must share with your family. Think of me as your other dad, except I don't get to kiss your mom!” He laughed at himself.

I turned my head, looking over at Jimmy, and when he felt my eyes on him, he looked over. I nodded, signifying he should share too. He shook his head and rolled his eyes, silently telling me, ‘this guy is nuts.’ I remember him looking at me like that a lot that year.

I stifled a giggle, and my little snort got Mr. Scott’s attention.

“Yes, little girl. What is your name? Tell us what you did over the vacation.”

I took a deep breath and blew it out slowly through my nostrils. Shyly looking over at Jimmy, I could feel my palms begin to sweat. He gave me an encouraging smile, and I heard Kelly whisper behind me, “Go, Pammy.”

I slid off my seat and stood up slowly. I hated being the center of attention, and this was no exception.

“My name is Pamela Beesly, but everyone calls me Pammy. Um…” I looked down, trying to think of something to say.

“Um, um, um de dum.” Mr. Scott started making up a song with my stumble. I looked at him, confused, and waited for him to stop. “Go ahead. What did you do this break?” Eagerly eyeing me, he waved his hand in front of himself.

“Well, I went to my gramma's too...”

“Did you go to New York City? You're like Katy's twin sister, Katy 2.0.” He cut me off before I could finish the sentence.

“No...we didn't.”

“Oh." His smile disappeared, and he turned away from me. I sat down and hoped he would direct his attention to someone else. I pulled my hands into the sleeves of my sweater, awkwardly messing with the soft fabric.

He continued going from child to child that morning, asking what everyone did over the break. Eventually, we heard what he did, and then he allowed us to have playtime. He took a nap at his desk while we played around him. All the excitement from the morning wore him entirely out. I took that opportunity to get to know Katy a little better. I remember her being sweet and chipper. She was wearing a bright pink dress with white lace trim. She always had flowers, stripes, or designs on every outfit she wore. She was extremely outgoing and stunning. I was intimidated.

“Hi, I’m Pammy.”

“Hi, I'm Katy.” I could see every tooth in her mouth, her wide smile.

“So that must have been fun going to New York City. My mom said one day, we’ll go there.”

“It was. It was very busy, but I wasn’t scared.”

“I would have been so scared. I probably would’ve never let go of my mommy’s hand.”

“Oh really? Oh no! It wasn't scary at all. You'd been fine.”

She seemed so much more confident than me. Her mannerisms and the way she spoke just exuded assuredness. I felt utterly inadequate in her presence. She made me very nervous. I began to fear her and what she could accomplish. What if Kelly liked her better? What if Jimmy liked her more? What if Roy was friendly to her? At that moment, I remember scanning the room, looking for Jimmy, to boost my confidence. I found him huddled in the corner with Roy and Ryan, playing with some blocks.

“Well, you can play with Kelly and me if you want. You'll like her; she's nice.” Katy looked over my head at Kelly, jumping up and down, holding a red marker. Kelly was always jumping up and down.

“Maybe in a little bit. I want to finish my picture first.” She sat back down at her desk.

"'Kay." I turned around and headed back to my desk.

“Hey," I hadn't seen Jimmy come across the room behind me.

“Oh, hi. What?” I was trying to control my excitement. He always caused an influx of butterflies in my stomach.

“Um, I wanted to know if you wanted to play with me?”

I remember trying to hold my smile down but failed miserably.

“Yea!” I took his hand in mine. It was so soft, and I pulled him over to the long table at the back of the room, covered with construction paper and child-safe scissors. His cheeks turned red when I released my grip.

“Do you want to make a kite with me?”

“'Kay.” I was ridiculously giddy; I couldn’t control myself. Who would’ve thought at that age I was so emotional?

I took a pencil off the table and a large blue piece of paper and started drawing a diamond. Jimmy sat down beside me. I could feel his arm brush softly against my own. I stopped for a moment just to enjoy the sensation.

He looked at me with his wide green eyes. “What should I do?”

“You can make the tail to put on the bottom part. Here.” I handed him a green paper. “Cut some strips from this.”

He picked up a pair of scissors and began cutting diligently. I could tell he wanted to make them perfect. I made myself believe he was doing that just for me. Little did I know, I was right.

After I cut out the diamond shape, I pulled over more colors of paper. I was going to cut out different shapes to glue onto the kite. I also grabbed my box of crayons from my backpack. Over the summer, my mother purchased the big box for me, just like the one I'd gotten for Jimmy last year.

Suddenly, Roy ran over to the table, out of breath. “What are you guys doing?”

“She’s not a boy.” I smiled at Jimmy, silently thanking him for being so gallant.

“Whatever, she looks like one. What are you doing?”

I pursed my lips together and stuck out my tongue at Roy. “Well, you look like a girl! We’re making a kite, and you can’t help us.”

“Whatever, it’s ugly.” He ran off back to Ryan, upset.

“I don't think you look like a boy... um, I think you look pretty.” The right side of his mouth curved up, and he bashfully looked down at his hands, avoiding my eyes. I think that was the moment I knew what love was. I couldn’t describe it or put it into words, but I knew right there what it meant.

“Thanks” I quietly pulled my red crayon into my hand and started drawing hearts on the kite. I was biting my bottom lip raw that afternoon.

End Notes:
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
Chapter 5 by dmscranton
Author's Notes:

Chapter info: The Dundies, AU style.

 

A few months into the school year, Mr. Scott held a special event called the Schoolies. The "ceremony" was held after lunch on a Wednesday, where he passed out specially made, personalized awards. It was an enjoyable time. It was apparent he put the time and effort into the entire event. He had special music and skits that he performed for all of us. He even had a little assistant from another class help him out. When this boy walked into the classroom the first time, I wanted to laugh hard. He was a stern-looking young man with dark brown hair and horn-rimmed glasses firmly planted on his nose. Dwight K. Schrute was his name.


He was an odd child, acted old for his young age, and tried to intimidate the rest of us. Jimmy enjoyed teasing him and picking on him when Dwight visited. One day Dwight told all of us he was the hall monitor and we needed to respect his authority. Jimmy cracked up at that and got an eyeful of Dwight's tongue.


On the Schoolies' afternoon, Mr. Scott returned to the classroom wearing a fancy tuxedo after lunch. Dwight wore a little suit and tie and faithfully followed Mr. Scott around the room, preparing for the events. The rest of us sat with our juice boxes in awe. 


"Are you all ready for a fun time?" Mr. Scott clapped his hands fervently.


The classroom erupted in cheers.


"Hit it, Dwight!" Mr. Scott flamboyantly pointed at Dwight, standing in the corner, hovering over a tape player.


Dwight poignantly depressed his tiny finger down on the tape player's button, and the room filled with music. Then he quickly reached down and grabbed a pile of cards, holding them up so Mr. Scott could read them. Mr. Scott jumped forward with a hairbrush in his right hand and began singing passionately into the bristles.


"The Schoolies, how can I explain it? Awards you like to hate it. I'm psyched you all made it. You never had to work so hard and feel that no one noticed you. You're just a name and number, and no one says hello..." Dwight fumbled with the cards, and Mr. Scott lost his place. "Guh, forget it. Stop the music. Let's just get to it already. Who wants the first award?"


Kelly's hand shot up quickly, and she began jumping impatiently in her seat. "Me! Me!!"


"Whoa, Nelly Kelly, calm down. Don't worry. You'll get one. Alright, alright, let me see," Mr. Scott began searching through the small awards trying to locate Kelly's. "Here it is. The 'Most Likely To Talk People’s Ears Off'...KELLY!"


Kelly squealed and jumped up from her seat, running to the front of the class. She grasped the award from his hands and almost knocked him into the whiteboard. She didn't understand but was incredibly pleased to win anything. She took the small statue in her hands and smiled brightly at him. "Thank you!"


"Your vewy welcome." Mr. Scott responded in the worst baby voice of all time.


Kelly looked up at him questioningly and then slowly turned and walked back to her desk.


A clang rang over the room, and everyone turned to see Dwight holding up a triangle.


"Alright, our next award goes out to the child who lightens up the room, someone I would be proud to have as my own...Ryyaan Hoowaaard!"


Kelly squealed again and pushed Ryan out of his chair. Ryan slowly strolled to the front of the room, and Mr. Scott teased him with the tiny award, not allowing him to grab it. Ryan stopped trying and stood there for a moment while the class clapped. Finally, Mr. Scott let him take it, and when Ryan turned around to walk back to his desk, Mr. Scott ran his fingers through Ryan's hair, tousling it terribly. The poor look on Ryan's face would make anyone feel sorry for him.


Next came my award. I had feared what terrible honor would fall upon me, how embarrassed I would end up being. I turned to look out the window and saw Jimmy looking over at me and smiling. He bashfully looked away when my eye caught his.


"Hey, Pammy." Roy's whisper came across the table. I turned to see him leaning in on his hands, attempting to get my attention.


"What?"


"You're ugly." An evil grin oozed across his face as I snarled at him. I turned away quickly, whipping my curly ponytail across my shoulder.


Jimmy saw the hurt in my face and shrugged, asking what had happened. I shook my head and decided it wasn't worth it.


"Pammy!" Mr. Scott waved a shiny award upfront to get my attention. "Come on! Didn't you hear me? Come on then."


I didn't hear what he had said, and I couldn't read the label. I shyly took the award from his clutches and hurried back to my seat, trying not to blush. I'd have to ask Kelly later what it was for.


Mr. Scott passed out the rest of the awards, a couple with some typos on them, and Dwight destroyed the tape in the player, but overall we had a fun time. Mr. Scott gave us the rest of the afternoon to enjoy ourselves and have playtime until it was time to go home.


"Hi." I walked up to Jimmy and smiled.


"Hey." He responded.


“Um, I’m going to the library. Do you wanna go with me?”

 “'Kay, do you think we can?” He motioned to Mr. Scott.

 “Uh-huh.” I walked to the front of the classroom, and Jimmy followed.

“Mr. Scott, can we go to the library?”

“Sure! If that's what you want, you two bookworms. Take the pass.” We grabbed the hall pass and left the room, walking silently down the hall toward the library.

When we walked in, the librarian, Ms. Lapin, looked up from her computer screen and greeted us.

“Hi, Pammy, ooh, who’s this?” She looked adoringly at Jimmy and winked at me. I saw his adorable round cheeks turn pale pink.

“This is Jimmy Halpert. He’s my friend. I’m going to help him pick out a new book.” I grabbed his hand and pulled him towards the children’s section.

"You two have fun then!" She smiled brightly and gave me another wink. I kept holding his hand without thinking while we searched the books. Our palms began to sweat against each other as we perused the children's titles. I suddenly, in recognition, pulled my hand away and wiped it carefully on my cardigan.

“Sorry”

“'S okay” He took his hand back and shoved them both in his little pockets. He rocked back and forth on his heels while we looked for something good. A few minutes later, we settled upon a story of a man who lived in a big city with a monkey.

We went over to one of the low round tables and scooted in close to each other.

“Do you want to read it? I can help you sound out words if you get stuck.” I was trying to reassure him. I didn’t want him to think I was better than him or that I was acting that way just because I could read better. I remember sitting so close to him that day that I forgot all about the story. I sat there, letting my thoughts slip away.

The thoughts of a six-year-old are a little softer than someone older, but the consensus is the same. I remembered my lunch bag, the swings, that smile, Christmas, that smile. Okay, so I was obsessed with his smile, but you have no idea what that smile can do to a girl. Her knees go weak, her head feels light, and she forgets what she is saying. He had a way about him, even at that age.

“Are you okay?” I snapped back to reality, feeling a slight smidge of embarrassment.

“Uh, are you stuck?” I stammered on the words.

“No, I just didn’t think you were listening.”

"Oh, no... I was."

 

He had no idea, and I liked it that way.

End Notes:
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
Chapter 6 by dmscranton
Author's Notes:

Valentine's Day circa 1st grade

Kindergarten’s Valentine’s day wasn’t quite the same as 1st grade’s. In kindergarten, we had all made the cards in class and just drew/scribbled pictures on the front. It didn’t express how we had been feeling, and it felt mandatory. This year I was able to personalize some which felt important to me.

My mother took me shopping the weekend before the holiday and helped me pick out a box of pre-made cards. I, of course, was going to add my artistic touch but knew it was much easier just to let the professionals handle the cardmaking. I remember running into the house, pulling the thin box of cards out of the grocery bag, and throwing it on the kitchen table. My mom just stood back and watched me, smiling to herself. I kicked my shoes off and ran to my room, grabbing all the markers and crayons I could find. 

Crawling up onto the big chair, I pulled the box over and ripped it open, pulling the little perforated cards apart and making piles of type. There was a plain Happy Valentine’s Day, a ‘Friend’s forever,’ ‘You are Dino-Mite!’ with a picture of a dinosaur, and ‘Bee-Mine’ with a smiling bee. I knew I would only need one of those "Bee" cards. 

Mr. Scott had sent home a list of our classmates' names so our parents could ensure we didn't forget anyone. He thought everyone deserved a card no matter if we talked to them or were friends with them. Of course, his name was also on the list, and I'm pretty sure he bolded his name. 

I started first with the envelopes. Taking them all out of the box, my mom helped me to write everyone's names on the front. Some I added more flair by drawing little hearts or stars around their names. 

When I got to Jimmy’s name on the list, I stared at the blank envelope, trying to come up with a spectacular drawing. What was I going to draw to express how he made me feel? How could I express myself through the imagery to show him what I meant? Even at that young age, I knew it was possible to show feelings in pictures. 

I leaned over the table and snagged a yellow marker. I drew a big circle in the middle of the envelope and colored it. Then I started adding wavy lines coming out from the circle. It needed some more color; yellow wasn’t enough. I snagged the orange marker next, made a border around the yellow circle, and added more orange wavy lines. When I put the marker down to scan my work, I thought it looked good, not excellent, not perfect, but pretty good. It felt like it was missing something. I finished it up by adding a couple more lines and leaned back in my chair to admire my work. Perfect. It was a sun with a bright smiley face, and that was exactly how he always made me feel. Every day was bright, sunny, and happy, as if he would always brighten it up no matter how the day turned out. I carefully wrote his name in the middle of the sun, making sure it didn’t bleed through the yellow, and stuffed the little card I’d written a note on into the envelope and sealed it up. I held the card in my hand, looking at it for a few seconds, then set it aside carefully away from the other finished cards. It deserved its own recognition. 

That week of school had felt so long because of the wait, but when the big holiday finally arrived, I was more than ready. In the morning, we all worked on making small paper mailboxes that we would hang on the front of our desks to hold the cards we were receiving. Not surprisingly, Mr. Scott had also made a mailbox, but his was more prominent and featured a headshot of himself on the front. Which, oddly enough, didn't seem weird. 

When we walked around the room passing out the cards, I saved Jimmy’s for last, hoping maybe he’d be back at his desk when I slipped it through the paper slot. As I dropped each card into all the mailboxes, I whispered to myself their names making a mental checklist. 

“Kelly, Katy, Roy, Mindy, Ryan, Brian……Jimmy.”

I had hoped correctly, and he was back at his desk. I didn’t make eye contact when I slid the brightly colored envelope into his mailbox, but I could feel him watching me. I held down a smile by biting the side of my bottom lip, but it was always a losing battle. I looked up without thinking and met his eyes. The futile attempt to control my smile was over, and I grinned from ear to ear.

“Thanks.” He mumbled. 

I just turned and walked back to my desk. My cheeks were hot and matched the pink sweater I was wearing. 

“Is everyone done passing out their cards?” Mr. Scott was at the front of the class holding his mailbox, shaking it back and forth. “Alright, let’s open them.” 

I poured my cards out on my desk and started recognizing handwriting. Some I didn’t recognize and looked like adult handwriting. Some of the kids had their parents help them. I wouldn't know who they were until I opened them. I grabbed the first envelope and tore it open. It was a pretty purple envelope that I assumed was from Kelly. Two animals were playing on the swings on the front, just perfect. I flipped it over to read ‘Best Friends Forever Happy Valentine’s Day.’ I turned and saw Kelly reading some of her cards. I held my hand up, holding the card, and whispered to her.

“Hey"

Her response was practically yelling. “Oh my God, love it? Look, it’s us on the swings! I saw this in the store, and I had to have it. None of the other cards in the box were good, so my mommy got me another box with better ones, but I had to have those for you. It’s so great. Look at all these cards I got. I haven’t found Ryan’s yet, but I bet it’ll be the best. Oh…” She looked down at her stack and was distracted enough for me to turn back to my desk quietly. 

I continued opening cards and reading them, and with each one, I held my breath until I saw the signature. Then I'd have to reread it to remember what it was. I got a lot of plain ‘Happy Valentine’s Day’ cards which was understandable. I was a quiet/shy kid. I didn’t talk to everyone, so I was okay with it. 

When I got to a card that read ‘Will you be my valentine?’ I knew it had to be Jimmy's. I couldn't even imagine it being from anyone else. When I turned the card over in my hand, I had a mini-heart attack, ‘Roy.’ Wait! What? Roy? Of all the people, I thought he hated me. It was confusing. Boys, they're complicated. I remember stuffing the card firmly back in the envelope and setting it to the side so I could read it later and try and comprehend it with a clearer mind. 

I took the next one and recognized my name. This one was from him, no doubt.

‘Bee-Mine’. It was the same card, exactly. I chuckled and stopped when I realized I'd made an audible noise. I felt his eyes burning through my skin from across the aisle. I'm sure he could see my heart right there in the classroom. I started smiling before I looked up.

“Thanks” My eyes darted towards his direction, but I never looked into his eyes. I saw his mouth, his chest, his hands, but never his eyes. It was too hard. 

“I liked my card too. I will keep the envelope since you worked so hard on it. I was really careful when I opened it.” I finally looked up at him and saw his face gleaming with joy. I looked away, down at his desk. He hadn’t opened anyone else’s card yet, I felt embarrassed, having already opened numerous before getting to his, but I'm sure he hadn't noticed.

 

All in all, it was a good day, but what to do with Roy?

End Notes:
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
Chapter 7 by dmscranton
Author's Notes:

OK, so we're about to meet Andy, and I know Andy's much older than the others but just go with it. ;)

Welcome to the 2nd grade.

After Valentine’s Day, I wasn’t sure how to act around Jimmy or Roy. I was more confused about boys than ever and didn’t have anyone to talk to about it, so I just waited. I was waiting for one of them to make some sort of move, some action to explain themselves. Roy was his same old self; however, rude, crude, tough, and aggravating. Jimmy was a little different. He seemed embarrassed around me, shy and overly quiet. He turned away from me and started playing with the boys more and more. 

By the end of the school year, nothing had been fixed between the boys. Roy was still evil, and Jimmy and I spoke to each other and would often play here and there, but we weren't as close. Mr. Scott took us on a field trip to the skating rink on the last day. I wasn’t overly excited about the idea since I didn’t know how to skate, and I knew Kelly would be off with Ryan, but I still went and told myself to have a good time. 

When we arrived at the rink, we all ran inside. There was a small row of skates set aside for us, so we started searching through them to find our size. When I pulled up a pair to look at the back, I brushed my arm against someone standing next to me, and I turned quickly to see Jimmy holding up his pair of skates. When he saw me looking at him, he promptly grabbed the skates and turned away, heading towards the boys, where Roy was waving him over. I do think I saw a tiny smidge of a smile, though, when he walked away. 

“Pammy, come on, we’re going out.” Kelly was yelling from the edge of the rink.

“Wait for me. I have to put mine on.” 

I found an empty bench and started to undo my shoes, watching my classmates stumble onto the ice. I kicked my tennis shoes off, placed them under the bench, and slid the skates over my little white socks. 

“Over, under, then through,” I whispered the mantra, ensuring I tied the little laces tight. 

When I stood up, my little legs wobbled on the skates. My feet looked huge in the skates, and I was scared to walk in them. 

“COME on, Pammy! I want to GOOOO!”

I could tell Kelly was losing her mind having to wait for me, so I took a small calculated step towards the entrance of the ice. It didn't seem as tricky as I had anticipated, and when I reached the wall and stepped onto the cold frozen ground, my right foot stood firmly, but the left took a little slip. I lost my breath and thought I was headed down. 

“Whoa.” 

“Fine, you go 'round the edge. Ryan and I are gonna be in the middle.” 

I exhaled in relief that she was going to leave me be. I didn't need more attention to my lack of ice skating talent than I was already receiving. I looked up from the ground and saw her grab Ryan's hand, pulling him to the middle. They were both much better at it than I was. My parents never took me to the rink, so I didn’t know what I was doing. Mr. Scott flew up to me quickly, stopping just a few inches from where I was standing, and ice flakes blew up at my legs. He was now wearing a ridiculous-looking hockey outfit. 

“Do you need any help?”

“No thank you.” He was a good guy, although eccentric at times, I knew he always had our best interests at heart. 

I moved around the outer edge, not venturing too far from the wall. My little fingers were scraping along the edge of the wall while I slowly made my way around the edge. I was having a blast. 

After a few minutes, I felt someone coming up behind me, and my body tensed up. When the skates were right behind me, I felt a hand push my back, and I stumbled forward, bending at the waist, thankfully not falling. 

“Ha Ha, you can’t even skate!”

I looked to see Roy showing off by skating backward with three other boys laughing around him. To my surprise, Jimmy came up behind me and reached out his hand to help me. 

“Are you ok?” 

“Uh... yea, thanks” I took his hand, let him help me up, and then immediately released it to lean back against the wall in support. I started pushing myself on the ice again and kept my eyes on my feet. I didn’t know what to say to him since we hadn’t spoken in such a long while. 

“'K, well..um…I guess... uh, I’ll see you later?” He asked it as if he was unsure. 

“'K,” I never took my eyes off my feet but could see him skate away in my peripheral vision. I still had a mad crazy crush on him, no matter how far we drifted apart. 

During the rest of the field trip, Roy would laugh, and Jimmy would shyly smile on every lap. I figured everything was going to be okay between us. Since it was the last day of school, I guess I'd have to wait three months to find out for sure, but if this were any indication, I would be correct. 

***

“Do I have to wear this? I look silly.” 

It was the first day of 2nd grade, and I was already feeling old. My mother had dressed me in a blue dress with a white collar and a little red tie. It wasn’t a regular tie like my dad would wear to work but floppier and girly, and I hated it.

“You look so cute, though, honey. Come here, let me pull your hair up.” My wild mane had grown out over the summer and was way past my shoulders, completely unmanageable. 

When I heard the school bus pull up outside, I pulled away from my mom's grip and started running out the door. “Bye, mom, the bus is going to leave me.” She didn’t get to pull my hair up, so it flew behind me, flapping in the air as I ran down the walkway. 

When I ran onto the bus, I saw Kelly practically busting at the seams to get my attention. She had saved the seat beside her for me.

“Pammy! Oh my God, your hair is so great! It's gotten so long; I'm so jealous.”

“Thanks, Kell.” I scanned the bus, looking for other familiar faces. I felt relief when I caught his eye, my cheeks instantly blushing as we smiled in recognition. His hair had grown a little bit, too. It was curling behind his ears. 

“…then she ran, and I thought I would die laughing. Hey, are you listening to me?” 

“What? Yes, of course, I’m listening.” I turned back in my seat and sat facing frontward, putting my backpack on my lap. 

“What did I say then?” 

“Your sister’s diaper fell off, and your mom tried to put it back on, and she ran away. See, I was listening.”

“Oh, I thought since you were drooling over Jimmy and not looking at me, you weren’t listening!”

“I was not drooling. I don’t even like him. He’s just my friend!” 

“Whatever, Pammy, you are always staring at him... Oooh, Jimmy you’re soooo cute oohhh Jimmy…Ow!” I hit her in the upper arm. My face had turned bright red and felt like it was on fire. 

“Shhh, stop it.”

“Fine, ow.” She rubbed her arm when she turned toward the window looking outside at the passing houses. She didn’t say anything else for the duration of the ride. 

****

“Pamela Beesly”

“Here,” I responded while raising my hand. 

Our new teacher seemed nice, a little stiff, but nice. She hadn't smiled yet in the first few minutes of class, but she had to, right? I had recognized all the names she called out, except one: Andrew Bernard. 

When he shot his hand up violently, I looked over at him, questioning everything about him. He wore his hair tight on his head, sat straight, and wore a sweater vest over a nice dress shirt. 

“Andrew, you can call me Andy Bernard, present and on time.” A wave of giggles flowed across the classroom. I placed my hand over my mouth to stifle the laughter. 

“Um.. ok. Thank you, Andrew” Mrs. Gould was shortly taken aback by the forwardness of this young boy. 

“OK, well, there are some new faces here,” she gestured towards Andy, “And many others I’ve seen around school already. Most of you came from Mr. Scott’s class last year.” She stopped and shook her head. She knew him and his personality. “So that probably means we need to catch up on some things he forgot to go over.” 

Mrs. Gould was beautiful, with short light brown hair just below her chin, smooth with a tiny wisp of curl. She had pretty lipstick on and a black knee-length skirt. Her top was long-sleeved and a very light fabric that buttoned down. She also had a matching jacket draped over the back of her chair. You could tell from looking at her she meant business. The 2nd grade would be the complete opposite of the year prior, and we all knew it. 

The first day flew by, and many others followed behind it. We did a lot of school work and hardly ever had playtime. It appeared the days of nap time were over. We were now fully immersed in learning. It was incredibly exhausting. 

Andy was always entertaining to watch, though, so at least class wasn’t too stuffy. From across the room, I would watch Jimmy playing small jokes on him. Andy's reactions were priceless. It made me miss the days Jimmy and I were closer.

 

I remember Jimmy taping all his pencils in his backpack to the front of his desk just around the edge. I didn’t know what was going on but watching it was entertaining. Andy turned around to tell Jimmy something, and Jimmy responded by leaning back in his chair and folding his arms over his chest. Then Andy grabbed his pencil case and started pushing the pencils onto the floor. Jimmy just sat there smiling, never attempting to stop Andy. It began to make me think that maybe someday I'd be able to help him out, and we could be good friends again. It was always possible.

End Notes:
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
Chapter 8 by dmscranton

One morning we were all sitting at our desks reading our assigned books while Mrs. Gould was at her desk grading papers, and the classroom door slowly opened. I heard someone clear their throat, and I looked up to see Mr. Scott’s head peering through the crack of the doorway.

“Um, Jan…hey.” He whispered it, but we all heard him and looked up to see what was happening.

“Michael, what are you doing? Why aren’t you in class?” She stood up and walked towards the door. “Children, keep reading your books. I’ll be right back.”

 The door shut, and we all looked at each other questioningly. I caught Jimmy’s eye, and he raised the right corner of his mouth and shrugged at me. I shook my head, lifting my shoulders in response. 

A few minutes later, Mrs. Gould reappeared through the door. I looked over my book as she shut the door a little too hard behind her. She walked briskly to her desk and deeply sighed while sliding back down to her seat. Her head shook as if saying ‘no’ over and over again. She then put her head down in her hands and stayed that way for at least a minute before lifting it and shaking it off. She picked up her red pen again and continued grading.

I looked over to the door when I saw movement. I could see Mr. Scott’s face in the small glass window. He was looking around the room at all of us. He saw me looking at him, and he lit up. The smile was so large it looked like his face was nothing but teeth. He waved violently through the glass. I lifted my hand and shyly smiled, giving him a little wave. I turned to my book, hoping he’d stop looking at me.

Jimmy’s eyes had been watching me during my encounter with Mr. Scott, and he was now trying to get my attention. I saw him waving at me behind Dwight’s back through the corner of my eye. I looked over to see him mouth the words “Watch.” I slid into my seat, facing him, waiting to see what he would do. He pulled this tiny cup of yellow stuff from his backpack and quietly placed it in Dwight’s lunch bag. I couldn’t tell what it was, though. Jimmy sat back in his chair and looked at me “lunchtime.” I silently mouthed the word ‘Ok’ back at him and felt my stomach twirl. This prank wasn’t a big deal, but I bet it was.

****

Lunchtime came around at 12, and we all filed into the cafeteria. The room was filled with long tables that had attached blue seats. I sat with Kelly and Karen but ensured I got a good view of Jimmy to see where the little cup fell into place. I saw him at the other end of the table, and Dwight was a few seats down from there.

Jimmy looked for me, and I gave him a little nod when he saw me. He wanted to make sure I was watching.

I hardly touched my food while waiting for Dwight to reach into his lunch bag. I gasped as he pulled out the little dish filled with the yellow stuff, now I could tell it was Jell-O, but something was floating in it. Dwight slammed it down on the table and looked to his right and left.

 “Jimmy!”

 I started giggling while I watched the drama unfold.

 “Yea Dwight,” Jim pulled out his cup of Jell-O and peeled off the top. I had to cover my mouth so I wouldn’t laugh out loud.

 Dwight got up from his seat, gripping the cup in his hand.

“Did you do this?”

“Do what, Dwight? Make your lunch?”

“No, you know what! My pencil sharpener is in this cup of Jell-O.”

“Oh wow, how did you do that?” He covered his mouth with his right hand as he leaned on the table, holding his smile back. He looked over at me and lifted his eyebrows.

 “I am going to tell on you right now! Mr. Scott! Mr. Scott! Jimmy Halpert put my pencil sharpener in this cup of Jell-O” He ran from behind Jimmy and ran to Mr. Scott, who had been eyeing the chocolate milk. He turned around when he heard the commotion but didn’t know what was happening.

“What are you yelling about, young man?”

“My name is Dwight K. Schrute, not young man, and I am telling on James Halpert.”

 “I know that, Dwight. Jimmy? What did he do?” He looked up from Dwight and over at Jimmy, wondering what in the world that perfect little boy could have done.

 “He put my pencil sharpener in Jell-O” Holding up the little cup to Mr. Scott’s face, he grabbed it from Dwight’s hand and eyed it carefully.

“Hey, look at that. It’s floating mid-air. How cool.”

“False! It is not cool. It is rather irritating. Put him in detention right now!”

At that word, I looked at Jimmy. My mouth dropped. I hoped he wasn’t going to get in trouble. However, it appeared Jimmy wasn’t worried about that at all. He was giggling and could barely control it.

 Mr. Scott walked Dwight back over to Jimmy and stood there for a second. Jimmy put his hand over his mouth, controlling the laughter and trying to appear very calm.

 “Well, arrest him or something, won’t you?”

 “What!? Arrest him? Sit down, Dwight. It’s just Jell-O. Here,” he handed him a plastic spoon, “just eat it out.”

During this scene, Ryan sat next to Jimmy and piped in, “Oh, you know what? You could put him in custardy!”

 “Ohhhh, that’s good!” Mr. Scott started laughing, then stopped when he saw Dwight wasn’t amused. “Oh, stop being so serious.” He slapped Dwight on the back and went back over to the Milk.

“I know it was you, Jimmy, and I’m watching you.”

 The table filled with ‘Ohhhh’s and Ooooh’s.’ Jimmy looked down at me and gave a little bow. I gave him a silent clap of congratulations and turned back down to my lunch. I loved how he could always make me smile, even when it was about Dwight. That was a great prank. The boy was a genius.

Chapter 9 by dmscranton

Well, it appeared everything was back to normal between Jimmy and me. We never brought up last year’s Valentine’s day cards or discussed our feelings ever again. I stopped looking at him like a boy I had a crush on and started seeing him as my best friend, and it appeared he was doing the same thing with me.

Roy, on the other hand, was becoming crueler and crueler. He always picked on me and called me all sorts of names. Jimmy usually quips in with some reply to Roy, throwing him off his game. We’d laugh over it, but I’d still cry sometimes at home, remembering the hurtful words.

My mom had told me that sometimes a boy would pick on the girls he likes the most, but I didn’t believe her in this case. She, of course, was right, but what did I know?

We finished the school year learning a lot more than we had in Mr. Scott’s class, and I was excited for the break when the last day of school came.

I had all sorts of plans for the summer. I would stay with my grandmother for a week and play games with her and her friends. Then I would go back to art camp for another week and then come back and spend some well-deserved time in front of the television.

 During one of those many days in front of the tv, the telephone rang. I wasn’t allowed to answer it unless I knew it was my mom. She would call, let it ring twice, then hang up and call right back. This time it just kept ringing until it went to the answering machine, so I stood by the phone and listened.

“Uh, hi, this is Jimmy. I was just wondering if Pammy..” I grabbed the phone off the hook quickly.

“Jimmy?”

“Oh, hi! I thought you weren’t home.”

“Oh no, I’m just not allowed to answer the phone unless my mom’s home.”

“Are you going to get in trouble if you talk to me?” 

“No, she just doesn’t want me talking to strangers.”

“Oh ok, I just wanted to know if you wanted to come over and play tomorrow afternoon. My mom said we could have grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch and do whatever we wanted. Maybe you could bring your new markers over, and we could draw some pictures of Dwight.” 

I laughed at the idea. “Ok, I’ll call my mom and ask her if it’s ok. I’ll call you back in a couple of minutes, ok?” 

“Ok, bye, Pammy.” 

“Bye, Jimmy.” I hung up the phone and smiled at it. I waited a few seconds before picking it back up and dialing my mom at work.

I called my mom and explained that Jimmy had called and invited me over to color and draw tomorrow afternoon and that his mom would make us lunch. I asked her if it was ok if I went over. She, of course, said yes, and I quickly hung up the phone almost without saying goodbye.

“Hello”

“Hey! My mom said yes!”

“Oh good! That’s cool. My mom said she’ll pick you up at your house at around 11. Is that a good time?”

“Yea, that’s perfect!” I was so thrilled my feet bounced on my legs as I sat at the edge of the couch.

“Ok, well then, I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“Ok, bye.”

“Bye”

*****

My mom helped me pick out something I could wear the night before. It had to be something that could eventually get dirty but was still cute. I had it all laid out and ready to go when I woke up.

I got ready and pulled my hair back into a ponytail tying a little white ribbon around the rubber band. I slipped on my favorite white tennis shoes and sat on the couch with cartoons. I wasn’t watching them but watching the clock above the television. I sat there for about an hour when I heard the doorbell. It scared me at first. Then my stomach leaped into my throat.

I ran to the door and looked out the side window to make sure it was him. He was standing with his hands in his pockets and swaying back and forth. I unlocked the door and swung it open.

“Hi”

“Hi, are you ready?”

“Yep!” I reached down to the backpack I had filled with every art accessory I owned and flung it over my shoulder. I locked the door behind me, making sure I heard it click. We skipped down the driveway to his mom’s van.

 “Hi, Pammy. How are you today?” His mom was always so lovely to me, which always calmed my nerves down.

“I’m good, thank you.”

“I’m so glad you could come over, Jimmy’s been practically begging me for months asking if you could come over. We just haven’t had any free time.” I turned and looked at his face. He was blushing; it was cute.

“Mom.”

“Oh yes, dear, I’m sorry. So what are you two going to be doing this afternoon?” She looked back at us through her rearview mirror.

“I told you, mom, we were going to draw some pictures. Don’t forget you said you would make us grilled cheese sandwiches.”

“I know hon, you could help me make them too, just as I showed you.”

We pulled into his driveway, and his mom carefully pulled into the garage. I followed his lead as we walked into his house. When I first walked into his kitchen I was surprised at all the neat knickknacks on the walls and shelves.

I was soaking in every ounce of atmosphere and eyeing a wooden chicken on the kitchen counter when I felt his hand slide into mine. His fingers wrapped around me, gripping tightly while pulling me out of the room. We ran to his bedroom, together literally hand in hand, and I couldn’t wipe the grin off my face. When we got to his room I noticed a sign hung on the outside of his door, it was his initials that he had drawn, signifying this was his domain. This made me feel nervous for the first time all day.

He pushed open the door, and we walked in, he let go of my hand, and I slowly took it back, linking it with my other hand. I remember looking around the small room trying to savor every second of it. This was a moment I’d remember forever.

It was small and not messy as I’d imagined it. He had a small twin bed that wasn’t entirely made but wasn’t wholly unkempt. To the left of the bed was a small table and two chairs. He had blank drawing papers on it and a couple of toy trucks. There was a desk lamp in the corner of the table that he had turned on when we walked in. Across from the bed was a dresser, and I could see a t-shirt sticking out of one of the drawers. He had a couple of books sitting on it between some bookends, and I could see a small hairbrush that was probably never used. A basketball was on the floor next to the dresser, and a trashcan with one of those paper basketball rims above it.

“You can put your stuff down right there if you want.” He pointed over to the table with the papers.

“Ok”

“My mom said she would make those sandwiches now. Are you hungry?”

“A little bit. I think I could eat something.”

“Ok, do you want to sit at the counter and watch me help her?” His eyes were wide as he asked.

“Sure, I’d love to.”

“Ok, come on.”

We left his room and headed to the kitchen. His mom was already behind the counter, pulling out the ingredients for the sandwiches.

“Ok, mom, what do you want me to do?”

I crawled onto a big bar stool behind the kitchen counter while Jimmy and his mom were pulling slices of bread out of the bag, this was nice.

Soon we were seated around the dining room table eating our famous Halpert grilled cheese sandwiches. I had had his mom cut mine diagonally while he cut his straight down the middle. I liked biting the corners off first.

“Mmmm, these are good.”

“Thanks, they’re my favorite. I just can’t take grilled cheese to school. That's why I have my ham and cheese.”

“But I bet you could, you know Mr. Scott has that weird flat grill thing he keeps under his desk. You could probably ask him to use it.”

“No, I think I’ve seen him use it as a footrest. I bet he puts his smelly feet all over that thing.”

I laughed, imagining his bare feet resting on the metal heating panels.

“Yea, that does sound gross.”

We finished up our sandwiches and headed back to his room. We played for hours and hours. I think I drew 30 pictures of Dwight that afternoon, each one different. And he probably drew 100 other images of Dwight, each taking approximately 11 seconds. I was a little more involved with my drawings, trying to capture the essence of Dwight K. Schrute. It was just fun adding a little more detail to the background of each picture.

He kept a couple of the drawings and said he would hang them on his wall. Now my art would be in Kelly's house and Jimmy's house. How exciting.

My face was sore from laughing and smiling so much once they had dropped me off at home. My mom had just changed out of her work clothes when I came through the door.

“Did you have a nice time?”

“Yea, he makes the best-grilled cheese.”

She grabbed my backpack out of my hand, and I saw her smiling as she put it down by the kitchen table.

“Maybe he can come over next weekend before you go off to grandma’s.”

“Really?!”

“Sure”

I had to start getting my room ready now, it wasn’t as clean as his was and I didn’t want him to see that I lived in a pig sty, as my mom lovingly put it. Everything had to be perfect.

Chapter 10 by dmscranton

Well, a couple of school years passed, and I was sadly not in the same class as Kelly, Jimmy, or anyone from my first couple of years, and we all grew apart. I saw them, of course, on the playground, but I turned inwards. I stopped playing outside and stopped talking on the phone. I think my mom was worried about me, but she never pressured me to talk about my feelings, which may or may not have been a good thing.

I pushed myself through classes and lessons and went to the teacher several times asking for extra credit projects.

In 4th grade, I made an actual moving replica of the solar system. Every planet was equally proportioned, and the mobile moved with 2 AA batteries. Thinking about it now, it would appear I’d turned into Dwight-ette.

I think I just missed them. Kelly would tell me about all the gossip. How Ryan’s dog ate that gift she had given him, or how that one celebrity was marrying that other who had a baby with someone else; also, Jimmy, with him tricking Dwight into calling the police station telling them about the Goat Caper. Or him laughing at my silly jokes and me busting a gut every time he made a face at me from across the room. I was just lonely, so I turned to other things.

My mom thought I needed more hobbies, so she started pushing me into other extracurricular activities. I started with the violin, then moved to the clarinet, then moved on to softball, then volleyball, airplane models, and sewing, but I hated them all. All I wanted to do was school work and sit alone in my room watching whatever was on my tv.

I didn’t see myself as depressed or sad I was just struggling to make it to the next day. Eventually, I knew we’d all be back together again, and it would be ok. Well, I was partially correct.

****

Stepping through that classroom door, there they were, Kelly talking to Ryan, Roy high-fiving one of the other boys, and Jimmy talking to Karen. Wait, I stopped at the door and looked again. There he was, leaning onto her desk. He was sitting in front of her and turned on his seat. He was making her laugh. That’s how I used to laugh. Maybe…no, they can’t be, can they?

“Oh my god! Pammy!” Kelly came running up, throwing her arms around me.

“Uh, you can just call me Pam. I feel too old for Pammy, ya know?”

“Oh, that’s cool. We’re supposed to call Jimmy Jim now, so I think I can remember Pam too.”

Hmmm, I guess I had some catching up to do. I found my seat near the back diagonal from Kelly and nowhere near Karen and Jim, which would probably be nice. I could see the back of his head from my seat; maybe that would be enough.

“Class, please, please sit down. I am Mrs. Vance. Some of you might remember me. I used to work in the library, but I married over the summer, and I will now teach your 5th-grade class. Oh, this is so exciting.” Oh, dear Ms. Lapin, how the time did fly. I had wondered where she was last year while visiting the library. This explains it all. She was a round woman with a happy face. She wore little black glasses and sweaters she knit herself. She was a lovely woman; I’m sure this would be a great year.

She started taking roll right away, “Roy Anderson?”

I looked across from me and saw him raise his hand. “Here,” he looked good. He had grown a little bit filled out, was still looking a little stocky but wasn’t chubby anymore. I wondered if he still wanted to be my valentine since it looked like Karen took my first choice. My thoughts were broken when she called out my name.

“Pamela Bee… oh Pammy!”

“Oh, um… you can call me Pam now.” I still raised my hand, signifying my presence even though I probably didn’t need to.

She smiled at me and nodded, making a note on her tablet.

My eyes shifted as I felt a familiar pair of eyes looking back at me. Jim smiled with that half smile, but I never saw it reach his eyes. I smiled back and wavered when Karen turned around and eyed me cautiously. I wasn’t sure what that was all about.

Mrs. Vance finished taking roll, and I noticed someone was missing, Dwight. I guess he wasn’t going to be in our class this year. Well, maybe I would still get to see some pranks at lunchtime and during recess.

We started class right away and pulled out our math books. I had already started most of the first few chapters in this book last year, so I was way ahead of class. I found myself fading and daydreaming at the back of Jim’s head. I didn’t realize till I saw him again how much I’d missed him. I knew I missed him, but I hadn’t felt it hurt so much, and now it looked like I wasn’t even going to get to talk to him.

During one of Mrs. Vance’s lectures, I saw Karen pull out a stick of gum and tap Jim on the shoulder. He turned his head, but not towards me, the other way, and I only got to see his profile. He took it and smiled a thank you back at her. He looked happy, and I felt so alone again.

“Hey,” I heard a whisper to my right. It was Roy.

“What’s up?”

“Um...I just wanted to say it’s nice having you back, um, you know, in class with me...I mean, with us, you know the class...” He was struggling and failing miserably. I smiled at his sad attempt to make me feel welcome.

 “Thanks, I’m glad to be back.” I was lying, but he couldn’t tell.

Chapter 11 by dmscranton

Mrs. Vance had come up with this brilliant idea during our winter break that we would be in a play. Oh, and not just any play, the worst play to watch if you’re not the lead female, which I wasn’t.

“Ok, so does everyone know where to stand? Ok, so we need Romeo over here…Jim, come here, please.” He wasn’t paying attention. He was talking to Karen, his arms crossed at his chest and with a wide grin. When Mrs. Vance called out his name, his eyebrows lifted, and he looked toward her without moving his body.

“Come on, stand over here.”

“Oh, ok,” he smirked at Karen and then walked toward the teacher.

“And Juliet...Karen, come here, dear.” Yes, she was Juliet. Her hair made more sense. It was easier to control and put up in one of those loopy-braided things. Wondering who I was. I was her mom. Yes, I was Lady Capulet.

“Ok, Lord and Lady Capulet, come over here. You’re going to be in the background of the party.”

Roy and I headed to where she was standing. I crossed my arms in front of me, wanting to crawl into a hole under the stage.

“This is so lame,” Roy huffed.

“Oh, yea. I mean, do we look like we could be her parents?” I motioned my head towards Jim and Karen.

“Yea, right? Um, hey, what are you doing after school tomorrow?”

“What? Oh, I don’t know. I was probably going home and work on that history project.”

“The one due next Friday?”

“Yea, I just want to get enough time into it.”

“Wow, Pammy, I didn’t think you’d be that dedicated.” I didn’t bother correcting him.

“Well, yeah, I guess I am.”

“Oh, I just wanted to know if maybe you’d want to..uh get a soda… or something maybe at lunch uh… I can get you a Coke.”

“Oh, ok, um…sure.” This newfound friendship Roy was trying to create was still really weird for me, he stopped pulling my pigtails and pinching my arm, but sometimes I wished he would just go back to that.

The stage was full of us all. This was when Lord and Lady Capulet threw that large bash, and Romeo and his friends crashed the place. When Romeo and Juliet first saw each other, it was horrifying. I tried to stand looking at the back of the stage the whole time so I didn’t have to see them smiling. At least it looked like Roy was in as much pain as I was.

***

Karen did a great job as Juliet, acting like she was in love with Romeo. It was too good of a job.

At this point, I knew they were boyfriend and girlfriend, they held hands when we walked out to the playground, and they sat with each other at lunch but did they need to rub it in?

Jim hardly ever spoke to me, sometimes, I would catch him glancing at me, but he never held eye contact when I noticed.

And now, I get to see it on stage with music and everything, dreadful. 

We came to the end of the play, and she lowered her head down to his mouth, kissing him, hoping for hints of poison. I should’ve had some in my pocket to throw at her. She wasn’t supposed to honestly kiss him. She was supposed to kiss his cheek, but I guess she was taking certain liberties with her role.

 “Oh, come on,” I was surprised to hear Roy whisper, but I held back the laugh that was trying to escape my throat. That was precisely what I was thinking.

She lifted the sword lying next to Romeo’s body and plunged it into her armpit, collapsing onto his body.

“Good, she’s dead. Can we leave now?” Roy was standing beside me on the side of the stage, fidgeting with his fingers.

“I know, huh.” I was just relieved to have someone, anyone, share in my sentiment.

“Bravo, Oh Bravo! That was wonderful, oh yes, so wonderful!” Mrs. Vance stood in the first row, clapping loudly towards the stage, “Please, I hope you’re this great tomorrow night for your parents! Oh, Karen, you were wonderful, just wonderful.”

Karen got up and gave a wide grin, and I saw Jim look up at her and smile with the left corner of his mouth. That used to be my favorite smile. Now it was directed at her, and I hated it.

“Ok, kids, let’s all head to the cafeteria for lunch. That was just wonderful.” Mrs. Vance pointed towards the stage door, and we all filed out.

“So, do you still want to buy me a coke?” I cocked my head at Roy as we walked towards the exit.

“Oh..yea, sure!” He smiled brightly, and I could see his eyes light up.

“Ok, let’s go.” I walked close next to him. Every once in a while, I would bump my shoulder into his arm. He didn’t seem to mind. We walked to the cafeteria silently and sat with each other during the meal.

Maybe Jim being with Karen was going to be alright. I always had Roy.

Chapter 12 by dmscranton

Ok, so the year didn’t end so miserably. I did end up with a sweet boyfriend. Roy tried so hard; I could tell he cared. Plus, it seemed like that irritated Jim, so it was a win-win.

It was summer vacation, and I headed back to art camp. However, Roy didn’t understand what was so great about drawing and painting. He always made me feel dumb over it, but I was already registered, so that I couldn’t cancel it. I don’t know; maybe he was right, I was only 11, and I had so much time if I wanted to do something else.

I was so young and so insecure that I clung to him. He wasn’t like Jim at all, he never made me laugh, and he never made me blush, but he was solid, stood by me, and it felt nice for someone to want to be with me and my flaws. So I seemed to settle, to accept that this was right.

Roy lived just a few blocks away, so he would come over a lot. Or I would go over there, so we spent a lot of time together. I went with him to his little league football games. I also watched whatever he and his brother Kenny were watching on TV when I was over. Plus, he took me to the movies; granted, they were ‘boy’ films, but we were spending time together. I didn’t notice that none of these things I had wanted to do, but I was trying to enjoy them.

When the summer was over, and we all headed back to school, I had no idea what to expect, whether Jim and I would be friends again or if that was lost entirely.

****

The lunch bell rang, and we all headed back to class. The morning had been fine for the first day, but it was missing something. Dwight was back in our class, and I was just waiting for Jim to do some pranks, but it didn’t look like he was going to. Maybe he’d grown up and out of that. I had had an excellent idea for Jim and tried telling him about it, it involved the CIA and secret missions, but he sort of blew me off. He said he didn’t feel like doing that kind of stuff anymore, so I just walked away from him, wondering where my friend had gone.

Roy never understood the pranks. He was more forward with his feelings. He would pick on Dwight, call him names and throw things at him; he didn’t get the intricacies of pulling off a successful prank.

Jim had seen Roy and me holding hands, walking back to class, and from where I was, it looked like he was hurt. I didn’t understand why he would feel that way, especially since he had Karen, but there was hurt across his face. I saw Karen reach for his hand, but he pulled it away and stuffed it in his pockets. If he and I were still friends, I would’ve been able to read him or at least asked him what was wrong.

We walked back into the classroom door, and Jim had his head down. Karen was trying to ask him something, but he shook her off, she stormed back to her desk, and they didn’t talk for the rest of the day.

I watched Jim’s neck (I was sitting behind him again) and tried to study it, figuring out what was bothering him.

During our study breaks, I went to his desk and reached out emotionally, craving those feelings we used to share.

“Hey”

He looked up at me; those big puppy dog eyes made my palms sweat. He didn’t respond. He just looked up.

“Um, what’s wrong? I just noticed you looked kind of down. Is everything…..ok?” I nodded in Karen’s direction, signifying my question about her.

He scrunched his face up. “Naw, nothing’s wrong; I’m good.” He licked his lips and looked back down at his paper.

I was staring at his mouth “oh ok, I just thought… you know, Um, I’d ask since we’re friends…..Right?” I was asking since I didn’t know.

“Right, no, right… friends, we’ll always be friends.” He said it like it was a bad thing. I didn’t understand why or how that could’ve been a bad thing. 

“Good, ok then. I guess I should get back to my desk.” I turned on my heels and headed back to my seat. When I sat down, I watched him. He had his head turned down and his pencil in his hand, but he wasn’t writing. He looked like he was staring; I wished I could’ve read his mind.

****

Valentine’s day for sixth graders was generally the same as the earlier grades, but I had a boyfriend this time. Roy and I weren’t officially boyfriend and girlfriend last year, so I missed out on the excitement. This year was going to be different. I just knew it. 

I got to class before he did, and I watched as some other girls with boyfriends got bouquets of flowers or little boxes of chocolates. Some even got stuffed bears. 

Roy was one of the last kids to filter in the door after the bell rang, and my heart sank. He didn’t have anything in his hands. He looked up from the door and smiled at me. I didn’t have enough power in my body to come up with a reply smile, so I just nodded at him.

I looked down my aisle and saw Karen holding a single flower, it was a lily, and it was gorgeous. At that moment, I hated Roy. He owed me big time.

Well, it was time for us to pass out our cards, so the classroom broke into chatter. Kelly came running over to my desk, and I braced myself.

“OH MY GOD! Ahhh, Pam, you must see what Ryan got me for Valentine’s Day.” She sang the last two words, and I cringed out a smile for her. “OH, I totally forgot. What did Roy give you? Come on, show me.”

“Oh, um, he hasn’t given me his gift yet. I think he was going to wait till after school.”

“Wow, that’s not romantic at all.” No, I guess it wasn’t, but that was the only answer I could give. I didn’t want to tell her the truth and ruin her happy moment. I looked away from Kelly and saw Jim heading toward my desk. He had a white envelope in his hand. 

“Happy Valentine’s Day.” He smiled, but it felt forced. 

“Oh, thanks you too. I have your card here somewhere.” Kelly walked away from us while I dug through the cards I had yet to give. He shoved his hands into his pockets while I tried to find the card. I pulled out a similar white envelope and handed it to him. He took it, looking like he expected it to have something on it. This year it was just white, nothing added, nothing special, and the card inside just wished him a happy day.

“Thanks” He tapped it on my desk and turned away. As he returned to his desk, I slid my finger under the lip of the envelope he had just handed me and pulled out the little card.

On the front of the card was a cupid pointing an arrow at a heart. I flipped it over in my hands and read the scrawled handwriting.

To Pam, I hope you have a Happy Valentines Day Love, Jim.

LOVE? Do you think he meant love, as in I love you love, or just signing off a letter ‘love’? My mouth felt parched, and I looked up, hoping to see his face, but all I saw was his neck. What did this mean?

I sat looking at it for the rest of the day, never letting it out of my sight. That afternoon when Roy walked me home from the bus stop, I still had it tucked away in my pocket.

Chapter 13 by dmscranton

Just before our spring break that year, Jim and I were reconnecting. I never brought up the Valentine’s Day card; he didn’t, either. I suppose we both understood that there were things that would eventually surface. We just had to wait for the right time.

Roy and I were still ‘dating,’ I guess if in sixth grade, talking on the phone and watching cartoons together was dating, but that’s the only word I can correlate with our relationship. This also meant that Karen and Jim were ‘dating,’ but I bet they weren’t staying home watching silly cartoons.

I always imagined my time with Jim to be the two of us outside having a picnic laughing over a funny prank we’d pulled on Dwight earlier in the day or giggling over the phone during one of our set daily calls. I wished I had known what Karen and Jim did so I could lay in bed at night and replace her image with my own, but then again, I didn’t want to know what those two were doing. So I just made things up.

After Valentine’s Day, I made myself go out of the way to talk to him. I pushed myself out of my shell and my comfort zone and would make conversation. This must have been easier for him because, eventually, things started falling back into place. It was still awkward when Karen was around, so I tried to avoid them when they were together, but it had recently felt like he was creating enough time for us to talk. 

It never seemed like he was blowing her off, but it looked like he was coming up with many excuses to be alone lately. I felt terrible for Karen. Honestly, I had tried not to let their relationship get in between what could be a great friendship, but it was so hard. I was so jealous of her, and she didn't deserve it.

One day, one of the girls in the class was organizing a party for us. I think it was a holiday party for Easter or Christmas, or it could’ve been Thanksgiving. Karen and I had been involved on the ‘party committee,’ but this was the first committee Karen was sitting in on. I’d been through a couple of others with this girl, and I knew just to sit and keep my mouth shut. Karen had interjected with some great ideas, but they were shot down. So, later that afternoon, I went over to Karen and asked her if she wanted to create our committee and make our party, and she agreed. I hated seeing her feel so alone with no other girls talking to her, so I tried to make her feel comfortable.

It was so funny, we made colorful signs, and I added some of my artistic touches. We posted them right by the other dull posters, which became this popularity contest between the two parties. The exciting thing was that Jim didn’t talk to either of us that day. I saw him from across the room with his arms crossed in front of him with a puzzled look. He didn’t understand that if I had to accept them being together as a couple, I’d have to get used to her staying around. The easiest way to cope with this was for me to befriend her. If he saw something in her, she must be a great girl.

She and I were never really close during all this, but it did help break the tension. Plus, I think this enabled me to talk to Jim more without her feeling insecure. I wasn’t sure at the time if he’d talked to her about me and our feelings from earlier, since we were just little kids. Maybe he didn’t think it ever existed, and perhaps I was reading too much into it too. What does a five-year-old understand about love or emotions, right?

But on that last day of school before break Kelly came running over to me, telling me something she’d overheard. I guess Karen and Jim had been arguing over something in the hallway, they thought no one was listening, but Kelly was nearby. With Kelly’s love of gossip and sensitive hearing, she, of course, couldn’t resist.

She told me that she heard Karen ask Jim if he still had feelings for ‘her.’ Kelly didn’t hear who they were talking about, but she thought it was so juicy she had to tell me. Jim replied to Karen with a solid “Yes.” Not a maybe, a sure, or a yeah but a definite yes. My stomach instantly filled with hesitation, the butterflies I’d suppressed for so long grew into flight again, and I thought I would be sick. I knew I shouldn’t read too far into this, but I had to know who it was.

During the entire week off from school, I occupied my time trying to think of ways to talk to him. I wanted to ask him what was going on to see if maybe he and Karen would be breaking up and if we had a shot. I was still with Roy and what was interesting was not for one minute during all of this time did I think of breaking up with him. He had become my safety net, my comfort blanket that I wasn’t ready to get rid of yet, just in case.

However, they walked hand in hand on that first day of school back from break. I guess they worked it out, and once again, I felt alone. It was a good thing I kept my 'blanket' nearby.

Chapter 14 by dmscranton

Well, I’m going to skip through Junior High. I’ll quickly summarize, but life started to turn around in High School, so I’ll try and be quick.

Everyone was going through puberty. I had terrible hair, bad skin, and ugly clothes and was trying to find my voice. So was everyone else, but it always seemed that the way I was doing it was wrong. The intelligent kids became geeks, the artistic kids became weirdos, the kids who played sports became jocks, and the pretty girls became popular.

It was a horrific uncomfortable time in everyone’s lives, but I still had Roy. We, of course, broke it off, then would get back together, fight, get back together, argue, get back together. I would need space. Then we’d get back together. It was a constant cycle that we fed off.

However, the only bright light shining through the horror of adolescence was that Jim and Karen broke up. He seemed crushed, but she and her family were moving out of state, and I guess they both knew that trying to have a long-distance relationship at this age was ridiculous. Or at least that’s what I told myself.

So it begins, the last four years of my known life and a new journey awaiting around the bend. 

****

“Hey, Beesly” Jim had started calling me that in 8th grade, right after Karen left. It always caused a light flutter in my chest.

“Hi, Halpert! Are you in this class?”

“Yep, fun ol’ Biology. Maybe our teacher will make learning about amoebas fun.”

 “One can only hope.” He stepped back, letting me pass through the door first. “Wow, such a gentleman Halpert. Where did you learn that from?”

“Oh, just something I picked up.” 

He had grown so much over the summer he was towering over me now. I had to lift my chin to make eye contact with him, making casual glances more difficult.

We walked into the room and saw a couple of recognizable faces. Dwight was in the front row lining his pencils and pens alongside him.

“Oh, this is going to be fun,” I smiled at Jim and winked. He smirked at me and nodded.

“Yo Dwight!”

“Jim, so I guess we are going to be working together, again.”

I put my fingers over my mouth, covering the giggle that was trying to bust through.

“Yes, we shall,” Jim ran his fingers across the front of the table Dwight was at and turned beside him, leaning down next to his ear. “I heard this teacher loves talking about beets. Just in case you needed some extra credit.”

“Well, you should know I won’t need the extra credit but thank you for the information. It will be nice having someone intelligent to discuss that with.”

“You bet, Dwight.” He slapped his hand on Dwight’s back a little too hard, and Dwight coughed, and I almost lost it.

Jim looked back at me and smiled. I grinned and gave him a thumbs up. I started walking around, and Jim sat at a table, motioning for me to join him.

The room was set up with three rows of tables. Each table had two seats, and each row contained four tables. So it appeared I was going to be lucky enough to share this hour with him. Jim had chosen the table diagonal to Dwight.

I was relieved that Roy wouldn’t be in this class with us. He was taking regular Science later in the day. He didn’t excel at academics.

Ryan was seated near the back, without Kelly. She had called me over the summer, squealing into the telephone. Twenty minutes later, I could figure out that he wanted some space and that since they weren’t going to be in every class together in High School, this might be a good time to figure things out between them. I looked back at him and tried to smile, but he just stared forward. He looked miserable.

The tardy bell rang, and our teacher came through the door. He was a middle-aged man who was balding in the front. He was a little overweight and carried what appeared to be a crossword puzzle book in his hand. He silently walked to the whiteboard and wrote his name across the board, ‘Mr. Hudson’. He glumly turned back towards us, never really looking at us.

“Well, ok. This is Biology, and I’ll start with roll.” I turned slowly to Jim, and he did the same towards me. We both had our eyebrows lifted with tiny smiles on our faces. He lifted his left shoulder and tilted his head. A loud laugh escaped my lips, and I clasped my hand over my mouth, completely embarrassed.

“Ok, come on now. Well, it looks like everyone’s here,” He spoke as if he had no energy and wanted to be anywhere but here, and we were bothering his peace and quiet. “So pull your books from under your seats and turn to chapter one. Start there, and then I'll pass out your homework at the end of class.”

Dwight’s hand shot up quickly, startling Mr. Hudson. “Yes?”

“Question: Is it ok if we read further than chapter one? I am a fast reader and would be bored once I finished that if I didn’t have anything else to read.”

I felt Jim’s elbow jab my side. This was going to be a great class.

“Sure, read the whole thing for all I care. You just need to read chapter one for tonight’s homework.” Mr. Hudson slumped into his oversized desk chair and picked his crosswords back up. He sat like that for the entire class, only peering over the booklet if something made a noise but never lifting his head.

“Jim?” I whispered it while holding my book in front of my face hoping no one heard me. I slumped back into my seat, trying to get his attention.

“What? I’m trying to understand the complexities of osmosis and how I might be able to use it to mess with Dwight.”

I stifled a giggle, “I was just wondering if you were going to that dance on Friday, you know, that one for the freshman?”

“Oh, you mean you want to know if I’ll be showcasing the famous Halpert moves?”

“Yes, I need to know if I need to bring my camera.”

He slunk into his chair to even out our heights, “I’d say it’s a good bet. You going to be there?” I nodded back at him, “Roy?”

My smile faded as I understood the question's true meaning: "No, he hates that kind of stuff. I’ll be alone, well I mean not alone but stag. You’d be there so I wouldn’t be alone, right?”

“Of course, Beesly, I’ll keep you entertained.” He lifted the right side of his mouth and puffed out his chest. “Plus, I’ll see those Fancy Beesly dance moves all night.”

“Oh, you know it.”

For the rest of the day and week, I had this smile I couldn’t entirely wipe off. Everything seemed to be normal between Jim and me, and things were great.

****

“Ok, mom, I’m ready” I came bouncing down the stairs wearing my new blue dress. I had put a little bit of lipstick on, and I curled my hair into soft ringlets.

“Oh, honey, you look beautiful. Too bad Roy’s not going with you tonight to see it.”

“Oh, that’s alright. Jim will be there, so I’ll have someone to hang out with.”

“I’m so glad you two are friends again. You made such a cute couple.”

My cheeks turned pink as she swept me up in her arms, giving me a tight squeeze.

****

We pulled up in front of my school, which looked so different at night, almost ghostlike. 

“Do you have your dance ticket?”

“Oh, yea, it’s right here” I held up a small purple piece of paper.

“Ok, I’ll pick you up at 10:30 just after it’s over. Call me if you need anything or want to come home early.”

“Ok, bye, mom.” I turned on my heels and ran towards the entrance. 

I stopped almost as quickly as I'd begun when I saw Jim leaning against the gym wall. I lowered my head and clasped my hands in front of me as I walked up to him. He was wearing dress pants and a black sweater. His hair was still messy, but it looked like he might’ve run a comb through it at least once.

“Hey.”

He looked like I caught him off guard, then he looked up at me, and his mouth fell open. He looked down at my dress, then back up to my eyes.

“Hey, wow, look at you. I’ll have to call you Fancy New Beesly now.”

I ignored the tension in the air and rolled my eyes, “Oh, please. So are you waiting for someone special, or just holding up that wall?”

“Well, I was waiting for someone special,” he hesitated, and I caught my breath, “but you’ll do.” I smiled and smacked him on the arm.

“Come on, Halpert, let’s go inside.” I took his hand in mine and pulled him towards the door. I felt his fingers tighten around mine as we got closer to the door. I awkwardly pulled my hand back as I pulled my ticket out of my purse. My cheeks had turned a pleasant shade of pink, and I was glad it was dark outside.

“So you’re not going to abandon me here, are you?” I looked up at his face, hope shining through my eyes.

“No” His eyes were dark and severe, he held my gaze a little longer than usual, and I had to look away. 

We entered the large gym filled with uncomfortable young teenagers. Some danced together in the middle of the floor while most were on the sides. 

“So, what shall we do with ourselves?” He turned to look at me, his head tilted slightly, and his hands shoved in his pockets.

“Well, there are so many choices. We could start over here and mingle, heading around clockwise and ending up in that corner. 

“Wow, sounds like you have this whole evening planned out already.” 

“I couldn’t resist” Our eyes met again, and a spark flew between us. I’m sure they would've seen the flame if someone had been staring at the space between our two bodies. 

“Oh! My! GOD!” 

I was surprised to feel an arm grab my shoulder and spin me around. Kelly was standing in front of me, wearing a beautiful floor-length white dress. 

“Oh, Kelly. Wow, you look great.” 

“Ahh! I love your dress. It’s so pretty. Doesn’t she look pretty, Jim?” He made what sounded like a choke behind me. “Wow, Pam, you just look so beautiful, and you’re wearing lipstick! AH, this is so great! Oh, and ohmygod Ryan is totally going to be my date tonight! AHHH, I KNOW!” She took my hands in hers and started jumping up and down 

“Wow, that’s great. Where is he?” Jim interrupted the jumping fest, and my feet silently thanked him. 

“Oh, he’s over there.” She turned her back and pointed toward a group of girls, and Ryan was standing in the center. 

“Hmmm, looks like he’s got a lot of girls around him. You should go check on him.” I knew instantly what Jim was doing, and I was grateful. 

“Oh yea, you better go over there.” I pushed her shoulders in the direction of Ryan. 

“What the…” She started marching across the gym floor. 

“Phew, that was close.” I turned back to Jim as he wiped his forehead with the back of his hand.

 “You’re horrible” I shook my head at him. 

“But you love it,” He looked at me, and his eyes looked like they sparked as he said ‘love.’

“You’re right. I love it” His eyes locked with mine, and it felt like he could read my mind. I took a deep breath and sighed when a slow song started flowing out of the loudspeakers. 

“So Beesly,” he held his right hand out, “will you do me the honor?”

I reached out and slid my hand over his, “Of course.”

He pulled me to his body, and my left hand rested against his chest. The fibers of his sweater felt so soft and warm to the touch. He turned his hand and slid his fingers between mine, locking down on my knuckles. I curled my fingers around his hand and leaned my head against his chest. I could hear his heart beating in my ears. It was loud and fast. 

I don’t remember what song it was playing in the background. I just remember him. We swayed back and forth in the darkness holding each other close. 

I felt him lean his cheek down on top of my head, and I swear I heard him breathe deep, taking the scent of my shampoo into his nostrils. We were standing near the back of the room, away from peering eyes. This is where we could be ourselves without being embarrassed or self-conscious. I still loved him, but I had difficulty admitting it to myself. Still, I was confused at this moment, but he wasn’t. 

The song ended, and more upbeat music replaced it. I didn’t want him to let go, but he pulled back, and my hand dropped from his chest. His face was so full of emotions. I knew what he was going to say. I knew what he was feeling because I was feeling it too. 

He stepped back a little bit, letting go of my hand. “I’m in love with you,” he said as if he’d been waiting for years.

“What?”

“I…just wanted you to know that ... once.” 

“What are you doing?” I was at a loss for words as my stomach squeezed deep inside of me, I couldn’t feel my tongue, and it wasn’t saying what I felt. 

He looked at me, his eyes filled with tears. I shook my head at him, internally begging him not to cry. 

“I…can’t. I’m sorry” He stepped back again, one lonely tear streaking down his cheek. 

“No, I’m sorry” He turned and walked away from me, my heart sank to my feet, and I knew I’d lost him.

Chapter 15 by dmscranton

I ran out the gym door into the night sky's darkness. I thought I saw someone standing in the shadows, but I kept walking away. I just needed to breathe. I needed a drink. I walked to the drinking fountain down the walkway far from the gym.

My fingers pressed hard on the metal button, and cool water came out of the faucet. I lowered my face down and took a long drink. Through the corner of my eye, I saw his feet appear beside me. I slowly let go of the fountain letting my hands fall to my side. I looked up into his eyes, and he walked toward me. He put his hands on my face and leaned into my body. I felt his lips press hard against my mouth. My breath caught up in my chest as I realized what was happening.

He was kissing me!

His right arm wrapped around my waist, pulling me up towards his mouth, and his left against my cheek with his thumb rubbing my face gently. I put my left hand up on his chest for the second time that night, and my right hand gripped his neck, his hair running through my fingers.

It was passionate and loving, not heated and hormonal. He was sucking out every last ounce of strength I had holding me up. Then he pulled away. 

My lips were on fire but felt good. He leaned his forehead against mine and smiled. My thumb ran over his ear lobe as he said, “You don’t know how long I’ve wanted to do that.”

“Me too,” I was surprised at my honesty.

He leaned back to kiss me again, and I lifted my chin to accept. It was a long soft, gentle one. Both of my hands were running through his hair, now holding on for dear life. This time I pulled back.

“Jim, I don’t know what to say.” It was barely over a whisper.

“You don’t have to say anything.”

 “Roy,” Jim’s hands fell to his sides as I spoke, reminding us that someone else was involved.

“I know…Are you going to stay with him?” 

“No, no. I don’t love him” Jim’s eyes lifted off the floor, slowly rising to my face. I was biting my bottom lip, trying not to cry, when he looked at me. The tears were back in his eyes, but I think they weren’t because of fear or pain this time. “But, I can’t dump him then run off with you. I need time to think about everything. I haven’t been alone for a long time, and that’s so silly for someone our age. Don’t let go of me, don’t lose hope, stay there for me when I’m ready, please.” I started to cry, and he wrapped his arms around me, squeezing me tight. 

“I’m not going anywhere.”

****

I had broken up with Roy shortly after the dance night, and he didn’t take it well. I was thrilled Jim and Kelly were both there when I needed them. It was hard just to walk away from Roy. I had been living my life with him for so long that I didn't even know who I was. I wasn’t sure what I liked to do. I wasn’t sure what television shows I enjoyed. Everything was always Roy’s. 

Jim had given me my space, and he didn’t push me. We were still really close, but now there was something more profound, a better understanding of each other. We didn’t have to be awkward with each other anymore, and it finally felt like we could breathe. It had been a long, arduous road, and there were a few more miles to go, but eventually, we would make it. I just knew it. 

I enjoyed spending time at home and getting to draw. I had stopped drawing years earlier because Roy thought it was “Lame.” Plus, I was getting good at it. Next semester I was switching out my P.E. class for Art, and I was excited. 

“What are you working on?” I looked up from my sketchpad to see Jim looking over my shoulder. I instinctively closed the pages and covered them up.

“Oh, just something I’ve been working on for a while.”

“Can I see?” 

“Not yet, I’m not finished with it, and I don’t want to showcase it without it being done, even to you.” He came around the bench and sat down beside me. His left hand slid between us, and I lowered my right hand to cover his. It was the only contact we would make in public or otherwise. I still wasn’t ready, but there was something that Jim possessed, something internal that he had that just pulled me to him. 

We both looked forward, avoiding each other’s eyes. Sometimes it was too hard to look at his face. 

“I wish I could kiss you” He looked down at his feet that were outstretched in front of him. 

“Me too” I turned my face to the left, watching the other kids eating their lunch. Why was I torturing us? 

“Hey, Halpert.” Oh, that’s right, Roy. 

Our hands pulled apart fast, and Jim stood up. Roy was stomping toward us quickly. Jim’s eyes darted toward me for a second, and I looked up in shock. Did he know? Did someone see us? Who told him? 

“What’s this? I hear you have a thing for my Pammy?”

“Roy, I’m not your Pam,” I emphasized the M showing him I wasn’t his or Pammy anymore. I don’t think he heard me because he pulled his fist back, and I yelled, “ROY!”

Dwight sprayed Roy and everyone around him, including Jim and me, with pepper spray. The Principal was walking by just as Dwight pulled the trigger and came running over. It was the fastest I’d seen Mr. Flenderson ever move.

“Dwight! Roy! Jim!” Everyone was coughing, and tears were streaming from our faces. “Ok, the four of you, please come to my office.”

We all got up and followed him. Jim and I stayed back behind Dwight and Roy. I reached over and grabbed his hand, squeezing it in support. I let go just as we walked through the door, ensuring no one saw. 

“Ok, so what started all of this?” Mr. Flenderson was a quiet man with a sad face. He walked with drooped shoulders and always appeared to be miserable. He was also quiet, shy, and very friendly. Usually easy to talk to if there was something on your mind, but his office wasn’t where I had wanted to be at that moment.

I gulped down the breath I had been holding and almost spoke when Jim did first.

“It was a silly misunderstanding, Roy was going to give me a high five, and I guess Dwight thought he would hit me or something. I don’t know what Dwight was thinking, but we were all three just talking.” Everyone kept rubbing their eyes and blinking back the painful burn.

Roy’s face dropped in embarrassment as Jim acted as if nothing had happened. I think he finally realized that Jim was a good guy, and if I liked him, it would be ok.

“Dwight? Is that what you saw, perhaps?”

“False. I saw him standing in an attack position with his hand pulled back, ready to strike. I can not be wrong, and that was not misunderstood. 

“Roy?”

“Uh, yea. It was just, you know, a joke. Yea, Halpert’s right; this guy just lost it,” he pointed towards Dwight. His eyes were darting all over the room, unsure who or what to look at.

“Pam?”

I couldn’t reply with words, so I just nodded.

“Ok, you three can go, but Dwight, I need to talk to you.”

We silently stood up and headed out of his office. When we got into the hallway, Roy stopped us. 

“Hey man, thanks.”

“Naw, don’t worry about it.” 

Then Roy turned and walked away, and that was it. He let me go, and I was free to be with Jim. 

I turned to face Jim and smiled at his pathetic red face. “I love you.” I wiped the tears running down his cheeks, and he did the same to me, and we walked out the door holding hands.

Chapter 16 by dmscranton
Author's Notes:
Last chapter <3

“Grandma?” 

Pam stopped and caught the look of her granddaughter, looking up at her expectantly.

“Yes, dear?” She wiped away a stray strand of hair on the little girl’s forehead.

“So you loved grandpa when you were my age?” 

“Yes, I did. I didn’t know, however, that when my tummy felt full of butterflies, and I couldn’t speak, that meant I loved him, but I did.”

“Did you two then get married right after that?”

“Oh goodness no. We both went to college, and after graduating, we got married. Then we had your mommy, then your Uncle Phillip.”

“Did you get to wear a pretty dress when you got married?”

“Yes, yes, I did.”

“I bet you looked pretty. I saw pictures of mommy’s and daddy’s wedding, and she had a beautiful dress. She looked like a princess.”

“Yes, she did,” Pam leaned down to her granddaughter’s head and pressed a gentle kiss against her hair. “You look like you’re getting tired. Why don’t you head to bed?”

“Ok.”

Pam sat out of the wooden rocking chair and held her granddaughter in her arms. She was getting heavy, and soon Pam wasn’t going to be able to carry her. She laid the little girl on the bed and watched her as she slid under the covers. 

“I think I’m going to tell Mommy about your story when I go home tomorrow.”

“Ok, but you know what? She might already know.” Pam turned off the bedside lamp and walked over to the door laying her hand against the doorframe.

“Goodnight, Sarah.”

“Nite.”

Pam turned down the hallway and walked into the living room. She could see the top of her husband’s head over the top of his recliner. He was sitting beside a floor lamp with a book in his hands.

She knelt beside him and pressed a loving kiss on his cheek.

He smiled up at her, “how did story time go?”

“Well…I think it ended up being just fine. She wanted to know everything about you. She couldn’t understand what I ever saw in you to love you,” a slight smirk appeared across her lips.

“Oh really?” He grabbed her wrist and pulled her down onto his lap.

“Oh, of course. I just explained to her that you had a severe basketball injury when you were young, which caused damage to your head, so I felt sorry for you.”

“Oh, I thought that was love I felt when you kissed me.” He smiled at her with a tilt of his head.

“Oh, you were mistaken. That was pity.”

“Really? Maybe you’re the one with the brain damage now.”

“Well, that would explain a lot, wouldn’t it?” She tapped her index finger on his nose.

Jim ran his fingers through Pam’s now soft gray curls, pulling them away from her face. “I love you anyway.” He gently pressed a light kiss on her nose.

“You know what, maybe we can take Sarah to the park tomorrow. I’m in the mood to do some swinging.”

“And I’ll race you.” He winked at her. She laughed loudly, wrapping her arms around his neck and pulling his mouth to hers. When she moved back from him, she had a broad, giddy grin. 

“You’re too much!”

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