Author's note: Story is mine, characters are not. Enjoy!
Today was the day. Linus had been anticipating it the entire summer, had been preparing as best he could, and now it was here. It was his first day of high school, but also the last day with his blanket. He had vowed to be rid of it by the time he was in high school (a silly resolution, but a good one nevertheless) and the time had approached faster than he would have liked. Lucy had been proud of him for many reasons, but the main one was keeping her reputation up.
"I can't have a brother who still has a blanket in high school! That is social suicide!" Yet she was compassionate to an extent. She had gotten up extra early that morning and made him his favourite breakfast to help ease his anxiety. Linus had thanked her kindly but hadn't had the appetite to eat most of it. Frieda was coming over before school to help him say goodbye to his childhood security.
Despite what he had originally thought, and what others had too, Frieda and Linus had remained friends over the years. It wasn't hard, seeing as they had similar interests (theology was the main one) and were often in the same classes during their early years of school. Even after they had picked classes separately for their first semester, they had virtually every class together. It was nice to have her as a constant figure, especially considering how his anxiety often made him unbearable at some points. She hadn't given up on him though, not once. It was why Linus asked her rather than his sister or Charlie Brown to assist him that morning.
Linus sat on his front stoop with his glasses perched on the end of his nose while his nails dug into his tattered blanket. He was amazed it had lasted this long and although it was eating away at his insides, he was glad he was saying goodbye to it. This was what adults did. They cast aside their childhood fears and found grown up ways to handle the same anxieties. Linus didn't know how he would do it though.
He was afraid of failure, afraid of becoming a social outcast, afraid of what people would say when they saw him. Even though he hadn't entered the school yet, everyone knew who he was, mainly because of Lucy. Thanks to her, the Van Pelts already had a reputation for being intelligent, strong willed, popular youths. Linus didn't want to risk letting down the family name. Rerun wouldn't be attending for another few years anyway. It all hung on him and how he presented himself in school. The pressure was almost too much.
"Linus!" Frieda called, drawing Linus away from his fears. She was a pretty girl when they were kids, and this hadn't changed when puberty hit. In fact, if Linus wanted to dwell on it, she had grown into her looks. Her naturally curly hair no longer seemed to overwhelm her. Instead, it hung in perfect little ringlets, framing her oval face nicely. Her freckles, although she hated them, were nice too. He liked trying to figure out the pattern they made across her cheeks and nose.
That morning she was dressed in black slacks, a magenta top and faux leather jacket she had bought at the flea market with Linus. Her feet were protected from the autumn chill in flats with little pink polka dots all over them. He wished for one brief moment that instead of going to burn his blanket they were going to the flea market or maybe to the park to build rock walls like they used to. They were too old for that now though. Well, the rock walls anyway. Flea markets were forever.
Linus waved and headed over to her, his sneakered feet carrying him faster to her than he expected. He was wearing what he always did, red shirt and blue jeans, except he had added a black button up shirt with a scarf to keep the cold out.
Soon the freshmen stood in front of each other and exchanged a greeting and smiles. "So, today's the day?" She asked, making sure he still wanted to. Linus nodded.
"Today's the day." Frieda grinned and took his hand, beginning to lead him to the Van Pelts backyard fire pit. It didn't take long to stoke up the coals and add on more wood. Linus' chest tightened and for a moment he wanted to run. He wanted to stuff the blanket underneath his shirt and go as far away from the wood as possible. Yet he planted his feet and held firm.
When Frieda took the blanket from him, he wasn't sure what she was doing. He watched her rip off a small piece, not even two inches long, then hand him the piece. He stared at it for a moment, unsure of what to do.
"The first day is going to be hard. Keep it in your pocket for strength," Frieda suggested. Linus did as he was told. He was beginning to think she was some kind of mind reader or something. She knew him way too well.
Finally, once the flames were strong, together they tossed the blanket into the pit and watched it burn for a good five minutes. Linus' hands began shaking and as hard as he tried, he couldn't stop them. He knew what they wanted to do. They wanted to reach in and grab his beloved blanket, but he wouldn't let them.
Frieda reached over and clasped one of his hands, ceasing its trembling. He made a fist with the other and reminded himself to breathe, just breathe, it would be okay.
"Linus, if you want a ride you'd better grab your bag! I'm leaving with or without you," Lucy barked from the back door. Linus sighed and began walking to his house with Frieda still attached to his hand. His older sister met them at the back door with his backpack in her hands. She seemed surprised to see Frieda there, but that quickly passed.
"Hey Frieda. You want a ride?" She offered. Lucy usually wasn't this nice to kids younger than her, but Frieda was an exception. The girls hadn't gotten along as kids but once middle school came around, Lucy began to appreciate the friendship the curly haired girl had with Linus.
The younger girl smiled. "If it wouldn't be too much trouble. I think I've already missed my bus." Lucy nodded then the three headed to the elder adolescent's blue pick-up trunk. Although she had wanted something classier, it was the only thing she could afford. Linus liked it and couldn't wait till he could drive it, since their parents expected the two kids to share everything. Rerun was the lucky one. He got whatever he wanted.
The group hopped into the truck then headed towards their new environment (well it was new to Frieda and Linus). He hadn't even noticed Frieda hadn't let go of his hand. He gripped it tighter in the backseat, forcing himself to forget about the ashes that had now become his blanket.
'It will be okay. I can do this.' At least, he hoped he could.
Looking back on it, Linus really shouldn't have worried as much as he did about school. It became easier to handle once he got a grip of his new school. In his first year he managed to join the bible club, media club, and had made it on the soccer team. Frieda in turn had gone out for cheerleading and was now one of the most popular girls. She too was in the media club and choir, which Linus played the drums for (a talent he had picked up a few summers ago). The two remained close, even when the social hierarchy tried to sit them in their appropriate corners.
When the overwhelming anxiety to live up to expectations became frightful and Linus honestly didn't know what to do, Frieda somehow always found him and held his hand tightly. She calmed him down with one simple action. It was enough to draw Linus to a place of sanity where he could clear his head and focus once more. The boy felt he owed her a great deal, especially since he knew she could be doing so many more things with her time, like go to parties with the football players or spend a weekend at her cabin in Vermont. Yet she remained dutifully at his side and they managed to create their own fun. The pair would go to the flea market and, after sneaking home with their prizes, would dress up in the silliest outfits and have fashion shows. Or they would go to the park and read their theology texts to each other and debate over certain statements. He admired her mind the most really.
Frieda was such a special girl. Linus didn't know how he would handle the time when she found herself in a relationship with one of the athletes or anyone for that matter. He was extremely protective of her to a point where it was borderline obsessive. She didn't seem to mind though. It wasn't like she was really interested in a relationship anyway. She had confessed to Linus her plans one night when they were in his backyard roasting marshmallows.
"What I really want to do is go to London and get a master's degree in theology then travel around to other universities and give lectures. I've always been a good speaker and I think that idea of teaching students across the globe about where their beliefs originated from and making them question common knowledge would be a valuable way to live my life, don't you?" Linus had agreed wholeheartedly with her. He wished he had such a set plan in mind. Right now it was a tossup between college somewhere out of state or a road trip until he found a place to settle. At least he had time to think about it.
Nearing the end of his second semester of his freshman year, Linus, Charlie Brown, Frieda, Schroeder, Sally, and Lucy were perched on the aluminum bleachers at their high school after curfew. It was bingo night and all the mothers were out playing while the fathers were either working or at the bar, so the children had free reign until midnight when the mothers would begin heading home. Linus had been reluctant to go, but Frieda had practically begged him (puppy eyes were very convincing) and he couldn't refuse her. Besides, someone had to make sure she didn't get into any trouble.
The eleventh graders were fooling around, casually pushing each other to make them trip or stealing hats just to get a rise out of the other person. They were just being silly and as they interacted, Linus observed. He noticed how Sally kept glancing at Schroeder from the corner of her and the way Schroeder would shield her from Lucy when she tried to take the younger girl's flats that she had placed beside her. There was something going on there, he was nearly positive of that. They had grown close over the years, there was no denying it. Linus supposed he should feel something, but honestly he didn't care. He was glad Sally no longer followed him around and had set her sights on someone who would treat her right.
Then there was his sister and ol' Charlie Brown. He wasn't sure what to make of them yet. Knowing what he did about their confusing relationship that was a hybrid of friendship and attraction, Linus wasn't sure whether to approve or not. Nothing had been said aloud, but it was quite obvious Charlie Brown had his eye on Lucy. Why he hadn't made a move yet was unknown to Linus, but he suspected it was because Lucy still held Schroeder in a tiny part of her heart. He probably wanted to be sure Lucy was completely over the pianist before making a move.
'Smart man,' Linus thought to himself. He glanced over at Frieda who was laughing as she chased Lucy who had stolen her beret. She was always smiling, always enjoying herself, no matter what she did. He admired that about her. He caught himself staring and attempted to look away as her sleeve fell off her shoulder, revealing olive skin beneath it.
"You should go for it," Charlie Brown stated, coming up from behind the boy. Linus nearly jumped off the bleacher.
"W-What are you talking about?" He asked as he tried to calm his pounding heartbeat.
Charlie Brown just smirked in return. "You know what I mean. I don't have to spell it out for you." No, he didn't, and that was what worried Linus. He wasn't good in situations like these. He was used to consistency, and asking Frieda on a date would certainly change their relationship one way or another. Linus wasn't sure if he was ready to take the risk.
The older boy left him to his thoughts and instead chased after Lucy, picking her up by the waist and carrying her down to the field where the rest of them, except Linus, had somehow ended up.
"You'll regret it if you don't." Where had Sally come from? Linus glanced across at her. She was smoothing her skirt and adjusting the bow she had tied in her hair for the evening. He didn't know what exactly she had heard, but was unsure about talking about this sort of thing with the girl who used to be obsessed over him.
"Regret what?" Sally laughed, acting as if he had told a joke.
"Don't play dumb, I'm not an idiot. She's a great girl Linus. You two are made for each other. If you don't try to ask her on a date, you'll never know what could have been. You could wake up when you're fifty and wonder what would have happened if you had asked her to be your girl. Heck, you could get hit by a truck tomorrow and regret it then."
Linus frowned. "Well that's a morbid thought."
Sally shrugged in reply. "It's true though. And I bet she'll say yes if you do. I have a good feeling." He could hardly go against Sally's gut. It had a habit of being right about the strangest things. Linus sighed as he stood, and helped the girl to her feet.
"So when are you going to make your move?" He inquired. Sally shrugged with a tiny smile as she spotted Schroeder who was tossing the baseball back to Charlie Brown.
"In good time. I want to wait till I'm at least in high school and until my brother asks Lucy on a date. Then I'll know it's the right time." The two headed to the field, Sally in her stocking feet and Linus pulling his jacket tighter around himself. It was getting colder, signally how late it was getting. He had to have Frieda home by midnight at the absolute latest, and was considering leaving right then when Frieda popped up beside him and grinned.
"Hi," she whispered.
"Hi," Linus replied warily. Her smile was concerning him.
"I want to ask you something," she continued. "My parents are going to a restaurant on Friday for their date night and that leaves me home alone. Want to come over?"
Why did she even have to ask? He always came over on date night. Frieda bit her lip and waited.
"Well sure, I mean I always do when they're gone. You don't even have to ask."
"But I want it to be a date." A date?
"A date?" Linus asked, utterly confused.
Frieda sighed. "Yes Linus, a date. Is it so hard to believe I want to go on a date with you?"
He cleared his throat, becoming nervous. "Considering you've never told me otherwise, yes."
The young lady rolled her eyes with a slight smirk. "Well I'm telling you now, aren't I?" Yes, she certainly was. Linus nodded his head and let his hand slip to where hers was and interweaved their fingers.
"It's a date then." Linus smiled and Frieda, with flushed cheeks, pecked his cheek sweetly.
"It's a date."
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