75. Change of Tune
The rest of the summer flew by in a blur, and before Zee knew it, it was the end of August and school was just around the corner. One evening a few days before the first day of school, a warm breeze fluttered through Zee's blonde hair as she swung her feet, sitting next to Jacob on top of the monkey bars on the playground. They were playing their last game of TODAE of the summer, and the mood was rather nostalgic.
"Truth or dare?" Jacob asked.
"Truth," Zee replied, figuring she'd mix it up from the dares they usually did.
Jacob thought for a minute. "Is this year going to be different?"
"What do you mean?" Zee asked, tentative for some reason.
"You know, is it going to be different? Like, are you going to stand up for yourself and let yourself be happy?" he looked over at her, meeting her eyes.
She thought about this. Let herself be happy? "It's not that easy," she said, feeling like a broken record.
"Isn't it, though?" Jacob said, and for a minute, Zee almost felt like she actually was starting to believe what he was saying. She still doubted it a little... How could she possibly be happy when she was so likely to be antagonized every day? Then again, could she maybe be strong enough to ignore it? He was right, it was so pathetic and petty, really. Why should she spend so much time and energy fufilling the sick needs of some middle-school mean girl? Wasn't she above that?
"Maybe," she eventually said, giving him a small smile when his face lit up. "I hope so."
"Really?" he asked, seeming a little surprised by her change of tune.
"Yeah," she said. "I'll try."
He grinned "It'll be easy," he said. "All you have to do is ignore them. Like how you ignore all the other idiots."
Zee laughed, looking over at him. "I am good at that," she admitted.
"Yeah," Jacob said, looking back at her warmly. "You are."
Zee didn't really know what to say to that, so she jumped back to where they started. "Your turn, truth or dare."
"I dare you to...explore a part of the woods you've never been in before," Zee said, dropping to the ground and brushing her hair back over her skinny shoulders. "One last adventure."
"Okay," Jacob said, following suit. "But let's say 'one last summer adventure' instead."
Zee's smile spread across her face, a little, but unbroken, bubble of hope rising up in her stomach. "Okay," she agreed. "One last summer adventure. Let's do this."