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That night, the two oldest sisters still haven't returned from shopping. Jess did all the chores, including canning beans with his mom. She wore herself out, so Jess had to make peanut butter sandwiches for their dinner, too.
The kids eat outside and look at their neighbors' place.
May Belle hopes they have a kid who can be her friend. Jess tells her she can play with Joyce Ann, but May Belle says she's a baby. This, of course, makes Joyce Ann bawl and their mom yell.
Jess gives Joyce Ann the rest of his sandwich, goes inside to his room, and starts to draw.
Jess loves drawing and makes a picture of a hippo falling off a cliff; it's a joke. He thinks May Belle will laugh at it if he explains it, and he'd like to show his dad, but isn't quite brave enough.
Four years ago, when he told his dad he wanted to be an artist, his dad criticized the school and teachers, and implied that they were making Jess into something less than a man. So, Jess keeps his art to himself.
His teachers don't give him props for the art either, though. The only person who encourages him is the music teacher, Miss Edmunds. Jess thinks she's hot, but knows that most of the other people in town don't take her seriously. But, she takes him seriously and thinks he's "unusually talented" (2.16).
Waiting for her class on Fridays is the only thing that gets Jess through the week. The other teachers dread it because they think she's a "hippie" and don't approve of her wearing pants.
So, other students love their time in her class, but act like they're too cool to be impressed.
Jess doesn't defend her but holds her beauty close inside; once she told him he was like a "diamond in the rough" (2.23).
Jess's mom brings him back to earth by reminding him he has to go milk the cow. While he's doing that, he wonders what his sisters bought – he would've picked up proper art supplies.
He hears his sisters arrive and knows they'll go bond with his mom – he feels alone.
May Belle comes to tell him that Ellie got a transparent shirt and their mom is really angry.
Then they hear their dad's truck. May Belle runs up and hugs their dad, and Jess is jealous because he feels like that's not something he's allowed to do.
All his dad says to him is that the milking should have been done earlier.
The following day, Jess is super tired, but after May Belle nags him, he goes for his run. He imagines Wayne is there running against him so he has competition.
Then he hears a voice asking him what he's doing.
He sees a person who could be a boy or a girl, who says "hi," and asks if they could be friends. He realizes she's a girl, and she says her name is Leslie Burke.
Jess thinks she would've been a good friend for May Belle. He doesn't answer her question, just introduces himself, says he has to work, and walks away.