Home » » REASON TO BREATHE BY REBECCA DONOVAN: Not a Date

REASON TO BREATHE BY REBECCA DONOVAN: Not a Date

9. Not a Date
The grey misting skies did little to quash my excitement for the night
game when I left for school Friday morning. It was also the day I was
spending the afternoon with Evan. The thought of being alone with
him shot a current of thriling terror throughout my body. What a
strange contradiction of emotions, feeling exhilarated and terrified at
the same time.
I double checked the calendar on my way out to make certain my game
was written on it. If it wasn’t on the calendar with plenty of notice,
then I wasn’t alowed to do it. That included going to the library, which
I marked for every Sunday afternoon. I was surprised I didn’t have a
tracking device inserted into the heel of my foot –
but that would mean they’d have to spend money on me, and that was
laughable.
“Good morning,” I almost sung when I entered the car.
“Good morning,” Sara replied, looking at my curiously. She began to
say something, then thought better of it, and kept quiet. Instead, she
turned up the radio and we drove off to the drum beats, guitar riffs
and angst of a singer belowing about being misunderstood. I let the
music soak in with a grin on my face.
“Are you stil going to Evan’s after school?” Sara asked, turning down
the music.
“As far as I know,” I replied, trying to sound casual, like it wasn’t the
only thing I could think about.
“Then I’l see you at the game tonight.”
“I’l see you in study, right?”
“I have a note from my parents alowing me to get out early. I’m going
to Jil’s house for the afternoon. You could probably get out early too if
you wanted. The study period teachers don’t always expect you there
since you work on the paper or whatever.”
The thought of breaking the rules and leaving school early without
permission made my stomach turn. Or perhaps it was the thought of
spending an additional hour with Evan.
Sara eyed my distressed expression. “It was just a suggestion; you
don’t have to do it.”
“I’l think about it,” I muttered. Another surge of thriling terror flashed
through my body with a shiver.
“I expect details,” Sara blurted over her shoulder upon exiting homeroom.
She was about to continue to class when she took notice of the
dazed look on my face and stopped. “Are you nervous?”
“I’m pretty freaked,” I whispered, oblivious to the buzz of bodies
passing us.
“You have nothing to worry about. You made it clear you just want to
be friends. But if you’re realy that afraid to be alone with him, I could
give you an excuse to bail.”
“No, I want to hang out with him. It’s just something I’ve never done
before, and I’m not sure what to expect. It’s not like hanging out with
you.”
“Why don’t you pretend that it is?” Sara gave me an encouraging
smile. “Details,” she repeated as she walked toward the stairs.
Evan was seated in English when I slipped into the desk next to him.
“Hi,” he said, his mouth twitching, trying not to smile.
“Hey,” I returned, without looking over at him.
“Do you want to skip study period and get out of school early?” My
heart stopped as a milion excuses not to leave ran through my head.
“Sure,” I heard my mouth say, glancing at him quickly. Panic overtook
my body, having never broken the rules before. I fumbled with my
notebook and puled out the completed assignment to pass in. I
thought I noticed Evan smiling out of the corner of my eye, but I
stared intently at my notes.
“You’re quieter than usual today,” he observed as we gathered our
books to leave when the bel rang.
“Distracted by the back to back tests later,” I lied, not truly concerned
about the Trigonometry and Anatomy tests awaiting us. I’d studied the
test material and was pretty confident that I knew it inside and out.
Why couldn’t I be as confident about everything else?
“I wouldn’t have expected you to be nervous.” He knew me better than
I wanted to admit.
“It was a lot to study. You’re not worried?” I asked, trying to deflect the
attention from me.
“Why should I be? I’ve studied; there’s nothing else I can do.”
Great, he was confident in school and everything else. “I’l see you in
Trig.” He walked down the hal as I headed to the stairs. History,
Chemistry and my two tests distracted me enough to keep from completely
obsessing about the end of the day and being alone with Evan –
until it was unavoidable.
“How’d you do?” Evan asked as we walked out of Anatomy.
“I think I knew what I was doing,” I admitted. “And you?”
“I got through it,” he said with a shrug.
I noticed he was walking with me instead of going in the opposite direction
as he usualy did.
“Where are you going?”
“To your locker,” he stated bluntly.
“Why?” I asked, not catching on.
“What? You don’t want to have lunch with me?” His tone sounded almost
offended, but then again, I knew him better than that and dismissed
the possibility.
“You never have lunch with me, I don’t get it.”
“There’s a first for everything. Sara left to go to Jil’s, so I thought you
could use the company.”
“That’s right,” I remembered. “I’m actualy not that hungry. I was going
to pick up something smal and get started in the Art room.”
“Would you prefer to be alone?”
“Doesn’t matter to me; do what you want.” I shrugged, attempting to
sound disinterested.
“That’s not possible,” he responded casualy. I narrowed my eyes, trying
to read between the lines of his comment. Before I could demand
an explanation, he asked, “Wil you ignore me if I have lunch with you
in the Art room?”
“I don’t have to.” How was I possibly going to survive the afternoon
with him? Maybe I should make up an excuse and stay at school instead.
My heart skipped at the thought of bailing. I could be friends
with him - I just had to keep reminding myself that’s what I wanted.
I placed my books in my locker, and Evan slipped his books on the top
shelf as wel. My mouth dropped in disbelief.
“What?!” he defended. “We’re leaving together after Art. I’l take them
out. I promise.” We walked in silence to the cafeteria. Before we
entered, he said quietly, “You know that the latest rumor is that you
and I are dating, right?” I stopped to stare at him with wide eyes, my
arms crossed.
“It’s just a rumor!” he said with his hands in the air and a half smile
that made me fume.
“Do you realy want me to come over today?” I snapped.
“Of course,” he answered eagerly.
“Then don’t share things like that with me. Remember, I don’t want to
know what people are saying about me?”
“I didn’t realize our friendship had rules,” he replied, grinning.
“I’l be sure to point them out when you don’t folow them. Try to keep
up.” I was hoping to sound severe, but he continued grinning at my
reprimand. I huffed and walked into the cafeteria at an exaggerated
pace.
“Are you this strict with al of your other friends?” he inquired with a
chuckle while keeping up with me.
“Sara is my only other friend and she plays by the rules. She doesn’t
need lessons.” I glared at him so he’d take me seriously. I knew he
didn’t since he stil seemed more entertained than offended.
“Al you’re getting is a granola bar and an apple?” He nodded toward
the food in my hands as we made our way through the lunch line.
“I told you I wasn’t very hungry. Besides, aren’t we eating in a few
hours?”
“Yeah but you’re an athlete, and you have a game tonight - you need
more sustenance than that.” He almost sounded concerned.
“Fine,” I caved and grabbed a banana. Evan eyed me disapprovingly,
shaking his head.
“So much better,” he commented with sarcasm.
I walked away, leaving him to catch up after he bought his lunch.
When we entered the Art room, he settled on the stool next to me to
eat while I gathered my project that currently consisted of shades of
green sweeping along the bottom of the predominantly blank canvas. I
removed the picture of the early October foliage taped to the back and
set it on the table next to me.
“Are you having a hard time liking me?”
I figured he was messing with me until I turned on my stool to find
that he was seriously concerned about the answer.
“I’m not having a hard time liking you,” I assured him. “I don’t understand
you. You say things that don’t make sense or could mean more
than they do. I’m trying not to let you get to me - that’s al.” I turned
back to my painting and began squirting different shades of green on
the palette.
“But I get to you?” he confirmed, his signature grin creeping on his
face. I roled my eyes.
“Not if I can help it. But watching you enjoy my discomfort is always a
great way to win me over,” I retorted, flashing my eyes at him.
“Sorry,” he said with an insincere smile.
“I’m sure you are,” I huffed. I proceeded with mixing colors and applying
them to the canvas in blotches and heavy strokes. I concentrated
on painting while he sat behind me, silently watching. I was flustered
by his presence and couldn’t summon anything to say to lighten the
awkwardness, so I kept my back to him.
“I think I’l go outside and work on my assignment,” he finaly announced.
“I’l meet you at your locker after class.”
“Okay,” I answered without looking. After he left the room, I put down
my brush and took a deep breath. He was getting to me, and my defensive
retorts bothered me, despite how much they appeared to
amuse him. I made the conscious decision to be friends with him –
that I could handle it. So far, I was failing miserably –
trying so hard to keep him at a distance that I was practicaly cruel. If I
kept this up, he’d probably decide not to have anything to do with me
at al – and I wouldn’t blame him.
Evan was waiting for me at my locker after class as he promised.
“Hi,” I said with a gentle smile, hoping he wasn’t regretting inviting
me over.
“Hi,” he smiled back.
“Come back for more punishment?” I asked quietly, leaning against
the locker to face him. I kept glancing at the ground, having a hard
time looking him in the eye.
“I can handle it.” He tilted his head down, forcing me to look at him. I
reluctantly connected with his riveting blue eyes. “Besides, I’m getting
used to your reactions, so they don’t realy bother me. You can actualy
be pretty funny.” His lips relaxed into a vibrant smile.
“Great, here I am feeling horrible for how I’ve talked to you, and you
think it’s hilarious. I guess you bring out the best in me, don’t you?” I
smirked.
“That’s why I’m here.”
He reached over my head to grab his books out of my locker. His shirt
brushed against my back, causing me to inhale quickly, unable to
move. My heart began its ritualistic dance in my chest, sending a surge
of blood to my cheeks. I slowly let out the captured breath when he
backed away.
“I just have to get a few things from my locker before we go, okay?”
“Sure,” I whispered, stil distracted.
The hals were vacant when we walked to Evan’s locker so he could
stuff a few books into his backpack. I was relieved not to have witnesses
when we left together. I realy didn’t want to fuel the gossip – or
get caught skipping class, even if it was just study period.
I looked around nervously, expecting a voice to stop us and ask where
we were going when we exited the school. But we were never stopped.
We didn’t say anything as we walked to his car through the thick mist
of the persisting grey skies. Evan held the car door open for me again -
the gesture stil caught me off guard. I slipped into the car, and he
closed the door behind me.
“This should be an interesting game in the mud tonight, huh?”
he noted as he started the car.
“It slows the game down,” I admitted, “but I actualy like sliding in the
mud.”
“I know what you mean.”
I relaxed into the leather seat as we talked the entire ride to his house.
My guarded tension was finaly melting away when we puled into his
driveway.
Evan lived in one of the historic homes in the center of town. The extended
driveway puled the white farmhouse with black shutters away
from the road, revealing a perfectly manicured front lawn with a large
maple tree that was turning a magnificent red. The house was
wrapped with a wide porch, accented with white rocking chairs and a
hammock - it was a three dimensional Norman Rockwel painting. At
the end of the driveway, behind the house, was a two story barn that
had been converted into a garage. Beyond the barn was an expansive
field surrounded by trees, without a neighboring house in sight.
We entered through the door on the side of the porch that led into the
kitchen. The house may have been historic, but the kitchen had every
modern amenity available. It was a large room with a shared dining
area. The space stil held the rustic charm of the farmhouse, with exposed
beams and wood framed wals, stained a warm brown.
“Do you want something to drink? I have soda, water, juice and iced
tea,” Evan presented, attempting to be hospitable after placing his
backpack on a chair. The peninsula separated the cooking space from
the dining area that recessed into the floor, with three long steps leading
to a large dark wood dining table.
“Iced tea would be great.” I sat in a chair along the peninsula while he
filed two glasses with iced tea from a glass pitcher he removed from
the refrigerator.
“I like how you set up the newspaper,” he said, handing me a glass
from the other side of the counter. “The paper at my other school was
rougher looking since the printing was done in-house. It was more of a
flyer than a newspaper. The Weslyn High Times actualy resembles a
newspaper.”
“Thanks. Have you received any comments about your article
– you know, since it made the first page?”
“Yeah, I have,” he admitted with a grin – knowing that was the only
acknowledgement he was going to receive from me that it was a wel
written article. “Mostly questions about my sources, trying to pair up
an insecurity with a person. It’s kind of annoying, but I should’ve expected
it.”
After a moment, he added, “I never did get to interview you. I thought
it would be a conflict of interest.”
“I don’t think I would have let you interview me,” I replied.
“But if I had, what would you’ve asked?” As soon as I said it, I regretted
it. What was I thinking putting myself out there? Teling Evan my
physical insecurities was not on the top of my list.
“Name one part of your body you’re insecure about and how you
would change it?” His expression was calm and attentive. His demeanor
was unexpected. I thought this topic would definitely have evoked
one of his wide smiles.
I hesitated.
“Okay, I’l tel you mine first if that’l help,” he offered, stil serious.
“You’re insecure about your body?” I scoffed.
“I hate the size of my feet. They’re huge,” he confessed.
“You’re feet? What size are they?”
“Fourteen and the average size is ten. It’s not easy finding shoes I like
that fit.” Oddly enough, he remained genuine.
“I can honestly say I’ve never noticed, maybe because you’re tal. Or
maybe because your feet are not what most people look at.” I realized,
with a blush, that I shouldn’t have made a comment that he could
misinterpret.
“Realy?” he grinned, confirming my fear.
“You know what I mean,” I retorted, my whole face reddening.
“What’s yours?” he prodded.
“My lips,” I admitted cautiously. “I’ve always wanted them to be
smaler. I’ve even practiced tucking them in in front of the mirror,” revealing
more than I intended, as usual.
“Realy? I love your ful lips,” he said without hesitating.
“They’re perfect k-”
“Don’t say it,” I shot back at him, turning redder by the second.
“Why?” he questioned with a crease between his brows.
“Do you want to be friends with me?”
“Yes,” he answered quickly.
“Then you can’t say things like that. It’s one of the lines you don’t
cross. Remember the rules I set if we’re going to be friends?
You are not playing by the rules,” I explained firmly, hoping this time
he’d take me seriously.
“What if I don’t want to be friends with you?” he chalenged, grinning
again, staring directly into my eyes. Obviously taking me seriously was
an impossibility for Evan.
Despite not being able to breathe, I connected with his taunting gaze
and refused to look away. “Then we won’t be friends,” I said flatly.
“What if I want to be more than friends?” He grinned wider, leaning
his forearms on the counter, shortening the distance between us.
“Then we won’t be anything at al.” Along with not being able to
breathe, my heart stopped, making it harder to keep up my defiant
stare when he leaned in closer; but I was determined not to back
down.
“Okay, then friends we are,” he declared, suddenly standing up
straight, taking a gulp of iced tea. “Can you play pool?” I couldn’t say
anything for a few seconds - my head was spinning as I tried to reel my
heart back from across the counter.
“I’ve never tried,” I floundered.
I took a deep breath to clear my head before I stood up. Evan was
waiting for me patiently, holding the door open for me to folow him.
We entered the large white barn through the side door into a space
that could easily fit two cars. There was a door to the right of the stairs
that led to another area, unrevealed.
Hung on the opposite wal were shelves displaying tools and other typical
garage items. But what caught my eye was the extensive amount of
recreational equipment stored beneath the stairs. There were snow
shoes, skis, two surf boards, a couple of wake boards and everything
in-between. There were bins of basketbals, soccer bals, voleybals – it
looked like a sporting goods store.
“Can’t say you’re bored,” I commented as we climbed the stairs. He let
out a short laugh.
I folowed him into a ful rec room. Along the far wal was a dark wooden
bar with a flat stone top, fuly stocked and furnished with
complementary wooden stools. There was an oversized, dark brown
leather couch and recliner set in front of a large flat-screened television
suspended on the wal to the left. Abandoned on the floor were
several video game components and corresponding gear. I wondered if
al of the wealthy kids at Weslyn High had similar set ups to Sara and
Evan.
A pool table, lit by suspended chrome canisters, stood on one side of
the room with plenty of space to maneuver a pool stick without bumping
into a wal. A dart board hung on the wal to the right of the door,
and to the left were two foosbal tables. There was a closed door behind
the tables. The wals’ deep red paint and the barn’s exposed wooden
beams along the pitched ceiling, created a masculine tone that was finished
with framed rock concert posters, showcasing a variety of bands
over a span of a few decades.
“This is my mom’s way of trying to get my brother to come home
more,” Evan explained as he crossed the room toward the bar. “So,
this room is more for my brother than me. My stuff is in the other
room.” He nodded toward the closed door behind the foosbal tables.
Music erupted through the strategicaly placed speakers when Evan
turned it on from behind the bar. He lowered the volume so that we
could hear each other.
“I’ve never heard this band before,” I noted, listening to the rock band
with the reggae influence. “I like it.”
“I saw them at a concert in San Francisco and realy liked them. If you
give me your iPod, I can download them for you.”
“Sure.”
“Darts first?” he suggested, heading to the corner where the dart board
hung. I sat on one of the stools dispersed along the dark wooden bar
running the length of the wal while he puled the darts from the board.
“I think I’ve only played darts once before, and I sucked,” I warned. He
handed me three darts with silver metalic wings while keeping the
darts with the black metalic wings. He stood behind the black line
painted on the dark hardwood floor and threw each dart with ease. I
watched them penetrate the pie and rectangular shapes. He made it
look so simple, but I wasn’t convinced.
“We’l warm up first and then go from there.” I approached the line and
he demonstrated how to hold the dart for the best control. I attempted
to duplicate his example. “Getting used to the weight of the dart is the
hardest part in order to determine the angle and speed you want to
throw it. Then aim, and toss with a quick, steady hand.” He threw the
dart firmly, and it stuck easily into its intended target.
“You may not want to be anywhere around me when I attempt this,” I
advised cautiously. He smiled and sat on a stool, giving me my space.
My first shot was weak. I missed the dartboard completely. The dart
landed low, and stuck to a black board that covered the length of the
wal behind the circle.
“Oops, sorry,” I said, scrunching my face. This was going to be a long
game, especialy if I couldn’t even make the board.
“That’s what the black board’s for. You’re not the first, and won’t be
the last, to miss,” Evan assured me. “We won’t play an actual game until
you feel comfortable. Try it again.” I threw the last dart with a little
more force and it hit the number 20, not in the points area, but the actual
number.
“Wel, at least I hit the board,” I stated optimisticaly. Evan smiled and
retrieved the darts.
We threw three more rounds until I was consistently hitting within the
colored ring. I wasn’t exactly hitting the areas I was aiming for, but I
was getting closer. With al of my near misses and extreme misses, I
wasn’t embarrassed or self conscious for my lack of dart experience.
Evan made it easy with his patience and advice. I was actualy enjoying
myself.
We played a round of cricket. I made Evan take two steps back from
the line, in attempt to make it slightly more even. He stil won – it
wasn’t even close. During the game, we talked about sports and what
we’ve tried, or in my case, never tried.
“So you’re great at everything, huh?” I confirmed, after he shared surfing
and kite boarding experiences he’d had in different parts of the
world.
“No, I’l try just about anything,” he corrected, “but I’m only realy good
at a few things. My brother’s better at pool and darts than I am. I’m
decent at soccer, but I’m not the best player - the same with basketbal.
I think I’m best at basebal. I have a consistent swing and pretty good
reaction time at short stop.
“I bet if you were exposed to more experiences, you’d find you’re better
than I am at most of them. You’re definitely a better soccer player.
I haven’t seen you play basketbal, but I heard you have an impressive
outside shot.” The heat made itself known across my cheeks as he
spoke of my athletic abilities.
“I love soccer, I realy like basketbal, and I run track just for something
to do in the spring. Since I play a sport, I don’t have to take Gym, so I
haven’t attempted anything else for a long time. I’m not sure how I’d
do.”
“Do you want to find out?”
“What are you thinking?” I asked cautiously.
“Tomorrow, I’l meet you at the library and then we’l go from there.”
My stomach twisted at the thought of lying. “Or maybe not,”
he corrected after observing my pale face.
“I can’t tomorrow,” I said quietly, but before I realized what I was
about to say, I finished with, “but I could on Sunday.” Evan’s eyes lit
up. My heart leapt into its high speed patter.
“Realy?” he asked, not convinced.
“Sure,” I confirmed with a smile. “What did you have in mind?”
“Batting cages?”
“Why not,” I replied with a shrug.
“Noon?”
“Noonish.”
“Great,” he stated with a ful-fledged smile that left me lightheaded
with the rush of blood to my face. “Ready to eat? You must be after
that sad lunch.”
“I could eat,” I stated casualy, ignoring his antagonizing remark as he
turned off the music.
I watched from a stool at the peninsula while he puled items from the
refrigerator and cabinets and started cutting up celery, mushrooms,
chicken and pineapple.
“What are you making?” I asked, not anticipating the huge production.
I’d expected something from the typical food groups of pizza and subs.
“Chicken and pineapple stir fry,” he replied. “Sorry, I didn’t ask you if
you were a picky eater. Is this okay?”
“Sure,” I said slowly. “You cook?” I didn’t know why I was so surprised.
I should be used to the unpredictability of Evan Mathews, but I
stil couldn’t help but folow the production in amazement as he measured,
mixed and chopped with ease.
“I have to fend for myself a lot, so yeah, I cook,” he explained without
looking at me. “You don’t, I take it?”
“Not since eighth grade Home Ec.”
“Huh, that actualy surprises me.” He didn’t say anything more, and I
wasn’t about to try to explain the rules of Carol and George’s kitchen.
“Can I ask you something?” I blurted without realy thinking through
what I was about to say. This was becoming a habit that was causing
my heart and head more distress than I could handle. Whenever I was
with Evan I found myself revealing, asking, and agreeing to things that
were sending my brain into shock.
“Go for it.” Evan stopped what he was doing to lean his back against
the counter, stil holding the knife in his hand.
“Do you always get what you want?” He looked at me with uncertainty,
so I attempted to clarify, “I mean, are you as forward with everyone as
you are with me?”
He chuckled, not the answer I was looking for.
Evan paused long enough to make me wish I hadn’t asked the question.
He smiled before he replied, “No. Normal girls wouldn’t be able
to handle it. They tend to respond better to subtlety and flirting. I
know that whatever I say to any other girl would be passed on to her
friends and eventualy to the rest of the school, so direct doesn’t work
in most situations. But this is not most situations, and you are far from
any other girl.” He turned to continue his preparation.
His answer left me baffled. If this was direct, then I would hate to be a
normal girl, because I had no idea what he meant by half of what he
just said. I decided not to even attempt to understand it fearing it
would only make me more confused.
“Okay,” he said, stil with his back to me as he dumped the contents of
the cutting board in the wok on the stove, “I have a question for you.”
Now look what I started - I sighed and braced myself.
“How come you’ve never been on a date?” Evan turned to look at me,
anticipating my answer.
“Why would I?” was the first thing that came out of my mouth. He
laughed and went back to tossing the contents of the wok.
“I wasn’t expecting that,” he said with a smile. I shrugged, fiddling
with a string on my sweater. I had to change the subject, but I was
coming up blank.
“Have you ever been kissed?” he asked suddenly. My face flashed with
the familiar warmth as my mouth dropped open.
“Wel, that was definitely direct,” I accused. “And I don’t think I’m going
to answer that question.”
“You have,” he concluded, glancing back at me with a smirk.
“Good to know.”
“Let’s change the subject,” I pushed as the heat on my face spread to
my ears. “Where was your favorite place to live?”
He didn’t respond.
“Evan?”
“What? Sorry, I didn’t hear the question,” he confessed, absently pushing
around the ingredients sizzling in the wok. “I was trying to figure
out if I know who the guy is. But if it was someone from school, I’m
sure I would have found out by now. Is he in colege?” He leaned
against the counter to examine me, trying to pluck the answer from
the mortified expression on my face.
“You’re forgetting the line,” I reminded him with wide eyes.
“What? This isn’t about you and me,” he defended. “I thought friends
shared this kind of stuff. I’l tel you who my first kiss was if that wil
make you feel better.”
“No, not realy,” I stated emphaticaly. “I’m not interested, and I’m not
going to answer your question about my private experiences. We’re
not that good of friends.”
“But you have been kissed - I was right, wasn’t I?”
“So,” I gaped. “What does it matter if I’ve been kissed?”
“But you’ve never been on a date,” he mused, like it was a mystery he
was attempting to solve. If he thought that the answer was going to reveal
something surprising, he was definitely going to be disappointed.
He set two filed plates on the counter.
“This is realy good,” I said after taking a bite, anxious to change the
subject. But I wasn’t being dishonest, the stir fry was good. I wasn’t
sure I liked continuing to find things about Evan that impressed me.
“Thanks,” he said inattentively, stil thinking about my responses.
“Can we please move past this?” I pleaded.
“Sure, but you’l tel me eventualy,” he said confidently.
“I don’t understand why you want to know.” I realized, after I spoke,
that I was feeding into the same topic I was trying so hard to get away
from.
“I’m stil trying to figure you out.”
“There’s nothing to figure out. I’m not that interesting.” Evan didn’t
respond. He looked down with his mischievous grin and pierced a
piece of chicken with his fork.
As we ate, I was finaly able to redirect the conversation toward different
places he’s lived. He described each country or city and what he
liked and didn’t like about it. I breathed easier, having escaped the
ever revealing inquiry about my personal life. I helped with the dishes
while we continued talking about a sking trip he went on with his
brother in Switzerland a couple of winters ago. I was extremely enthraled
with his travel stories and the many experiences he’s had in
only seventeen years. Especialy since my sheltered life within the confines
of New England had little experience to compare it to.
“Do you have your license?” Evan asked as we sat back at the counter.
“No, I don’t have my permit yet,” I admitted.
“How old are you?”
“Sixteen.”
“You’re sixteen?” He seemed surprised.
“Oh, something you didn’t know about me?” I taunted. “I skipped a
grade early in elementary school. My birthday’s in June, but I’ve been
too busy to get my permit and take classes.”
This, of course, was a complete lie. In order to get my permit, my
guardian was required to take two hours of parent classes - that was
never going to happen. Carol and George weren’t burdened with having
to drive me from place to place - so why would they care if I had
my license? Besides, what good was a license if I couldn’t afford a car?
“Do you know how to drive?”
“Sara’s tried to teach me the basics in empty parking lots. She wants to
take me on the road, but I’d die if anything happened to her car. If we
ever got caught and she lost her license, it would suck for both of us.”
“Does she have an automatic or manual?”
“Automatic.”
“I’m surprised that her car’s an automatic. Want to learn to drive a
stick?”
“Not today,” I replied bluntly.
“A library day,” he determined with a grin.
“Maybe,” I said hesitantly. How many of these library days was he
planning? The thought of getting caught made my stomach hurt. It
was bad enough I had agreed to go to the batting cages on Sunday.
There was no way I could risk more excursions.
“Do you want to give me your iPod and I’l download that band for
you?”
“It’l be hard to be without it for the weekend or actualy even for the
game today.” I reached in my backpack trying to decide if I should give
it to him.
“You can borrow mine,” he offered without hesitating. Trading personal
property already? This simple gesture felt so much bigger than just
exchanging music. Or perhaps I was reading too much into it. Relax. It
was just music.
“Okay.” I handed him my lime green player in exchange for his black
one. It may have been just music, but my heart was pounding so hard
it might as wel have been a ring.
“I should get ready for the game. Can you show me where the bathroom
is so I can change?”
“Sure.”
I folowed him into a soft yelow room that was elegantly furnished with
a Victorian style couch and chair set, upholstered with light blue velvet
and framed with hand carved white wood. A smal, but stunning, crystal
chandelier was suspended above the hand crafted coffee table. I
looked across at the picture window, which alowed a ful view of the
front yard. The room opened up into a receiving area at the main entrance
with a smal table set against the wal, where a colorful arrangement
of flowers was set next to a picture of four people, who I presumed
to be the Mathews family.
“The light switch is inside on the right,” Evan explained when we
stopped at a door along the long halway, leading away from the elegant
sitting room. “I’l be in the kitchen.”
“Thanks,” I replied, before closing the door.
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