Brandon stops short at the base of the stairs. “So?” He stares expectedly.
“Oh! Hi.” I smile at him quickly before turning back to the box I’m packing. I begin folding the top panels closed.
“Hi?” Brandon’s voice is filled with hurt and anger. “That’s it? Hi?”
Across the porch, Mom clears her throat. I keep my eyes on the box, bending the flaps of cardboard so that they interweave. Mom drops a final chair cushion into her cardboard box and then slips through the front door.
I glance at him. “Yes. Hi.”
Brandon’s lips are pressed together in a scowl. He pushes his wavy hair off his forehead and looks up. “Ok. Fine.” Spinning around, he begins to walk back to the front gate.
“Brandon. Don’t be mad.”
Brandon turns back. “Mad? Of course I’m not mad. Why would I be mad that my best friend is moving – in six days – and didn’t even tell me about it? I’m not mad.”
“I was going to tell you. It was just--"
“When? When were you going to tell me? You’re leaving in six days.”
“I--I just didn’t want to bother you,” I stammer, racking my brain to remember the other reasons I had come up with for keeping it secret. I can’t.
“Bother me? Why would you think you would bother me?”
I can feel my face flush. “Because you and Katie were always together, and I knew you were really happy and everything, and I--I just didn’t want to ruin that.”
Brandon looks skeptical. “That’s stupid.”
“Me and Katie aren’t together anymore anyway.” He shoves his hands in his pockets.
“You do?” He sounds surprised. “Did she tell you?”
“Of course she did. She’s Katie.” I cringe as his face falls. “Brandon, I’m sorry…”
Brandon shakes his head slightly and then smiles. “Hey, don’t worry about it. Who cares, right? No big deal.”
“Yeah, no big deal.”
Brandon is silent for a moment. “So. You’re moving.” His tone is changed; his anger gone.
I shrug, smiling. “Yeah.”
The question takes me aback. “I dunno… Mom is unhappy here, and Gretchen could really use her help in Connecticut, and Andrew is there, and … and…” And what? I feel like I’m missing something. Why do I want to move to Connecticut? Why did I convince Mom to follow through with this crazy idea?
“…And I’m tired of people making decisions for me. I want to make my own. I want to start over.”