My visit from Dad was the first time I questioned my decision to support Mom in her crazy idea to move to Connecticut. The second was when I finally told Brandon. Well, told might not be the right word …
It’s a week before the big move, and the sun is setting peach in the distance. Mom and I are on the front porch, silently boxing up the clutter. I pull out the final push-pin holding the string of white star-shaped lights to the ceiling and they fall in a twinkling cascade at my feet. The air is still and hot, and the dust clings to my arms and makes my face feel gritty. I wipe my hand across my forehead.
I hear the crunch of sand under sneakers before I see the figure jogging lightly toward us down the sidewalk. I immediately know it’s Brandon, even though his outline is made fuzzy by the dimming light. I’ve been expecting him to show up today, but my stomach still tightens as he gets closer. I grab a box filled with citronella candles and worn straw beach mats and begin twisting the star lights into a pile on top, turning my back to the road.
Last night, I called Katie to break the news of our move – which is why it was only a matter of time before Brandon found out, even though I told her not to tell anyone.
“WHAAAT?! Shut up. SHUT. UP.” Katie’s high-pitch squeal wasn’t softened at all by its travel through the phone lines.
“I know, crazy, right?” It felt kind of good to shock Katie, for some reason – to be the one to do something so totally unexpected for once.
“And you’re OKAY with this?”
“Yep. I am.”
Katie was uncharacteristically silent for a moment. “Well then. I guess that’s great.” She sounded frosty. I didn’t care. I said nothing.
“So… well, why didn’t you tell me sooner?”
I tried to ignore the slight tinge of guilt settling in my stomach. “Oh I dunno… It all happened so fast. And I know you’ve been really busy too, with Brandon and everything, and…”
“Brandon? Ha!” Katie barked a laugh. “Didn’t you see my Facebook status? That’s like, so over.”
My heart stopped. “What? Since when?” I tried to sound casual, but my voice squeaked with the strain.
Katie didn’t notice. “Oh, I changed it yesterday morning. Yeah, I told him I’d still go to the dance with him and everything, but just as friends. Maybe that will make other girls like him or something, you know? Seeing him with me?” I could hear Katie’s nails clacking against her laptop keys through the phone. “But anyway! I can’t believe you’re leaving!”
Katie rambled on through the rest of the conversation, and I inserted the necessary whining “I know, I can’t believe it either!” and “I’m gonna miss you too!” But the entire time, all I could think about was Brandon. Was he all right? Was he completely crushed by Katie’s easy dismissal? And most of all, why didn’t he TELL me?
Now, as Brandon runs through our front gate to the porch where I stand, his face twisted in a mix of anger and shock, it looks like I’m about to get my answer.