Clip from Chapter 10
Savannah - 16 years old
I tap on his window. The room is completely dark, and his blinds are closed. I can’t see anything.
“Eben,” I whisper. I tap some more.
All of a sudden, the blinds lift, and there’s a dark figure in the window.
“What are you doing?” He acts as if he’s whispering this time, but I can’t really hear him. I can only read his lips.
“Hold on,” he mouths.
He leaves the window, and a few moments later, I hear his front door squeak open.
I shimmy out of the peony bushes and head to the front porch. But I stop when I see him.
He’s just standing there. He’s barefoot, shirtless. The only thing clinging to his skin is an old pair of black sweatpants.
“What are you doing?” he asks.
His laughter breaks my concentration on his shirtless self. And I must be giving him a funny look because now he’s wearing a playful smile.
“You’re cute.” I just say it, matter-of-fact.
He smiles. It’s bashful, but I expected that.
I nod and smile, too.
“Vannah, it’s midnight.”
“Yeah, but it’s Saturday.”
He seems to think about it and then nods. “Okay, yeah, you’ve got a point.”
We stand there for a moment, staring at each other. I think he’s waiting on me to tell him the plan for tonight. But I don’t really have a plan. And the longer we stand here, the more I think he realizes that.
“Come to the dock with me.”
He lowers his head. I can tell he’s trying not to laugh. “All right.”
He turns back and closes the door and then makes his way down the porch steps, still barefoot, still shirtless.
“Do you really think I’m cute?”
I nod. “Yeah. I think so.”
His soft chuckle fills the space between us.
“You think so?”
“I know so.”
I laugh, partially because he has this new air of confidence, all of a sudden.
“I mean, I see you every day, and I see...you,” I say. “I just think I rarely stop to see what body you’re in.”
“So, I’m in a good body?”
“Yeah. You’re in a good body.”
He smiles proudly.
We get to the dock and walk to the end of it, and then we both just stop and stare out into the water.
“You think they’ll have docks like this in South Carolina?”
He nods. “Yeah, I reckon they do. Only instead of lakes, they’ve got an ocean. So, it’ll be better than this dock.”
I look up at him. “I don’t think so.”
I sit down and dangle my feet off the edge, and seconds later, he does, too.
“I don’t think anything can be better than this,” I say.
The water is dark, like black diamonds, glistening in the moonlight.
“Plus, there are no Ebens on those boat docks in South Carolina.”
He smiles. “You don’t think?”
“Probably not,” I say, shaking my head.
“You could always stay. You could stay here...with me. You know, Mom wouldn’t mind.”
“I know, but mine would. I’ve got to go, Eben.”
He lets out a long, defeated sigh. “I know. I know you do.”
I find his eyes. They’re warm and light. They feel like sunrays and look like the color of sand. And the way he’s looking at me now, I know he wants to kiss me. I can see it, but more so, I can feel it. And I want to kiss him back. But where would that leave us?
He puts his arm around me, and I breathe in the smell of his bedsheets. I’m going to miss the smell of his bed...and his room—his dumb, boy room, with its old Spiderman comforter and drum set and boy things. It reminds me of all those long nights we would spend holed up in there, eating chicken and dumplings and trying to make it across the Oregon Trail without one of us getting dysentery.
I’m going to miss it all. But mostly, I’m going to miss him.
I love him.
I always have.