It was the last day of summer and the sun was shining through the treetops. My Junior year would start tomorrow as well as Sam’s Senior year. We walked hand in hand on
the our trail that runs through the forest.
“Sam?” I ask with an austere tone.
He responds by ending his lengthy stride mid-step and kissing my cheek. I grin despite the seriousness of my awaiting inquiry.
“What’s going to happen to us? After school is all finished?” I say, spitting the words out before I change my mind.
“I think we both already know the answer to that, silly.”
I wait, not saying anything. I may already have an idea or two about what I hope will happen, but I want to hear him say it.
“I’ll talk to your dad, you’ll pick out a white dress. It’s a love story. Baby, just say yes.” Sam sings the Taylor Swift song off key, making me laugh. He twirls me but I force myself to a quick stop and face him.
“I’m serious,” I tell him sternly, fighting my lingering urge to laugh at his answer.
“So am I. There isn’t anything I want more. Nothing and nobody can manke me change my mind, Leah.”
I raise an eyebrow although I’ve already accepted his answer; now I’m just teasing and perhaps flirting a bit, hoping to spend every last minute of our summer together.
“I,” he says and kisses my forehead. “Love.” Kisses my nose. “You.” He kisses my lips gently and pulls me closer, wrapping his arms around my waist. With a giggle, I sneak my arms to his neck and lace my fingers together.
When we end the kiss, I move my arms to around his waist and lay my head against his chest. I can hear his steady heartbeat slowing its rhythm after the acceleration caused by our kiss.
“I love you too,” I say. He continues to hum “Love Story” quietly. “Is that really what will happen?”
“Absolutely. I promise. I love you, Leah. Nothing will ever change that. “
We stand there for a long time, maybe minutes, maybe hours, before continuing to walk until we reach our little clearing. A large rock sits hidden a bit deeper in the trees than our clearing; it’s covered in moss that is cool but not too damp, so instead of getting my new jeans dirty on the unusually dry ground, we sit against the rock. If we were string, it’d take a good amount of time to untangle us the way we intertwine our arms, legs, fingers.
After a few minutes of quiet, my thoughts drift to school. “If I can, I’m going to take on some extra classes, maybe online so I can earn my credits.”
“Why’s that? So you don’t have to see me as much?” Sam teases.
“So I can graduate earlier and see you more,” I counter, reaching up to press our lips together. The kiss lasts awhile and before I know it, the sun is setting and we’re even more tangled up.
My eyelids dart open and I blink rapidly as a waterfall of tears pour down my face. His name escapes my lips in a yearning whisper as I remember he’s with Emily now. I am not his and he is not mine, despite the promises I know I meant and thought he did too. Breathing heavily, I sit up and bring my knees to my chest. With my arms around them I rock back and forth. Little did I know that less than a mile away, Sam was waking from the same dream. Neither did I know that Emily, his new fianceé, was by his side.
It’s the dreams that make everything worse. They are the same memories and daydreams that I used to replay over and over in my mind to put me in a good mood. I wish that still worked. I turn to look at the clock after a bit, when my tears have slowed. It’s four in the morning. I crawl out of bed anyways and head to the shower, knowing that sleep won’t come easily for another day or two. I’ll probably wake up everyone else since I don’t bother to be quiet but at least they’ll know not to talk to me in the morning. I can’t help but wonder as I step under the blazing water if Sam has dreams and flashbacks like this too, and if he does, how he handles them in front of her. Does she even know? Maybe he recreates our memories with her, replacing the old-ugly-Leah ones with new gorgeous-exquisite-perfect-Emily ones.
This entry is from the Point of View of Emily Young.
I was painting my fingernails a maroon color when my phone rang. “Snap, ” I say, using my preferred form of cussing—not that I hadn’t adopted worse from being around Sam and his friends. My phone was in my front pocket and I couldn’t get it out without smudging my polish. I wipe my nails on the towel, smearing the wet polish which leaves behind a mess and take my phone out. It’s Sam. Of course; tomorrow’s Valentine’s Day so I expected him to call.
“Hello?” I say.
“Hey, beautiful,” Sam greets, his voice smooth and steady.
“I’m sorry, who’s this?” I tease.
“Oh! I must have the wrong number. Oh well. You free tomorrow night?” He says, playing along.
“Won’t your girlfriend mind?” I chastise.
“No way. She knows I live for—”
My voice raises into a high-pitched scold, “Sam!”
“You know I’m just kidding. But anyways, do you have plans tomorrow?”
“Yeah, Sam, I totally have a date with this guy I met last week. He’s into modeling,” I say in a sarcastic tone.
“So what are we doing? ” I ask him.
“It’s a secret, ” he says intriguingly.
“I’ll pick you up from work at four. I have to run for awhile, otherwise you could call in sick to work.”
I sigh, “Yeah well, be careful, ” I reply, trying not to let the worry that’s always in my voice show. When I know he’s running, it sometimes keeps me up all night. What if he got hurt? Or a vampire—No. I can’t even think about that. “Oh, and what should I wear?”
“Anything you want. I’ll probably just wear jeans and maybe a nicer shirt than normal, but don’t worry about dressing up. Anything else?”
“See you later, Em. Have a goodnight, ” Sam says, reminding me of how late it is.
“Goodnight, Sam. “
I hang up the phone and repaint my nails, this time leaving my phone beside me although there’s no need; no one but Sam ever calls this late. As soon as my nails are dried, I check tomorrow’s lesson plans and then get ready for bed. I fall asleep quickly, knowing Sam’s safe at home for the night. I dream of running beside him in the forest under the clouds made light pink by the sunrise.
Morning comes sooner than I would like and too soon, I have to go to work. I dress in a red shirt with ruffles that compliments my nails, and black dress pants as I’m not allowed to wear jeans to work. I add a chunky black necklace and a pair of black sandals with a small heel for accessories.
All through my classes, I am distracted, wondering what on earth Sam could have planned for the evening. I let my students work on their projects and instruct only when I have to. In one class of Juniors, my students notice my lack of contentment despite my attempt to act normal.
“Miss Young? You seem really out of it today,” Karina says to me.
“Yeah, ” I say, trying to quickly think of an excuse. “I haven’t slept well this week. It’s catching up with me.”
“Are you sure?” She asks. “Cuz Jess thinks it’s because today is Valentine’s Day and you have that guy who always picks you up.”
I blush, giving them the answer. “Yeah, maybe that’s it. None of you are much better. Karina’s been making googly eyes at Cade, and Cade at Jess, Caleb at Karina, Draven at Mary, and so on, ” I say, revealing some of their crushes lightheartedly and making them forget about me for the moment. I allow them to talk through class as they paint and sketch, playfully teasing each other and revealing more crushes.
Finally the last bell rings and I gather my things, heading out to the parking lot. It’s not quite four, but Sam is already there, leaning casually against a car, his hand behind his back. The car isn’t ours, since Sam runs here everyday and carries me back. Whenever the subject comes up with co-workers or others, I say that he parks around the corner.
He’s wearing a pair of black jeans that I don’t recall him owning so they must be new. His shirt is a tight white polo with half sleeves rolled up a few times. The pounding in my chest and sudden outbreak of butterflies in my stomach don’t even begin to describe how he’s making me feel as he embraces me with a hug and kisses me on the cheek. He smells fresh and clean, but not like a clean hospital smell, more like waking up in the morning after spending a night in the forest under the stars. After letting his side embrace drop to take my hand, he brings a single short-stemmed red rose from behind his back. I smile and thank him and he tucks the flower into my hair.
“Hey, you,” I kiss him back on the nose.
“Ready?” He asks.
I’m about to answer when a group of my students start chanting a few yards away. “Miss Young and…a stranger, sitting in the lot, k-i-s-” That’s all they get out before another teacher ushers them onto the bus. I shoot her a grateful glance and then take Sam’s hand and we walk around to the street, where Sam ‘parks.’
When we are out of sight of any bystanders, Sam runs into the woods ahead of me, sprinting out of sight. I wait for him about ten yards inside the forest, facing the street. Silky fur grazes my arm and I turn to see him as a wolf towering like a shadow overhead. He lies down and I crawl onto his back where I sit, holding his fur tightly in my fists. He stands and begins to run. I’ve always hated not being able to talk as we travel this way, but Sam knows that and always makes up for it by running his fastest and after all, it’s the cheapest form of transportation. He slows his run to a walk and then I can hear cars passing by again. He lies down again and I climb off. Watching the ground carefully so as not to stumble in my raised heeled shoes, I begin walking forward. Soon I can see the edges of a town I don’t recognize from the view since the backs of buildings face the forest. I hear Sam’s quiet human foot-falls against the forest floor and wait for him to catch up.
We walk hand in hand into the town and once we pass by a few buildings, I recognize Port Angeles. He leads me in the direction of the several stores and restaurants facing the bay. He stops when we are in front of a nice restaurant that I’ve heard costs a fortune.
“Hungry?” He inquires.
“Yes, but are you sure this is where you want to go?”
“Absolutely if it sounds okay to you.”
“I’ve heard the food is fantastic, but also expensive,” I say, feeling guilty for even addressing it.
“Don’t worry about the money, Em. If I couldn’t afford it, I wouldn’t have stopped here. Trust me,” Sam says, kissing my hand.
“Okay,” I answer and let him lead me inside.
The food is incredible to say the least. We both have the special—Champane Shrimp & Pasta—and after taking the first bite, I sigh with delight. Sam chuckles and makes a guttural sound of agreement. We eat mainly in silence, enjoying the food. When we do talk, we laugh at the cliché cheesy couples around the restaurant (before realizing we’d be included in that group), as well as the single people along the bar, treating themselves to a night out. For dessert, we shared a slice of Chocolate Lasagna, topped with pink sprinkles in honor of Valentine’s Day. Delicious was an understatement that everyone in the restaurant seemed to agree upon.
Later in the evening we end up on the beach back in La Push, building a fire from driftwood. Sam pulls a box of matches from his pocket and ignites the fire. A blue flame spreads slowly, until the whole pile dances in the dark. The sun has already set but the sky still glows a perfect Valentine’s pink.
I sit on the sand with my back against Sam’s chest, watching the fire. He rests his chin on top of my head and laces his hands with mine. We listen to the crackling of the fire and the familiar whoosh of the ocean for several minutes without speaking.
“Emily?” Sam asks.
“Hmm?” I say contently with my eyes closed.
“Can I ask you something and you answer as honestly as you can?”
I straighten a little, turn to see Sam and open my eyes, becoming more attentive of what he’s saying, “Okay.”
“When I imprinted on you, you were mad and hated me and wanted me to go back to Leah.”
“That’s not really a question, ” I think about it for a moment before answering. “Yes, I was mad. No, I never have nor ever will hate you. And yes, I wanted you to return to Leah.”
Sam thinks over my answer, “You didn’t even hate me when this happened?” He brings his hand to my face and gently moves his finger along my scars.
“No. It was an accident, Sam.”
Sam is quiet for a moment and I think he is done with his questions and I turn my attention back to the fire until he does speaks again. “Do you still think I should go back to Leah?”
“If that’s what you want to do, I won’t stop you. I do like you, Sam, but I miss Leah. If the only way she would forgive me was for you to go back, then yes. But even if you did, I don’t know if she would forgive me. And I would miss you. A lot. If she ever decided she didn’t want you anymore…Well, I’d probably be there waiting.”
Sam sighs, “I wish this all were easier.”
“Me too, ” I agree.
“One more question, ” He pauses “okay maybe not. There will be more no matter how you answer.”
He hesitates again and I turn to look at him. His brown eyes reflect my silhouette against the rainbow flames.
“Do you…love me?”
I am taken aback by his question and have to turn away from his stare.
Do I love Sam? Do I? I realize I do. . But does that mean I don’t care about Leah anymore? Can’t I have both?
I turn back to him bravely, “Yes. I love you.”
Sam smiles and my heart melts with the power of this newfound love. I love Sam Uley. I want to shout and proclaim my love for him to the world. The look in his eyes says he does too, but we settle for a kiss. Gently, he places his hands on either side of my face and comes closer, closer until our lips meet.
“I love you, Emily Young, and will continue to love you, until forever ends, with you in my arms.”
“I love you too, Sam.”
“So, another question then,” Sam draws himself away from me and kneels as if getting ready to stand. He reaches into his pocket and holds out a small box. My heart pounds like a jackhammer and it’s like we’re the only two people on earth. “Will you marry me, Em?” As he opens the box to reveal a silver ring, a clear round gem in the middle and lined with light topaz on either side. My eyes fill to the brim with tears.
“Yes, of course, ” I answer and saltwater spills onto my cheeks. He comes closer and kisses me again and I see that his cheeks are tear streaked too.
“I was hoping you’d say that, ” Sam says when we finally stop kissing.
I laugh, “I bet.”
Sam remembers then what he was doing before he kissed me and removes the ring from the box. He takes my hand and slides it onto my finger. In the colorful, shimmering light from the fire, the silver of the ring seems to bend and change colors. The contrast of the diamond against the topaz and the russet color of my skin is beautiful. Sam did a wonderful job choosing a ring and in that, I know I’ve made the right choice. He knows me so well and there is no one else on earth or even imaginable that I’d rather spend my eternity with.
We sit there for hours in each other’s arms, until the clouds above break and water falls down on us, putting out the fire. Sam scoops me into his arms and runs home, both of us with enormous smiles.
Thank you for reading! I sure had a blast writing this entry and I hope you’ve enjoyed reading it! Like Leah’s Diary on Facebook here and be sure to comment and like a lot so that you have a chance at becoming our next Fan of the Month! Also, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this entry, any others, the ring, anything; just talk to me! Love ya XOXO Annee
Going back to school after breaks is always hard. My Christmas break was interesting…not terrible but not great. Now school has returned and with it, a strong rainstorm. I walk to school anyways, not even wearing a hood. I don’t really care what my hair looks like, or if I’m soaked.
Outside the school building a group of my classmates are huddled under the shelter of the roof, chomping down breakfast before they head inside. They are quiet as I begin to approach then someone says, “Can’t even put on a jacket by herself? She’s gotta have a man for that too?” The group all snickers and the tears barely even threaten to come while I go inside.
“Leah? Can I talk to you for a minute?” One of my teachers, Ms. Mersey, catches me in the hallway.
I don’t say anything but walk with her into the empty classroom.
“How was your Holiday break?”
An flash of images enters my mind, the haunting ghosts that overtook my life more than usual over break. “It was okay,” I lie.
“I got something for you. For Christmas. I didn’t get a chance to give it to you before since I had to take a sick day just before break. My oldest daughter had her baby so I went to Seattle.”
“Oh, um, you didn’t have to do that.” I hate when people randomly give me gifts; it’s not like they care about me.
“I wanted to. Here, open it. I think you’ll like it.”
I take the present she’s holding out and hesitate a moment before neatly unwrapping the paper. Inside is a beautiful journal with the Quileute insignia in the middle surrounded by words and quotes of varying fonts and sizes. I open it and let the pages fan out as I drop them back down. Each page is an off-white with faded black lines and quotes interrupting them every few pages.
“Wow,” I say, surprised by how much I love the book. “Thank you.”
She smiles at my genuine interest. I put the journal in my messenger backpack and head to class.
My homeroom class is the first and last of the day and it’s the only one in which my teacher forces me to sit in the front of the room. Mrs. Warner is one of the few teachers not originally from La Push but she married a native a few years ago. A couple months later, he passed away and she got a job teaching at the school to pay the bills. Usually I sneak to the back of the classroom anyway, in hopes she won’t notice me there, but today, since I stopped to talk with Ms. Mersey, most of the class has already filed in and sat down. Those that haven’t had their seats claimed with their things. The seat I usually end up sitting in is vacant so I sit down with my bag atop the desk and rest my head on it.
“Jesse, Leah, heads up please,” Mrs. Warner insists after calling the class to order. I lift my head for a second and as soon as she begins speaking again, put it back down, ignoring the class that goes on around me. For the most part, they ignore me too.
“Leah,” someone whispers, nudging me. I raise my head a bit and open my eyes to see the girl who sits next to me with her hand on my arm. “We’re supposed to be finding a partner for the assignment. Do you want to work together?”
I shake my head. “I, uh, don’t—” I stop speaking when I see the look on her face. She looks…friendly. I look around the classroom and see that everyone else is already working. “Okay. You’re…Brianna, right?”
“Yes,” she says, studying me curiously. “You really don’t pay attention much, do you?”
“Why should I?” I automatically snap and instantly regret it. “Sorry, I just…I really have no reason to.”
She nods. “So we’re, um, supposed to choose a famous mathematician and do a report on them with a poster to explain what they taught and their theory and stuff.” I don’t say anything so she continues. “So I guess we should see if we can use a computer?”
She gets up and asks approval to use one of the ancient computers our school has only a few of and returns with a permission slip. We go to the computer room and sit together around the monitor. It takes several minutes for the old machine to begin to hum and come to life. While we wait, Brianna tries to make conversation, but I’m severely out of practice.
“So, what do you like to do, Leah?”
She has to repeat the question a few times before I comprehend.
“Do? Uh, I don’t know. I don’t do anything.”
“Do you like books? Movies? Sports?”
“No. I can’t…focus.”
“Oh.” Brianna gives up and turns her attention to the computer, typing in the school’s log in and opening up the slower-than-molasses-Internet. I never use the computers here. Mom and Dad have one at home that they use for work sometimes. Seth occasionally plays games on it but I’ve never really had an interest in using it. What would I do? Solitaire my life away? Talk to the friends I don’t have?
Brianna does most of the work, telling me what to write in a notebook after she finds information on the computer, occasionally drawing a quick sketch and then returning the pencil to me.
“What’s that?” she asks, taking me from a daydream I’d drifted into.
I look up at her and down at the paper where she appears to be looking. I’ve been doodling, I guess, and nearly the entire second page is covered with dark pencil lines. In the bottom right corner is a picture of a cage, a prison with me inside. The bars of the cage are actually made of feathers and beads that go up to form a dream catcher just under our few sentences of notes. I’m not in the web of the dream catcher like I was in the prison, but someone else is; It’s Sam and he’s not really caught, more like relaxing in the web. In the left hand corner, is the part I was last working on it appears since it’s not fully finished. It’s Emily, tossing a key behind her into a wolf’s mouth. I have no idea how I came up with any of it—it was all a subconcious effort. The truth in the picture is so strong it hurts—except the wolf. What is the wolf there for?
Brianna takes the paper and looks at each part of the drawing closer. “Wow. You’re really good. I didn’t know you could draw.”
I shrug. “I didn’t either really.”
“Who are they?”
I look at the picture once more and then look away. “I don’t know,” I lie.
The bell rings and Brianna hesitates with her hand on the notebook. “Do you mind if I keep this? It has our notes,” she says.
I shake my head and swing my bag over my shoulder. “It’s yours anyways.”
Then we head our seperate ways to the next class. Nothing out of the ordinary happens until lunch; just same old boring classes and people grumbling about having to come to school after break. At lunch when I walk into the cafeteria that holds kinderten through twelfth grade for lunch, I notice something off in the high school section. Hardly anyone is at the tables; instead they are huddled in groups and there’s a buzz in the air. I slide to a halt in the doorway but the principal pushes his way past me with the secratary and lunch duty following close behind.
“What’s going on?” Mr. Steadfoot, the principal, demands in a loud voice.
A few of the groups loosen but no one says anything.
“Now!” he continues. Someone pushes a freshman girl from their group towards him. She shuffles forward slowly with a paper in hand, gives it to him, and retreats to the lunch line—not that it does any good, because everyone has stopped moving to watch. He examines the paper with his group gathered around. “Who drew this?”
Again, no one answers. Finally someone lifts their finger to point. Other hands slowly raise to join them in pointing at…me?
Mr. Steadfoot turns toward me in complete and utter confusion. “Her?” He raises an eyebrow. “No offense to you, Miss Clearwater, but you’re not one to draw attention to yourself let alone pick up a pencil. Is this yours?”
I don’t move. I don’t speak. What has happened? After a few seconds he walks to me with the paper lifted up by a corner as if it is contaminated. It is my drawing. The one I gave Brianna earlier but since then it’s been altered inappropriately. It was obviously made to hurt me though, not anyone else. Why would someone do this? My eyes flicker around the room until I find Brianna. She’s stitting down in the middle of the floor, her eyes cast downward.
Mr. Steadfoot still has his eyebrow drawn and is waiting for my answer but I continue to watch the group. A few girls, the more popular ones, stand around Brianna. One of them—Kelsey—speaks to Brianna with her hands on her hips. “Get up. It’s not like you were her friend anyways. It’s better this way. You wouldn’t want her to come between us, would you? I mean, all she cares about is that dumb guy.”
“Miss Clearwater? Leah?” the principal says, bringing my attention back to him. “Is this yours?”
“I’ve never seen that before,” I lie. I turn on my heel and walk down the hall to my next class even though it’s not time. Mom won’t be happy if I miss any more classes for ‘no reason,’ as she puts it.
Behind me, I try not to listen to the commotion. It’s too loud though. I can hear the tapping of Kelsey’s heels as she crosses the linoleum and says, “Mr. Steadfoot! It is hers. Brianna watched her draw it in 3rd hour.”
Then his deep voice, “Brianna, is this true?”
I don’t hear an answer but from the way the noise resumes in the cafeteria, it seems as though Brianna has answered. In my next class, the bell has already rang and the teacher started class when I realize that Brianna should be in this class. She comes in late and takes the only empty seat in the room, which happens to be in front of mine. When the teacher has handed out old papers and gave us an assignment later, Brianna turns around in her seat.
“I’m really sorry, Leah. It was sticking out of my bag and Cory grabbed it. I didn’t even realize he and Kelsey had it until they’d drawn all over it and made like ten copies.”
I ignore her and pretend to do my worksheet.
“Leah? I’m really, really sorry.”
“I don’t even care.”
“Please? I do want to be your friend, Lee.”
I look up at her. “Kelsey doesn’t want you to be my friend very much. Aren’t you her puppet anyway? Never stray from the pack, right?”
The look on her face says I’m right; she’d never betray her best friend, and befriending me would be doing that. I ignore her for the rest of the class despite her attempts to apologize. The instant the bell rings, I dash towards the hallway with my bag slung over my shoulder. I’m going so fast the strap of my messenger back catches on the doorknob, slinging me into the wall like a rubberband. Instead of getting up, I sink to the floor as the tears begin to roll down my face.
“Leah?” a deep voice asks, holding a tissue in front of my face. I snatch the tissue away but don’t use it. I don’t look at the owner of the voice either who seems to have the intention of staying beside me. After a moment, he sinks to the floor beside me, our backs against the wall and legs extended. Our classmates have to play hopscotch to get through the maze of us and our things.
“Can I do anything for you, Leah?” The voice asks.
Finally looking up, I find myself drawn into a pair of beautiful hazel eyes. I frown because I can’t remember the helpful man’s name. He must notice this somehow because he holds out his hand and says, “Tony.”
I begin to shake my head in reply to his question, not shaking his reaching hand, but his hand quickly raises and catches my cheek, forcing me to look at him.
“I saw your drawing before they ruined it. You really have a talent. It was beautiful, just like you.”
I don’t plan to answer but a whispered “thank you” escapes my lips.
“Do you think maybe I could take you out sometime?”
The question catches me off guard and before something else slips out, I stand up, leaving my bag behind, and sprint out of the classroom. Where is there to go though? It seems as though no matter where I am, the nightmares are there too. Finally, I decide to go home, not caring that I’ll surely get into trouble for skipping more classes.
Mom is in the living room, chatting away with her company—Old Quil and his daughter, Mishawn, who is a good friend of Mom’s—as she irons clothes.
“What are you doing home from school?” she asks with an exasperated sigh. I shrug. “Oh Leah! You have to stop this! You can’t just come and go from school and work as you please! You do need more credits if you want to graduate with honors.”
“Maybe I don’t.”
“Well perhaps I expect it from you.”
“Perhaps I don’t care.”
“Leah Anne Clearwater! Go to your room! Now! I expect you back at school in the morning with all of your work done.”
I roll my eyes and go upstairs. What could she possibly punish me with? Deprive me of sleep? Not like the nightmares don’t already do that. Not let me see anyone? Not likely anyways. Why do I even bother living?
An hour or so later, the front door opens and closes a few times so I assume mom’s company has left. Then someone walking up the stairs—probably Mom coming to give me another lecture about missing school.
There isn’t a knock on my door before she enters. No, not she, but my father.
“Hey,” he says, sitting on the bed across from mine.
I don’t answer.
“What’s going on?”
“Did Mom send you to lecture me?”
“No. She’s in a bad mood though so I guessed you’d come home early. Wanna tell me what’s going on?”
“Not really. I don’t want to seem weak just because I come home when I get tired of being treated like crap,” I say.
“Leah, you’re the strongest person I know. You’ve been through so much more, and even before that, you were more mature than any of the kids at school. Your soul is a thousand years old. Nothing you say could make you seem weak,” Dad says gently.
I suck in a deep breath and then tell him everything. “They all hate me and think I’m weak. None of them know me. We had to work in partners today and while I was taking notes, I started to doodle without thinking about it. The notebook wasn’t mine and someone else got ahold of it. They changed the picture to something bad, and then told the principal I’d drawn it. I just can’t stand to be laughed at day after day for things that have hurt me, things I can’t control. They think I can’t do anything without Sam.”
Dad sighs and takes a moment to gather his thoughts. “They don’t know you. They don’t understand what you’ve been through. I doubt that any one of them has evern had a love like yours and Sam’s. Next time something happens, fight back harder. Explain what happened. Don’t let them push you around. You have it in you to fight and be strong. It’s in your blood, Leah.”
“You know I don’t believe all that tribe stuff anymore.”
“It doesn’t matter. It’s in your blood anyway. Did I ever tell you about what happened with me in high school?”
“I don’t think so,” I answer, trying to recall all the stories he’s told me.
“I’ll be right back,” he says, going out into the hallway and leaving the door open. He opens the hallway closet that holds extra linens and digs through a box at the bottom. Dad returns a minute later with a photo album, which he opens and sits by me, pointing to a picture of a younger version of my Dad and someone else. “This was my best friend in high school. He died the week before our senior year. It was so hard on me. I didn’t want to do anything—eat, sleep, go to school, be at home, nothing. So many people made fun of me, telling me to get over it and move on. He’d been my best friend for years, so that was not easy. In about the middle of the year, they started wondering if his accident wasn’t so accidental after all. Rumors started to fly about suicide and homicide. At school, speculations were made about me being involved. It was awful. I mean, he was my best friend. Anyone that was kind to me, the others would tell them that they were next.”
“I had no idea,” I say. Dad’s story is so similar to my own, so painful also. “Dad, how did you make it through the rest of school? And what happened?”
Dad exhales slowly. “I barely made it through passing. It wasn’t easy and I still think about the things they said to me. Whether friends or foes, you’ve got to become friends with everyone because everyone is really fighting the real enemy; yourself, and others can help you win that fight.”
I nod but don’t reply; I’m too busy thinking about everything he’s said.
Dad leaves me and keeps Mom from bothering me for the rest of the day. He wakes me up in the morning, telling me to ‘go fight and don’t let them get to you. Friends may come and go, but foes do too.’
Thank you for reading! Let me know what you think of this entry at Leah’s Diary on Facebook! We have a Fan of the Month and you could be next just for asking questions & letting me know what you think of my writing XOXO Annee
Hey! Sorry it’s been so long! To make up for it, this is a super long entry!
WARNING: ahead of time, there may be some triggers in the last paragraph for those of you who need to watch out for them. Also, all the italic section is a memory so when it switches back to normal font, it’s back in the present time for Leah. I hope you enjoy the entry! Love you all! <3 Annee
A Lindsey Stirling song seeps to my ears from my headphones. Thump. Thump. That’s new, I think, wondering if it was possible that I’d somehow missed two stomps in the song I thought I’d had memorized. Thump. Thump. Louder this time. No, not possible. I pull an ear bud out in time to hear a third knock on my door.
“What?” I groan, hitting pause on my new mp3 player.
The knob turns and Dad pokes his head in. I relax since it’s not Mom coming to hound on me. From the time of my return from Rachel’s, Mom’s been so snappy and overbearing. Dad on the other hand, had been the closest thing I had to a friend. And when Seth wasn’t in his room humming along to love songs on the radios—something weird and unusual for Seth—or out with friends, he’d sometimes come in and talk to me.
“Hey, Lee-bear. I could tell your mom was plotting to come up and drag you to the neighborhood party tonight so I figured I should come warn you. Mom’s not so great at being relaxed and keeping her cool sometimes.”
I force my lips into a tight grin. “Thanks, Dad.”
“Really though, you should come. I don’t think it will be too terrible. And if it is, you can be my excuse to leave. Or vice versa.”
A short laugh escapes me. “I’ll think about it. What time?”
“Ten-thirty. And the usual spot. Not the same as last year’s though since this is just the neighborhood, not the council’s party.”
Dad leaves and I spend a minute thinking it over. Last year when I went, I was still with Sam. It was just before he disappeared. For a few minutes, I allow myself to remember, knowing it would come in my dreams tonight anyways.
I hear the doorbell ring downstairs and then voices as it opens and closes. Sam must be here. I smooth over my dress, straighten my corduroy jacket one last time and head downstairs with my sandals sinking into the carpeted stairs. I watch Sam’s head lift from his conversation with my mother and his eyes gaze across me. He takes my hand at the bottom step and doesn’t let go as I come to stand beside him, not even when my father comes in the room. In fact, he kisses me quickly on the cheek. I blush which makes Sam laugh.
“As long as it’s fine with you, Mr. and Mrs. Clearwater, I’ll take Leah to dinner and then we’ll meet you in a couple hours at the party,” Sam says, looking both my parents in the eye.
Dad nods his head once. “Sounds fine. Have a good evening you two. No messing around. And take good care of her, Sam. She’s my princess.”
“Always, sir. I would never let anything bad happen to her.” Sam smiles at me. We bid my parents a good evening, and head outside. I laugh when I see the car Sam’s got for us for the evening. He doesn’t have his own car yet and instead borrows from someone. This time he has his mother’s ancient, beat up VW bug. I punch him in the arm and run to escape the teasing I know will come in return.
Sam laughs, shakes his head and runs after me. I pull open the passenger door, get in and lock the doors. Sam jogs around to the driver’s side and leans down to look in the window. First, he raises an eyebrow and then shrugs when I give him a challenging look. I grab the keys from the middle console—no one steals cars in La Push— turn the car on and the radio up enough to make the seats vibrate. Looking back at the house, I see my parents and Seth peeking out the windows laughing. I wave and smile before turning back to Sam. His nose is pressed against the glass, his lips drawn into a pout, and his eyes wide, faking sadness. I burst out laughing so hard it takes me awhile to find the unlock button.
Sam gets in the car, turns the radio back to its normal volume and watches me laugh.
He smiles. “Well, I certainly no longer regret bringing this car.”
“Why’s that? You like getting locked out of your own car? That’s really weird, Sam, my man.”
“Ha, ha,” Sam says sarcastically as he backs up the car. “No, not really. But I do love seeing you laugh and have a good time.”
I take Sam’s free hand that’s not driving and lay my head on his shoulder.
“I love you,” I say.
“I love you more,” he counters, leaning to kiss my head at a stop sign.
“Where are we going?” I ask as we head further into town instead of our normal date route towards Forks.
I close my eyes and breathe in Sam’s smell; sweet, delicious and mature. My stomach does flips even though I’m comfortable with Sam. He’s home to me.
The car comes to a stop and I open my eyes to find us parked near the edge of the forest, not our usual place but somewhere I’ve never been.
“Ready?” I don’t answer Sam through words but sit up. Before I’ve got my seatbelt off, Sam is opening my door and taking my hand in his.
We hike through the forest, Sam helping me around and over nature’s obstacles.
“Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea,” I comment as I see our next trial is a large pile of rocks to climb over without a hint as to what’s on the other side. The accumulation of rocks ranges from small pebbles to stones as big as Seth’s head and looks unsteady. I’m more than ready to turn back after watching a squirrel scamper across sending several rocks—of varying sizes—tumbling down to the dirt.
“Nonsense,” Sam replies and scoops me into his arms. Instinctively, he holds me close and I curl my arm around his neck, linking it with my other hand. Sam paces himself and ascends the mound with ease. He’s sure-footed and so natural in the forest.
“I thought we were going to dinner anyways, Sam.”
“What’re we gonna do? Catch it ourselves?”
“If that’s what you want. But not exactly what I was thinking.”
We reach the top of the pile and after a few steps down, we are on the most beautiful cliff edge overlooking the forest, the rocky beach, and beyond that, the waves of the ocean. You can even see A-Ka-Lat, known by those outside of our tribe as St. James Island. Sam sets me softly on my feet and I gaze around at the breathtaking view.
“How did I not know about this place?” I ask.
“Honestly, I have no idea. Sometimes the tribe council has evenings or parties up here. It’s kept pretty quiet though. They don’t want a bunch of tourists or trouble-makers up here.”
“We’ll we’d better leave then,” I say, moving to face Sam and thread my arms around his neck again. Our foreheads touch and for a moment we breathe each other in. It doesn’t take long though before our lips meet and Sam brings me even closer to him. When we stop to catch a breath, I pull back a bit and smile.
“I miss you.”
“You see me every day, Lee-lee,” Sam laughs.
“I know but if it was my way, you’d always be around.”
“Me too. Soon. Once we graduate…”
I press my lips against his again, interrupting his words.
“I love you, Sam.”
“I love you, Lee-lee. Are you hungry?”
I turn back to look around the cliff again, wondering if we just came up for the view and Sam still plans to eat at a restaurant. No, there on the edge of a cliff, still ten feet from the drop, a blanket is spread across the wild grass and damp earth. A cooler sits by the edge of the quilt. I raise my eyebrows. I must have been pretty distracted to miss a bright red box.
With our hands linked we go to the blanket and arrange ourselves comfortably. Sam opens the cooler and begins getting out the food. Apparently it’s actually a hot/cold box, with half of it meant to keep food warm for a few hours and the other side to keep things chilled. We sit facing each other as we eat, but I’m not looking at Sam. Instead the view distracts me for the majority of my meal. As the full moon rises, I find myself concentrating more on Sam; the soft brown of his eyes, his full lips, his dark russet skin, his feathery hair. Everyone of his features, I know as well as my own.
“What are you thinking about?” Sam asks, breaking the silence.
“You,” I answer, setting my drink on the ground and scooting beside him. Sam puts his drink down as well and drapes his arm around me. I rest the back of my head on his chest and tilt my chin up to see him.
“So…New Year’s resolutions?” Sam asks, his voice steady and curious.
I groan, “Uhh. I hate those. If you want to do something, do it. Why wait for the New Year? I hate that word, goal. Sounds so…Uhh. It should be more like ‘What’s on your bucket list?’ And pick twelve or so; one for each month. Or smaller ones, to do each week.”
From the movement against my head, I can tell Sam is nodding.
“That makes sense. So, your bucket list then?”
I think for a minute. “I don’t really know. Maybe we should make one for us to do together,” I suggest, another set of stomach flips arriving.
Sam brightens at the idea and and picks up on my own excitement. He pulls out his phone and opens the notes in front of us; ‘Number one: Never go a day without a kiss.’
“That sounds achievable,” I smile and move to kiss him. “What else?”
“I don’t know. Until you’re finished with school, I don’t suppose your parents would like us to do much more in that direction. Maybe some kind of date adventures; miniature golfing, or scavenger hunts or some stuff like that.”
I scrunch up my face in an attempt to look upset but Sam kisses me on the nose and I end up laughing.
“My Lee-lee,” Sam whispers and kisses me once more. After a few minutes we begin cleaning up our food, folding up the blanket, and storing them both under a tree. Sam says he’s coming back for them tomorrow, so we begin the hike back down. Sam helps me down the sliding rocks again and guides me through the forest by the light of the moon. If it were just me alone in the dark forest here, I wouldn’t have a clue as to how to find my way back, let alone see all the obstacles. It’s almost like Sam has a sixth sense.
Soon we’re back at the car where Sam opens my door for me and waits until I’m in to close it. We check the time and decide to head to the New Year’s Eve party although we’ll be a bit early. Even though there’s plenty of time to spare, most everyone is already there. Our neighborhood usually throws a New Year’s party each year, but this year is a council meeting party—not that that means anyone out of the norm will be there since La Push is so small. The council throws a party every year, but rotates which holiday it’s for. Sam and I make our was to the crowd dispersed among the small grass and mud covered field. Music plays loudly, forcing everyone to talk louder to be heard. We spot my parents with Billy Black, Charlie Swan—actually from Forks but invited anyways since he’s pretty much family—and Old Quil who’s another council member, and head toward’s them. Their circle widens as we join.
“Hey kids,” says Billy with a smile on his face.
“How are you Leah? Sam?” Old Quil says and shakes our hands.
“Good,” we answer in unison. I smile at our jinx and lean against Sam. He wraps his arm around my waist at the same time I fold my arms and grab his other hand. We’ve been together so long now, Dad doesn’t even blink. I know he approves of Sam and how well-mannered he is despite his father’s short comings.
“How has your evening been?” Mom asks us.
“Amazing. Sam’s quite a good cook and the view from our picnic spot was incredible. You could see A-Ka-Lat.”
“Oh yeah? I bet that was beautiful with the sun setting and stars coming out.”
“It was,” I answer.
A slow song comes on through the speakers and Sam knows by the jerk of my head to look at him that I want to dance.
“Excuse us,” he says politely and escorts me to where others are dancing. “Your parents and the others are talking about us,” Sam says as we sidestep in a circle.
“How do you know?” I ask.
“They’re all watching us and I can read our names on their lips.”
I turn to see them and watch as they meet my eyes and all quickly look away. I laugh and Sam joins in; alto and bass, a harmonious sound that blends with the fast song coming on.
For a long time we make rounds to friends and distant family, back to my parents and again to the dance floor. We do separate a few times, me being whisked away to the dance floor by my father to swing or slow dance, and Sam chatting with the adults and my mother. By the time eleven-thirty rolls around, my feet are aching and my voice raspy from having to speak so loudly. Sam notices how worn out and tired I am and watches silently for an opportunity to get away. When an older couple takes the dance floor doing a traditional Quiluete dance and drawing most of the crowd’s attention. My parents are watching intently along with the rest of their group so Sam takes my hand and leads me a way into the forest. We go to the trail that runs around La Push, a hundred and fifty yards or so in. In fact, that’s where we usually spend time together, just not this part of the trail. Sam finds a mossy boulder with a bed of pine needles below and spreads his jacket for us to sit on.
“Tired?” he asks, already knowing the answer.
“Mmhmm,” I murmur, closing my eyes as I rest against his shoulder.
“The hike probably didn’t help.”
“It’s worth it if I get to be with you.”
I hear the crack of his parched lips as he smiles. We are quiet as we rest for a few minutes. A loud crack makes me jump. Sam’s body tenses, his arm curling tighter around me to offer—no, give—his protection. Another snap and footsteps. Hushed voices. We both look around for the source of the noise. Two dark silhouettes stand out and pause as they catch a glimpse of us.
“Who’s there?” Sams asks, his voice strong.
The figures stop walking and turn to see us.
“Um…,” a male voice hesitates, “we’re not really supposed to be here so…we’ll just go.”
Sam stands up and finds the voice’s owner in the darkness.
“Who. Are. You,” Sam growls.
“Parker. Parker Vance. And my sister, Julia. Please, just let us go.”
“Why are you out here? You’re not from La Push.”
“No, no. We’re from out of town,” the voice says.
“Why are you here?” Sam repeats.
When the voice responds, it is thick with the threat of tears. “We shouldn’t be. We—”
The girl speaks for the first time, sensing her brother’s trouble finding words. Her voice sounds younger than I thought her to be. “Our mommy and daddy went to heaven and the bad people took us so Parker’s taking us to a nice warm place. Only he forgot how to get there and Madi went to get help, only she got took again. So me and Parker are just trying to find more good people like us.”
Somewhere during the little girl’s explanation I stood up. The moon came out from behind the clouds, giving us more light and illuminating the pair’s exhausted and dirty faces. I walk to Sam’s side and touch his arm. He turns and his face softens when he sees the pleading look on my face.
“Please don’t let them take us,” Parker says. His eyes are distant and afraid, like he’s remembering something haunting from his past. I turn away from Sam to him and am taken back by how handsome he is.
“Come on,” I say. “It’ll be okay.”
I take hold of Julia’s hand and begin leading the way to the parking lot, leaving no choice for the others but to follow. I hear Parker’s loud footfalls and have to look over my shoulder to see that Sam is there too, as his footsteps are nearly silent. We reach our car and I grab mine and Seth’s cell phone from the middle console to dial my mother’s number.
“Leah? Where in the world are you? You two do not—do you hear me?—not, run off like this!” She continues rambling on, not allowing me a word.
I say, “Mom!” several times growing louder each time until she finally stops speaking.
“What?” she snaps.
“Can you and Dad and Charlie please come to the parking lot ASAP?”
“Uhh, okay?” She sounds confused but I know they’ll come.
I watch as three figures emerge from the crowd and walk toward us at a brisk pace. Under the streetlamps, it’s easy to see that both Parker and Julia have not bathed in days. They are so thin; they’re stomachs must be long past growling and now just suffer in silence. Even the skin on their faces stretches tight across their cheekbones. Parker’s eyes have dark circles below them and Julia’s covered in goosebumps, shivering despite the unusually warm night.
“What’s going on?” Charlie asks as they approach our silent gathering, surveying the newcomers.
“I’m hungry,” Julia says to Parker, tugging on his arm.
He replies, “I know, sissy. We’ll find something in the morning.”
Charlie meets Parker’s eyes and when Parker says no more, looks from me to Sam. “Sam? Leah?”
Sam answers, “We found these two in the woods. Parker and Julia.”
Julia shivers again and I remove my jacket, wrapping it around her.
“Let’s go back to the house and we can figure things out,” Dad says.
“We brought Charlie from the house and Billy and Jacob so we don’t have enough seats in the car. Do you have room, Sam?” Mom asks.
“Yeah, we can take them. Leah…”
“I’ll sit in the back with Julia,” I say, exchanging a look with Sam. He doesn’t want Parker to be able to do anything to us from behind like in the movies, and no way would he want me to sit next to him. It may be silly to consider such a thing but I don’t argue with him. He’s protective—which I like—and the last thing he’d want to do is take an unnecessary risk. Charlie retrieves Billy and Jacob from the crowd. Our group departs and gets in the cars to head for home driving behind my parents.
For seeming to have lived in the forest for awhile, Parker smells incredibly good. He has a woodsy scent—not like Sam’s forest floor and sea air smell—but a sweet, sappy evergreen aroma. The only sound in the car during the short drive is Julia humming a lullaby.
At the house, Sam waits for Parker and Julia to go in first, after Mom, Dad and Charlie and takes my hand as we bring up the rear. Parker and Julia settle on the couch with Dad and Charlie in recliners. Mom busies herself with checking in over the phone with Seth and getting mugs of warm milk and toast for our visitors. Sam and I head over to our usual spot on the love seat and he wraps me in his warm embrace. Only a minute after receiving her milk and gulping the entire glass, Julia falls asleep on a throw pillow.
“All right, kid. Parker, was it?” Charlie begins. “Let’s hear this story.”
Parker gazes around at all the eyes on him and then looks down, not saying a word.
“Okay,” Charlie continues. “We’ll start easy. Where are you and your sister from?”
“Seattle,” Parker’s smooth tenor voice replies. The sweet sound of it makes me shiver and Sam gives me a strange look which I pretend not to notice.
“And your last name?”
“Where are your parents?”
This too is only followed by silence.
“Look, Parker, I’ll be honest; I’m a cop. I want to help you two out but I can only do that if you tell me what’s going on. I promise not to let anything bad happen so long as I can. I will do everything in my power to help you out. So either you can answer my questions and I will do that, or I can take you to the station in the morning to answer them,” Charlie says.
Parker’s face twists into a look of anguish.
Words come from my mouth before I’ve even decided to speak. “They both look exhausted, hungry, and need to clean up. Let’s let them sleep through the night and take care of their needs. Maybe Parker will be more open after a good night’s rest and a full meal.”
Mom agrees and the men instantly know that there is no use arguing against the two of us.
“There’s two beds in my room and Seth’s gone for the night so I can take his,” I say.
“You sure, Leah?” Mom asks, already gathering pillows and blankets.
I nod and Parker follows Mom up. Dad scoops up Julia and he follows as well. I stand and Sam comes up with me.
“Leah,” Sam whispers seriously once we are out of earshot. “I don’t like this. Them taking your room? Him?“
“Sam,” I argue, “they have no place else to go.”
“The couches, Leah. Not your room!” he hisses.
I shake my head and go upstairs. We stand between rooms in the hallway.
“I’ll be fine,” I insist. “I love you.”
“I love you, too.”
“Come over first thing in the morning and you’ll see that everything is fine. Text me when you get home.”
Sam nods but his lips are drawn tight and I can tell he still despises the situation. Sam retreats down the stairs and I get ready for bed in the bathroom then head to Seth’s room shutting the door behind me.
“Goodnight, Leah,” my parents say, and I hear them head back downstairs.
There’s a soft knock on Seth’s door a few minutes later at the same time my phone buzzes. It’s Sam saying that he’s made it home. I text him back telling him ‘goodnight’ and ‘I love you’ and then open the door expecting Julia to be there. Instead, it’s Parker standing there in a clean set of clothes a bit big for him.
“Hi,” I say, unsure of his reasons for being here. A voice in my head tells me to call for my parents, that Sam has been right but the words that come next from Parker say otherwise.
“I was wondering if I might ask you a few things? And perhaps confide in you. You’ve been so kind to us, Leah,” he says in that charming voice.
“Yes, of course. Umm—” I look around at our options of where to talk and remember Seth’s bed is a hide-a-bed. He wanted a couch in his room to make playing video games easier but there wasn’t room for both that and a bed. I go back in, clear my pillow off and fold up the bed. Parker hesitates in the doorway until I put the couch cushions on, and tilt of my head towards the sofa. We sit half facing each other with nearly a foot between us.
“Why did you help us?” he asks.
I shrug. “It seemed like something I should do. I would want someone to if it was me. And our chilly, wet weather already isn’t too fun even with a warm house.”
Parker nods, and goes to ask another question.
“Wait,” I interrupt. “My turn, if I may.” I wait for an approving nod. “Is what Julia said true? About your parents and everything?”
Parker hesitates before he answers, looking down at his hands. “It started about three months ago. We’d just moved from California to Seattle. Our parents went out to sign some more papers on our house, only they never got there. There was a bad rainstorm and we’re not so used to this weather. Something happened with the car; they lost control and hit a truck. We didn’t know what was going on. It got late and they didn’t come home so we—Madi and I—put Julia to be and then went ourselves.
“When I woke up, my sisters were downstairs and there was a stranger in the kitchen an police officers on the couch. They took us to a home, the Bergstrom’s, where we stayed for three days. Then to the Delany’s. As nice as they were, they just had too many kids and it wasn’t home. It was like a combined duplex with two families, both with biological, adopted, and foster kids. We were walking to school one day when these people came and offered us a lift. Julia accepted so Madi and I had no choice but to follow our little sister already in the car. We didn’t go to school that day. I don’t even remember the weeks after that. They’re just gone. Until one day, a few weeks ago, we woke up and they’d forgotten to lock the door. They were in another room so we sneaked out.
“For about a week we ran, stealing from trash when we could and collecting rain water. It was clear, though, that we had to keep moving. We have a family friend who lives just over the Canadian border and if we could just get there…Only Madi started to get sick. She threw up every morning and could hardly keep anything down—not that there was much to eat anyways. She got upset and found a little gas station. She went in to get help while Julia and I hid outside across the road. Then a car showed up. The same one from weeks before. The people went in and only minutes later, Madi was being forced into their car again. We couldn’t go back or get help—I’d turn eighteen and could be charged with kidnapping since we’d disappeared from a foster home. It looked bad so we had to just keep going. We’re running out of luck though. It’s only a matter of time before we starve or freeze or something attacks us,” Parker finished in a fearful whisper. I close my eyes trying to process everything.
“Madi’s your sister?”
“Yes. She’s fifteen.”
A tear spills from my eye, sympathetic of their hardships. “How old’s Julia?”
For the first time since Parker began his story, I turn to face him fully and look him straight in the eye.
“You are incredible for staying alive with your sisters so far. If you remember where the place was you escaped from, I bet Charlie—the cop friend—could help get Madi back.”
Parker shakes his head, “They’ll end up back in a foster home. Even though I’m eighteen now, I haven’t graduated yet. I can’t support all three of us. And if we told and those people weren’t located, I can be accused of kidnapping the girls. You can’t tell anyone this , Leah. Not even your parents. No one can know. Okay?”
“Okay,” I agree, even though common sense tells me not to. Parker has trusted me and if I can’t explain, maybe I can convince him to tell Charlie something. “I promise.”
“Thank you, Leah. For everything. Just giving us a good meal and a warm place to sleep is more than I’d ever thought would happen. I’d wished though, and you made that come true. It’s so much.”
“Of course.” We are quiet for a moment so I ask another question. “So, what now?”
“Well if we could stay another day or two to get more rest and energy. I know the cop probably won’t let me go too long without answers, so…I don’t really know. I’ll think of something. Just as long as I can keep Julia quiet while we’re around.”
“I don’t have my license but maybe I can talk Sam—my boyfriend—into giving you a boost. And you’ll let me know if there’s anything else I can help with?”
“Yes.” A yawn interrupts his words.
“You should get some sleep. Just give me some kind of signal if you need or want to talk more.”
Parker nods and stands up. “Goodnight, Leah. I’ll never stop owing you for this kindness.”
He envelops me in a warm hug, giving me another whiff of his delicious smell.
“Goodnight, Parker. I hope everything works out.”
He leaves the room and I put the bed back together. Despite my fatigue from the long day, I have a hard time falling asleep—too much to think about. Sam, Parker, Julia, Madi, Charlie, so many fill my thoughts; It takes hours to find peace and silence in my mind.
In the morning, I am faintly aware of a knock and someone coming in but I don’t fully arouse until sunlight streams in through the window and someone sits on the edge of the bed. I stretch my arms and legs and rub my eyes to clear the gunk that settled there overnight. A smile comes to my face when I see that it’s Sam in the room. My parents must be in a good mood to let Sam come up while I’m in bed which is surprising since we sneaked away from the party last night; they must be preoccupied with our company.
“Good morning, beautiful,” Sam says, leaning to kiss me quickly—no, maybe not quickly. There’s no such thing as a quick kiss when it comes to us. “How’d you sleep?”
“Good. I brought you some breakfast,” Sam says lifting up a tray of scrumptious looking food, equipped with orange juice and a daisy in a vase. I smile bigger and sit up, pushing more pillows behind me and moving to make room for Sam next to me. He hands me the tray and I lay my head on his chest while I eat.
“How are you? How was your night?” I ask between bites.
“Better now that I’m with you. I’ve been worried. Up most of the night.”
“You know you can call me. Or text. I’m fine,” I tell him. “Parker…he’s a good guy. He’s just trying to keep his sister alive.” Sam shrugs and I know he wants to change the subject. “Thank you for last night. I had a good time with you. As always.”
“Me too. If we didn’t have school and me work, I’d take you on a date everyday.”
I smile for a moment but the thought of returning to school after our break makes me groan, “You had to bring up school.”
Sam chuckles. “Five more months. Maybe you should see about doing something over the summer so you can graduate early. Then we could go to Seattle or somewhere together in the fall or winter.”
As Sam speaks, already holding my left hand he traces the base of my ring finger giving me chills. So soon. I want it though. More than anything else, I want Sam to officially be mine forever.
“Not sure my parents would go for that. I don’t even turn seventeen for another month. And besides, you’ve already been accepted to UW so it’s way too late for me to even apply.”
“Yeah,” he sighs. “I just…I wish and hope. I want to be with you always. And not just a date every Friday and Saturday night but every day and night. I…dating isn’t quite enough anymore. Well it is, I just wish…”
“I’m not sure I’m even going away this year.”
“I don’t want to leave you. I’ll find another job, maybe more to Forks or at least find another house, but, Lee-lee…” I wait as he finds the right words. “Leah, I love you. And I do not want to leave you. I can wait another year for you so long as you’re all mine after that.”
I lean up to kiss Sam. “I love you, too. I’ll be okay with whatever you choose, and I certainly won’t stop you from hanging around here.”
We chitchat for a bit longer about more lighthearted things as I finish my meal. Sam goes downstairs to give me privacy to shower and dress. It’s nearly ten in the morning when I go downstairs but I don’t suppose anyone has been up for too long because of the late night. Sam is waiting for me, sitting on the bottom step observing from a distance the heated discussion. He stands and puts his arm around me and I assess the situation.
Dad and Charlie seem to be pestering Parker for information while he refuses to speak to them, only Mom and Julia. Julia is coloring at the coffee table with Mom on the floor beside her.
“Give them some time for goodness sakes!” Mom says defiantly. “They were found starving and freezing in the woods. The least you could do is give them a day or two to warm up to us.”
“Sue,” Dad says gently, “I’m not against helping them. But we’d at least like some answers what with all the hospitality. We want the answers so we can help them more.”
“I can’t just let them stay here and not do anything. It’s against my code of conduct. They’re minors, or at least the girl is, and if they’re missing you can be held accountable for accessory at very least. Now, kid, Parker, just give me a birth date, your parent’s names, something, anything, to work with! I will help you,” Charlie says.
Parker shakes his head and glances over his shoulder to meet my eyes. He looks worn and desperate, just wanting a bit of peace to find some rest. Sam looks down at me curiously having noticed Parker’s gaze along with everyone else.
“Sue, Parker, Charlie’s right. We need to at least talk this out civilly,” Dad adds
“Julia,” I say. “I have a box of dolls in my closet if you want to go up and play with them. They’re in a white cardboard box on the left corner.
“Okay,” Julia nods looking happy to leave the tense room where her future is being discussed.
I walk to my spot from last night on the love seat and Sam of course follows. Mom joins Parker on the couch. Dad and Charlie also take seats but everyone sits on edge.
“I’m dying here, Parker,” Charlie says. “I want to help you guys.”
“I don’t know that you can,” Parker says, speaking for the first time since I’ve come downstairs. “And I know for certain that you won’t help me do what Julia and I are trying to.”
“And why’s that?”
Parker stays silent. Charlie lets out a long sigh and begins to rant out his spiel about trying to help.
“Wait!” I interject. “Wait. Why can’t we just let them stay while they need to and then give them some stuff to help them get where they’re going?”
Parker excuses himself to use the restroom probably thinking we could talk better without him too.
“We can’t do that because it is my duty to do more,” Charlie explains. I feel defeated in a sense and regret ever bringing Charlie into this after his next words. “If I suspect runaways or kidnappings or whatever, it is my responsibility and liability to report them. Any kind of home they may end up in is better than living off garbage and plants in the woods.”
“What if it’s not for them? And what if they’re going where they’re going is better than any of the other places they might end up?” I counter.
Charlie shakes his head and doesn’t speak for a moment. Then in a softer tone, matching the gentleness of Dad’s from minutes ago, “Did Parker tell you something, Leah?”
The hesitation in my reply gives everyone a clear answer. Parker might be out of the room but is he within earshot? No, it doesn’t matter. I wouldn’t tell even if he was on another planet. “I can’t say,” I finally whisper.
“Please, Leah. It will be better if you do,” Charlie pleases with me.
All at once, Charlie, Mom and Dad begin arguing loudly with one another again.
“Leah, can’t you just tell them a little?” Sam asks me quietly. “At least a bit more than what Julia told us?”
I shake my head. “I promised him I wouldn’t.”
“Can’t you tell me? I won’t tell anyone else and maybe between you and I we can figure out a way to help.”
“No, Sam.” I don’t even dare consider asking him to give them a ride now. He is apparently on Charlie’s side and would tell after he got back from dropping them off somewhere. They probably wouldn’t even make it a mile; the cops would be all over them.
“Why the heck not, Lee? What’s it gonna hurt? The way he’s hiding it all looks bad you know. Why can’t you at least tell me? Or get him to tell someone? They can’t stay here. That was just for one night.”
Now I’m upset. My voice is raised when I speak again. “Sam, it’s not your house! It’s up to us, not you. And Parker’s not hiding anything, he just needs a little boost. Some food, rest and a warm bed for a few days. Quit being so overprotective and nagging. Parker and Julia’s situation is none of your business.”
“Yeah, of course I’m going to be protective when we find an agile man in the woods and you bring him home and give him your room and share each other’s deepest secrets! When was that anyways? Did you share your bed last night? Is that what you meant by ‘giving him a warm bed?”
Before I have time to think, my hand flies out and slaps Sam on the cheek causing my palm to burn on impact. His face doesn’t even flinch but his body shakes with anger. The sound had been loud enough to silence the room—or maybe our yelling did that.
“Let me know when her new boyfriend turns out to be a sex offender,” Sam says to Charlie as he heads toward the door.
Seth had got home from his friend’s and stepped into the doorway sometime during all the action. Now the room is so silent you could hear a pin drop. Parker and Julia had also found their way into the other thresholds sometime during the mayhem and now stare silently. Tears gush down my face and I push past Seth out the door. I can’t follow Sam and I don’t know where he would have gone anyways.
The next day goes by in a blur. I don’t see anyone or anything. I alternate between running, sleeping and sitting in random places—the beach, the woods, the streets, anywhere that’s away from everyone I care about.
When I return home, I am exhausted having gone without food or even a sip of water and it is the day before school returns. Inside the house, Dad, Mom and Seth eat at the table with only the sound of their forks clinking to be heard. I go upstairs to my room—everything is back in place; the dolls, blankets, pillows, everything without a trace of Parker and Julia ever being there. Except, there is a crayon drawing laid upon my pillow. It’s a picture of Parker and Julia meeting me and Sam in the forest. Julia’s name is written in the top corner, but someone else has added speech bubbles and pens in black ink. I can hear the voice I’d learned to love to listen to so much as I read the handwriting I know is his.
In Parker’s speech bubble is a long monologue. It reads, “I’m sorry for the trouble we’ve caused you. I never meant to come between you and your boyfriend. I do like you, Leah, but I know better than to purposefully interfere with someone’s relationship. Thank you for not sharing my story. If they continue to pressure you, go ahead and tell, just please give us as much head start as you can. Hopefully by then we will be well on our way to a new home. Maybe our path’s will someday cross again and I hope karma will return the kindness you’ve shown us. Thank you, Leah. Forever in your debt, Parker.”
I wish they were still here. There’s so much I still want to say. I rip the paper up and throw it in the fireplace later. They are gone and I can do nothing about that. Sam, however, is around and if I want him to forgive me, he can’t ever see that piece of paper. That night, I allow myself to think of Parker, Julia and Madi for awhile but I know I cannot continue to dwell on them.
In the morning, I go to the phone first thing before school to call Sam. No answer. I ditch school and go to his house. No one’s there. When I return home, Sam’s mother’s car and Charlie’s are in the driveway. I hurry inside expecting to see Sam. He is not there. In the living room, my mother is consoling Sam’s sobbing mother. Charlie whispers to Dad in the kitchen doorway. When they see me, they give me a sorrowful look and explain. Sam is missing. Gone. Not here. They are ready with the needle when I go into hysterics.
I shiver as I leave the memory. I wish I could go back and change the past. I don’t know whether it’s easier to face them awake or in my dreams. Either way I cry and scream. Nearly thirty minutes have passed by as I’ve remembered. I don’t want to go to the party—even if it’s just a neighbourhood one—after how terrible last year’s turned out. I sit on my bed as a statue, numb from all the pain that comes with my memories.
The party starts outside yet I hear the front door open and someone coming upstairs. A knock. Not even my lips can move. Seth comes in and sits beside me.
He drops his arm around my shoulder and speaks gently, “No one’s going to make you come. I know it hurts. Everyone there is good. You’ll be okay to just come down and say ‘hi.’ And you haven’t had dinner. You have to eat, so…”
I nod and allow Seth to lead me outside. I’m still not fully aware—the pain is so strong—the evening seems to blend with memories of last year. In every lull of conversation, I hear them. The ghosts of my past. They haunt me as often as I breathe, so long as my heart beats. For a second the thought crosses my mind; maybe if I stopped breathing, if I stopped my heartbeats.The evening really isn’t too bad, though. I even laugh a little, smile, as long as Seth is nearby giving me nods and smiles, promising I’ll be okay and can leaven when I want. I stay until the party is over, having at least escaped my horrid memories a little. They have to return sometime though and they do. That night, I awake nearly ten times screaming and crying and drenched in sweat. The thing that haunts me even more than Sam on this new day of a new year is the realization that I still have never told of Parker’s past, and more than that, I don’t know what’s become of them.
The song Leah is listening to in the beginning can be found here.
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Note: This entry is from Emily’s perspective.
“Are you nervous?” I ask Sam.
We are holding hands across the front seat of Sam’s car on our way to my parent’s house in Makah for a New Year’s get together. Sam’s mom, Allison, is asleep in the backseat. I had offered her the front seat but both she and Sam insisted I take shotgun.
“A little, ” Sam admits with an anxious chuckle.
“It’s okay, ” I tell him. “They’ll love you.”
I squeeze Sam’s hand and he lifts my fingers to his lips, kissing them gently.
“Who’s running tonight?”
“Nobody, but they’re each supposed to run a quick lap, every time they get a chance.”
I nod. “Things been pretty quiet lately?”
“Yeah, which is good, but also means Jacob probably won’t be phasing anytime soon.”
“You’re ready for him to take over?”
“More than ready. It’s okay being in charge, but it’s a lot of responsibility. I’d rather spend more time with you, ” Sam explains with a smile. He leans over and kisses my cheek, never taking his eyes from the road.
We slow down at the edge of town and I direct Sam through the streets to my family’s small house. The house isn’t really that small in comparison to the majority of homes in Makah, but it is compared to where I live now.
Allison yawns from the back seat and both Sam and I glance back to see her stretching, her eyes glazed over from her nap.
“This one here, ” I say to Sam, pointing to the yellow house.
He pulls up next to the curb and we climb from the car. Sam retrieves the soda we brought from the backseat and then joins me and Allison on the sidewalk. I let us into the house and we follow the noise to the kitchen.
“Emi!” My two year old niece cries, running towards me.
I let go of Sam’s hand and lift her into my arms.
“Hi, Claire!” I exclaim.
“How are you, Em?” My mom asks.
“Good, ” I say taking hold of Sam’s arm and smiling at him. “This is Sam, and his mother, Allison. And this is my mom, Christa, my dad, John, my brother, Luke, and his daughters Cally and Claire, ” I introduce everyone, pointing and gesturing to each person as I say their name.
They all say hello and greet each other and my mother leads Allison further into the kitchen, chatting up a storm. Sam strikes a conversation with my father, and they head outside leaving me with Luke and his girls.
“Where’s Amy?” I ask about Luke’s wife.
The last time I talked to Luke was just before Christmas and he and Amy were not having the best time. She was hardly ever home and when she was, she was sleeping, leaving Luke to take care of the girl’s, provide money to pay the bills, cook, and clean.
Luke shakes his head and a look of sadness crosses over Cally’s face. I make a mental note to ask later when the girls aren’t around.
Mom ushers me and Allison into the kitchen and the men go to the family room with Claire. Cally disappears outside, a notebook in her hand.
I join Mom in loading the dishwasher, our backs to Allison who begins wiping down the counters.
“We’re so glad you could make it,” Mom tells Allison. “You must have done well in raising your son to make Emily leave Makah for him.”
Allison nods, “Thanks for having me. He’s a good boy. I think he could make any girl fall for him.”
I frown, upset at her seeming disbelief in the reality of our love. Pretending to look at the clock, I sneak a glance back to see that Allison is yawning, forcing a break in her words.
“But he’s very lucky to have Emily. She’s a hard worker and not totally dependent on Sam like some of his girlfriends in the past have been.”
A glare forms on my face. The only other girlfriend Sam has ever had to my knowledge is Leah and I hate what she’s implied about her. As I reach for another dish, I find that we’ve finished.
“Anything else you need, Mom?” I ask.
“Nope, I think we’re set.”
I reluctantly leave the kitchen and head outside since through the window on the backdoor I can see Cally still in the yard. She’s sitting on a swing staring at the ground in deep thought. The notebook is on the grass a few feet away. I take the 2nd swing and sway lightly back and forth.
“How’s it going, Cal?”
She sighs. “I don’t know.”
“Life giving you some pretty sour lemons?” I ask.
“Yeah, I guess,” Cally hadn’t looked at me until now when she turns her head up and I see the wet streaks running from her eyes.
“If you ever need to just talk, call me. Or have your dad drive you up. I know how rough things can get sometimes. I can always come find you too. Okay?”
Cally sniffs, “M’kay.”
We are quiet for a moment and I am about to go find Sam when she speaks again.
“It’s just…I’m afraid my mom’s going to leave us, you know? I heard you and Dad talking when we were at your house just before Ann and I came back from the beach.”
Alarm crosses through my mind but I keep a neutral expression. “You did?”
“I’m sorry, Cally. It’s just…sometimes couples just can’t be happy together anymore. It might mean that things will get even better for you guys. Wouldn’t it be easier if you didn’t have to be rejected by your mom every time you want her to do something with you? She wouldn’t be around to ask, but what if your dad found someone else who stayed home with you and Claire all the time? Wouldn’t that be nice?”
Cally sniffs again and shrugs.
“You know Seth’s older sister Leah?” Cally nods and I continue, “Well she and I used to be best friends. We did everything together. We even made a pact that we would help each other plan our weddings. Then boys came along. She started dating Sam Uley—”
“Wait, ” she stops me. “Sam that came with you tonight?”
I nod, “I hadn’t been going to Leah’s as much after that since we were both more busy with our lives. I hadn’t even met Sam officially, only seen him from a distance and in pictures. One day, I went to visit and I got to where we were all eating before Leah did. Sam was already there. I suppose you could say it was love at first sight. Everything was different after that. And even though they loved each other, it just wasn’t meant to be. Sometimes it’s not.”
After a while, we all end up in the backyard, watching the display of sky fireworks set off by the town. It’s eleven-thirty and Claire has been asleep for a few hours inside on the couch. Cally insists on staying up until midnight but she yawns more and more as the time goes by.
I’ve hardly been with Sam all evening because he’s been busy talking and laughing with my family. He was the one who put Claire to sleep, rocking her and singing, since she wouldn’t let anyone else. That makes me look forward to our future; on those sleepless nights when our baby won’t stop crying, Sam will get up and gently rock them to sleep, allowing me a few much needed minutes of sleep.
“How’s it going, beautiful?” Sam’s familiar voice whispers warm into my ear.
I smile and turn to him, wrapping my arms around his waist.
“Good, except I’ve hardly seen you tonight, ” I say.
“Well you were right, they love me, ” Sam says with a smile.
“I knew they would.”
Sam doesn’t say anything and instead kisses my head. Luke comes to stand by us and Sam lets go of my so we can both face him. He keeps one arm wrapped tightly around my waist.
“So, Amy?” I ask Luke.
“She’s supposedly at a party for work. One that families weren’t invited to,” he explains. His face is worn and he looks much older than the last time I saw him, only weeks ago.
I draw my lips into a hard line. “You don’t think that’s where she really is?”
“No. What kind of workplace does that? And more importantly, what kind of mom abandons her family on a holiday to go to a work party?”
Sam and I don’t answer his questions.
“I’m sorry, Luke. That must be hard.”
He nods and his eyes travel to Cally who gets closer to sleeping every minute. She’s now moved to a lawn chair and her chin rests in her hand.
“I’m happy for you though, sis. You two seem perfect for each other.”
I smile and turn to see that Sam is too. He kisses my lips quickly just as my parents and Allison come to join our circle.
“Thanks,” Sam says to Luke and then turns to my parents. “You raised the most wonderful woman I’ve ever met.”
My parents smile and as happy as I am, the smile on my own face falters as Leah enters my mind.
“It’s time, it’s time!” Cally exclaims, looking at her watch. “Ten!”
I join in counting, as do the others, grateful for the distraction from my thoughts.
Later when it is time to leave, we say our goodbyes and climb in the car and head home.
We are all tired and I’ve lost my excitement for the new year, my thoughts focused on Luke and Amy, on Leah.
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“Thanks so much, Rachel. I had a blast. For like, the first time in a long time,” I say hugging Rachel in the parking lot of the hospital. We stand between my car and Kara’s, which are both running. Kara is sitting in the driver seat of her car adjusting the controls. After Kara got back from Christmas with her family earlier today, she drove me back to my car and is returning to college with Rachel.
“Yep, it was awesome. You have to come back soon. I don’t think Kara will let you stay away for too long.”
“Yeah, I will. I would say you should come here too, but…”
Rachel makes a face. “Yeah, I know.”
“Well, talk to you later, Lee. Thanks for coming.”
Rachel gets in Kara’s car and I get in mine. I drive home slowly, dreading my return and the scolding which is sure to come. When I pull onto the street, I sigh with relief to see that our other car is not parked in the driveway. Maybe I can just go upstairs and act like nothing ever happened once my family got back from wherever they were. Of course, I’m not so lucky. I park, take my things from the car and go into the house. Dad’s sitting on the couch, doing nothing, it seems, but waiting for me.
“Welcome home,” he says politely. “Have a nice time?”
I nod. “The best.”
“Good. You’ve been needing some fun. Some time to get away.”
“Yeah, I really had.” Oddly, I don’t feel in trouble at all. “Bad luck still follows me everywhere, though. Sam showed up on day three.”
Dad’s eyebrows raise in surprise. Apparently Sam had kept his word. “So you were with Rachel?”
“Yeah. And some of her other friends. It was…a nice break.”
“Good,” Dad says. I head for the stairs, assuming he’s done talking. I’ve just reached the stairs when he speaks again. “Hey, Leah? Next time you want to get away, can you just ask me? I’ll take care of Mom, make sure she doesn’t freak too much.”
His words shock me and it takes me a moment to reply. “Uh, yeah. I guess so.” I come back to where I can see him. “You’d really do that?”
He nods. “Sam really has made it hard on you, and your mother only adds to the pressure. I understand that you need a break. And one more thing?”
“Yes?” I whisper. Dad’s words have surprised me so much, I can’t say much more than that.
“When you decide to leave home, don’t be like Rachel. Come back and visit your old man more than once a year. And call. I don’t want you to just disappear.”
I nod and murmur, “Okay.” The conversation once again seems to be finished and I walk upstairs quietly, thinking about what he said. Dad must understand more than I thought.
Awhile later, Mom and Seth come home. I hear Mom and Dad argue a little, but no one comes to my room. Not even when I smell dinner cooking and Seth leaves his room to eat. Intrigued by this newly offered loneliness, I decide to go down and eat with my family.
Everyone looks up as I walk into the dining room. Charlie is here, seated between Dad and Seth. My place at the table is set, but empty. I sit and begin dishing food onto my plate without saying a word.
“Good to see you home, Leah, ” Charlie says to me. “You gave your family quite the scare.”
I shrug, not knowing what to say to that. It’s kind of nice to know that they tried looking for me, enough to enlist Charlie’s help.
The room has a heavy awkwardness lurking about as we eat our meal and it leaves little room for conversation. After they finish eating, Dad, Charlie and Seth all go into the living room to watch TV.
“Do you mind helping me with the dishes, Leah? ” Mom asks. It’s the first thing she’s said directly to me all night.
I nod my head and begin clearing the table. It’s not long before we have everything in the kitchen and are washing the dishes. Mom washes and rinses after which I dry and put everything away.
“So you were with Rachel?” Mom inquires.
“She said you weren’t.”
“Well I asked her not to tell anyone I was there, ” I admit.
“I was so worried, Leah. I wanted to call in the FBI and everything, just to find you. I probably would have, if Charlie and your dad hadn’t stopped me, ” Mom whispers, her voice unmasking her worry.
“I didn’t want to be found, Mom. I just wanted to get away for awhile.”
Mom nods. She’s heard this from Dad, I’m sure.
“Sam did,” I say. “Find me, I mean.”
Mom turns her body towards me with interest. “He did? I didn’t know that.”
“What happened?” Mom asks, having heard the anger in my voice.
I sigh and repeat myself. “I didn’t want to be found.”
Mom nods again. “And you were having a good time? Before that? “
“The best, ” I answer. “Even after he left, it was good. Well, the next day.”
“Well, I’m glad you had a good time. Just don’t scare me so much next time. And sorry about Sam.”
I nod and finish putting away the last of the dishes.
“Going to your room? ” Mom says as I head towards the kitchen entryway.
“Goodnight, Leah. I love you and I’m glad you’re home.” The word ‘home’ makes me cringe. Mom probably notices but continues anyways. “Now maybe I can sleep without having nightmares about you,” she says.
I nod once more and go upstairs. I sit on my bed and doodle, waiting for sleep to set in. Before it comes, though, Seth knocks on my door and I tell him to come in. He closes the door behind him and goes to sit on the second bed that is still in my room. I tried removing it once, a few months ago, but the room was so empty without it that I put it back. Something stops him before he sits, and he turns around, facing my window.
“Where’d this come from?” he asks, gesturing toward my painting.
I don’t answer and he moves closer to it, enough to see my loopy signature.
“You did this? It’s awesome.”
“Thanks,” I reply quietly.
“So you were in Seattle? With Rachel?” He asks as he sits down.
“I got your note. But not until a couple days before Christmas Eve. Before that, I was, like, as worried as Mom,” Seth admits.
“I left the note at last minute. I wanted to just tell you where I was going but I was afraid you’d tell before I could get away.”
Seth laughs. “Probably. Keeping quiet after I found the note was hard.”
I smile. “Yeah. Thanks for doing it anyways.”
“Yep. So what did you do the whole time you were there?”
“Hung out with Rachel and her friends, until they all left for Christmas. And then by myself for Christmas Eve and Christmas.”
“Weren’t you lonely?”
“No. Rachel’s friends were such good company that I was dying to be alone, when I finally got to.”
“Which friends? ” Seth asks, his eyebrows wagging. I swat my hand at him playfully but he leans back and I miss.
“No one you know. Kara, Joey, Camille, Mark, Kayla, Jenny, Fred, and Caden. I don’t even know their last names.”
“Oh,” Seth says. He is quiet for a moment and then he jumps, “Oh! I almost forgot. Here’s your Christmas present.”
He reaches into one of his cargo pockets and pulls out a small driftwood box with my name carved across the top in gold lettering.
“Wow,” I say reaching for it. “Thanks.”
I lift the lid from the box to reveal a closed oyster shell.
“Took me forever to find, days and days of walking down the beach, and some help, but I finally got one. It’s still got the pearl. You can see it through this slit.” He points to a spot on the shell and I peer inside. Indeed, I can see the silver ball shimmering in the small amount of light let in by the holes on the surface of the shell.
“It’s beautiful,” I say.
“Mom says you’ll probably leave after this school year, so I wanted to get you something to help you remember how pretty it is here.”
I feel a pang of guilt mixed with sadness for planning to leave my brother behind. “I’m sorry. I didn’t get you anything. I just kind of skipped Christmas.”
“No worries,” Seth says. “I understand. I got too much stuff anyways. Mom and Dad have your other gifts around here somewhere. There weren’t many and I think it’s mostly clothes and stuff.”
He stands up and I do too, giving him a hug. “Thanks, Seth. You’re the best. I don’t deserve to have a brother like you.”
He moves toward the door but I stop him, calling out, “Wait!”
Quickly, I hop across the second bed and retrieve the painting from the wall.
“Take this. For Christmas. I, uh, want you to have it, ” I say, handing the canvas to Seth.
Seth smiles hugely, “Thanks.”
He leaves then, and I turn out the light behind him. For hours, I lie in bed, replaying the scenes of the day in my head. It turned out to be a much better day than I expected.
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Note: The italics in this entry are a memory of Leah’s from the past, not an event currently happening.
I stumble out of my makeshift bed and into the bathroom. When I return, I stop at the window for a moment. The night is dark, but a quiet wet snow falls, illuminated by the street lamps. The flakes melt before they hit the ground so the snow doesn’t gather, but instead leaves a slushy mess. Across the street in another apartment building, I can see the glowing blue and red spots from a Christmas tree.
A noise from a neighboring apartment startles me and then quietly “Silent Night” starts to play. A glance at the clock tells me it’s past midnight, Christmas now. What a cute little Christmas scene, I think sarcastically. I look out the window again to see a couple walking by holding hands. They stop to kiss and I look away. Like a lightening bolt, a memory hits me so strong that I have to sit on the couch.
The grandfather clock downstairs chimes midnight and I crawl from my cozy bed wearing new flannel pajama pants and a sweatshirt. I slip my shoes and hat on and grab the package beside the door before scurrying downstairs and outside.
We expected the rain that is falling lightly, so we meet in the forest, under a canopy of trees that keeps us mostly dry. Still, a large drop of rain gathered from several branches drips onto the back of my neck and I shiver. Sam notices and wraps an arm around my waist, warming me up.
“Hey, beautiful,” he says as he kisses my lips gently.
“Merry Christmas, Sam,” I whisper even though there is no one else around to hear. Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
“Merry Christmas, my Lee-lee. I got you something.”
He passes me a package and I hand him mine to free my hands. He watches as I unwrap the paper, stuffing it in the pocket of my sweatshirt. A white box now sits in my hand and I slit the tape with my fingernails to open it. Inside is a wooden bangle that’s been carved from driftwood. I take it out of the box, bringing it closer to my face to see that it has our initials carved into it inside a heart. On the inside the words ‘Always and Forever’ are carved lightly in Sam’s scribbled handwriting.
“Thank you,” I say as I slip it onto my wrist and kiss his nose.
I watch as he opens my present for him; a bottle of cologne that I picked out the scents for when I last went to Seattle with Emily. There is a small store there where you can make your own custom perfumes and cologne’s. He takes the bottle from the box and opens it.
“I picked out the scents,” I tell him. “It fits you, don’t you think? The ocean, the forest, and rain.”
He nods after bringing it to his nose. “Yeah, it sure does. Thanks, Lee-lee.”
I smile and he takes my box and puts them both on the ground, pocketing the cologne, and then pulling me close. I wrap my arms around his neck and he kisses me, his lips lingering a moment longer than usual.
“I love you so much, Lee-lee. Merry Christmas.”
“I love you, Sam. Can I see you tomorrow?”
“Should be able to. I’ll meet you at your doorstep, when all the lights are out,” he promises.
“Okay. Merry Christmas, Sam. I’d better go—Seth still wakes everyone up at the crack of dawn on Christmas.”
Sam laughs. “Sleep well, Lee.”
Sam picks up the boxes and watches me walk out of the forest, back onto the lawn and go inside.
Tears fall down my cheeks like the snow outside. My silent crying turns into sobs and I bury my face in my pillow, desperate to escape the music from next door and the memories stuck in my head. “All is calm! All is bright!” Like heck. All is not calm—not at all. Not in my world.
I struggle to fall back to sleep, to forget how that memory was not yet a memory, but the present only a few years ago.
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Note: The last several entries have been from perspectives other than Leah’s but she’s back now!!!
Laughing at her friend, Kara, Rachel stands up to get the door, which someone knocked at a moment ago.
I’m sitting on the couch next to Rachel’s empty seat and on the other side of her is Kara’s boyfriend, Joey. Kara sits against the coffee table, which has been pushed up against the wall to make room for the arm wrestling that Jenny, another friend, and Kayla, Kara’s sister, were doing earlier. They now sit with their backs against the coffee table painting their nails. Jenny’s boyfriend is here as well, making a sandwich in the kitchen and Rachel had said more friends are on their way
All of Rachel’s friends have been welcoming to me and surprisingly, we get along well. I’ve had tons of fun with them already although I’ve only been here a couple of days. Rachel and Kara had picked me up in Kara’s car and we drove to Rachel’s apartment where we stayed up nearly all night, getting to know each other. Kara has hardly left Rachel’s place since then and we’ve become pretty good friends. Kayla is a couple years younger than Kara and still in high school, is visiting her sister for a few days. We’ve become friends too, in the time that I’ve been here, and she keeps telling me I should come to Seattle for school like she plans to, so that we can hang out together. I reply each time with, “I haven’t decided what I’ll do yet.”
As promised, more of Rachel’s friends are at the door. Two guys, and a girl come in and Rachel introduces them to us.
“This is Camille, Mark and Fred,” she says pointing to each of them. Camille is a small, dark haired girl with olive skin who waves when Rachel says her name. I notice she is holding hands with Mark, who is nearly as tall as Sam, with black hair, olive skin, and dark eyes.
Fred is a little more interesting to look at, but seems uncomfortable with being here. He has soft ocean blue eyes and sandy hair that is cut short, but messy. He is the exact color scheme of a beach house, down to his sandy colored shoes and a light blue belt. It’s almost disturbing how much he matches.
Rachel begins talking again, pointing to each of us as she says our names, “Leah, Joey, Kara, Kayla, Jenny, and Caden’s in the kitchen.”
More of the girls wave like Camille did and I see Jenny making googly eyes to Fred. He doesn’t see her though, and instead watches me for a moment. I catch his stare and he blushes, his eyes moving to the ground. As the three come further into the room, they separate, claiming territory. Fred stands in the corner and busies himself, looking at the shelves of movies and pictures while Mark and Camille sit together on the floor against the wall, their legs extending nearly to meet everyone else’s on the crowded floor. When Caden returns, with a plate piled with food in one hand and a huge sandwich in the other, he sits on the floor next to Jenny.
“Well, eat all my food, why don’tcha?” Rachel teases as she turns her ipod speakers on. “Oh, and sorry there aren’t enough chairs for everyone. “
Caden says something with a mouth full of food that no one seems to understand and Jenny swats his arm and scolds him for talking with food in his mouth. The mood is so lighthearted and friendly in the room, I don’t ever want to leave.
“I know Kayla is Kara’s sister, so I think the only one I don’t know is you, Leah,” Camille says to me. “Where are you from?”
“La Push, like Rachel. We’ve lived across the street from each other all of our lives, ” I answer with a smile.
“Oh, cool. I thought Rachel was going home for Christmas though. Are you going back with her for Christmas? ” she asks.
Rachel and I exchange another glance, “No, I’m staying in Seattle until after Christmas. The last couple of years haven’t been…” I struggle for an explanation without going into the complexities of the situation. Rachel comes to my rescue.
“Leah’s been trying to get away from La Push almost as long as I had, ” she explained. “So I helped her get away for a week for now. Maybe soon she can extend her visit.”
“Yeah, that’d be awesome, ” Camille says and I am grateful she stops asking questions then. “Oh, by the way, for you guys that don’t know, Fred is my half-brother. He’s doing some project thing out here for the next couple summers, so our mom convinced him to come stay with us for awhile and check out the area. Kind of a pre-observation, you could say.”
Fred looks even more uncomfortable now that he’s been spotlighted.
“What’s the project?” I ask him, trying to help him be more relaxed.
“Marine Biology. Plant and animal habitation for the coast, ” he says quietly.
“That’s cool. If you need any help, I know the coast up here like the back of my hand, ” I offer. It would be nice to have a distraction.
He nods, but continues staring at the ground.
“Where do you go to school?” Joey asks him.
“Stanford, ” he mumbles so quietly I barely hear it. Of course, it would probably be easier to hear him if Kayla and Jenny weren’t laughing like hyenas about something Caden said.
“Wow. Guess it makes sense that you’d come here then, for a project like that. Less pollution in the water, ” Joey replies.
The conversation branches off then and Kara and Rachel and I pick up our conversation where we had left off with Jenny joining in. Awhile later, all at once the conversations seems to slow and the doorbells rings.
Kara speaks the words I had been thinking, “I didn’t know anyone else was coming, Rach.”
“I didn’t either, ” Rachel says, standing and going to the door. The room quiets in anticipation except for the music quietly humming from the speakers. She peers through the peephole and then looks back at me and opens the door. She is blocking my view so I can’t see who is standing there but I immediately recognize the voice.
“Hey, Rachel, ” It says, “She here?”
I freeze faster than Rachel can reply. How could he be here?And why now? Why does he always have to ruin every good thing I come across?
“Leah?” Kara asks, seeing my horrified expression, “You okay?”
Ever so slightly, I shake my head no. He comes into the room then. I don’t know whether or not Rachel invited him in, but the look she gives me says she is sorry.
“What, exactly, do you think you are doing here? ” I ask with my teeth clenched tightly and turning my head to meet his warm brown eyes. “Do you have to ruin every good thing I have going? Cuz it sure seems like that’s your purpose in life.”
“Obviously, I’m looking for you. And no, I wish I could make a the bad things in your life go away but—”
I interrupt, “You started the bad things in my life, Sam.”
“So answer me this, Leah. Would it have been better for me to tell your parents that this was where you were and that Rachel lied to them? Or to come here myself and talk to you?” The answer he wants me to choose is obvious.
“Neither. You could have just kept your mouth shut. If you knew or cared about what’s good for me that’s what you would have done. How did you find me anyways?” It seems as if we are the only two in the room since everyone else is dead silent, watching us argue. Sam and I both notice this at the same time.
“Can we go talk, Leah? Please? Then I’ll answer your question,” he gestures towards the hallway outside the door that serves as the vestibule to the apartments on this floor.
“Fine, ” I spit through my teeth and get up hastily. I walk far enough around him to avoid his outstretched touch and out the door. Once in the hallway, I stand with my arms folded facing him. Rachel closes the door behind us.
“I found you, because I know you best. Emily didn’t even quite believe that you would be here. No one did. I knew it though.”
I roll my eyes, “Whatever.”
“I thought that maybe we could talk, could trade, your secret place for my explanation?”
I look him in the eyes to see how much truth he is telling because like he said, he knows me best, but I also know him best. I can tell that he won’t tattle on me even if I don’t agree to his trade. He’ll let me stay for the week out of mercy.
“Okay,” I agree, surprising him and myself. “I want to know what happened to Emily.” He winces. “You said you would answer my questions.”
He hesitates, “A bear.”
“You know I don’t believe that lie.”
“I know. I hope that one day I can tell you the truth. But for now, you get to hear what everyone else does. A bear.”
I shake my head, “I thought that day was going to be today. But once again, I made the mistake of trusting you. I hate you, Sam Uley. Kíta.” I make my way back towards the door and let myself in.
Although I’ve already closed the door, I hear him yell, “I love you too, Leah!” From the expressions on everyone else’s face, I can tell that they heard it too.
Blood rushes to my face coloring my cheeks. I just want to be alone now, instead of coming back to Rachel’s group of friends but I don’t have another option. Everyone stays silent as I return to me seat, avoiding the stares.
“Okay, how about some games?” Rachel asks, lightening the mood again and changing the mood. “Kara’s wii is here.”
She moves about the room handing out controllers to those who want them, which ends up being Mark, Joey, Caden and Jenny and then turns on the Tv. Once the game is going, conversation picks up again. Rachel returns to her seat next to me.
“Everything okay?” Rachel whispers quietly to me.
“Not really, ” I admit. “I don’t understand why he keeps doing this. “
Rachel nods, “I know. Me neither. I really hope things get better for you soon.”
I nod. The day goes on and controllers are passed around. I even take a few turns and banter playfully with the others, but nothing returns me to the lighthearted mood I was in earlier. Late in the afternoon, people start to depart, first one by one and then two by two until only Rachel and I remain. We have a quiet dinner and retire to bed earlier than we have all week.
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Note: This entry is from Leah’s Brother, Seth’s, perspective and is a continued entry to the previous one.
I laugh, “Well I guess those two hit it off.”
Ann laughs too and turns to me with a spark in her eyes.
“Do you mind if I ask how old you are?” She asks casually.
I shake my head as I reply. “Fourteen. But I’ll be fifteen next month.”
She laughs, “I’ll be fifteen in two months. I was afraid you were going to be way older than me.”
I smile, “So you like the beach?”
“Yeah, I love it, ” She says turning toward the ocean again.
“My sister’s graduating this year, and I’ve been trying to find a Christmas present for her that will remind her of the land here for months. I haven’t found anything yet though. She loves the beach and I think she wishes she could stay here forever, if things were different,” I tell her as we watch the waves.
“I can see why. Do you want to look for something now? I could help.”
We begin walking with our eyes sweeping the ground. I spot several pretty shells, but none of them are right. As we hunt, I listen to Ann talk about her family, her life.
Ann pauses, “What about you? I’m the only one talking. What’s your family like?” She’s paused in her walking too and is watching me.
I keep my eyes on the ground, and quickly return to where I had seen a sand dollar a moment before. I crouch down and pick it up. I walk to where Ann is standing, “For you, ” I say and hold the dollar out in my hand.
“Thanks, ” she says taking it. She examines it closely and slides it carefully into her pocket.
I wasn’t planning to answer her question before but guilt overpowers and I do. Bravely, I reach for her hand and we walk closely for awhile, only letting go to grab a shell, which she pockets several of.
The sun soon begins to slowly droop in the sky and the clouds that were on the horizon before sneak closer and closer. Ann and I have given up our search and now sit with Cody and Cally, helping Andrew build a sandcastle. I love the feeling of her hand, still gently resting in mine.
“Sorry we didn’t find anything for your sister, ” Ann says when Cally says something about heading back soon.
“That’s alright, ” I say, although I am a little disappointed.
We say goodbye to Cody and Andrew and begin walking back to Emily’s. Just as we reach the edge of the beach, Ann runs back before the shore.
“What are you doing?” Cally asks.
Ann reaches down and picks up something that looks like a big rock. She brings it close to her face and turns it over in her hands. “Finding this, ” she answers after running back.
She hold the object out to me, “Will an oyster with the pearl still in it do?”
My jaw drops, “Really?”
She nods, “Yeah. See?”
She shows me where to peer in and I do, she still holds it in her hands.
She takes it back, close to her side. “I’ll trade you for your phone number.
My jaw drops again. Cally laughs, “Well, say yes to her already!”
I just nod. We continue walking, and we are over halfway there when I finally get over my astonishment.
“So, uh, do you guys want to come down again for my birthday next month?” I ask.
“Sure. Hopefully we can come,” Ann says and Cally nods.
We reach Emily’s house, and I walk the girls to the porch. I’m about to open the door for them, when Cally stops.
“Listen, ” She says and we quiet down.
I can hear Emily and Luke talking inside.
“I just don’t know what to do, Emily. She’s never home. And when she is, she just sleeps. It’s like they don’t even have a mother. They love her though and I don’t want to have to take that away, ” Luke says. I glance at Cally’s face. She has the same sad look on her face as Luke did earlier.
“They could still see her, Luke. And if she just sleeps when she’s at home, then how will it be any different?”
“I guess it’s not. She’d have to make an effort though. I don’t think she will.”
“Okay, that’s enough, ” Ann says taking charge. She takes Cally’s arm and goes inside.
I wait outside with the oyster in my hand. Ann comes back out and hands me a paper and a pen. I scribble my number down and she does the same, then we trade. I am hating this moment and loving it at the same time. I don’t want her to leave, but I’m loving spending this time with her. I silently wish I could hug her.
“Thanks, Seth. For everything—it’s been a great day.”
“Yeah, it has, ” I agree. “You have to come back soon.”
“I will, ” she promises.
I get up my courage then and we both seem to go for a hug at the same time. Our hands end up hitting each other, and we laugh and move our arms. The hug is over way too soon. We say goodbye and I get on my bike to head home while she goes back inside.
At dinner, Mom and Dad both notice the grin that seems to be glued to my face.
“So what’d you do at Emily’s today, Seth? You were gone long enough, ” Mom says to me.
I feel the smile on my face grow even larger and recount the details of the day for them. They don’t seem very surprised and I tell myself to remember later to thank Leah for being born first. Telling my parents about a girl would probably be a lot harder, if I was the one always teased instead of Leah.
That night, I lie in bed, waiting for sleep to come. The day was pretty much perfect. The only thing that would make it better would be to know Leah was safe at home in the other room, even if she was keeping me awake like she does so often with her crying.
I think back to the last time I saw her and she gave me the phone. In her eyes, she carried the visible weight of a secret. One I didn’t know until over twelve hours later. Maybe I still didn’t know all of it.
The phone. I can’t believe none of us, even Charlie, have gone this long without think to check it. I hurriedly grab it from my desk and go to the messages. They’ve all been erased. Calls. Gone.
I sigh, of course she would erase them.It’s not until I’ve laid down again that I think to check the notes. I do, and my heart skips a beat when I see the most recent one.
Seth, I have to tell someone. I just can’t stand to have Christmas without him.I hope you never have to have the pain of getting your heart broke. Please don’t tell. I’ll be back. I promise. Thanks. -L
I turn onto my side with a smile permanently painted on my face. With the promises of Leah’s note, an oyster, and a new phone number, the day has been perfect.
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Note: This entry is from Seth (Leah’s brother’s) perspective and is just part one. The continued entry will be posted soon.
The day after I had sneaked out to ask Sam about Leah, I slept in late. Mom didn’t come and wake me up although I knew she was home. Dad had plans for the day with Billy so I was sure he was already gone. Around ten thirty, I finally got up and got dressed. I’m glad I showered the night before, although I don’t yet have any plans for the day.
I go downstairs to find Mom mixing a large bowl of what appears to be banana bread and swoop my finger into the bowl and with practiced movements, to my mouth without dripping.
“Thanks, Seth. This was for Billy and Jacob. Now I guess I get to start all over, ” Mom says.
I shrug, “Well, I’ll eat this batch then.”
She shakes her head, “I wouldn’t give you the pleasure. I’ll make more for me and Dad later.” I can’t help but notice she doesn’t say Leah’s name as well. I miss Leah, although she’s only been gone a few days and Dad is convinced she will be back after Christmas.
“So what’s for breakfast? ” I ask.
“You missed it. By a lot. Emily invited you over for lunch though at eleven.”
“Why’s that?” I say, glancing up at the clock. It’s nearly eleven now.
“Her brother came down for the day with his daughters. You remember Luke? It’s been awhile since we’ve seen him. And I don’t think you’ve ever met his daughters.”
Once she says Luke’s name, I do remember him although I was a lot younger the last time I saw him. It was at Leah’s thirteenth birthday party that he last came to La Push with Emily. He was probably close to twice Leah’s age then, and had just adopted a little girl, although he wasn’t married. He did get married later though and have a second girl. His first daughter had been close to my age, but had stayed at home with a babysitter.
“Oh, cool. Well, if I’m going to be on time, I ‘d better hurry.”
Mom nods, “Have fun and behave.”
“I will, ” I say as I put on my shoes.
Just as I’m going out the door, Mom calls, “Stay safe!”
“I will, ” I repeat and head outside.
It’s a sunny day, rare for December. Gray clouds linger on the horizon with the promise that normal weather will return. Since the ground is dry, I grab my bike from the small shed in the backyard and pedal quickly down the road. The way to Emily’s house is uphill part of the way, so I’m still late arriving.
I lay my bike on the ground, to the side of the walkway and knock on the door. Within a few moments the door opens, and there stands a beautiful girl I’ve never seen before. I would most definitely remember if I had. She looks close to my age and smiles brightly when she sees me. I find myself hoping that this isn’t Luke’s daughter, because that would make us related, even if it is third cousins.
“You must be Seth, ” she says in a soft, voice I would never get tired of.
Not trusting my mouth to find the right words I just nod.
“Well come on in. I’m Ann, Cally’s friend.” I don’t know who Cally is either but I think and hope it’s Luke’s daughter since the name sounds familiar.
She leads me to the kitchen where Emily is standing, arranging vegetables on a tray.
“Hi, Seth, ” She says. “Glad you could make it.”
This is the second time I’ve seen Emily since she got attacked by the bear, and I can’t keep myself from quickly scanning over her scars again since last time I was exhausted and it was dark. It doesn’t look like an attack from a bear at all. I don’t ask though. Leah always says that I never keep my mouth shut and I’m determined to prove her wrong.
“Food’s over there, ” Emily says pointing to the table around which Luke sits. Another girl is seated next to him with a toddler on her lap. “Help yourself.”
I walk towards the table and Luke greets me, “Hey, Seth. Been awhile, hasn’t it? Where’s your sister?” Luke’s tone seems happy but he has a familiar expression in his eyes that I can’t place.
I nod and it takes me a moment to answer his second question. I glance back at Emily, surprised that he doesn’t seem to know anything about what’s happened. Does he even know that Sam was Leah’s boyfriend first?
“Uh, she’s in Seattle. We think, ” I say.
“You don’t know?” He says
I shake my head, not wanting to say anything more for fear that I won’t keep my mouth shut.
“Well, Seth, these are Luke’s daughters. This is Cally, the baby’s Claire, ” Emily says gesturing to the girls seated beside Luke. “And you met Ann, Cally’s friend.”
I nod, trying to hide my secret happiness that came when Emily said that Cally was Luke’s daughter, not Ann. “So where’s Sam today? “
“He, um, ran to Seattle. Had some last minute Christmas shopping to do, ” Emily explains. I’m not sure if she’s telling the truth for Luke, and hinting at something to me or not. Maybe Sam went to look for Leah.
I nod again and sit down across from Cally. Emily sets a stack of plates on the table and we all dig in
“So are you from Makah too, Ann?” I ask.
She smiles and nods, “Yep. Cally talks about how pretty the beaches here are after every trip she makes. I pretty much live for the ocean so I had to come and see for myself.”
“Well you came to the right place. The beaches here are the bomb, ” I say proudly.
“Cally and I hoped to go after lunch. Maybe you can be our tour guide for the day. That is, if you want to…”
I can’t help but contain my excitement. I grin, “Totally. I’d be honored.”
She smiles back sweetly and her and Cally continue talking, Cally recounting when she was last here. I hurriedly eat, anxious to get going. I finish eating long before everyone else. Cally notices that I’ve finished and hands Claire to Luke so she can eat faster. Claire falls asleep quickly in Luke’s arms and he complains.
“I’m so boring, Claire falls asleep every time I hold her,” he says and Emily laughs.
“Maybe if you weren’t so quiet. You used to be so loud, we could hear you from down the street, ” Emily says.
“Dad’s still loud, but only when he yells, ” Cally counters.
Luke produces a sad smile and only then do I realize what seems so familiar about him—he acts like Leah.
A few minutes later, Cally and Ann finish eating. I take their dishes for them, against protests from nearly half the crowd, while they get ready to go.
“Do you guys want a ride?” Luke asks.
“Nah, it’s not too far, ” I answer.
I wait by the door as the girls scurry about the room. Geez, I think, I guess all girls do take a long time to get ready.
Finally, they are ready and we head out the door. I lead the way down the road towards First Beach, leaving my bike at Emily’s since both girls are on foot. I can’t find the words to make much conversation with either of the girls on the walk. It seems like there’s a third wheel, making it awkward.
“Well, here it is!” I announce when we reach the beach.
“Wow, it is pretty, ” Ann says, slipping off her shoes and walking ahead with her eyes on the ocean. She stops when she is standing on the hard wet sand lined with pebbles. When the white foam reaches her bare toes she squeals and I laugh.
“That’s the downside. The water’s like ice, ” I say as Cally and I join her.
Ann nods, “It’s worth it, though. It is so beautiful here.”
Laughter from behind us interrupts then and I turn my head. My friend Cody and his little brother Andrew are walking up the beach.
“Hey, dude!” I call out.
“Hey, man. You’re mom said you were out at lunch but I guessed I might find you here. My mom made me bring Andrew out anyways.” Cody makes a face and looks toward his brother who is digging in the sand a few yards away.
Cally and Ann have turned around now and I go about introducing everyone.
“Ann, Cally, this is my friend, Cody, and his brother, Andrew. Cody this is Cally, my third cousin, and Ann, her friend,” As I say Ann’s name, I shoot Cody a look telling him to stay away. His eyes are on Cally, so I am sure he will comply.
“Nice to meet you,” Cally says, her eyes still on Cody. Her cheeks are bright pink.
Cally joins Cody in following his brother down the beach.
To be continued…
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