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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