She was quiet as she led me inside, through the back door I had wandered through when I first came over to her house. Max was happy to be off of his leash, already smelling the other dogs and wagging his tail in a kind of tense preparation for the novel interaction.
I hadn't expected any of this when I'd seen Sang's light in the backyard. I'd thought that maybe she'd taken the dogs out but when the light didn't move, I texted.
I couldn't leave her there while she was deflecting questions and lying vulnerable in her open backyard.
So I came over.
Now, something felt much more intimate than when we had held hands while discussing trauma on the old trampoline in her backyard.
Now we were in her house... In the middle of the night...
With no parental supervision.
I can imagine other normal teenagers in this situation would be doing much more risque things but Sang and I were hardly normal.
"Can I get you anything to drink?" Sang asked a little awkwardly.
I shook my head and greeted Sarah and Lulu after they had performed a decent inspection of Max. They didn't seem too upset to be awake at such an unusual time but the different setting may have just been too interesting to sleep through.
Sarah, Lulu, and Max were the first ones up the stairs and Sang was right on their heels.
I hesitated before stepping up past the banister and following into what currently felt like forbidden territory.
Sang's room was on the left. It was clean and felt much more lived in than the rest of the house but it wasn't decorated much.
A bed sat in the middle of the room pressed up against the wall by the windows. Dog beds sat in different corners and a bookshelf took up much of the remaining space. Consistent with the rest of the house, there were no pictures or posters or knick-knacks littering what open space there was.
It both did and did not suit the Sang that I knew.
It was then, in the fully lit bedroom, when I noticed that Sang was wearing an oversized shirt and a pair of underwear.
I don't know what I expected her to be wearing, given the circumstance, but I could feel a blush sliding up my cheeks all the same and I busied myself with a distraction.
I padded over to her bed and pulled back the rumpled covers before pulling off my jeans and shirt and sliding between the cool sheets with an arm behind my head, trying desperately to look casual.
Sang had opened her closet doors and pulled out a pair of sleep shorts. I tried not to watch too closely as she tugged them up her thighs so they sat right where they were supposed to. That's not what this was about. I told myself.
We were both nearly silent as she settled into the other side of the bed after having turned off all the lights.
I was tense and determined not to let it show. We both sat in silence with noises coming from the dogs and the open window but the two of us working hard not to make a sound before Sang finally laughed.
It was a big noise, different from the first time I had heard her laugh when I had become so infatuated with my new neighbor, but it caused the same feeling in my chest, a lightness that opened up further the more I heard the visceral sounds of her happiness.
I could feel Sang relaxing next to me and so I did too. Her hand found mine and she turned to face me.
I turned my head to look at her, the green eyes that I had become so familiar with shining at me in the darkness.
YOU ARE READING
Sang isn't a fifteen-year-old cowering at the hands of her stepmother. She's on her own. Eighteen and living in a house her father bribed her with alongside two faithful dogs, she's been paving her own way since the payout a year ago. When Marie di...