Summer's End

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I slept in a state of euphoria that night and awoke earlier than usual for a Saturday morning. I couldn't decide if it was because I was used to getting up early these last few weeks or if it was because of the anticipation of seeing Broderick again—whenever that would be. I needed to find something to divert my obsession, so I spent the entire day cleaning my bedroom. Unlike my mother, I was a slob at heart, a true pack rat. Often, I would peer out my window to try and catch a glimpse of the Cooper residence. Quite obsessive. Time passed slowly. Painfully.

After Mom and Dad went to bed Nat and I sat silently on the couch, bogged down with deep thoughts, while staring at the television screen. She randomly flipped through the channels, looking for something of her taste. She lay lazily on the side of the couch, with her arm—out of its sling, for once—draped across her body and holding the remote; her thumb pressing the channel button.

"I'm calling it a night, Nat." I started for the stairs.

She popped up into a sitting position instantly. "Does Joey like me more than just a friend?"

Stunned with her sudden question, I reluctantly turned to her and gave her a resigned look. "I don't know, Nat. I know he likes you a lot, but he's supposed to like you a lot; you two are best friends."

"He can't fall in love with me." Her green eyes were wide with worry. Her concerns seem to come out of nowhere, completely unrooted, unless someone had said something. Maybe she was just done denying the blatancy of it all.

"Why does it matter if he does? Does that mean you can no longer be friends?"

Torn in silence, she got up and walked out of the room. I stared off in thought, worrying about Natalie and Joey, as I heard her shut the door to her bedroom upstairs.

Was the same thing happening with me and Broderick? Would he react the same way as Natalie, if he had a clue as to how I felt about him?

Broderick's absence was a harsh reminder of how badly I had let things get out of hand between us. I missed him desperately; missed his mysterious eyes and dimples that made their appearance not only when he smiled, but any time he held his lips tightly. I missed his quick wit that challenged mine.

The hands on the clock appeared motionless. It was after eleven. My heart was sinking slowly as I lay on the bed and listened to music through my ear buds. Faintly through the music, I heard a light tapping at my window. Sitting up, I removed one of the ear buds from my ear and listened intently. Sure enough, there was a tapping sound at my window. I eased myself cautiously to the window to see Broderick smiling through the glass. I slid the window open then ran to the door to lock it as Broderick let himself in.

"You're a sight for sore eyes," he said cheerfully as he unzipped his black hoodie and slipped his tennis shoes into my closet as if this had become a routine.

"How was your evening?" I asked nonchalantly, hiding my enthusiasm with finally having him near again.

"I wish you could have been there," he said. "You would have loved it. Good music, good food, and even good coffee, or at least that's what Taryn said. I can't drink the stuff."

I strolled over to my bed and sat down. The anticipation of seeing him again finally wore me down. I could somewhat relax now that he was here.

"So, what have I missed today?" Broderick sat next to me.

"I think Nat's onto Joey's feelings for her," I said.

He made a face. "Yikes. How's she handling that? Better yet, how's he handling it?"

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