Chapter 1: Summer Nights
"Do you want to come over tomorrow?" I asked him as we strolled along the beach. Summer was coming to an end but the weather was still warm which made sunset walks on the beach one of my favorite activities.
"I leave tomorrow Gin, remember?" he said quietly, breaking a hazy dream state I was in.
I'd completely blocked it out. I felt like I'd barely had any time with him and now he was leaving. "Oh yeah" I said shaking my head a bit to clear the rest of the haze. I was still walking and realized I'd walked past him. I turned back and faced him. I looked down toward the sand with a half smile "I think I blocked that out" I admitted.
He took my hands in his and smiled at me. "I wish I could change it." he said as his smile fell.
"I know. This has been the best summer of my life and it's ending." I said blinking back tears.
"We'll call." he offered.
"And email" I countered.
"Right." he said unconvinced. He'd come to town at the beginning of summer to be with his dad but he and his mom lived 3000 miles away. Carrying on a long distance relationship as anyone would be hard enough but at 15, with 3000 miles - we both knew.
He pulled me close and then gave me a long kiss.
When he broke the kiss he seemed to be struggling to find the words he wanted. "I won't... I can't ask you to not see anyone but" he paused and took a couple breaths..."Just remember me." he concluded.
I smiled. "I couldn't forget you Erik, ever." I said softly looking at the sand and moving it around with my flip flop.
"I love you." I said toward the sand. I hadn't intended to say it, I'd been holding it in for weeks because I knew he was leaving and that was too much but it came out all the same. I looked up at him and shrugged. "I love you, so I won't forget." I said blinking back tears.
Erik gave me a weak smile. "I love you too Gin." he said pulling me too him again. He held me close and whispered against my ear "I love you too."
Eventually we pulled apart and that one movement seemed to break everything. I felt the 3000 miles creeping between us already as we continued down the beach. "I'll be back for Christmas" he said, staring straight ahead. "And next summer." he added.
"Yeah, maybe my dad will let me come out at Spring Break." I added meekly. We both knew that was unlikely. We walked in silence a few minutes longer. "Should I....Can I go with you to the airport; ya know, see you off?" I asked not really sure what answer I wanted from him.
"I uh....I don't do goodbyes like that very well..." he said looking out toward the water, the sun had now almost set. "I think....it would be better if we just..." he trailed off, not sure what to say anymore than I knew what I wanted him to say.
"Yeah" I said quietly. Part of me wanted to stay with him until the end but I knew I'd be crying in the middle of the airport if I went. "Right." I added "Okay" I said nodding in agreement.
"It's just..." he stopped and sighed.
"Erik it's okay, I get it." I said with a faltering smile. He squeezed my hands. "We should probably head home." I said glancing toward the darkening sky.
"Yeah." Erik said putting his arm around me. We didn't talk much on the way back to my house. He kissed me on the doorstep and we lingered there for sometime, unwilling to let go. Finally we didn't have the choice anymore and we whispered weak byes to each other. I barely had the energy to change after making my way upstairs and didn't even crawl under the covers of my bed. Light tears rolled down my cheeks as I drifted into a fitful sleep.
When I woke up the next morning, I was happy at the prospect of seeing Erik for a few short moments before my brain woke up. Sitting on my nightstand was my notebook - which I knew should be on my desk. I snatched it up and flipped it open. Stuck inside was a post it note, scrawled with Erik's hand writing.
"I'll be right back" was all it said. I laughed softly, painfully, in spite of myself. We both knew that "right" was at least five months away.
I should have gotten up then but I didn't. I put the notebook containing the post it back on the side table and laid back down just staring at it.
Despite the efforts of my dad, I couldn't be coaxed further than the living room. I missed all the end of summer events and stayed in my room as much as my dad would allow for the final two weeks of summer. It was just as well, all my friends were still out of town.
Eventually summer was over and my first day of high school had arrived. My father absolutely refused to write me a note (even though I didn't ask for one). After two weeks of sulking, I put on something comfortable with pastels to try and give me a chipper attitude to face the day.
When I found me new locker, I saw my friend Timothy a few lockers down. "Locker neighbors again eh?" I said with a smile.
"Hello Genevieve." he said coming over. Timothy was a goofy guy but he was sweet. He refused to use nicknames, ever. I'd known him since elementary school. I saw him looking past me and followed his gaze. Veronica Meyers was in his sights.
"Still?" I asked. He just nodded, he'd had a crush on Veronica for years, she didn't acknowledge his existence. I was trying my supposed locker combination for the third time when Timothy nudged me. "Todd's coming" he said quietly.
"Hey Ginny!" I heard him call out from down the hall. "Where were you this morning? I was gonna walk with you." he asked loudly, still on the other side of the hallway. Todd, oh Todd. Todd is the Boy Next Door, quite literally. Did I mention that I've had a crush on him about as long as I've known boys don't have cooties?
He made his way through the students finally and I turned to greet him. He tried to kiss me!
For about 5 seconds my body betrayed me but my mind caught up finally and I pushed him away. "Todd what are you doing?"
Todd looked stunned. "I thought I was kissing my girlfriend who I haven't seen in three months." he replied as shock gave way to anger.
"You're...gir...you're what? No, you're kissing your best friend who you haven't seen in three months" I sputtered trying to understand him.
"Ginny, come on. We went to Spring Dance together, we kissed a few times if you recall." he said looking at me like I'd lost my mind.
"And then you went to summer camp and didn't call or email for three months Todd." I retorted. I'd been hurt by his complete lack of communication this summer.
"As you said" he argued, getting the attention of a few passing students "I was at camp, communication was challenging."
I took a breath to keep my voice from raising. "You called your parents every week - they told me. You emailed Veronica" I tried to hide the annoyance as I said her name and glanced her way "several times as I understand it."
Todd faltered, I had him pinned. I saw him look toward Veronica, his ex-girlfriend, and then back at me. "Look Ginny I'm sorry, I thought we were on the same page" he said lamely. He squared his shoulders and resumed his charmingly confident appearance. "All better?" he asked grinning.
I touched his shoulder and didn't smile. "Todd, we need to talk." I said as the bell rang, final warning to get to first period. I gave up on my still locked locker and started to head for class. I looked once more at Todd. "Lunch? Okay?" I said. I didn't give him a chance to reply before turning and heading for class in a hurry, it was on the other side of the school. I left behind a very confused look Todd.
I walked into my first class, still glancing at my schedule. I shoved it into my bag and felt someone brush beside me. I could tell it was Timothy and smiled, glad to have a friend in the class with me. Finally I straightened up and looked for an empty desk. That's when I saw him, watching me with his small, almost undetectable smile. He was sitting in the back row and when his eyes captured mine, I felt like I was rooted to the floor.
"Erik" I said, barely even a whisper.