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“So, you haven’t really explained what we’re doing” Emily said, waving her arms slightly at me, a cup of sweetened tea in her left hand. We were standing in Emily’s kitchen at around 10 AM Easter morning; somehow she had been able to convince her parents to let me stay the night. I knew I’d be missing a traditional Easter Egg Hunt this morning back at my house, but I wasn’t too resentful about that.
“I just need to go over there” I told her, filling a glass with ice from the dispenser in her fridge. Emily stood by the sink, taking small drinks of her tea and looking at me with an unsure expression. “Please?” I asked her, giving her a pleading look. Her face softened for a moment and became almost worried, which told me I had put too much into my begging, but she turned around anyway and called to her mom.
“Hey mom, is it OK if we go for a walk?” Emily asked, directing her voice toward the living room where her mom was watching TV.
“What?” Emily’s mom asked, turning the volume down and looking over at Emily.
“Can we go for a walk?” Emily repeated, setting her drink on the counter by the sink.
“Sure…” Emily’s mom said, looking at the time. “It’s kind of early though”
“We won’t go far,” Emily promised, starting to move toward her room. I filled my glass up with tea and tried my best not to down the sweet drink all at once while I waited for Emily to change clothes. I had slept in my clothes that night, and had nothing else to wear, so I stayed where I was. Emily took only a minute to change, during which time I decided to brush my hair out. I was just shutting the fridge when Emily finally came out of her room.
“We’re gonna go now,” Emily told her mom, giving me a questioning look. I returned the look with a blank stare and moved my right hand behind my back. “You ready to go?” Emily asked me uncertainly.
“As ready as I’m gonna get,” I told her, walking out of the kitchen then out the front door into the warm morning air.
“So, what are we doing?” Emily asked for the fourth time as we walked down Pecan road. For the fourth time, she got no answer. I could tell she was getting aggravated, but I also knew that, with the information she had about what we were doing, she wouldn’t push me too hard for answers. I wanted to tell her what was going on, but I knew that whatever she would have to say about it, no matter what it was, would make me lose my nerve. I had to do this by my own will and completely based off of my own decision; I couldn’t take the risk of telling her in case she tried to talk me out of it.
“Seriously Kaitlyn, what are we doing?” Emily asked again, sounding agitated, although I couldn’t see her face. That was the reason I made her walk on my left; so I wouldn’t easily be able to see her facial expressions. I couldn’t do much about the tone of her voice, though. Trying to block out the worry, confusion, and frustration in Emily’s questions, I tried to relax my tense nerves, rolling an egg, which I had taken from Emily’s fridge, around in my right hand. It was surprisingly easy to stay calm despite where I was headed, and I found myself able to focus on the scenery, which I hadn’t thought I would be able to do. It really was a nice day; trees flourished with new leaves all around us, their color matching that of the lawns of most of the houses we passed. The houses themselves were all one story and roughly the same size, each one built with a different color and type of brick that somehow complimented all the houses around it. There was a comfortable background noise of birds chirping mixed with the occasional light rumbling of bike tires on the pavement, and the steady rythm of two sets of footsteps as Emily and I made our way down the street. I looked around myself and half smiled at the peaceful neighborhood full of images that I had already forgotten and was soon to forget as blocks passed in a blur.
About a minute after Emily had given up on questioning me, we reached the turn onto Peach road. If I hadn’t been concentrating and counting the blocks we passed, I would have walked right by it without noticing, but as I ran through the image of each different turn we had passed, I was sure that it had been seven blocks exactly. Without a deep breath to calm myself or even a backwards glance, I strode forward onto the street.
The house was exactly as I had remembered it from times we had driven by it, except now the brown lawn and bare tree in the front yard were green and brimming with life. The place really was beautiful; I would have loved to live in such a nice neighborhood. Regardless of these thoughts, not even the ghost of a smile crossed my lips as I cut through the front yard at an angle, heading for the front door. I was still surprisingly calm, which sort of alarmed me; the only indication of my nervousness was in the way I rolled my egg around in my right hand. Emily, guessing where we were, caught up to me and began her stream of questions again.
“Kaitlyn, what are you doing?” she asked me, a bit more urgently this time. Noticing the egg in my right hand, she stepped out in front of me, so that I had to stop walking. “What are you going to do with that?” Emily asked, worry in her bright blue eyes but a suppressed smile on her lips. I knew what she was thinking: I need some eggs for my spinach. It was an inside joke that had been running through my small group of friends for a couple months.
“I don’t want to explain. I’ll lose my nerve.” I told her, avoiding her eyes. “It’s just something I have to do.” Emily moved in front of me again, her face worried and startled at my response. I myself was startled at how determined and almost angry I sounded, but I put the thought out of my head and started walking again, Emily falling into step on my left.
It wasn’t until I reached the front door that I started to become nervous. My eyes were playing tricks on me; was the front door white or brown? I squinted at it, trying to make my brain register a color, but couldn’t figure it out. So, I decided that the door was brown, which immediately made it appear white to me. I sighed and rang the doorbell without hesitation, trying to keep myself from checking to see what the expression on Emily’s face was.
I wonder if he’s even up…I thought suddenly. If I’m lucky, he’ll be the one to answer the door.
Luck was with me.
It had been so long since I had last seen him. I expected to be struck with some sort of intense feeling, like the way he used to jumpstart my heart by showing up unexpectedly, but to my surprise and pleasure nothing happened. I knew this would be harder if I gave my feelings a chance to catch up with me.
He was dressed for a lazy day, in clothes that could have very well been pajamas, and his hair was a bit longer, falling into his dark brown eyes, but otherwise he looked the same as when I had last seen him. The sleepy look in his eyes was immediately replaced with surprise when he saw me, and he opened his mouth as if to speak, although nothing came out, and I didn’t give him a chance to find the words he was looking for. Acting on impulse, without giving myself a chance to think about what I was doing, I reached my right arm up quickly and then brought it down again on his head, cracking the egg. It was a strange moment for me; I could see every little detail of the egg as it splintered and cracked into small shards, as if in slow motion. I could see the yolk spilling over his light brown hair and falling onto his shoulders. I wasn’t quite sure why I was doing this, because I hadn’t given myself a chance to think it out in case I talked myself out of it, but I felt a strange emotion in me, like I had finally finished something.
“Go take a shower,” I told him, my voice flat and monotonous. I watched him as he stood there, completely shocked and bewildered. Then, for just a moment, I watched his face transform from shocked to angry to outraged. For just a moment I could see the confusion, bewilderment, and anger mix together inside his eyes. For just a moment, I could see his mouth set in an angry line, and the glare that I had once seen on his face return to him, piercing into me for all it was worth. I saw all these things in just one moment—
--because in the next moment, he punched me in the face.
Taken completely off guard, I stumbled backward a few feet before falling into the grass. I wasn’t sure with which hand he hit me, but by the way he was staring at his right hand, his face now a mixture of shock and horror, I guessed it had been that hand. Emily, who had stood openmouthed in complete surprise ever since I had cracked the egg on his head, somehow found a way for her jaw to drop even more than before, her blonde-red hair falling into her face a little. I looked at her for a moment, absorbing her expression with an unnatural sense of calm, and then turned my gaze slightly to look at him. He was still staring at his hand, his mouth now slightly open in utter shock. I sat in the grass for a few seconds longer, just long enough to realize and be glad that I hadn’t worn my glasses to confront him, before pushing myself off the ground and standing. His face turned toward me when I stood, catching my eyes a second before I turned to leave, but I saw the apologetic look on his face. I somehow managed not to hesitate as I turned away from him, his beautiful brown eyes boring into me as I cut back through the lawn and disappeared around the side of the house. I walked calmly the entire time, keeping my eyes fixed on where I wanted to go and resisting the urge to glance behind me and check if either him or Emily was coming.
When I reached the end of the street, I could tell Emily wasn’t coming. I didn’t know what she would say to him; if she would apologize for me, cuss him out for punching me, explain what was going on, or what, but I didn’t stop to think about it. With a calm that was almost eerie, I walked seven blocks back up Pecan Street, then turned off the road and headed over a small bridge. I stopped for a moment at the end of the bridge, considering whether I should go back to Emily’s house or walk all the way home. I stood there for a minute, weighing my options, but it was the fact that Emily’s mom wouldn’t be too happy with me coming home without Emily that made me decide to go home.
I turned right and followed the road, knowing by memory how to get back home. I knew the walk was going to be long, and provide me with more time to think than would be healthy for me, but I didn’t care much. Wiping my sticky right palm on my jeans, I smiled to myself, not caring how much it hurt to smile. I knew I would have a while to think, but I also knew that the only thing I’d be able to think about was how cute he looked when he was mad.