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“Hey, Lilly! Wait up!” Someone yelled. Not someone, Lilly would know that voice anywhere. Jared fell into step beside her, tossing an arm around her waist, grinning. “You move pretty quick for someone so tiny,” He ducked and kissed the top of her head, “So anyways, you know what today is, right?”
Lilly smiled back, “Umm, let me think,” she tapped her chin and nodded slowly, like a bobblehead in deep thought, “Monday, right?” she looked up into Jared’s face, giggling at his pained expression.
“No, you goof,” he rolled his eyes, “It’s March first.”
Lilly opened her eyes wide and attempted to force her face into an expression of innocent surprise, “Really? So it’s not Monday, then?” she said, “Kidding, kidding. It’s CD Day.”
Jared nodded, “Yep, and this month’s is gonna knock your socks off,” he pulled her over to one of the benches in front of Carson Day High School, “Park it; it’s in my bookbag. Knowing my luck, it’s in the very bottom, too.” He rifled through the faded red shoulder bag for a minute, and then dumped it out onto the pavement. A couple beat up, doodle covered spiral notebooks flopped out, along with a mess of black Sharpie pens, and a handful of CD’s wrapped in his trademark black-and-clear sleeves. Jared sat them on the bench beside her and started jamming everything else back into his bag.
Lilly leaned back and closed her eyes. CD Day. Probably her favorite day, had been since freshman year. Jared loved music. Really and truly loved it. He was always trying something new, listening to some really obscure group, digging up dinos from all the genres, or just beating the crap out of the drum set he played for Samantha, his cousin, in her band Daisy Lemonade. And at the end of the month, he’d mix that wild ride into a single compact disc and give it to her. But he couldn’t leave it as a plain CD; Jared always put in a short message for her right before the last song. It was usually nothing more than three sentences: Hey Lilly, insert something funny here; Hope you liked insert title here; And this last one is for you, baby. She loved it. That fifteen second clip was worth just as much as any song played, even the last one, and that one was always her favorite.
“Ah, found it,” Lilly felt something drop into her lap, “I think you’ll really appreciate this one; Sammy and the rest of the Lemmon Heads are responsible for three of the songs, so fair warning. One of the other songs will give you a percussion concussion.”
Lilly looked up at him, mildly confused, “Percussion what?” she asked.
“Concussion” he repeated, “Song eleven is pretty much nothing but drum solo,” he explained “and I don’t want you to get in trouble again for blasting it,” Jared shoved his hand through his short hair and winced at the memory, “that would suck. I probably shoulda warned you. How long were you grounded last time?”
Lilly sighed, “A month; I was freed in time to get to experience your latest creation.”
He nodded. She slid closer, laid her head on his shoulder, and shoved a few strands of dark hair out of her face. Jared slipped an arm around her again, pulling her against his body. They watched as little cars and huge pickups pulled out of the parking lot followed by the school’s monstrous yellow busses. They barely noticed when a blue soccer mom van pulled in, until the soccer mom driving blasted her horn at them.
Lilly jumped, eased out of Jared’s arms, dropped the CD into her purse, and pressed what was meant to be a quick kiss on his lips. Almost two minutes later, the van’s driver tooted the horn again. Lilly pulled away, blushing, then ran to the van. She yanked open the door and climbed inside.
Two other siblings, one trip to walmart, and one spaghetti dinner later, Lilly was finally alone. She plunked her purse onto her bed and pulled out Jared’s CD. She stared at the cover for a second, reading the title silently. Amazing Grace. She laughed quietly; Grace was her first name, but everyone had called her by her middle name, Lilly, for as long as she could remember. She popped the disk into the small CD player on her nightstand and let the music take her away.
After nineteen songs, Lilly waited for the clip she knew would come. Right on cue, Jared’s voice flowed out of the small speakers. Hey Lilly, there’s something I need to tell you. But I’m gonna try and let the music say it for me. As always, this one is for you, baby.
Another two second pause, and then something poured out of the speakers that confused her more than his cryptic message. The opening beats of “Just the way you are” were starting. Lilly closed her eyes again, thinking about what he had said and about how much Jared hated most pop music. The song ended, and she reached to take the CD out when Jared’s voice came back on. Um hey again, it’s me…obviously and I just wanted to say, in case you missed it or something, you’re amazing…and I love you. So, um, yeah. Hope you liked the music and I guess I’ll see you soon.