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The Little Black Boxes
Walking up the white stone path to her Aunt Catherine's country house in Southampton, Lea couldn't help but sigh. She was thinking about the perfect summer awaiting all of her friends: Violet was in Spain, Lily in Australia, Chloe in Japan, Sam in Brazil, and Mike in Italy, but her mother didn't find time to plan them a vacation together, instead she sent her to her aunt's house where she would be alone all day in the humid and sticky Hamptons only two hours away from the city. Lea couldn't help but feel jealous of her friends. They were going to come back home with riveting stories about what happened to them over the summer. There was no point in dreaming. Lea would just make the best of her summer with her Aunt.
Lea was now at the wooden doorstep of the quaint and rustic country house sitting by the smelly beach. As Lea let out another sigh of desperation she tucked a strand of hair behind her ear and rang the doorbell.
'Lea! Oh, Darling! It's so good to see you! Come in, come in! It's been such a long time! OH, let me help you with your bags! Did the driver already leave? Was the ride alright? Not too long, I hope! Oh, I'm so glad we are going to spend the summer together! This is going to be just wonderful! Come on in! Don't be shy! Oh, Lea, it's so good to see you!'
Aunt Catherine kept rambling about how thrilled she was that Lea had arrived. Lea felt bad about this, knowing that she was not even half as enthused about her vacation as her Aunt was. Aunt Catherine walked her into her warm and welcoming home and showed her to the bedroom Lea would be staying in for the next couple of weeks. Aunt Cathy had put out her nicest flowered linens on the bed and had baked a batch of warm chocolate chip cookies for her which was now on a small plate on the nightstand. Pink roses were in a small blue vase near the cookies to match the flowers on Lea's bedspread and on her bath towels. Lea thanked her Aunt for everything she had prepared for her with a fake smile. Aunt Catherine was too delighted to notice this and she ran into the kitchen to get ready for lunch.
Sitting on the edge of her new bed, Lea thought of all the things she wished could happen. She wanted something exhilarating, something invigorating, and something beyond exciting to happen. She wanted to feel peace, passion, infatuation, comfort, and magic. She didn't want to be alone with a book on the beach everyday. She wanted to have someone by her that she could laugh and talk with. Lea thought that wishing for a summer love like that was going to disappoint her, but she at least wanted a friend. She knew she would be able to bike to town from time to time but the children who spent their vacation in the Hamptons were usually already in clans and they seemed so different from her.
After a good home-cooked lunch with her Aunt, chicken with mashed potatoes topped with gravy and a raspberry pie, Lea went outside to sit on the dunes by the ocean. She took her sandals and crunched her toes up in order to feel the warm and soft sand under her feet. She took out Jane Austen and started reading.
Not very far away from Lea, Jeremy was walking through the small waves crashing on the shore. He was thinking about the miserable summer awaiting him at the beach house his parents had rented so that they could spend a month or so as a family. Jeremy was not looking forward to spending weeks babysitting his three little sisters and his little brother. As he walked along the shore processing this sad truth in his mind, Jeremy spotted a girl hiding behind the dunes in the distance. Jeremy had noticed that all the children of the Hamptons were surfing, playing, and partying together a little further back on the beach, but this girl was sitting alone. As he got closer he observed that she was not in a bikini but black pants and a black shirt. She had short chin-length blond hair that she tucked gently behind her ear, and she had green eyes like little emeralds. Her being suddenly fascinated him, but he figured there was a reason why she was sitting alone away from the other children, so he walked away slowly.
'How was the beach, sweetie? Did you meet any new friends? Was the water cold? Oh, I hope not dear, I wouldn't want you to be sick!' Aunt Cathy asked.
'Oh' well' the beach was lovely Aunt Cathy. I didn't swim I just wanted to get familiar with the area today. Maybe tomorrow I'll be up for a swim.' Lea answered.
'Well alright dear, but socializing is very important at your age!'
'Don't worry, I know' Lea sighed and walked up to her room.
Not too far from there, Jeremy was also going through an interrogation.
'Jeremy, why do you look like you're in mourning? Be grateful for this beautiful summer ahead of you for God's sake! Did you at least try to make friends? I saw a bunch of children about your age out there!' Jeremy mother's said.
'No, Mom. They were all doing their own thing. It doesn't matter. The water was nice,' Jeremy answered unwillingly.
'Oh, well, since you have nothing to do apparently, can you watch your brother and sisters for an hour or two while your father and I go to town?'
'Sure, Mom because of course there is nothing better to do.'
As both Jeremy and Lea sat down on their beds and sighed, they thought about how nice it would be to have someone to spend time with and to care about.
The next morning, Jeremy went out to the beach and sat on the dunes by the official South Hampton Beach Club thinking that maybe it would be nice to meet other kids his age, when Lea accidentally bumped into him.
'Oh, sorry! I didn't know anyone sat by the dunes here. I'll go' Lea said shyly and then quickly ran away before Jeremy could respond.
He soon forgot about his former plans and spent the rest of the day searching for this intriguing girl and thinking about her, until he came up with an idea.
As Lea returned to the dunes in front of her Aunt's house later that afternoon, she noticed a small black rectangular box wrapped with a silky red ribbon sitting on the edge of the wooden stairs that lead to the beach from the house. Lea tried to find someone around to whom this present might belong to, but as she looked at it again she noticed a small note that read: 'To the blond girl in black'. Lea realized the box was for her, so she opened it. Inside the box was a single and lonely red rose with another note. This one read: 'This reminds me of you.' Lea considered the option that this was a big mistake, but again, no one was around. Lea spent the rest of her evening wondering about the mysterious gift, but instead of being frightened or worried, she felt a tingle of giddiness now she had something to think about and to investigate.
The next morning, Lea woke up at the crack of dawn, not having been able to sleep because of the roaming thoughts in her head about the mysterious rose. She threw on black shorts and a black bikini and caught herself trying to look nice for someone she didn't even know. She left her hair down as always and picked up her Jane Austen series and walkman from her night stand. Walking through the front door, she ran into her Aunt.
'Lea, darling! What are you doing up so early? The sun is barely rising! I was just about to bake you some pancakes and write you a note saying that I was off to work, but I guess that since you're here we can bake them together! Well isn't that going to be fun! Grab one of the spare aprons from the pantry!' Aunt Catherine exclaimed.
'You're going to work?' Lea asked in surprise.
'Why yes dear, it's Monday! Now come on! If we want to get those pancakes done we better start now or I'll be late!'
'You don't have to bake anything for me; I was just going to''
'Don't be ridiculous Lea! It's no bother! Go grab the eggs from the fridge!'
Lea couldn't talk herself out of this one. She just hoped that she wouldn't miss the mysterious person's visit.
After a filling breakfast that consisted of warm and buttery blueberry pancakes, a grapefruit, orange juice, and milk, Lea tried to run out the door without spitting up her meal. When she got to the dunes, the sun was already high up in the sky, and she could feel her skin burning. She was glad to see she hadn't missed her surprise visitor because there was nothing different from the way she had left it. Lea turned on her walkman and fast forwarded to track four. She knew the music on the disc by heart because she only has one CD: Metro Station. They were her all-time favorite band. So as she turned the volume up and opened Jane Austen's Emma, she blocked the rest of the world out.
By twelve o'clock, Lea was boiling under the heat and since no one had wandered by the dunes all morning, she thought that leaving her spot to get some iced tea from the fridge wouldn't be a problem. When she came back from the house feeling refreshed, Lea noticed a small black rectangular box wrapped with a silky red ribbon exactly like the one she had discovered the previous afternoon. Once again, there was a small note that read: 'To the blond girl in black.' But this time, when she opened the box she was surprised to find, not a rose, but a silver bracelet with a black charm in the shape of a heart. Lea was speechless; she was stunned because all of this was beyond belief. Her vacation was supposed to be boring, but suddenly it had gotten a lot more interesting.
Jeremy ran as fast as he could until her reached the town's only music store. He stood outside leaning on the wall for a couple of minutes so that he could catch his breath and regain his strength. This afternoon was the third and last part of his plan. He couldn't believe what he was doing, but he knew it was better than sitting at home obsessing over this girl he just had to meet. So he walked into the store and talked with the man at the register until he found his answer. Once he had them, he walked over to the cyber space caf' and got onto the computer feeling quite good about himself.
When Jeremy went back to the dunes for the third time and made sure that the girl in black wasn't sitting there, he noticed something different: there was a small white envelope by the wooden staircase the girl leaned on to read. He picked the letter up and read: 'To the person who has been leaving gifts on these dunes. I am blond and I do wear black, but are these gifts really for me? I sit here all day, so before leaving more of them, make sure I'm the person you are looking for. Who are you? How old are you? Have I met you before? Answer honestly please.' This letter seemed a little awkward to Jeremy. He really liked this girl and he tried to impress her with his presents but she hadn't reacted the way he wished she would have. Maybe he had scared her. He hoped that wasn't the case, so when he left his third package, he wrote a note beside it saying: 'Dear blond girl in black, these gifts are for you. I don't think any other girls our age would spend their day reading instead of hanging out with all the lifeguards while dancing in their bikinis. That's a compliment, by the way. I didn't mean to scare you. Oh, and I'm fifteen by the way. What about you? I haven't met you before, but hopefully I will soon. What's your name? I'm Jeremy'
While Lea read this while locked in her bedroom, she couldn't help but feel chills going up her back. She couldn't believe this was happening to her. This guy was obviously a romantic, and that attracted her in a way she couldn't explain. When she opened the third black box, she almost started crying with joy. Jumping up and down in glee she never thought she would be holding two tickets to the Metro Station concert for Thursday. There was another note under them that read: 'If you want to go with me, meet me by the dunes at eight. If you don't you can take them for you and your friends. Jeremy.' Lea was frightened about what could happen, but she had no one else to go with. She surprised herself when she started counting down the hours until eight o'clock Thursday night.
When Jeremy went back to the dunes the following day he wasn't exactly shocked to see another white envelope laying there waiting to be opened. He picked it up and smiled as he read: 'Dear Jeremy, I'm touched you think I'm worth this trouble. I'm fourteen and I'm Lea by the way. I don't know how you know I love Metro Station so much, but since I'm here on vacation alone, I'd really love some company. I guess I'll see you tomorrow at eight. Lea' Jeremy went back home with the biggest grin his parents had seen in weeks.
'What has gotten into you Jeremy Jordan Mills? What have you done?' his mother asked.
'Nothing Mom. Oh, I'm going out Thursday night,' Jeremy replied.
'With who? Why? Where?'
'With friends, Mom. It's a concert on a beach not far from here.'
'Fine. That's fine. But you're babysitting tonight.'
Jeremy didn't feel like arguing. He was in too good of a mood for that so he happily went into his siblings' bedroom and got them ready for a bath.
That Wednesday, every second seemed to be as long as a minute and every minute seemed to last an hour. While Jeremy had to spend the day with his younger siblings, Lea had to spend it doing her summer school work. When the day was done and both Jeremy and Lea got into bed exhausted, they couldn't help but dream about the other and the following evening they were going to spend together.
'Lea! Sweetie, come on now! Lea! Wake up darling!' Aunt Catherine whispered in Lea's ear.
'Huh? Oh' Aunt Cathy? I'm up, I'm up. What time is it?' Lea answered while letting out a small yawn.
'It's lunch time sweetie! It's twelve! I didn't want to wake you earlier because you were so sound asleep, and I felt like you needed the rest so I waited until lunch was ready.'
'It's lunch time! Oh my God! I haven't been to the dunes since yesterday morning! What day are we? How have I slept so long?
'Now there's no reason to get upset darling! It's okay to sleep in sometimes! Oh, we're Thursday today.'
'Thursday? Thursday' Thursday!'
'Yes, Lea, it's Thursday. I'll let you clean up and when you're ready you can come down to lunch.'
Lea had slept so peacefully while thinking of Jeremy that the sun shining through the curtains and the chirp of the early birds hadn't woken her up. In eight hours she'd be able to meet Jeremy. That idea made her anxious and she delicately tucked a strand of her hair behind her ear. She had pictured the scenario so many different ways. Will he be dressed up very nicely or will he dress casually? Will he bring something for her? Should she get something for him? Will he be smart or handsome? She knew that asking for too much would be disappointing. As Lea walked down the stairs, all of these questions bounced around in her head. She was already getting nervous. During her meal, she nodded and laughed at all of Aunt Catherine's stories without even listening to them and whenever she thought it was appropriate. Lea was too busy thinking about Jeremy to bother to make efforts. After her lunch, Lea went to her usual spot on the sand dunes but instead of reading or listening to her music she stared blankly at the ocean for several hours until she realized that it was six o'clock. Lea panicked at the idea that she would have to get primped and ready to meet Jeremy in only two hours. She showered, shaved, did her hair, dabbed on some mascara, some blush, and some lip gloss, and put on some nice black earrings, a matching necklace, and the bracelet Jeremy had given her. She spent a while starring at the outfits in her closet before deciding on a white denim skirt and a black tank top with pink and silver rhinestones that formed a heart in the center. She decided to leave her hair down as usual but added a small black bobby pin to keep her hair from falling in front of her bright green eyes. Not knowing what to do next, she made sure she had the two tickets in her pocket, grabbed a black sweater from her closet, and then she tucked a strand of lose hair behind her ear.
It was now a quarter to eight and she decided it would be best to wait by the dunes so she wouldn't be late. As she walked to the dunes she started getting scared. What if Jeremy's age was a lie? What if he was someone completely unexpected in the worst way possible? What if he didn't have trustworthy motives? As Lea panicked she came to the conclusion that she should hide behind the staircase until Jeremy arrived and then, based on what she saw, she would decided if she wanted to go or not. But as she approached she saw that there was already someone standing on the dunes. It was a young boy, probably a year or two older than she, with golden brown hair, light blue eyes, and a gorgeous figure. This boy was tan and toned and it seemed impossible that this was the Jeremy who was waiting for her. Nothing like this seemed possible when she arrived at her Aunt's house that terrible afternoon. But when she first laid eyes on Jeremy, she knew that this was so much better than a trip to Australia, Spain, Japan, Brazil, or Italy. It was maybe even better than trips to all of these places combined.
Lea took a couple of steps forward feeling suddenly quite self-conscious. She was trying to tuck lose hair behind her ear when she realized she had held it back with her pin. While debating weather or not she should keep moving forward, Jeremy suddenly turned around. Their eyes locked and he smiled a radiant smile that made the butterflies in her stomach flutter harder and faster and then faded. Once again, she brought her porcelain hand up to her hair and then suddenly realized that she didn't have to tuck a strand of hair behind her ear anymore because all of her concerns had flown away along with the butterflies. He moved even closer until he was nose to nose with Lea and he gently held out his hand.
'Jeremy,' he whispered.
'Lea,' she answered.
'Oh! No! No' I' Uh' Of course not' It's a''
'It's a pleasure,' Jeremy said while laughing.
Lea smiled and then knew she couldn't be luckier. Even if she didn't understand how this was happening, she didn't question it. Slowly, Jeremy took her hand in his and as they walked along the beach together he slipped a small black box decorated with a red ribbon in her hand. As she opened it she couldn't have felt more touched or more awed than she was in this moment. It couldn't have felt more perfect to either of them. Jeremy hooked the little black charm to Lea's bracelet. It was another heart, but this time a boy and a girl who were holding hands were both engraved in it and over their heads were written the names 'Lea' and 'Jeremy'. As Lea looked up to thank Jeremy for the wonderful gift he gently took her face into his hands and softly pressed his lips to hers. They remained in this embrace for a while and at that moment, if anyone had walked by, they could have sworn they saw the first spark of love shine over the couple's heads, as a newfound guardian angel.