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The Way I Loved You
Author's note: I am really proud of this novel. One of my best friends inspired me and helped me to write this. It was a lot easier doing it with her around. Please give any feedback to help me get better.
The morning dawned clear and cool. The grass was wet with dew, and mist hung low over the rolling hills, and the sun cast a clean, early light. To anyone else the morning would have been magical—something to treasure, to take pictures of. But for me, Marcy Evans, the only thing I was thinking was that this morning needed to be taken advantage of, and quickly.
I pulled on jeans and a t-shirt, laced up my heeled boots, snatched my long, golden brown hair into a loose ponytail and grabbed my jacket from the top of the dresser. I knew that even though everyone in my family had to get up early, this was too early for any of them. Keeping this in mind I stepped carefully over the creaky floorboards, jumped the last five squeaky steps and tip-toed over to the alarm system. Gritting my teeth as the beeps sounded, I punched in the numbers, struggling with the nine as always. Then I hurried out the door.
Breaking into a run, I kept my eyes on the fenced-in field as I heard the dirt crunch beneath my feet. I stopped at the fence and watched the horse inside.
We have six horses: Rebel, Macao, Blue Man, Jean and Optimus. Blue Man’s my dad’s horse; Macao’s Jay’s; and Optimus is Scott’s.
Jean was a buckskin mare. She’s pretty well trained, too, and since I don’t have a horse and she’s the only girl, I ride her most of the time.
I ran inside the barn and grabbed a saddle and bridle. When I got to the fence I whistled to Jean and she looked up. She was all alone in the mare pasture. I went through the gate and she met me there. I put her saddle and bridle on and rubbed her nose.
“Good girl,” I said as I walked her around in a circle. Then I brought her over to the fence again and mounted her. We exited through the gate and closed it, something we’ve been working on, and trotted down the trail. Up ahead on the hill, I saw someone galloping down towards us. Then I knew—it was my friend, Nick Harper.
Let me explain about Nick. He and his sister, Tally, have been around me for as long as I can remember, and we’re close friends. But lately there’s been something in the way Nick smiled all cocky, like everything’s a secret joke or prank that he’s pulled (sometimes it is); the way his bright blonde hair sticks up all over the place in a windswept way; the look in his electric blue eyes as he studies you closely, but doesn’t make you feel uncomfortable; or maybe the way he puts on an act for everyone, all funny and lovable and prankster-style, but when you get to know him he’s really sweet and he cares about you.
He was riding his stallion, Buzz, a tall, golden-cream horse with a white mane and tail.
“Hey, Marcy,” he called as he neared us.
“Why’re you here, Nick? It’s really early.”
“Exactly the point,” he said, offering a carrot to Jean, who seemed to approve of the visitor and took it eagerly. “We’ll be alone for a bit.” He saw my face and laughed. “I mean, your sister’s coming over later today, right? I thought it’d be nice to have some peace and quiet beforehand.”
“I guess,” I mumbled, because being alone with Nick can make me a little nervous.
We kicked our horses. Jean was good friends with Buzz. She nickered to him, and he replied. We cantered down the trail and into the woods, not talking. I noticed that I had to spread my legs farther than usual astride Jean, but maybe it was just my imagination.
“So, are you excited to see Rebecca?” Nick asked as we moved farther into the trees.
“I, um, I guess,” I replied slowly. Rebecca is my eleven-year-old sister, and she’s at a sleepover right now, which is good, because I can’t stand her.
Nick threw a sideways look at me.
“I mean, she could have changed in one night with her friends, right?” I asked.
“Uh, yeah! I think, maybe, actually, no,” Nick replied. Jean snorted at him.
We rode out of the trees and back to the field. I put Jean back in it and hung the saddle and bridle on the fence. Nick tied Buzz to a post and sat on the fence next to me.
“Tally’s trying to train Texas enough to get him into one of those horse competitions,” he told me.
“Really?” I asked. Texas is Tally’s Arabian gelding. “That’s so awesome!”
Nick smiled and nodded, and we sat in silence for a while more. Then I thought of something.
“Tally will be up soon, won’t she? How’s she going to know where you are?”
Nick turned his head slowly towards mine, the strangest look on his face. It was relaxed, with a small smile on his lips. Oh God, no, please don’t let me be thinking about his lips!
“Oh, she’ll know.”
He said that matter-of-factly, like it was a law of nature that she’d know that he was with…oh. Me. Oh, crap. We are only in 9th grade!
And then he was leaning towards me, slowly, as if I wouldn’t notice that our faces were getting closer together. What was I supposed to do? I didn’t want to pull back, because I might hurt his feelings. But this was madness! He kept leaning in closer; I was paralyzed by fear.
We were so close, now, that I could see each of his eyelashes, the flecks of green in his blue eyes, and then I couldn’t look anywhere else; it was like there was a magnet that forced me to look into those eyes, those beautiful eyes, and then I was moving forwards, and we tilted our heads and closed our eyes, and…
Kissed. We kissed, and it felt like the world stopped to watch us. It was a simple one, but it went on forever. My heart beat faster, and I noticed only one thing in the world, not the cool air on my arms since I had taken off my jacket, not the sun desperately trying to warm us up, nothing but the lips that were touching mine, and the hands that were holding my arms.
Finally, it was him who broke off, whether for air or because it was just time to do so, I don’t know. We took in silent gulps of cold air, staring at each other. I felt like I had just jumped off a cliff; adrenaline was pumping through my veins. Slowly, a huge smile split his face, and he looked like he had just had the happiest time in his life. Then, before I could say anything, although I don’t know what I would have said, he jumped off the fence, untied and leapt onto Buzz, kicked him in the side, and they went tearing off away from me. I watched them go, a choked up feeling in my throat. And then thinking about Nick, and feeling confused, I started to smile and cry at the same time.
The sun shined bright through my windows, casting bars of light on the carpet. I sat up, blinking, and realized that tears were really streaming down my face. I hurriedly wiped them off and calmed myself down as best I could. My clock said it was 9:34, which meant I had slept in about an hour. I didn’t have a mirror in my room, which has always bugged me, so I didn’t know what my face looked like; that is, if any sign of the dream was still there. I trusted myself, so, I slid out of bed and looked into the hallway. My two brothers and sister were up, and also my parents. I took a deep breath and walked down the stairs and into the kitchen.
Jay Evans, my seventeen-year-old brother, who has red hair kept short and green eyes, was seated at the table wolfing down an almost finished pile of pancakes. Next to him sat my eleven-year-old sister, Rebecca, with shoulder-length red hair and green eyes. Across from her sat Scotty, my six-year-old brother, with dirty-blonde hair and hazel eyes. My parents, Bruce and Sandy Evans, were seated at the head and foot of the table; my mom eating cereal and my dad eating pancakes.
“Marcy, finally!” Daddy exclaimed as I scooted a few pancakes and blueberries onto my plate and sat down next to Scott.
“I checked in on you around nine,” Momma told me, “and you were fast asleep. It sounded like you were having quite a dream, too.” I blushed and shoved a huge bit of pancake into my mouth so I didn’t have to respond.
“Hey, Marcy, what would you say about Jean’s foal? Still doing well?” Jay was finished with breakfast. “I’m going out to check once I’m dressed, but what do you think?”
Remembering my dream and having and odd feeling about how real it had seemed, I replied, “I think it’s almost out. She’s getting pretty wide.”
“Can I watch it be born?” Scott asked me.
“Oh, yeah, me too!” Rebecca added. I felt a little protective, since Jean was more my horse than any of theirs, and Rebecca only wanted to be there because she had gotten into her thick head that since I had gotten the only mare, and she had been stuck with Rebel, we were sharing Jean. Which we were most certainly not! I would rather share… Nothing, really, with her. I didn’t say anything, but my mind was already boiling.
“Oh, no, I don’t think so,” Momma replied. “It’ll be really gross.”
“I don’t care!” Rebecca said eagerly. I could tell she thought she was going to get her way again. “Really, I don’t! I have a strong stomach! I think I should be there when it happens! I just know that Rebel is the father; he is always around her after all. I mean, his stall is right next to hers! ” She looked across at me excitedly, as if she wanted me to cheer her along, to also beg Momma and Daddy. In truth, I would give up seeing Jean’s foal be born if it would mean Rebecca not seeing it either. That might seem kind of selfish, or rude, or whatnot, but I’ve lived with Rebecca for almost twelve years now, and it really has an effect on you.
“No.” Daddy had that firm, loud, refusal that he uses for her.
“Well—well—does Marcy get to?” Rebecca glanced at me and I threw daggers at her through my eyes.
“I don’t know, Rebecca,” Daddy said through a sigh. “It shouldn’t really matter to you, anyway.” My heart leapt, because this meant that I would probably be allowed to.
“It should too!” Rebecca protested. “It’s not fair if she gets to see it and I don’t!”
“We’re not talking about this anymore, Rebecca,” Daddy said. “So, Jay, how’s Macao jumping?”
“Real good,” Jay replied. “His legs come up so neatly. It’s like he’s on springs.”
“I’m done,” I announced as I put my plate on the counter.
“Great. Change and we’ll go.”
“Oh, I’m almost done, can I come too?” It was Rebecca again.
Jay said “No, sis, this is just for Marcy and me.” She didn’t like that, and we could hear her begging Momma and Daddy as we went up to change. I dearly hoped they would hold out this time.
In my room I avoided t-shirts, once again remembering my dream, and instead put on a purple button-down shirt. I got dressed and did my hair as quickly as possible, giving Rebecca as little time as possible to convince Momma and Daddy, and apparently Jay had the same idea because as soon as I opened my door he was opening his. We hurried downstairs.
“We’re going to check!” Jay called as we opened and closed the door as fast as we could, but we still heard Rebecca putting up a fight.
Jean was in the field, but I whistled and she came trotting over a little awkwardly.
“Gracious, look at the size of that belly!” I cried. It was enormous.
“That thing’s got to be coming out soon, there’s no way she can keep going like this for much longer,” Jay pointed out as we entered the field and felt her stomach.
“My birthday’s tomorrow,” I said slowly. Jay looked up.
“Maybe it’ll be a fifteenth birthday present for you!” he suggested.
“I doubt it…” But I really didn’t. You should have seen the size of Jean; there was very little chance she was going to wait another whole day to have this baby.
“Well, we’d better tell Daddy about this, ‘cause he’ll want to make sure she’s in her stall when it happens, and it has to be comfortable,” he was walking towards the house, not even noticing that I had stayed with Jean.
“You’re huge, you know that, girl?” I told her, rubbing her nose. She snorted and lowered her head, as if to say, “Yeah, unfortunately, I have.”
I stayed there for a few minutes, scratching her ears, petting her neck, feeling her stomach. I heard the door open and seconds later Scott was running towards me.
“Can I ride Optimus?”
“Of course,” I replied. I would have given him the moon if he had asked for it.
We headed for the barn and he retrieved his horse’s bridle, while I carried the saddle over to him. Optimus, a white stallion, was grazing in the stallion field, and Scott called for him as loud as he could. Tossing his head, his horse came over. I slid and cinched the saddle on and helped Scott put the bridle on correctly, and then gave him a boost up. He looked a little nervous, all the way up there (Optimus is a huge horse), but grabbed on tight to the saddle horn like I always told him to do, which meant that he was at least thinking properly.
I led him over to the fence of Jean’s field and tied the reins to a post. Then I ran to the barn and back, put her saddle and bridle on, swung up, untied Scott, and handed him the reins. We took it at a walk, Scott looking excited and scared at the same time, feeling the movements of his horse beneath him. I saw Rebecca come running out and ignored her while she got Rebel ready. Scott and I went into the woods, still at a walk. This is what we do every day, while he slowly gets used to Optimus. He was just allowed to ride a horse about a week or two ago, when he turned six. We walk around the grass, walk around the woods. Trot around the grass, trot around the woods. Canter around the grass… Slower canter around the woods. Gallop around the grass, NOT gallop around the woods because that would be suicide for a six-year-old to even attempt that. We were still at walk, and a little trot now and then.
“Guys?” It was Rebecca. I felt Scott tense up (he shares my feelings about our sister) and tighten his grip on the reins. He looked at me imploringly, and I really felt tempted to go along. Rebecca hadn’t seen us yet, and Scott thought, or rather, knew, that it would be better for us if we started into a trot now to try and get away from her. As much as this seemed a good idea, I had to be the bigger person here, and say that we’d keep it at a walk. I sighed and shook my head at him.
Seconds later, there was Rebecca, riding Rebel, a brown stallion with a white blaze running down his nose.
“Make some room!” she cried as she saw that there was none between Optimus and Jean. Well, she saw that, but like I said, her head’s too thick to see that there was none. I couldn’t make Jean have her foal right now, and I wouldn’t if I could have. Plus, the horses would be extremely uncomfortable riding three-across on this tiny path, even without Jean’s fat middle.
“We can’t,” I told her, and she made a face at me.
“We can’t,” she retorted in a mocking voice. You get used to her doing this if you live with a sister like Rebecca, but that doesn’t stop your blood from boiling every time she does it. I faced front again. Glancing over at Scott showed him making a face that we both knew was directed to the person behind us. I smiled at the path before us so Rebecca wouldn’t see.
Suddenly Jean reared. Caught by surprise I only just managed to hang on, my legs gripping her as tightly as possible but also I was sliding to the side of the saddle. I saw Optimus start to rear too; Scott yelled and I twisted around to make sure he was alright. Somehow he was still in the saddle, and then I saw he had his arms around Optimus’s neck. I also could see Rebel’s telltale neck stretched out and his teeth bared. He had bit our horses! Jean came down and I grabbed Optimus’s reins and yanked him down too. I turned around and glared at Rebecca, who had pulled Rebel to a stop.
“What was that for?” I demanded angrily.
“It’s not our fault,” Rebecca replied. “You were going too slow.”
“We were NOT!” Scott shouted at her.
“Guys!” I shouted. “Calm down! Rebecca if we went any slower we’d be going backwards!”
“Would not! You wouldn’t be going backwards!”
“Yeah we would,” Scott told her.
“Rebecca it is really ridiculous to be arguing about this. Go slower.”
“You guys are meanies,” Rebecca whined, and I could see tears in her eyes.
Scott snorted loudly and I gave him a look.
“I’m telling Momma and Daddy!” Rebecca shouted as she wheeled Rebel around and they tore back through the woods.
“Tattletale!” Scott called after her. I mustered up all the conscience I could and said, “Scotty, don’t do that.”
He made another face, this time at me (for Pete’s sake, he’s six), and we kicked our horses into another walk. We were silent for a little bit, then Scott spoke.
“Marcy. Guess what?”
“What?” I asked. He looked at me mysteriously.
“You know how Rebecca thinks that Rebel is Jean’s husband?”
“Well, he’s not. I think.”
“Huh?” I stared at him. “What do you mean?”
“It’s Optimus. Optimus is her husband. I know it.” I stared at him some more.
“Are—are you sure, Scotty? I mean, how do you know?”
“They’re in love, Marcy. Really. And… I saw them together in the field, you know, when the fence was broken and that’s how Jean got to have a baby in her from one of our guys? Do you remember? Well, I saw them, and Jean was giving Optimus a piggy-back ride.”
I felt my face flush hotly.
“You saw that?” I asked nervously. After all he is only six.
“Yeah. It looked really weird, and then afterwards they both stood up and Optimus wasn’t on her anymore and they acted like everything was normal… That has something to do with the baby, right?”
“That means that he’s the daddy, doesn’t it?”
“Yes, Scotty. He is the daddy, if you’re sure that’s what you saw.”
“I know it was him. This means that Rebecca’s wrong, and that Rebel has nothing to do with Jean’s baby!”
I know it might seem weird to be so excited over something like that, but the fact that Rebecca didn’t own the foal in any way made me happy.
“Speaking of which, we need to get Jean inside,” I told Scott. We rode back to the house, and once we had put Optimus in the field and Jean in her stall and were hanging up the tack, Scott looked at me.
“We can’t tell anyone, Marcy. Especially Rebecca. She’d start crying, ‘cause she always cries about everything.”
“Ok.” It was true. The only problem was, sadly, that Scott wasn’t a very good secret-keeper. During dinner of that very same day, Momma and Daddy were upstairs trying to fix the computer and the children were eating alone at the table. Scott leaned over and whispered to me, “She’s going to find out when she sees the baby, right?” I replied, “Probably, but be quiet.”
“Whisper whisper whisper,” Rebecca said as she watched me sit up and end the short conversation. She had told on us and we had all been told to not argue while on horses because they can sense you tensing up; Rebecca had been reminded to keep a good distance between her and the horse in front of her. Scott and I had been told not to be mean which we accepted with quick nods and had went off to play action figures. Rebecca was in a bad mood.
“What were you saying?” she asked. “I saw you whispering to her,” she told Scott. “What did you tell her? Was it about me?” she demanded suddenly.
Scott looked her in the eye and said “No.”
“Well then what were you saying?”
“Nothing.” I have to admit, Scott can sure stand up to her. Even though he got us into this mess in the first place.
“You guys shouldn’t be whispering at the table,” Jay interrupted. “And Rebecca, if he was whispering then maybe it was something he can’t tell you!”
“I’ll just keep bugging you until you tell me,” Rebecca informed us. I couldn’t believe the nerve of her.
“Rebecca. They don’t need to tell you.” Jay was frowning. “You whisper to people sometimes and don’t tell people what you said. Scott, if you can’t say it to everybody, you shouldn’t say it to anyone.”
Rebecca was glaring at us, and I could tell she was going to cry soon, and the very thought of her eyes slowly tearing up and her face reddening made me want to roll me eyes out of their very sockets.
I was relieved when we went to bed that night. I stayed up and looked at the stars outside my window in the night sky. Soon, at 2:14 am to be exact, I would be fifteen years old. I know that nothing changes when you have a birthday, but I get excited all the same. I pulled a chair over, opened the window, and rested my head on my arms which were on the windowsill. Closing my eyes and letting the cool air wash over me, I fell asleep.
When I woke up again I wasn’t sure why I had. It seemed peaceful enough. Then I saw a light on outside. I watched it sleepily, until I realized what I was seeing. The barn was lit up, and a high, piercing whinny was coming from inside. I sat up straight, my heart hammering.
Jean was having her foal.
I threw on a sweater and stuffed my feet into my boots. I ran downstairs, tore open the door and sprinted to the barn. Once inside I stopped to catch my breath. Daddy was leaning against a post and looking strained. When he saw me he looked surprised.
“Honey, it’s way too early for you to be up,” he scolded, but then Jean gave another strained whinny and I ran to the stall door. She was pacing back and forth, her coat gleaming with sweat, and she was tossing her head. Suddenly she stopped and lay down, breathing heavily. Daddy looked at me. “It’s starting.”
I pushed open the stall door and sat down beside Jean. Her eyes were wide, like she was just as afraid as I was.
“It’s ok, girl. You’ll do fine,” I told her, more reassuring myself than the soon-to-be mother next to me. Suddenly a stream of water streamed out of her. My breath quickened and I felt light-headed. I had never watched a foaling before and I wasn’t sure I wanted too, but I wasn’t going to leave Jean’s side.
Then, it happened. A hoof poked out. It was tiny, so tiny, and it melted my heart to see it.
“Can you see a second one?” Daddy could see most of what was going on from outside the stall, but not all of it.
“No,” I replied, panicking. “Should there be?”
A second hoof appeared. Daddy gave a sigh of relief behind me.
Seconds passed. Then, without warning except for a grunt from Jean, a head peeked out. It was the sweetest thing I had ever seen, tiny and delicate looking. Jean gave another grunt and I could see her sides heaving as she pushed. The foal seemed stuck. Without really thinking, I reached forward, gently touched the foal’s shoulders, and pulled a little. The foal slid out some more and Jean gave a sigh, took a breath and pushed again. Little by little we got the foal out, me pulling as lightly as possible, and Jean on the other end pushing with all her might. After what seemed like hours, the foal was all out, and I nudged it over to Jean’s head, so she could lick it. The umbilical cord snapped and I winced, hoping that it was supposed to happen like that.
Daddy knelt down and rubbed antiseptic around the stomach of the foal. Then he straightened up and smiled at me.
“It’s a filly,” he said. And he showed me his watch. It was 2:15. Jean’s filly was a birthday foal… My birthday foal.
I could see now that the filly was going to be even more beautiful than her mother. She was a gold cream color, same with her mane and tail; she had three white sock markings on her legs and a white blaze running down the middle of her face. Right away I could tell that she was Optimus’s daughter. She carried his high crest and long legs.
“Get to bed now,” Daddy told me as I tore my eyes away from the beautiful sight before me. “You need to sleep.” We walked back to the house together, his arm around me. I felt exhausted beyond belief. Momma was at the kitchen table wearing a bathrobe over her pajamas. She shook her head and smiled at me as we entered the house, and she helped Daddy get me upstairs. I didn’t even take off my shoes as I collapsed into bed and fell immediately asleep.
Rebecca was sulking. After she had heard about the filly being the obvious daughter of Optimus and not Rebel, well, that was bad enough. But then Momma and Daddy told me that Jean’s foal was mine as an unexpected birthday present, and she got so jealous because there was no way we could share the filly since it had been my present. I have never known Rebecca to not talk to someone for more than one hour (and I can’t remember the last time even that happened) and so her way of sulking was basically being even more of a brat than usual, which I didn’t think possible. I was just waiting for her to get back at me somehow.
I was brainstorming names for the filly the day after my birthday, which was June 16th, when Momma poked her head into the barn.
“The Harpers are coming over for dinner, Marcy, so, can you start getting ready?”
“Yeah, hold on.” I looked over at the filly again, my face screwed up in concentration. Bailey? Taylor? Missy? None of the names sounded… Right to me. They didn’t match her.
I reluctantly got up and hurried to my room to change for the Harpers. They were coming to wish me a happy birthday, since they couldn’t come yesterday. I put on a blue tank top, a light sweater and a nicer pair of jeans. I did my hair in a French braid down my back and sat down to think again. Sara? Runner? Macy? Emma? Isabel? I came up with nothing again, and I had to go downstairs because the doorbell rang.
“Happy birthday, Marcy!” Tally was in the front, her long blonde hair in a bun, and she handed me a present. Nick came in next. I suddenly recalled my dream from a couple nights ago, and I felt so weird, I was glad he hadn’t brought a birthday present.
“Can we go see the foal? Mom told us what it looked like, but it’s not the same at all.” Tally was bouncing up and down with excitement.
“Sure,” I replied, and I led them (Nick, unfortunately, came along too) into the barn.
“Wow,” he said, stopping in his tracks. “Wow.”
“Oh my gosh, she’s so beautiful!” Tally crooned as she gawked at the tiny golden filly nursing from her mother. “What are you going to name her?”
“I have no idea,” I admitted, feeling ashamed. “None of them fit, and I want it to be perfect.”
“Can I take a picture?” Tally asked.
Soon it was time to go back inside. Daddy ordered a pizza that wouldn’t be here for a while, since they have to drive all the way up here. I opened the present that Tally had gotten me, and found a whistle, a nice silver whistle with a horse engraved on the front, with a green lanyard and blue rubber cover.
“Oh, it’s so awesome! Thank you so much!” I hugged Tally tightly. Now that I think back, I don’t remember seeing Rebecca around this time. I probably should have focused on that.
It was getting dark outside, and I still had to feed the horses, so I hopped through the grass barefoot until I got used to the cool dampness of it. I quickly fed Jean and stared at her filly for a while longer before carrying hay to the stallions. We have four of them, so I dumped five piles, and then was done.
I was heading back inside when a voice called out, “Marcy!” I turned around and saw someone silhouetted in the light coming from the barn. It was Nick.
“Hold on,” he said as he ran closer. “Come here.”
We sat on the fence, which gave me that uneasy feeling of déjà vu, but this time Nick wasn’t giving me an odd look at all.
“I got you a present,” he told me quietly. “I didn’t want them to see it, though.” He pulled a small box out of his jacket pocket and handed it to me. I took it and felt that it wasn’t an ordinary box. It felt oddly smooth with bumps in strange places. I looked at him, and then opened it up.
There was a necklace. It was a horse, a gold horse, running with its legs spread out and its mane and tail also gold. In the place of its eye was a pretty looking stone with many colors flecked around in it. I looked up at Nick and before I could even ask, he said “It’s an opal. It’s wasn’t the most expensive choice,” he added quickly, “but I thought it looked pretty in the necklace.”
I was staring at him in shock, my mouth open.
“It’s perfect,” I breathed.
“Um, ok,” Nick looked a little confused. “I’m… Glad you like it.”
“No,” I replied, jumping up. “It’s perfect! Opal! That’s what I’ll name her! Oh, you’re a genius, Nick!”
He looked pleased and surprised at the same time.
“And the necklace, it’s very nice. Thank you,” I told him, and before I knew it I was hugging him. He took the necklace from me and made a circle motion with his finger. I turned around and felt him fasten the tiny clasp around my neck. I turned back around and he whistled soft and long.
“It looks really pretty on you, Marcy,” he said. “You look really pretty.” I stared at him. He slid off the fence and stood next to me. His eyes danced in the dim light and made me feel so real. A lot more real than I had in my dream. My feet were wet from the grass, and there was no wind, so I could smell the sweet wildflowers that grew in the woods near the fence. We leaned closer to each other, and without thinking I tilted my face towards him and he went along. Our lips were touching—
The night seemed to envelop us, extinguishing the light and then all I could see were his eyes, staring into mine, and all I could hear were the crickets chirping, the trees rustling… Hang on. There was no wind. Why were the trees rustling?
I broke off of Nick and whirled around. At first all I could see in the darkness was an empty space between trees. Then, I made out a face. Rebecca’s face. She was smiling, her eyes wild with mischief. She had seen everything.
I was so mad, I was shaking. How dare she. How dare she watch us?
Rebecca started running towards the house. I lunged after her.
“No! Rebecca, stop! Come back!” I tried to be nice. She didn’t listen. I sped up desperately, shouting at her. I was a faster runner than she was, and I was sprinting as fast as I could possibly go. Soon I had almost caught up to her, but I could barely speak between each breath. I reached out and grabbed her arm as I ran.
“Stop!” she said as she laughed. “Stop, you poopy-head!”
“Don’t tell!” I wasn’t smiling.
“Get off!” She stopped and tried to pull my hand off of her arm, and I used the time to grab her with my other hand. “Marcy, you meanie, let go.”
“Please, Rebecca, don’t tell them. Don’t tell anyone,” I begged as Nick caught up to us. I was getting mad. Suddenly she wrenched her arm out of my grip and sped into the house. Nick looked horrified.
“No!” I yelled, but it was too late. I went barging through the door just as she was shouting to everyone.
“Marcy and Nick were kissing!”
I froze in my steps. Nick came in slowly behind me. Daddy stood up and I could already see him sizing Nick up as if he hasn’t known him for years. He opened his mouth.
“Daddy, please,” I spoke before I knew that the words were there. “Let me explain, somewhere else?”
He nodded and took me and Rebecca by the shoulders and led us upstairs into his and Momma’s room. Momma followed us up nervously.
Daddy sat down on the bed and looked at us sternly.
“Now I want to know exactly what happened out there,” he said. Rebecca opened her mouth faster.
“Daddy, I was just walking and I saw them on the fence—”
“HEY!” I raised my voice above hers. “Daddy, I think I should be the one telling this?”
“Ok,” he sighed. “Get started.”
“No, Daddy, because now she’s gonna make it seem better than it is! That’s not fair!” Rebecca cried. Daddy ignored her. I opened my mouth.
“I was feeding the horses and Nick was outside too, and we sat on the fence and he gave me a birthday present,” I showed him the horse hanging around my neck and then continued, “and then we stood there and I guess we kissed, but it was little, Daddy, and not a big one or anything, and then Rebecca was hiding in the woods and she watched the whole conversation and then she ran in to get us in trouble!”
“Rebecca, did you watch them the whole time?”
“So you can tell me if Marcy’s story is right.” Rebecca stared at him.
“Well, for one thing it was not a small kiss, they were really doing it, and for a while, and also I was not hiding, I was just standing there! And plus, Marcy is way too young for boys. You said so yourself.”
“Daddy it is impossible to kiss small, please, it wasn’t like they do in movies, I promise. And I know you think I’m too young, but if I love someone then I love someone, and I guess I wasn’t really remembering every little thing that you’ve ever told me when it happened so I’m sorry for that but please try to understand that I was twelve years old when you last told me not to get involved with boys!”
I was out of breath, but that seemed okay, because Daddy was still considering what I had just said. There was a tense silence.
“Marcy, we’ll talk about this more tomorrow,” he finally said. “We have company downstairs. Both of you can bring in the horses in the field before the pizza gets here.”
We didn’t look at anybody on the way out, especially each other. Now that I knew that I was out of immediate danger of unrighteous punishment, I could feel my fury towards Rebecca building inside of me and it took every ounce of my concentration to keep it in check.
Rebecca could sense my coldness towards her, and as we were bringing Rebel and Optimus in she reached over and gave me a one-armed hug, saying “I’m sorry, buddy.” When I didn’t respond, she waited until the two horses were in their stalls before turning to me. She gave me another hug, burying her face in my chest. Then she stood up with her baby face on. She uses it when she’s trying to be cute which never works at all.
“What was it like? Kissing?”
That. Was. It. How dare she. How dare she ask me that! On top of everything else she had ever done, it was too much. I exploded.
“Why would I tell you?” I demanded. “Apparently it’s horrible to be kissing someone, so why would you want to know what it’s like? You just told the whole house and our guests that I had been kissing, so obviously you expected I would get in trouble! So why would I tell you about it?”
“Mee mee mee-mee,” she said back coldly in a mocking tone.
“Stop doing that!”
“Alright, alright, let’s just go get the horses,” she said calmly and put her arm around me to go walking out. I yanked myself away and she gave me a hurt look. I just looked at her, and she quickly made her face into a cruel, exaggerated version of mine.
“What is it with you?” I yelled at her. “One minute you hate me, and the next you’re acting all cute around me! You act like a brat and then the next second you think it’s ridiculous that anyone should be mad at you!”
“Well do you want me to hate you?” she asked.
“I’m not saying you have to hate me, and you know that. I’m saying that if you’re going to pull a stunt like watching me secretly and then telling everyone about what I did, you can’t expect me to pretend it never happened!”
“Marcy, stop.” She had her baby face on again. “Just, pretend it never happened. Ok? I’m sorry that I did that.”
I stormed out of the barn and towards the field to bring another horse in.
“Marcy, please!” She was about to cry. “You’re always so mean to me, and I do nothing! And you never get mad at Scott! I’m your sister too!”
“I know,” I said through clenched teeth.
“Then start acting like it! You don’t love me.”
“Rebecca. I do love you. That doesn’t mean that what you do doesn’t matter to me. You did something very annoying and rude. Just because I love you doesn’t mean that you can get away with it.”
“But—but—but,” she was taking in great gulps of air. “But you nev—never act this way with Sco—Scott!” It’s impossible to reason with her when she’s crying like this. She almost makes herself throw up with how weird she’s making her body act.
“Yes,” I said loudly to be heard over her hysterics. “But he doesn’t spy on me, does he?”
“I—I—I—I wasn’t spy—spy—spying!” she howled. By this time I was already leading in Blue Man, and soon she was at my side with Macao. “You—you—you hate me.”
“How many times do you want me to say it, Rebecca,” I was losing the tiny bit of patience I had quickly scraped up, and fast. “I don’t hate you, but that doesn’t mean I’m not mad at you. And don’t say a word about Scott,” I added as I saw her mouth open. “He is not part of this conversation.”
“Girls. What is going on?” Daddy was in the barn waiting for us. He saw Rebecca’s face and I saw a flash of exasperation in his eyes, but then it was gone. “Put the horses away and—for goodness sakes, Rebecca, calm down or you’re going to throw up!”
We put them in their stalls and I hurried inside before anyone could say anything to me. Nick was on the couch, talking with his mom, and Tally and Jay were helping to set the table. Scott came up to me as soon as I walked in.
“What’s wrong with Rebecca?” he asked. I realized that everyone was probably able to hear Rebecca from in the barn. I decided that it was better for all of us if he didn’t know too much about that.
“Nothing,” I told him, and indeed it seemed like nothing when Rebecca walked in not a minute later acting like everything was normal. The doorbell rang and soon everyone was eating pizza and for a few minutes at a time, when someone said something funny, it seemed like the night was normal. But then the laughter would die down and everyone would look a little embarrassed. Nick and I found that we could look at each other normally because we were so busy worrying about Rebecca seeing us that it distracted us from what she had seen us doing.
We got up from the table early, and went into my bedroom. My bedroom is blue, green, and purple. It faces the front of the house where I can see the barn and the fields. My bed doubles as a couch with the headboard equipped with sliding cushions so you could lean against it when you were using the bed as a couch. We sat there, listening to the rain pound steadily on the roof.
“So,” Nick started. “What happened with Rebecca?” I glanced at the door, and then got up and opened it to make sure no one was listening. I closed it and sat back down.
“She acted like she usually does with situations like these,” I responded. “She asked me what it felt like.”
“Did you tell her?” Nick asked in disgust.
“No! Of course not. And then I told her that and she started freaking out.”
“I heard.” Nick sighed. “What’s it like, having a sister like that?”
“Well, she’s super sensitive. Like, if I say something and then Scott or Jay say ‘yeah’ in agreement, she runs upstairs crying because we’re ganging up on her. And she doesn’t understand why she should get in trouble. You know the term ‘angel-devil’? That’s her. One minute she acts like a little kid who couldn’t harm a fly, the next she’s being a brat whose main goal is to beat up on someone. Mainly Scott.”
“But… You don’t let her…” Nick said uncertainly.
“No, I don’t. But see, then I get in trouble for being mean and ganging up on her because when I stand up for him he says something like ‘yeah’ or if—no, when she makes a face or mocks me or does something else rude he’ll get angry at her. And then, of course, she’ll run upstairs sobbing or start giving him a ‘talk’ in which she slowly starts to cry while she goes on and on about him not loving her. In which I step in and say that it’s not doing any good, and then she starts doing it to me, and yada yada.”
“That’s harsh,” Nick said sympathetically. “Tally’s nothing like that.”
We looked out the window and into the pouring rain. The wind was blowing the trees around and making the house creak.
“You’re going to have to walk home in that?’ I asked incredulously.
“Yes,” Nick replied. “But it’s not really that far.”
I looked over at him worriedly. It was really dark outside, and with the rain and the wind it would be nothing short of miserable on the way to his house. Indeed, Nick himself looked a little nervous.
“Nick?” It was Mrs. Harper.
“I’m coming, Mom!” he yelled. We ran downstairs and saw Mrs. Harper smiling. “Mr. Evans has offered to drive us home. What do you say?”
“Thank you, sir,” Nick was smiling too. Tally hugged me and said happy birthday again, and Nick and I smiled and gave a little hug. Then they were out the door into the rain and Momma shut the door quick.
“Bed,” she said, and there was the usual grumbling from Scott as we headed up the stairs. I was so emotionally exhausted that the moment I entered my room I collapsed onto the bed. Momma’s not going to approve, I thought, but before I could even consider getting up, my eyelids closed and I was asleep.