Evelyn, Friday, May 29th, late afternoon
My mom, Ines, and I bring in the last few boxes from the minivan, and collapse onto the couch. She brushes my long, brunette hair out of my eyes. “You are good, Mi Hija?” she asks in her slight accent. I smile slightly in response, still taking in the empty walls and cupboards, and the miscellaneous boxes and containers holding all of our belongings in our small, new ranch. A knock on the front door interrupts my thought. Mom and I exchange confused looks, and we both head to the door.
Sandy hair, a wide grin, and a torso that looked like it had just stepped out of one of those LL Bean magazines we occasionally receive in the mail greets us at the door. “Hello!” she lets out enthusiastically. “I saw someone had moved in next door, and I wanted to welcome you to Windy Hills.” She was referring to the title of the neighborhood we’d just moved to.
“Oh, heh,” my mom lets out shyly, looking at me for conversational help.
“Hi!” I blurt out nervously. “I’m Evelyn Donagh, and this is my mom, Ines.” I’m not surprised as I see the woman’s face shift from bright and welcoming to slightly skeptical and shocked. How can someone as young as my mother have a daughter as old as me? She might as well say it out loud.
“Oh!” she gasps, recovering from her lapse of exuberant happiness. “What gorgeous names!” My mom is blushing profusely. “You know, I’ve got a son that’s… around your age,” the woman says cautiously, eyeing my lack of height.
“I’m twelve,” I reply with a straight face immediately. I’m used to hearing comments about my short stature, and my “baby face”. As a matter of fact, if I didn’t have long lashes and a fairly developed chest (for a junior high kid), I would probably look like I was in fourth grade, as opposed to going into eighth grade.
“Oh yes,” the neighbor replies without missing a beat. “Peter’s going to be a freshman; you’re about the same age.” She abruptly smacks her palm to her forehead, making my mom and me jump simultaneously. “I’ve forgotten to introduce myself! My name’s Letitia Broad, I live next door with my boys, to the left of you.” She turns to me, before either my mom or I have time to reply. “Would you like to stop over and meet the boys? I’ve seen you working out here all day, I’m sure your mom wouldn’t mind me borrowing you for a while, would you Ines?” My mom flushes again once she realizes the attention has again been turned to her.
My stomach lurches anxiously. Part of me has the typical nervous feeling that comes with meeting someone new, and wondering what they’ll think about me. But I really am aching to know someone. The only people I’ve talked with in the state of California, so far, are my mom and Letitia Broad. I look to my mom for permission, and, after receiving an encouraging nod, follow Letitia next door, skipping slightly to keep up with her quick pace and long legs.
Evelyn, same day, a few moments later
The moment the large, cherry wood doors to the Broad residence opened, I was quickly met with several alarming scenes. To my left, through what I assumed to be a door to a restroom, steam poured out from under that two inch crack between the bottom of the door and the hardwood flooring, and the sound of pounding water and some sort of extra loud noise that sounded like a broken instrument, which was actually a voice screaming out an air guitar. An odd, pungent, slightly sweet scent wafts from somewhere in the house. Lastly, a fairly tall boy (at least in comparison to my height) is chasing a soccer ball right in front of us through the foyer and into the dining room to our left.
The house itself is beautiful. It’s richly furnished without being frivolous. My mom and I aren’t poor in any way, but I wouldn’t exactly consider myself to be rich either. My mom and I have nice things, but we don’t overspend or really ever get anything that’s unnecessary. Still, I’m able to recognize genuine, highly-priced items from cute little decorative things most likely purchased from Target or Kmart.
I look up at Letitia Broad to see that her nostrils are flared and her cheeks are slightly red. She suddenly exhales out of her breath, her mouth forming a tiny “o” shape, for a few seconds, and then resumes her smiling. “Peter!” she says loudly in a sharp, high-pitched voice. The boy with the soccer ball taps the ball with the toe of his shoe, maneuvers it onto the top of his foot and up his leg, knees it high into the air, and catches it firmly with his right arm. He looks up abruptly to his mom, opening his mouth to say something, but, noticing that there is company, clamps it shut. He blushes and averts his deep blue eyes from me. “What are you doing?” asks Letitia. I note that she seems as if she’s trying to keep herself from exploding at him.
“I’m practicing,” he answers defensively, still obviously trying to avoid making eye contact with me.
“In the house?” her voice squeaks slightly on the last word. “With a guest coming?”
“I- I didn’t know-,” he stuttered, finally letting his eyes catch mine for a moment before quickly bringing them back to his mother’s sharp gaze. They held each other’s eyes for a moment before Letitia Broad broke their look with a soft clearing of her throat.
“Please forgive my rudeness,” she says cheerily, turning to look at me. “Peter, this is Evelyn Donagh, our new next door neighbor. Evelyn, this is my youngest son, Peter Broad.” Peter shot me a sweet, half-grin.
“Hi,” I muttered shyly. I hate that I can never talk to people when I first meet them without sounding like a timid, stuttering idiot.
Suddenly, the bathroom door is flung open and out pours a bunch of humid steam, and a skinny, medium-height teenaged boy…wearing nothing but a towel around his waist. His stringy, long, dirty blond hair is leaving a random dripping trail behind him. He walks right past us without even noticing me, playing air drums to himself animatedly. Letitia groans into her palm, but quickly returns to her cheery demeanor. “That would be my second son, Marko,” she remarks dryly, the grin never wavering. I’m not going to lie; her excessive amount of cheeriness is somewhat creepy. “My oldest son, Reuben, is in his bedroom,” she continued, and began wringing her hands anxiously. “I think he’s busy right now.” As I watched her, it was apparent that her thoughts were drifting off toward something else, but, once again, her big grin popped up quickly. “Well, Peter, do you think you could show Evelyn around for a little while?”
I blanched. “Oh no, really, Mrs. Broad, he doesn’t-.”
“Oh, don’t be silly!” Letitia Broad cut in. “Peter doesn’t mind at all do you?”
He shook his head earnestly at her, and she quickly scuttled out of the room.
Evelyn, same day, about 15 seconds later
I follow Peter outside and, not being distracted anymore by overly-cheery moms and naked boys, take the time to actually take in his appearance. He’s probably around 5’10, with a lean build. His eyes are a solid blue hue, and his hair is thick and brown. His left cheek has an obvious dimple and he’s got really thick eyelashes. He’s wearing a plain white t-shirt, blue and yellow athletic shorts, and running shoes. We’re walking down the street silently for a minute or two before he finally speaks up. “So, um, where’d you come from?” he asks awkwardly.
Where did I come from? I think to myself.
Well, I’m part Irish, part Mexican, so you could say I’m from either of those countries, but I feel more American than anything.
I came from Ines Maldonado, age 32, my mother, a beautiful, lonely Hispanic lady.
I also came from Kelsey Donagh, age who-knows-how-old, my biological father, whom I’ve never met. I do know that he’s from California, not from the Chicago suburb where I’ve lived all of my life up until now.
“Um, well,” I answer stupidly. “I just moved here from the Chicago area, that’s where I grew up.”
His face expression shows that he’s mildly impressed. “Huh. That’s pretty neat,” he responds. We reach the end of our street, Tipton Drive, and run across to the other side and begin our journey once again. “So what brings you out to California?”
Wow. The loaded question of all loaded questions. What on earth did bring me out to California?
Well the smart-alec version would be, of course, an enormous moving van that we road in for almost three days (we stopped at motels to sleep during the night).
The reason I like to think we moved out to California? Well, my mom’s family could potentially be here somewhere. She and her mom and brother, Grizelda and Paco Maldonado, my grandmother and uncle, moved out to California when Mom was seventeen. Her father, my grandfather, had died from double pneumonia at the age of forty-seven, which, when I was a child, didn’t sound like that big of a deal to me, but I now realize that forty-seven is a very young age to die. After his death, my grandmother was convinced they were supposed to be in America. So, she did what any good mother would do and…snuck the three of them into Southern California.
My mom was, and is, beautiful. She’s 5’9, weighs no more than 120 pounds, has a full chest, long, wavy black hair, and big, dark eyes. Mom isn’t conceited in any way, shape, or form, but when she moved to the US, she had one goal in mind, and that was to be a model. The moment she turned eighteen, which was only a month after they’d come to the United States, she took what little money she’d saved up and took her senior pictures to modeling agencies in the area. After a couple of weeks, she was having no luck, and was about ready repent and go back home to grandma, but then she met my dad, Kelsey Donagh.
He was a talent agent, in his mid-20s. According to my mom, he came from a “well-to-do” family, and he himself had modeled briefly when he was younger, but preferred finding the talent to being the talent, as she’d worded it. From the tidbits I’ve gotten my mom to reveal, he was tall, muscular, and had blond hair and honey-colored eyes, just like my eyes.
Which is the reason I’m assuming my mom really moved us to California. And the reason I’m hoping is NOT the reason we moved to California. My mom hasn’t seen my dad in thirteen years. She likes to think she’s keeping it a secret that she’s still in love with him. But sometimes, she’ll mention things she’d like to happen in the future. She tells me about the wedding she’d like to have some day, and how I could be her maid of honor, and she’ll be able to be called Mrs. Donagh finally. She’s always told me this, so for the longest time, I hadn’t thought anything of it. But now that I’m older, I realize how insane it is that she believes that, in particular now that we’ve moved to the town where she met him. And if that wasn’t enough to convince me that that was the reason we’re in California, she hasn’t ever gone on a date for as long as I can remember.
I look up in shock to Peter’s voice. “Oh, sorry, um, well, my mom’s a talent scout for Celebritime Talent Agency in Chicago, and they’re moving her to a higher position in the San Diego region,” I reply quickly. This was the real reason we’d moved to California, according to my mom.
“Oh, yeah,” Peter responds with some enthusiasm. “Sally Swan has an agent from Celebritime. She’s a girl who I go to school with, she’ll start tenth grade in the fall. Do you model?” he blurts out.
I can feel that I’m blushing badly, but I clear my throat and answer, “Um, I’m a little short for modeling.”
He shrugs, obviously trying to seem casual, because he was probably embarrassed about asking me about modeling. “I don’t know, I bet you could model,” he mutters softly. Before I can say something back, he asks, “Well, do you want to walk around town a bit or turn back around.”
Feeling relieved that I’d put on my Puma tennis shoes instead of a pair of flip-flops, I quickly answered, “Let’s go!” and gave him a small grin.
Evelyn, same day, after walking for a few minutes
To say that I was unpopular back in the Chicago suburb where I’d grown up wouldn’t be exactly true. I’ve always gotten good grades- well, that would be an understatement. The lowest grade I’ve ever gotten is an A-. That, plus the fact that I like to read and play in the school band would make me seem fairly nerdy, but…when you have a mom who’s a talent scout, people tend to warm up to you pretty easily. The school I attended was small enough that everyone knew who everyone else in our grade was, and if you were decent looking, had parents, or in my case a parent, that made a fairly nice salary, and you were cool, it wasn’t hard to be popular. Of course, I don’t know that I’d call myself cool. I just didn’t talk enough at school to say anything dumb enough to make me seem un-cool.
However, I have no idea where I’ll fit into the spectrum of kids and cliques at my new school this fall, and I am sure befriending Peter would be a definite benefit as far as fitting in goes. And so, I’ve concluded it would be a good idea to try to hang out with him this summer, which is how we ended up walking into town together.
It hadn’t taken us more than five minutes to reach the main part of the small, beach town. There weren’t too many buildings. It probably wouldn’t take us any more than fifteen minutes to walk around the whole town. On the bright side, most of the buildings were very old-fashioned looking and cute. Noticing my slightly skeptical look, Peter says, “There’s like a strip mall and Walmart and restaurants and stuff only about a six or seven minute drive away, it would just take forever to walk all the way there and back.”
I smiled encouragingly at him. “This is a beautiful little town. It’s very similar to the town I lived in back in Illinois,” I responded. We’ve stopped walking for a minute to talk. “Well, we’ve probably got some time. You want to show me around a little?”
He nods enthusiastically, as if he’s been waiting for me to ask him that question. “Sure. This is just the library over here,” he motions to our right. “I don’t really go there much, but they do have movie rentals, if for some reason you can’t drive out to the Video Rental in the strip mall.” I noted where the library was for future reference, but kept the fact that I’m an avid reader to myself, for now.
“Here’s the post office, and Jonathan Price’s office.” We pass an old, big, beautiful brick building with a white roof, and a small, two-story house with a big sign advertising Jonathan Price’s service. “He’s an attorney, and he has a son in my class, McKenzie Price, he’s pretty cool. He’s on the soccer team with me.”
“How long have you played soccer?” I question as we pass a bank and an antique shop.
He laughs lightly. “Since I was, like, four. It’s my favorite sport- well, that and football- but I’m not that great at football, soccer’s what I’m really good at playing. I know you can’t be on the varsity soccer team as a freshman, but I’m really hoping to make the varsity team next year.” We pass a little diner, a small bookstore, and a craft store, all in the same building as the antique shop.
I smile half-heartedly at him. Sports have never been my forte. Similar to how I managed to seem cool by keep my mouth closed, I managed not to have anyone back in Illinois notice how bad at sports I was by just keeping out of the way and letting others do the dirty work.
“Do you play any sports?” Peter asks as we pass by a gas station and car wash.
I flinch. “Uh, not too much,” I answer casually. “What’s this place?” I ask motioning to a small, white building, one of the last places in town. I’m mainly trying to change the subject.
“Oh, that’s the Lickety Split Shoppe. It’s an ice cream parlor,” he answers. After receiving a look of approval from me to go inside the ice cream parlor, he pushes open the glass door, and a little bell above it tinkles.
Inside, there’s a bar-like area with metallic, stools that can spin in a circle by them, glass with several tubs of different flavored ice cream behind it, and a huge menu of various ice cream desserts written in multi-colored chalk. There are probably twelve or so simple booths crowded in the limited amount of space available. Behind the counter are two girls dressed in work uniforms that are quite obviously identical twins. They have shoulder-length curly brown hair, really big brown eyes, and wide, welcoming smiles that reveal square, white teeth with large gaps in between. “Hi!” they greet simultaneously.
Peter smiles politely. “Hey, this is Evelyn, she just moved in next door,” he informs the twins. “Evelyn, these are Lettie and Lottie Blank. Their parents own the ice cream shop.”
I cringe inwardly at the girls’ names. Identical twins have enough in common as it is without having to share matching names, in my opinion. I give a small hi, and a quick, pathetic wave.
“Evelyn’s starting a year ahead of you two this year, isn’t that right?” he asks me.
“Uh- um only if they’re going into seventh grade,” I stutter out stupidly.
“We are,” says Lettie (or Lottie), bobbing her head with enthusiasm.
“That’s weird that you’re going into eighth grade, I would have thought you were younger than us,” says the other one, Lottie (Lettie?).
“Shut up, Lottie, she doesn’t look younger than us, she looks way old for her age,” scoffs Lettie. The girls talk so quickly I’m surprised they don’t run out of breath.
“Okay,” Peter interrupts loudly. “I think I’m going to get a large twist cone. What do you want Evelyn?”
I look at him blankly, caught off guard. Peter watches me expectantly, pulling a wallet out of his back pocket. I think about my mom at home after working her butt off unpacking all day. I’d feel bad getting ice cream without her. But then I realize I don’t have anything to pay with anyway. “I- um, I don’t have any cash.”
“Uh…so?” he says, his eyes flickering down to the wallet in his right hand. I see Lottie and Lettie glance at each other and giggle, knowing that Peter intends to pay for me. When he sees that I’m not going to give him an answer any time soon, he sighs and asks, “Do you want the same as me?” I nod speechlessly, incredibly embarrassed. The girls snicker again as Peter hands them the money for the ice cream cones. After waiting for a minute or two for the cones to be made, Peter takes his, hands me mine, and we leave.
We travel back in the direction of our neighborhood in silence for a few moments, lapping up our ice cream before it can melt too much, before I finally say, “You didn’t have to do that you know.”
He looks over at me thoughtfully for a moment, before casually inquiring, “Do what?”
I frown. “You know what,” I retort with a little sigh of annoyance.
Peter smiles knowingly. “It’s not a big deal. Trust me.” After a moment of failing to come up with something to say back to him, I just shrug lightly and we keep walking. “But,” he continues after a minute or two. “You could thank me.” I glance over at him and he grins.
I smile back and say ‘thanks’ softly.
A while later, the sun’s setting, or ice cream is finished, and we’ve arrived at my house. “Thanks for the ice cream,” I say again.
“It’s no problem,” he says shaking his head. “I’ll see you later.” It’s more of a question than a statement.
I cautiously answer, “Um, yes. Bye.”
“See ya’,” he says with an airy grin as I go inside.
Evelyn, same day, in the evening
Opening the front door of my new home gingerly, I peer inside looking for my mom. I latch the door softly behind me, in case my mom is napping after a long day of moving. Mom’s leaning over the island countertop in the kitchen, her fingers tapping down the thin page of a phonebook. The delicate diamond ring on her left hand catches the light brightly every couple of taps. I tiptoe up behind her, attempting to peek around her shoulder. Unfortunately, it’s only a second before the book is flapped shut with a loud THUNK, and my mom turns around to face me. She stares hard at me with an angered expression, and I jump back.
“Sorry,” I blurt out.
Her face relaxes, and she gives me a small smile. Mom gives me a hug, and then asks, “How was your outing, Evelyn?”
I smile back carefully, and answer, “It was fine.” A loud beeping suddenly goes off. At first, I think it’s a fire alarm but my mom rushes over to the oven and starts removing a few different dishes. I inhale deeply and sigh satisfyingly to myself. Homemade chimichangas! My mom is an excellent chef.
After dinner, it’s already nearing ten, so I quickly get ready for bed, then climb into my small Davenport that lines up against the wall with a big window facing the front yard.
I think back to when I got home from hanging out with Peter. The big black letter D in the upper left hand corner of the page blares huge in my mind. First day in California and mom’s already looking for my dad.
Evelyn, Thursday, June 4th, sometime after 9:00 p.m.
Ok, so, it’s been like almost a week since I hung out with Peter. I feel kind of lame, because when I’m bored, which is most of the time, I’ll look out the kitchen window at his house next door and watch to see if it looks like anyone’s coming for a visit, or really just to see what’s going on period. Most days, Marko either drives off, or an old junker of a car pulls up full to the brim with a bunch of noisy teenaged boys and he joins them.
I’ve seen Peter playing soccer in his backyard a few times, and another boy that looks to be about his age sometimes shows up. I don’t remember seeing him being dropped off, so I think he might live somewhere in our neighborhood.
As for Reuben, the oldest son who I haven’t met yet, I’ve kind of had this mind game thing going on where I imagine that either his mom’s got him caged up in a dark, musty cell of a basement, or he’s a vampire or something. I have never once seen him leave, and I wonder if he only goes out at night, or if he even goes out at all.
After using the weekend to finish some more unpacking and beginning to decorate my bedroom and such, Mom already had to go to her first day of work the following Monday. Thankfully, my mom and I stopped at a Barnes and Noble on our cross country moving trip and bought me a couple of new books, but after being home alone for four days, they’ve already way been read through and are currently tucked away into my bookshelf that got put up over the weekend. Though the path to the library in town is fairly simple, I’m not gutsy enough to make it on my own yet. So I guess what I’m going at is I’m bored out of my mind.
Though I’m still not convinced it’s the primary reason we’ve moved out to California, my mom’s promotional job is quite obviously different from her old one back in Chicago. Or at least, her hours are different. She used to work a fairly regular forty hour week, and so far, even in her first few days of work, she hasn’t been showing up back home until after seven, and heads out around 8:30 in the morning.
Right now, it’s after nine o’clock, and already nearly pitch black out. She phoned me an hour or two ago telling me to order a pizza or something, and that she’d be back late, though she didn’t say what time. Despite the lack of light outdoors, I’ve been using up most of my time switching between watching the Broad’s house and brainstorming ideas for what to ask Mom for my birthday, which is coming up next week.
I hear a door shutting next at the Broad residence, or somewhere in that area, and I shoot up out of my spot on the couch and resume my former post of gazing out the window to the place next door. There’s almost zero light out, so for a couple of minutes I don’t see anything, but after a while a small light flickers, then disappears, and I see a thin cloud of smoke hover underneath one of the motion lights on the side of their house.
Wanting to see what was going on, I pull on a light sweatshirt, slip on a pair of shoes quickly, and quietly head outside to check it out. Once outside, I can see the person much more clearly, and it’s not anyone I recognize, but I assume that he’s Reuben, the Broad son I haven’t met yet. Though I shut the door softly, he immediately looks up and notices me. After a moment of silence, probably from me catching him off guard, he finally says, “Hey,” in a friendly way, with smoke drifting out of his mouth.
I slowly saunter over to him, not sure whether or not his ‘hey’ was an invitation. He’s leaning against a post on the porch, with a long, thin cigarette in his right hand, and I join him, sitting on the porch swing. He looks older, maybe even out-of-high-school-older, but he’s probably about the same height as Peter. His hair is in extremely tight, short, dirty-blond ringlets. His eyes are the same greenish hazel color as his mom’s and he’s got a long, angular jaw. He brings the cigarette to his lips once again, then softly asks, “You move in next door?” and motions toward my new home with the hand that’s holding his cigarette.
Caught slightly off guard from the break from the silence, I stutter out, “Uh-um yeah.” He nods in agreement. “Are you Reuben?” I blurt out.
His eyes shift over to me questioningly, probably wondering how I knew his name, but he responds, after another puff of cigarette, “Ben.”
“Oh,” I respond quickly. “Sorry, I must have been confused.”
“Ben’s a nickname,” he leisurely replies.
Suddenly, his right arm moves or toward me, the cigarette in my face, and I realize he’s offering it to me. I give him a look that clearly shows I think he’s nuts, but in all reality, I’ve actually smoked before.
During New Year’s, I hung out with a bunch of kids from school- that is, my school in Illinois- and there were some high school kids there that offered me one. I tried it, and it was disgusting, and I don’t think I’ll ever do it again, but I’ve done it nonetheless.
After inhaling deeply from the cigarette, he asks, “How old are you?”
“Thirteen,” I answer through my teeth. I’ve lived closer to thirteen years than twelve. The smoke from his cigarette pools around him, and that plus the sensor light on the side my house is causing some sort of weird halo effect. “That doesn’t smell like a cigarette.”
The corners of Ben’s lips curl up slightly, and after a moment, he responds, “Yep.”
I study him, feeling self-conscious and dumb, as if he’s playing a trick on me, just a young, stupid kid. Despite my bad experience with smoking in the past, I’m regretting not taking his offer of a smoke. “It’s a joint, isn’t it?” I ask hesitantly. He smiles a little again and just shrugs. We’re quiet for a few minutes, and then I ask, “How old are you?”
“Seventeen. I’m a senior.”
Before I can respond, I see headlights getting ready to come to a T-intersection onto our street. “That’s probably my mom,” I say to Ben. I immediately feel like a stupid little kid once again, saying that to him. “I better go. See you later.” He nods a goodbye to me and I rush over through the back door to my house.
Evelyn, same day, a few minutes later
When I was little- and I mean, really little, as in not-even-having-started-elementary-school-yet little- my mom would usually smoke a few cigarettes a day. One day, when I must have been four or five, we had given a ride to another little girl who attended preschool with me, and when she saw my mom’s carton of cigarettes in the front passenger seat, she said, “Smoking will give you cancer and you’ll die,” in her matter-of-fact, childish voice. I don’t exactly remember how Mom responded to this, but I remember it bothering me a lot. I didn’t understand really what cancer was, and I don’t believe the other little girl did either, but I did understand that dying was a very horrible thing.
Later that day, when I saw my mom smoking a cigarette, I immediately started bawling. She of course grabbed me up in her arms and asked what was wrong. “Did Molly really mean it? Are you gonna die?”
She stared at me carefully, as if not quite sure what to say. After a minute, she gingerly put out her cigarette. “Mi hijita, some day, Mommy might not be around anymore,” she said softly, in a tone one would use with a preschooler. Her fingers pinched the crushed cigarette and tossed it accurately into a trash can. “But that day will not be for a long, long time.”
I don’t remember ever seeing her smoke after that. Years later, in some of the sparse, short-lived conversations that would occur about my father, I learned that she’d never smoked until she met him, mostly because her mama, my grandma, hated tobacco.
As it turns out, it was Mom’s car producing the headlights that I’d seen while over at the Broad’s place, and soon after entering the back sliding door, I hear the garage door’s creaky noises and mom come inside.
“Hey Mom,” I say quickly, hoping she hadn’t seen me next door.
“Hey Baby Doll,” she grunts, carrying one or two too many grocery sacks in her arms. I swiftly run over to help her and get straight to putting groceries away. If I was caught, maybe sucking up a bit would help. “How was your day?”
“Fine,” I answer from behind a cabinet door. “I’ve been thinking about what I want for my birthday.”
“Oh you have?” she asks with amusement.
“I was hoping that maybe we could go out to the mall and I could check out the stores around there. There aren’t too many in the area, and since the mall’s twenty-five minutes away, we probably won’t be able to go there that often,” I reply, looking at her hopefully.
She loses her amused smile a little. “I’d love to take you shopping, Baby, but I just don’t think I could take work off with this little notice.”
Crap. I thought she might say that, but it was worth a shot. “Yeah, that’s alright. I can come up with something else,” I say with a weak half-smile, as I put the last of the groceries up.
“Hey, Evelyn, why don’t you ask one of the boys to take you?” Mom asks. I turn around from the cabinets, and look at my mom skeptically.
“I don’t know…”
“Oh, come on!” she says enthusiastically, nudging my arm playfully. “You and the younger one had such a good time the other day. You were in such a good mood the next day, I figured the two of you would be best buddies by now!”
Honestly, going out with Peter- I mean, well, going out to the mall with Peter did sound like a lot of fun… but just thinking of how awkward it would be to ask him to hang out almost made me nauseous. “He’d never want to go shopping, Mom. He’s a boy,” I reply, as if she hadn’t already realized that. “And besides, Peter’s only fourteen, he can’t drive yet.”
She rolls her eyes at me. “‘He’s a boy’ is right. And you’re a very cute girl that I’m sure he’d feel lucky to be able to take to the mall,” I begin to retort her, but she interrupts me. “I’m sure his mother, or maybe one of his brothers wouldn’t mind at all taking you to the mall. I’m sure they’d like an excuse to go into the city.”
“Okay, okay,” I give in, regretting bringing up going to the mall in the first place. “I’m going to bed. Goodnight.”
Evelyn, Saturday, June 6th, mid-afternoon
There have been a couple of opportunities to ask Peter if he wants to go to the mall with me, but, like the wimp I am, I keep chickening out. But today, I’ve decided, has to be the day. My birthday’s on Tuesday and I feel that if I wait any longer it would be too “last minute”.
I’ve been perching at the window in the kitchen, looking for a good time to go next door. I feel kinda like a creeper, but I know my mom will keep bugging me about talking to Peter, so I guess I don’t really have another choice.
Suddenly, I see through one of the Broad’s windows Peter passing by briefly, then hear their front door open and slam shut. I scurry to the front door, slipping on a pair of flip-flops, and walk outside quickly, before I can change my mind. “Peter!” I call out before he’s in view.
However, as I come around the corner of my house to Peter’s front yard, I’m caught off guard. Peter and another boy that I’ve never met, but might recognize as being one of his friends that’s occasionally at his house, turn around to look at me, and Peter immediately grins. The kid smirks at me then nudges Peter in the side. Peter’s elbows him back, though much harder, and says, “Hey, Evelyn. What’s up?”
Before I have the chance to respond, Peter’s friend steps in front of him. “Wait, wait, wait a second. Peter,” the friend says, nudging his side again. “Aren’t you going to introduce me to your friend?”
Peter looks embarrassed. “Manny, this is Evelyn, my new neighbor. Evelyn, this moron here is Manny. He’s gonna start high school with me this fall.”
“Hi,” I mutter awkwardly. Manny’s a couple inches shorter than Peter with a dark buzz-cut and looks as though he’s probably Hispanic.
“Oh so this is Evelyn!” he says with a smug grin. He looks as if he’s going to continue but stops after receiving a death glare from Peter.
“Anyway…” says Peter.
“Haha, yeah,” I clear my throat awkwardly. “Well it’s just, um… mybirthday’snextweekd’yawannagotothmallwithme?” I inwardly facepalm.
“Huh?” Peter asks, clearly confused.
I sigh. “Okay, well, my birthday’s next week. My mom thought it might be a good idea to see if you wanted to go to the mall with me.”
To my surprise, his face lights up immediately. “Um-uh yeah! Definitely!” he stutters out, and a good amount of my nervousness about asking him to go immediately disappears.
“Great!” I smile back at him. “But there’s just one other fairly important thing. I don’t exactly have a ride to the mall…”
Peter shrugs. “Marko and his friends practically live downtown, it’s no big deal if we catch a ride with him.”
All of my anxiety is officially gone. “That’s terrific. My birthday’s Tuesday and I’ve honestly had a lot of time on my hands lately, so whatever time you’d like to go that day is fine with me.”
The smile on Peter’s face seems to be getting exponentially bigger as our conversation goes on. “That’s great!” He looks over at Manny and Manny give him a look that means he’s obviously jealous, which makes me blush right away. “Hey, Manny and I are gonna go practice soccer for a while. Thanks again for inviting me.”
“No problem,” I reply, my voice suddenly shy again.
“See ya later,” he says, nudging my side with his elbow as a goodbye.
“Bye,” I let out with a smile laugh, turning to go back to my house.
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