School offers little respite from the weekend’s events. Felix picks me up to walk over together. Astro barks to announce his arrival. I grab my things and organize them into my backpack.
“So when do you think you’ll hear from him?”
“I don’t know. It could be next week, it could be next year,” I say, “or never.”
“Oh come on, it won’t be never.”
Felix kicks a pebble down the sidewalk. We glance up at a bus moving past. The cool breeze whisks my hair in front of my face. Our tease of warm weather from a few days ago is over.
“Felix, why do you keep pressing me on this?”
Two months before my birthday he started slipping in questions about how I felt. At first it didn’t bother me, and it was probably good for me to start thinking on the subject. But it grew tiresome. Each day meant I had to endure another inquiry.
“Because you’re my friend, and it’s a big deal.”
“But it’s really not that big of a deal.”
“Yes it is, that’s your problem. You want to dismiss this as nothing, like get a turkey sandwich instead of ham for lunch, but it’s more than that. This sort of thing changes lives.”
“I guess. Maybe I’ll understand once I meet Jacob Baxter,” I say.
“Hopefully. I’m just looking out for you, is all,” he says.
Felix had been there for me in times a lot tougher, and weirder, than this. My parents have hit a few bumps in their marriage, nothing serious, but I have a hard time handling those sorts of situations. He always picks up the phone on the first ring, even in the middle of the night, and listens to anything I have to say.
“Thanks,” is all I say in return.
We have ten or so minutes to spare before classes start once we get to school. I can’t prove it, but I can tell everyone is looking at me. They all know I got my letter and a whole part of my life, which remains a mystery for most, has been unlocked. There’s this feeling of a gaze locked on my head.
“How’s it going Livia?” Glen asks. He’d been walking behind us. For how long, I don’t know.
“Fine. Just getting to class,” I say. He introduces himself to Felix.
“So Glen, you’re on the track team?” Felix asks and points to Glen’s shirt.
“Oh, this is my brother’s shirt. I’m on varsity soccer here.”
It’s strange, but I’m impressed. Before just now I didn’t know our school had a soccer team. My eyes dart between his smile and the outline of his chest against the shirt fabric.
“Alright. What position?”
“Sorry, but I’ve got to get to class,” I say and wave goodbye. It looks like Glen has something else to say, but I turn and hurry down the hall.
The bell rings just after I sit down. Geometry at eight in the morning has never been pleasant. Our teacher is nice enough, but even she seems stuck in a fog at this hour. She drones about Pythagoras’s theorem and other properties of triangles. I hand in my homework at the end of class. We only have four minutes to move between periods.
By sixth period, I’m ready to go home. Felix and I only have two classes together. I don’t have any friends at school aside from him. There’s the girl I called once about social studies homework and the guy who always borrows a pencil for tests in Spanish. Those are the only people I talk to in my classes.
“I thought today would never end,” Felix says. We always meet by the big tree at the edge of the faculty parking lot before walking home.
“How many days until summer?”
“I think twenty two, maybe less,” he says, “but we’ve got all that graduation stuff.” I sigh and roll my eyes. I’m glad to be graduating, but it means sitting through a rehearsal and then the ceremony itself.
We walk home and talk about nonsense. He loves hearing about Astro. I could ask him about Glen, but why would I? He’s just some guy who I ran into the other day and might have heard about me from one of his friends. Probably the guy from Spanish class.
“Whose car is that?” Felix asks. There’s a dark blue sedan parked on the curb outside my house. I’d never seen it before.
“I’m not sure. Maybe someone for my parents,” I say.
“Huh. Well, I’ll see you tomorrow,” he says and waves goodbye.
I walk inside and set my bag down next to the door. Astro doesn’t greet me at the door.
“Mom? Dad?” I call out.
“In the living room,” my dad answers.
The two of them are sitting on the couch facing me, and across from them is someone who looks about my age.
“Someone showed up to see you today,” dad says. My heart skips a beat and I can feel my face getting hot.
He gets up from the chair and faces me.
“I’m Jake,” he says.