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Authors: Lucy Lacefield

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BOOK: The Season of Shay and Dane
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13

 

 

shay

I’m a stupid girl.

He ran into me—he
showed up to apologize—and I’m standing here again. . . waiting for
what?

It’s 7:02, there’s a
person sitting on the bench, buses are filtering past, people are moving about
getting to their offices early; I’m sure to meet with students before classes
start. And I’m lingering before I go in, here way earlier than I need to be,
and there’s no sign of him.

My insides are quaking
with every anxiety of wanting to see his face again.
It could be just that
though—he was a decent guy.
I look down at my watch, 7:05. I stay looking
at the glass faceplate, feeling too embarrassed and ashamed of my thoughts to
look up and move in haste getting inside, in case someone detects me. My eyes
are filling with tears and the numbers on my watch become cloudy.
No one
near me out here could know my private thoughts, but I know, and I feel foolish.

I slowly lower my wrist
to my side, trying to accept my misunderstanding of things, and lift my head to
walk up and indoors. As I do, I see someone a little taller, much further down
the sidewalk at the crest of the hill.

It’s him
.

Tears fill my eyes
again as my emotions overtake me.
Be calm, think.
I have about one
minute before he gets here to gather myself.
Maybe he wasn’t intending to
see me; it’s past 7:00.

Think.

I’m shaken. For the
first time I have to decide between. . .  exposing
me
. . . a little of
what I’m feeling by just being here. . .  or succumbing to my fears and fleeing.
I risk being rejected. . . I know this, that’s part of it. . . I’ve never known
this nervousness that’s tormenting me with each second that passes. If I do
rush inside, and he did want me here, he’ll think I’m avoiding him.

Stay placed. . .
stay
placed
. . .

 

 

dane

Look up. . .

See me.

I move a little faster
weaving through people.

About fifty more feet—
don’t
go inside.

That goddamned paper
for my first class!
I couldn’t get out the door right when I
wanted to.

Her back’s turned
now—she hasn’t seen me yet.

. . .
Twenty feet
.
. .

“Shay,”
I say quietly not to startle her. She turns around. “
Oh. . . hey. . . what’s
wrong?
” I see what’s wrong—she didn’t think I was coming. She wanted to be
here just as much as I did. I want to bring her close to me and hold her in my arms.
“Would you want to go for a walk?”

“Yes.”

I place my hand in the
small of her back, guiding us through people until we get to a place less congested
on the sidewalk; she doesn’t resist.

“I’m sorry to keep you
waiting.”
I can see from the side her face lightening and
there’s no need for explanation from either of us.

We walk in silence for
a couple of minutes.

“Have you ever been to
a Yale track meet?”
I ask now that I’ve steadied my mind.

“I haven’t. . .”

“Would you be
interested in coming to one—this Saturday, well, part of one. The events last
most of the day, but my heats
are in the early
afternoon?”
I offer. Knowing what I just did spontaneously and maybe too
soon. It doesn’t have to be a real first date, just an
outing

school
outing,
in some sort—not putting pressure on her.
 
I thought about
it late last night. Coach Malloy will be there; he’ll have one of my two
athlete’s passes, and I’d sure like her to have the other one.
“It’s against
Harvard.”
I don’t know why I said that, or why it would make a difference.
It’s just now that I’ve asked her, her quietness makes me nervous.

“Yes, I know. . . I’ll
come.”

“Good.”
I want to reach for her hand and turn her to me and tell her how I can’t get
her out of my mind these last days, and how happy I feel just being near her. “
Maybe
tomorrow morning we can talk about where to meet at the stadium and the time. .
. if that’s okay with you?
” I see her lips form a small smile.

“Sure, that’s alright.
. . I’d like that.”

“Same time. . . 7:05?”
I suggest somewhat playfully, trying still to calm her from the nerves we both
felt earlier.

“7:05,”
she agrees, smiling forward as we continue our walk.

14

 

 

shay

I stop by my apartment
on my way up to Jenny’s. I told her not to make anything for herself for
supper, when I asked if she wouldn’t mind some company later on.

The aroma of the small
roast and vegetables that I turned on in the crock pot before I left this
morning, makes my stomach growl. I grab an oven mitt from the drawer and slowly
lift the lid, checking it. Just right. I unplug the cord and take out another
oven mitt so I can get it upstairs.

Before I go I want to
change into sweatpants and a sweatshirt. I hurry getting ready, knowing we’re
both starving. Lunch came early today when Professor Richards decided we all
needed to meet on his lunch hour at 12:00 in his office. I don’t think anyone
is too comfortable with the thought of breaking bread in his company. So when
word got around, we were scrambling to force down any lunch that we could.

Sorted.
I grab the crock pot and head out, steadying it with one hand underneath as I
reach and shut the door to lock it.

As I get to the third
floor and make my way down the hall, I can see Jenny’s door is slightly open. I
knock lightly with my foot, pushing it, and walk inside. “Hey, I’m here,” I
call. No sign of her.

“Be right out.”

I put our supper on the
counter and plug it back in, looking around at the table to see if it’s cleared
off enough to eat on—just her backpack and some papers that she’s been grading.
I won’t disturb it.

“Hey,” she steps out
from around the corner, putting her hair up into a ponytail. “Yum! What’s that
smell?!”

“You like it? It’s just
a rump roast and some vegetables that have been cooking all day.”


Yeah!
—Great!
Let’s eat! Can we?” She slides her papers into a pile, tapping the edges smooth
and putting them into her open backpack and onto the floor. “Would you grab a
couple of plates out of the cupboard and some silverware? I’ll get us some
drinks. What would you like? I’ve got Sprite, lemonade. . .” I see her bent down
in the refrigerator, sliding some things around on the metal shelf. “And some
expired milk—your pick.”

“Lemonade. Do you mind
if I make you a plate, so I can get everything out of the pot?” I ask, trying
to decide in our
meager
existences the best way to get our food to the
table.

“Sure—thanks. What veg
do you have?”

“Carrots, potatoes, and
onions,” I say, looking in fishing around for them after taking out some tender
chunks of meat.

“A pass on the carrots.”
She sets barbecue and Worcestershire sauce out on the table, along with some
salt and pepper and butter. I put our plates down next to the drinks in front
of her. “What a feast!”

“Tomorrow I’ll bring us
leftover barbecue beef sandwiches for lunch. Don’t pack anything,” I say,
pleased that she likes it.

“We’re going to make
each other into walruses. You know that don’t you?” she laughs, putting a
spoonful of butter onto her potatoes.

“Albeit—happy
walruses,” I say, unscrewing the cap of the Worcestershire sauce.

We mull over the day
and mock Richards’ thrashing during lunch while eating, when I get the courage
to change the subject.

“Hey Jen, can I ask you
a serious question?”

“Sure you can—I’m all
ears.” She reaches for the lemonade pitcher pouring us both more. “What’s up?”

“Well, it’s Dane, you
know,” I say a little hesitantly, introducing the subject, and just nervous
myself to be talking about things like this.

“Yeah,” she offers
encouragingly, “go ahead. I’m listening.”

“Well, he asked if I
wanted to watch his meet against Harvard this weekend. What do you think about
that?” I wait, giving her time to process it and taking a drink.

“Really? You saw him
again?
Does he reside on the bus bench?
—No—I’m sorry, but really, is he
hanging around in the mornings?”

I feel a little
embarrassed to admit that we had both been
hanging around in the mornings.
“No. . . he’s not living on the bench,” I say, smiling, letting her know it’s
all alright and easing myself into talking about it further. “But we have seen
each other the past couple of mornings, and this morning we went for a short
walk before classes.”

She looks a little
amused and smiles. “Well, aren’t you stepping out there?”

I twist up the corner
of my mouth—not sure of things.

“Hold on, you’re
alright. I think it’s a great idea to go watch it. I can’t make it though.
Saturday I’m tutoring all day down at the union.” She waits for my reaction.
I’m sure seeing if that causes me to back out. But what I decide I can’t tell
her, is I was going to be meeting him, and that I didn’t plan on me and her
going together to watch it.

“Oh yeah, I forgot.” I
let a second pass as if contemplating it. “I think I’ll be fine.”

“Sure you’ll be fine!
Anyway, if not—there’ll be about 25,000 witnesses.”

“You’re endless.” I say,
pouring the last bit of lemonade into my glass. “Tutoring. I almost forgot you
had that going on this Saturday. Did you get all your spots filled for it?”
Jenny and a couple of other grad students take turns offering help to the
undergrads. For twenty dollars an hour, it’s an easy way to make some extra
money. . . even though she compares it to filing her teeth down the front of
her desk for half a day.

“I did. The signup
sheet was full again—five names. It’ll be a hundred bucks for half a day’s
work—if they all show—
if they all pay
.” She passes me the bottles to put
back into the refrigerator and starts clearing the table.

I set the salt and
pepper shakers back on the stove and grab a dishcloth to wipe things up.
“Thanks for letting me come up,” I say with my back to her wiping the counter
in front of the crock pot and sliding it to the edge to take home and put the
leftover roast into the refrigerator to shred for sandwiches. “Hey Jen?” I
call, turning around to see she’s wandered off.

“Hang on—I’ve got
something for you!” Her voice comes from the closet in the bathroom, where I
can hear her shuffling boxes around.

I walk over to where
the doors at to try to get a look at what she’s doing, if she needs any help
with the boxes.

“There—found it!” she
manages. She’s squatted down, pulling at something lodged in the bottom of one
of them, when it releases itself—and she stands up, turns around, and
fomps
a
flash of blue onto my head. “
There!
Have a look!”

I’m a little
traumatized. She gives me a little pull around to get through the tight squeeze
of the bathroom door and closet door, still open with boxes strewn out of it,
and turns me to face the mirror. My mouth drops.
“Really. . . ?”

“Sure! Why not?!” Her
enthusiasm makes me want to hug her. She has no idea how much of a friend she
is to me—
even in this moment
. “You want him to be able to notice you in
the stands don’t you?”

I stand looking at
myself in the mirror and we both start laughing. The Dr. Seuss hat with its
Yale Blue and white stripes isn’t too flattering. “I love it!”

“Sure you do!”

I pop it off beside her
to read the large buttons she has pinned to it like Christmas tree ornaments.
“Let’s see,” I say, holding it with her reading them. “I think this one is my
favorite: Say No To Battery Farm Chicken Eggs, oh, oh, and this one: Down With
Fish Dredging.” She rotates it in my hand pointing, proud of my narration of
her
exhibit
. “Yes. . . and Save The Whales. I think the whole biology
building knows how you feel about the whales.”

She looks pleased. . .
and humored. “It’s yours for the day,” she grants me.

I give her a big hug.

 

 

dane

There’s a notebook
piece of paper in the center of the table as I walk into the kitchen, with my
name written largely in black marker:
Dane: Some guy called for you—Malloy.
Call him.
That’s an iconic first. Vince’s
girlfriend
must have
probed him to leave a note. . . both their backpacks are right inside the door,
in tripping range. Otherwise I’d just get asked days later when they called
back if I ever got the message, same routine every time.

I drop my backpack onto
the table and grab a glass of water and make a sandwich before finding the
phone to call him.

She’s coming to watch
me.

I take my last bite walking
the plate to the sink, spotting the phone on a sofa cushion, getting
comfortable and placing the call.

“Hey, Coach Malloy. I
got your message.”

“Dane—how’s it going?”

“Great! No complaints.
How are things with you?” I ask, knowing Kate and mom just saw him a couple of
days ago and he’ll be out here soon.

“Good, good. You
feeling ready for Harvard this weekend?” He keeps a close watch on the other
collegiate runners and knows where my real competition is at.

“Sure—ready to go.” I’m
in the best condition I’ve been in. My body’s showing the discipline that I’ve
gotten used to, and the maturity, even since the last meet-up with Harvard.

“Trace Cappelletti’s
time is improving—he came out ahead against Dartmouth last Saturday. Have you
been watching it?” he asks, not doubting that we’re on the same page.

“Yep, he’s looking
better—not too worried though.” I slide my free hand down the top of my thigh,
feeling the definition of toned form.

“Alright then—good, that’s
what I want to hear. I should be arriving around 7:00 tomorrow evening. You got
time for a late supper?”

“Sure. Sounds good.”

“Let’s say I’ll get you
from your place about 7:40. How’s that?”

“Good, 7:40. See you
then.”

“Okay, Dane. See you
then. Bye.”

“Bye.” I toss the phone
lightly aside and get up to make another sandwich before hitting the books.

BOOK: The Season of Shay and Dane
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