He pulled out a chair and sat across from her without speaking. She didn't even look up from her copy of Fahrenheit 451, just picked up her cup and took a sip of whatever its contents were.
For a few more moments, they sat in a quiet silence. Not awkward, just a silence, like they had all the time in the world.
"Hello," he finally greeted. He didn't receive an answer, not even a glance, just an identical cup pushed across the table at him. Obligingly, he took a sip.
It was a smoothie, and it was slightly melted under the hot Arizona afternoon sun. However, it was still cold and refreshing with a tangy aftertaste instantly following the sweet, succulent flavor of rasberries with crunchy little seeds.
"This is good," he commented. "What flavor is it?"
"Berry Fulfilling," she answered instantly, carefully dog-earing her page and setting the book aside. The young woman folded her hands upon the table (an action he barely noticed anymore), and peered at him with an intent hazel gaze. "So? How was your drive?"
"Long," he answered truthfully. "And hot. Damn car overheated two hours in, I had to do without AC for a while."
"Hm," she mused. "You should get a new car."
"You told me that years ago."
"And it stands true today."
His mouth quirked.
They sat in silence for a few more moments, just looking at one another.
"So. You're movin' to Maine." (It was meant to be a question.) The girl nodded, her eyes looking downcast at the cheap plastic table gleaming in the bright sunlight. He unknowingly copied this action, biting his lip for a moment, and started in surprise when he felt her roughened, slender fingertips swatting at his chin.
"Quit that. How many times have I told you that you're gonna scar your lip?"
"I already have."
"You don't want to get it worse, do you?" she challenged, with a combative raise of eyebrows.
"Listen—" The name died on his lips as he met her gaze, full and ready for banter. Sighing, relenting, he ruffled his own hair to buy time. Then, "When are you moving?"
She slumped backwards, carelessly studying her fingernails. "Tomorrow."
That surprised him. "So soon? Why didn't you call earlier?"
"Had I not been sure about the move, would you have come down?"
That stumped him. She must have noticed.
Her shoulders shrugged, and she took a long gulp of her drink. "You always raised hell about it before," she commented nonchalantly.
"I did not," he returned obstinately. Which was when she got the look on her face that meant she was about to start making impressions of him. "Alright alright alright – I'm sorry, okay? What the hell more do you want me to do? It's in the past, you're moving three thousand miles away, I can't change it!" he said heatedly, gesturing wildly to prove his point.
It irritated him even more to watch her watch him with a bored look. "I wasn't gettin' angry at you."
His jaw clamped shut.
"Stop accusing me…" she hesitated. Now he wanted nothing more than to hear her say his name, just once, to solidify what was once there… "Stop accusing me," she repeated, to his own silent, unexpressed dismay. "Like you said, it's in the past. Sure, I was angry about it before. I was angry as hell, but I goddamn got over it."
He almost bit his lip. But he stopped himself.
"I'm sorry," he finally said, one hundred percent genuine and wanting it to sound one hundred ten. "I'm sorry."
She shrugged. "Drink your drink. It's getting warm."
Also shrugging, the young man resolutely put the straw in his mouth, looking anywhere but at his friend.
"Hey." The same pair of fingertips pushed his chin. "Stop sulking. This is good-bye, let's not end it on a bad note, alright?" Her voice was soft, like trying to coerce a particularly sullen toddler. Pretending to consider, he let out a long breath through his nose—his mouth was still closed over the straw, sucking up the melting smoothie.
He would never forget the smile that lit up her face.
And they proceeded. They talked and talked and talked and talked for hours, until—after countless smoothies—the desert's sky faded from a beautiful and clear blue to a star-dotted, velvety, and untouchable mass.
She picked up her book, and they both went through the routines of checking their pockets to make sure they hadn't left anything, throwing trash away, and pushing in the chairs.
"Need a ride?" he asked gruffly, stuffing his empty wallet into his back pocket.
"That'd be nice."
Grinning, he tousled her hair, draping an arm over one shoulder as they walked. Mock-annoyed, she pushed him off and thwacked him with her book just before they split ways to clamber into either seats of the pick-up ("Nice and cool in here, isn't it?" asked the girl).
The teen boy turned on the radio, trying to tune it through the static at a station that would work. An annoyed sigh made him peer around at her.
She pushed his hand, then tuned it to –
"And it's David Everett, for the ride home, on -"
"Ice, 78.9!" both shouted simultaneously, then resorted themselves to an ungraceful pile of giggles.
They drove to her house, listening to their old songs and thinking and reliving old thoughts and old years and decades where things weren't quite so serious.
He stopped in front of the house. It seemed empty already.
"I can't believe you're moving out. You've lived here for ten years."
"I know," the youth replied wistfully.
They stared at the old house for a few moments, the dry grass rustling in a light breeze.
"Oh – wait, I got somethin' for you…"
The boy turned to find her digging deep into her front pocket, finally producing a little folded piece of paper. She pushed it into his hands, leaning forward and kissing him on the cheek.
His face must have been one of a fish out of water, because she smirked and gave him sudden desire to stop her from biting her lip.
"I'll miss you."
The corner of her mouth twitched.
And she left the car, abruptly and instantly; he watched her reach her front steps without looking back.
The paper was slowly being unfolded in his fingertips, and he glanced down for a moment, only looking up for an instant to watch the front door close.
It finished straightening it out, and without thinking a smile spread across his face.
Two children, their arms slung around the other's waist, carrying tools required for a castle of sand and clothed in wet bathing suits. The girl had an abundance of sand in her red hair, and the boy had a too-mischievous glint in his ice-blue eyes.
Turning it over, he read what was on back.Abby and Sean, 1991
The teen looked at the house for one last time, and drove off.
He would cherish the picture forever, but never see her again.