"I still can't believe you're leaving me for three weeks!" I moan as I watch my best friend pack up his suitcase.

"It's just three weeks," He reminds me, "Can you pass me that pile of clothes next to you." I oblige, picking up the pile of t-shirts off the bed and handing them to him.

"Yeah, but it's like the last three weeks of summer. After that we only have like a week and then school starts, and you'll be in practice like all the time, right?"

Nick nods and sighs, "Yeah." He looks at his suitcase and then his gear bag. "Guess summer really is over…"

I realize that this really is an opportunity for him, I shouldn't be dragging him down, "But I mean, you'll have a great time! I'm just jealous that I'm stuck here."

"Well, you can spend some time with Jake," Jake, my older brother, just got home from Afghanistan like two weeks ago. The first week, all he did was sleep. The second all he did was eat. "And it really is only three weeks Izzie." My full name is Elizabeth bf almost everyone calls me Liz, except my family, they calle me Lizzie. Nick is the only person on earth I let call me Izzie, and that's only because we're best friends and because we met when we were babies and he couldn't say Liz, so he just called me Iz. Over the years it somehow became Izzie.

"Yeah," I nod, smiling a little. I missed Jake. It's good to have home, safe and sound. He was gone on and off for almost three years. I guess I can handle Nick being away for three weeks. And he's not going anywhere more dangerous than ice hockey camp. "Just promise me one thing?" I say as I pick up his helmet off the bed and hand it to him, "Promise me you won't just become some jock who's like too cool to hang out with me or something, okay?"

Nick laughs and brushes his thick wavy black bangs away from his forehead, "Come on Iz, you've known me how long?"

"Just promise me!" I insist. He walks over to me and plants a kiss on my forehead.

"I promise." He says solemnly.

"Pinky swear?" Between us, the pinky swear is the most sacred of promises. Neither of us has ever broken a pinky swear. I hold up my little finger.

"Sure," He comes over and links his pinky with mine."

"Now repeat after me- I solemnly swear-"

He rolls his eyes, "I solemnly swear,"

"To not become a dumb jock,"

"To not become a dumb jock." He recites.

From the doorway I hear laughter, Nick's older sister, who's a senior at our high school is cracking up, "I don't know how you can be worried about such a dork becoming cool enough to become a 'jock' or whatever." She makes airquotes with her hands around the word jock. "I promise you little brother, you will never be cool. Especially when you hang out with dorks like Liz," She looks at me and rolls her eyes, "No offense."

"Right, because you're the authority on cool right? Didn't Mike Swenson ask you out last year Nattie?" Mike Swenson is a perfectly nice guy, but he was caught eating boogers in the fifth grade and has never quite lived it down.

"Whatever," She tosses her head and walk away. Nick and I grin at each other. Once again we have vanquished the evil-she-beast Vickie. "Once a dork… Always a dork. Even if you somehow miraculously found out you have super ice hockey pwoers powers." She says as she walks away. It's true. Nick's "powers" did appear rather miraculously, or they would appear miraculous if you weren't the one who had played endless one-on-one games of ice hockey with him whenever the lake froze over in the winter, and then spent the summer on rollerblades playing roller hockey.

I guess it wasn't surprising that after years of games of one-on-one with me, and hours and hours on the ice that he would decide go out for the ice hockey team during the spring of our freshman year. He'd missed tryouts when we were in middle school, plus it didn't seem that important. Then one day he'd played roller hockey with a couple guys at lunch. They insisted he try out in the spring, and what do you know? He made the team. Not only that, the Coach thought he was so promising he had submitted his name to go to this super- fancy three week ice hockey camp. Nick had spent all summer studying plays and trying to practice so he wouldn't be too far behind everyone else at the camp, even though he'd barely played.

So now, instead of spending the last few weeks of vacation with me by the lake or the town pool, he'd be sweating them out on the ice, wearing padding and being tackled by 200lb guys. I can't say I envied him too much. But I was worried about him. Not that I hadn't had and then quickly brushed away the though- If he gets hurt, then he'll come home. I didn't want him to get hurt. I wanted him to do great, and I knew he would. Still, I was going to miss him.


So who am I? Who is Liz/Lizzie/Izzie? Well, I'm fifteen and start the tenth grade this fall. Nick and I live in a small town in Northern Michigan. Winter comes sometime in October and usually leaves sometime around April, and the lakes are usually frozen solid by November, leaving months and months of time for playing ice hockey. Which is like the sport around here. The way football is worshipped in Texas is how we treat ice hockey.

My dad bought me my first pair of skates when I was three years old and took Nick and me down to the lake and taught us how to skate. Nick was the first to figure it out, and there are these pictures of him trying to teach me to skate.