Madison and I planned on meeting in November after we were both accepted to the program. My parents were taking me on to look at universities on the east coast that I was considering applying to. She had suggested we should meet up if it fit into my plans. I really thought this could go somewhere so I agreed for one lunch. It would be a nice little break from overbearing parents who I'm sure will want to take a break from me too. The flight took forever but we finally landed in Boston. I was wearing my one winter jacket that I had owned for the past six years. It wasn't really necessary in sunny California. At least now it fit me and I could wear it in this season of winter. I sat squished between my parents while my friend had nabbed the passenger seat in the taxi. I saw green signs for Garentown where I was meeting her. There really wasn't a good chance for me to meet her but I made sure I could keep my options open for the next summer, after all four weeks without a California babe wasn't going to be easy to go alone. My friend really wanted to see Verat College, but I wasn't thinking about that one so I was going to sneak off to meet this mysterious girl. We had one discussion online that convinced me of the necessity of meeting her. The night we received our letters in the mail were really exciting. I had walked out of practice twice as fast that week to check the mailbox for anything.

On Wednesday the letter arrived in the mail, and I stared it down for a full minute before gingerly opening the envelope. By seven that night there was already a group online that was all of the summer groups lumped together. By eight there was a specific group for our session. By nine we had figured out three-quarters of our group. The Internet is quick. By nine forty five I was logged onto aim for the first time in months. By ten fifteen I was talking to Madison about camp. I went for the shy awkward introduction that girls love. She accepted my request during the conversation so I clicked through a few of her pictures. The current one was of her and another girl, I had my hopes on the blonde for the brunette had a bad smile. The blonde seemed to be more confident. Madison made some comment about my icon being pine needles. I thought it was more obvious that they are two shells racing but she could still be cool.

Well I see news of boys travels fast I was just asked to start a conversation with someone with a "xoxo" in the name. I bet she's frisky.

Madison is telling me a story about a sailing accident she had but this xoxo chick is much more interesting. Already a video request from xoxo? Way to go Roger, this summer won't be so lonely after all. Madison's really smart she understood my Schrodinger reference. I can't deal with those smart ones; they require too much effort. I suppose I'll see what this xoxo girl's deal is, find out what my prospects are. I try out a few expressions to open with and decide on my winner smile.

"Hey, I'm Roger."

Xoxo and I talked for a while- she's a bit too energetic for me, but I suppose I can deal with that if it means I'm getting what I want. And I know I will, I always do. She's into lacrosse, skiing, and from the looks of it a ton of partying. What an easy catch.

I was nervous about meeting Madison. There was a shopping plaza with an indoor courtyard that I was going to meet her at. I left my family at Veran and walked into the town. The winter gusts were entering my jacket in too many places and I needed something to warm up. A gush of hot air was blown from the ceiling as the sliding doors opened into the shopping center. I was happy to peel off my jacket, still full of cold air. I studied the map to find the food area; it was two floors down from where I was standing. I found my way to the down escalators and took a spot. There was a six story high opening with all of the escalators crisscrossing the levels. I could see the small black wrought-iron tables in the plaza below and a few people sitting down. I had to walk around the floor to get to the other down escalator but I had a clear view of the people now. I scanned the crowd for her and she was easy to spot. She sat with her legs crossed, off to the side, and her hair was pinned up. Madison had a pink travel mug on the table, which I guessed was full of tea. She had her bag slung over the back of the chair and a book open on the table with a bookmark a good hundred pages in. She fiddled with a bracelet while her eyes remained glued to the text. I knew then that I wouldn't be able to actually meet her. I just; I panicked.

I sent her a text message from a safe spot two floors up saying I couldn't get away from my parents. I watched as she closed her book to reach into her bag to get her phone and then as she calmly put her book away and tucked in her chair. She titled her head up near where I was standing and I jumped back from the railing. After finding a new place to stand I watched her walk out alone. I let go of the breath I had been holding since I sent her the text message. My phone buzzed but I couldn't bring myself to read it. I walked back to Veran and waited for my parents to return. I turned my phone off and put it in my pocket. Not now, not here.


I had basketball practice when my mom called to say that the letter had come. I told her under no circumstances was she to open it. I had been looking forward for that letter since August and I needed some warming up in the winter months. I waited outside, not needing any layers after practice with Coach Hugh. I was still sweating when my mom came ten minutes later. There was the envelope, just sitting on the seat. I stared at it, trying to read it through the light- but it was folded. My sister held my hand when I opened it. I had gotten into the group I wanted. I smiled a little smile for the first time that week. Only two hundred and forty seven days, I could get through that.

I called my friend Elise to see if she had made the cut. Indeed she had, and apparently there were already groups forming online. I couldn't wait to get home and see whom I was going to be spending my summer with. Ech, but it could wait for a shower. After I had scrubbed the sprinting out of my skin I settled down to my work. One thing led to another and I was looking at pictures of my future friends. Elise had given them her number and screenname. I followed suit and added mine. I was in the process of adding the ones of my group to my list when a new window appeared. The name had a ton of numbers and I knew it had to be one of someone who had made it as a pre-pubescent teenager. It told me a bit about them before I even opened what they had sent. It read Hey I'm Roger. Well, Roger, I'm Madison.

We talked for a good hour or two. He seemed to enjoy my jokes about camp and the story about my sailing accident. He promised to take me out in a boat already. I'm suspicious- It's the first day and he's making promises he can't keep. He says he's going to be near here in a week or two. I think we'll grab some lunch. I hope those washboard abs are as good in person as they are on his profile.

I got up early so I could get to the mall ahead of time and get a jumpstart on the book I was reading. I sat down at my favorite table and my mug of coffee. I didn't always reach for the stuff but we had it at home, and I was too lazy to get out the stool to stand on to reach the box of tea bags. I had spilled a bit on page thirty-four; it didn't all come off when I rubbed it. I just hoped they wouldn't stick together because I had to return it to the library. I read a good forty-five pages before I got up to buy myself a bag of candy. I needed something to soothe my rumbling belly before Roger showed up. I was really excited because this was probably the only chance I'd get to see him since he lived so far away. Two thousand miles is far too long to maintain anything except a friendship so it would help immensely. I crumpled up the now empty bag of candy and launched it towards the trashcan. I missed. The mug of coffee was finished, but the bad taste remained in my mouth, I really should have sprung for the extra effort to make the tea. I returned to my book, now approaching seventy-five pages. The world of literature was always more enticing that the one I was stuck living in.

My phone vibrated in my bag and I scrunched my nose. I wanted to finish the paragraph but knew the phone couldn't wait. I shut the book and dug through my stuff to find the old bugger. I watched as the words read themselves to me, he couldn't get away from his parents. The words felt like leaden lies. I was frustrated that this was just another guy to have to forget about over a pint of good old ice cream. Whatever man, I've got my life to live. Go back to California.