“What are you doing tonight?” He stared at her while pushing his fingers back through his hair, which had gotten shorter since she’d seen him last. His garage was pretty normal. Old lacrosse and hockey sticks lined the left wall below a shelf of trophies. It smelled very heavily of wood, as if it had just been built. There were two Lexuses parked in the garage: his small hybrid one, and his mom’s large SUV, as well as an empty spot for his dad’s convertible, the one they’d driven around in all summer long. He ran his fingers through his light brown hair again, waiting awkwardly for a response to a question she’d forgotten—lost, staring at him. She wondered what had originally attracted her so much to him. “Izzy…hello? Izzy?” He gently grabbed her chin and pulled her gaze back to him.
“Oh, sorry. I don’t really respond to Izzy…I forgot that you call me that.”
“What? What do you mean? You responded to Izzy all summer long.”
“Well, yeah, but that’s different. People who don’t know me over the summer, don’t call me Izzy.”
“So what do these non-summer people call you?”
“People just call me Isabelle, ya know considering that’s my name and all…”
“Well, can I call you Izzy?”
“Oh…no I don’t think that…no.”
“Why not? It’s always been my name for you and I’m gonna use it. Don’t you want to call me…well, I guess there’s really no good nickname for Logan is there?” He smiled at her and she couldn’t help but smile back. He was still cute, even if Isabelle didn’t want to admit it. And she liked the way he looked at her, as if she had something special, as if she was something that was his. Bubbles bounced around inside her stomach and she remembered why she hated him and she remembered why she needed him and she pushed herself up to sit on the hood of his car. His faded jeans and maroon varsity lacrosse sweatshirt somehow complimented his tanned skin, still lingering from the past summer.
“So…what are we doing tonight?” Logan pushed himself up to sit on the car next to her.
“We? I was just gonna drive back home.”
“Really? Come on Iz, you drove a whole hour to get here and now you’re not even gonna stay the night?”
“I drove here because I needed to talk to you and since I’ve told you what I needed to tell you, I think I’m gonna go home. And don’t flatter yourself, I only drove forty minutes to get here.”
“It’s getting dark out, maybe I don’t feel comfortable with you driving yourself all the way home.”
“Well that’s not really your call to make is it?” Isabelle pushed herself off his car, ready to walk out of the garage. She hadn’t planned to stay, not that she’d really considered it, but she figured since she’d been planning this whole encounter for over a week now, it was probably wise to stick to the original plan. He pushed himself off the car and grabbed her hand. Pulling her close to him, he whispered in her ear, “my parents are away all weekend. Please, stay for just tonight.” She was brought back to the night just a few weeks before when he had whispered in her ear those same words, the night that had gotten them here. Even through all the horror and the pain and the heartache, Isabelle couldn’t help but remember that night as something sorta wonderful. Logan remembered that night as the first time he had ever laid in bed, looked up at his ceiling, and felt genuinely thrilled to be alive, alive with her. It had been their last night together, the last night of the summer. “Iz, you came to me for a reason, do you really wanna go home, lie in your empty bed alone, and have to deal with all of this without me?” As he said it, he realized the thought of being alone tonight, thinking about all of this, scared him as much as he assumed it scared her. He wished he knew how to beg her to stay. As much as she resented him and the thought of spending a night at his house in his town away from their summer and their island together, she knew he was right. He knew some of her a little too well.
“Okay, fine but you’re sleeping on the couch.”
He laughed, “whatever you say, Izzy.” He pulled her even closer to him as he leaned in and kissed her. Startled, she quickly pulled away. Isabelle had tried as hard as she could to forget how good it felt to be kissed by him. Every time he kissed her, memories and emotions and the sounds of salt water moving up and down the shores of Nantucket came flooding back. As much as she tried to ignore it, Isabelle could taste other girls on his lips. She was sure he’d wasted no time getting girls once he got back home and school started again. She hadn’t been able to look at any other guy. No one else could compare to him.
“Are you…is this not okay?” He asked, clearly surprised. She had never pulled away from him before. He was used to having her whenever he wanted, however he wanted, every summer for as long as they both could remember.
“Not really. Logan, summer ended like three weeks ago.”
“Well maybe summer ending doesn’t have to mean us ending this year; it can’t mean us ending this year.”
“Come on, you know it doesn’t make sense for us to try to be us after the summer ends, it just wouldn’t be the same.”
“I’m not saying it would be the same but this summer ended a little differently than the ones before it. We’re gonna have to get through all this together so we might as well be like actually together right?”
“Logan, during the school year we live an hour away, we go to different schools,”
“I thought you said it’s only forty minutes,” he muttered.
“We lead totally separate lives, and let’s face it, the people we are at school are not even close to the people we are over the summer.”
“You’re right, I mean you even changed your name,” he teased and she smiled, until she remembered she wasn’t supposed to be smiling at him because she was supposed to be mad that he kissed her and reminded her that she still liked him.
“So thank you, for listening and such, but I think I can take care of myself from here.”
“IZZY!” He yelled, with the anger and frustration and exhaustion in his voice that he usually reserved for everyone but Isabelle. He took a deep breath, “Iz, don’t do this. First of all, you already agreed you’d stay the night. And please stop pretending that you have to do this on your own. This is us, me and you, we’re in this together and whether you like it or not this year is going to be different. You’re right we are different people over the summer but I like…I like who I am with you, ya know?”
“I like who you are when you’re with me too. I didn’t realize school-year-Logan was sappy and annoyingly over sentimental,” she said sarcastically, trying to be funny. She didn’t know how to have such a serious conversation with him.
“Oh so you’re going to be mean to me now? I see how it is…” He said, trying to play along with the joking tone that their conversation was now somehow in. He picked her up with those big lacrosse captain muscles of his and brought her inside as she started laughing almost uncontrollably and knowing he’d made her happier, he joined in. They both knew they’d never been they types for deep or emotional conversation. Laughing was the only way to ease the tension, even if it was semi-forced at first; laughing together was the only way they knew how to be. He set her down on the kitchen counter and opened the fridge. “You hungry?”
“Um sorta, whatcha got?”
“Nothing good,” he walked over to the phone, “let’s order sushi? We did that like every night this summer. We should try to recreate that, pretend it’s summer again, ya know?” He started dialing the number of the sushi place in town.
“What? I know what rolls you like, only the raw fish ones. Everything else isn’t real sushi, you’ve told me a million times. Calm down.”
“No, Logan, stop. Logan, put the phone down.” He put the phone down and turned around to face her.
“What?” She was sitting cross-legged on the counter with her head in her right hand.
“I just…I can’t do real sushi tonight.”
“Um, okay…oh OH oh okay, I get it. Sorry, bad idea.” Logan’s mind was suddenly flooded with thoughts of the responsibility, endless responsibility at a time where he barely took any responsibility in caring for himself. He showered whenever he felt like it, washed his clothes rarely, drank and ate what he wanted, when he wanted, and none of it was healthy or sanitary but he didn’t care. Logan felt the indescribable weight of this unnamed burden, a burden Isabelle was already bearing, a burden she seemed ready to bear and protect for the days going forward. They were both too nauseated to think any more about dinner after that.
“But I do like what you said, about pretending it’s the summer again. We should try that.”
“Yeah, let’s pretend we have nothing in the world to worry about, nothing to think about except each other.”
“And how big the waves at Ladies Beach are going to be tomorrow morning because some part of you was always thinking about surfing during those times you claimed that all of you was thinking about me.”
“Okay true but let’s be real, the waves at Ladies are pretty much always shitty. No one goes to Nantucket for the surfing, I most definitely don’t.”
“Oh, really? So why do you go then?”
“Well ya know my family goes every year and stuff…and well there’s this girl there…”
“Oh, really? Tell me about this girl…” Isabelle hopped down off the counter so she was standing right in front of him, leaning up against the cabinets.
“Well I can’t really describe her…for one she’s incredibly annoying.”
“Yes, super annoying. I mean this chick talks all the time and you can never get her to shut up. Plus, she never wants to go out so we have to stay in almost every night and order sushi and watch movies that she likes. My parents are obsessed with her so she’s all they ever talk about, and they always want to see her so with her I always end up spending way too much time with them. Did I mention she talks during movies? She comments on everything, especially everyone’s outfit so I never am really able to appreciate the romance or the comedy in the romantic comedies. And to top it all off, I think she might be smarter than me, which drives me crazy, but not really in a bad way…she’s kinda perfect.” He leaned in to kiss her again, pressing her back up against the wall of cabinets. She couldn’t have pulled away, but this time she didn’t want to. “You’re kinda perfect,” he whispered in her ear and she hated herself for feeling so happy, almost thankful, about the circumstances which required that she come to see him.
As they kissed, she thought about all the times other guys had tried to flirt with her, really nice guys too, but she had shied away and turned them down, knowing they could never be what he was to her. She could kiss him forever as long as she could make herself believe that she was as singular for him as he was for her, but deep down she knew this could no longer be true. She went back to school and put her guard up: shutting people out, giving every teacher exactly what they wanted, being soft spoken and distant, just floating through. He went back to school and put his guard up: letting people into his life in superficial ways, getting what he wanted from too many girls, being the strongest and loudest, a presence through and through.
Eventually they made their way up to his room where he threw her a large t-shirt to sleep in and he closed his eyes as she undressed, as if she were revealing something he hadn’t seen before. They made their way to his bed and lay there together until they fell asleep with his arms around her. Both thinking of the last time she fell asleep in his arms…
Sometime around four am, Isabelle woke up and in a panic had no recollection of where she was. When her eyes finally adjusted to the darkness of the room and when her brain was finally awake enough to remember where she was and why she was where she was, her head started spinning and she instantly felt nauseous. A few moments later it occurred to her that Logan was no longer sleeping beside her; he had woken up about an hour earlier. When she went downstairs to find him, Logan was sitting at the counter, laptop and a bottle of his dad’s scotch open beside him although it looked like he had taken very little if any from it. He was googleing what people like them do in situations like theirs. She pushed herself up on the counter and started compulsively eating peanut m&ms from one of his mom’s fancy candy bowls, where the candy was really just for show. “Iz, this sounds like hell. I cannot believe that you’re gonna have to go through this hell because of me.”
“Hey, this is not your fault. This is not anyone’s fault. This just is.”
“But aren’t you scared?”
“Ehh, I’ll figure it out.”
“Izzy, you’re shoving peanut m&ms down your throat right now, and you hate peanut m&ms.” She looked at how few were left and dropped the rest of the handful she was about to eat back in the bowl, suddenly disgusted and realizing that even candy filled with protein wasn’t going to fill the pit at the bottom of her stomach.
“Okay fine, I’m scared shitless.”
“Me too…but just so you know like I’m gonna, I’m gonna,” he took a smallish swig of his father’s scotch and scrunched up his face in disgust as he swallowed. He let out a jumble of words a little too quickly, a long strand of everything he thought he was supposed to say to be supportive of what he assumed would be her decision. “I’m gonna be there, every single day. Like if you want, we could both just screw college. If we’re doing this, if that’s what you want, we’re doing this together. And maybe we’ll even find we like it in a few years or so, but I will be there if you are. I’m not letting you do this without me. You pretend to be so strong and you are, but you don’t need to be because you’ve got me now. And you know what? I think I could maybe even love you after all this.”
“Wait, what do you mean you could love me?” Izzy thought they already did love each other. How could they have a child together if he wasn’t even mature enough to admit that they were in love; they had been for years.
“Like I think that maybe I could see myself ya know like loving you, eventually. Maybe I already do…I’m not really sure what that means, but I’ll figure it out I guess, right?” He looked at her as tears started streaming down her face.
“I, Logan, I can’t do this. We’re only seventeen. We can’t…I don’t think…we can’t do this.” He reached over and grabbed her hand. This was the rational girl he knew, the girl who always made the decisions he wanted her to make. He thanked God under his breath. He had been so worried that Izzy had turned into some girl he didn’t know, some girl who would want to be a mother at seventeen, some girl other than the one he had always loved.
“Well, if you’re positive that’s what you want, I actually googled how and where to do that too.” He turned the computer screen to face her and on it was a google maps page with the little red pin on an abortion clinic in between their two towns.
“Will you take me?” Logan nodded.
Summer didn’t want to end this year as abruptly as it always did. He was left with a tan and she was left with this empty pain in the bottom of her stomach, pushing and pushing and bouncing around inside of her, both of which would eventually fade away.
Katherine Hartman, Age 17, Grade 12, Trinity School, Silver Key