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Summer Nights

By:J.M. Sevilla

not joyful like the rest, and it only intrigues me more.

He looks over his shoulder. Our eyes meet and my stomach flips over. That has never happened to me before. When he keeps looking, my body gets tingles from head to toe.

One of the boys falls into him, the one that's almost as handsome. Almost.

He shoves him off, "Watch it, Maddox." The Maddox boy laughs, causing the most beautiful boy I have ever seen to smile. My heart stops right there. I swear, it does, and I'm completely paralyzed from it.

My father stands, scowling, "Let's go."

I speak without thinking, protesting with my raised cone that is beginning to drip down my hand, "I'm not finished."

"Too bad," he declares, moving to the door.

I slump in my seat, take one last lick, and get up to toss the remains in the trash.

Loud laughter has me turning my head one last time before I get back into the van. The girl's laughing again, the belly-aching kind, as she eats her cone (rainbow sherbet, I can't help but observe), ice cream all over face.

I can't think of a single memory where I have laughed that hard, and I want to know what someone did to warrant such a reaction. I'm envious of this girl, in the thick of all those boys that have more life to them than my entire church during choir.

The boy I know I'll be dreaming about for weeks looks over again. I hold his gaze until my dad yells at me to get in.

I don't sleep a wink that night, thinking about the boy and his friends, and that girl who did nothing but smile and laugh.


On Tuesday I'm still thinking about them and feeling desperate for another glimpse.

As I'm packing the back of my bike with Mrs. Fraser's dinners for the week, I officially make up my mind. I will ride my bike around the area of the ice cream shop in hopes of spotting them. It's out of my way and I'll probably get in trouble, quite possibly even get the belt for it, but I don't care. I've found something worth defying my parents for. I should check the news later to see if pigs have started suddenly flying.

The trek to Mrs. Fraser's home isn't particularly long, but in the summer heat it takes forever. I had politely declined my mom's offer to drive me; I'm that desperate for freedom.

Sweat pours down my back and trickles down my face. I have to continually swipe it away to prevent it from getting in my eyes and blurring my vision.

I've been riding to Mrs. Fraser's for about two years now. Her husband had died and her only child lives in one of the Carolinas. She's in her late eighties and can't really take care of herself, but she can't bring herself to leave the home that holds all her best memories. So my mom and I (and sometimes my sisters) pre-make her meals that she can freeze and easily reheat in the microwave.

I have to knock a few times to get her attention, and then I have to wait awhile for her old body to get to door.

It has to be a hundred degrees out today, if not more, and the heat makes me want to pass out.

"Beautiful Hannah," Mrs. Fraser greets, a bit slumped over from years of poor posture. "Is it Thursday already?"

"Tuesday," I remind her.

She steps to the side, thoughtfully pondering, "Don't you normally come Thursdays?"

"Afraid not, Mrs. Fraser."

"Oh well," she taps her head, "these kidneys aren't working like they used to." She gestures to me, "Come in, dear."

Her house is cool and I sigh with pleasure. Although I would have liked it to be even cooler, I know she can't take chill and I'm so hot I can't afford to be picky.

I rush into the back with her food in my arms, quickly stuffing it into the freezer.

The politeness embedded in me can't help but check in before I go, "Can I get you something before I leave?"

"Let me get you a snack." She slowly rises from her couch and hobbles in the direction of the kitchen, slow as a sloth.

Normally out of politeness, and the need to prolong my outings, I accept Mrs. Fraser's invitation of what is usually milk and stale, generic cookies. Today, I do the boldest thing I have ever done in my thirteen years: I decline an invitation from someone who is older than me. "I'm so sorry Mrs. Fraser, but I have to be getting home."

I just lied. I never lie. I wait for the guilt to kick in, but it doesn't. I wait to start feeling guilty about not feeling guilty, but that doesn't come either.

She bids me farewell after I make sure she's comfortably seated with a show on for her to watch, her mixed nuts and a glass of diet coke close by.

I want to leap for joy once I'm outside, but I contain myself. I ride as fast as I can, huffing and puffing as I cover the distance to the ice cream shop, my long skirt constantly getting in my way.

They aren't there. I hadn't thought they would be, but I'm young and stupidly hopeful. I slowly ride around the area, regaining my breath and bringing down the ache in my chest from riding so hard, wishing I had more water.

I hear distant laughter and my ears strain to determine the direction of its origin. My heart lurches out of my throat, and I push harder on my pedals as I follow it to the park down the road a few blocks.

I see them. I actually see them. I grow a wide smile.

They're there, playing at the park like they are little kids and not teenagers. My crush is there, and I can't take my eyes off of him. I've thought of nothing else for the past four days. Unfortunately, his baseball cap is obscuring his face, but I'm just so happy I found them. Right away I notice they all listen when he talks and do what he commands; it's obvious he's their leader.

I watch until I know my time is up and I have to get home.

I race home and expect to get a lecture, but my mom doesn't even notice my late arrival. Chelsea is there with the kids and my mom is busy holding the baby. Lauren is at her bible study or I'm sure she would have brought it to Mom's attenti