Become a Book Nerd
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Holly leads me to an old-looking maroon Toyota and pulls a single key out of her pocket, twisting it gruffly into the keyhole in the door on the driver’s side. We hear a rewarding clink. “Aha,” Holly said triumphantly. She presses a button on the inner door and a larger click ensues. I just stand there.
“Well?” she asks, turning to me. “Hop in. You can sit in the front, unless you’re one of those teenagers whose parents think it’s rude to sit in the front of the car. Or who think you need permission. Either way, you can sit in the back and also, you have my permission to sit wherever the heck you want.”
I don’t say anything as she climbs into the seat and slams the door shut. I wind around the car and hop in the other door. I close the door gently. Holly snorts. “What?” I ask.
“You’ve really gotta slam it,” she explains. “Don’t want it to swing open while I’m driving, do you?”
I gulp. “Would it do that?”
She turns away and says, “It might.”
I know it wouldn’t. Right? I hope not. But I still grab the handle, fling it open, and slam it shut with a bang.
Holly grins. “That’s more like it.”
I smile, despite myself. What am I doing?
Oh, Sam . . . I hear Danielle’s voice in my head. Just because I’m dead doesn’t mean you have to act like it. Weren’t you just complaining about the way our parents were acting? You can still have some fun. If you don’t you know you’ll be just as dead as I am.
I shiver. I know the Danielle inside my head is right.
Are you watching over me? I ask.
Always, she whispers, and then her presence disappears, leaving me shivering once more.
“So,” Holy says, jolting me back. “Can you drive?”
I shake my head. “I mean, I can, but I don’t have my licence yet. I’m still sixteen.”
“I assume you drive?” I ask stupidly.
She laughs. “Obviously. I can drive. I’m not going to wreck or anything.”
“So you’re seventeen,” I clarify.
“Um . . . no. I drive. Just not legally. My birthday was a month ago.”
“Oh boy,” I say, rolling my eyes and slumping back. “If we get pulled over, I’ll tell the cops we were both drunk and you were a more responsible driver, having wrecked only four times in the last week. Then when I say it’s a joke they’ll let us off without checking your age.”
“Don’t tell them that, I tried something like that before. It didn’t work.” Holly grins. “But I am more responsible.”
“I have known you for ten minutes, and I can already tell that I am much more responsible than you are.”
Holly turns the wheel into a parking spot, pretends to reel with shock, and gasps. “How dare you.”
“By the way, if you’ve gotten pulled over before, why do you still drive?”
She shrugs, pulling out the key. “I gotta get around somehow. Not like my parents are gonna drive me.”
“Why not?” I ask, climbing out and slamming the door.
She doesn’t meet my eyes. “It’s a long story.”
She slams her door and twists the key around in the hole until we hear a click, then pockets it and motions for me to follow as she starts walking toward the Frosti building.
In the building, the air is chilled and smells of all sorts of delicious flavors. This place brings back so many memories. When Danielle and I were little, Dad would bring us here every Sunday for a special treat. Danielle would always get mint chocolate chip; I’d always get Peanut Butter Swirl. And every single time, Dad would refuse, but then he would cave in as we were finishing and order a small plain vanilla “frosti”. By the time we finished up, he would have devoured his treat like a dog after a squirrel. And we’d laugh.
Now, I breath in the sweet-scented air and know that I’ll never be able to repeat that memory. Not only did we stop coming every Sunday when we started high school, but also, well . . .
I shake myself inwardly. That’s all you can think about, isn’t it?
Then I feel guilty. That’s all you should be thinking about! It’s all your fault!
Why do I always argue with myself?
Holly steps up to the counter and a woman with a name tag that reads Hi, I’m Pat sticks her head out the little window. “Yes?”
“I’d like a large black cherry sundae with whipped cream, all choices of nuts, chocolate sauce, strawberry sauce, hot fudge, caramel, gummy worms, Oreos, blueberries, chocolate chips, and rainbow sprinkles.”
The woman glares at her after she finishes scribbling in her little battered order book. Then she turns to me. “And you?”
“I don’t have any money,” I whisper to Holly. She waves me off.
“Are you sure?” I ask, not wanting to be rude.
Pam’s glaring at me now.
“I’ll have, um . . . just a small Peanut Butter Swirl with chocolate sprinkles. Thanks.”
The woman jots it down and disappears, letting the window drop behind her. We take a seat.
“So, what’s your name again?” asks Holly.
I burst out laughing.
“What?” Holly asks, looking genuinely confused.
“My gosh, Holly. You talk to me about how you know who I am and how you can relate to me, you let me ride in your car, you pay for my ice cream—” I suck in a laughing breath “—and you don’t even know my name?”
Now Holly looks sheepish. “Well, when you put it that way, you know . . . can you just tell me your name?”
“Sam,” I say. “My name is Sam Barnes.”
“Order up,” shouts Pam.
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