“Yes,” I said.
I waited for him to react, to say something, anything, wondering what would happen now that the game was over. Instead, his eyes shifted slowly, from my face to above my head. Confused, I looked up, only to see the sky was swirling with white.
It was like snow, almost, but as the pieces began falling, blowing across me, I saw they were made of the same white, stiff fabric as the piece that had blown onto me earlier. But it wasn’t until I heard a yelp from behind the house that everything clicked together.
“The tent!” my mother was shrieking. “Oh, my God!”
I turned back to look at Wes, but he was walking toward his truck. I just stood there, watching, as he got behind the wheel and started to drive away. So I’d won. But it didn’t feel like it. Not at all.
We had a shredded tent. A yardful of flowers missing their petals. And now, rumbling in the distance, thunder.
“Uh-oh,” Caroline said under her breath, nudging me, and I felt myself start, coming to. I was so out of it, even as I went through the motions, doing my best to soothe my mother’s frayed nerves. When the tent people said no, they didn’t have another, and all their crews were booked, so we’d just have to do our best with what we had, I’d patted her hand, insisting no one would notice the tent at all. When the wind kept blowing, knocking over the chairs and tables as quickly as we could set them up, I nodded agreement to Caroline’s idea of doing away with them altogether and allowing, in her words, more of a “milling around sort of thing.” And when my mother, minutes earlier, had stepped off the driveway of the model townhouse to cut the red ribbon stretched across there and broken the heel of her shoe, I’d stepped forward instantly, offering up my own while everyone chuckled. Through it all, I felt strangely detached, as if it was all happening at a distance, far enough that whatever the outcome, it wouldn’t affect me at all.
Now, my mother was smiling for the cameras and shaking hands with her superintendents with the utmost composure as mean-looking dark clouds began to scoot against the sky. She seemed just fine, until we got into the car and she shut her door behind her.
“What in the world is going on?” she shrieked. “I started planning this weeks ago. This is not what’s supposed to happen!”
Her voice filled the car, sounding loud in my ears, and as she began driving, the familiar scenery of the neighborhood whizzing by, I had a flash of Wes and me in the yard earlier, when I’d said something so similar to him about how we would leave things: It’s what’s supposed to happen. It made sense then, but now I was wondering.
As we took a corner there was another big crash of thunder overhead, and we all jumped. My sister leaned forward, peering out the windshield. “You know,” she said, “we should probably have a rain plan.”
“It’s not going to rain,” my mother told her flatly.
“Can’t you hear that thunder?”
“It’s just thunder,” she said, pressing the accelerator down further as we exceeded, by a good twenty miles, the Wildflower Ridge Good Neighbor Speed Limit. “That doesn’t mean it’s going to rain.”
Caroline just looked at her. “Mom. Please.”
As we zoomed up the driveway, the wind was still blowing, and every once in a while a little piece of white tent sheeting would flutter past. My mother and Caroline were already going inside by the time I got out of the car, my mind still tangled with all these thoughts. By the time I caught up with them in the kitchen, they were bustling around, laying out the brochures and leaflets that would be arranged outside, getting the last of the things ready for the party. As soon as she saw me, my mother thrust a pile of folders, brochures, old newspapers, and several of my sister’s home decorating magazines into my arms.
“Macy, please, take these and put them somewhere. Anywhere. And check the powder room to make sure the towels are straight and there’s enough hand soap, and—” She paused for a second, glancing around wildly, her eyes finally settling on the countertop by the phone, where EZ-Key had been since I’d opened it the day before, “do something with that, please, and come back here so you can help me do something with the dining room. Okay?”
I nodded, still feeling out of it, but I did as she asked. The folders I put in her office, the newspapers in recycling, the magazines outside my sister’s bedroom door. When the EZ-Key was the last thing left, I went into my room, then sat down on my bed with it in my hands.
Downstairs, I could hear my sister doing last minute vacuuming, my mother in my shoes clacking and re-clacking across the floor. I knew they needed me, but there was a part of me that just wanted to lie back in my bed, close my eyes, and find myself waking up again, to this morning, to another chance. Maybe I’d still go downstairs and across the lawn to Wes, but what I’d say, I knew now, would be different. He’d always told the truth. I should have done the same.
And this was it: Wes was my friend, absolutely, but regardless of what I’d led him to believe, the night I’d seen him with Becky I’d felt more than what a friend should. It was about time I admitted it. In fact, on some level, I’d known all along, which was what had almost sent me back to Jason, back to this neat, orderly life that I hoped would protect me from getting hurt again. And here, in this world, it was entirely possible to pretend that none of my summer with Wes, and Wish, had ever happened.
But it had happened. I had followed Delia’s van that night, I had told Wes my Truths, I had stepped into his arms, showing him my raw, broken heart. I could pretend otherwise, pushing it out of sight and hopefully out of mind. But if something was really important, fate made sure it somehow came back to you and gave you another chance. I’d gotten one reaching out to grab Kristy’s hand as she pulled me into the ambulance; another during the trip to the hospital that ended with seeing Avery born. Events conspired to bring you back to where you’d been. It was what you did then that made all the difference: it was all about potential.
I stood up and pulled my chair over to the closet, then climbed up to put away the EZ box. I was about to step down when I saw the shopping bag I’d put up there all those weeks ago. This whole day I’d felt like something was different. Which was probably why I pushed the box back and finally grabbed the bag off the shelf.
“I can’t believe this,” my mother muttered to herself, bemoaning the rumbling thunder as she passed my half-open door. “It’s like we’re cursed or something.”