“Do you know anything about this?” Caroline asked. For a second I thought she meant Wes, until I turned around to see her and her group standing in front of a sculpture.
“What about it?” I asked, distracted. I’d lost sight of him now.
“It’s just,” she said, looking up at it, “I’ve never seen it before. It’s not one of mine.”
“Macy?” Jason came up behind me. “I really think we should—”
But I wasn’t listening. Not to him. Not to Caroline, who was still circling around the sculpture, making her Art Major noises. Not to the sounds of the party floating through the window. All I could hear was the slight tinkling noise of the sculpture as it moved, this new angel. She was standing with her feet apart, her hands clasped at her chest. Her eyes were sea glass, circled with washers, her mouth a key, turned upwards. Her halo was circled with tiny hearts in hands. But most striking, most different, were the things that arched up over her head, made of thin aluminum, cut with strong peaks at the top, sweeping curves at the bottom, lined with tiny bells, which made the chiming noise I was hearing. That we could all hear.
“I don’t get it,” Caroline said, bemused. “She’s the only one with wings. Why is that?”
There were so many questions in life. You couldn’t ever have all the answers. But I knew this one.
“It’s so she can fly,” I said. And then I started to run.
I’d thought it might be like my dreams. But it wasn’t. Running came back to me, as easily as anything else that had once been everything to you. The first few steps were hard; it took me a second to catch my breath, but then I found my pace, and everything fell away, until there was nothing but me and what lay ahead, growing closer every second. Wes.
By the time I reached him, I was breathless. Red-faced. And my heart was thumping hard enough in my chest that at first, it was all I could hear. He turned around just as I got to him, looking surprised, and for a second neither of us said anything as I struggled to catch my breath.
“Macy,” he said. I could tell he was shocked by my running, by the very fact that I was standing there in front of him, gasping for air. “What—”
“I’m sorry.” I put my hand up, palm facing him, and took another deep breath. “But there’s been a change.”
He blinked at me. “A change,” he repeated.
I nodded. “In the rules.”
It took him a second: he had no idea what I was talking about. Then, slowly, his face relaxed. “Ah,” he said. “The rules.”
“I wasn’t notified,” he pointed out.
“Well, it was pretty recent,” I said.
“As in . . .”
“As in, effective right now.”
Wes ran a hand through his hair and I saw the heart and hand slip into view, then disappear again. I had so much to tell him, I didn’t even know where to start. Or maybe I did.
“Macy,” he said softly, looking at me closely. “You don’t have to—”
I shook my head. “The change,” I said. “Ask me about the change.”
He leaned back on his heels, sliding his hands into his pockets. “Okay,” he said, after a second. “What’s the change?”
“It’s been decided,” I told him, taking another breath, “that there’s another step to winning the game. And that is that in order for me to really win, I have to answer the question you passed on, that night in the truck. Only then is it final.”
“The question I passed on,” he repeated.
I nodded. “That’s the rule.”
I knew, in the silence that followed, that anything could happen here. It might be too late: again, I might have missed my chance. But I would at least know I tried, that I took my heart and extended my hand, whatever the outcome.
“Okay,” he said. He took a breath. “What would you do, if you could do anything?”
I took a step toward him, closing the space between us. “This,” I said. And then I kissed him.
Kissed him. There, in the middle of the street, as the world went on around us. Behind me, I knew Jason was still waiting for an explanation, my sister was still lecturing, and that angel still had her eyes skyward, waiting to fly. As for me, I was just trying to get it right, whatever that meant. But now I finally felt I was on my way. Everyone had a forever, but given a choice, this would be mine. The one that began in this moment, with Wes, in a kiss that took my breath away, then gave it back—leaving me astounded, amazed, and most of all, alive.
“Macy. Wake up.”
I rolled over, pulling my pillow over my face. “No,” I said, my voice muffled. “Another hour.”
“No way.” I felt fingers flicking my bare feet. “Hurry up. I’ll be outside.”
Still half asleep, I heard him leave the room, then, a second later, the screen door slammed shut behind him. For a second I just lay there, so tempted to let sleep pull me in and under, back to dreaming. But then I pushed the pillow off my face and sat up in bed, looking out the window beside me. The sky was clear and blue, the waves crashing close in. Another nice day.
I got up, then pulled on my shorts and jog bra and my T-SHIRT, rolling the elastic off my wrist and using it to tie my hair up in a ponytail. I was still yawning as I crossed my bedroom and stepped out into the main part of the house, where my sister was sitting at the table, flipping through a magazine.
“You know what I’ve been thinking,” she said, not even looking up, as if we’d been talking and were just picking up where we’d left off, “is that we could really use a chiminea here.”
“A what?” I said, bending down to grab my shoes off the floor.
“A chiminea.” She turned a page of her magazine, propping her chin in her hands. “It’s an outside chimney, very primal, really makes a statement. What do you think?”
I just smiled, sliding the screen door open. “Sounds great,” I said. “Just great.”
I stepped out onto the porch, taking in the day’s first breath of cool, salty air. My mother, who was sitting in her Adirondack chair, coffee mug on the table beside her, turned around and looked at me.
“Good morning,” she said, as I bent down and kissed her cheek. “Such dedication.”
“Not me,” I told her. “I wanted to sleep in.”
She smiled, then picked up her coffee mug, taking the folder from underneath it and spreading it out on her legs. “Have fun,” she said.