The snow was starting to melt off the sidewalks as she walked home from school that afternoon. The day seemed brighter and less gloomy than it had, too. There was still a heavy sorrow in her heart about the loss of Bones, but she had some glimmer of hope that things would get better. She didn’t feel like she’d lost everything anymore.
The twins were playing the Xbox when she got home. She shrugged and went down to the basement to practice her violin and do her homework. There was an essay due in 2 weeks over Shakespear’s King Lear and she wanted to get a headstart on it. She also had some Algebra II homework to finish. Maybe by the time that was all done it would be time for Kevin to call.
She was deep in her studies when she heard the phone ring. She practically sprinted up the stairs to grab the phone off the kitchen wall, but James beat her to it. She stood impatiently, waiting for him to hand the phone to her.
“Hello?” James answered.
“Kate? Yes. She’s here. Would you like to talk to her?” James asked, holding the phone out of her reach. She glared at him as she grabbed for the phone.
“Ask nicely,” he whispered to her, teasingly.
“Give me the phone, dork,” she snarled.
James held it up a little higher. “Ask nicely,” he said, waving it in front of her.
“Please give me the phone,” she said, forcing a smile.
“That’s better,” James said, smirking at her. He handed her the phone and walked off.
She waited for him to turn the corner, “Hi, Kevin,” she said.
“Hey, Kate. Who was that?” Kevin asked.
“That’s my annoying foster brother, James,” Kate replied, still irritated.
“I didn’t know you had a foster brother. I’ve never seen him at school,” Kevin said.
“Yeah, the twins are in the foster transition program. They graduated high school last summer, but the state has this program for them where they get help for a while so they can get on their feet as long as they get a job and stuff,” Kate said.
“Oh, well that’s kind of cool,” Kevin replied.
“Kind of,” Kate said, not really wanting to talk about her foster brothers.
“You feeling any better?” Kevin asked, sensing the edge in her voice.
“Yeah. Thanks again,” Kate said, her voice softening. “I’m really glad you were there.”
“I’m glad I could be there for you, too,” Kevin said. “You want to go out to the movies on Friday night?”
“I’ll have to ask my mom, but yeah, I’d love to,” Kate said.
“Great! You have anything in particular you want to see?” he asked.
“No, not really. I haven’t even been paying attention to what’s playing,” she answered.
“Well, we’ll figure it out when we get there, I guess. I haven’t really been paying attention, either” he said a bit sheepishly.
“I’m sure whatever you pick will be fine. I trust you,” she said, smiling into the phone.
“Well, that’s good to know. Hey, speaking of trust did you have a chance to look at the files on the thumbdrive I gave you yesterday?”
“Oh, my gosh! I totally forgot about them what with Bones dying and everything,” Kate said. She really hoped her mother hadn’t washed those jeans yet.
“Well, it’s okay. I understand. Take your time. It’s not a rush or anything,” Kevin said, “I just want you to know I’m not totally crazy.”
“You mean you might be just a little bit crazy?” Kate teased.
“Well, crazy about you anyway,” he said.
“Really? That so?” she asked, pleased and surprised.
“The more I know you, Kate, the more I like what I see,” he said.
“I feel the same way,” she said, softly.
“I gotta go. My mom’s calling me for dinner. You want to meet me at the band platform tomorrow morning?” he asked.
“Yeah, that’d be great. See you then,” she said.
She hung up the phone just in time for her mom to walk in the door.
“Who was on the phone?” her mom asked, curious.
“Kevin,” she answered. She couldn’t help but smile.
“Oh? What’s got you all smiley?” her mom asked.
“He wants to go to the movies with me Friday night!” she said, unable to contain the enthusiasm.
“Oh, Kate, that’s wonderful. You’ll have to invite him over for dinner with us before you guys go. I want to meet this boy,” her mom said.
Kate rolled her eyes. “Oh, Mom. Do I have to?”
“Yes, Kate. Any boy that’s going to be keeping regular company with my daughter is a boy I want to meet first. You’re a special girl, Kate and I’m not going to just let you go off with some guy I’ve never met,” her mom answered firmly.
Kate sighed. She knew that tone of voice too well to think that arguing would get her anywhere. “Okay, what time should he come over?”
“How about 6:00. That should give you plenty of time to make it to the movies. Which one are you going to see?” she replied.
“I don’t know. Neither one of us has been really paying much attention,” Kate answered.
“Well, you could always go see the new Bright Lights movie,” her mom suggested.
“What’s that about?” Kate asked.
“Bright Lights is a comedy about a bunch of Hollywood stars who find themselves dropped into the middle of the inner city with nothing but the clothes they came in – no ID’s or anything to prove they are who they say they are, no cell phones to get ahold of friends or family. The previews looked really funny,” she answered.
“Well, maybe. I’ll look it up,” Kate said. Her mom usually had pretty good taste in movies, but she wasn’t sure it was the kind of thing Kevin would like.
“Hey, Mom?” Kate asked.
“Yeah, Kate?” her mom said as she started preparing dinner.
“Did you wash my jeans?” Kate asked.
“You mean the ones you forgot to put in the hamper this morning?” her mom asked, giving Kate a pointed look.
“Yeah, those,” Kate affirmed, “I’m sorry about that”
“It’s okay. Yes, I did wash them. You need them?” she aasked.
“Oh, my gosh, Mom. Did you check the pockets before you washed them?” Kate asked urgently.
Kate’s mom smiled as she pulled the thumbdrive out of the top kitchen drawer. “You worried about this?”
“Oh, thank you, Mom. It’s got some important files on it,” she said.
“What kind of files?” her mom asked.
“Just some research and stuff,” Kate answered. She was glad she didn’t have to lie to her mom.
“For school?” her mom asked.
“For a project I’m working on with a friend,” Kate said. It was true. Kevin was a friend, and this was for a project of sorts.
“Okay, well you should probably find a better place to put it than your jeans next time,” her mom said, handing her the drive.
Kate nodded. “I know, I just forgot all about it after you told me about Bones.”
“I thought as much,” her mom said.
“Mom?” Kate asked.
“Do you believe in heaven?” Kate asked.
“Well, I like to think there’s a heaven,” her mom said. “Why?”
“Do you think Bones and Dad are there?” she asked.
“If they aren’t, I don’t know who would be. Your dad was an incredible man, and Bones was a very good dog,” her mom said.
“Do you think they can still hear us, you know, if we talk to them?” she asked.
Her mom looked thoughtful for a moment. “I still talk to your Dad, Kate. He was and is my best friend, and I’m pretty sure he hears me. There are times when I feel like he’s standing right beside me.”
“Thanks, Mom” she said as she headed up stairs to put her thumb drive in the top drawer until she had time to look it over. It was something of a relief to her that her mom was sure her Dad was in heaven, and even more that she was pretty sure her Dad was still there to talk to.
She came back downstairs after depositing the thumb drive and helped set the table. It was the rule around their house. You either did the befores or the afters, but you had to help with dinner in some way. Mom was cooking, so Kate chose to set the table. The twins would have to clean the dishes.
That night, she wrote a letter to Bones and to her dad in her journal. She figured that if they were dead, then they wouldn’t need her to read it to them. They would know what she wrote. She told Bones and her dad all about the date with Kevin, and how much she missed them both. It felt good to be able to talk to them, even if she couldn’t hear them talking back to her. When it was 10 oclock she turned off the light and finally went to sleep.
As agreed, they met behind the band hall before school. Kate was so excited she could hardly contain herself. She smiled as she saw Kevin walking up the sidewalk.
“Hi!” she said.
“You found it!” Kevin said, laughing.
“What do you mean, I found it?” she asked, puzzled. “You mean the thumb drive? Yeah, Mom took it out of my pocket before she put my jeans in the wash.”
Kevin laughed again, “No, I meant your smile. You don’t wear it very often, but you had it on today and it looks great on you.”
She chuckled, “Oh, that. Yeah, well, I guess I did.”
“So did you get a chance to ask your mom about the movies Friday?” he asked.
“Yeah, and she said okay, but there’s a hitch. You have to come over for dinner before we go out,” Kate said.
“That’s cool. I’d love to meet your family,” he said.
“Oh, well that’s good,” Kate said, “I was kind of worried you might not want to.”
“Why? Are they aliens or something?” Kevin asked, puzzled.
“No, just, I don’t know. I just didn’t think you would, that’s all,” Kate said, blushing.
“Oh, well, no worries. My family’s kind of weird to most people, too, so don’t stress over it,” he said reassuringly. “You decided on a movie yet?”
“My mom says she thinks Bright Lights would be a good one to see,” she said.
“Bright Lights, hmm? What’s it about?” he asked.
She told him what her mom had told her about the movie. “Sounds great, actually. I love comedies,” he said.
“Yeah, me too,” Kate answered.
“Sounds like a plan, then,” he said, helping her with her books while she put away her violin. It was almost time for school to start.
“You want to meet for lunch?” he asked.
“Sure. Here or in the cafeteria?” she asked.
“Here’s fine. I have a little spending money, my treat if you want to go out and get something,” he offered.
“Sounds great, actually” she said.
The bell rang and he took her hand and walked her to class. She couldn’t believe it. After two whole years of wishing for this, it was finally really true. Kevin thought she was just as amazing as she thought he was. He wanted to date her, of all people. He could have any girl in the school that he wanted, but what he wanted was her. In spite of everything she’d been through over the last couple of days, she felt so happy she could just burst.
Five periods later and it was finally time for lunch. She headed out the back of the band hall as quickly as she could, eager to spend time with Kevin. The snow was completely gone and the temperatures were a perfect 70 degrees. It was beautiful weather for a walk. They headed down the street together, holding hands.
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