I’m sitting in my room with my brother and sister-in-law when I hear one of my parents say something that makes me cry

on

I can’t remember which one it was.

“I miss you.” I whisper to myself.

My mom says I cry over nothing. It’s not true. I do cry over the things I
miss.

“The smell of the tomato soup and the memory of the cherry tomatoes.” I
continue. “I miss my mom’s cooking and I miss my father being home when I
need him.”

“I miss them, too.” They’re still so far away. My heart aches and sinks into
my stomach as I imagine my mom’s cooking. I miss her cooking. “I miss my
dad.” Suddenly the tears begin again.

“Tell me what’s wrong,” my brother, Kyle, says. “I see it on your face.”

“I miss my dad,” I tell my brother, looking into his eyes.

“I know,” he pulls me into his arms. “You’re the only one who knows I don’t
really like him, but I wouldn’t make him feel bad. He’s your dad, too.”

Kyle squeezes me tighter. “So what’s wrong?”

I tell him what is wrong and how it’s making me want to cry. “I miss
tomato soup and cherry tomatoes,” I tell him. “And I miss my mom’s cooking.”

Kyle laughs. “Well, when we have a party, I’m going to go out to pick
tomatoes, but I know how much you like tomato soup, so you can have some for
dinner.”

I hug him back. “If you go to get tomatoes, will you pick
the red ones for the tomato soup?” I ask.

“It’s the best part of the summer,” he tells me.

“What is the best part of the summer?” I ask.

“Getting to see you smile,” he tells me. “It’s making my day.”

Kyle leaves my room before I can think about what it is that causes my
tears to come. I lay down on my bed crying.

My boyfriend is the love of my life.
He is my best friend and always will be. I can tell from the moment we first
met, he knew, he knew in the way that only a person can know what their own
dreams are, but I never really thought about it until this summer when we
were walking on the beach and he told me how much he loved me.

“What a love he is,” he said.

Later he said that he wanted to walk with me on the shoreline. I knew from
the way he walked beside me that he did not mean it as a joke. He wanted to
walk with me.

I never thought he meant it as a joke.

He made me feel like it was impossible to be lonely, as much as I had felt
lonely in my own life. Even though I had always been alone when I was a kid,
I knew it was only temporary. Because I really had always had a part in
making things happen in my life.

He made me feel like I had a purpose in life.

He has never made me feel this way before. I’ve never been in love before.
I never would have let a boy I had only known for a few days walk beside me.
But he is the love of my life. He loves me every day. He calls me his baby and
tells me how amazing I am to him, all the time. He is the love of my life.
There is no way I could ever love anyone else as much.

There is nothing else I could want in life.

I could only ever be with him.

I am so completely in love with him.

I will spend the rest of my life with him. I will be his and only his.

I will be his and only his.

* * *

SOMEONE’S FOOTSTEPS

A boy walked by me and I smiled.

At first I couldn’t believe he had taken it upon himself to be so kind to me.
I watched the way he approached me in the middle of the day and he was just as
foolish as I had been. He didn’t know anything about me and when I told him I
had a boyfriend.

“Really,” he told me. “A boyfriend? That’s fantastic. You must be
surprised.”

I told him what I had told my mother. “Not really,” he said.

I told him I had never thought about it before. “No,” he said. “In all
your life, have you ever been without someone?”

I told him I had loved and lost someone.

He hugged me and told me he wanted nothing more than to do the same. “I
want so badly to be with you,” he said.

I told him I couldn’t let him walk beside me on the shoreline and he
grumbled.

“You’re not going to be here much longer. I want you to have
fun,” he said. “I want you to go out with us on the beach.”

I told him that was impossible because I had to work. “I know,” he
said. “We’ll come back later.”

That was a lie, my mother told me, because we had to leave because I had
drafted with them that day. The man who came to my house was the man they were
looking for. He took me in his car and we were never to be seen around my
house again.

The next day the family I was going to tell was at the beach. I met my
mother and her two babies, in the family pool. I took their umbrellas and
shoved them into the water.

“Go, go, go,” I screamed. “You’re too little to swim with.”

I took their umbrellas out of the water.

“Not in front of babies,” they told me, laughing.

I took the water out of my eyes and walked away.

“Let’s go,” our mom commanded. “I want to swim.”

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