The Odds of Loving Grover Cleveland(9)

By: Rebekah Crane



I skip everything yellow and head for the salad bar at the end of the line. I fill my plate with as many colors of the rainbow as possible—green leaves, yellow peppers, red tomatoes, black olives, and, instead of salad dressing, a spoonful of cottage cheese. I even opt out of milk and settle on water, for hydration purposes.

When I pass a basket of apples at the end of the line, my feet stop in their place. I stare at the pile of fruit and pick one up, holding it close to my face. Its polished exterior shines in the dim yellow light of the mess hall, making its red skin look so edible. It’s good for me, nutritionally speaking, and for a second, I even consider putting it on my tray.

“Wondering if you should eat the forbidden fruit?” Grover asks over my shoulder.

My eyes stay focused on it. “We never have apples in my house.”

“Allergy?”

“No.”

“Just a general dislike for the fruit?”

But I can’t do it, no matter how good it might be for me to eat one. I set the apple down. The food line is backed up behind us. “Something like that,” I say, and grab a whole-wheat roll instead. No butter.

Grover, Cassie, and I sit at an empty table. While Grover’s tray has a heaping spoonful of macaroni and cheese and chicken fingers, Cassie has a measly serving of iceberg lettuce and five carrots.

“That lettuce has no nutritional value.” I point at her tray. “It’s practically all water.”

“Do I look like I’m interested in nutritional value?” Cassie picks up one piece of lettuce and stuffs it in her mouth.

“I guess not,” I say and start to break my roll into three pieces. When I was little, my mom taught me that three pieces is the polite thing to do. I’m not sure what’s so impolite about two pieces or seven pieces or three million pieces for that matter, but my mom is a stickler for politeness and all things leafy and green. She holds on to these things like they’re a life vest that can save her from drowning, but breaking her bread into three pieces won’t save her. And when you hold on to things too tightly, they just rot in your grip.

I glance at the bin full of apples again. But not even my mom would be disappointed that I walked away from those.

“Zander,” Grover says.

“What?”

“Hoping maybe the bread crumbs will lead you home?” He smiles and points down at my hands. I’ve shredded my roll into little tiny pieces that are now scattered all over the table. I scoop them up quickly and put them back on my tray.

I can’t look at Grover when I say, “I don’t want to go home.”

When everyone has made it through the food line, the camp owner, Kerry, gets up at the front of the mess hall and silences everyone. “It’s a camp tradition to pray to Saint Anthony of Padua, the patron saint of lost things, before our meal. Let’s take a moment and bow our heads.”

I look around the mess hall instead of following his directions. Every counselor has his or her head bowed. When Cassie picks up a knife and pretends to slit her throat, I utter a light laugh. I can’t help it.

“We pray to Saint Anthony of Padua for three things. That the lost be found. That the soul be free. That life be everlasting.”

“And that I get laid,” Grover says. Kerry looks up with an annoyed expression on his face. “Isn’t he the patron saint of lost things? I’m looking to lose my virginity.”

“Please take this seriously,” Kerry says.

“Believe me, I’m serious.” Grover makes a cross over his heart.

“Let’s eat.” Kerry shakes his head and moves to sit down at a table with the other counselors.

“Nice one, Cleve,” Cassie says, taking another bite of her lettuce.

“I can’t help it. It’s my heightened emotional state. Things come out of my mouth that shouldn’t. Like that Zander has pretty eyes.” Grover sets his fork down and looks at me. I mean really looks at me with the corner of his lips curled up.

“They’re just brown. Lots of people have brown eyes.”

“One in two people to be exact.”

Cassie groans. “You won’t lose anything to her. She said she has a boyfriend. All you’ll get from her is a massive case of blue balls.”

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