The Space Between Us(9)

By: Anie Michaels



“Charlie, his flight might have been delayed. Or maybe, his parents want to spend an evening with him. After all, they haven't seen him all summer either.”

“Dad, I'm just drawing. If he calls, he calls,” I said as I shrugged my shoulders. It was the least convincing thing I'd ever said, but my dad did a great job of nodding and walking to the other room. The phone suddenly rang and I jumped.

“Hello?”

“Hey, Charlie. Wanna go to the mall?” I rolled my eyes so hard I was sure I was going to lose one in the back of my skull.

“No, Reeve. I don't want to go to the mall. Go ahead without me.”

“What are you doing?”

“Nothing, just drawing.”

“Well then, come with me. I need someone to talk to while I guy-watch in the food court.”

“No thanks. I'm in the middle of this drawing and I really want to finish.”

“Oh fine. If you change your mind, I'll be at the food court.”

“Ok,” I said, knowing I wasn't going to change my mind. “Have fun.” I hung up the phone and returned to my pad of paper that had the worst drawing I had done since grade school. I was distracted and nothing was flowing from me. It was just a big jumbled mess of lines. The phone rang again and I rolled my eyes.

“I haven't changed my mind. I don't want to go anywhere,” I said, exasperated.

“Oh, that's too bad,” I heard a voice say on the other side that definitely wasn't Reeve. “I was hoping I could see you for a little while tonight.” My darned heart was doing that beat-so-fast-it-might-pop-out thing again.

“Asher?”

“Yeah, it's me. Were you expecting your other best friend to return from a summer away today?”

“No,” I said. His voice sounded different - deeper. Maybe it's just the phone. He'll probably sound the same in person. “I just wasn't sure if you were going to spend the evening with your parents or not. I'm sure they've missed you.”

“Yeah, but I can squeeze you in,” he said, making me smile. “Meet me outside?”

“Now?”

“Do you want to wait any longer?”

I shook my head.

“Charlie?”

“No!” I almost shouted once I realized he couldn't hear me shaking my head. He laughed.

“Ok, I'll meet you out there.”

I tried not to run to the door to put on my shoes, but I was definitely walking fast. My dad saw me dashing down the hallway.

“Did he call?” He shouted from his office.

“Yup!” I shouted back.

“Be home for dinner!”

“Ok!”

I reached the door and stopped at the mirror hanging in the entry way. I studied my face, making sure, for a reason new to me, that I looked ok. What did 'ok' look like? Was my hair crazy? No. Did I have anything on my face? No. I guess this was as good as it was going to get. I shook my head at myself; I never cared before what I looked like when I saw Asher.

I opened the door to the warm summer air. The sun was beginning to set, but still pretty high. Orange and red streaks were ribbons in the sky. I had another hour or so before dinner. I turned right at the sidewalk and absolutely could not help the enormous smile that spread across my face as I saw him walking towards me. I also couldn't help it when my feet started moving faster and faster until I was running towards him. He was running towards me as well and when we finally made it to each other, I jumped up into his arms and he swung me around. We spun for what seemed like hours. His nose was pressed into my hair and my face was snuggled into the crook of his neck. I didn't remember him ever smelling good, but he did. He smelled different.

When he finally put me down, we each spent a few moments unabashedly looking each other over. I saw him eyeing me, but didn't care because I was eyeing him. He was huge. He was big. He was perfect.

“You grew,” were the first words out of my mouth.

“You didn't,” he responded. He was right. I hadn’t grown one smidge over the summer – in height anyway.

“No, seriously. You must be at least a foot taller than you were when you left.” I went to stand next to him to gauge how much taller he'd gotten. I remembered before he left when we walked side-by-side if I looked over at him I was looking at his shoulder. Now I turned my head and I was looking at his chest. Even his chest looked bigger. “What did they feed you on that farm?” He laughed.

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