Without Merit(6)

By: Colleen Hoover

Which is exactly why I didn’t come to the realization that he thought he was kissing Honor. While that random kiss meant a lot to me, it was nothing new to him. He probably kisses Honor like that all the time.

Which is confusing, because he seemed to be . . . healthy. Not Honor’s type, normally.

Speaking of Honor.

I turn on my blinker and reach for my phone on the second ring. It’s odd that she’s calling me. We never call each other. When I come to the stop sign, I answer it with a lazy, “Hey.”

“Are you still with Sagan?” Honor asks.

I close my eyes and release a tiny bit of air. I don’t have much to spare after that kiss back there. “No.”

She sighs. “Weird. He’s not answering his phone now. I’ll try calling him back.”


I’m about to hang up when she says, “Hey. Why aren’t you in school right now?”

I sigh. “Wasn’t feeling well so I left.”

“Oh. Okay. See you tonight.”

“Honor, wait,” I say before she ends the call. “What’s . . . is something wrong with Sagan?”

“What do you mean?”

“You know. Are you with him because . . . is he dying?”

It’s quiet for a moment. But then I can hear the irritation in her voice when she says, “Jesus, Merit. Of course not. You can be a real bitch sometimes.” The line goes dead. I look down at the phone.

I wasn’t trying to insult her. I’m genuinely curious if that’s why she’s dating him. She hasn’t had a single boyfriend with an average life span since she started dating Kirk at thirteen. She’s still heartbroken over the way that relationship left her feeling like she was choking on scar tissue.

Kirk was a nice farm boy. He drove a tractor, baled hay, knew how to flip an electrical breaker, and once fixed the transmission of a car that my father couldn’t even fix himself.

About a month before we turned fifteen and two weeks after Honor lost her virginity to Kirk, his father found Kirk lying on the ground in the middle of their pasture, semi-conscious and bleeding. Kirk had fallen off the tractor, which ran over him, injuring his right arm. Although the injury wasn’t life-threatening, while receiving treatment for the injury, the erudite doctor sought answers as to why Kirk might have fallen off the tractor to begin with. Turns out, Kirk had suffered a seizure as the result of a tumor that had been growing in his brain.

“Possibly since infancy,” said the doctor.

Kirk lived three more months. The entire three months he lived, my sister rarely left his side. Honor was the first and last girl he loved, and the last person Kirk saw before taking his final breath.

Honor developed an unhealthy affliction as a result of her first love dying from a tumor that had been growing in his brain, possibly since infancy. Honor found it almost impossible to love any boy after who was of average health and normal life span. She spends most days and nights in online chat rooms for the terminally ill, falling madly in love with boys who have an average life expectancy of six months or less. Although our town is a bit too small to provide Honor with an ample supply of ailing suitors, Dallas is less than a two-hour drive away. With the number of hospitals devoted to terminal illnesses, at least two boys have been within driving distance to Honor. During their last few weeks on earth, Honor spent their remaining days by their sides, determined to be the last person they saw and the last girl they loved before taking their final breaths.

Because of her obsession with being loved eternally by the terminally ill, I’m curious what has drawn her to this Sagan guy. Based on her relationship history, I think it’s fair of me to have assumed he was terminally ill, but apparently, that assumption makes me a bitch.

I pull into my driveway, relieved I’m the only one here. If you don’t count the permanent resident in the basement. I grab my sack with the trophy in it. Had I known at the antiques store that I was about to experience the most humiliating event in all my seventeen years, I would have bought every trophy they had. I would have had to use Dad’s emergency credit card, but it would have been well worth it.

I glance at the marquee as I make my way across the yard. A day hasn’t passed since we moved in that my brother, Utah, hasn’t updated the marquee with the same promptness and precision that he gives to every other aspect of his life.

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