“No there isn’t.” Her face betrayed no emotion, showed no recognition of the dismay he chose not to conceal. “We just need to stop dating, that’s all there is to it.” Annie brushed her loing brown-pony tail off her shoulder, let it fall down her jacketed back.

Rune released his hold on the handle of his house’s front door. This wasn’t how it was supposed to be, the fencing tournament was over, Coach Dan had dropped them off at his house, they were going upstairs to his room (concealing the sounds of their loving wrestling from his father would only add to their excitement), she’d stay for dinner, might even still be there when his mother and brother returned from hockey. She’d call her parents to pick her up when she was ready to go home, which Rune knew wouldn’t be any time soon.

But what had actually happened had led him to the shores of the lake, looking up at the black night sky, waiting for the northern lights to return.

“It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while.” That’s how she’d started the conversation — no, it was “We can’t date anymore,” but before that was “No, I can’t go inside,” and “There’s something I have to tell you.” Standing by the lake several hours later, Rune desperately tried to arrange his memory of her words in the order in which she spoke them, a vain attempt to understand, to control (an effort made more difficult by his inability to remember only his emotions, none of his words).

She’d rolled her eyes. “Double-J so much as touches me, except on strip, and I’ll deck him.” That came later, it was hard for him to reconstruct the order after forcing himself not to think about those words all afternoon and evening. She’d said why, yes? Didn’t he ask? “There’s no — there really isn’t — ” it was the only time he recalled her being uncertain — “I just don’t think you know what you want.” Yes, that was what she said, you don’t know what you want, it was also the reason he’d gotten so upset, because he didn’t understand what she was saying.

“No, I really can’t stay.” And she’d looked past Rune’s left shoulder, he heard the sound of tires crunching salt on asphalt. Turned and saw her parents’ white Cadillac pulling into the driveway.


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