10 Years Ago
HOW FOLKS MANAGED LIFE WITHOUT a replica of themselves as a backup I didn’t know. It must have sucked to not be in two places at one time. Having an identical twin wasn’t a hardship. I often felt sorry for other kids when I was younger. They got lonely or bored without a friend around. But Mack was always there. We had each other.
And now that we were in high school, it still came in handy. Like today. I owed Mack one for taking my Biology test two weeks ago while I skipped class to stand in line and score the 3 Doors Down concert tickets when they went on sale at ten in the morning. Which was why I didn’t ask out Melanie Trainer tonight like I’d planned. I really wanted to ask out Melanie.
She’d been flirting and giving signals for a week now and I knew from stories guys told in the field house that Melanie, who was a senior this year, liked to get naked in the back of pickup trucks. Mack owed me big time for missing out on getting what I knew she was offering.
I didn’t know Mary Grace Whitehouse. I’d never even spoken to her. She was quiet, made good grades, did volunteer work, I think, and went through her day like she couldn’t wait to escape school. She never went to any of the parties, games, and never did anything fun. At least I’d never seen her anywhere having fun. The only place I had seen Mary Grace was sitting on the front row of all her classes. Listening aptly.
Everything I knew about Mary Grace led me to question, how in God’s name had Mack ended up with a date that I was now filling in for with her? He had sent me a text asking me to meet Mary Grace at her house this afternoon around five. No other explanation except that he had something more important he had to do, but he couldn’t not show at Mary Grace’s for the date.
Letting a girl like her down kind of felt like a sin. I got that. Besides if I did this then Mack and I were even again and I owed him nothing. He’d have done it for me. I doubted we had one thing to talk about, but then again, neither would Mack and Mary Grace. They’d have had a terrible date. I felt no pressure to make this memorable for her. Get it done and over.
The house she lived in looked like it belonged on a Hallmark greeting card. Much like Mary Grace herself. I knocked on the door hoping this lasted even shorter than I anticipated. There was still the chance I could call Melanie.
The door opened and luckily I wouldn’t have to chat with any parents or annoying younger siblings. Mary Grace was there dressed in a simple pink sundress that hit right at her knees. The pale blonde hair that stood out even when she was dressed like her mother still dressed her, hung over her right shoulder and curled softly on the end. Sun-kissed shoulders displayed a warm tan with a few freckles sprinkled across the top.
The pink gloss on her full lips was distracting because up close like this it made it difficult not to look at her lips and think about them. Maybe this was why Mack had asked her out. He’d seen her up close like this at school and paid attention to what she looked like. Instead of brushing her off because she was smart. I’d never thought the academic sort was very exciting.
“You’re on time,” Mary Grace said with a surprised but polite smile. She’d expected Mack to be late. At least she wasn’t under some sort of delusion where he was concerned.
“Yeah, uh, well, I didn’t want to keep you waiting,” I stammered still trying to adjust to my realization that Mary Grace was attractive.
She lifted her left shoulder with a little shrug. “That’s okay. I had no other plans today. Outlining our project shouldn’t take that long,” she said, stepping back as if she expected me to walk inside.
Project? I paused then stepped inside her house. With a quick glance, I deducted the style of her house fit Mary Grace. It was as perfect and polished as she was.
“Yeah, shouldn’t take too long,” I agreed but I wasn’t sure what I was agreeing to. I was beginning to realize Mack hadn’t sent me to fill in for him on a date after all. This was a school thing. He had Mary Grace as a partner and I was here for that.
“My parents won’t be home for two hours. We can use the dining room table. It will be easier,” she explained with suddenly pink cheeks as if she had said something embarrassing. Her blush was endearing. It made me want to kiss one of her cheeks or touch it to see if she felt warm.
“Lead the way,” I told her feeling as if she needed some encouragement. It was obvious she was nervous and I wondered how a girl this pretty could be so nervous around a guy. But then I had gone to school with Mary Grace since elementary school and we had never spoken. I knew she was limited in the friend department and her social life was nonexistent.
I followed her into a large room with a chandelier like I had only seen on television hanging in the center of the room. Under it was a table long enough to sit about fifteen people. Which was weird because although I had no idea how many siblings Mary Grace had, I doubted it was that many.
Notecards covered the surface of the table and the closer I got I noticed they had writing on them. Neat, perfect penmanship. She’d been working on this all afternoon it seemed. She hadn’t waited on Mack or me to get here. She didn’t plan on my brother being too much help.
She was right. He wouldn’t be.
“I took the notes that Mrs. Ford gave us in class and wrote them on individual note cards then lined them up in order. We can work through each step. This will be more efficient I believe.
I was sure her plan was extremely efficient. “It sure looks that way,” I agreed.
She blushed again and I realized she thought I was making fun of her. I wasn’t. That wasn’t what I meant at all. She impressed me. The girl I’d ignored most of my entire academic life was intriguing now.
“How do you feel about milkshakes and fries?” I asked her before thinking it through.
A small frown creased her brow. “Milkshakes and fries?” she repeated as if she were unsure she heard me correctly.
I nodded. “Yeah. I like them. Together. A helluva lot. Want to get some before we get started here?”
Large blue eyes went wide, and for a moment I thought she was going to say no. Remind me why we were here. But instead after the longest damn pause in history, Mary Grace nodded her head. “I like them. Both.”
The grin that appeared on lips had to reflect my relief, excitement, and fucking shock. What was I doing? I had no idea, but I wanted to get to know Mary Grace. I wanted to see her eat junk food and I hear her laugh. Why? I had no idea. But the need was there now. And all it had taken was a blush, tanned shoulders with cute freckles and perfect handwriting.
I had lost my damn mind.