Authors: Flynn Meaney
Tags: #Juvenile Fiction / Social Issues / General
“A boat can’t catch on fire,” Derek says. “If it does, we’ll put it out. We’ve got
all around us.”
He picks the match up off the boat deck and throws it over the side. He stays standing up and shades his eyes so he can watch the dock some more.
“You know who I want to punch in the face?” Derek says, stretching his arms over his head. “Charlie Devine.”
When I sit up, my hair is all over my face. What I really want to do right now is jump in this water. I’m sweaty as balls.
“Don’t you hate guys like that?” Derek asks me. “I seriously can’t deal with those guys for another year.”
“I don’t really give a crap,” I tell him. “I mean, yeah, girls like them better than us, so that sucks. And they have parties and we’re not invited, but… whatever. I mean, we do stuff. And they’re not invited to our stuff.”
Derek rolls his eyes. “We hang out at the gas station and TP people’s houses.”
“And they’re not invited!” I tell him, laughing.
“You know what girls call those pricks?” Derek says. “
That’s what they call them. They’ll be planning their parties and crap, and they’ll be like, ‘What time are
getting here?’ You know what that means, Huntro? They don’t even count us. We’re not even
To be honest with ya, I don’t like “the guys” any more than Derek does. But I don’t get worked up about them. I’m not an angry dude. It’s too much effort to get pissed off. The other night we were wrestling in Derek’s basement and he accidentally crotch-stomped me. I didn’t even get mad; I just forgot about it and ate some Fritos.
“You know what you need?” I tell Derek, throwing my arm around his shoulders.
He’s blowing on the fingers he burned. “What?”
“A swim,” I tell him.
Now I wrap both of my arms around him and start pushing him toward the boat railing. I think I can throw Derek overboard. I mean, he’s stronger than Eugene, but I caught him by surprise, so I’ve got the advantage. Unless he lights me on fire, I’m gonna push him into that water.
“Summer Lovin’: Tips for Trapping Your Own Danny Zuko”
Aviva Roth for
The Julius Journal
, Special Summer Break Edition
o you ever feel bad our lives aren’t more like
?” I ask Darcy.
It’s the last day of summer vacation; Darcy, Aviva, and I are at the beach; and for the sixteenth year of my life, I’m disappointed with my tan. You can’t even call this a tan. There’s one strip of pinkish sunburned skin between the bottom of my tankini top and the top of my tankini bottom. That’s it. That’s as tan as I’m going to get this summer. In Wisconsin, we don’t see the sun from October to April, so in a few months, I’ll be able to go skiing naked and just blend in with the mountains.
I reach for Aviva’s tanning oil to rub on my shoulders, but then I think,
What’s the point?
and throw the bottle at Darcy, who hasn’t answered my question. She’s too busy reading this huge book that’s almost as big as her entire
body. When I first met Darcy, I was seven years old and I was jealous of her blond hair and blue eyes because I thought she was like Tinker Bell. I found out pretty quickly that she is nothing like Tinker Bell. I don’t think Tinker Bell would be reading a book called
Shostakovich and Stalin
“Darcy!” I say.
When she gets to the end of the page, Darcy takes her blue zinc oxide–covered nose out of the book and repeats, “Do I ever feel bad our lives aren’t more like
“Uh-huh,” I say.
I spray some Sun-In in my hair. As well as being my last chance for a tan, today is my last chance for natural highlights. And by “natural,” I mean highlights made by spraying my hair with sticky fake-lemon-scented spray and then sitting in the sun, crossing my fingers that all those reports of the ozone layer breakdown are true. Maybe if I go back to school tomorrow all tan and blond, people will think I went to some exotic island this summer.
Darcy holds her place in her book with her finger and asks for clarification.
“You mean like ancient, naked-Olympics Greece, or economically corrupt modern-day Greece?”
I snatch Darcy’s huge book out of her hands and put it on Aviva’s towel, which is on the other side of mine.
“You need to stop reading at the beach,” I tell her. “School starts tomorrow. This is our last day to gossip and have fun.”
“That is fun!” Darcy whines. “That’s my fun book!”
“Why would I want our lives to be like economically corrupt modern-day Greece?” I ask. “I’m talking about
I grab Aviva’s pink iPod off her towel and scroll through the summer playlist I made for her. I choose “Summer Nights,” which I put on the list after my seven-year-old sister, Lila, made me watch
five times in one week, and put the volume up so Darcy can hear the opening notes.
“Oh, the movie
,” Darcy says. She’s obviously disappointed I’m not trying to start a conversation about gross domestic product. “The movie
? No way. Drag racing and pregnancy scares? I don’t think so, Kell.”
“But it’s so cute on the first day of school, when Sandy’s telling everyone about her and Danny, and how they met on the beach, and they were so cute together, drinking lemonade. I didn’t do any of that stuff this summer. We’re sixteen. Shouldn’t we be summer loving?”
Darcy is slathering her arms in SPF 85. At least I look tan compared to her. She could fly to Canada right now and ski naked—not that she would ever be naked in public.
“It looks like Aviva’s getting some summer loving,” she says, shading her eyes and looking out at Lake Michigan.
My other best friend, Aviva, is with a cute lifeguard on the dock. She just jumped on his back and wrapped her ridiculously long legs around him. The lifeguard is jogging down the dock, and when he jumps off the end, Aviva is still on his back. After a minute underwater, she pops her
head up above water and laughs in the guy’s face. When she climbs back up onto the dock, Darcy and I can see down her bikini top from fifty yards away. According to Aviva, it was her good karma that gave her boobs that look amazing in a bikini top that doesn’t even have underwire in it.
She also says that people stare at her a lot because she’s one of the three and a half black people in Whitefish Bay—she’s actually the half, because her mom is black and her dad is white. But it’s actually because she’s really pretty. And because she decided to have a “braless summer.” Now she gets stared at the most often in places with air-conditioning.
“That’s not summer love,” I tell Darcy. “Aviva’s gonna do what Aviva always does. Make out with him, then defriend him on Facebook and move on to someone else.”
Darcy, Aviva, and I have been best friends since fourth grade, when we were in the advanced reading group together. Aviva gives me credit for holding the three of us together. I’m a Libra, which is all about balance, and Aviva claims I balance her and Darcy out with my normalcy. I guess you could look at it that way. Like, Aviva has those amazing boobs, Darcy has no boobs, and I can go either way, depending on how much effort and how many Victoria’s Secret products are involved. Right now, Darcy’s wearing a one-piece bathing suit that the Pope would approve of, I’m wearing a tankini that shows only the
decent part of my stomach, and, out on the dock, Aviva’s bikini bottom is creeping toward thong status.
It’s the same thing with boys. Aviva is interested in a different boy every day. Darcy won’t let herself get interested in any boy. (Except Stalin. And maybe Shostakovich.) Me, I just want one normal, nice boy to crush on.
But the thing about being normal is no one notices you. I blend in. I always have. In my fourth-grade school picture, I was in the middle row with a bunch of other girls with long brown hair, bangs, and headbands. My mom pointed to the picture and said, “You look so cute!”
She was pointing to Maddy Berg, another girl in my class.
Blending in wouldn’t bother me, except I think it’s contributing to the patheticness of my pathetic love life. I’ve never had any summer lovin’. And I’ve never had any school year lovin’, either. I’ve never had a boyfriend. I’ve never hooked up with a guy. And this morning, on my Internet browser, an article popped up about women marrying themselves.
Even my wireless connection knows I’m alone.
I’ve been semi-depressed all day, realizing another summer has gone by without me having a boyfriend or even a crush. I’m picturing myself buying my own prom corsage, ordering a giant cake with three layers, and showing up at a scientific lab and asking if they’ve perfected asexual reproduction yet.
My sad daydreams are interrupted by Aviva, who
comes back from the lake dripping wet and shakes out her towel, getting water and sand all over me.
“How’s what’s-his-face?” I ask Aviva.
“He won’t last long,” she says, tilting her head and rubbing her towel against her ear.
“You’re sick of him already?” Darcy asks.
“No,” Aviva says darkly. “He has a very suspicious mole on his shoulder.”
Darcy turns to me and rolls her eyes.
Aviva cheers up quickly and says, “I burned off a lot of calories flirting. Can we go get frozen custard?”
“No way.” Darcy shakes her head. “That’s so unhealthy. I brought snacks!”
It’s not a real trip to the beach unless Darcy brings three books, SPF 85, and a mini-cooler—which she opens now, to take out a box of blueberries.
“They have antioxidants!” she says. “They keep your skin young.”
“Young?” Aviva makes a face. “What do I want with that? Darce, stop with the sunscreen and the antioxidants. We already look young. Find me a berry that makes me look twenty-one. Find me a berry that will get me into an R-rated movie.”
Darcy’s about to lecture her, but I interrupt to keep peace.
“Darce, you eat the blueberries,” I tell her. “The ice-cream truck is here. I’m gonna get Viva and me snacks that will make us old and fat.”
“Ooh, Choco Tacos!” Aviva says, stretching out full-
length on her towel, with sand clinging all over her wet body. “Those will do the trick!”
As I walk toward the ice-cream truck, shaking sand on the sidewalk with my flip-flops, Hunter Fahrenbach comes at me on his skateboard. Hunter and I are friends and have been in the school band together since freshman year. Darcy calls him Hairface Hunter, because his hair goes down past his chin—and it’s usually hanging in his face. Right now, it’s soaking wet. Actually, all of him is soaking wet—his shirt, his khaki shorts, his socks. His sneakers make squishing sounds as he stops short in front of me and gets off his skateboard.
“I would hug you, but…” Hunter holds out his arms, displaying his wet shirt, and grins.
“What happened to you?” I ask him, laughing.
“I jumped off Eugene’s boat. With all my clothes on… obviously.”
Hunter and I talk a lot during band, but we don’t hang out much outside of class. I guess it’s because he’s busy doing crazy things like hanging around the gas station and setting stuff on fire. And, apparently, jumping into Lake Michigan fully clothed.
“What did you do this summer?” I ask him, adjusting the tankini strap because it’s rubbing against my sunburn.
“Just hung out so far,” Hunter says, putting one foot up on his skateboard and rolling it back and forth. “I’m supposed to find a summer job, but I haven’t gotten around to it yet.”
“Um, you know school starts tomorrow, right?” I ask him, smiling.
“Oh, crap, right,” Hunter says, looking up at me from under his hair. He breaks out smiling when he sees me smiling. “I guess I can stop job hunting, then!”
He takes his foot off his skateboard and asks, “What have you been up to?”
“I worked at a music camp,” I tell him. “I taught the cutest little kids.”
“Oh, yeah?” Hunter says. “The Lieutenant will be happy with you.”
I laugh. The Lieutenant is our band teacher, who was in the Marines for ten years. She makes us call her Lieutenant, and also makes us play patriotic music at every single concert. My dad refuses to videotape our performances anymore, because he’s so sick of the “Armed Forces Medley.”
“Oh, guess what I heard?” I say. “We’re getting a piccolo! A freshman is coming in.”
“No way!” Hunter says. “The Lieutenant is always saying we need a piccolo. What’s that song she wants to play that has a big piccolo part?”
“ ‘Stars and Stripes Forever,’ ” I say. “I know, she’s always talking about that song! But get this. This is the best part. It’s a guy!”
“The piccolo?” Hunter says. He’s so surprised he lets his skateboard roll away from him, and he has to jog a few steps to stop it with his foot. “We’re getting a
I’m sure there’s a male piccolo player in every orchestra in the world. But the piccolo is such a tiny, squeaky little leprechaun instrument that it seems like something a high-school guy would get beat up for playing.
Hunter must be thinking the same thing, because he says, “That kid’s got to have balls to play that weird little thing in public.”