This is the second part of a series I am calling "Billy and Me" Enjoy!


The beginning of that summer was a bummer. Billy spent a lot of time in the hospital, first getting mended up, then with a bout of pneumonia, and finally with rehabilitation. It seemed like the longest summer of my life, for a while, anyway.

Billy and I used to play ping-pong for hours during summer, as well as Risk (The game of world domination, yes!!), and just running around getting into all sorts of things. One of the things we liked to do best was to bother the girl next door, Sara. She was our age, and a very beautiful young girl, only she ended up going to the east part of our high school. Our town had two high schools, East and West. As strange as this may sound, the two were connected by the same building. In fact, I had several classes in East HS. It was a weird arrangement, sharing classes with our rival high school, but it was cool, too, because I had a lot of friends in East, like Sara.

Billy and I would bug Sara if we found nothing else to do, and as she got older, we found more reasons to bug her. We used to tease each other about who Sara liked, with me claiming it was me, and Billy claiming it was him. Much to our surprise, the summer before, Sara hadn’t liked either one of us. Instead, she went out with some guy named Guy. That was his real name, by the way, and we used to tease him mercilessly over it. He was okay, though, and we became and stayed fairly decent friends, even after Guy and Sara broke up, much to Sara’s displeasure. I think we did it just to spite her, as bad as that sounds.

That summer, however, Billy wasn’t around much, so I had to look for something to do. One day in mid-July (after what seemed like years of the summer had already gone by), Sara called me over to her house while she was sitting on the porch. Brace yourself, you are about to be amazed at how absolutely clueless guys can be about girls.

I sauntered up the stairs, and stood before her while she sat on a porch swing. “You wanna sit down?” she asked me. “Nah”, I answered. Sara looked kind of surprised by my answer, but she quickly recovered.

“Well, anyway, what have you been up to? I’ve seen you sulking around the neighborhood like a guy who’s dog just died. Why didn’t you stop over here?”

How to answer that without offending her. “I dunno. I guess I just didn’t ever see you out.” I lied.

“B.S!!” Sara cracked, although with a smile. “What’s going on with you? I’m WORRIED about you.”

Oh-oh, another person who thought I needed to talk about what happened the night Billy and John got into the accident. “Why are you worried? There’s nothing to worry about. Everything is great!” I lied again. I wasn’t used to being over by Sara’s without Billy, and I was feeling sort of awkward.

“Well, if nothing’s wrong, fine. I think something is, and I think we should talk about it. over….”

“Nothing’s wrong, and there’s nothing to talk about, Sar’” I interrupted.

Sara looked at me sideways, and continued, “As I was saying, I think we should talk about it over pizza. So, I decided we are going to Dick’s Pizzeria tonight, you and me, and we ARE going to talk.” As she said that last part, she stared into my eyes, as if defying me to say no.

“No.” I said.

“What do you mean, ‘No’!” Sara asked. I didn’t want to disappoint her, but I had no intention of sitting down to pizza, while talking about something I didn’t want to talk about with anyone.

“Just what I said”, with a charming smile to defuse the conversation a bit. “You don’t need to be all worried, Sar’, if there was something to talk about, I’d tell you.”

Sara looked kind of hurt by that answer, so I quickly added, “You meant talking about the accident, right?”

“Well…..no, maybe that a little, I mean, if you wanted to. I was hoping we could talk about something earlier, but you haven’t been over here. I really just wanted to spend time with you, BEFORE school starts, and either one of us gets all tied up with other people.”

I was caught off guard a little. So Sara didn’t want to press the issue about the accident after all. Then what did she want to talk about, I wondered. “Well, I suppose pizza is okay tonight. But why are you so insistent?” I asked.

“Well, if you must know, I’ll tell you tonight. It’s just something I really wanted to talk with you about the night of the party, the night of…of.. the accident.” Sara carefully added. “Anyway, it’s really good to see you. I have to go get ready. See you here around sixish?” The smile she gave me almost melted me. Sara had that effect on guys, and lots of guys were jealous of Billy’s, and my close relationship with her.

“Sure, sixish” I winked, and left.

Sara was the prototypical girl next door. If there was a mold for it, she was the original. Beautiful (even at age fifteen), smart, funny, at times flirtatious, and yet very mysterious, at least to a fifteen year old boy. Long dark hair, dark eyes, slim, well tanned and kind of sure of herself. She could have easily passed for eighteen or nineteen.

It was four o’clock in the afternoon when I left her. How could it take two hours to get ready for pizza, I wondered? Well, that was just Sar’, and I was alright with that. Besides, it gave me time to see if Billy was around.

He wasn’t, so I trudged back home, and waited until sixish, to walk over and collect Sara.

Ouch!! Two hours really had done something. She looked even more incredible than normal, and I began to wonder why. We walked down to the pizzeria, talking, laughing, and joking about kids we knew. Nothing major was discussed, I could tell Sara was saving it for later. I seriously wanted her to spill her guts about it, because the whole secrecy thing was never something I went for. However, every time I tried to mention it, she’d only smile at me, and stay silent. Sara was acting nervously. I began to think she had lied when she said she didn’t want to talk about the accident.

We spent an hour and a half eating pizza, sucking cokes, and talking about almost everything, except what Sara had to tell me. It was a great evening, don’t get me wrong, but I seriously wanted to know what was up. As we were leaving, I stopped Sara halfway out the door, and reminded her she hadn’t told me what she REALLY wanted to talk about.

Sara sort of grabbed my hand, and started walking, saying “Come on. Let’s go down to the river. I’ll tell you there.”

So, off we went to the river, which was a place Billy, Sara, and I had often run to, and spent long summer days swimming, and carousing. When we arrived at our favorite spot, Sara plunked down on the grass, and taking my cue, I did the same.

“Alright,” I said. “We ate pizza, we walked to the river. Now, what did you really want to talk about, Sar’”

“I saw your no hitter, the one that got you guys into the championship game. Did you hear me?” She said, with a wide grin on her face. You didn’t have to see Sara to know she was at the game. She was a fierce, and loud fan.

“Of course,” I answered, “I heard you almost all the time. But what’s that got to do with anything?” I could barely keep from laughing out loud every time I thought of Sar’ giving the umpires a piece of her mind.

“Actually, I had wanted to talk with you after the game, but I never got a chance. So then….I hoped I could talk to you at the neighborhood party after the championship game, but you guys never got there, obviously. So, see? It does have something to do with ‘anything’, silly.” Sara teased.

“Okay, but what did you want to tell me after that game, and then after the championship, AND THEN after dinner tonight? Or, do I have to wait another month?” Sparring verbally with Sara was something I was good at. It was not something she was good at. I always won, she always got mad, and she always left in a huff, only to return a few minutes later as if nothing had ever happened. This time, however, she did something strange. She leaned into me, and stayed that way. That’s about how I would have described that scene as a fifteen year old, so I’ll describe it that way now. After all, I was fifteen, and had never even kissed a girl, yet.

My stomach was doing something funny, and it wasn’t the food. And what did Sara put into her hair?! Man!! It smelled good! I couldn’t breath! Help! My mind shouted. I couldn’t even move to put my arm around her. All I could do was lean back into her.

She remained silent for another minute, and then said, “I’m nervous, but I know I have to tell you, I’ve already waited a whole month, and God only knows when I’ll see you next, seeing as how you’ve been avoiding me and…………”

“Avoiding you? Is that what you think I’ve been doing?” I asked.

“I don’t know. All I know is, I really missed you, Tom, and I don’t like not talking to you.” She replied. She cuddled more closely now, and I suddenly had the wits to put my arm around her. It was this brave move that gave her the courage to finally tell me what she had been torturing me with all night.

“I like you, Tom.” She said softly.

“Well, I like you, too, Sar’. So, what did you want to tell me?” I answered.

“I just DID tell you, you big goof!” Sara insisted.

“What, that you like me? Is that it? Is that what all this was………….?” Wait a minute, I thought. What?! Huh? Fifteen year old boys are not the sharpest knife in the drawer, if you know what I mean, and I was truly clueless, until all of a sudden, EUREKA! I got it! Oh-oh, there went the stomach again.

“Okay, ….by…’like me’, do you mean like, ‘like me’ like me?” Truly astounding, my grasp of the English language at that age.

Sara laughed the most beautiful laugh I had ever heard from her. It was deep, and true, and her eyes went well with it. “Yeah, dummy!! What did you think I meant?”

“I dunno. I thought you had something really important to tell me, and this isn’t something I was……expecting?” I asked, tentatively.

“This isn’t important? Sar’ asked, sounding worried.

“No, no. …..I mean , yeah, it is! Wait a minute, don’t look like that. I said, ‘yeah it is.’ I just didn’t get it at first, that’s all.” I looked intently into her eyes, trying to gauge what she was thinking. Nothing, apparently, so I continued, “So that’s what you wanted to tell me? I mean, of course I like you, I sort of always have. I was really steamed, sort of… anyway, when you went out with GUY. (love that name, a guy named GUY!)”

“Oh yeah!! Sure you were. If I remember correctly, you guys became pretty good friends.” Sara countered.

“That was only to piss you off, Sara. You know that’s what I do best.” I answered.

Sara smiled softly, “No, that isn’t what you do best. The way you look at me is what you do best.”

Alright, I’ll buy that. How exactly had I looked at her, anyway? Should I ask? Best not to, I decided. “Oh” was all I could muster. There was a silence that lasted about a minute.

“Well?” Sara asked

“Well what?” I asked back.

“What are we going to do about this, silly?”

I thought for a moment, and didn’t know what to say, so I just queried her a little further, “What do you want to do about it?”

“I want to spend more time with you. I want to have a relationship with you.” Sara answered, as if she had rehearsed it.

Oh-oh. A re..re..relationship? What was a relationship going to be like?

Give me a break, I was fifteen, I really didn’t know!

“Well……..okay. If you really want to, we can.” Was what I ended up saying.

Sara must have been a saint, because she decided to look beyond my clueless ness, and instead, she reached up and kissed my cheek, which suddenly became very, very warm. “You’re so sweet.” She said.

“I know” I replied. As we got up to leave, Sara socked me in the shoulder, hard. “You’re not THAT sweet! But maybe you’ll get better, you goof.” She was all smiles. So was I.

That was the last time I remember us being all smiles together for any decent amount of time. We were fifteen, it was doomed, and that was that.

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