I wanted to run. Run right out of the party, down the beach and lock myself inside my empty house. I didn’t know how to speak to boys my age; how the hell was I supposed to speak to an older, more experienced boy? And I didn’t want to speak to him. I didn’t know him. He was just a random at a party, and speaking to him meant a racing heart, sweaty palms and most assuredly boring him until I was mortified by his discomfort.
Carson added artificial sugar to her unsweetened tea and stirred it with her straw. The ice clinked tantalizingly and she took a sip. It was good. Delicious even. But it wasn’t a beer.I hope that’s true. To tell you the truth, right now, a day doesn’t go by when I don’t crave maybe just one beer or a glass of wine.
She let her fingertip collect the condensation forming on her glass of iced tea while inside, her heart was racing as she wondered how much she should tell him. Her eyes flicked to the bar, where a line of people sat on stools, chatting with glasses in their hands; to the row of potted shrubs outside the porch; to the shellacked table, searching for anywhere to look except at him.I know that as long as I have this craving, I haven’t answered the bigger question. Whether or not I can really stop.The words sounded so matter-of-fact, but glancing at his face, she saw that he was listening carefully without emotion or judgment.
This encouraged Carson to continue. As the small votive candle flickered between them, she told him about her father, how his drinking had interfered with his life and talent. As her food went cold on the plate, she fleshed out the skeleton, giving him a glimpse into her life caring for her father, how she’d left him at eighteen to fend for herself, only for him to die alone a few years later. She began drinking socially, but in her line of work, people drank socially around the clock. It was only recently that she’d begun wondering if she carried the family gene for alcoholism.When she was finished, the other tables on the porch were empty. Only the bar was still crowded, and more rowdy, as well.
Want to take a walk on the beach? Blake asked.
Carson exhaled heavily and nodded. She had the uncomfortable feeling of having just exposed her underbelly, and the thought of stretching her legs sounded perfect.Harper smiled at the tender expression. I’ve missed you, too. Good night.
She closed the door behind her when she left.Harper woke the next morning and hurried to the kitchen to prepare Granny James’s breakfast. She was stirring a pot on the stove when Mamaw walked in, breezy and sweet scented in a tangerine top and khaki pants.
Smells good. What is it you’re cooking? She looked in the pot. Grits?I thought Granny would enjoy it. Being a southern dish and all.