Do you think that it’s a sign I’m slipping? You know, dementia or something?
He smirked but it was somewhat bitter. My best friend, Jack, he’s a year older. A senior now. He’s starting quarterback on the team and he’s dating Ashley. My ex. He threw me a dark look. No one misses me, Comet. They moved on as soon as I left.Yeah. It’s high school. One day it’ll be a distant memory.
I wasn’t sure that was an honest answer, but I thought Tobias believed it was, so I let it go. We walked along in companionable silence as I tried to find the courage to ask the question that had plagued me from the moment he’d returned my notebook to me.I liked the smile in his voice when he answered. It was a much nicer sound than the tight way he’d answered my questions about his old life. Did you... My stomach flipped so hard I had to suck in a breath against it.Did you really like my poems? The words rushed out of my mouth.
Quite abruptly Tobias stopped walking and turned to face me. The pull of his gaze was so strong I had no option but to stare up into his eyes. Yes, Comet. I really liked your poems.Something warm and sweet flooded me but before it even had time to settle, he continued, Reading them...well...it was the first time in a long time that I didn’t feel so alone.
My breath stuttered at his confession and, standing there on the esplanade with this boy who had once been a stranger, I felt something within me shift. I suddenly felt this fierce protectiveness toward him. His kindness, his understanding and his connection to my poems created a bond that flared in the dusk between us.
For the first time in a long time, I didn’t feel so alone either.The concern in his voice caused fresh tears to spill down my cheeks, because I needed him to worry, I needed him to care, but I also knew it was only ever temporary. I’d rather have nothing from him than have him give it only to take it away again. White-hot pain lashed across my chest and I hugged myself tight, trying to stop my insides from splitting apart.
I stifled my sobs, silently pleading with him to go away.Comet...I just want to know that you’re okay.
Realizing he wouldn’t leave until I spoke I struggled to pull myself together.I fought for more composure and succeeded. Marginally. I’m fine, Kyle, I said, and this time my voice sounded stronger.