Four Days of You and Me - Miranda Kenneally

Part I

May 7, Freshman Year

Today

Freshman Class Trip

It’s six in the morning and the sun is barely up, but I’m wide awake. Normally I hit snooze four or five times before climbing out of bed. This morning? I didn’t push it once. Today is the annual class field trip, and I am determined to have a real conversation with Jonah.

One day in the cafeteria a few weeks ago, he peeked over my shoulder when I was sketching the main character of the graphic novel I’m writing. He told me he likes comics too, especially Saga. I was too mesmerized by his curly dark hair to respond. But next time? I am totally going to open my mouth and use my words like a real person.

Mom pulls into the school parking lot. I drape my purse strap around my shoulder. “Good luck with your showing today,” I say. She is a real estate agent and just put a historic farmhouse on the market.

Mom lightly kisses my cheek. “Thanks, sweet girl.”

I shiver when I step out of the car. The sun is out, but the air is still brisk and smells of morning dew. I scan the crowd of kids already here and spot my best friend, Max. I jog over to give him a side hug.

“Hey, friend,” he says, bending down to air-kiss my cheeks. He repositions his camera bag over his shoulder, looking my outfit up and down. I paired gray combat boots with a little white flowing tunic dress I hope will grab Jonah’s attention.

“You were right. That dress is hot.”

“Not as hot as this new patch,” I say, checking out his camera bag. In addition to Captain America’s shield, a Corgi, and an astronaut planting a gay pride flag on the moon, he’s added a bright yellow pineapple patch.

“Thanks,” Max replies. “Dad picked it up for me in Miami.” As a pilot, Mr. Davis flies the daily route between Nashville and Miami for American Airlines, and frequently brings us delicious coconut patties from this one store at the airport.

After handing our permission slips to Coach Rice, we climb aboard the bus that’s taking us to Nashville. Max chooses a seat in the fourth row.

“Too close to the teachers,” I say, continuing down the aisle.

He follows me. “Lulu, I don’t want to sit in the back.”

“But that’s where the guys sit.”

Max scrunches his nose. “It always smells like gas.”

We agree to sit in the middle as other kids climb aboard and stake out seats. Max carefully secures his camera bag between his feet on the floor and pulls out his phone. I lean across him to peek out the window. Jonah’s still not here. I sigh dramatically.

Max moves me off his lap. “C’mon now. Don’t act desperate.”

I point out the window at my cousin, who’s already making out with her boyfriend. “I was looking for Grace,” I lie.

“No, you’re desperate,” Max replies, and we laugh together. We’ve been calling each other out on our bullshit since we became best friends in sixth grade.

I watch student after student climb aboard, waiting for Jonah. When Grace spots me, she smiles briefly. With her dark skin and wavy, chestnut-brown hair that she inherited from her mom’s Hawaiian genes, my cousin is one of the most gorgeous people I’ve ever seen.

I straighten up in my seat, hoping she’ll sit beside us, but she chooses a seat a few rows back instead. I sink lower, crossing my arms over my stomach. Her boyfriend passes by like I don’t exist.

Even though I grew up with Grace, this is the first year we’ve gone to the same school.