Alex turns to me with a big grin on his face “You want to go for a walk or something? I’m not tired.”
“Now?” It’s after midnight, and I’m basically in my sleeping clothes. “But we’ve got school tomorrow.” Plus, my feet kind of hurt from all the walking we did today. I’ve got two blisters coming, one on each pinkie toe. I didn’t want to wear heels, but Mom insisted because I was going to an interview. And when we were strolling around Wellesley’s campus, she leaned in and whispered, “Never, ever, ever, Lillia,” and pointed to a group of girls who were walking to class in PJ bottoms and slippers. I rolled my eyes, because yeah, right, like I would ever.
“Come on, Lil. Let’s have an adventure without any chaperones.” He groans. “This was supposed to be a trip about our futures, but I haven’t felt more like a little kid in a long time.”
I laugh. I know what he means. Both our moms were completely on top of us today. They asked, like, double the questions Alex and I did on the college tour. Mom picked every restaurant we went to, not that I minded. I love the homemade gnocchi at Sorrento’s. I sometimes ask Daddy to bring it home for me when he takes the hospital’s private plane, but it never tastes the same when it’s not fresh fresh fresh. And Mrs. Lind kept fussing with Alex’s hair or his tie.
I’m about to admit to Alex that I’ve never actually walked around Boston alone, and definitely not at night. But he looks so excited, and I’m not that tired either, especially not after all those sweets. So I say, “Okay.”
I tiptoe into my room, trade my leggings for a pair of jeans. I put some Band-Aids on my pinkie toes and slip on a pair of boots. Before I walk out the door, I grab my phone and I see that I have a text from Reeve. It says, So did you and Lind go to the opera or are you having a spa day? I laugh out loud at the thought of Alex and me getting mani-pedis in matching robes. I text back, Spa day. Duh!
When I come out, Alex has cleaned up our mess in the den. He’s changing in the corner, where he’s put his duffel bag full of clothes. He’s wearing jeans too, and he’s putting on a pair of sneakers, but he doesn’t have a shirt on yet. His back is cut; I can see every muscle in his shoulders and arms. I pop around the corner and pretend like I don’t see him, and give him a few seconds of privacy.
We’re so quiet as we sneak down the hall and open the front door. Alex shushes me as I unlock the dead bolt and slowly pull the door open. Once we’re in the elevator, I let out a deep breath. We walk past the doorman together and out onto the street. Alex gives me a high five.
Boston is even prettier at night. It’s an old city, with a lot of charming details, like gas streetlights and wooden signs.
“I like this city,” Alex says. “So much to see and do. I’ll probably die of boredom in Michigan. “
“Do you think that’s where you’ll end up going?”
Alex shrugs. “My dad’s donated a bunch of money. And his best fraternity brother is on the board of directors. I think it’s inevitable.”
I rub his arm. “You’ll make the best of it,” I tell him. Because that’s the kind of guy Alex is.
Our apartment is somewhat close to Harvard Square, so that’s where we walk to. At first I’m a little scared, because there aren’t a ton of people out, and the street we take has a bunch of dark alleys. I keep close to Alex, my arm threaded through his. But the closer we get to the school, the more kids we see out on the streets. I guess it doesn’t matter that they have class tomorrow or that it’s snowing out. We follow a flow of them to a street where there are a lot of bars.
He takes my hand so we won’t lose each other in the crowd. “They should put this on the tour,” Alex says with a laugh.
I start to say something back when a pack of drunk frat guys stumbles out the double doors. A wave of nausea and abject fear crashes over me, and I freeze up. For a second I think I see him. Mike. But then he turns around and it’s not him after all.
“Are you okay?” Alex asks me and gives my hand a tender squeeze. I can barely hear him through the sound of my own heart beating in my ears.
What if I did run into Mike? Would he remember me? Would he apologize for . . . what happened? Or does he think it was nothing? That’s probably it. He probably doesn’t even remember me.
My chest feels so tight it’s hard to breathe. Amherst is a few hours away from Boston. That’s what I say to calm myself down. But they could be here. It’s not a crazy idea; it’s totally possible. I bet lots of college kids come to Boston on the weekends to party. Every weekend, even.
Maybe I don’t want to come to school in Boston. Maybe I’ll apply to a school on the West Coast—UC Berkeley maybe, or UCLA. I’ll run as far as I have to to never see his face again.
I think I finally get what Mary has been going through all these years. Why she ran, and why she came back. She wants closure. It’s not something I’ll ever get, but I’m going to help her get hers.
“Are you okay?” Alex asks me again.
I nod. “Let’s keep walking, okay?”
My pace is decidedly quicker, but Alex keeps up with me fine.
When I get back to my room, I check my phone and there’s another text from Reeve. It says, What are you up to for real? Bored out of your mind? I text back, We just got back from a walk in the snow! So beautiful here! There. Let him chew on that.
On Friday, Alex and I are supposedly working on practice resumes, which is stupid because it’s not like college apps even ask you for a resume. But Ms. Chirazo keeps saying “in the real world” you need them, so we might as well get some practice in.
But I start to freak, because when it comes down to listing all my extracurriculars, my resume is looking pretty thin. Pretty much just my name and GPA. Oh yeah, and my summer job at the marina. I quick put that down too. I sneak a peek at Alex’s, and he’s got all kinds of shit on there—interning at his dad’s company, volunteering at an animal shelter in Boston, some choir.
I lay my head down on my notebook and close my eyes. I still haven’t revised my essay to include stuff with my mom. I know Ms. Chirazo is pissed about that. She didn’t even act excited when I mentioned that I think I did well at my SAT retest a few weeks ago. Hopefully I’ll crack 1900, by the grace of freaking God. That will put me a few points over what you need to get into Oberlin. But this, this resume shit, it’s a problem I’ll have to work on.