August

First times are extraordinary things. The first time I called the Baby Sitters Club to order was one of the most memorable moments of my life. Same goes for the first Krushers game I ever coached and the first time I met Karen and Andrew, my step siblings. Things are somehow different the first time, clearer, because you're playing attention.

The first time Cokie and I went all the way, I remember Al Green on the Junk Bucket's radio and my hair getting caught on some fancy bracelet she'd worn on our Valentine's date that night. And afterward, with the windows fogged over, we lie there wrapped in my stadium blanket and had one of those lengthy talks about everything and nothing. You know, the schmoopy couple standard.

First times are funny, in that, it's nice to remember so much, but because it's a first time, it means that there will be second and third times, so is it really that important to remember so many details? And the grand irony is that, in general, it's the last times you really wish you could remember. Except you usually don't know it's the last time until it's way too late.

There were a lot of similar factors: the radio, the blanket, the windows. But the conversation was certainly different.

"I think maybe this is the best birthday, ever."

I pulled the blanket tighter around us. It may have been late August, but we didn't need anyone peeking in and catching a free show. There wasn't really much to worry about. Lookout Point has an unspoken understanding about not being nosy. But sometimes people still catch a glance. Sometimes those people are Alan Gray. And sometimes his gym shoes are stolen and run up the flagpole to prevent it from happening again.

Before you go congratulating me on retaliation well done, I have to step in and say that I didn't do a damn thing. My girlfriend, Cokie Mason, is like a vengeance demon. She will get what she wants, oh yes. Years ago, it was the kind of thing that made me want to pull my hair out. Now, it just makes me love her more.

Yeah, yeah. Love. Go ahead and throw up or whatever. We're going on ten months and it's been just swell. Well, it has been swell.

"Kristy?" She rolled away from me, lying on her back, staring at the roof of the car.

"What's up?"

"We... we have to talk."

Anyone in the history of anyone who has ever been in a relationship with someone else will tell you that "We have to talk" is the most feared and gut wrenching phrase your partner can utter.

"About?"

There was a sigh. "My dad."

I surveyed the scenario. Both of us were nearly naked, still sweaty, and still trying to steady our breathing rates from everything we'd just done. "Um, baby, right now?"

She nodded and groped around for her shirt, not saying anything else until we were re-dressed. "He said he's not paying for college."

The fear that had been enveloping my stomach loosened its grip. "Is that it?"

"Kris, this is my whole future!"

"Hey, that's not what I meant. I just... I thought there was something else going on."

"He said he's not paying because of us."

"Us? You and me? That's stupid. I mean, I know he conservative and whatever, but we get along."

"He said it's fine to whore around in high school, but I have to get serious about my-"

"Wait, he said that?" I was seething. "Fuck, I'll kick his ass myself."

"Kristy!"

"What?"

"We have to break up."

"Look, you don't have to..." My anger at Mr. Mason settled just enough for me to notice that Cokie was crying. "Hey... honey, we'll figure this out. There's still time for scholarships and loans and stuff." I pulled her close and kissed the top of her head.

"I told him I'd do it."

"You... what?"

"We agreed that if you and I call it quits, he'll pay the full tuition, just like originally planned."

"B-but..."

"I've already been accepted and it's his dream to have an Ivy League daughter. And there's no way I can pull a scholarship this late."

"W-wait..."

"And, Kristy, I love you. You know that. But we're not all brilliant athletes with great ideas. Some of us have to take what we're given."

She kissed me, one last time. Raspberry vanilla.

I'd thought it had been a little odd that she wanted to meet at the Point, instead of me picking her up. But it wasn't totally unusual. As I heard the Mustang shift into gear and drive away, it made perfect sense.