The lights in the diner were off as I entered; I could hardly make out Auntie Frank at the back of the Diner as she sorted through coins in one of the booths. Her face lit up as I walked towards her holding up the wedge of cash in my hand.
"How did you do it?" she gasped standing up and steading herself with one hand, she reached for the bundle.
"I didn't do anything" I lied "turns out I underestimated the guy; he had like 300 right there in his car this whole time" I feigned a laugh of astonishment. "Can you believe we didn't even need the diner money?" I reached into my pocket and grabbed the 70 bucks of Frankie's money and laid it on the table. For a second I didn't think she would buy it but suddenly her eyes filled with tears and a wonderful smiled crossed her lips as she clasped her arms around me.
"Oh Darla" she wept "You don't know how relieved I am". I could feel her heart beat rapidly in our embrace; I could tell she had been sick with worry only minutes before. She gathered herself together and proceeded to dart around the Diner to fetch her jacket and keys: reminding me that she wasn't some faint old woman. In fact, I'd never seen her move so fast in my life. "I'm heading down there right now" She bellowed from behind the counter "I'll give them their money and they better keep up their end of the deal"
The sun was setting as I lay on my bed, peaceful in the mind that Eyeball would be free from jail. The summer was drawing to close and on Monday morning I would be entering my senior year. I reflected back over the summer months, how I had been so concerned about growing up and experiencing life when I realised just how much I had grown. Perhaps this lamb hadn't fully transformed into a lion, but I certainly wasn't the same naïve girl I had been 3 months previous. I had learned that not everyone and everything is how they seem and that people can take you by surprise. I laughed at my once certainty that losing my virginity would make me into the woman I longed to be. Giving myself to Ace Merrill would certainly not have impacted my life for the better. I would have been left with only a broken heart; and accepting this makes me more of a woman than I'd ever be in his arms. A weight seemed to fall from my shoulders as the desire to chase something that never really was, fell with it. Suddenly a small thud woke me from my daydream. Another pebble skimmed my window pane as I slowly approached it and peered down into my backyard. A figure in a blue shirt was bent over picking up another stone to throw as I opened up my window. He quickly stood up and hurled the pebble in my direction, it flew through the open space, past my ear and landed on the carpet behind me.
"Eyeball!" I exclaimed slapping my hand over myself as I burst into laughter. He too fell about in his usual cackle.
"I let go before I saw you there" He snorted returning his hands to his jean pockets. Without another word, I ran down my staircase as silently as I could as not to stir my mother who somehow hadn't heard our howls of laughter. I slowly emerged from the front door and edged it closed. Eyeball was already sitting on the porch swing. He was leaning forward with his elbows on his knees and his hands clasped and there was no more laughter. I bit the inside of my cheek and tried to gauge what he was about to say.
"So apparently" he said and paused to twiddle his thumbs "I just bailed myself out of jail". His face was so serious as he looked up at me.
"I'm sorry Eyeball" I replied "I took the money from your car; I thought it was the right thing to do". I looked down and scuffled my feet, "I'm sorry".
"Oh I'm not talking about that money" he said rising to his feet and slowly walking towards me. "I'm talking about a mystery donator who spared me going to the county. You know I don't have that kind of money to pay you back." He continued.
I stared at him for a while. "You don't owe me anything Eyeball. You didn't ask me to give over the money and I never asked you to save money for me either. You've always been there for me Eyeball and I won't forget it."
"But that money was gonna get you into college" He muttered "You wanted to get out of this place and I've just ruined it your plan"
"No" I said in a hushed tone and took a step towards him, placing my hand on his frowning face "You haven't ruined anything for me. This is exactly how it's meant to be". And with that I leaned up to his mouth and planted my lips on his. He paused for a second as though surprised at my forwardness but I soon felt his soft lips push back. All at once, I was transported back to the night of the drive-thru when Eyeball had jokingly kissed me like the movie characters behind us; but this time it was real.