At the beginning of the summer before high school started, Teeny's father announced he was moving the family to some hoity-toity rich town in California, so the four of us spent every waking moment together. But on Teeny's last night in Shelby, we had a private sleepover in the forest behind my house.
A lot had changed in the three years since that one summer. Roberta hooked up with Scott Wormer, they have an on and off relationship and everyone's placing bets on how soon they marry once high school's over.
Chrissy finally tried dating and loves it, but she's still clueless about...well, most things. I think her mother's "wisdom" is permanently etched into her brain.
My mother broke up with Mr. Kent and she's dating a new guy now. I like this one better because he doesn't try to be Mr. Cool all the time...plus, he lets me read his R. Crumb comics when Mom's not looking.
Teeny...she grew further and further away from her parents, getting closer to my family. Mom started joking that she had three daughters because Teeny ate dinner and slept at our house at least twice a week. But it was okay, Mom didn't mind too much and Teeny's folks were too busy to notice.
We'd grown closer than I'd ever imagined. She was my other half, almost a part of me, and I was almost a part of her. She was really leaving tomorrow, and the more it sank in the more I wished it wasn't true. I wanted Teeny to say guess what, Sam, I was kidding about the move! Or rebel against her folks at the last minute and stay here with my family.
Or if all else failed, I just didn't want the night to end.
"Why do things have to change so much?" I sighed. Teeny rolled over on her sleeping bag and nodded sadly.
"I know," she said. "I wish we could just...stay fifteen forever. That we never had to worry about the future, getting married and having kids, turning into our parents." She scooted closer, leaning her head on my shoulder. "Or better yet...I wish we could go back to the beginning of the summer three years ago. Remember when we were saving for the treehouse, doing all those kooky seances and reading the tarot cards?"
"How could I forget? The mystery of Dear Johnny kept me up at night!" I laughed. "Hey, remember the softball game where I beat the shit out of that fat kid?"
"After he made that crack about Roberta's mom," Teeny affirmed. "Yeah, I saw that guy a few days ago and he's still walking a little funny. I don't think having kids of his own is in the cards for him!"
"And the day we went to Greenfield and stopped for a swim, and Chrissy smacked Roberta," I said. "Boy, those were the days...I wish we could go back to that summer, too. Everything was so simple then." Suddenly, tears began to run down my cheeks. "Teeny, I don't want you to go! Nothing's gonna be the same without you!"
"Oh, Sam..." She reached up and wiped away my tears. "I know. I don't want to leave you behind...I don't want to leave Chrissy and Roberta and Angela behind either, but mostly you."
I kissed her then. A real kiss, right on the mouth, and to this day I still don't know why. And for some reason she didn't pull away...no, she kissed back.
"What did you do that for?" she asked when we pulled back, and for a moment I was afraid she'd get mad. But she was smiling, so I just shrugged.
"Just felt like it, I guess," I said.
"It felt nice," she said. "Not like kissing David Cassidy, but..."
"I know," I laughed. It was just...warm and comforting, like the night I told her about my dad. "I'm really gonna miss you," I whispered, hugging her tightly. "I'll come visit you whenever I can."
"Me too, Sam," she murmured, locking her arms around my waist. "But no matter how far apart we are, you'll always be my best friend."
I closed my eyes, pulling the light summer blanket over us.
But even that bit of knowledge didn't stop me from wishing time would stop that night, and I know she felt the same way.