"Hey Abby," I pause and she turns to face me. "You remember that day we went to the sandbox? Remember, kindergarten let out for the day and our moms took us to the park?" She laughs sweetly.
"Oh yes, they kept saying we were too old to be playing in the sandbox but we didn't listen. Good times, good times."
"Yeah and then—"
"It started raining; that's right! Omigosh, I remember that." She laughs again. "You immediately jumped out of the sandbox and I tried to get you to stay."
"Yeah and you started smearing wet sand on your face like a three-year-old."
"Well, you kept wiping it off like a thirty-year-old." She nudges me playfully.
"Uh, you're welcome." She shakes her head thoughtfully.
"What made you think of that, anyway?" I shrug, not really wanting to give details.
"I found an old picture earlier—made me think of it."
"Your mom took pictures of us in the sandbox?" she asks excitedly.
"Yeah," I hold the last syllable, downplaying the importance.
"Lemme see! Where is it?" She jumps out of her seat, staring expectantly. I hesitate but reluctantly stand up next to her.
"It's in the drawer in my bedside table." Instantly, she turns and runs up the staircase to my room. And then I realize what I've given her access to. I race up behind her, trying to beat her to it.
"Wait, Abby, don't—" She's already in my room when I get there. She hasn't opened the drawer yet and I jump in front of it.
"Which drawer is it?" she asks, looking at the table on the opposite side of my bed. She moves toward it.
"Just don't—I'll get it, okay?" She gives me a curious look; then puts up her hands in defense.
"Fine, whatever; it's your room." I smile weakly.
"Thanks, just, uh, go back downstairs and I'll be down in a minute." She appears to give up and walks toward the door. She stops when she reaches the handle and faces me again.
"Jay, what are you hiding? What don't you want me to see?" I feel like an open book. When did she begin reading me so easily?
"Nothing, it's just, you know, personal stuff—embarrassing stuff. Don't best friends deserve some privacy?" I give her a nervous smile. It's an almost truth, at least. She puts her hands on her hips.
"It's not your clothes drawer, Jay. I mean, what could you possibly be keeping in a bedside table?" She laughs thoughtfully, "Like, like a diary? I wouldn't read it."
"It's not a diary."
"But it's something."
"So, what is it?"
"You just said it was something." I sigh stubbornly. She steps away from the door, closer to me. She has one brow raised and she's made it clear, she won't be leaving until she gets something out of me.
"What. Is. It."
"Look, I'll tell you but I don't want everyone to know about this, Abby." She scoffs.
"It's not like I plan on telling the entire school."
"Not even Krista."
"Not even Krista," she repeats. Suddenly, her eyes get wide and she thinks she knows something.
"Jay, do you have a crush on Krista?" I almost laugh.
"Krista? Are you serious?" I let go of the table I'd been gripping behind my back. She puts her hand up, as she contemplates this.
"No, no, Jay, it makes sense. I can't believe I didn't see it before."
"See what? There's nothing to see. I've never liked Krista."
"Not true. You were best friends before I moved here. Obviously those feelings grew over time and you've been secretly crushing on her. Of course, you didn't do anything about it because she was the enemy and you didn't want to hurt me."
"C'mon Abby!" I walk to where she stands at the foot of my bed. "That's ridiculous!"
"Not it's not, Jay! We're all friends again; you could totally go for it! I heard she broke up with Logan last week." She bounces her eyebrows. I put my hands on her shoulders and give her a good shake.
"Would you snap out of it? I don't have a crush on Krista Cook!" I let her go. "She has nothing to do with … what's in my drawer." She smiles, tongue in cheek and in a flash she's at my bedside table rummaging through it. I sigh and whip around, not trying to stop her.
"Where is it?" she asks, pulling the drawer all the out and dumping its contents on the bed.
"Yeah, no big deal. I just made my bed today but feel free …" I say with a shrug.
"Hold on a sec," she says lifting up a small, folded piece of paper. I gulp; she found it. Her name is on the front—of course, she would find it. "What's this?" she asks, knitting her brows together.
"Nothing, it's just …" I grope around for a liable excuse, "a letter I wrote up for your next birthday." I snatch it from her hands, almost ripping it in the process. "Don't read it now! It's supposed to be a surprise." I unfold the paper and prepare to satisfy her curiosity with a snippet. I flash it in her direction for good measure and clear my throat. She rolls her eyes, arms crossed, not buying it ... yet.
"Dear Abby," I skim over the next few lines but don't read them aloud. "Happy Birthday?" Her shoulders drop.
"Look, I wrote this letter for you but you can't read it just yet. I'll give it to you ... when the time is right." She smiles and walks over to take my hand in hers.
"Jay, you're the best, y'know that?"
"Eh, I've heard it once or twice."
"Uh-huh. Anyone ever tell you that you're the best boyfriend?"
"Ah, now that's a new one."
"I think you'll get used to it." I put the refolded letter in my back pocket with my free hand. She kisses my cheek; together we walk out of my room and down the stairs.
"So, you're gonna help me clean up that room later ... right?"