i've read flipped more times than i count. it's legit one of my favorite childhood books ever and when i watched the movie this afternoon (finally!) i was reminded of how good the storyline is all over again. i just had to write something for the fandom. and also, movie bryce - aka callan mcauliffe - is haaaawt. :)
in this story, juli and bryce's hometown is in oakland, south carolina and currently they're going into 10th grade.
read and review?
disclaimer: i don't own anything!
I can still remember the exact moment in my life when my parents sat me down in the living room and looked at me with the most serious expression I'd ever seen on their faces, and said those two words. It was the summer after eighth grade, which had been one of the most hectic and confusing years of my life. At first, I didn't believe it. It had to be a joke. We'd lived in the exact same house, in the exact same neighborhood, for my entire life. They couldn't possibly even consider moving.
At the time, I laughed.
My father glanced at my mother, his forehead creased. She stared back at him with the kind of look that read, I told you so. He folded his hands carefully in his lap, then looked back up at me. "Juli," he said slowly. "This isn't a joke. We're moving."
I stared at him, my laugh caught in my throat. "Wait. Dad, you can't be serious. This isn't happening."
"Your father got a big promotion at his work," my mother interrupted cheerfully. Her eyes were bright. "Isn't that great? We'll be going to Ohio! Imagine that. It's - it's a fantastic opportunity that we've decided to accept."
"Mom!" I exclaimed. "We don't have to -"
"Juli. It's the only thing we can afford to do right now," she replied tightly, the fake enthusiasm in her voice completely gone. She didn't meet my gaze.
I felt my heart beating hard against my ribcage.
"It's all happening within a week, maybe two at most. You'll have to start packing as soon as possible," my mother continued with her lips pursed, evidently oblivious to the fact that I was just about having a heart attack right then and there in front of her. She patted her hair. "We've already told Matt and Mark. They understand."
"It's not the same for them!" I cried. "They're graduating this year, anyway, it doesn't matter where they go next. I'm going into high school next year, Mom. You can't take that away from me!" However, it was clear to me that she wasn't going to listen to my protests. The look on her face told me that she had already made up her mind, and once my mother made up her mind, there was nothing in the world that could change her opinion.
"Dad?" I asked bleakly.
He leaned over the coffee table and covered his hand over mine, softly. His voice was like an ocean wave that washed over me as he spoke. "It's time to go, Julianna."
Now, it's the same scenario, only in a different place.
Two years later and my father and mother are just as united as they've always been, sitting across from me at the kitchen table. Matt and Mark are working busily upstairs, on God knows what, and occasionally we can hear bursts of guitar and drums coming from their room. It's always lively in the Baker household, no matter where we are.
"So..." I trace a pattern with my finger on the surface of the wooden table. "What's up?"
My mother decides to start. "Well, I'm not exactly sure how to say this but -"
"We're moving," my father finishes.
This time, I'm not as unprepared. I've seen them sneaking around the house with suspicious letters in their hands, spending long hours up in their bedroom discussing and talking and whispering. The for-sale papers scattered all over the kitchen counter. The signs are there, but I never let them know that I caught on. I'm okay with it, actually. Moving isn't so bad, really, once you get over the whole leave-your-friends-you've-known-your-whole-life aspect of it. We've lived in our large townhouse in Ohio for a little more than two years, and even though there are people who I'll sincerely miss, there's no one special enough to stay for. There's only one question left to ask.
My parents exchange a look, surprised at how well I've taken it. I can practically see the words floating in the air between them. When they turn back to me both of them have the tiniest hint of a smile tugging at their lips. My father is practically beaming by the time he finally answers. "Juli, we're moving back."
I swear, my jaw drops to the floor so hard there might be a permanent dent down there.
"To - to like, Oakland?" I ask, hardly believing it. "Back to South Carolina?"
My mother nods, and her smile is contagious. "Your father's company has a special landscaping design job near our old town, near enough to drive back and forth. The income is just a little less than what we have right now -"
"But more than enough to sustain us and provide for Daniel," my father adds.
"It's already set in motion!"
My thoughts are a whirlwind. I can barely hear them. This is completely different from the last time we moved; instead of fear and nervousness, my mind is overtaken with crazy, fluttering thoughts. "Where are we going to live? Where am I going to go to school? And what about Matt and Mark - they've got college still..."
"We've talked to our old landlord and the only people living in our house are renters. They'll be gone when we move back," my father replies, addressing my questions one at a time.. "You'll go to the nearby high school, like you were going to before we moved here. Matt and Mark aren't coming with us. They rented an apartment for the next school year, but they'll come visit as often as they can." He pauses, and says gently, "I know it'll be hard leaving the friends you've made behind again, but it's only been two years and think about it - you'll see everyone from Oakland! I'm sure you miss them as much as we do. They were a big part of your life, after all."
I nod in silent agreement, dazed.
"Juli?" my mother pushes her chair back and stands up, hesitantly. "Are you okay, honey?"
"Yeah," I say, and I know I'm smiling. "I'll be fine."
That night, I'm lying in bed wearing my favorite, worn out cashmere pajamas that have clouds printed all over them. I wear them so often that there's a hole in one of the knees. In my hands is Great Expectations, which I'm currently in the process of reading; it's pretty good but not the best that Dickens's has written in his life. Just when I'm about to flip the page to the last chapter, someone knocks quietly at the door.
"Come in, Matt!" I say. I know it's him because he's the only one in the family who ever bothers to knock at all. The word privacy is a bizarre and scary thought to the rest of the Bakers. I tuck a bookmark neatly into the page and put the book on my bedside dresser. Matt's leaning against the doorway, his silhouette darkened by the hallway light. The way he's looking at me is strange.
"What's wrong?" I ask, sitting up.
"Nothing." He walks over, sits down on the edge of the bed. "Well, sis, I guess I won't be seeing you for a while."
The thought bothers me, more than I'd like to admit, and I wrinkle my nose at him. "Stop being so melodramatic. You'll come visit, Dad said. You and Mark. As often as you can."
"Don't be thick, of course we will," Matt answers in typical older brother fashion, "but that's not what's bothering me. You'll be moving back into our old house, and this time it'll only be you and Mom and Dad … and the Loski's."
I guess in a way I've expected this. I know that someone was going to bring it up sooner or later. And it's not like I haven't been thinking about it, either. In fact, I've been obsessing over it ever since my parents broke the news to me. Just not openly. I force myself to inhale, exhale, and then look at Matt with a bright smile on my face.
"Don't worry about me, Matt. Everything was left on a good note, you know? I'm sure it'll be good when we go back, too. The Loski's aren't too much to handle. Besides, it'll be good to see Chet again."
I'm avoiding it. Saying his name. Thinking about him in any way possible.
But Matt catches on and looks at me, skeptically. "And what about Bryce? You don't care about seeing the little runt again?"
Just the thought makes my heart flutter a little.
"He's not a runt, Matt," I reply with as much annoyance in my voice as I can muster. "He's the same age as me."
"And you're a runt, too, therefore..."
I roll my eyes at him, "Shut up."
"But Juli, listen to me," Matt says, and his tone is so serious that I actually pay attention. "I know that you were like, hard-core crushing on him when you were kid, and whatever, I get that, but I don't want you to be so hung up on a guy who's not worth it."
I swallow. "That was a long time ago, Matt."
"Just be careful, alright? And call me if there's any trouble. Mark, too. We'll come down there as fast as we can and be your personal thugs. If he even looks at you the wrong way... I swear I'll punch him so hard he'll be seeing stars for weeks."
He's kidding - I think.
"Thanks for caring," I smile at him, "but I've got it under control."
"That's the thing, Juli Banana." I'm surprised that he says my old nickname; it's been so long since anyone has used it. You always think that you've got it under control, and you don't realize how much you don't until it's too late."
"Gee, thanks, Mom."
Matt stands up and shrugs. "Hey, what can I say? I'm a good brother."
"Bye, Matt," I say pointedly, glancing at the door.
"Alright - I'm leaving, I'm leaving!" he says, surrendering with his hands raised, palms facing me. "G'night, Juli."
"Good night, Matt."
Even when he leaves and the conversations in the house die down until the only thing I can hear is the slight rustle of the leaves and the trees outside, I can't sleep. I lie in my bed, listening to the wind, and I can't stop thinking about him. Bryce.
Bryce and his dazzling eyes.