A quick recap: I am currently working on a writing project with my twitter friend Karla Nellenbach. We each take a turn writing up a part of the story and passing the baton back and forth. Here is the my next installment. When we last left Harper and Grace, Harper had declared NOTHING had happened at the party. Let's see what happens next.
If you missed any of the earlier posts you can catch up by clicking on that tab up top labeled Fun and Games with K&K.
“Me either.” Owen said. “Now what do we do?”
The street light highlighted the remnants of the night’s effects on Grace’s face, giving her an almost haunted look. He guessed his didn’t look any better. In fact, it felt as if he had taken one to the solar plexus.
Grace braced both her hands on the steering wheel and said, “Now we get to the bottom of it. And I swear to god, Owen, if Mr. Haas did something to Harper I will find out.” With those final words, she put the car in gear.
After dropping Owen off, Grace headed back to her house lost in thought. What should she do first? She didn’t have anyone to turn to. In that moment, she felt entirely alone and then had to laugh at the irony of that. This wasn’t about her. It was about Harper. But Harper had always been her touchstone. The one person she could go to when she needed an ear or a shoulder. Harper had always been there.
In truth, Grace thought that worked both ways. After tonight, she was no longer so sure.
It had been so obvious Harper was hurting. For God sakes, she had been wearing her Dad’s old, battered, red Wisconsin sweatshirt with her snoopy pajama bottoms, her go-to for when she was sick or hurting. Grace didn’t need to be a rocket scientist to see the ravages of emotion still visible on her friend’s face even though the TV had been the only light shining in the Simonson’s family room.
Pulling into the drive way, Grace sat for a moment hoping some divine inspiration would strike. When none did, she mechanically made her way to the door.
Truman Simonson had been sitting on Grace’s front porch for the better part of an hour. He had been back from college for two weeks and had yet to see her. Okay, so maybe he was avoiding her. But he expected to be tripping all over her at the house and that just wasn’t the case. At first, he didn’t think anything of it, but last Saturday night when Harper came back early acting weird, he decided the lifelong friends must have had a fight.
Truman was a freshman at the University of Wisconsin and while he loved the feeling of freedom he had being away from home, he missed his family. And like it or not, for better or worse, Grace was a part of all that, which was why he’d decided tonight that he needed to get to the bottom of whatever was going on.
Watching the Pepto-Bismol pink VW turn into the driveway, he smiled because the car was just so…Grace.
Grace caught a movement out of the corner her eye and turned to find Truman sitting in her favorite double rocker on the porch. “Tru?”
“Hey, Gracie girl.”
“Hey, yourself. What are you doing here?” Grace moved deeper onto the porch and sat down next to her second best friend in the whole world; or at least he used to be.
While Truman had been home from school for almost two weeks, the two of them kept missing each other. Secretly, Grace thought Truman was avoiding her after what happened before he left for school. Honestly, she didn’t know why he should be embarrassed. She was the one that totally humiliated herself by telling him how she felt. It wasn’t his fault that he didn’t feel the same way back.
Truman studied Grace’s face. He knew her as well as he knew his sister, and something was obviously wrong. “Are you okay?”
Trying to smile, Grace said, “Sure.” But it was too much. Truman had always been her version of a knight in shining armor. After everything that happened tonight, her emotions were much closer to the surface than she thought, and the avalanche took them both by surprise.
Tucking her head down, she leaned in and used him as her anchor. True to form, he gathered her close and waited for the storm to pass.
After, looking up through swollen, red-rimmed eyes she asked, “Have you been avoiding me? Because it feels like you’ve been avoiding me.”
Truman smiled. That’s what he loved about Grace, always got right to the point. You never had to guess what she was thinking or feeling, and she never apologized for it.
Using his chest for leverage, Grace pushed herself away and stood up. Scrubbing her face with both hands, she moved to the opposite side of the large porch and leaned against the low wall that acted as a railing.
She sat there for few moments, and he could have sworn he saw her mind actually working. He imagined all types of gears shifting and spinning.
Grace’s drank in his features. Features, that were, as familiar to her as her own. Truman and Harper both had dark hair, and light, glass green eyes. It was remarkable really how the combination came out all feminine and soft on Harper, but all masculine and odd angles on Truman.
“I apologized for what happened. You can’t hold that against me forever. You’re one of my best friends, and I know you can’t help how you feel.” She had to clear her throat because the tears threatened to rise again. “But I don’t want to lose you as a friend.”
Truman stood up and moved to her because suddenly he needed to hug her. He wasn’t sure where all of these feelings were coming from, but he was getting used to them. They started right before he left for school. They had gone up to the cabin on Lake Geneva for one final week. He was down at the lake goofing off with friends when Harper and Grace came into view.
She’d been dressed for a day on the water, just like always, lugging a large bag with snacks and books while Harper carried the small cooler and her guitar. He could remember the sun bouncing off her hair and the line from a Robert Frost poem coming to him. And just like that, everything changed
He pretty much avoided her at all costs after that, until the last night when they sat around the bon fire playing music and telling stupid ghost’s stories.
That was the night she had screwed up her courage to tell him how she felt. It had been almost eerie, since he had spent the previous days engulfed in the same emotions. But he was leaving for college, and she was still in high school, and no way did he want to start that up.
“I don’t think I could stand it if we couldn’t be friends anymore” she added before he folded her into another embrace. Giving up the fight, she wrapped her arms around him and hugged him back for all she was worth.
Rubbing her back in a soothing up and down motion he had seen his dad do a thousand times for his mother, he said, “Don’t cry. Shh. It’s okay. You won’t ever lose me as a friend. I promise.”
Nodding, Grace pulled back and smiled. “It’s really good to see you. I missed you.”
“I missed you, too.”
Moving back, Truman looked at Grace and said, “Okay now that we have that cleared up. What the hell is going on with you and Harper?”
Okay, you know the drill. Tell us what you think, because yes, Karla does lurk here to see what you guys are saying. Make sure you swing by again tomorrow so you can catch her latest installment. She is posting early again this week since Thursday is Thanksgiving. I will have a link up to her blog so you don't miss any of it.