\ ˈləv \
(2): attraction based on sexual desire; affection and tenderness felt by lovers
ex: After all these years, they are still very much in love.
The story starts on a Saturday. A hot, humid, Louisiana-typical Saturday. I woke up earlier that day, my sleep disturbed by the sunlight streaming through the window. I curled my lip at the bright light and silently cursed myself for not closing the curtain. I rubbed my eyes and sat up, sighing. I so did not want to get up. Nothing was going to happen today. Just like every other damn day, I am going to make waffles, hear my little brother complain about how there’s not enough vanilla, and then sit here in this suffocating town until it’s time to dutifully attend church. Great. Another day wasted in this small, closeted town.
I walk out of my room to see my dad hand Jasper a fork and a plate. I stand and stare, stunned to see Dad and Jasper getting along. As Jas turns to go to the table, he sees me and sticks out his tongue.
“You weren’t up and I was hungry. And Dad puts a lot of vanilla so his waffles are better.” He walks to his place at the table and Dad gives me a shrug, apologetic. I ignore him and walk past him to grab a glass, filling it with milk.
“I think I’m going to go to the library today. I have a presentation I need to work on for civics, and I need more than one type of source.” I avoid looking at my dad, instead focusing on Jas drowning his vanilla waffles in honey, not syrup. He never eats syrup; he genuinely believes that it is fake, even the real maple syrup stuff. I see my dad nod in my peripheral vision.
“Yeah, sure. Just be home before-” I interrupt him. “Church. 4 o’clock. I know.” I put my glass in the sink and head to the bathroom to brush my teeth. On my way out, I bump into Jas, who has honey everywhere. I smile at him despite myself; he has honey in his hair and on his hands. He makes a face at me and wipes his face with his sticky hands, leaving a trail of honey. I laugh out loud and grab his arm, dragging him to the sink. He groans and digs his heel into the floor.
“Noooo Nicki, no! I can do it!!” I raise my eyebrows at him playfully. “Fine, Jas. Clean your face, then.” He scowls at me, turns on the faucet, flicks some water on his face, and stops. “There. All clean.” I laugh at him and turn to grab a washcloth from the side of the sink when I see my dad standing in the doorway. My smile instantly drops and he holds out a hand for the rag.
“I can clean Jas. Go to the library,” my dad offers me a tentative smile that I don’t return. I hand him the washcloth, ruffle Jas’s hair, and head to my room. I change into a pair of jean cutoffs and my study hoodie, a faded blue sweatshirt. I knew I was going to regret wearing a hoodie later in the day, but the library is always cold to me.
I grab my school bag, my phone, and my keys and leave my house, my dad still struggling to get Jas clean.
I drive a couple of miles to the public library when my phone buzzes. I quickly find a parking spot before checking it.
Reese: hey hey your not at the library yet Nicki: No I’m in the parking lot. Reese sends back a thumbs up and I grab my bag, ready to go meet my friend and reluctantly do schoolwork when someone taps my window. I jerk up, my heart beating unreasonably fast. Who taps windows, I thought to myself. Nobody does that anymore. I looked at the person who scared me. It’s a guy around my age, smiling slightly. He’s wearing a baseball hat with a t-shirt and Adidas sweatpants. I slowly roll the window down, biting my lip. I can’t really see his face because of his hat, but he didn’t look all that threatening. Neither did Ted Bundy, I remind myself. With that thought in mind, I stop rolling the window down at the halfway mark. I raise an eyebrow at Hat Boy.
“Hi. Can I help you?” I ask him. He nods and smiles again. “Actually, I’m here to help you.” I give him a look, tilting my head.
“Umm, well that’s really sweet of you, but I’m doing fine right now, thanks!” I start to roll the window up again when he starts talking.
“I think that there’s something wrong with your car,” he blurts. “I just wanted to let you know.” I scrunched my eyebrows together.
“With my car? What? What’s wrong?” I get out of my car and look at it, then back at him. “Well?” He points to the end, where I walk and I see what he was talking about. Above the rear headlight, there is a long scratch about four or five inches long, marring the grey paint of my Kia. I curse, then glance at Hat Boy. “Sorry,” I tell him. He shrugs. “Nah, it’s all good.”
I lean against the car. I have no idea how it got there, and I definitely don’t have the money to get it repainted. I breathe and decide to go inside the library. I’ll worry about the scratch later. I take another deep breath and smile at the boy.
“Sorry. Thanks for letting me know. I’m Nicki.” He smiles at me. “Yeah, it’s no big deal. I’m Shawn.” We stand for a minute awkwardly before my phone buzzes again. Reese is asking me where I am, again. I sigh and smile at Shawn.
“Okay, well, thanks again and I guess I’ll see you around?” We smile at each other again and I walk towards the library, the only thought on my mind being how to break the news to my dad and how to pay for the scratch.