By Michael McGuire
Andrew sat next to her on the bed. “I’m sorry about Jimmy, he’ll come around, he can just be stubborn sometimes.”
Jenny sniffled, and said, “You are such a good friend, even if it’s only been a day.”
They laughed, and Andrew said, “Did you know that not everyone figured out anything about the torches or the candles like we did?”
Jenny smiled. “Yeah, none of my friends did, but I didn’t want to tell them what we did because I felt weird, like they would feel stupid.”
“Me too!” Andrew said, and then they lapsed into a minute of silence. Finally Andrew said, “Well, do you want to hear another story?”
“You mean, more has happened since last night?” Jenny sniffled, but he thought she seemed better.
Andrew didn’t know how she knew that was what it was about, but he nodded and then told her about his parents and Constable Jander. When he was done, Jenny was looking at him oddly. “What’s wrong?”
“Is that story true?”
“Why would I make that up?” he said.
“Maybe because your best friend just ditched me and now you want me to be your secret girl?”
The accusation in her eyes hurt him more than what she’d said. In fact, Andrew thought she looked a little scary. Of course now he could see why she would think that, but he hadn’t meant it in that way. Plus, he had been looking forward to telling her the story long before she said anything about her and Jimmy. Andrew felt as though he had to say something quickly. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I just thought you’d like the story, and it was basically the same idea you told me yesterday, so I don’t see how you can be upset. But anyway, let’s do the essay.”
He got up from the edge of the bed, and sat at his desk with his back to her, opening his bag and taking out his notebook. Then he heard something soft behind him, turned, and said, “What?”
“Thank you,” Jenny said. “Thank you for the story.” Andrew decided he liked the way she was looking at him.
“Oh, yeah, no problem. What are friends for?” Then he frowned. “You know, I just remembered that I don’t know what the actual assignment is, just that we have one.” They both laughed, and Jenny said, “I think I have it in here, one of my not as good friends gave it to me.”
She pulled a piece of paper out of her bag, but it slipped from her hand and fell to the floor. Andrew knelt to get it, but Jenny did as well. They looked up at one another, and Andrew found himself inches from her face. He’d never been this close to a girl other than his mother, but he was feeling something very different toward Jenny. In fact, he no longer thought she looked like a freak at all. Andrew felt as though his body was being directed by someone else. He couldn’t believe what was happening as he pressed his lips to hers, and felt her pressing back.
Andrew felt as though he were flying through the air, completely weightless. Then after what felt like an hour and a second all at once, she pulled back from him, though he was very aware of their hands touching. “Well, I never did that with Jimmy,” she said, breathless.
Andrew didn’t know what he should say, so he asked the first thing that came to mind. “Well, what did you do?”
“Oh, we just-” but then her expression changed, and Andrew watched as her face filled with fear. He looked around and saw that they were up in the air, only inches from the ceiling. Jenny pulled her hands away from him and they fell to the ground with a thud. He heard stirring downstairs, looked at Jenny, and didn’t like the terrified stare she was giving him.
“What did you do?” she said, slowly.
“I-what-nothing-I don’t know. I’m sorry!”
Jenny got up, grabbed her bag, and as Andrew’s father opened the door, she ran past him, down the stairs, and out the front door into the night.
Michael and his wife, Anne, have lived in Chappaqua for two years with their two troublesome cats. Prior to that, they resided in Manhattan for nearly a decade. Michael works in financial services. A Harrowing Education, a Young Adult Fantasy Adventure, is his debut novel and the first in the series The Way of the Redeemer.