"There you are," I answered the phone a bit too cheerily, my hands shaking slightly. "I thought I wouldn't be hearing from you again."
Ashley giggled over the line, her voice a symphony of memories and familiarity. "Don't be silly, Logan."
"So, what are you up to?"
There was a pause, but then a slight intake of breath signalled that she was back on the line. "Sorry, what was that?"
"What's been going on in Toronto since I left?"
"You know, the usual," she responded and my mind immediately bounced back to our separation. Her with a veil of sadness covering her violet eyes and me with a straight back and waves of longing seeping from my pores. How could my parents not see what they were doing? "Robert came over last night."
My mind stopped recalling anything and my breath caught, just for an instant, before returning to normal. "Why did he go over?"
"Because his best friend just left," Ashley giggled again. "Why else would he come over?"
Maybe because he liked you too, at least before we started dating. Maybe because even though he's my best friend, he always joked about how I got to you first. Maybe because his coffee colored curls and matching eyes always attracted attention. My mind was a whirl of thoughts, but I kept this all to myself.
"Is he still there?"
"No," Ashley's voice was strained. "What's wrong?"
I inhaled deeply and sat down on the edge of our new porch. The ocean, just beyond the weed choked backyard, was a bright blue despite the overcast morning sky. The sound of seagulls echoed over the crashing waves, and other smaller birds danced on the sand to a song only they heard.
"Nothing," I responded, clutching the phone tightly. "I just miss you, is all."
"I miss you too," her voice purred, barely audible as I lost myself in the arriving and leaving waves down by the shore.
The slamming of a door woke me from my stupor and I glanced behind me. Two of my new neighbors were walking towards the silver SUV in their driveway. The lack of a fence made it easy to see them move quickly in the summer heat as the smaller of the two jabbered on about being late and the unfairness of everything. The taller of the two, a stunning blond, glimpsed back at me and the younger one, a brunette, followed her gaze. I faced forward again, blushing from being caught staring. The SUV came to life shortly after and I heard the engine's sound slowly disappear as it got further away.
Was that the girl I saw watching me from the window yesterday morning?
"Logan?" Ashley repeated my name, her voice displaying a hint of annoyance.
"Yeah, sorry," I said, the blond's curious glance tattooing my thoughts. "What did you say?"
Ashley sighed and I heard the squeak that her bed made when she moved around on it. "I said that I wish I could see you."
"Me too, but you're still coming down next month, right?"
"Good," I smiled, momentarily ignoring my curiosity about my new neighbors. "Because summer would truly suck if I didn't get to see you at least one more time."
Ashley called me sweet then continued to talk about what else I'd missed in the past day or so, while my mind wandered. What was wrong with me? Here I was, talking to the most amazing girl in the world, but I was already distracting by the mere presence of another pretty girl?
When we finally said our goodbyes and I kept my unspoken "I love you's" to myself, I set my cell down beside me on the worn wood and leaned back on my arms. Mom and dad had spent the night unpacking the kitchen, but I'd opted out of that family moment. Instead of unpacking my room, I'd sat on my unmade bed until sleep overcame me, all the while waiting for a sign that Ashley missed me too.
And now you have it.
Yes, I did have it. She told me she missed me and wanted to see me. That was good enough for me.
Though the clouds threatened to blanket the sky, the sun beat down relentlessly on my bare legs, already turning them a soft shade of pink. The weeds that swayed in the oceanic breeze tickled my bare toes and that's when it hit me: I now lived in Florida. Pueblo, Florida to be more precise. But holy crap, I'm living in a state that barely knows what the cold feels like--at least, not Canadian cold.
The water surged forward and back, as if offering a cacophony of enticement to go alongside my realization.
I grabbed my phone, swiped the sand off the back, and stood up. This may be hell and this may not be home, but I was going to jump into that water and ease my nerves over Robert and Ashley and the move.
But most importantly, I figured when I bypassed my parents as they muttered over burnt toast and over-easy eggs and headed for my room, I was going to wash away all these crazy thoughts I was having all of a sudden about the mysterious blond.