Chapter 2

As the footsteps approached the porch where he sat, and entered the semi-circle dimly lit by the light spilling through the living room window, he recognized Carol Freeman, his next-door-neighbour. Friends since the first grade, they had grown up together, whiling away summer days fishing at Jackson’s Pond using pilfered hot dog wieners as bait, and spending summer nights camped out in the backyard, sharing dreams and confiding secrets. Although lately their time spent together was less frequent, the strength of their friendship had not faded.

Carol sat down beside him on the step, not saying anything for a while, then, softly: “I heard what happened.”

Billy nodded, knowing that Carol was the one friend he could talk to, knew she wouldn’t laugh no matter what he said. Slowly, painfully, he told her everything that had happened; his voice becoming a mumble when he told her how broken he felt after Susan cut him down.

Carol quietly slipped her hand inside Billy’s, offering her silent remorse, as only a good friend can do. Her hand was warm and dry in his, soothing him, as they sat in silence. It was some time before Billy was suddenly aware that the tightness in his chest had faded and that he didn’t feel so alone right now.

Carol is a good person, he mused, gazing at their linked fingers. The guys poked fun at him because they were friends, but they didn’t understand. It was actually easier to talk to Carol about most things than it was to talk to one of the guys—she really listened. Not to mention that she offered a viewpoint that his friends couldn’t give him. Which meant…

“What do girls want?” he turned to her suddenly, the pain obvious in his voice. Before Carol could answer, he rushed on. “I mean, I try to be like James Dean but...”

Carol suppressed a smile. There was nothing James Dean-like about Billy. He was as clean-cut as they came: his jeans were smartly pressed, he kept his shirt tucked in neatly, his sneakers were always spotless and his hair was, at all times, trimmed above his ears and slicked back. Dependable, is what everyone called him. She just thought of him as her Billy.

“Every girl wants a dangerous guy, right?” he asked eagerly.

Sighing, she disentangled her hand from his, patted his knee and stood up. “No, Billy. Not every girl,” she murmured quietly, struggling to mask her disappointment, and walked back into the darkness.

Billy dropped his head in his hands, more confused than ever.

The End

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