Better off Friends

Page 18


New beginnings are overrated.
I know. I’ll never understand why everybody puts so much emphasis on January first. There are three hundred and sixty-four other days in the year that you can make a change.
Or make a fresh start.
Or start a diet.
You’re not allowed to starting cooking with low-fat ingredients.
Or, you know, hide something from me ever again.
Well, you’re never allowed to leave the state of Wisconsin again.
Yep. That totally seems fair.
I can only control so much.
If only you could be in charge of the world.
Finally someone gets it! I should be in charge of the world. Wouldn’t life be so much better?
Obviously. First law as Queen of the World?
Banishment of the Chicago Bears.
On second thought.
Hey, it’s my world. I get to rule it as I see fit. What if I made it so you’d be the standard against which all guys are judged?
Like you don’t already do that.
Right. Question: How many suns are there in your world?
I practically ran off the plane the second we touched down in Milwaukee.
It was funny. I had spent the last eighteen months wishing to be in California, but once I got there, I realized all I’d left behind in Wisconsin. Sure it was cool to get to hang with my old buddies. But I missed my girls: Macallan and Emily. I guess most guys would’ve thought I was a player since I had two girls. But they meant completely opposite things to me.
Macallan was kinda my better half. The yin to my yang. Um, that sounded way dirtier than I meant it to.
And Emily was an awesome girlfriend. She radiated this positive energy. I could tell she was always happy to be around me. What guy wouldn’t want that?
Although I have a confession to make. I lied to Emily over the break. I told her I wasn’t getting back until Saturday evening, when in fact my flight arrived in the afternoon. I only did it because I wanted to see Macallan first. I knew Emily would want to see me right away, but I still owed Macallan her present.
I had a stupid grin on my face when I rang the doorbell at the Dietzes’ house.
“Hey!” I picked up Macallan in a tight grip when I saw her.
“Hey back!” She laughed as I put her down. “How was the culture shock?”
I walked into the foyer and started taking off my many layers. “It was more the shock of getting off the plane just now and being hit with the cold air. I was wearing flip-flops on New Year’s Eve.”
Macallan winced slightly.
“Everything okay?”
She shook her head a little too vigorously. “Um, yeah. Ah, it’s only that, um, it’s strange to think of celebrating the holidays in the heat. Mom used to get so mad if there wasn’t snow on the ground at Christmas.”
Macallan’s odd behavior was now making sense. I knew how much her mom loved the holidays, so this time of year must’ve been particularly hard on her. Which probably also explained the mess in the kitchen. There were pots and pans everywhere. Macallan cooked a lot when she was trying to clear her mind. Or trying to distract herself from something. And with us being on winter break, she didn’t have homework to fill that void.
I rubbed her arm, thinking it would be the best way to comfort her. Ever since we’d gone to the cemetery, I knew it was okay for me to bring up her mom. I was so honored when she took me. It cemented how important our relationship was. But I also knew that if she wanted to talk about it with me, she would. It was getting to the point that I could read Macallan pretty well. I knew when she needed to be prodded into saying something and when she needed to be left alone. And the look on her face screamed, Leave it alone.
“Well, I’m used to the good weather year-round,” I reminded her. “And I’m sorry I asked you to lie to Emily about when I was coming back.”
“Yeah …” She started cleaning up the counter. “Do you want something to eat?”
I’d never passed an opportunity to eat anything she made. Macallan put together a plate of fudge brownies, Rice Krispies treats, and a slice of pecan pie.
I reached into my bag and pulled out her present. “Merry Christmas, a week late.”
She hesitated before she opened it. “It’s not a Bears hat, is it?”
I laughed. She’d given me a Green Bay Packers knit hat to help me “fit in.” Everybody had gotten a big kick out of that, especially Adam. But after all the ribbing, she’d also given me a coupon for a homemade meal of my choice. It was my favorite gift that year.
She started unwrapping the box. She began laughing the second she saw one of the pictures on the DVD case. “I can’t believe you got me —” She stopped herself as she saw the inscription on the front. “How did you … ?” Her mouth was practically on the floor. This made me extremely happy.
“My buddy’s dad knew the producer on the show. I called in a favor.”
She stared down and then read the inscription on the Buggy and Floyd DVD from the actor who played Buggy: Blimey if I don’t fancy me a glass of Macallan.
“I couldn’t figure out if it was genius or dirty,” I confessed.
“Genius!” Macallan started laughing. I loved it when she laughed. She had two kinds of laughter: One was a normal chuckle, while the other was this boisterous, head-flailing-back laughter. If I had only one goal in life, it would be to make her laugh loudly every day. And that day, my mission had been accomplished.