“Innocent?!” Gene sat up so fast he almost fell off the bed. “You’re kidding, right?”
“No, I’m not.” Tracy gave him one of those looks, like he should know better. “I’m only 13, you know.”
“Yeah, but… but…” He wasn’t sure if he should say she didn’t act like it. “You kissed me first!”
“That was weeks ago!”
He threw his hands in the air. Wasn’t that worse? He hopped off the bed and walked toward the door to the upstairs hall, then realized he didn’t really want to leave his bedroom and ended up right back where he started.
“Don’t get me wrong.” She got off the bed too. “I want to do it with you. I do. But… um…”
“Yeah. Yeah, that’s right. Not yet.”
“So… then…. when?” He tried to not glare at her, or let her know at all that he was getting mad. “After your next birthday? When is your birthday?”
She rolled her eyes at him. “I just mean I’m not ready yet, that’s all.”
He nodded like that was a good reason, though he didn’t see it that way. They’d been officially dating for whole days, even weeks now. Didn’t that mean something? Like, maybe it should be ok for him to kiss her.
“So… how long are you going to be here, anyway? School starts next week. Aren’t you going back home?”
“Oh yeah. I forgot about that.” She scrunched her whole mouth over to one side.
She forgot? How could she forget?
“Yeah.” She nodded like that settled it. “So it would be better to not get anything started now. I mean, besides what we already have.”
Gene sighed. He’d known it all along. He’d known they would never really do anything. He’d known she was leaving. Wasn’t that what women did? Leave? Still. It hurt.
“So, we’ll have to email and text message and everything until I can get back here.”
“Yeah.” He nodded like he actually believed it.
No. Once she left, no one would ever see her again. At least no one he knew.
“I might…. I might have a surprise for you.”
“Yeah? Like what?”
“I can’t tell you that! Besides, I’m not sure if I can do it or not. I have to ask first.”
“Yeah, well. Whatever.” He hated himself for feeling this way.
Tracy looked at him, actually looked, like she could see right into his soul. Her smile got more real. “Hey, don’t worry about it. I’m here now, so let’s have fun.” She poked him in the ribs. When he didn’t do anything, she poked him again. When he finally came at her, she laughed and into the hall. He ran after her all the way down the staircase and right out the front door to the sidewalk.
“Let’s go to my place. I mean Lisa’s place. Same thing.” She danced backwards, skipping along just out of reach. So totally like a female, though one who ought to be wearing braids and maybe braces.
“Sure. Fine. But do me one favor.”
“Sure. Anything. Well, almost anything.”
“You gotta stop sounding like such an old lady. Calling yourself ‘innocent’ and all. It drives me wild.”
She just grinned and skipped faster.
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