He stared at me, his head slowly moving from side to side, his eyebrows drawn. “I don’t know what I would’ve done without you.” He kept his hand on mine, the other wiping at my unjustified tears. “My Lois Lane.”
I hugged him so hard I swear I pushed all the air from his lungs. “My Clark Kent.”
It was a few weeks after the funeral—thunder and lightning and huge gusts of wind accompanied the rain, and I lay in bed—deathly afraid of storms. Justin Timberlake’s Cry Me a River the soundtrack of my current life status.
The song suddenly stopped and the room filled with darkness. “Lois?” Dad shouted from upstairs.
“The storm must’ve cut off the power.”
He made his way down the basement stairs and toward me, flashlight in hand. “You okay?”
“How long do you think it’s going to be out for?” I asked.
“Why? You expecting to outweigh the rain with Timberlake’s tears?”
I said nothing.
“That song’s been playing for three days straight, Lo.”
“I like the song.”
“It’s a little depressing.”
There was a knock on the basement door which led to the backyard. The only one who would know to use it would be—“Lucas!” I shouted.
Dad opened the door.
Luke stood just outside, hair soaked, along with the rest of him. His arms were crossed, shivering against the cold. “I’m sorry for coming around so late, sir.” He was in a white t-shirt and running shorts and nothing else. His teeth clanked together as he said, “Laney told me once she was scared of storms… I wanted to make sure she was okay.”
“Does your dad know where you are, son?” Dad asked.
Luke shook his head, droplets of rain falling on his shoulder. “No, sir. My dad doesn’t really know where he is most of the time.” His gaze shifted to me standing behind my dad. I swallowed the knot in my throat, a million emotions hitting me. He looked so sad, so hopeless, so young. Too young to be feeling the way he did.
“Get inside,” Dad said, breaking the silence and pulling on Luke’s arm to get him out of the rain. “Did you run here?”
Luke held my stare. “Yes, sir.”
I finally found my voice, my eyes glazed with tears. “Why are you here?” I breathed out.
He spoke, his voice hoarse. “I wanted to make sure you were okay.”
I looked at him, disbelief washing through me. He stood there, his skin glistening and his eyes red and raw. “Lucas… Are you okay?”
He stared at me a long time. Then he let out a sob, so quiet I barely heard it. I stepped toward him, my hand going for his. “I hurt, Laney,” he said, his voice cracking with emotion.
“Where?” I rushed out, searching his body for any sign of injury. After what felt like forever, and finding no blood or broken bones, I looked up at him, and I could instantly tell that the pain he spoke of wasn’t physical. It was so much worse. I wrapped him in my arms, ignoring his wet clothes and my dry ones, and at that moment, we pretended the storm and the darkness drowned out his cries and devoured his pain. His chest rose and fell against mine, his grip on me getting tighter with each passing second. Then he exhaled a shaky breath, his mouth to my ear. “I hurt everywhere.”
My dad made us hot chocolate, and we pretended like we didn’t think we were too old for it. Lucas spoke while Dad and I listened. He told us about how his dad was suffering, lost, and trying to find the answers at the bottom of a bottle of whiskey. Luke had seen his dad passed out drunk more times than he’d seen him upright, and Lucy was the one holding it together. Her and the twins’ baseball coach—some boy named Cameron who would later play a huge role in all their lives. The night before, Logan had gone missing. No one noticed until Luke checked in on everyone at around two in the morning. Logan was out in the freezing lake, his pajamas still on. When Luke had found him, Logan simply said, “I wanted to feel something.” They promised each other they would never tell Lucy because she had enough to worry about, and Luke gave Logan the clothes off his back and snuck him back into the house, up the stairs, toward baby Lachlan’s room where Lucy and Leo were awake, attending to a fussing baby. The twins woke, too, and joined them in the nursery. All the kids cried. Together. Apart. But silent, not wanting to wake their dad.
It was the first night Lucas ever spent in my house, in my bedroom, on the couch. It took him a few hours to fall asleep, and I watched as his chest rose and fell, his search for peace finally found in his sleep.
It was heartbreaking, breathtaking, and in a way, it was kind of beautiful.
Lucas Preston was beautiful.
Lane found out about this craft store a few months ago via Reddit. Yes, apparently there’s a Reddit page for everything. Even craft junkies like her. And, apparently, she traded one Saturday shift for three Sunday shifts at the small movie theater where she works so she could hop on a bus to check it out. When she told me that she’d been, I got so mad. I gave her this huge lecture about how girls like her shouldn’t be traveling on buses by themselves. I yelled, told her she was naive and she should have told me she was going so I could’ve driven her. Then she started getting angry back because she’s crazy. She said that my anger was unjustified and that I was overreacting. I told her she was an idiot. She said I was stupid. We froze each other out for three days. Those three days sucked. So I apologized—even though I didn’t really know what I was sorry for—and told her she was right. She wasn’t. If anything, she was stubborn and clueless. Still, I conceded. Like I said, those three days sucked. She forgave me quickly, then started on about how she was old enough to do what she wanted. It wasn’t about her want to go visit the stupid store. It was about her safety. So I told her that, which then led to another argument. Another three days of suckage, and then, on the fourth day, she opened her locker and there—next to her psychology textbook—was half a Snickers bar.
So, I’m a sucker who hates fighting with his best friend.
She was still wrong.
I was right.
“This place needs some form of organization,” I whisper, hovering behind her.
“It’s kind of what makes it amazing, though,” she says, half turning to me, her smile uncontainable. She steps over a random pile of who-knows-what. “All this yarn and thread and patterns everywhere.”