The story so far: Allison or Kate. All day long, Brian has been faced with the decision of who to pursue and whose heart the break. It may seem that Brian is just your typical indecisive, teenage boy, but it’s easy to make decisions about the heart when you don’t care about the hearts involved. Brian does care, which has made this day such a dilemma. He wants to remain true to Kate, but he needs to remain true to his heart. And his heart is telling him to be with Allison. Alas, the decision was made for him after Kate stormed out of Eric’s party and Brian pursued her back to her house. In a quiet moment, they broke up. Now he’s headed back to Eric’s, in hopes seeing Allison and taking the opportunity to tell her that he loves her just as much as she loves him. The year is 1987.
Driving up Eric’s street, my stomach tightens with each chug of the Family Truckster. I’m anxious, a similar feeling to the one I had the afternoon I went to see Allison in the hospital. That day, walking through the hospital corridors, the song, “Don’t Give Up,” by Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush, was stuck in my head. I must have listened to it fifty times after Eric called to tell me about Allison’s brain hiccup. You know how a song stays with you long after it’s ended and it can perpetuate your feelings of worry and sadness? There I was, worried sick about Allison’s health, and Kate Bush’s angelic voice was singing on my internal stereo.
I entered Allison’s hospital room. She was sleeping. Her mom asked me to stay while she stepped out for another cup of coffee. Allison looked helpless, unprotected. Then she opened her eyes and gave me a smile that filled me with such relief, I lost it. Sinking into the chair next to her bed, I cried for five minutes straight. She ran her hand over my arm, soothing me until finally she said, “I’m the one who’s supposed to be all mental.” That brought a smile. After that, we talked for an hour or so. She told me about what had happened and what her doctor thought. We watched reruns of Cheers on TV and shared her bland hospital food. After dinner, I had to go home. As I left, Allison took my hand.
“Thank you,” she said.
Her eyes were full of such gratitude. I didn’t deserve it. After our moment in Washington, I avoided her once we were back in Cuyahoga, practically shutting her out of my life. I was wrong. It was no way to treat one of my best friends; it was no way to treat someone I love.
If I’d been brave, I would have told her right then how I felt. Yet, I was still in love with Kate. How is it possible to love two completely different people in completely different ways?
I guess I don’t have to worry about that anymore.
I pull into Eric’s driveway and park the Family Truckster behind his brother’s truck and to the right of a yellow Volkswagon Beetle. The front yard is deserted, the garage door is rolled up, and the large windows that look into the living room reveal an empty house. Drew must have caused a shit storm when he came home.
I get out of the car and close the door with a “thud.” That sound draws the attention of someone in the garage. It’s Allison. My heart quickens as she walks toward me, brushing her hair out of her face. She looks perfect in her pleated shorts and a Keith Haring protest shirt.
“I thought there was a party going on,” I say.
“Eric’s brother came home, and everyone thought he was the police.”
“Blue security uniform?”
“Yep. They all ran. Some even left their cars.”
She motions to the street, where a long row of vehicles are still parked by the curb.
“Idiots,” I say, shaking my head. “Wait, why are you still here?”
“I loaned Eric my car.”
My eyes go wide in shock. Allison laughs. It’s adorable. I turn to the yellow VW.
“So this is your baby. And you let Eric drive it before me?”
“It was a desperate situation.”
“I see. Hold on. Eric left his own party? Let me guess…”
In unison, we say, “Michelle Ito.”
She smiles so wide that her eyes close. I just want to taste her lips.
“He just got back. He’s inside. I was just, kind of, cleaning up a little, killing time. Waiting for you.”
We stare at each other.
A police car cruises by, the officer peering out at us from his darkened car. Next door, Eric’s neighbor pulls into his driveway and parks his pickup. The disheveled fifty year old man stumbles out of the truck carrying a metal lunch pail, warbling a Sinatra tune in a drunken slur. Somewhere far off, a dog barks and firecrackers explode, just another night in Cuyahoga.
“Is everything okay between you and Kate?”
“We broke up.”
“Oh. I’m sorry.”
“She put us out of our misery.”
“Can I ask what happened?”
“There’s another girl.”
Her eyes widen. “Oh.”
“Allison, I… I was a jerk.”
“After Washington. I treated you like what happened was your fault, but it was me. I wanted to kiss you… I wanted to kiss you ever since we met. And we had this moment. And it was the greatest moment in my life. And I screwed it up.”
“You didn’t screw it up.”
“But I did. And now I want to say I’m sorry. You deserve to be treated better. I want to treat you better. And I hope what Gwen said is true, and I hope you’ll give me a chance to show you that I can be better.”
Allison kisses me. Our tongues taste each other for an eternity. When we finally stop (Lord knows, I didn’t want to stop), she looks at me and says, “I forgive you.”
We wander over to the Family Truckster and sit down on the hood. Allison rests her head on my shoulder. Sitting here in the moonlight, I study her face, like I’m looking at it for the first time. The freckles on her nose. The small scar on her forehead. The way her hair has streaks of auburn in it. Her long eyelashes. Have I ever noticed these things before? Or do they just feel new because of this moment?
It’s all so weird and bittersweet. Kate was my first, and now she may never talk to me again. I do feel sad about how we ended. A lot of people aren’t going to believe that, but in my heart I know it’s true. Yet, as sad as it makes me feel that we broke up, I only have to look over at Allison, and I feel secure in my decision. I know it’s not supposed to work out this way – you break up with your girlfriend and an hour later you’re with the girl of your dreams – but that’s the whole point, right? Allison is the girl of my dreams. I just took the road less traveled getting to her.
“What happens now?” she asks.
“Now? I see you tomorrow, and every day after that to prove that I’m worthy of what Gwen said.”
“What if I want to take it slow?”
“I don’t care if it takes all summer. I’m not going anywhere. What do you think about that?
“I think I can’t wait until tomorrow.”
We kiss again.
The screen door flings open and Eric comes walking toward us, wearing the expression of a guy who’s just faced down his worst nightmare.
“What’s the damage?” I ask.
“Lawn duty all summer, vacuuming and dusting, and, uh… oh, I have to have the house immaculate by tomorrow night.”
“We’ll help,” Allison offers.
“Definitely,” I agree.
“Thanks, guys,” Eric replies, suddenly realizing that Allison and I are very cozy. He looks back and forth between us, studying our faces. Eric smirks, as if saying, it’s about time.
“Don’t leave us in suspense, tell us what happened with Michelle!” Allison exclaims.
“First of all, she kept thanking me for bringing her shorts.”
“Shorts?” I ask. “What about her shorts?”
“Didn’t you tell him?” Eric asks Allison.
“We were a little… preoccupied,” she replies.
Eric nods. “It’s a long story, the gist of which is I played the hero and drove Michelle home. When we got back to her neighborhood, Michelle asked if I wanted to go for a walk. So, we went over to Chestnut School and sat on the playground. Michelle did most of the talking. She was all concerned that everyone thinks she’s a slut. I assured her that a) I don’t think that she’s a slut, and b) if I ever got the chance, I’d be the best boyfriend she ever had.”
“Holy shit, Eric, nice job!” I exclaim.
“But did you kiss her?” Allison asks.
“Oh hell yeah!” Eric shouts. “Like three times. It was… miraculous.”
“Awww,” she gushes.
Eric stretches his arms over his head and lets out a huge yawn. He claps his hands and says to us, “You guys hungry? It’s only 11:30. I thought we could go buy some food at the Stop-N-Shop, then come back here and watch Letterman or a movie.”
“Yes!” Allison blurts.
Eric and I share a surprised look, and then burst out laughing.
“You still have the Shatner SNL on tape?” I ask, referring to last December’s Saturday Night Live hosted by William Shatner. I turn to Allison, “Have you seen that one?”
“I don’t think so,” she replies.
“Do I still…?” Eric scoffs. He then recites a line from the episode’s best sketch, the one where Shatner addresses a Star Trek convention. “‘Move out of your parents’ basements, get your own apartments, and grow the hell up. It’s just a TV show, dammit. It’s just a TV show!’”
Eric’s imitation is spot on, and it has Allison and me cracking up.
“My dad loves that sketch,” Eric says. “He may be a nerd, but he has a sense of humor.”
From within the house, Eric’s brother screams, “Who was messing with my Mr. Mister album?!”
“My brother, on the other hand,” Eric says.
We all laugh.
“Got my keys?”
I toss his keys high into the air and Eric catches them on the way down. Allison climbs into the front seat and slides over to the middle. Before getting in, Eric and I catch each other’s eyes. He smiles and gives me the old head tilt that says, “I’m happy for you,” I nod several times, as if to reply, “Thanks, man.” We climb into the Family Truckster. The car blasts to life, and we thunder to our destination.
Today’s artwork was by Andres Salaff. Andres is from Shaker Hts, OH and has worked as a storyboard artist and animator for television and commercials. He currently lives in Los Angeles and is a supervising director on Adventure Time at Cartoon Network.
Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush’s song, “Don’t Give Up,” is found on Gabriel’s 1986 album, So.
Previous Chapters: Chapter 32, Chapter 31, Chapter 30, Chapter 29, Chapter 28, Chapter 27, Chapter 26, Chapter 25, Chapter 24, Chapter 23, Chapter 22, Chapter 21, Chapter 20, Chapter 19, Chapter 18, Chapter 17, Chapter 16, Chapter 15, Chapter 14, Chapter 13, Chapter 12, Chapter 11, Chapter 10, Chapter 9, Chapter 8, Chapter 7, Chapter 6, Chapter 5, Chapter 4, Chapter 3, Chapter 2, Chapter 1, Introduction
Read the Conclusion of Legendary.