The girl in the red jacket is staring at me. Not in a creepy way, but not in a way that‘s exactly normal, either. I mean, who stares at strangers in the park, or, well, who keeps staring at strangers in the park, once they’ve been caught.
She’s got this weird little half-smile going on but I’m pretty sure she’s not checking me out. Which is too bad. She’s kinda hot, in a I-stare-at-strangers kind of way. We’re probably about the same age too, which is a surprise, because other than when my mom makes me take my little brother, the only people here are usually under seven or over forty. This girl can’t be more than seventeen.
Now I’m staring, so I shift my gaze to the playground, looking for Max, and making sure he’s not getting in any fights or talking to any creepers. He’s got Asperger’s and he’s not the best judge of character or at social situations in general. But he’s a cool little dude.
He looks alright. He’s swinging on the swings with his head tipped way back, watching the clouds. I used to do that. All of a sudden, I miss swinging so much it’s like they outlawed it or something. Like all the swings died in some kind of swing flu epidemic. I want to go out there and join him but I won’t. A 6’ 1” kid on the swings? I have enough working against me already. No need to add fuel to the loser pile.
I feel her breath in my ear a second before she speaks.
“Hey.” It’s a whisper so low that if I didn’t feel it I wouldn’t be sure someone even spoke. I whip my head around and she’s on the bench next to me. The girl in the red jacket.
“Uh, hey?” My voice cracks and it comes out like a question. Smooth. That’s me.
She smiles like she just won the lottery or something, her tongue sliding out between her teeth. “I have to tell you something.”
This’s gotta be a prank. Maybe her bitchy friends are hiding nearby and this is some dare she has to do. Cute girls don’t come up to me in the park. They don’t come up to me anywhere.
I look around, but no one’s paying any attention to us. If she’s got friends watching this, they must be experts at camouflage. I turn back to her and her eyes are wide, round, like she’s excited to see me. She leans toward me and I kinda want to kiss her, but instead I say, “Okay?”
Her face flips from happy to serious like she’s a TV and someone changed her channel. Now her round eyes – brown, with flecks of gold – are somber. “It’s a secret.”
I’m almost positive this chick is crazy, but I kinda don’t care. I smile and drop my voice to a whisper. “I can keep a secret.”
She smiles back, coy this time. “I know.”
A breeze blows then, tugging her dark curls away from her face and for a second all I can do is watch them float around her head. She giggles, an airy sound that sends a shiver through me. Before I can ask what she means, she slides closer and cups her hands around my ear. She takes a breath and I go still, waiting to hear what this strange girl has to say. It feels like an hour passes as the world drops away. There is nothing but her hands on my ear, the tickle of her breath and then she speaks.
“The game starts now.”
I wait for more but she just laughs. She drops her hands and stands.
“Shh...” She puts a finger to my lips. “You have four hours.” She winks, like I’m in on the joke, and then turns and runs away.
What the hell was that? I should’ve known a girl like that wouldn’t be talking to me for any good reason. Suddenly all I want is to go home. I walk to the playground, looking for Max. He’s not on the swings anymore.
“Max! Come on, let’s go.”
No reply. I scan the playground, I don’t see his big round glasses anywhere. Shit.
Come back Wednesday to see what Lacey does next!
Photo by i_yudai on flickr.
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