I lie back on the beach and put my hands behind my head. “So, we’re gonna spend the whole summer hanging out and I’m not allowed to get to know you even in the most basic and simple ways? Is that how this is gonna go, Fee?”
She lies back next to me and turns on her side, her eyes searching mine. “Why do you insist that I am her? I’m not her, Brody. This fact will hurt you if you don’t accept it and I don’t want to hurt you. You’re nice, I like you, but I’m not that girl.”
“I want you to be her.” I tell her truthfully. “I so, so want you to be her, Francesca. I cannot even explain how much I want to talk to her again. How much I want to tell her about all the days we never shared, to tell her that I thought of her at the end of every single one of them and that I prayed to God for years, every night, on my fucking knees, that she’d come back. I want to give her the Fruit Roll-Up I brought to school that first day back after summer vacation. That stupid Fruit Roll-Up that I still have hidden away, because I had this faith as a kid. This unwavering faith that only a kid can have that one day my friend would be back. And when she finally showed up, I’d give her that stupid snack to show her how much I missed her. And to prove myself to her. Because that little girl was my soulmate.”
She frowns so deep it makes me hold my breath.
“I’m sorry,” I say, turning my head to stare up at the sky. “I shouldn’t tell you this stuff, I’m sorry.” I’m projecting, that’s what I’m doing. I want Francesca to be my Fee so bad I’m starting to believe it myself, even as she sits here and tells me straight up she’s not her.
Her hand touches my cheek and I look back over.
“You can ask me one question, but it can’t be about my other life.”
I laugh. “What good does that do me?”
“Well, you can ask about things, but not my family, or school, or the places I’ve lived.”
“Give me a for example, because I’m not seeing the difference.”
She sighs and turns away, biting on her thumbnail a little. “OK,” she says, turning back. “For example, I’ll ask you the first question and you answer, then I’ll answer the same question for you.”
She chews on her bottom lip this time. Clearly she is nervous. “All right, tell me about the best day of your life.”
I sit up and stare down at her. “The best day of my life?”
“Today, Fee. The best day of my life is today.”