The Difference a Day Makes by Sojourner McConnell

Pushing the window up the teenage girl watched as her cat strolled in as calm and proper as you please. Carrie brushed her hand down the tawny cats back and gently pat the end of his tail.  The cat leaned forward and brushed his nose against Carrie’s face before jumping off the sill and crossing the room.

Carrie lowered the window and went back to her bed. Now she should be able to concentrate on the book she was reading without the cat mouthing “meow” at the window.  Buster the cat had always been such a drama queen of a cat. He would stand just out of reach and mouth “meow” as if he were too weak from hunger to ask for food.

Carrie had owned the cat for the last four years and they were so bonded that Carrie felt that he knew all her secret feelings and fears that she told no one else about.  In fact Carrie had sung secret songs to Buster soft enough that he alone could hear. Carrie was always sharing her deepest innermost secrets and feelings with the green eyed companion.

Busters climbed across the dresser and over to the night stand where he batted at the pen that was lying beside her journal. The lamp s circle of light gave Buster a place to warm himself under the bulb. He always laid on this night stand and watched as Carrie carefully noted her days events and creative ideas that she remembered from the day.

Carrie had started writing in her journal at the start of ninth grade when her literature teacher had suggested it.  That was two years ago and now it was just part of her daily schedule.  She could not sleep well if she didn’t at least try before sleeping.  Tonight was no different and she began to jot down her feelings about the family outing.

Today had started as most weekend mornings did, with pancakes and chocolate milk.  She hated milk so her mother accommodated her with the chocolaty treat in order to keep the peace.  Carrie had been so stubborn in her dislike over milk that she and her mother had come almost to blows. Not a good way to start the day, so they came to a compromise, chocolate for peace. It seemed to be working well for everyone.

Once the breakfast treat was past the family jumped into the SUV and headed to the local pool.  Mom had packed the SUV early this morning and so there were floats for the little ones and lots of soda and snacks in the cooler for them all.

Dad and Mom stayed close to the twins, since they were only five years old and allowed Carrie to hang out in the deeper end of the pool without too much interference.  She knew how to swim and besides, she mostly hung around on the edge of the pool with her legs dangling is so that she could see and be seen by her friends as they entered the enclosed pool area.  Carrie knew the moment Trenton entered the pool’s eight foot gate. It is like radar when he is close. She can feel him before she ever sees him.

She wasn’t sure if he felt the same, I mean he never spoke to her or acknowledged her in any over the top way. He sometimes slid a little smile that only she could see. It was enough for her to know that he was interested, even if only a little.  That was enough for her.

Carrie pushed the sunglasses down to her nose and felt comfortable that her eyes were now covered well enough by the dark tint that she could freely watch him as long as she did not turn her head too much. So her eyes cut to the left and watched him as he strode past her and planted himself somewhat near her and dangled his feet in the water right at the seven foot marker.

If he had wanted to he could have reached out and touched her with his fingertips.  He did not seem to want to at this moment Carrie realized.  He seemed content to sit close without speaking to her or acknowledging her overtly.

Carrie acted cool about the near contact and stared down at the water so that he couldn’t see her watch him out of the corner of her sunglasses. That would have been so embarrassing, if he had noticed her peeking over at him like that.  So she stared into the water and pretended that she could not see his handsome face reflected there in front of her.  As she watched the image would ripple in and out of focus and she squinted to make it clearer.  She smiled.  No one knew what she could see.

Suddenly she was looking at his profile, shimmering in the water. He was looking at her. Directly with his head turned at a right angle against his shoulders, he was looking at her.

She felt her face become warm and hoped that he would think she was just getting too much sun. She did not want him to know she was blushing.  She fought with herself not to look up at him, but she failed.

She could not resist turning her own face toward him. She wasn’t made of stone, who could resist that?  She fought to keep the silly grin that was threatening to appear at bay. He didn’t need to see that too.  She needed some secrets. She couldn’t be an open book to him.  But no matter what she told herself, she could feel that grin splitting apart her lips and growing into a full blown smile.

Gah, Carrie…really? Stop this!  Look cool, look casual.

Blinking once, twice and then a third time before widening her eyes and looking directly into those green eyes of his, she acknowledged his glaze.

She did not say a word; she only looked at him, breathing slow and steady waiting to see what he had to say to her.  She waited to see why he had turned so blatantly toward her, in public no less.

“Hi Carrie, Are you going in today? Or just sitting on the edge?”

Carrie blushed, she knew she did, she could feel the heat of her cheeks flaming. Swallowing hard she bit her bottom lip and said, “ I am going to go in later, right now I am just enjoying the sun on my back. Are you going in?”

Carrie felt that was a good response. She mentally congratulated herself for her cool calm demeanor.  She looked at his mouth as she saw that he was about to speak. She licked her lips as she waited for him to respond.

“I am going in, I just wanted to know if you would hold my watch if you were not swimming today.  I will stick it in a locker instead.” He laughed then said, “I am just kidding, I was wondering if you wanted to swim with me. I have wanted to ask you for a while, just didn’t have the nerve.”

Carrie started laughing, first out of shock then out of genuine humor at his behavior.  He was funny, she knew that already.  What she did not know was that he was shy about girls and now he wanted to hang out with her.

She stood up and walked down to the steps and waded into the pool.  Trenton stood and followed her stepping into the shallow water at the same time.   Slowly they waded into the deeper area before Carrie dipped under the water getting acclimated to the chilly water.  Trenton dipped down beside her and started swimming toward the deeper end.  She followed doing an underwater crawl until they both came to a halt at the ten foot mark.  There they held onto the side and began to talk.

For the next three hours they told each other about their families, pets and school histories. Both had been hesitant to start but after they started they had plenty to say to each other over those hours.  When Carrie’s Mom called her to come get a drink, snack and some more sun block, she asked Trenton to join her.  He surprised her by accepting. He again surprised her by being comfortable and friendly with her parents and little sisters.

At the picnic table they both pulled out their phones and exchanged numbers so that they could continue to talk in text.

As she was writing about this in her journal, she realized this was the first time a guy had shown such interest in her, and she really liked it.  It made her feel special. She never expected today to go like this in a million years and now that it had, she wanted more days just like this one.

As Carrie  closed her journal for the night,  she heard the little ping from her phone. She looked over and was thrilled to see that it was a text from Trenton.

Yes, she was going to have more days just like today, and she couldn’t wait.

 

 

 

 

 

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