The Summer We Met
- Genre: Romance
- Status: Ongoing
- Language: English
- Author: Chinyere Nwakpoke
Fireworks bang, sending sparks all around my system. I clench the door handle to avoid bursting the windshield open and crushing on the dry, hard tarmac.
I can’t risk letting that happen. It’ll give Mom every reason to regret making this move and Kit—the little devil—the glee of a lifetime. Therefore, to preserve my dignity, I have to stay put and pretend I’m the least excited about this journey.
I scream silently.
We are moving to Colorado. Oh, precious Lord Jesus, I cannot believe this. Not ever. How is it that my parents decided to leave the good confines of the east coast and perch on the west? Worst still, Glenlane county, the part known to be
left-winged. I couldn’t care less about politics. Never held my interest in any way. The point is, my deeply religious parents looked past this fact, and here we are, scooting away to Colorado. And not just that, I’ll be attending an
high school this time around. Junior year in a public school.
Ahhh! It’s finally happening. All the stuff I dreamt about. All the things I’ve read about are finally coming to life. I’m going to be like Candy Heron in Mean Girls, Gabriella Montez in High School Musical, and of course, my favorite—Cher Horowitz. I can’t even…
This is the best birthday gift ever. Better than what I bargained for.
“Kit, give me a can of soda,” Mom cuts through my thoughts. She collects the drink from him, opens it, and gulps. A faint smile plays on my lips as I watch her.
She doesn’t like driving, which makes me sigh at the fact that we were never going to take a road trip after all.
Right from when she and Dad broke the news of our move to me, I pictured a stretched-out trip from North Carolina to Colorado. I was excited to have many stopovers and see how states differ from one another. It’d have been cool and might have even inspired me to write that novella I’ve always wanted to write. Instead, we had one of Dad’s distant cousins—of some sort—take Mom’s hatchback to Kansas. Then, we flew in and picked up from where he had stopped.
I take my eyes to the window beside me, admiring how scenic Kansas looks. And if I’m going all mushy and jelly because of it, heaven only knows what will become of me when we reach Colorado.
I grow tired of staring and pick my bag from the floor. I unzip it and pull out my diary.
I’ve gone through this list countless times. Back home, on the plane, in the motel. It’s the run-down of things I’m going to do this year. Yes, my Junior Year/Summer Bucket List.
“Interesting, what you got there?”
I freeze. Oh no. No, no, no. She didn’t just say that.
“Hm?” I glance at her but don’t catch the reproach I expected to see in her eyes. A stream of breath leaves my lips. She didn’t see what I had in here. And she should never see it.
“Yeah,” she tips her head at the notebook, “Isn’t that a list or something?”
“Uhm…” I tear my gaze from her and stare far off, battling with a dry throat, “Yeah…”
Her gaze bores the side of my head, further crippling me with nerves. What will she do now? Call dad? Tell him the move was—is a bad idea?
Almost like a flash, the tense air loosens up as Mom shrugs.
“It’s okay if you don’t want to show me. Just make sure vaping isn’t listed.”
“Mom,” I screech, slapping on an incredulous look. She smirks, but I’m not moved.
“Okay, that went far.”
“Too far,” I say, turning my annoyed face back to the windshield.
“But my fear is justified, you know? What you guys do these days—the Gen Z’s or whatever—is totally shocking.”
I inwardly roll my eyes, knowing what will come next. As expected, she goes on, talking about how the ’90s were pure. How they didn’t do many d****, and how they were properly clothed.
I fight the urge to remind her that she went to a Catholic high school, a private one at that.
“Yeah, I know. I’m not going to vape. Hell, I...” Uh oh. I slam my mouth shut. I used a bad word.
Mom passes me a glance and quirks her feathered brows. I’d have let her know, once again, that the trend isn’t meant for her, but I’ve got bigger problems now.
I sigh. “I’m sorry. But you can’t blame me, much. I was shocked by your words…subtle accusation.”
She doesn’t reply, neither does she look like she’s accepted the apology. Putting up with her fuss will always be difficult.
The journey continues in silence. I don’t bother to look at my list again because I’m skating on thin ice. Mom is the type of person that can switch it up unexpectedly. Given my stupid slipup, it won’t come as a surprise if she makes a U-turn, sending us back home. I also won’t be surprised if she applies for late registration to St. Benedict, the private school she and Dad wanted me to attend in Colorado. God forbid. I pray my fears don’t happen.
The fear sure has an effect on me because the next thing I know, I’m slipping my eyes shut. About to doze off.
I don’t fight to stay awake; I didn’t get much sleep last night.
Light tapping on my lap brings me awake. Mom’s grey eyes are what I first see.
She nods towards the windshield. I follow her gaze and sit up.
There she is.
“Welcome to colorful Colorado,” Mom completes it for me.
Wow. I stick my eyes to the wooden sign off the road. We are here. We are in Colorado!
The mountains in the background snatch my breath. I can’t stop a grin from forming.
“Alright, guys. Time to give thanks,” Mom says.
I pull my gaze from the window and slam my eyes shut, ready for prayer.
“Kit! Drop that tablet now.”
My little brother sighs. I turn to capture his expression. His frown has me smirking.
Mom leads in praise and worship, and as characteristic of her, time stretches.
I’m this close…the tiniest bit close to shifting in my seat. I don’t want to miss any landmarks.
The moment we make the sign of the cross, I yank my eyes open. Fortunately, we are still on the highway. And so, I go about grinning like a Cheshire cat.
We make it to town: Cherriton, Glenlane county. Our new home.
The streets are alive with buildings on either side. People are moving about, smiling —okay, that’s my imagination, but still! I bet everyone’s at peace with this picture-perfect town.
As we pull up to a stop, my eyes happen on a signpost. My lashes flutter on meeting the words: Glenlane High. According to the post, it’s half a mile to the left.
The name echoes. Warmth wraps me up.
I recline in my seat and stare like a lovesick teenager. For all I know, that’s what I am. It’s going to be exciting. It’s going to be a rollercoaster.
With my smile crossing the line into creepy, I rub my chest—telling myself to take it easy.
I don’t want a stroke, after all. Not when six years of my life have been spent dreaming about a day like this.
So, a note to self: get a grip, girl. Breathe.