I’m not into her, Rach. You need to relax about this. It’s all in your head. We’ve been dating for two years.
She shrugs, as if to say, yeah, I guess you’re right, but she still can’t take her eyes off her.
Kate is one of those ‘cool girls.’ Shoots shit with the guys. Red pixie cut. Sweatshirts that seem to outline her curves. Wears makeup, but nothing over the top; her natural beauty speaks for itself.
Kate is a floater.
I’m not into her, Kevin repeats.
Rachel wants to believe him but wasn’t too fond of the way he whispered in Kate’s ear an hour earlier.
While everyone filled their plates with fresh pasta salads and grilled hamburgers and Lexi’s mom’s famous spare ribs for the final hurrah of the season, Kate and Kevin were out in the front yard.
He whispered something in her ear.
When Rachel asked him about it, he sighed. A subtle sigh.
It’s nothing to worry about it, he conveyed.
She turns her head and watches Kate by the pool’s edge, dangling her toes in the cold water, letting out a shriek.
Even her shriek somehow sounds calm. Collected.
Rachel fluffs her pillow and turns it over. She takes long sips of lukewarm water from the glass by her nightstand. She stares at the digital clock, which reads 11:55 PM.
Tomorrow starts their first day of senior year; Econ 101 with Mr. Epstein — first period, bright and early.
But her mind isn’t fixated on getting to bed. It’s swirling with thoughts of the labor day party. The front yard. The whisper.
The alarm clock buzzes in her left ear after five hours of sleep.
She slowly maneuvers her way to the closet; she’s not one to plan her outfits in advance. She fingers a beige cardigan and pairs it with a denim skirt.
Rachel immediately spots Kate by her locker, surrounded by friends swapping summer stories. Talking about this and that.
But something oddly specific catches her attention; something is situated in Kate’s hair — by the strands that frame her face.
An intricate origami flower. A pale pink. Eight petals.
Kevin gave Rachel an origami flower for the past two Valentine’s they’ve been together.
He explained how he made them over dinner at that dimly-lit bistro on Berry Street. His assuring tones provided comfort. They usually did.
I folded the origami square base with the color side on the inside.
He took her hand in his, lightly grazing her thumbs.
Then you have to fold this right side, here, to meet the center line. Then crease well and unfold.
The bell rings as a lump forms in Rachel’s throat.
But of course, he’s not into her.