Late August Texas heat smothers at eight a.m. I put on my blue shorts and blue striped t-shirt because last week Joey said that was his favorite color. I play hopscotch after finding a flat stone, but that gets real boring real fast, so I draw chalk pictures on the sidewalk and keep my eye on the DeMarco’s front door. Looks awfully quiet.
Claire is my friend, and she’s lucky to have four brothers. She doesn’t think so, but Charlie’s twenty and pushes us high on the swings. I’ve never met Nate since he lives in California to surf.
Peter’s older, like thirty. He married, but still comes home because he likes his mom’s cooking. That’s a secret, but Mrs. DeMarco chuckles about it, so I guess it’s okay as long as Peter’s wife isn’t slaving in the kitchen. That’s what my mom calls it – slaving. I like mom’s tacos, but Mrs. DeMarco is the best spaghetti cook and I always get invited for Italian night. Then I sit next to Joey, who offers garlic bread and we touch hands. Plus he jumps up to pour milk and one time he brought Quik to the table for chocolate milk.
He always winks and squeezes my shoulder. His brown eyes smile, not just his mouth and cheeks. Claire and I helped him wash his car last week and he didn’t yell at me like my Dad does. “You missed a spot. No, don’t spray that part.” Instead Joey spritzed us in fun and I wore my new swimsuit. That’s when he said, “You know, Molly, blue is your color. It’s my favorite. What’s yours?”
I started to say green, but switched. “Oh Joey, I love blue, too.” And I truly did. And now I’m wearing it, and waiting for Joey. I gave him a Valentine back in February. Cut and pasted doily lace and printed a message for him. I don’t know cursive yet. He showed me the next week where he hung it on a corkboard. Every time I go to Claire’s room, I sneak a peek into Joey’s and my red heart’s still there.
The garage door goes up slowly at the DeMarcos and I stand. Joey eases out in his Mustang. He stops on the street with the window down. “Hey, Molly. I’m off to college. Wish me luck, kid-o. Hook ‘em horns.” He waggles his fingers and zooms off.
I wave and shout, “Later, Joey,” and hope he’ll honk. Or stop and reverse to tell me how long he’ll be gone, and notice that I wore blue today.
My shoulders slump, tears threaten, and I’m sad. Joey doesn’t look back. He drives away.