• St. Martin's Press
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Fall for Anything

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A Bonus Short Story



Told from Milo's (Eddie's best friend) Perspective

Takes place before the events of Fall for Anything


2:05 AM.

            She's awake.  I know she is. 


            Her eyes are open.  They have to be. 


            I sit up, reach for my cell phone and turn it on, squinting against the glare of the screen.  2:06 AM.  Too late to call.  Doesn't matter.  It never matters.  I'll text.


            My thumbs hesitate over the tiny keys.  I don't know what to say.  Come on, Milo.  There's always something.  Millions of words.  All I have to do is pick some and make them come together in a sentence that is exactly the right thing to say. 




            In a text message.




            Send that, you're an asshole. 


            Milo, you are an asshole.


            Delete.  Turn the phone off.  Flop back onto the bed.  Stare at the ceiling.  Close my eyes.  Stare at the back of my eyelids.  Open my eyes.  Glance at the clock.  Again.


            2:10 AM. 


            Grab the cell again, turn it on again.  Squint at the glare.  HEY.  It's better than nothing.  No.  It's not.  HEY, EDDIE.  Hey, Eddie.  Eddie?  Eddie, look at me.  Please look at me. 


            Forget it. 


            Turn the cell off.


            What I should do right now:  sleep.  Simple.  It's what I was told.  Go home and get some sleep, Milo.  There's nothing else you can do.  Sleep.  The only thing I can do. 


            I can't sleep when I know she's awake. 


            If I'm awake, she's awake. 


            She has to be.


            Get up, pace. 


            Get dressed, pace more. 


            Turn my cell on again. 


            On, off.










            I'm starving. 


            Creep downstairs, rummage through the fridge.  Spot what's left of dinner on the top shelf.  Chicken in a bucket.  I peel the salty skin off each leftover piece, eat it.  I'm thirsty.  I grab a bottle of water.  Drink it.  Drink another.  The clock on the wall is mocking me.  2:45 AM.  She's awake, if I'm awake.  She's there.  I'm here.  I should be there.


            I was there.


            You're wasting time, asshole.


            3:15 AM.


            She's your best friend.


            Cell on.




            I'll go to her.


            I leave the house not-so-quietly.  Mom would be all over the obnoxious squeak of the screen door any other night, her ears on high alert since that time I ran away in the third grade.


            But this is not any other night.


            It's hot out.  Bordering on uncomfortable.  The weatherman says it'll be the hottest summer Branford's seen in something like ten years.  I'm three streets away from the Ford River.  Six from her house.  I decide to go there first.  The river.


            Before I see her.


            I sit on the edge of the bank.  Listen to the rush of water, steady and assuring in the dark.  The river will dry up, maybe.  Get low enough to walk across. 


            I listen. 




            Listen, she said. 


            We were here earlier today.  Swapping a flask back and forth.  We were buzzed.  I went to work, buzzed.  Happy. 

            Listen, she said.  I don't want to just sit around this summer.  We have to do stuff.




            Like, go to Jenna's...


            That's... Eddie, we do that every summer.


            Yeah, but... like--if they have a party--we should go.


            You hate parties.


            Yeah, but I want to do stuff!  This summer.  Or we should--


            She leaned up on her elbows then.  I remember.  Looked at me.  I try to picture her face.  I can't.  This happened less than 24 hours ago, us at the river.  What did she look like?  I can't picture her face then.  Before.  After.  After.  Now. 


            --I don't know.  We should do something good.  It has to be a good summer.


            I have to work, you know.


            So?  It can still be good.


            Yeah, it can still be good, Eddie.


            My hands are shaking.


            Maybe she texted me.


            Cell.  On. 






            Delete.  Off.  Leave the river.  Funeral march to her house.  Stare at her window forever.  Lights are off, but she must be awake.  She has to be.  Search the garden for pebbles.  Toss them at the glass, like my life is a movie.  Cringe at how loud it is.  Wait for her.








            Am I relieved?


            Am I relieved to not see her?




            Another handful of pebbles.  Come on, Eddie.  Open the window. 


            Let me in.


            This time I whip them at the glass.  Hard.


            After forever, the front door opens.


            "Milo?  What are you doing?  Do you know what time it is?"


            4:00 AM.


            Beth stands in the doorway.  Not Eddie.  Not Eddie's mom.  The guard dog.  Hair perfect.  She hasn't slept either.  She's awake.  I'm awake.  We all must be awake.  All of our eyes, wide open.


            "Is Eddie awake?"


            "No, Milo.  She's asleep."






            That's not right.


            Not if I'm awake.




            Beth stares at me.  I stare at her.  Stupid.  Stupid.  I walk down the path, the way I came.  I don't need to explain myself.  Not tonight.  But Eddie--I turn back.


            I need to see her.   


            "Can I see her?"


            "Are you deaf?  I said she's asleep."


            "Can I just see her?  I won't wake her up."


            "What is wrong with you?--"


            "I need to see her, Beth--"




            "Because I--"


            I need to. 


            She sighs. 


            "No, Milo."




            "You can't.  She's fine."


            Fine.  Eddie is fine.


            Eddie hates you, Beth.  She hates you.


            "Go home, Milo."


            Beth just stands there.


            Fuck this night.  Fuck it.




            I stop.  She waits for me to finish.


            "Don't tell Eddie about this, Beth."


            "I won't.  She's got enough to deal with right now."


            She closes the door.


            I turn back to the window.


            The lights are off.


            Get my phone, turn it on.


            EDDIE, I'M--








            Go home. 


            Get undressed. 


            Crawl back into bed. 


            Stare at the ceiling.


            4:30 AM.


            She's awake.


            I know she is.