The Wrong Side of the River
For I ne’er saw true beauty till this night

A white haze obstructed my view on the way home, but it wasn’t frightening this time because Romy held my arm.
“So, how blind are you, exactly?” She asked.
“Well, right now I can see your hand on my arm, but your face looks like a pink blob with fuzzy brown around it.
“Wow, a pink blob, huh. I’m not sure how to take that.”
I laughed. “It’s a really pretty pink blob.”
She pulled my arm in closer and held my hand with her other hand. Warmth shot up my arm and out to my cheeks. I’d never been so grateful for bad eyesight in my whole life.
“So, how are things at home?” I asked.
She sighed. “About as bad as ever. Mom’s out of town at the moment, which makes things a little better, but not much.”
“I’m sorry.”
She squeezed my hand. “It’s okay. Everyone’s got something to deal with, you know?”
I nodded.
We walked in silence for few minutes, except for Romy’s occasional warnings to step over a fallen branch or be careful of an ice patch.
“Is your mom going to be back in time for the play?”
“Yeah. Unfortunately.” Romy said. “She’s got stuff in the city until Friday morning, but she said she’d be back before dinner.”
“It will be good to have her there. She’ll see that we’re keeping our distance, at least on stage.” I grinned.
She laughed. “The truth is she’ll probably be just as upset by the hand kissing as she would have been by real kissing.”
“Too bad we didn’t just go for it then,” I said, pretending to be sarcastic.
“Yeah, too bad.”
We rounded the corner of my street and then ambled up my walkway to the front door.
“Thanks,” I said. “I don’t think I could have made it alone.” Of course, I was pretty sure Ben and Marshall would have walked with me, but that definitely would not have been as cool.
“Not so fast.” Romy said. “I’m not leaving you until we get you another pair of glasses. I don’t want to be responsible for your broken neck if you fall down the stairs.”
I smiled. “Alright then, come in.”
She guided me up the stairs to my room and helped me find my back-up glasses on the nightstand. I slipped them on and everything came into focus including my bedroom floor with a pair of Spiderman underwear out in the open.
“Is it nice to be able to see again?”
I inched over to the underwear, kicked them under my bed, and looked up at Romy. Her hair was windblown and her nose and cheeks were pink.
“It’s nice to be able to see you again.” I said, before I could check my cheesiness.
She laughed and walked over to Solo’s bed where he was sitting up straight and wagging his tail like crazy.
“Have you taught him anything new?”
“Loads of stuff,” I said.
She smiled and leaned her hand on my desk. “Of course you have.”
A stray bit of hair clung to her eyebrow and without thinking I reached out and brushed it to the side.
She smiled.
I smiled.
She leaned in.
I leaned in.
And then… the garage door opened.
She stepped back. “I guess I should get home.”
We walked downstairs just in time to see Dad come in from the garage. He rubbed his forehead, which was creased with worry, and then he looked up.
“Hi, Dad,” I said.
“Hey, Julian,” he said, a little extra brightness in his tone, his expression changing from stressed out to surprised.
“Um, this is my friend, Rosemary Madison.”
He smiled—and not the smile he usually put on for political events, but a real, genuine smile—and held out his hand. “It’s nice to meet you Rosemary. Your Dad is a good man and your mom is, well… She’s a tough lady.”
“That sounds about right,” Romy said, shaking his hand. “It’s nice to meet you too. Julian’s told me so much about you.”
His eyes got wide. “Good things, I hope.”
She grinned. “Mostly.”
Dad laughed. “That sounds about right.”
“Well, I’d better get home. See you tomorrow, Julian.”
“See you,” I said, opening the door. She waved and then hopped down the steps and out to the walk as I shut the door and turned back to Dad.
He was grinning as he looked me in the eye for the first time in forever. “So, Rosemary Madison, eh?”
I shuffled my feet. “Yup.”
“How long have you been...what are you exactly?”
“Just friends.” I said, wondering if that would still be true if he’d waited ten more seconds to come home. “We’ve been friends all year.”
“Even with all that’s been going on—with the park and everything?”
“Yeah, even with that. Romy, I mean Rosemary, is really cool. She’s not all wrapped up in the Northside verses Southside stuff.”
Dad blinked at me, with sad smile. “You aren’t either, are you son?”
I shook my head.
He put his hand on my shoulder. “I’m proud of you, Julian. I know I don’t tell you that a lot, but it isn’t because I don’t think it. You’re a good boy and someday you’ll be a good man. I know this whole park business has been a mess. I’m beginning to understand that.
He sighed and sat on the bottom step. “Right now, I just wish there was some way to give the money back. Half the town will be upset if the park goes Southside and the other half will furious if it goes Northside. There’s just no way it can end well.”
I nodded.

Keep Reading

Chapter 28

They have made worms’ meat of me! Romy

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