Tonight the Streets Are Ours / Page 36

Page 36


Yesterday she’d read further through Peter’s posts from last summer. He joked about the bookstore. He occasionally went to the Hamptons with his family. The Hamptons were a rich-person beach vacation area, so, as Peter put it, “Obviously my parents have to have a house there.” He went to parties—countless parties, with countless friends whose names Arden could never keep track of, and often couldn’t even tell if they were guys or girls.

There was no hint in any of these posts of Peter’s brother’s tragic disappearance, which Arden knew, from reading ahead, was barreling down on them. There was very little mention of his brother at all. Peter’s summer seemed bright with possibility and hazy with freedom, and it made Arden feel nostalgic for a summertime that she had never actually experienced and likely never would. Today was cold and tomorrow would be cold, too, and even when the weather finally warmed up, what could Arden expect? Ten weeks of waking up to drive Roman to sports games and playdates while her father worked and her mother was off enjoying her big-city adventures. Keeping the house clean and getting food on the table. Trying to keep Lindsey out of trouble. For excitement, she could have a job at the hardware store with Chris—Mr. Jump had already offered.

Her summer plans weren’t anything bad, nothing to complain about. But Arden felt like Tonight the Streets Are Ours had shone a spotlight on her own life and revealed that everything in it was happening in black and white, when there was a whole world of color out there. Arden never would have said that tonight the streets were hers. At best, she felt that this space on the bleachers where she sat right now was hers, at least for the next couple hours.

But for all the color and light in Peter’s life that Arden enjoyed reading about, there were no entries she loved to read as much as the ones about Bianca. She never knew when Bianca was going to appear in Peter’s stories, so every time she did, Arden felt a thrill.

July 15

Bianca showed up at the bookstore today. Alone.

“Oh, yoo-hoo, shop clerk,” she said to me. “I’m trying to decide which of these books to buy. Any recommendations?” She set down in front of me three books of poetry. Love poetry. And she winked at me.

“Buy them all,” I said. “I get paid on commission.”

She did.

I swear to God, this girl is driving me crazy.

August 4

Miranda and Julio and I went to the free Probiotics show on the pier tonight. Miranda kept talking about how her mom knows somebody who knows somebody who knows the Probiotics’ manager and maybe she could get us backstage afterward. She kept threatening to “make some calls,” but I never actually saw her call anybody.

It was offensively hot, but there was some rainbow sprinkler set up that you could run through to cool off (like a normal sprinkler, but somehow they’d put rainbow lights over it?), and there were people giving away bottles of free Vitaminwater.

I do not understand Vitaminwater, by the way. Drink some water. Eat some vitamins. Are you so busy that you need those two tasks combined into one? I mean, I know New Yorkers have a lot going on, but chill the hell out.

We were dancing in the middle of it all, sweating up a storm, when we ran into Bianca. She was with Leo and a bunch of his asshole teammates.

Sorry. “Football teammates.” That’s what I meant.

I kind of froze when I saw her and Leo together, as though she and I had been doing something illicit, even though we haven’t, we haven’t done anything that’s not completely G-rated, I haven’t even held her hand. I barely ever see her. I felt guilty and then I felt mad at Leo for making me feel guilty, even though I guess that none of that is his fault.

Leo’s friends were all, “Dude, this is so lame,” and, “Dude, does anybody have any beer?” and, “Dude, why aren’t there any chicks here?” I have met some of these guys one-on-one before and they’ve seemed like reasonable human beings, but somehow their intelligence gets halved every time you add one more of them to the mix, so that by the time you have five of them in a crew like today, they are basically a pack of mentally challenged terriers.

“So you’re Bianca,” Miranda said, taking her in. Miranda is not the world’s greatest secret keeper, and I found myself wishing that I’d never said anything to her.

“Pleased to meet you,” Bianca said, sticking out her hand for a shake. “And you are…?”

Today Miranda was wearing a midriff top and shorts showing off her ass cheeks, and all Leo’s friends were salivating over her, but I only had eyes for Bianca. “You look really nice,” I told her. She was wearing about twice as many clothes as Miranda (which is not that hard to do), and she reminded me of an angel. If wings had sprouted from her shoulder blades, I would not have been the least bit surprised.

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