They have lots to talk about in music and art, and even start writing a few songs together. The three of us become hard to separate. She even helps us lead a few swimming lessons, while the camp manager oversees a crafts class.
Still, when Renee declares we were done a week before camp ends, Alice doesn’t waste a minute inventing new words for her.
It doesn’t matter that she’s right—that writing letters and saving scraps toward a dream of next summer would make a horrible junior year. I hate babysitting. It doesn’t matter that in the end it’s probably a favor that she won’t even let us drag this to the last moment we can say goodbye. When Alice and I find our clearing on the downslope in the early August moon, and I find Alice’s flask magically heavy and perfect, there was only one person I want to be next to more. To hell with the Beatles. They don’t know heartache like this.
The next day we pour ourselves into Alice’s mom’s Marquis. When we crawl onto Washington Street, all I can find is Tom Waits in my head. I don’t want him, either. Wellesley looks just like my girlfriend, like it’s gone on without me. Mrs. Gavelston drops me off, exchanges a few words with my mom. Alice and I hug, promise to call tomorrow.
I unpack a few things, throw Renee’s copy of Rubyfruit Jungle on my bed. Then I pick it up, put it behind a stack of books on my homework desk. Then I put in the back of my closet. I say goodnight to my parents and sneak out the basement door.
I stay the hell away from Grantland Road. I don’t need that shit now. In this godawful yellow lamplight everything feels warm and distant. I figure I can do that, too. I lie in the grass across from the Junior High.
It could have been half an hour. Maybe ten minutes. Maybe it happens immediately, and the power of returning fans minutes into a lifetime. This time I don’t fight the melody, when I hear it in the grass, in the lamplight, in the leaves, somewhere at the back of the sky.
Oh, god, I need the song.