Bee looked around. Miss what, though? she asked, not so much challenging as conciliating. This isnt really the launch, right? She gestured to the Pants, folded obediently in the middle of their triangle. I mean, not officially. Weve been wearing them all school year. Its not like the other summers, when this was the huge kickoff and everything.
Lena wasnt sure whether she felt comforted or antagonized by this statement. Maybe thats true, Tibby said. Maybe we dont need a launch this summer. We should at least figure out the rotation tonight, Lena said. Carmen will just have to live with it.
Why dont we keep up the same rotation weve had going till now? Bridget suggested, straightening her legs in front of her. No reason to change it just because its summer.
Lena bit the skin around her thumbnail and considered the practical truth of this. Summer used to be different. It was the time they left home, split up, lived separate lives for ten long weeks, and counted on the Pants to hold them together until they were reunited. Now summer was more of the same. Being apart wasnt the exception, Lena recognized, it was the rule.
When will we all be home again? That was what she wanted to know.
But when she thought about it logically, she knew: It wasnt just the answer that had changed, it was the question. What was home anymore? What counted as the status quo? Home was a time and it had passed.
Nobody was eating the Gummi Worms. Lena felt like she should eat one or cry. So well just keep up the rotation, she echoed wanly. I think I get them next. I have it written down, Tibby said. Okay. Well. Lena looked at her watch. Should we just go? I guess, Tibby said. Do you want to stop at Tastee Diner on the way home? Bridget asked. Yeah, Tibby said, gathering the effects of a ritual that hadnt quite happened. Maybe we can see a late movie after. I cant handle my parents tonight. What time are you guys taking off tomorrow? Bee asked.
I think our trains at ten, Tibby said. Lena and Tibby were taking the train together: Tibby was getting off in New York to start film classes and her Movieworld job, and Lena was heading up to Providence to change dorm rooms for the summer. Bee was spending a few days at home before she left for Turkey. Lena realized she didnt want to go home just yet either. She picked up the Pants and cradled them briefly. She had a feeling she could not name exactly, but one she knew she had not had in relation to the Pants before. She had felt gratitude, admiration, trust. What she felt now still contained allthat , but tonight it was mixed in with a faint taste of desperation.
If we didnt have them, I dont know what we would do, she found herself thinking as Bee pulled the door of Gildas shut behind them and they walked slowly down the dark stairs.
Carmen, it is beautiful. I cant wait for you to see it.
Carmen nodded into the receiver. Her mother sounded so happy that Carmen had to be happy. How could she not be happy?
When do you think youll move in? she asked, trying to keep her voice light. Well, we will need to do some work. Some plastering, painting, refinishing the floors. Theres some plumbing and electrical to do. Hopefully we can get most of it out of the way before we move in. I hope it will be by the end of August. Wow. That soon.
Nena, it has five bedrooms. Is that unbelievable? It has a beautiful backyard for Ryan to run around in.
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