A story of frienship, youth, and summer love that never dies.
|Loving is easy when you’re just a child. I remember when I was a child instead of carrying one on my hip: I was seventeen, living in a small county in South Carolina.
My town had a huge public library, two high schools, a farmer’s market, a small movie theater, a Baptist church, several public parks, a river whose water made endless laps around the town, a carnival during the fourth of July weekend, and two boys who I fell in love with.
Of course I ended up with only one, but to this day I still love both dearly, as a diary loves secrets.
But it wasn’t a secret that I loved both of them. My feelings were conflicting in front of everybody’s eyes. Set out on the table for everyone to see, like a Thanksgiving meal.
I think about both boys often—they’re men now, I suppose I should address them as such. But they were boys when I fell in love. They will stay boys, trapped inside my head like a catchy melody.
Like me, one boy was also seventeen—born four days before me: Him on the seventeenth of October, me on the twenty-first. His name was Gabriel. He had dark chestnut hair, wavy in the summer’s breeze with coppery eyes that were warm even during winter’s months. Facts about the boy, Gabriel Sailor: He didn’t like to be called Gabe. He often had a foul mouth. He’s the jealous type. He had a little brother named Jamie. He was my next door neighbor. He was my best friend. He loved me so hard.
The other boy was eighteen, almost nineteen. I met him during the summer time when I was seventeen years old. I spent several afternoons with him floating in the river, sitting in the back row of the movie theater, biting into ripe fruit from the farmer’s market, and sharing warmth from bed sheets. His name was Judd. He had dark blond hair and was built and lean. Some facts about the boy, Judd Taylor: He was from Florida. His parents were divorced. He was a charmer. He was good at keeping secrets. He didn’t have the knack for small talk. He didn’t love me right away. He loved me more than he’d admit.
My name is Elle. When I was seventeen, I had bright blond hair and hopeful green eyes, with sharp shoulder blades that stuck out. Some facts about me, the girl, Elle Gardener: I’d lived in South Carolina my whole life. I owned one pair of high heels. I aspired to be a professional photographer. I was stubborn. I was brave. I loved two boys at the same time, when I should have only loved one. I was not fair to either of the boys. I was only seventeen.