Love, Life, and the List(2)

By: Kasie West

“You have to work on your charm,” Cooper said.

“I am the most charming person here.” I slung my beach bag back onto my shoulder and it rocked back and forth like a pendulum. “Charm oozes from my pores.”

“Gross,” he said. “If that’s the case, you’re doing it wrong.”

“Come get your oozing charm, boys!” I yelled to the line behind us.

“Move your ooze along,” someone called back.

Rachel dragged me away from the line, probably embarrassed. Cooper headed left, toward the food stand just past the barriers.

“We’re getting expensive food tonight?” I asked.

“Seems I have some extra money. I can afford a ten-dollar popcorn now.”

“I hate you. I’m eating all your popcorn,” I said.

He laughed. “You do ooze charm, Abby Turner. Loads of it.”

I blew him a kiss. “We’re going to stake a claim on our spot. You get food.”

“I’m on it.”

I had already committed to walking away with Rachel when I saw that the girl who’d bought Cooper’s ticket was now in line at the food truck. I almost changed my mind and sent Rachel to our spot without me so I could join him. But then I didn’t. I didn’t need to witness all his flirting. I already saw enough of it.

“So you’re never going to guess what my parents decided,” Rachel said as I pulled a couple of towels out of my bag and we spread them out on our spot next to the right-side barriers.

“That you don’t have to go with them and you get to stay with me all summer instead?” I guessed.

“I wish.”

“You know how spoiled you sound that you’re complaining about traveling Europe for nine weeks?”

“With my parents. My parents. It’s not like a youth hostel backpacking trip with friends. We’re going to have to visit ancestors’ graves and random plots of land that they think my great-great-grandfather’s brother once peed on or something.”

“Wait, your ancestors are from Europe?”

“Some of them. You don’t think there are any black people in Europe? Come on, Abby.”

“It’s not that I don’t think . . . you’re right, I’m dumb. So, anyway, what did your parents decide?”

“That it’s a technology-free trip.”

“What does that mean?” I sat down on the towel and slipped off my flip-flops. “No Google Maps?”

“No cell phones.”

My eyes went wide. “You can’t take your phone?”

“A detox, they called it.”

“That’s torture.”

“I agree!” She plopped down next to me. “You’re not allowed to do anything fun this summer, because I won’t be able to hear about it.”

“Don’t worry. You’ll come home and everything will be exactly the same,” I said. Exactly. The. Same.

“It better be.”

I dug my toes in the sand and watched Cooper walk toward us holding a popcorn and a bottle of water. His blond hair was slightly wavy tonight and was reflecting the last bit of sunlight like a halo. His blue eyes, lit by his smile, met mine and I couldn’t help the smile that spread across my face.

“How was the concessions truck?” I asked.

“Concessions? And you made fun of Rachel for sounding eighty?”

“Blah blah blah, whatever.”

He sat down on the yellow-and-white-striped towel on my right side and handed me the bottle of water.

“What’s this garbage? I want caffeine.”

“Just yesterday you told me you were giving up soda. You said it quite dramatically, in fact. And then you said, keep me honest, Cooper.”

“What?” Rachel asked from my left side. “You had forty-four ounces of Mountain Dew at my house last night.”

“Shhhhh.” I pressed my finger against her lips. “We’re not talking about that.”

Cooper scoffed and Rachel pushed my hand away.

“Who do you all think I am? Wonder Woman? Geez.” I uncapped the water and took a drink.

“Her name is Iris,” Cooper said, nodding back toward the food truck and the girl who’d bought his ticket.

“Oh no,” Rachel said.

I gave a faux sympathetic hum. “The kiss of death—an unshortenable name. Little did she know telling you her name would be the end for her.”

“It can’t be shortened at all. I. I’m supposed to call her I?” Cooper asked.

“You could get over your lazy tendencies and just call her by her full name.”

“It’s not about being lazy. It’s about my relationship goals. I want to be able to call my girl by a shortened version of her name.”

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