There is no such thing as a social life in Colonial Heights. Once the mall shuts down at nine, everyone goes home. When you get off from the deli, there’s nothing to do -- the mall’s already closed. So when you have a night off, you decide to hang out there. Since you don’t come every night, you think that makes you different from those who do.
It’s at the mall where you see Miranda Dublin.
For as long as you can remember, you’ve known of her. She stands in the choir at your parents’ church every Sunday, and though you’ve always meant to talk to her, you never have. You don’t even know why you want to talk to her -- she’s younger than you, one of those quiet types who goes to school and seems to get good grades just by thinking about it. You, however ... in high school you were lucky if you didn’t fall asleep during class, and in your senior year, you became infamous for skipping more days than any other student. You didn’t study, and didn’t want to, and you think college is easier because Mason has no attendance policy. Come the first day of spring, you’re as far from campus as can be, wondering why your grades aren’t better.
Miranda’s nothing like that, and you’ve always wondered if someone like her could be interesting. If there was anything mischievous behind those large brown eyes? Would she ever let you find out?
Now there she is, outside a bookstore, leafing through a magazine and licking down an ice cream cone. There’s no one with her, and since there’s no one with you, either, you decide to say something to her. It’s harder than you thought -- you pass by her three times before you get the courage to just say hi.
She looks up and smiles. Bolder, you sit next to her on the bench. You don’t really expect her to know who you are, but when you’re about to introduce yourself, she asks, “You’re Josey, right?”
All right! It always feels good when someone else knows who you are.
Then again, she was in the high school the year you graduated. Everyone knows the troublemakers, and you made the worst trouble of them all. Everyone knew Josey Fuller, especially the vice principal. And if you remember right, Miranda used to work in the office during her study hall.
You ask her, “What are you reading?”
She shows you the cover of the magazine -- Seventeen. That’s when you remember she’s still in high school, and you ask when she graduates.
“In June,” she replies.
You remember it’s only May. College always gets out early.
Now you’re finally talking to her, you don’t want to stop. Unfortunately, you can’t think of a thing to say. “So ... what’s up?”
She shrugs. You figured as much.
So you ask, “Want to go somewhere?”