Sadie dipped her toes into the pond. Ouch, cold. Should have known it would be this cold. she thought. After all, it is December. Soon her skin was numbed by the freezing Northeast water. She kept her toes under long enough to watch how her feet looked bent under the water. She pulled one foot out of the water and, for the eighty-four thousandth time this week, she looked at her toenails. She noticed that one of the nails was chipped and a chunk of the cherry-red polish was gone. She absent-mindedly reached for her towel and wrapped it around her thin shoulders. Damn, it's freezing out here. Who in their right minds would go swimming in this weather? I must be crazy. Maybe she was. She stood up, rubbed her feet dry with her towel, and slid into her sandals. Once again she wrapped the towel around her shoulders, and walked over to her bike, which was leaning against the nearest tree.
As she pedaled slowly home, Sadie realized that her life was perfect. She had friends, a boyfriend, a cool mom, and a father who was long gone but was kind enough to have left before she was emotionally attached to him. Nothing was missing—and Sadie was truly happy. She smiled to herself as she hopped off her bike and wheeled it into the garage. She pulled the little piece of sheetrock away from the wall that was hiding the key and she unlocked the back door, simultaneously pushing the button to close the garage door. She put the key back, opened the door, and walked inside, breathing in her house's smell. As she walked into the kitchen, she noticed that her mother was at the stove, frying something in a skillet—probably some sausage. "Mmmmm, smells good, Mom," she said.
"Oh, hey honey, I didn't hear you come in," her mom said, kissing her on the forehead. Sadie lovingly wiped off the lip gloss her mom had left on her skin before replying.
"Well, I haven't been home very long—but then, I didn't stay at the pond very long. Too cold."
"You know me—always ignoring you." Sadie gave her mom one last hug before she started walking to her room.
"Hey, Sadie? I have something I need to talk to you about at dinner. A few things, actually. Okay? Oh, and Max and Lola are here, too. They came for dinner."
"Okay," she said.
As Sadie walked into her room, she realized again that she needed to touch up her toenails. She also noticed Max and Lola—her boyfriend and best friend—sitting on her bed, talking with each other as they waited.
"What took you so long? We've been waiting here for half an hour! Where were you? I mean, your mom said you were at the pond, but we knew that wasn't true because you have WAY too much common sense to go swimming in December. Anyway, we thought you might have gone up to the grocery store to get some cake mix or flowers or something like that—you know, we never know what you're gonna buy at the grocery store. You buy weird stuff. We also thought you might have gotten lost on the way home from"
"Shhh." Sadie hushed Lola, who, as usual, was a whirlwind of questions and ideas. She looked over at Max, who by now had gotten up and was walking over to the two girls. He brushed Lola slightly aside and gave Sadie a kiss.
"Hey Siddo." He reverted back to his old habit of calling her her childhood nickname.
"Hey Max." Sadie kissed him back. Lola was disgusted by this display of affection.
"Are you guys done yet? It smells like dinner's ready, so I'm gonna go see what's goin' on in the kitchen. See y'all in a minute." Both of Lola's parents were Southern, and by now, Sadie was used to hearing the y'alls and other Southern shortcuts.
"So, where were you really?" Max asked.
"I was really at the pond, where my mom said I was. I know you think I'm crazy for wanting to go swimming, but maybe I am crazy. I'm beginning to think so." She gave him a peck on the cheek and took his hand, and together they walked through the house to the kitchen.