The package was about the size of a book. It wasn’t marked fragile, so she shook it gently. No rattling, but light.
Kayla headed inside for scissors. Danny always had liked to be sure of things, and the package bore plenty of tape to prove it. The phone began ringing again and she checked the caller ID; a coworker, checking on her. She let the voice mail take it again, but brought the cordless back out onto the porch with her.
She looked at the writing again, smiling. Danny, her first real boyfriend. They had made it through all of sophomore year, most of junior, before realizing it just wasn’t meant to be. It was hard to break up, but not bitter. Still, after they went to different colleges, they had hardly spoken, and neither of them was the reunion type.
She cut away the tape at one end, carefully. The cardboard was folded in at the end and she pried it out, peering inside. Wadded newspaper greeted her.
She slowly pulled out the newspaper, crumple by crumple. They joined the pile in the yard. Finally she found a Ziploc bag of beach sand, with a folded note inside. Nothing but newspaper filled the rest.
Puzzled, Kayla opened the bag and shook off the sand inside it so as not to lose any. She opened it and read:
It’s time. If you want to meet me, make it 2 p.m. Bring a cupcake.
A flood of feelings washed over her. She hadn’t thought about The Pact for years, so sure he had found someone else.
In senior year on his birthday, on a field trip collecting water samples, they had agreed. If we’re 45 and not doing anything else, let’s meet. Not get married necessarily, but talk about it anyway.
She grinned. It had been so disloyal, with new boyfriend Joel just at the other end of the beach. But even then she knew he was on his way out -– and so did Danny. They weren’t as romantically suited as they’d first thought, but they were close in a way that few relationships since had managed to match.
He had given her a beautiful zebra mussel. Unable to find such a treasure, she scooped sand into a bag and presented it to him. On this date, at this place, if we’re 45 and not doing anything better, was all they had promised. No hard feelings about the other’s good fortune -– in fact, it was to be encouraged, considering how they had ended up.
Saturday. His birthday would be Saturday. And the beach was only an hour and a half away.
The phone rang again and Kayla looked at the screen to see who it was. Another coworker, one of her favorites.
“Hey,” she said on the third ring. “Yeah, they finally figured it out. No, it’s not good. I don’t want to talk about it on the phone, though. You want to do lunch tomorrow?”
Chinese buffet set, she hung up. It felt good to make plans.
The next chapter used these votes as guides:
Should Kayla meet Danny?
186 votes went like this:
Yes -– 97.85 percent, 182 votes
No –- 2.15 percent, 4 votes
If she meets him, should she
184 votes went like this:
tell him she’s got 30 days to live –- 61.41 percent, 113 votes
not tell him –- 38.59 percent, 71 votes
If they meet, should they
181 votes went like this:
spend a long afternoon at the beach? –- 67.4 percent, 122 votes
go out to dinner? -– 6.08 percent, 11 votes
go away on a cruise? –- 3.87 percent, 7 votes
marry on the beach with seagulls as witnesses, then honeymoon? –- 22.65 percent, 41 votes
plan a civil ceremony? –- 0 percent, 0 votes
Should Kayla quit her job?
182 votes went like this:
Yes -– 61.54 percent, 112 votes
No –- 38.46 percent, 70 votes
This post originally appeared on ourMidland.com, the online home of the Midland (MI) Daily News. Republished with permission.