When Kassandra was a girl, she had a best friend. The two girls shared everything: their taste in ice cream (“three kinds,” as they called Neopolitcan); their crushes (Sammy, the dark-haired, blue-eyed football hero at their junior high school); and even their long limbs and lanky builds.
People often mistook them for sisters. They both had straight, honey-blond hair parted in the middle, hanging in curtains on either side of their fresh, open faces. By the time they were fifteen, Kassandra stood nearly an inch taller than Sasha. She stooped unconsciously, making their heights match as well as their hair, and everything else about them.
Kassandra’s parents expected great things from their daughter. Sasha’s parents, on the other hand, expected the worst from her.
For three summers in a row, Kassandra and Sasha’s families vacationed together at a sunny lake resort across the state from their home town. The girls turned matching shades of nut-brown as they spent their days outdoors, lake swimming, cycling, and lounging by the pool.
The third summer, Sasha’s and Kassandra’s lives veered abruptly apart.
Something about the scene unfolding in front of Allison’s house, as Douglas returned and embraced his grown son, David, brought memories of that long-ago summer rushing back to Kassandra. Maybe it was the look in David’s eyes as he caught her gaze over Douglas’s shoulder.
The boy who had led her and her best friend on their path to separation as young teens had a similar look. Charming, devious, unsettling, entrancing. For a dizzying moment, Kassandra imagined David to be that boy, grown into an equally unsettling, charming adult.
Shaking off this sense of time bending in on itself, Kassandra pasted a smile on her face and took a resolute step toward the group on Allison’s porch. As she did, David separated from his hug with his father, allowing Kassandra to register Douglas’s return.
Her smile transformed into its natural, beaming self, and her strides lengthened. Yet, as she walked toward Douglas, Kassandra’s mind conjured that long-ago summer. In one calamitous twenty-four hour period, the girls had met that boy, shared another crush, fulfilled their parents’ expectations, experienced their first real disappointments, and made decisions that echoed a dozen years later on Pine Street.