WITH ONLY THREE DAYS LEFT
of school, yearbooks arrive. There are several blank pages in the back for signatures, but everybody knows the place of honor is the back cover. Of course I’ve saved mine for Peter. I never want to forget how special this year was.
My yearbook quote is “I have spread my dreams under your feet; / Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.” I had a very hard time choosing between that and “Without you, today’s emotions would be the scurf of yesterday’s.” Peter was like, “I know that’s from
, but what the hell is a scurf?” and honestly, he had a point. Peter let me write his. “Surprise me,” he said.
As we walk through the cafeteria doors, someone holds the door for us, and Peter says, “Cheers.” Peter’s taken to saying cheers instead of thanks, which I know he learned from Ravi. It makes me smile every time.
For the past month or so, the cafeteria’s been half-empty at lunch. Most of the seniors have been eating off-campus, but Peter likes the lunches his mom packs and I like our cafeteria’s french fries. But because the student council’s passing out our yearbooks today, it’s a full house. I pick up my copy and run back to the lunch table with it. I flip to his
page first. There is Peter, smiling in a tuxedo. And there is his quote:
“You’re welcome.” —Peter Kavinsky.
Peter’s brow furrows when he sees it. “What does that even mean?”
“It means, here I am, so handsome and lovely to look at.” I spread my arms out benevolently, like I am the pope. “You’re welcome.”
Darrell busts out laughing, and so does Gabe, who spreads his arms out too. “You’re welcome,” they keep saying to each other.
Peter shakes his head at all of us. “You guys are nuts.”
Leaning forward, I kiss him on the lips. “And you love it!” I drop my yearbook in front of him. “Write something memorable,” I say, leaning over his shoulder. “Something romantic.”
“Your hair is tickling my neck,” he complains. “I can’t concentrate.”
I straighten up and rock back on my heels, arms crossed. “I’m waiting.”
“How am I supposed to think of something good with you looking over my shoulder?” he says. “Let me do it later.”
I shake my head firmly. “No, because then you never will.”
I keep bugging him about it, until finally he says, “I just don’t know what to write,” which makes me frown.
“Write down a memory, or a hope, or—or anything.” I’m disappointed and trying not to show it, but would it be so hard for him to think of something on his own?
“Let me take it home tonight so I can take my time with it,” he says hastily.
I spend the rest of the day filling up my yearbook, and people write generic things like
Good luck at
You made freshman year gym fun
Add me on Instagram,
but also more meaningful things, like
I wish you had started coming out more sooner, so I’d know you better.
Ben Simonoff writes,
It’s always the quiet ones that are the most interesting. Stay interesting.
I hand the yearbook over to Peter at the end of the day. “Keep it safe,” I tell him.
* * *
The next morning, he forgets to bring it to school with him, which is annoying, because I want to get the whole senior class’s signatures, and I still have a few more to go. Tomorrow is the last day of school.
“Did you at least finish it?” I ask him.
“Yeah! I just forgot it,” he says, wincing. “I’ll bring it tomorrow, I swear.”
* * *
Beach Week is a tradition where we’re from. It’s exactly what it sounds like. The day after graduation, the senior class packs up and goes to Nags Head for a week. Never in a million years did I think I would be going. For one thing, you have to gather up enough friends to rent a house together—like ten friends! Before Peter I didn’t have ten friends I could rent a beach house with. Somebody’s parent has to rent the house in their name, because no one wants to rent out a house to a bunch of high school kids. Margot didn’t go her year. She and Josh went camping with some friends. She said Beach Week wasn’t really her thing. A year ago, it wouldn’t have been my
thing either. But now I have Peter, and Pammy, and Chris and Lucas.
When the topic of Beach Week first came up months ago, Peter asked me if I thought my dad would let me stay at his house. I said no way. Instead I’m staying with a bunch of girls. Pammy’s older sister Julia rented the house, and Pammy assured me it had air-conditioning and everything. She said the boys’ house was on the beach and we were two rows back, but it was better this way because then we could junk up their house with sand and ours would stay pristine.
My dad said yes at the time, but I’m fairly certain he’s forgotten about it, because when I bring up Beach Week tonight at dinner, he looks confused. “Wait, what’s Beach Week again?”
“It’s when everybody goes to the beach after graduation and parties all week,” Kitty explains, stuffing her slice of pizza in her mouth.
I shoot her a look.
“My Beach Week was
,” Trina says, and a fond smile crosses her face.
I shoot Trina one too.
Daddy’s forehead creases. “Insane?”
“Well it wasn’t
insane,” Trina amends. “It was just a fun girls trip. One last fling with all the girls before college.”
“Where’s Peter staying?” Daddy asks me, and now his forehead looks as wrinkled as a walnut.
“In a boy house. I told you all about it ages ago and you
said yes, so you can’t go back on it now. It’s the day after graduation!”
“And there won’t be any adult supervision? Just kids?”
Trina puts her hand on Daddy’s arm. “Dan, Lara Jean isn’t a kid anymore. In a few months she’ll be living on her own. This is just practice.”
“You’re right. I know you’re right. That doesn’t mean I have to like it.” He sighs heavily and stands up. “Kitty, help me clear the table, will you?”
As soon as they’re gone, Trina turns to me, and in a low voice she says, “Lara Jean, I know you’re not a drinker, but here’s a pro tip that you can take with you to Beach Week and college and beyond. Always, always have a buddy system in place. It’ll go like this: One night, you get to drink. The next night, your girlfriend gets to drink. That way one person is always sober enough to hold the other person’s hair back and make sure nothing bad happens.”
Smiling, I say, “Peter will be there. He’ll hold my hair back if need be. Or I can just wear it in a ponytail.”
“True. I’m just saying, for the future.” For when he isn’t there. My smile dims, and she quickly goes on to say, “At my Beach Week, we took turns cooking dinner for the house. When it was my turn, I made chicken parmesan and all the smoke detectors went off and we couldn’t figure out how to make the beeping stop all night!” She laughs. Trina has such an easy laugh.
“I doubt my Beach Week will get that crazy,” I say.
“Well, let’s hope it gets a
crazy,” she says.