THERE’S A LACROSSE GAME TONIGHT,
and Pammy can’t go because she has to work, and of course Chris would never deign to go to a lacrosse game, so I bring Kitty with me. She pretends to mull it over, musing aloud that it might be boring, but when I say, “Never mind, then,” she quickly agrees to come.
In the stands we run into Peter’s mom and his younger brother, Owen, so we sit with them. He and Kitty proceed to each pretend the other doesn’t exist—he plays games on his phone and she plays games on hers. Owen is tall, but he sits hunched, with his hair in his eyes.
We chat about my dad and Trina’s engagement for a bit and I tell her some of my ideas for the wedding. She’s nodding along and then she suddenly says, “I hear congratulations are in order for you, too.”
Confused, I say, “What for?”
“William and Mary!”
“Oh! Thank you.”
“I know you were hoping to go to
, but this might be for the best anyway.” She gives me a sympathetic smile.
I smile back, unsure. Unsure of what, exactly, “for the best” means. Is she glad I’m not going to
with Peter? Does she think this means we’re breaking up now? So all I
say is, “Williamsburg isn’t really that far from Charlottesville anyway.”
Her response is, “Hmm, yes, that’s true.” Then Peter scores a point, and we both stand up and cheer.
When I sit back down again, Kitty asks me, “Can we get popcorn?”
“Sure,” I say, glad to have an excuse to get up. To Peter’s mom and brother I ask, “Do you guys want anything?”
Without looking up, Owen says, “Popcorn.”
“You guys can share,” Peter’s mom says.
I make my way down the bleachers, and I’m heading for the snack bar when I notice a man, standing off to the side, his arms crossed, watching the game. He is tall; he has nut-brown hair. Handsome. When he turns his head and I see his profile, I know who he is, because I know that face. I know that chin, those eyes. He’s Peter’s dad. It’s like seeing the Ghost of Christmas Future, and I’m frozen in place, transfixed.
He catches me staring at him, and offers a friendly smile. I feel like I have no choice but to take a step forward and ask, “Excuse me . . . but are you Peter’s dad?”
Surprised, he nods. “Are you a friend of his?”
“I’m Lara Jean Covey. His, um, girlfriend.” He looks startled, but then he recovers and extends his hand. I shake it firmly, to give a good impression. “Wow, you look just like him.”
He laughs, and I’m struck anew by how much of him is in Peter. “He looks just like me, you mean.”
I laugh too. “Right. You were here first.”
There is an awkward silence, and then he clears his throat and asks me, “How is he?”
“Oh, he’s good. He’s great. Did you hear he’s going to
on a lacrosse scholarship?”
He nods, smiling. “I heard that from his mom. I’m proud of him. Not that I can take any credit for it—but still. I’m really proud of the kid.” His eyes flicker back to the field, to Peter. “I just wanted to see him play again. I’ve missed it.” He hesitates before saying, “Please don’t mention to Peter that I was here.”
I’m so taken by surprise, all I can say is, “Oh . . . okay.”
“Thank you, I appreciate it. It was nice to meet you, Lara Jean.”
“It was nice to meet you, too, Mr. Kavinsky.”
With that, I go back to the bleachers, and only when I’m halfway up there do I remember I forgot the popcorn, so I have to go back down. When I get back to the snack bar, Peter’s dad is gone.
Our team ends up losing, but Peter scores three points and it’s a good game for him. I’m glad his dad got to see him play, but I really wish I didn’t agree to keeping it a secret from Peter. The thought makes my stomach hurt.
In the car I’m still thinking about his dad, but then Kitty says, “That was weird what Peter’s mom said about it being a good thing you weren’t going to
“I know, right! You took it that way too?”
“There really wasn’t any other way to take it,” Kitty says.
I check my side-view mirrors before turning left out of the school parking lot. “I don’t think she meant it in a
way, exactly. She just doesn’t want to see Peter get hurt, that’s all.” And neither do I, so maybe it’s for the best that I don’t say anything to Peter about seeing his dad tonight. What if he gets excited about his dad coming, and then his dad hurts him again? Abruptly I say, “Do you wanna stop and get frozen yogurts?” and of course Kitty says yes.
* * *
Peter comes to the house after he showers up, and as soon as I see how happy he is, my mind is made up not to say anything.
We’re lying on the living room floor doing face sheet masks. If the kids at school could see him now! Through gritted teeth he asks, “What’s this one supposed to do?”
“Brighten dull skin.”
He twists toward me and croaks, “Hello, Clarice.”
“What are you talking about?”
Silence of the Lambs
“Oh, I never saw that. It looked too scary.”
Peter sits upright. He’s terrible at sitting still. “We have to watch it right now. This is ridiculous. I can’t be with someone who’s never seen
Silence of the Lambs
“Um, I’m pretty sure it’s my turn to pick.”
“Covey, come on! It’s a classic,” Peter says, just as his phone buzzes. He answers it, and I hear his mom’s voice on the other line. “Hey Mom . . . I’m at Lara Jean’s. I’ll be home soon. . . . I love you too.”
When he gets off the phone, I say, “Hey, I forgot to tell you this earlier, but at the game tonight, your mom said that maybe it was for the best that I didn’t get into
He sits up and pulls off his face mask.
“Well, she didn’t say it exactly like that, but I think that’s how she meant it.”
“What were her exact words?”
I peel off my mask too. “She congratulated me on getting into William and Mary, and then I think she said, ‘I know you were hoping to go to
, but this might be for the best anyway.’ ”
Peter relaxes. “Oh, she always talks like that. She looks for the bright side in things. She’s like you.”
It didn’t seem that way to me, but I don’t push it, because Peter’s very protective of his mom. I guess he’s had to be, since it’s just the three of them. But what if it didn’t have to be? What if Peter has a real chance of having a relationship with his dad? What if tonight is proof? Casually, I ask him, “Hey, how many graduation announcements did you sign up for?”
“Ten. My family’s small. Why?”
“Just wondering. I signed up for fifty, so my grandma could send some to family in Korea.” I hesitate before asking, “Do you think you’ll send your dad one?”
He frowns. “No. Why would I?” He picks up his phone. “Let’s see what movies we have left. If
Silence of the Lambs
is off the table, we could watch
I don’t say anything for a moment, and then I snatch his
phone out of his hands. “It’s my turn to pick! And I pick . . .
* * *
For someone who once put up such a fuss about not watching rom coms or foreign films, Peter sure loves
It’s about a French girl who is afraid to live in the world, so she concocts these whimsical fantasies in her head, with lamps that talk and paintings that move, and crepes that look like records. It makes me want to live in Paris.
“I wonder what you’d look like with bangs,” Peter muses. “Cute, I bet.” At the end of the movie, when she bakes a plum cake, he turns to me and says, “Do you know how to bake a plum cake? That sounds delicious.”
“You know, mini plum cakes could be good for the dessert table.” I start researching recipes on my phone.
“Just make sure you call me when you do your trial run,” Peter says, yawning.