It was dark when Jim climbed the front porch and walked the length of the roof to Melissa’s open window. She was doing homework at her desk.
“Hey, can I come in?”
She turned around surprised, but then smiled.
“You scared me, Jim. Come on in.”
“Thanks,” he jumped inside, as agile as a wild cat.
“Why don’t you come in through the front door, like a normal person? The girls wouldn’t mind.”
“I know,” he said, taking a seat on the edge of the bed. “I like this better.”
“Anyway, what have you been up to?”
“I failed my socio-economics test. Maybe Watkins hates me because of my long hair. I look kind of like a hick.”
“You look like Conan the Barbarian,” said Melissa, clapping her hands in delight. She laughed, he smiled, that was the most enthusiasm he would ever show.
“I wrote another poem.”
“About your long-distance girlfriend again?”
“Just listen to it.”
She put her pen away as a sign of full undivided attention and smiled. He began reading. The poem had a strong metre and good rhymes, it was like something out of Renaissance, full of ornate beauty. But at the same time, it was light and cheerful. If it had been a song, it would have featured the kazoo. When he was done, she laughed with pure joy.
“That was beautiful, Jim. Really, really beautiful.”
“Do you know,” he asked, “Who this was about?”
“I don’t,” she lied.
“It was about you,” he said, blushing. He followed immediately, “But it’s not like that. I know we are friends. You are just so good to me. I hope we can be friends forever.”
“I think we are perfect for each other, you and me,” she said. “Let’s make a pact. If we are both single at forty, we will marry each other, okay?”
He smiled and nodded. But something inside him cracked and broke off.