Savannah Meets Conner

The door to Room 553 loomed in front of me, heavy and foreboding. I took a deep breath and reminded myself that the class would only last for fifteen weeks. I could handle fifteen weeks. Granted, they would be fifteen torturous weeks of discussing novels I didn’t care about, with pretentious literary snobs who enjoyed reading things they didn’t understand because it made them sound smart, in front of a professor who had probably failed as an author and was now forced to teach English Lit.

I was only an English major because I had reached my junior year and was forced to choose a route of future study. None of the choices in the course catalog sounded particularly appealing to me, but if I wanted to avoid two years of learning about underwater basket weaving, I had to pick something. English sounded like the vaguest major I could declare where I wouldn’t be pigeonholed into limited career options.

Unfortunately, I remembered AP English all too well from high school and the uncomfortable memories came rushing back as I stood outside of the classroom now. Semesters of having to analyze difficult text, of reading ambiguous poetry and foreign literature that was so disconnected from modern life… it made me shudder to remember how hard I had worked just to maintain a C in the class.

I enjoyed reading; in fact, I often had my head buried in a book when I didn’t have class work to do. What I didn’t appreciate was reading antiquated texts that bored me to tears, and then attending a class where I would be forced to argue passionately about them.

Science Fiction. Writing Song Lyrics. The Cinema: History and Criticism. All of these were English classes offered in the course catalog, and the titles alone made me think that my major might offer something to entice me. Ironically, though, none of these classes were on the list of required courses to take for the English major. So I could enroll in them and prolong my stay in college, or take what I actually needed to and graduate on time. Adios, Science Fiction.

Therefore, here I was, taking ENGL 207: Survey of American Literature to the Present.

A student brushed past me and made her way into the room. I caught a glimpse of her as she breezed through the door and saw her wire-frame glasses, the short shock of black hair standing up at all angles, and her black shirt with a picture of a tomato and the slogan, “Support Organic Farmers”. I groaned inwardly and thought about just how far out of my comfort zone this semester would force me to go.

I checked my watch and saw that it was eleven fifty-eight. No more time to push off the inevitable. I sighed and reminded myself that if the first few classes in my major turned out to be horrible, I could always switch to another one. Or drop out. I winced, thinking of how disappointed my grandmother would be if it came to that.

I tentatively stepped forward and pushed the door open. To my relief the class was full; there were at least twenty-five students sitting in the room already, which would diminish my chances of being singled out. There were only two seats left: one in the front row, and one in the back row. It took me less than a second to decide where I would sit, and I made a beeline for the seat in the back. It also happened to be in the corner, and I felt blissfully safe as I settled into my desk-chair combination. I gave a hesitant smile to the students surrounding me, and the only person who returned the favor was the guy to my left. His smile was small- it involved no teeth- and his eyes were slightly guarded, as if he meant to say, I’ll look at you to be polite, but I’d rather you didn’t talk to me and force me into awkward conversation. I nodded slightly at him, my own way of replying, No problem there. I’m just biding my time until we’re dismissed so I can rush out of here.

The professor clapped his hands lightly to get our attention and signal the start of class, and I turned my head toward the front of the room. He told us his name (Mr. Dickens- I wondered briefly why he was teaching American literature), gave us an overview of his credentials (like I’d suspected, he had a little-known novel published when he was in his early thirties and then had descended into oblivion), and reviewed the syllabus in a tired-sounding voice (three research papers, four exams, and two oral presentations- yuck). I noticed the time on the clock and saw we only had twenty minutes left until class was over by the time he was finished speaking, and I hoped he would let us out early. Twenty minutes wasn’t enough time to really start a lecture.

To my horror, Mr. Dickens announced that we would spend the time that remained pairing off into groups of two and interviewing each other for a mini-presentation to the class. I hated when teachers forced us into uncomfortable meet-and-greet situations so we could learn a few useless facts about a classmate we would probably never talk to again. I watched as my acquaintances slowly scooted their chairs to the person sitting directly to their right or left; apparently no one was eager about the assignment.

The guy to my left- the one who had smiled at me when I first came in- swiveled his head to look at me.

“I guess that leaves us, right?” His voice was friendlier than I thought it would be.

I nodded. “Sure. I’ll come sit by you,” I offered, preparing to stand up and move my desk.

Before I could rise, he leaned over and hooked his hand around the leg of my desk, pulling me toward him. The four-foot gap between us was closed in seconds as he reeled me in. I stared at him in surprise, blushing lightly.

“Figured it would be easier than you getting up,” he mumbled, averting his eyes from mine.

“Thanks,” I replied.

He extended his hand toward me, and I shook it. His hand was large and mine was quickly swallowed up inside it. His firm grip suggested confidence, even though he kept his shoulders hunched slightly.

“I’m Conner,” he said, introducing himself.

“Savannah,” I replied.

Mr. Dickens wrote a short list of questions on the whiteboard that he wanted us to ask our partner, and I took out a piece of loose-leaf paper, sighing.

“I hate these lame first-day assignments,” Conner admitted. “Don’t you?”

I glanced at him. “Yes,” I responded. “So much.”

He took out his own sheet of paper and a pencil. “You know,” he continued, “the only good thing about us having to do this is we both got a partner who equally hates it.” He grinned, chewing his lower lip thoughtfully. “So we can just get through the questions quickly and sit here the rest of the time. I promise not to get off-topic if you don’t.”

I met his eyes and returned his easy smile. “Deal.”

“So, Savannah,” he began, pencil poised in the air as if he were a reporter jotting down notes during an interview. “What is your major?”

“English,” I replied, my voice rueful.

“You don’t sound too happy about that,” he noted.

I shrugged. “This is my first class in the major. We’ll see,” I said blandly.

He nodded and wrote down my response.

“Same question,” I said to him. “What’s your major?”

“Same answer,” he responded. “English.”

I cocked an eyebrow at him. “Oh, yeah?” I wrote English down on the first line of my paper.

“Yes, but unlike you, I love it,” he went on.

I licked my lips. “Well, that’s good,” I said neutrally. I tapped my pencil absentmindedly against the corner of my desk. “What do you like about it?” I asked hastily.

Conner’s eyes narrowed. “You’re getting off-topic,” he warned.

I flinched slightly and my eyes widened in embarrassment.

He laughed and continued to look at me, his eyes now full of amusement. “I’m just kidding!” he cried. His eyes lit up as he sat there grinning at me, and I couldn’t help but note that he was much more handsome when he smiled. “Relax,” he said, his voice more upbeat than it was minutes ago.

I giggled, too, and shook my head to clear it. “The question is still out there,” I reminded him. “What do you like about it?”

“Honestly, everything,” Conner said. “I guess you can say I haven’t met a book yet I didn’t like, and spending all of my time talking about them is pretty great.”

“Oh, no,” I grimaced. “You’re going to be one of those guys who raises his hand constantly and offers opinions on everything, aren’t you?”

Conner laughed again. “Probably,” he admitted sheepishly. “I pay the tuition to come here; I might as well get my money’s worth.”

I gestured to where we were sitting, sequestered as far away from the front of the room as possible. “Then why sit in the back?”

“I’m opinionated, not a suck-up,” Conner answered wryly.

“Okay,” I nodded. “Fair enough. So you’re going to spend the next two years debating all of these obscure works- written mostly by dead people- and then what? Where will you go after this?”

Conner raised his shoulders in a slow shrug. “I’m not exactly sure,” he replied. “Maybe teach- either at the college level or high school.”

I tilted my head to the side and gave him an appraising stare. “No offense, but I can’t see you as a teacher.”

He put a hand to his heart and his jaw dropped ever so slightly. “Ouch.”

I laughed lightly. “You just don’t look like the typical high school teacher.” His responding grin made me blush.

“Too good-looking, right?” He kept his expression serious.

I looked at him and squinted, then shook my head. “No, that’s not it.”

He laughed. “Damn, you’re harsh.”

I smirked. “I was teasing, you know.”

“So I am good-looking?” he looked at me for confirmation.

I stared at him for a moment and bit my lower lip. “Umm,” I stuttered, ducking my head, “I- well-”

“Savannah,” he started, his voice breaking off in a chuckle. “Again, relax, sweetheart.”

I lifted my head to look at him, and my cheeks turned impossibly redder.

“Okay, next question,” I said, clearing my throat.

“Wait.” Conner held up his hand, making me pause. “What do you want to do with your English degree?”

I leaned back in chair and pursed my lips. “I really don’t know,” I told him. “I love to read, but I’m not passionate about literature. My grandmother’s paying for me to go here, so I had to declare a major. If I would have kept taking the general classes it would have been a waste of her money.” I sucked in a breath and then blew the air out of my nose. “English was the most generic major I could think of. I figure I’ll spend the next two years deciding what to do with it.”

“Maybe you’ll find that you really like studying it,” Conner suggested.

“Maybe,” I said noncommittally.

“You said you like to read. You could always work your way up to being an editor, or even a publisher,” he continued. “Then you could read for a living and promote books you like… and see that the obscure works by dead people get put in the round file.” His look was playful and it made his eyes sparkle.

I couldn’t think of anything clever to say, so I just smiled.

“Next question: what is your favorite book?” I asked him, turning my attention back to the assignment.

Conner frowned in thought. “I have no idea,” he said. “I seriously can find something good about everything I’ve ever read.” He shrugged. “I guess I can narrow it down to a category. If I had to pick a favorite genre, it would be the classics.”

I wrinkled my nose. “Boring.”

Conner’s responding look was incredulous. “Boring? Are you kidding me?”

“Shakespeare, Hawthorne, Salinger- ugh. I read them all in high school and not one caught my interest,” I replied adamantly.

Conner’s eyes widened and he sat up straighter. “Hold on just a second,” he said, raising his voice. “Teenage lovers who commit suicide for each other, a woman outcast by society for committing adultery, the poster-boy for teenage rebellion? That’s not interesting to you?”

I looked at him in disbelief. “Do you have Wikipedia memorized or something?”

He narrowed his eyes in confusion. “I don’t know what that means.”

I shook my head. “Never mind. But seriously- you are really a bookworm, huh?”

Conner sat back in his chair. “I just think the themes in literature are universal,” he said, his voice quieter now. “Man struggling against society, overcoming adversity, the importance of family, the ability of sacrifices to bring reward…” his voice trailed off. “I could go on, but you get it.” I nodded. “It just never fails to amaze me how someone could write a story that is essentially make-believe, and have it apply to real life in so many ways.” I listened to him, and he sounded so enthusiastic about what he was saying that I found I didn’t want him to stop talking. “Books do that in a way that movies and TV try to match, but they don’t.”

I gave him a small smile. “That’s awesome that you are so passionate about it,” I told him quietly.

He rolled his eyes, but his expression was kind. “You don’t have to say that. I can tell you think it’s weird.”

I leaned forward. “No, I don’t,” I said honestly. “Just because I don’t share that same feeling doesn’t mean I’m not impressed by it. I wish that there was something in my life I felt half as strongly about as you do about literature.”

“I’m sure there is something,” he replied. “You just haven’t found it yet.”

“Sometimes I worry that I never will,” I muttered under my breath, looking down at my hands.

“You’re only a junior, right?” Conner pointed out.

I looked up in surprise and nodded hesitantly, a little embarrassed that he’d heard me.

“Then you’ve got plenty of time,” he assured me. “You don’t have to figure everything out right now.” He kept staring at me until I gave him a tentative smile, then he cleared his throat. “Okay, same question. What’s your favorite book?”

I shook my head. “I can’t say after your little speech. It’s too embarrassing.”

Conner grinned. “Oh, now it’s getting good,” he said, rubbing his hands together in excitement. “Come on, ‘fess up. What is it?”

I just sat there, silent.

“Savannah,” he said in a wheedling voice. “Please? I told you about my embarrassing love affair with a bunch of stuffy writers- it’s only fair.” Conner’s dark brown eyes opened wide, and I had to laugh. He reminded me of a child begging his mother for just one more ride on the ferris wheel before leaving the carnival. Much like any mom would want to indulge her son, I found myself wanting to grant his request.

Confessions of a Shopaholic,” I said quickly. “That’s my favorite.” I saw his eyebrows rise in amusement. “I know, it doesn’t exactly measure up to The Scarlet Letter, does it?”

Conner laughed and shook his head. “Actually, I think it’s a very funny book. Rebecca Bloomwood is a great protagonist.”

I eyed him, trying to decide if he was making fun of me or not. “You haven’t read it,” I protested.

He laughed harder. “Why is that so hard to believe?”

“Because you’re- you’re a guy,” I sputtered, starting to giggle myself. “Why are you reading books like that?”

“Overcoming adversity, sacrifices bringing reward, man- er, woman- struggling against a consumerist society,” Conner ticked the themes off on his fingers once again. “It’s not that different from the classics,” he continued. “It’s just told in a different voice.”

I gave him a wry smile. “That’s generous of you to say.”

“It’s true,” he replied. “The purpose of a good story is to make you feel something, right?”

I nodded. “I guess so.”

“What did you feel when you read that book?”

I thought for a moment. “I laughed… a lot,” I recalled. “I liked how Becky learned a lesson along the way and changed her habits.  She has a lot of faults- it makes her relatable.”

“Yeah, she is seriously flawed,” Conner interjected in agreement. “The girl can’t hold onto her money to save her life.”

“But by the end of the novel she overcomes that weakness,” I argued. “She figures herself out and discovers her strengths. She learns to trust herself.”

Conner brought his hands together in a show of applause. “I think,” he paused for dramatic effect, “that you can be rather opinionated, too.”

I glanced at him and felt the heat rise in my cheeks. “What do you mean?”

“I mean, you have things to say about the books you read,” he complimented. “Even if they’re not ‘the classics’ we’re talking about, a book is still worth discussing.”

I felt my lips curve upward in a smile at his words. “Maybe if teaching doesn’t work out, you could be a motivational speaker.”

Conner looked pleased by my suggestion. “I’ll take that into consideration,” he replied with a wink.

“Alright, class.”

We turned our attention to the front of the room and saw Mr. Dickens trying to regain control of the class. Time had gotten away from us and in the past twenty minutes Conner and I’d only made it through two of the five questions our professor wanted us to ask.

“Regrettably, we won’t have time today for you each to tell us about your partner, so we’ll open with that next time,” he droned in a monotone. “That’s all for today. See you Thursday.”

Excitement bubbled in me as I calculated that for all twenty-five students to stand up and discuss their five questions, we would at least waste half an hour of class time at our next meeting.

I scooted my desk away from Conner’s and stood up. “Well, it was nice talking to you,” I said politely. “I’ll see you next time?”

“Hold on,” he murmured, taking hold of my wrist and lightly pulling me back. My heartbeat sped as he held me in his grasp.

“If you leave now, we’ll fail our first assignment,” Conner looked up at me through his eyelashes, his expression innocent. “We only got through two of the questions.”

I frowned, setting my lips in a line. “That is a problem,” I agreed, playing along. “What do you suggest we do about it?”

“Have lunch with me,” Conner said, his voice suddenly shy. “We can go over the last three questions, and just… hang out.” He gave me a lopsided smile as if ‘hanging out’ was something he did not do very often.

“Okay…” I said slowly. “When?”

“What are you doing now?” he asked.

I thought of my plans for the rest of the day- British Lit at three-thirty; other than that, I was free.

“Nothing,” I replied. “Just one more class a few hours from now.”

Conner beamed. “Then it’s my lucky day.”

I followed him across campus to the Stern Student Center and we made our way to the food court. Once inside, I was assaulted by the aromatic smells of hamburgers, pizza, and Chinese food, and my mouth started to water.

“Is the Burger Shack okay with you?” I asked. My roommate Lindsay and I went there frequently. The fast food chain did for hamburgers what Subway had done for sandwiches. They had at least twenty toppings you could pick from to adorn your burger with, which was made fresh to order and only cost three dollars. The restaurant was heaven for college students.

Conner nodded. “Absolutely.” He put a hand on the small of my back and steered me across the court to the restaurant’s queue. We were almost to the line when he stopped suddenly and took a step back.

“What is it?” I asked him, alarmed.

He shook his head, looking distracted, and wrinkled his nose. “On second thought, let’s go somewhere else.”

I looked to the line in front of us- there were at least fifteen people waiting- and then back to him. “Why?” I asked, confused.

He was quiet for a moment, and then he glanced at me. “Look at the line,” he said, gesturing to the small crowd in front of us. “It’ll take forever to get our food.”

I looked around us; it was just after noon and all of the restaurants were filling up with customers. “I think we’ll have to wait a little bit wherever we go,” I pointed out.

An obviously frustrated expression passed over Conner’s face.

“Sorry,” I stammered. “If you don’t want to eat here, that’s fine, but every place is going to be busy right now.”

He sighed, and as I watched him he visibly relaxed, his features smoothing out once more. “I just think we should eat somewhere else,” he said again.

I shrugged and turned to walk away from the Burger Shack. “Fine,” I said, not caring where we went as long as I got some food soon. “How about Chinese, then?”

Conner nodded. “That would be great,” he replied with forced cheerfulness.

We ordered our meals and I stepped up to the register to pay for my orange chicken and rice. I took out my wallet and looked for my student identification card, which was tied to a bank account that my grandmother regularly deposited money into so I could pay for meals on campus.

I scanned the sections of my wallet quickly, but couldn’t find it. I tried to remember when I’d used it last, and with an audible groan recalled pulling it out last night to rent a book online from the school library. I must have left it on my desk in my dorm room.

“I’m sorry,” I told the cashier apologetically. “I left my Cougar Card in my room and I don’t have cash with me.”

She gave me a friendly smile. “It’s fine; do you have other ID on you, like a driver’s license? We can get your information off of that and look up the number.”

Relieved, I fumbled for my license and yanked it out, dropping it in my haste.

“I’ll get it,” Conner offered, bending down before I had time to. He swiftly picked up the license and glanced at it briefly before handing it to me.

“Braces, huh?” he quipped, referring to the picture of my sixteen-year-old self on the card.

I flashed him a flawless smile. “And worth every penny.” I handed my license to the cashier and she rang up my meal.

We took our trays and walked together to a table in the middle of the food court. I took a seat across from him and we made awkward eye contact before picking up our forks in unison.

“Are you from Charleston, Conner?” I asked him, breaking the silence.

He shook his head and stabbed a forkful of lo mein. “No, I actually grew up about half an hour away from here, in Folly Beach.”

I raised my eyebrows, surprised. “No way,” I said, chewing thoughtfully. “I grew up there, too.”

Conner’s expression implied that I was teasing him. “Small world,” he said wryly. “How is it that I never saw you growing up? I’m pretty sure I would have remembered you.”

I rolled my eyes. “Flattering… and I don’t know. I went to James Island High.”

He took a bite of his egg roll. “Well, that explains it. I didn’t.”

“Ah, you went to Folly Beach, then. You’re my rival.”

He gave me a look that was probably supposed to be menacing but just made me laugh. “Careful. Mess with me and I’ll be forced to sing you the fight song.”

I put down my fork and threw my hands up in a mock surrender pose. “Not the fight song!” I cried.

Conner grinned. “I hate to brag and make you feel inferior, but I actually have a pretty nice voice,” he said.

I looked down and smiled into my plate. “Maybe you’ll have to show me someday,” I replied shyly.

“Maybe I will.”

I glanced at him and could feel the heat that invaded my cheeks and meant my face was turning red. We were definitely flirting with each other; it wasn’t all on my end nor only on his.

“So…” I began, trying to get the conversation back on safer territory. “Should we go over those last three questions?”

He stared at me for a moment, then shook his head. “Can I ask you something else instead?”

I shrugged. “Sure.”

“You said in class that your grandmother was paying for you to go to school here,” he said.

I nodded. “She is.”

“After knowing you for all of, oh-” he made a show of checking his watch, “-about an hour and a half now, would it be rude if I asked why?”

“Um, a little bit,” I stammered truthfully.

Conner’s eyes widened and he looked embarrassed. “I’m sorry,” he said immediately. “I don’t want to make you uncomfortable, I was just trying to get to know you.”

I measured his expression for another few seconds, then decided he was being honest. “My parents are both dead,” I said quietly. “I live with my grandmother.”

“Oh,” he breathed. “I’m so sorry.”

I gave him a hesitant smile, not surprised when my eyes stayed dry. They hardly watered anymore when I talked about my parents- I’d lived without them for what felt like a long time now.

“It’s okay,” I said. “It happens.”

“Do you have any brothers or sisters, at least?” he asked.

“No, just me.” He looked sorry that he asked.

“A dog?”

I shook my head, biting my lower lip.

“Cats? Are you a crazy cat lady?”

I swallowed to refrain from laughing out loud and just shook my head again.

“What about imaginary friends? You must have at least one of those.” Conner looked at me imploringly.

I couldn’t stop myself from giggling at that. “Well, of course there’s one of those,” I said.

He leaned back in his chair, evident relief washing over him. “Thank the- Thank God,” he amended, giving me an ear-to-ear smile. “I didn’t want to be responsible for being your only friend- that’s a lot of pressure for someone you’ve just met.”

I balled up my napkin and threw it at him. It grazed his right ear and sailed over his shoulder, and he looked at me sadly.

“Make that your only friend and your pitching coach,” he added.

I stuck my tongue out at him. “Shut up.”

He leaned forward and put his elbows on the table; our heads were only inches apart and I froze from the unexpected closeness. Staring into his dark brown eyes, I reminded myself to stay calm. He’s just a cute guy, he’s just a cute guy, I chanted internally. Nothing to get worked up about.

“I’ll shut up on one condition,” Conner whispered. I tried to listen to his words but found myself focusing instead on the way his lips moved when he spoke.

“What’s that?” I whispered back, trying to sound conspiratorial.

His expression softened into another smile and his eyes became gentle. When he looked like that, I think he could have asked me to dump my lo mein on my head and call it a fashion statement and I would have obliged.

“Let me walk you to your dorm,” he said, his voice sounding slightly nervous. It only made the request more endearing.

Needless to say, we never got around to asking those last three questions from American Lit. I never found out Conner’s favorite author, his favorite quote, or his bad habit (stupid questions, I know). However, I did learn where he worked (library, full-time), what he spent his free time doing (reading, natch), and what his phone number was (classified information).

He stayed at my dorm and talked with me until my next class, and by the time he left, we sort of had a date for the following evening. The student union was showing The Goonies in their theater room and he asked if I would go with him. I’d never particularly cared for the movie but I jumped at the chance to spend more time with him. By the time I arrived to British Lit, I was uncharacteristically more optimistic about the major I’d declared than I had been that morning. I was even pretty certain that if things didn’t work out between Conner and me, I had at least found a friendly face in the English department, and that would be invaluable when it came to group projects and cram sessions.

British Lit turned out to be surprisingly fun. The professor had a passion for her subject that you couldn’t help but be reeled in by, and the homework she assigned was interesting enough that it took my mind off of Conner for the rest of the afternoon. We were to write an obituary for ourselves and post it to the class’s website by midnight tonight. It was to be from the perspective of fifty years in the future, as if we’d lived a long life and accomplished all of our personal and professional goals, however fanciful or ridiculous. I actually got into it and enjoyed writing about winning my first Emmy at age thirty and then going on to discovering a cure for baldness in my forties. I was laughing hard by the time I got around to winning the Tour de France at age sixty, and hoped the instructor had the sense of humor she’d seemed to possess in class. In fact, I was so wrapped up in the assignment that my morning with Conner didn’t even enter my mind until around ten o’clock at night.

My roommate Lindsay came home then, shaky on her feet and looking pale.

“Linds!” I exclaimed when I saw her. “What’s wrong?” I left my laptop on the coffee table and ran to her. There were bags under her eyes and her hair lay in strings around her face. “You look awful,” I said, not thinking. “Can I fix you something to eat? Drink?”

She grimaced. “No food,” she gasped. “Bad burger today… food poisoning, I think… spent the day at the health clinic… going to bed now.”

I put my arm around her shoulders and led her down the hallway to the second bedroom. “Food poisoning?”

Lindsay groaned and collapsed on the bed once we were inside the room. “Yeah,” she said dully. “They think so. It closed down this afternoon… too many people at the clinic…”

Her words weren’t making sense. “What closed down?”

She opened one eye and peered at me. “Burger Shack,” she said, twisting her mouth as if just saying the name disgusted her.

“Burger Shack shut down?” I asked, confused.

“Just for today. They’re waiting on a new shipment of meat.” Lindsay gagged and I ran to get the trash can by her desk. I set it next to the bed in case she needed it. “Lots of people went to the clinic this afternoon with upset stomachs… turns out most of us ate there for lunch. They closed it down for the rest of the day.”

I sat down on the bed and took her hand. She looked so sick. “Wow, I almost went there for lunch today, too.”

She leaned over the side of the bed and retched into the garbage can. I held my breath to try and keep my own stomach calm. “Be thankful you didn’t,” she said.

“Yeah, my friend didn’t want to,” I said passively, remembering Conner’s expression when we approached Burger Shack earlier that day. Ironically, the look on his face was similar to the one on Lindsay’s now.

She lay back against her pillow, her eyelids closing. “She must have a sixth sense or something,” she mumbled. “Lucky for you.”

I moved a stray lock of hair back from her sweaty forehead and picked up her trash can to wash it.

“Yeah, lucky me,” I agreed quietly as I left her room, smiling to myself despite the circumstances.

I’d have to tell Conner tomorrow that he had one more job to add to the growing list of responsibilities he’d have in my life: my only friend, my pitching coach, and now, my food tester.