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“Of course. I promise to handle it with care.” She smiled, and I just about died.

I loved her smiles the most.

I lifted my air guitar and hit play on the boom box. “What song is this?” she asked.

“‘She Talks To Angels’, by The Black Crowes,” I said, tuning my strings. I smirked as I watched her start to mimic my movements. “It was my Dad’s favorite song to air guitar to when I used to come visit him. He loved it.”

I spent the next hour teaching her the intro to the song, and we kept playing until she started yawning.

I placed her guitar back into the case, took the CD out of the player and set it inside of the case also. I held it out toward Aria.

“I can’t take your guitar, Levi.”

“No offense, Art. But I’m pretty sure this is between Cantaloupe and me.” I bent down to her stomach and said, “Practice whenever you can, buddy.”

Aria climbed out of the window, and I handed her the case. “Thanks for tonight.” Her feet fidgeted back and forth. “Do you think we can eat lunch together again?”

“I would like that.”

She grinned and walked off with the guitar case in her hands.

32 Aria

It was a Sunday afternoon when Dad moved out. November 22nd, the Sunday before Thanksgiving.

Mom said he wasn’t really moving out, but he was just going to stay with his sister, Molly, for a little while. She said they needed space and time to figure out a few things. I watched him load up his truck with suitcases from my window. It looked like a lot of luggage for being a temporary move. Grace came in and stood next to me, staring out of the window. She had tears in her eyes, and I wrapped my arm around her shoulders, pulling her closer.

Mike came into the room next. I asked him not to blame me right now because I was on the verge of tears, too. He didn’t say a thing. He stood on the other side of Grace and wrapped an arm around her. We each stared out of the window.

It was the first snow of the winter.

As it fell from the sky, everything around us fell along with it.

After Dad drove off, the three of us stood there for a while longer. Mom joined us with KitKat in her arms. She was probably sad, but wouldn’t show it in front of us.

We didn’t eat dinner at the table that Sunday. It didn’t feel right without him.

* * *

During the whole Thanksgiving break, I didn’t see Levi, mostly because I spent the days with my family, trying to keep them from falling apart. I texted him about Dad moving out, and he sent me a word a day to keep me from going over the deep end.

Levi: Thinking – noun| [thing-king] : the action of using your mind to produce thoughts.

Levi: Of – preposition | [uhv, ov; unstressed uhv or, esp. before consonants, uh] : used to indicate specific identity or a particular item within a category.

Levi: You – pronoun|[yoo; unstressed yoo, yuh] : Aria Lauren Watson.

Thinking of you, too, Levi Myers.

* * *

I stood in front of the bathroom mirror wearing a tank top and sweatpants with Cantaloupe’s guitar case sitting open on the bathtub. The Black Crowes blasted and I practiced the song over and over again on the air guitar.

Grace walked past the bathroom. She backtracked her steps and came to a standstill. “Are you drunk?”

I laughed.

“My teacher Mrs. Thompson said she wasn’t allowed to drink when she was pregnant.”

“Well, your teacher Mrs. Thompson was awkward for talking about drinking to kids your age.”

She blinked as she watched my hands move back and forth against the invisible guitar. “Are you going crazy?”

“That’s not a nice word.”

She slapped the palm of her hand to her forehead and walked away. “Oh my gosh, my sister’s a pregnant nutcase!”

* * *

When school came back on December 1st, the snow was falling overhead, and I was bundled up in my winter wear. Mom had had to get me a new coat because my normal winter coat didn’t fit as well. Simon walked over to me and gave me a halfway grin. “I heard about your dad. Are you okay?” he asked.

I shook my head.

“Do you want to talk about it?”

I shook my head again, staring at the ground. When the blue Chucks stood next to me and kicked around the snow on the ground, I joined in with my shoes.

“Hi, Art.”

I released the breath I’d been holding for a week. “Hi.”

“What size are we at now?”

“An eggplant.”

He smiled. “Morning, Mr. Eggplant.”

We climbed onto the bus and set in the seats across from one another. He took out his CD player and handed me one of the ear buds. He placed the other in his ear. I took a few deep breaths.

And when he hit play, we both played our invisible guitars.

* * *

“I have a proposal for you, and I’m hoping you’ll say yes,” Levi said when his music class showed up to our art room. He sat his violin case down. “I think we should be glitterati.”

“We’re not wealthy or famous,” I argued. “Plus, we don’t have any fashionable events to attend.”

“Ah! But that is wrong! Because while I was walking down the hallway, I heard people whispering and gossiping about how I could possibly be the father of your baby.”

“Is that the current rumor?”

“It is indeed the current rumor, and seeing as how most famous people are always talked about in those tabloids you read, then I think that kind of makes us famous by definition.”

“And what’s that definition?”

“Having a widely spread reputation.”