When Scott hesitates, Antonia has no doubt that he’s fallen in love with her. Another boy would turn and run. He’d be grateful to be released from a scene like this.
“Are you sure?” Scott asks.
“Oh, yes.” Antonia nods. “Very.” She pulls Kylie into the storeroom. “Who was it?” she asks. “Did he hurt you?”
Kylie can smell chocolate, and it’s making her so nauseated she can barely stand up straight. “I ran,” she says. Her voice is funny. It sounds as if she were about eight years old.
“He didn’t touch you?” Antonia’s voice sounds funny, too.
Antonia hasn’t turned on the light in the storeroom. Moonlight filters through the open window in waves, turning the girls as silver as fish.
Kylie looks at her sister and shakes her head no. Antonia considers the countless horrible things she’s said and done, for reasons she herself doesn’t understand, and her throat and face become scarlet with shame. She never even thought to be generous or kind. She would like to comfort her sister and give her a hug, but she doesn’t. She’s thinking, I’m sorry, but she can’t say the words out loud. They stick in her throat because she should have said them years ago.
All the same, Kylie understands what her sister means, and that’s the reason she can finally cry, which is what she’s wanted to do since she first began running in the field. When she’s done crying, Antonia closes up the shop. Scott gives them a ride home, through the dark, humid night. The toads have come out from the creek, and Scott has to swerve as he drives, and still he can’t avoid hitting some of the creatures. Scott knows something major has happened, although he’s not clear on what. He notices that Antonia has a band of freckles across her nose and cheeks. If he saw her every single day for the rest of his life, he would still be surprised and thrilled each time he looked at her. When they get to the house, Scott has the urge to get down on his knees and ask her to marry him, even though she has another year of high school to go. Antonia’s not the girl he thought she was, a bratty, spoiled kid. Instead, she’s somebody who can make his pulse go crazy simply by resting her hand on his leg.
“Turn your lights off,” Antonia tells Scott as he pulls into the driveway. She and Kylie exchange a look. Their mother has come home and left the porch light on for them, and they have no way of knowing that she’s gone off to bed exhausted. For all they know, she may be waiting up for them, and they don’t want to face someone whose worry will outweigh their own fear. They don’t want to have to explain. “We’re avoiding dealing with our mom,” Antonia tells Scott.
She kisses him quickly, then carefully opens the car door, so it won’t creak as it usually does. There’s a toad trapped beneath one of Scott’s tires, and the air feels watery and green as the sisters run across the lawn, then sneak into the house. They find their way upstairs in the dark, then lock themselves in the bathroom, where Kylie can wash the mud and chocolate off her arms and face, and the blood off her legs. Her shirt is ruined, and Antonia hides it in the trash basket, beneath some tissues and an empty shampoo bottle. Kylie’s breathing is still off; there’s a ripple of panic when she inhales.
“Are you all right?” Antonia whispers.
“No,” Kylie whispers back, and that makes them both laugh. The girls put their hands over their mouths to ensure that their voices won’t reach their mother’s bedroom; they wind up doubled over and out of breath, with tears in their eyes.
They may never talk about tonight, and yet, all the same, it will change everything. Years from now, they’ll think of each other on dark nights; they’ll telephone one another for no particular reason, and they won’t want to hang up, even when there’s nothing left to say. They’re not the same people they were an hour ago, and they never will be. They know each other too well to turn back now. By the very next morning that edge of jealousy Antonia has been dragging around with her will be gone, leaving only the faintest green outline on her pillow, in the place where she rests her head.
In the days that follow, Kylie and Antonia laugh when they meet accidentally, in the hallway or in the kitchen. Neither hogs the bathroom or calls the other names. Every evening after supper, Kylie and Antonia clear the table and wash the dishes together, side by side, without even being asked. On nights when the girls are both at home, Sally can hear them talking to each other. Whenever they think someone might be listening, they stop speaking all at once, and yet it still seems as though they are communicating with each other. Late at night Sally could swear that they tap out secrets on their bedroom walls in Morse code.