“I love that. We should open a restaurant, toss a piano inside, and call it the AlyLo.”

“Or, LoAly,” I smirked.

“AlyLo sounds much, much better. Plus, it was my idea.”

“Well, let’s do it. Let’s open AlyLo and make amazing food and play amazing music, and live happily ever after.”

“The end?”

“The end.”

“Pinky?” she asked, extending her finger toward me. I wrapped my pinky with hers.

“Pinky.” Our hands kind of clasped together after that.

“What’s another dream of yours?” she asked.

I debated if I should tell her, because it seemed a little lame, but if there was anyone I trusted to not judge me, it was her. “I want to be a dad. I know that sounds stupid, but I really do. All my life I grew up with parents who didn’t know what it meant to love. But if I were a dad, I’d love them more than words could say. I’d show up to their baseball games, their dance recitals, and love them, regardless of if they wanted to be a lawyer or a garbage man. I’d be better than my parents.”

“I know you would, Lo. You would be a great dad.”

I don’t know why, but her saying that made my eyes tear up.

We stayed up there for a while, not speaking one word, but solely looking up.

It was still so peaceful up there. I couldn’t imagine anywhere else I’d rather be. We hadn’t stopped holding hands. Did she like holding my hand? Did her heart flip every few seconds? Was she kind of, sort of falling in love with me, too? I held her hand tighter. I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to let go.

“What’s your biggest fear?” she softly spoke.

I pulled out my lighter and started flicking it on and off with my free hand. “Biggest fear? I don’t know. Something happening to the few people I care about. Kellan. You. My mom. What about you?”

“Losing my dad. I know it sounds stupid, but each day, when the doorbell rings, I wonder if it’s him. Each time my phone goes off, my heart stops, hoping he’s calling me. I know these past few months he’s been a bit MIA, but I know he’s coming back. He always does. But the idea of losing him forever kind of breaks my heart.”

We listened to each other’s darkness and we showed one another our light.

“Tell me a beautiful memory about your mom,” she said.

“Hmm…” I chewed on my bottom lip. “When I was seven, I walked to and from school each day. One day I came home and heard music blasting on the front porch of our old apartment building. Ma had a boom box playing oldies music—The Temptations, Journey, Michael Jackson, all of these classics. Ma said she got the CD from a neighbor, and it made her want to dance. So she had been dancing in the street, and she only moved to the sidewalk when a car came. She looked so beautiful that day, and made me dance with her all night until the moon was high. Kellan came over too. He rode his bike over because he’d had leftovers of his dinner that he’d bring for Ma and me. When he came all three of us danced.

“I mean, looking back on it, I’m sure she was on something back then, but I couldn’t tell. I just remember laughing and spinning and dancing free with her and Kellan. The sound of her laugh was my favorite part because it was so loud, and wild. That’s my favorite family memory. That’s the memory that I go back to whenever she seems so far gone.”

“That’s a good one to hold onto, Lo.”

“Yeah.” I gave her a tight smile, never really letting anyone know how much I missed my mom, but knowing that she understood, because she missed her dad, too. “What’s a beautiful memory about your dad?”

“You know the vinyl record player in my bedroom?”


“He got me that one year for Christmas, and we started the tradition that every night we’d listen and sing a song before I went to bed. Then, in the morning, we’d wake up and sing a song, too. Modern music, oldies, anything. It was our thing. Sometimes my sister Erika would come in and sing with us, sometimes Mom would yell for us to turn down the sounds, but we always laughed and smiled.”

“Is that why there’s always music playing at night when I come to see you?”

“Yeah. It’s funny how I play all the same songs that he and I used to, but now the lyrics all seem so different.”

We kept the conversation going all night long.

I fed her raspberries while she fed me her dreams.

She fed me raspberries while I fed her my fears.

We stared out at the night sky, feeling safe and free for a while.

“Do you ever think about how insane people are?” I asked. “There are over three hundred billion stars in the Milky Way Galaxy alone. Three hundred billion specks of light reminding us of all that is out there in the universe. Three hundred billion flames that look so small. Yet they are literally bigger than you could ever imagine. There are all these different galaxies, all these different worlds that we have never, and will never discover.

“There’s so much wonder in the world, but instead of giving a damn, and taking the time to come to the realization that we are all very, very, small in a very, very miniature place, we like to pretend we are the alphas of the whole universe. We like to make ourselves feel big. And we each like to make our way seem like the best way, and our hurts seem like the biggest hurts, when really, we are nothing more than a tiny burning dot that makes up a part of the giant sky. A tiny dot that no one would even notice was missing. A tiny dot, that will soon enough be replaced by another speck which thinks it’s more important than it actually is. I just wish people would sometimes stop fighting about stupid mundane things like race, sexual orientation, and reality television. I wish they would remember how small they are and take five minutes a day to look up to the sky and breathe.”



“I love your mind.”



I’m falling in love with you…

“Thanks for tonight. You have no clue how much I needed this. You have no clue how much I needed you.” I lightly squeezed her hand. “You’re my greatest high.”

Chapter Five


“Lo! Lo! Lo!” Alyssa screamed a week later, running toward me in the pouring rain. I was on the highest stair of the ladder, working on cleaning the third floor windows from the outside. Obviously Ma only asked me to clean them when it was pouring rain outside. Alyssa’s voice rattled me, making me send the bucket of water (which was mainly rain water) crashing to the ground.