Friday, May 24, 2013
Book Excerpt: After Math by Denise Grover Swank
His face lifts, confusion crinkling his eyes. “History.”
His mouth opens to say something then he unconsciously licks his lower lip. I’m sure most girls would drool over it, but I see a guy who’s suddenly lost his shield of confidence. Still, I can’t ignore the slight stir in my emotions from the movement. Finally, he shrugs. “I like history.”
His answer is a lie, but I don’t see what good will come from pointing it out. “So what exactly do you like about history? It’s full of dates, which are numbers.”
He shakes his head. “Not the numbers. They get scrambled in my head. That’s the hardest part.” He pauses. “I like the stories. People who did extraordinary things and people remember them. They’re not forgotten and lost forever.”
I watch him as he speaks, the pain that flickers in his eyes.
“Do you like soccer?”
My question catches him by surprise. He blinks and sits up slightly. “Yeah. I’m good at it.”
“I know you’re good at it. I asked you if you liked it.”
His gaze turns out the window, and his mouth turns to a slight frown. “Do you know you’re the first person to ever ask me that question?”
I realize he hasn’t answered, and although I’m curious, I refuse to invade Tucker’s personal life any more than necessary. “I’m trying to figure out how you learn. Some people are auditory learners, while others are kinesthetic. Most guys are visual.”
He shoots me a wicked glance, and to my surprise, I’m happy to see his cockiness return. Sad Tucker makes me feel too personally involved.
I lean forward, my forearms on the table. “I think there’s more to learning than just the senses. If we can tie learning to something we love, we can remember it, and it sticks in our heads longer. So then when we retrieve the information later, it’s easier to find. Does that make sense?”
“So what do you love? What excites Tucker Price?” As soon as the words leave my mouth, I realize I’ve set myself up for a raunchy response.
He ignores it. His jaw works, and he leans back against the seat, stretching his hands across the table. I notice the multiple scars on his knuckles and the back of his hand. “No one’s ever asked me that before either.” His gaze returns to the gray sky.
While I wait for an answer that never comes, it occurs to me that he doesn’t know. As he shuffles through his thoughts, I search my own and ask myself the same question that no one has ever asked me.
I press my head into the seat, stretching my hands out on the table top, and close my eyes. I’m surrounded by people every day, yet I always feel alone, no matter how hard I try to connect. It’s as though a veil has been thrown over my heart, and no one has ever been able to tear it down. Until this boy. This unattainable, untouchable, unreliable boy.
My eyelids flutter open, and I see the despair I’ve stirred in him. My fingers flex, millimeters from his hand, his palms splayed on the table.
For the first time, I feel genuinely connected to another human being and just my luck, it turns out to be Tucker Price.
And that’s the saddest fact of all.