Excerpt After Clancy had gone in his own pickup, it was just the two of us. It was just the two of us a lot, and it came easy, like something between us just slotted together. Tobias reeled in the fishing pole -- nothing was biting -- and moved on to lighting another cigarette and lying back to look at the stars. I lay down beside him. The breeze gave the early summer night a chill, and I wanted, desperately, to slide over and curl into Tobias' side. It would be warm and comfortable, and I craved the electric spark that I got from touching him.
He folded his arms behind his head. His elbow brushed mine, and my breath caught. It was ridiculous, a tiny touch that I shouldn't have even really noticed. It didn't help that it stayed there, constant warmth against my own chilled skin, and I felt as though I were on fire where that tiny bit of contact originated.
"You looked at colleges?" Tobias said, and my stomach plummeted. I hated this conversation, the one that brought up graduation and the future. "I mean, there's not a lot of money, but you're smart enough to get a couple of scholarships, and you definitely qualify for some grants."
"What's wrong with sticking around?" I asked.
"You stick around long enough and you never leave." Tobias had a half-cocked grin on his face, crooked and self-deprecating. "You ain't got nothing keepin' you here, Frankie, you should go. Might never get another chance."
I didn't say anything. I didn't want to think about leaving for some faraway town, for school and people and the real world. I didn't want to think about leaving Tobias, about maybe drifting apart and not hearing his rough voice every day.
"You've only got one life, you know? You got to take these chances and opportunities while they're there, or you'll fuck yourself over. There's a whole damn world out there, but you'll never know it if you don't go looking for it." He was quiet then, and I wondered if he was still talking about me, or if the conversation had switched over to him now. "You'll never know what you're missing if you don't open your eyes, Frankie," he finally finished.
I jolted at that. It was something about his words, something about the fact that he was talking about me leaving like it was nothing. It might have even been something about me being seventeen and hopelessly in love and brooding, but his words stuck in my brain like a particularly good song.
Just then, Leonard Cohen came on the radio, and Tobias grinned, closing his eyes and flicking his ashes into the water. "I love this song," he said.
You'll never know what you're missing if you don't open your eyes. I opened my eyes, never even realizing I had closed them, and I saw Tobias in the moonlight with the cherry of a cigarette in his hand, singing along with the radio.