All week I was real fidgety and sometimes I wanted to call Henri, but whenever someone answered at their house I always hung up which yeah was kinda childish of me but what was I going to say? Ask’m if everything is okay? Tell him I knew… what? What did I know?
Henri called back three times that week. Once on Tuesday just to chat (after five minutes I made an excuse to go), once on Wednesday–though he hung up as soon as Kaylee answered the phone (but we knew it was him, though cause of caller ID which made me realize he probably had known it was me who kept calling him and hangin’ up) and then the third time on Friday to assure me he’d be at the park the next day.
So on Saturday, Duncan and I biked down to the park once more and he left me, though I could tell he didn’t want to. At least he didn’t go over to Henri and say embarassin’ things again. Stupid brother, I thought, going to where Henri was sittin’ on the swings.
First thing I noticed was how sad he was feelin’. Second thing I noticed was how pale he seemed. But he smiled brightly when he saw me and he hopped off the swings quickly. “Serenity!”
I smiled back at him. “Hey Henri,” I said, punchin’ his arm in greeting. “How was your trip?” I looked into his eyes, practically darin’ him to lie.
Henri’s gaze shifted away. “Good, I guess. How was your weekend?”
“Rode Ducky for a bit.” I went to the fountain and stared at the spraying water. I reached into my pocket then flipped a coin into the water. Henri came up next to me.
“Whatcha wish for?” he asked.
“If I say, it won’t come true.” I just stared at the water’s surface, though. I wanted to ask him what was wrong but I was worried what might happen after. He could get pretty mad, ‘specially since I wouldn’t be able to tell him how I knew something was wrong.
Then the words came out. “What’s wrong?” But it wasn’t me who said it, it was him. And he was puttin’ his hand against mine, his fingers closing around mine. Part of me wanted to jerk my hand away. Part of me didn’t… Henri wasn’t as sad anymore. He felt pretty happy and pretty hopeful. And nervous. And I knew why.
I jerked my hand away from his. “Let’s race!” I said, spinning around and pointing at the edge of the park.
“Serenity, something is wrong,” he said, stepping in front of me. “Why are you avoiding the subject? Is it something I did…?”
“What’s wrong with me? Well, what’s wrong with you?” I demanded. “That’s what’s wrong with me, the fact something is wrong with you.”
A flash of fear inside him. “Why–why would you say something is wrong with me?” His hands shot out, taking my hands, making me feel all nervous with how nervous he felt.
At least, I think it was because he was nervous that I felt nervous. Or maybe I was nervous, but he was confused and sad and I didn’t feel sad, though I was confused–but maybe I was sad. Or–or–
I gave a cry and pulled away, clutching my head. Everything was gettin’ to be too much for me. I wanted to cry and then realized I was crying. Henri’s hands were on me, on my arms, trying to keep me from falling but I was falling, falling, and then blacked out.
I woke up at home, not at a hospital or anything. Part of me wondered if it had been a nightmare…
But no, there was Henri sittin’ on the edge of Kaylee’s bed. When I started sitting up, he jumped to his feet and came over.
“You okay?” he asked. “I was so scared–are you okay? Your dads said…” He trailed off and looked very worried. “They said you’ve fainted a lot before…”
Great. “Yeah. I’m fine.” I rubbed my head and then slowly got out of bed. He looked like he wanted to help me, but didn’t touch me. Great, I thought again. He thinks I’m a freak now. I stood up and stretched, glancing at the clock to see how long I was out. It was early evening. “You know, you didn’t need to stay…”
“But I wanted to,” he said and I stared, as that wasn’t a lie. “I was worried,” he added, looking–and feeling–embarrassed.
Before I could respond the door burst open and in bounced Kaylee. “You’re awake! I heard movement. I was in the hall.” She inched over to me but kept her eyes on Henri. She felt giggly. I didn’t think that was possible. “I’ll go let everyone know you’re up…” Finally she turned to look at me. “Mom and Dad are downstairs talking with Doctor… ummmm…”
“Laroche,” Henri said and Kaylee nodded.
Oh GREAT, I thought for the third time. Sure enough, I could feel his arrogance seepin’ through the floor. “I can go downstairs,” I said.
“No!” Henri grabbed my arm. “I don’t want you using the stairs.”
“I’m not going to faint again!” I complained but he kept givin’ me this sad-puppy look so I sighed. “Fine, I’ll wait up here.” Kaylee ran off, giggling wildly while I trudged to my bed and sat down, wishin’ I didn’t have to deal with Dr. Laroche but oh well, it was better than going to the hospital. “So what happened?”
Henri pulled the desk chair over and sat down in it. “After you fainted I called my dad and then called your house. Your parents said to bring you in, so when my dad showed up–we did. I wanted to take you to the hospital but since you didn’t hit your head or anything, Dad said you should be okay…”
Then his dad came into my bedroom (how freaky was that?) and checked me over, lookin’ into my eyes and stuff. I assured him I was fine and tried to ignore the looks my daddies were giving me from the doorway. Finally, the Laroches left and I insisted I was too tired to talk anymore. Neither dad believed me, but they let me be. For now.
Fainting again meant no school for a couple days, so I worked on my homework as much as I could. I was kinda fallin’ behind in everything. Also, Mom took me (and Mal) to the stables a lot so I spent a lot of time over the next coupla days with Ducky.
I also spent a lotta time worrying. About me faintin’ like that and all those emotions… were my powers gettin’ outta control again?
I didn’t talk to Henri, either. He called like, fifty times and I kept telling my family that I couldn’t talk. My sisters got annoyed at me and kept tellin’ me I needed to talk to him. I didn’t want to, though. I was scared. I knew, deep down, Henri didn’t think I was a freak but it was still real embarrassin’ he saw me faint like that. What would I say?
On Friday I had to make a decision of whether or not to go to the park the next day. I wanted to see him again but didn’t know what to do… but how was that any different from the Saturday before? I didn’t call him, I just went to the park on Saturday and there he was, waitin’ on the swings like always.
I stood several feet away from him and just stared at him. He stared back, but didn’t move either. It felt so awkward… but finally he stood up and came over, hands in his pockets. “Hey,” he mumbled.
“Hey,” I replied, toeing the ground.
“You doing okay?” he asked, lips turnin’ down a bit as he frowned.
“I… guess.” I toed the ground some more, kickin’ up a bit of dirt. “You doing all right?”
“You said last week you said you were upset because you knew something was wrong with me…” He trailed off and looked away from me. “Then you fainted. I’m sorry if I made you faint. Wait–that sounded weird. I guess I mean… I–“
I reached out, touching his arm. “It’s okay, it wasn’t your fault,” I said, though it was partially a lie since, well, it was his overwhelmin’ emotions that did it. “I just was scared you weren’t telling me something.”
“What makes you think I’m not telling you something?” he asked, his voice a bit squeaky.
I folded my arms and raised an eyebrow. “Besides the fact you sound panicked right now? Well, let’s just say I’m good at spotting lies. I know you didn’t leave town when you said you were going to leave town.”
Now he began scuffing up the dirt and a bit of grass. “So… what, you can tell when I lie?”
“Sort of…” I hesitated now since this was gettin’ into dangerous waters. “It doesn’t matter.”
He looked up again, grinnin’ and feelin’ all amused. “Then let’s test it out. I’ll tell you two truths and one lie, and you tell me which is the lie. You keep getting it right, I’ll believe you.”
“N-no!” I stammered. “That’s silly. I’d rather swing. Let’s go swing!” I tried to take off for the swings but he grasped my arm, spinning me around to face him.
“If you get them right, I’ll tell you what happened,” he said, though he sounded real unsure–and felt real unsure. But there was a bit of arrogance that felt a bit like his dad. He didn’t think I could guess the lies. PFFFT! That right there made me want to do it.
“Okay then, pinkie promise?” I asked and he nodded, takin’ my pinkie with his. “How many do I have to guess?”
“Hmm… five times in a row?” he suggested and I shrugged, not carin’ since we could do five in a row or fifteen in a row, I’d be able to know. “Okay then. Here are my first three: I was born in Paris, I have one cousin, I learned to swim when I was two.”
I smiled, looking up. “So, where were you really born?”
Henri stared at me in disbelief. “Th–that’s just a good guess. And Champs Les Sims. Again.” He looked up at the sky, tryin’ to think of something to foil me. “Okay then, I had a dog named Phillipe when I was a kid–“
“If you’re just gonna say the lie on the first time again, that’s no fun,” I cut him off and his eyes widened as I smiled slightly. “That’s two. Right?”
“Uhhh…” He rubbed his nose and sighed. “Okay then… Oh! My mama’s family owns a nectary, I can trace my dad’s family back to the Middle Ages, and I’m allergic to shellfish.”
I tapped my finger against my chin, pretendin’ to think but I only let it drag out a couple seconds before saying, “Is there somethin’ else you’re allergic to, since you’re not allergic to shellfish?” I asked and he scowled. I held up three fingers and he made a huffy sound.
“Okay then, try this on!” he exclaimed. “My mama’s name was Christelle, my mama’s name was Juliette, my mama’s name was small.”
I raised my eyebrows eye, knowin’ the lie at once but being confused. “Don’t know how your mother’s name could be both Christelle and small at the same time, but the lie is Juliette.”
Now he squinted at me. “Lucky guess again. And her maiden name was ‘Petit’.”
I couldn’t help but grin. “Good one! But not good enough.” I pushed back my bangs and grinned even more. This was kinda fun. “Come on, then. Only one more to go.”
He thought real hard again and then suddenly looked inspired and felt inspired, and a bit nervous. Was he gonna say something important? He stepped real close to me for this one and whispered, “One. I’m scared of what I’m about to do. Two. You’re amazing. And three… I’m going to kiss you.”
My eyebrows shot up high and I was about to point out he hadn’t lied at all, when what he said hit me–and then his lips were on mine.