Tera doesn’t look back at her sister and walks straight towards her favorite vintage shop. If she had to be out in the disgusting town for the day to please her parents and make her sister look bad at the same time, so be it. She had enjoyed the week that Lotto was sick, glad her parents wouldn’t let her come out of her bedroom. Erin washed her hands and was very careful about what she touched those seven days, not daring to risk getting sick. At night she could hear her sister crying or talking to herself. Deep down she almost felt bad for Lotto. Whenever she started to feel that way she would quickly push the thought aside and remind herself that Lotto is only a burden on her mom and dad. That, and she’s annoying.
She stops in front of the window of the store, admiring the display. This week’s showcase of merchandise includes brightly colored necklaces, teardrop earrings, cocktail rings, and chunky bracelets. The vibrancy draws customers in, asking to be tried on. A rare smile crosses Tera’s face, wanting all of it.
But the pull of retail therapy is not strong today. Erin would rather be somewhere else, even though she shouldn’t be and knows she isn’t wanted. But that doesn’t matter. Tera turns her attention away from the candy colored jewels and begins the journey to Steve’s house.
Everything around Tera becomes a blur, her focus is so strong. She just wants to see what he is doing. She will keep out of sight, maybe hide in that one bush that gives her a perfect view of his door. She slows down as she crosses the street, only one block from his home. His neighborhood looks the same as hers, and their houses are a near model match. It’s only his dad and him, his mom passing away 16 years ago. They used to sit on his front lawn and talk about how they couldn’t wait to get out of here. Steve was hoping to get a basketball scholarship out of state. Even though he never said it, Tera knew he wanted her to come with him. She could tell by the way he looked at her and held her hand. Tera told Steve things she had never told anybody, not even Andi. He made her feel adored, and not just because of how she looked. They only dated for a month but Tera felt like she’d known him forever.
Tera heard a screen door slam and jumps into the bush just in time to see Steve walk down his front steps. He had on an old t-shirt and basketball shorts with his practice shoes on. His hair was wet, like he just got out of the shower. Tera held her breath when she realized he was talking towards her. She stood still, hoping the leaves didn’t sway. Her ears started to ring, the panic setting in. So when he didn’t even look in her direction as he passed the bush in a hurry, she let out the breath she had been holding. With that, Steve stopped. He turned around, looking for the source of the sound. Tera closed her mouth and eyes, not wanting to see him when he realizes it is her. What she doesn’t see is him shake his head, telling himself he is hearing things. He is a couple of blocks away from Tera before she opens her eyes and resumes breathing.
Tera steps out of the bush once Steve is out of sight. Even though she was almost caught, it was worth it. He wasn’t close enough that she could smell him but she could imagine it just from the sight of his freshly showered self. She had to stop coming over to his house but she couldn’t help herself. He was the love of her life and she had to make him see her the same way. Maybe Andi could help. She walked past Steve’s house, hoping nosy neighbors didn’t recognize her. Andi’s house was a few blocks away. She didn’t bother calling, knowing her friend would most likely be studying in her room on this Sunday afternoon. Tera was Andi’s only friend so unless she was hanging out with Tera, she was at home.