I escorted her to the kitchen table, poured us both a glass of sweet tea, and handed her my ipod.
“I’ll get dinner ready. Pick something out to listen to while we eat.”
She scrolled through my music and proclaimed “uhhh..,you weren’t kidding. I don’t know what most of this is? Where do you hear of these bands?”
“Well my uncle mostly. He’s a musician and is always showing me new stuff. And YouTube. You know, the sidebar.”
“Is your uncle the one in the picture you have in your room, on your desk? Is he the guy you’re standing with?”
“Yup. That’s him,”
“Yeah, I thought that guy looked to young to be your dad, but I was scared to ask” Kayla said, half laughing. Half serious.
“Ha, yeah. Ummm, you don’t have to be scared to ask me anything, ok?”
“I can tell your uncle means a lot to you?”
“Oh? How is that?” I quizzed back.
“Well, you have a huge smile on the picture, and it’s the only picture in your room.”
“Nice work detective. Yeah. He’s super awesome. I love him a lot.” I confessed.
“All of my family is in Canada. It’s just me, my mom and dad, and my little brother. I have a few cousins that I miss a lot, but some are coming down for Christmas to visit.”
“That sounds exciting.” I said back, trying to keep her out of the melancholy that was creeping in.
She nodded as I went into the kitchen to prep our meal. I heated a little olive oil and mixed in the meat sauce I made the night before. The olive oil will thicken it up and bring it back to life. I heated some water on another burner, to cook up some new pasta.
“I don’t know what to pick” Kayla professed. “Why don’t you pick something I’ve never heard. Something that don’t suck” she said next, with a laugh.
“Hey! None of it sucks!” I protested. “Here, I’ll try this one on you.”
I put on Atlas Sound and docked it in the living room.
“Umm…is it ok that you are here? I mean do you need call home or anything?”
“Haha. I’ve been texting with my mom. She knows where I am. Do you know about texting nature boy? Because you kind of need a cell phone to do it.”
“OMG! LOL!” I shot back, fairly certain I did a better job of replying to one of her sarcastic insults. Then I added “TTYL, you don’t have to eat here miss technology” giving her my best pouting look, before I turned back to the stove.
Kayla cracked up from my display and said “yes! I think you’re starting to catch on!”
I just laughed as I searched through the freezer to locate some breadsticks. I grabbed two and gently thawed them in the microwave, while I heated up some garlic butter on the stove.
With that all done, I popped the breadsticks in the oven, and sat down with Kayla to wait.
“It shouldn’t be too long” I assured her.
“What are we having? It smells super good.”
“Pasta with a meat sauce. Oh my god! You’re not vegetarian, are you? If you are, I can throw something else together.” I said in a panic.
“No. No. I eat meat” she said, giggling at my little panic attack.
I topped off our teas and checked the breadsticks. Everything looked done, so I dished up the food and brought everything back to the table.
She politely said “thank you. Everything looks really good.”
I loaded up my fork and watched Kayla do the same. She ate her first bite and immediately her eyes popped open and a big “mmmmmm” escaped from her lips.
“Oh my god! This is so good! What restaurant is this from? I have to go there. Wow!”
I assumed this was another one of her sarcastic episodes, so I mock laughed at her comment.
“What?” she protested. “I’m being serious!”
“Yes really. Who made this? Where’s it from? I really, really like it a lot!”
“Oh. I made it.”
“You made this?”
“Yes. I made it last night. This is like the leftovers.”
“Holy shit! You actually can cook? You know how to make this? Wow! I’m so impressed. I can’t cook at all. I have even burned water!”
“Thank you Kayla! I’m happy you like it” I said, smiling widely.
“I wish I could eat like this every day. Can I hire you to be a chef at my house? How did you learn to cook like this?”
“Honestly, it’s not that hard. This is easy to make compared to some stuff I’ve tried. I just watch videos online and try over and over until I get it right.”
“Well every minute you just keep becoming the more perfect guy. Will you marry me?”
I just sat there turning redder and redder, not sure what to say. Before I could think of anything, Kayla looked me in the eyes and said “you really are amazing. A one of a kind. I’m so happy to be your friend.”
I was actually fighting back tears. I’ve never received praise like this before. I’ve become so used to being the weird, quiet, loner kid. Then here comes Kayla into my life and she’s actually interested in me and what I like. What I do. And she doesn’t find me weird or boring. It seems to good to be true.
I had to say something. Anything. But before I could get any words to form, Kayla asked “are you ok?”
“Yeah…yeah…I’m great. I’m just not used to people being so nice to me. You. You’ve been so nice. I’m so lucky to have you Kayla.”
Now it was her turn to get choked up, as she said “I’m lucky to have you too nature boy.”
“Anytime you want to eat dinner with me Kayla, you are more than welcome. It’s nice to have you here.”
She thanked me and we settled in to eat our pasta before it got too cold. Both of us silently chewing on our thoughts.
After we finished, I got up to start a fire, as the evening chill was moving in. Kayla got up and moved over to the oversized, pillowy couch, near the fireplace, and watched me get the fire going.
When I turned from the fireplace, she patted the cushion next to her, inviting me to sit with her. She draped her arm across me and rested her head on my shoulder, as we gazed into the fireplace. We sat quietly, comfortably for a while, when Kayla asked “so tomorrow we can go to that farmhouse right?
Suddenly my heart thumped loudly again, and my mouth went dry. “Uhh…yeah…sure…I guess” I said unconvincingly. I didn’t want to reveal just how scared I was of that place.
“Yes!” she said excitedly. “I can’t wait!”
After a few more minutes of chilling by the fire, Kayla lifted her head and said unhappily “I suppose I should get home. I could sit here all night with you, but you know.”
“Yeah. I got some homework and stuff too.”
I walked her the front door and stopped her as she was about to take the hoodie off that I lent her. “It’s cold out there. You can get that back to me whenever. Or keep it if you want.”
Kayla wrapped her arms around my waist and hugged me tight. She planted a kiss on my cheek, and then one on my lips. “Thank you Daniel. For…for everything. See you tomorrow,”
“Yeah…see you…have a good night.”
Then she was gone. Skipping down the sidewalk, on the way to her house.