We met at a pig roast. Both seventeen, with nothing better to do than follow our parents to the neighbor’s. Sandy and I were the only teenagers. Younger kids ran around. The adults greeted each other, voices swirling lazily, clinking like ice cubes in a glass.
Sandy’s father stood out, a little older, big and boisterous. European, some said. A millionaire.
I’d only seen Sandy from a distance. She lived in a historic home overlooking the river, and attended a boarding school. She was pretty, and like her father, tan complexioned. In the shade of the trees, she drifted, cat-like. I approached slowly, through what might have once been an orchard. Go socialize, my parents said.
“How do you like it here?” I said, for something to say.
Sandy’s family had arrived in our small community the previous winter.
“It’s all right,” she replied. “Quiet.”
“You’re from New York?”
“How did you know that?”
The greasy smell of the roasting pig drifted through the trees. I struggled to find something interesting to say. My father was not a millionaire. I was shy. My hair was too straight, difficult to style. I had never been on a date.
“Do you want to get a beer?” Sandy said. “My parents won’t care.”
“I could probably have one.”
I started toward the quarter keg on the patio. The adults were engaged, glinting eyes and smiles. A male voice was explaining something. I heard my mother expel a fake laugh.
I filled two cups from the keg. Sandy came my way, long chestnut hair flowing. We took our beers, moving away from the party, down to the creek. Her dad spoke loudly, maybe to us, but we kept moving, sounds bouncing off the dark water.
I could hear the sizzling flesh on the spit. Everything was buzzing. The sun was lowering, yet the evening remained warm. Sweat coursed down my spine. Reflections on the water, like glints of good fortune. A breath of hope that summer night.
I traced my fingers over the sweating plastic cup. Sandy turned, dead calm. But far away, across the river, a rumble.
Later, I couldn’t remember what I’d said. As if I’d been in a play and hadn’t practiced my lines.
I decided to get a haircut, and try a new part.