confront her past—and offers her a future she never imagined.
“For the tea? No problem.”
“No, for not leaving.” I drown my tea bag with my spoon, pushing it to the bottom. “I just invited people over for some drinks and cards and . . . that happened!” I motion to the box laying open in the living room. “You guys are never going to want to hang out with me again.”
“I wouldn’t say that. Sure, this is probably the strangest thing any of us has ever seen, but we all like you. Hey.” She gives my shoulder a little push. “Don’t frown too much. You’ll give yourself wrinkles. You’re too pretty for wrinkles. On a different note, I guess we know that wishing box works. I can’t wait for mine to come true. Could you imagine?”
“Why? What did you wish for?”
“For a new community center,” she says. “One with a gym, and a games room, and a place to take classes and work out and stuff. I’ve been on the committee at school for it for, like, two years. It doesn’t seem like it’s ever going to happen.”
I know the project she’s talking about. My grams dragged me to a craft sale at the community center once. The building looks like it’s made entirely out of school portables, like a patchwork quilt. The town has been raising funds for years to build a new one. It’s just one of the many projects Julie gets involved in around here. That’s why she’s a lifer. She loves this town. She’s never going to leave it.
Julie’s watching me over the rim of her cup. “So what was your wish?”
I let the waiting air in my lungs huff out. “I wished that . . . that I knew what I wanted, and that I’d find it here in Hazelton.” Saying it out loud doesn’t sound as awesome as it did in my head. The look on her face makes me wonder if my best friend just found out what a nut bar I really am.
“I like it,” she says finally. “I hope you find whatever it is you’re looking for too.” She sounds convincing. Thank God. I don’t know what I’d do without my rock.
“Do you want me to call my mom and ask her if I can stay over? Or you could come stay at my place if you’re too creeped out to stay here alone.”
She knows what I’m thinking without me saying a word. “It’s okay. I’ll be fine.” I’ll be no more screwed up than I already am.
“Okay. I’ll at least help you clean up a bit.” She puts her mug in the sink before going to the living room. I see her hesitate for a second before bending down to sweep the carved animal pieces back into the box. “The wendigo piece isn’t here.”
“Don’t worry about it. It’s probably under the couch. I’ll find it later.” Maybe it’s best if no one else but me touches the box from now on. “Do you want me to take you home?”