Chance of a Lifetime (Anderson Brothers)

By: Marissa Clarke


She hadn’t realized she’d drifted off into her memories until her friend cleared her throat theatrically.

“Walter had a lot of after-school commitments starting in middle school because of lacrosse practice, so often, it was just Chance and me hanging out. We were very close…or at least I thought we were.” She took another bite, not even appreciating the smooth chocolate taste. “Walter treated me like a helpless blind sister. Chance…didn’t. Ever. He treated me like…”

“A girlfriend?”

She sighed. “No. Like a regular person.”

“Ah,” her friend said, paper napkin rustling as she likely wiped her lips. “So why the slap instead of relocating that hot make-out session to your apartment where it belongs?”

Excitement and horror in equal parts flashed down her spine in prickly heat at the thought of Chance being in her apartment. “Because he…” How could she finish that sentence without sounding melodramatic? Betrayed me seemed too much, but was the truth. “Let me down.”

“Still listening.”

Shit. “We went to the harbor for New Year’s Eve—Walter, Chance, me, and a neighbor of ours named Phoebe who Walter was hot for.” She took another bite of ice cream. “I never really liked Phoebe. She was always talking the boys into doing stupid stuff.”

“Like what?”

“Like breaking into my parents’ liquor cabinet. Anyway, the four of us went to the harbor. It wasn’t a date between Chance and me, but being only fifteen, it was as close as I’d come, and, well…I had a good imagination.”

“So, you came on to him. That’s understandable.”

“No. I would never have done that. I…he…” She smoothed the top of her ice cream with the back of her spoon. “Well, I was intimidated and clueless. At that time, the three years he had on me seemed like decades. I had some romantic notion that if I had him alone at midnight without Walter and Phoebe, he’d kiss me to ring in the new year. I thought that was a rule—you had to kiss whomever you were with when the new year came in.”

“Well, I’m glad that’s not a rule, because you’ve spent the last three New Years’ with me. I like you, hon, but not that way.”

She laughed.

“Sorry,” Sherry said. “I didn’t mean to interrupt. Then what happened?”

She’d never forget that night. Everything changed because of it. She changed. She pushed her ice cream away and sighed. “We were playing Skee-Ball and I was desperate to get Chance alone. I convinced him to take me to the edge of a pier at the far end of the marina.”

“Well, that was clever.”

“I thought so at the time. It turned out to be a stupid mistake. When we got to the end, his phone rang and he told me I needed to go hang out with Walter for a few minutes because he had to do something—an errand. He said it would take less than five minutes.”

“What was the errand?”

“I don’t know. It didn’t matter. In my fifteen-year-old mind, the only thing that mattered was me.”

“Hah! I’m still that way.”

“No, you’re not.” Sherry was the kindest, most giving person she knew. “Anyway, I refused to go hang out with my brother. It had been hard to get Chance alone on the pier, and I was sure it wouldn’t work again. I convinced him to just leave me there while he ran his quick errand. I scolded him for treating me like a little kid who needed a babysitter. I could tell he didn’t want to leave me alone, but I was the whine master and he relented once I promised to sit down and not budge from the spot. I really wanted that kiss, and at the time, I thought I was as able as a sighted person.”

“You are.”

“Most of the time, yes, but I was in an unfamiliar place.” She could almost smell the salty air and hear the laughter of people on the boardwalk and music from a live band.

“Still listening. Nothing slap-worthy yet.”

Aware her friend was studying her, she consciously relaxed her face and arms. “Well, he’d promised it would take less than five minutes, but after half an hour, I got mad, imagining all kinds of crazy reasons he’d left me there.” She still imagined all kinds of reasons. Over the years, she’d pondered every scenario from him leaving to avoid her, to his meeting up with a girl and forgetting about her until the next morning. “I also worried he wouldn’t be back before midnight and I’d miss that kiss, so I decided to set out to find him. Show him I was like any other girl and not handicapped. The fireworks went off the moment I stood. I didn’t have a cane because I wanted to look normal and cool and maybe make people think Chance was my date—maybe make him think it.” She’d lived it over and over so many times in her head, it was like it had happened yesterday. Her breath caught as it played out in her mind. “The fireworks were loud and I became disoriented and headed the wrong direction, right off the side of the pier.”

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