My mother and sisters were outside, a quartet of redheads inattentively guarding my boxes of tripods, camera cases, and Bowie records. My mom was adjusting her sun hat; my littlest sister Angie had ice cream dripping off the tip of her nose. It was a bright hot day in late summer, and almost all of my favorite people were here to help me set up my dorm. I should not have felt like I was at a funeral.
“And lover boy comes back again.”
Ansel was leaning against my door like he’d appeared from thin air. He had a few more piercings than he’d had last May, and his pants looked like two separate accordions eating his legs, but I was relieved to see that he hadn’t drunkenly gotten a face tattoo or lost any limbs during summer break. You never really knew with Ansel.
“Hey, man.” I cringed, sounding bleak even to my own ears.
“Still got it, I see.” He pointed to my wrist.
The world’s most threadbare bracelet was attached to my wrist. I’d grown too big for the bracelet a few years ago, so I’d had to lengthen the braided hemp with a few safety pins.
I pressed it to my lips. “I never change, do I?”
“Like a sad old dog waiting for its master,” Ansel agreed happily. “What’d you do this summer?”
Took pictures. Helped my mom run her summer camp. Thought about Will. Wrestled with my old high school friends. Thought about Will. Taught the summer camp kids how to make spaghetti. Saw Will at a grocery store when I was collecting ingredients for aforementioned spaghetti.