A conference happened in the corner, near the staircase. I was playing Life Force on Logan’s NES, blowing through the last of the thirty lives his secret little code had gotten me, when I heard a smattering of giggles. I paused the game and glanced over just in time to see Ashley eyeballing me. Hisa waved and the two girls disappeared upstairs.
Logan joined me on the couch and asked, “How did you blow through thirty lives and not even beat this yet?”
“I suck at video games,” I told him, resuming play.
It took me just a second longer to crash my spaceship into a cavern’s wall and prove my point.
“You look nervous,” said Logan.
“About what?” I said.
“Everything,” he told me, clapping me on the shoulder.
Logan took the controller from me, punched in his special code, and began the game again. I turned sideways and cast my gaze toward the stairs.
I wasn’t the brightest bulb when it came to girls. There’d been this cute sophomore, Maddy, who stopped by my locker on her way to English every day, who started giving me hugs every time she saw me, and who always asked to ride in my car on the way to Logan’s house. After two months of riding in the backseat while my a rotating gallery of my buddies sat shotgun, she gave up. Hisa had been the one to tell me, over fries at Friendly’s, what was what.
I mention all of this to put into perspective why I was so uncertain about what was going on upstairs while Logan and I hung out on the couch. I mention all of this to explain why I didn’t know what was coming when footfalls fell overhead, when the door to the basement opened at the top of the stairs, when Logan excused himself to take a leak. I mention all of this so you’ll understand why, out of all the naked feet and calves I’ve seen over the years, it’s Ashley Silver’s feet and calves coming down those stairs that I remember the clearest.
To be continued…