Time After Time

Time Between Us - 2


Tamara Ireland Stone

For Aidan and Lauren, siblings and best friends.

Carriers of my heart.

Time will explain.


August 2012


San Francisco, California

Nothing’s changed. I was gone for three months, I’ve been home for three more, and still, everything here is exactly the same as it was before I left.

“You guys going to Megan’s party next week?” Sam asks.

My gaze travels around the circle as everyone nods. Of course they’re going. Summer is almost over and Megan’s parents are loaded and never home, a combination that pretty much guarantees copious opportunities to drink and hook up.

“What about you?” Sam points at me with his chin. “You in, Coop?”

“Can’t,” I say, avoiding his eyes. “I’ll be out of town.” I tip my head back and down my Gatorade. The eight of us have been skating around Lafayette Park for the last hour and I’m parched.

“Again?” He reaches in for a handful of Doritos and then passes the bag around. “You missed her last party, and that was epic.” Everyone nods again. Ryan parrots Sam with a “Seriously epic.”

I look away as I shrug it off. “I hate to miss it, but I promised my mom I’d go see my grandmother before school starts.” I feel a little guilty about these back-to-back lies: I probably wouldn’t go to Megan’s party, even if I was sticking around, and my mom has no idea that I’m going to see my grandmother.

Sam clears his throat and looks around the circle. “Who’s got the chips?” Drew takes a big handful and everyone keeps the bag moving until it eventually makes its way back to Sam. “You sure there isn’t another reason you’re leaving town?” he asks. The crunching stops as all the guys turn and look at us, waiting for me to reply.

I lean back on my skateboard. “Like what?” My heart starts racing, but I force myself to stay still. To look cool and unfazed. I push Anna out of my mind, hoping that will make me look more convincing.

A smile tugs at the corners of Sam’s mouth. I can feel the rest of the guys shifting in place around us. Sam suddenly reaches into the bag and chucks a chip at my head, and I duck out of the way as it flies past me. “I’m just giving you shit,” he says, and everyone laughs as the crunching sounds return.

Ryan pulls his phone from his pocket and checks the screen. “Break’s over.” He stands up, pops his board into his hand, and takes off for the flat cement area surrounded by NO SKATEBOARDING signs. He’s right. We’ve probably got another ten minutes before one of the neighbors calls the cops.

Everyone else takes off, but Sam and I hang behind. I hold the chip bag out to him, and just as he’s about to take it, I tip my head back and shake the rest of the crumbs into my mouth.

“Here.” I hand it to him.

“You suck,” he says, but he’s smiling as he takes the empty bag from me and stuffs it into his backpack. I can see him staring at me out of the corner of my eye, but then he shakes his head hard and looks away. “So,” he says, intentionally making his voice sound lighter. “Lindsey and I ran into her at the movies the other night.”

“Her?” I wipe the grease and chip dust from my mouth with my shirtsleeve. “Her who?”

He looks at me like he can’t believe I’d ask. “Megan.” Then he adds, “Hot Megan.”

“The one who throws all the parties?”

“Yes, that Megan. How many hot Megans do you know?”

I shrug. “I don’t know. At least”—I count on my fingers—“four.” He rolls his eyes.

“Well, I don’t know about the other three, but this one asked about you. Again. She told me to make sure I bring you to her party this time.” He looks at me expectantly, as if I should leap up off the ground and hurry home to rearrange my flight. Instead, I stand up slowly and reach for my board.

“Sorry, I would, but—”

“I know,” he says. “Your grandma. In Illinois. Who’s sick.”


Sam stands up too, and steps hard on the end of his board so it flips into his hand. “Look, you’ve managed to avoid her all summer, but when school starts next week, you won’t have a choice. The way I see it, there is only one reason you wouldn’t ask Megan out.”

“Because she’s kind of…vacuous?” She’s a junior, a year younger than all of us, and I haven’t spoken to her long enough to know if this is true or not. But I feel compelled to steer Sam away from his “one reason.”

He looks back at me. “If you really don’t like her, I get it. But she’s Lindsey’s friend, you know? The four of us could go out sometime. It might be fun.” My mind flashes on an image of Anna, Emma, Justin, and me, walking into a movie theater, my arm draped over Anna’s shoulder and Emma’s arm threaded through Justin’s. I already have a “four of us.” Or at least, I did.

I run my hand through my hair. “I’ll think about it, okay?” I won’t, but hopefully I put enough sincerity in my voice to make him think I will.

“Don’t think about it. Just ask her out. Because, seriously, she’s nice and really cool and, in my humble opinion, not at all vacuous. And Lindsey likes her,” he adds, knowing that could be a selling point.

The rest of the guys come back to grab their stuff and I’m relieved. They mutter good-byes and start down the path that leads to the bottom of the hill. Sam follows them, but then stops and looks back at me. “You coming?”

“I’m going to grab a coffee,” I say, gesturing toward the Fillmore Street shops in the opposite direction. He gives me a quick “See ya” and takes off with everyone else as I head the other way.

When they’re out of sight, I double back to the bench overlooking the bay and watch the sailboats skim across the water.

Nothing’s changed, but everything’s different now. Because Anna sat here once, right next to me, and handed me a letter that told me I’d meet her someday. I wish she’d warned me that once I had, I wouldn’t quite know how to be here without her.


When I reach our house at the top of the hill, I open the front door and toss my skateboard and backpack on the floor in the foyer next to the giant houseplant. I’m heading upstairs to my room when I hear something strange coming from the kitchen. It sounds like chopping. And…singing.

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