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I WAKE UP TO THE sound of the lawn mower.
It’s Saturday morning and I can’t fall back to sleep, so now I’m lying in my bed staring at my walls, at all the pictures and things I’ve saved. I’m thinking I want to shake things up. I’m thinking maybe I should paint my room. The only question is, what color? Lavender? Cotton-candy pink? Something bold, like turquoise? Maybe just an accent wall? Maybe one marigold wall, one salmon pink. It’s a lot to consider. I should probably wait for Margot to come home before I make such a momentous decision. Plus I’ve never painted a room before, and Margot has, with Habitat for Humanity. She’ll know what to do.
On Saturdays we usually have something good for breakfast, like pancakes or frittata with frozen shredded potato and broccoli. But since there’s no Kitty and no Margot, I just eat cereal instead. Who ever heard of making pancakes or frittata for just one person? My dad’s been awake for hours; he’s outside mowing the lawn. I don’t want to get roped into helping him do yard work, so I make myself busy in the house and clean the downstairs. I Swiffer and DustBust and wipe the tables down, and all the while my wheels are turning about how I’m going to get myself out of this Peter K. situation with even a sliver of dignity. The wheels turn and turn, but no good solutions come to mind.
* * *
When Kitty gets dropped off, I’m folding laundry. She plops down on the couch on her belly and asks me, “What’d you do last night?”
“Nothing. I just stayed home.”
“I organized my closet.” It’s humiliating to say that out loud. Hastily I change the subject. “So did Alicia’s mom make sweet crepes or salty ones?”
“She made both. First we had ham and cheese and then we had Nutella. How come we never have any Nutella?”
“I think maybe because hazelnuts make Margot’s throat itch.”
“Can we get some next time?”
“Sure,” I say. “We’ll just have to eat the whole jar before Margot comes home.”
“No problem,” Kitty says.
“On a scale of one to ten, how badly do you miss Gogo?” I ask her.
Kitty thinks this over. “A six point five,” she says at last.
“Only a six point five?”
“Yeah, I’ve been really busy,” she says, rolling over and kicking her legs up in the air. “I’ve hardly had time to miss Margot. You know, if you got out more, maybe you wouldn’t miss her so much.”
I boomerang a sock at her head and Kitty explodes into a giggle fit. I’m tickling her armpits when Daddy comes in from outside with a stack of mail. “Something came back return to sender for you, Lara Jean,” he says, handing me an envelope.
It’s got my handwriting! I scramble up and snatch it out of his hands. It’s my letter to Kenny from camp. It came back to me!
“Who’s Kenny?” Daddy wants to know.
“Just a boy I met at church camp a long time ago,” I say, tearing the envelope open.
It’s the last day of camp and possibly the last time I will ever see you because we live so far apart. Remember on the second day, I was scared to do archery and you made a joke about minnows and it was so funny I nearly peed my pants?
I stop reading. A joke about minnows? How funny could it have been?
I was really homesick but you made me feel better. I think I might’ve left camp early if it hadn’t been for you, Kenny. So, thank you. Also you’re a really amazing swimmer and I like your laugh. I wish it had been me you kissed at the bonfire last night and not Blaire H.
Take care, Kenny. Have a really good rest of the summer and a really good life.
Love, Lara Jean
I clutch the letter to my chest.
This is the first love letter I ever wrote. I’m glad it came back to me. Though, I suppose it wouldn’t have been so bad if Kenny Donati got to know that he helped two people at camp that summer—the kid who almost drowned in the lake and twelve-year-old Lara Jean Song Covey.