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The Coincidence of Callie & Kayden, Page 22

Jessica Sorensen

Page 22


  She dithers, twisting the end of her ponytail around her finger. “Okay, I’ll take the pink one with the torn ear. ”

  The guy behind the counter scratches his neck. “Are you being serious?”

  Her face is stoic. “Absolutely. I never kid about teddy bears. ”

  Seth and I laugh at her and the guy pierces us with a look, before he marches over to the wall and grabs a metal pole. Pointing it up to the tent ceiling, he unhooks the bear Callie selected. Then he takes it off the end and tosses it on the counter before he stomps away, muttering, “I need a fucking smoke break. ”

  Callie picks up the bear, which is half the size of her, and assesses it with distaste. “I still don’t think I should bring it back to the dorm. ” She glances up at me. “Maybe you should take it with you. You did win it. ”

  I shake my head. “There is no way I’m going to drag a giant, deformed, pink bear across campus and take it to my room. ”

  “Okay, maybe we could give it to a little kid,” she suggests, flicking her fingers at the bear’s nose and making a face. “They’d probably love to have it. ”

  We peer around at the crowd and then Callie giggles as she stares at a booth that is set up with display cases that hold sunglasses. “Or we could dress it up and put a Wanted: In need of a home sign in its hand and leave it somewhere for someone to pick up. ”

  I poke my finger at the teddy bears eye and it falls out. “I actually like that idea and the sunglasses can hide the fact that it just lost an eye. ”

  “Oh, can we buy it a tiara?” Seth asks, glancing around excitedly. “Please let me put one on its head. It can cover up its missing ear. ”

  “Okay, you go get a tiara and I’ll go get it some sunglasses. ” She lugs the bear up in her arms as Seth takes off toward a red and white tent that’s set up at the end.

  I fidget with the bear’s good ear as Callie pushes her way through the crowd, practically using the bear as a shield. “It’s a sad looking thing, isn’t it?”

  She stops at the sunglass booth and drops the bear to the ground. “I like it. I just don’t think my roommate would like it. ” She cocks her head at the bear. “When I was younger, I would have kept it in a heartbeat. In fact, I had a whole collection of them. ”

  I arch an eyebrow at her. “You collected broken, smelly carnival bears?”

  She laughs and I love that it was me that made her do it this time, not Seth. “No, but I had a collection of broken stuffed animals. Like a cat with no whiskers and a puppy with no nose. ”

  “What did you do?” I joke. “Torture them and tug off their limbs?”

  She places her palms on the table that holds a display case full of glasses. “No, I just never wanted to throw them away. Even if they were broken, I still loved them. ” She peers down into the case, completely oblivious to how much her words mean to me.

  Slowly, I place my hand on the table and inch it toward hers, finally covering it with mine. Her chest rises and falls as she pretends that nothing’s going on and I trace my finger along the folds of her hand, my eyelids starting to shut.

  “Which ones were you looking at?” An older woman with beads on her wrists and a long flowing skirt waltzes up to us.

  I jerk my hand away and let it fall to my side as I lean over Callie’s shoulder to look through the glass. “Which ones were you thinking?”

  She slants her head to the side and her hair touches my cheek. “How about the sparkly blue pair that are shaped like stars. ”

  “Sounds good to me. ” I barely pay attention to what she’s saying, because I’m smelling her hair like a fucking weirdo.

  What the hell is wrong with me? Strange feelings clench at my chest, ones I was taught to shut off. It’s literally hurting me, like a knife to the chest, and all I want to do is fucking leave and go turn it off the only way I know how.


  “Are we already moving on from the Wicked Witch of the West?” Luke asks as I circle around the ticket booth, searching the grass for the glasses Callie accidentally dropped somewhere.

  “We?” I stand up straight. “I didn’t realize it was something we were doing together and I’m not trying to do anything with Callie. We’re just friends. ”

  He flicks the button on his lighter with his thumb, ignoring my comment. “You know, if you want, I can get her in a situation with you where you’ll have your chance to do whatever you want with her. ”

  “You know I just broke up with Daisy, right?”

  He rolls his eyes. “And you seem so sad about it. ”

  I find the glasses near the trashcan and pick them up, plucking off the grass stuck in the cracks of the frames. “I’m not sure I want to do anything with Callie. ”

  He pulls his unlit cigarette out of his mouth and stares at it. “I can’t remember where I left my pack. ” He pats his pockets and then turns in a circle, looking at the ground.

  Luke has this thing with losing stuff, especially his cigarettes. Nicotine is his sedative and without it, he flips out. “Where the fuck did I…” he trails off walking backwards toward a bench and sighs as he scoops up the pack. He tucks it into his pocket and shuts his eyes, like he thought he just lost an arm. “We could do a challenge. ”

  I open and close the ends on the glasses. “We haven’t done that since sophomore year. ”

  “When you started dating Daisy,” he points out. “Man, I miss those days. ”

  I stare off at the rides whipping around in various directions. “Yeah, I don’t think I can trick Callie into going under the bleachers with me. It’d feel wrong. ”

  Luke thrums his fingers on the side of his leg to the beat of the rock song playing nearby as his gaze roams to the jungle gym ride in the corner. It’s dark inside and no one’s standing at the gate. “Hang on. I got an idea. ”

  “Care to share the details of your idea?” I ask. “I don’t want to walk into this blind. ”

  “Think challenge to the max. ” He walks backwards across the dry grass toward the exit gates. “I’ll be back in five minutes. All you need to do is follow my lead and, as a thank you, you can let me drive that motorcycle you don’t let anyone touch when we go home for Thanksgiving. ”

  “No fucking—”

  He disappears out the gates, waving me off. Shaking my head, I return back to Callie and her bear, feeling guilty. But deep down, I know I’m going to go through with Luke’s plan, because I want to, more than anything at the moment.


  As Seth puts the finishing touches on the bear, Luke comes strolling up with an unlit cigarette between his lips. He has a jacket on with the hood pulled over his head and the front pocket is bulky.

  “What the hell is that thing?” He squints down at the cardboard sign in the bear’s hand. There’s a glittery tiara on its head, sunglasses covering the eyes, and a string of beads around its neck. He reads the sign aloud, “Will be ridiculously cute in exchange for a loving home, food, water, and a little cuddle time. ” He flicks the ear with his fingers. “What the fuck is this?”

  I laugh, biting down on the top of the pen. “We made it so it would get adopted and so none of us has to take it home. ”

  Luke glances at Kayden, who shrugs. “I thought it was kind of funny. And be thankful. For a while, Callie was trying to get me to take it home. ”

  Luke scrunches his forehead, takes the cigarette out of his mouth, and sticks it into the bear’s mouth. “There, that’s much better. ”

  Kayden rolls his eyes at him and stuffs his hands into the pockets of his jeans. “So what’s next on the list? And I’m speaking figuratively, not about your actual list. ”

  I look over my shoulder at the rides twirling, twisting, and sparkling against the night. “We could ride some more rides, I guess. ”

  “I actually have a better idea. ” Luke strolls off without finishing his thought and the three of us trade glances before hurrying after him. He marches toward a jungle gym made
up of ropes, ramps, netting, and bars. There are three levels and a short gate borders the bottom. I think the point of the ride is to get to the top and then down to the bottom again.

  “I don’t think it’s open,” I say as Luke reaches for the latch on the gate.

  With his hand in his pocket, he checks over his shoulder and then nudges the gate open with his foot. “Oh look at that. It is now. ” He walks inside and signals us to follow. “Come on. It’s nothing but a giant playground. Besides, we’re celebrating. ”

  “Celebrating what?” Seth and I ask at the same time.

  He grins and then glances at Kayden. “The end of the Wicked Witch. ” He starts humming a tune from the Wizard of Oz as he backs toward the curtain entrance of the ride.

  I step in first, since I’ve been on such a roll lately. “Who’s the Wicked Witch?”

  “I think I’ll let him explain it to you. ” Luke looks at Kayden before ducking through the curtain into the entrance of the ride.

  I glance over my shoulder at Kayden. “What’s he talking about?”

  Kayden shrugs as he closes the gate. “Luke’s excited that Daisy and I broke up. ”

  “Oh. ” I try not to smile and finally have to bite down on my bottom lip, hard. “I’m sorry. ”

  “Don’t be sorry. ” He reaches his arm over my shoulder and draws back the curtain for me. “It really isn’t that big of a deal. ”

  It seems like it should be. They’ve been dating forever, but he appears really content.

  I lower my head and step into the ride, holding my breath as the curtains brush against the top of my hair. It’s nearly pitch black and the sounds of screams and soft music envelop around me.

  “Where are you?” I hiss with my hands out in front of me, my elbows locked. “Hello?”

  A lighter flickers and then Luke’s face appears above the flame. “There we go. ”

  Seth strolls up next to me, just a shadow in the dark, and thrums his fingers together in front of him. “Oh, are we going to do a séance?”

  Luke looks at Seth like he’s nuts as Kayden moves up on the other side of me. I’m very aware of his nearness and the smell of his cologne. It makes me nervous, yet excited at the endless possibilities.

  “So, what’s the ingenious plan?” Kayden asks, his breath flowing across the back of my head. “Are we going to trash the place?”

  “We’re going to—” The lighter falls from Luke’s hand and darkness takes over. “Ah, fuck! That’s hot. ”

  Seconds tick by and then Seth turns on the screen of his cell phone, which casts a blue glow over our faces. Luke nods as he picks up his lighter and drops it into the pocket of the hoodie, taking out his own cell phone to use for a light. He dips his hand into his other pocket and draws out a bottle filled with a golden liquid.

  “Tequila? Where the hell did you get that?” Kayden’s fingers brush the lower section of my back, and I stifle a gasp clawing at my throat.