October 3, 2001
Whitney Fordman took me to the Beanery for smoothies today. I was so nervous at first, but it turned out to be really nice. We talked about his dad's store and the flower shop and people we know. He invited me to a party this weekend. Obviously, I said yes, and I really hope Nell lets me go. He's so cute. But he's a senior, and it seems so weird that he'd even look at me. I hope that won't freak Nell out ... although given some of the men she's dated, she really has no right to complain about a three year age difference ....
Maybe it was weird to dream a diary entry. Chloe would probably have some insight into that, but right now she wasn't in the mood for happy chatter. Right now she was going over in her mind what they'd been lectured in yesterday's school-wide assembly. Mr. Reynolds had run a study of the number of student and faculty deaths at SHS and been appalled. Now he was inflicting grief counseling on the student body at large, complete with visiting speakers every Friday afternoon.
Lana had always fought it. Every time Nell had sent her to another therapist to help her 'get over' her parents' deaths, she'd protested the decision. It was the only thing she'd ever thrown fits about. No one had the right to make her let go of her parents' memory, but now, she was beginning to wonder if she had even understood what she was grieving.
This week would have been her third anniversary with Whitney if they'd stayed together. She wasn't sure if she'd understood that grief either, and she'd been thinking about it ever since she'd lit the candles by the espresso machine at the Talon that morning. She wasn't upset, since they had broken up long before he'd actually left. She felt wistful, certainly, but the grief she'd felt for him had dried up and blown away long ago. She was the senior now, after all. Time had flown by without him. Like it had her parents...and now she wasn't sure what she was supposed to feel.
After her shift, Lana meandered around the square. She wasn't ready to go home; something was pulling her away from her truck...nostalgia, maybe, for the days when she'd leave the flower shop and wander across to Fordman's to say hi to Whitney. Sometimes they'd go for ice cream. Sometimes he'd already be off, and she'd stroll over to the playground where he used to play basketball with his friends.
It was odd to be retracing these steps. She hadn't even really thought of him in months. His face was fading in her memory, though she could still remember the way his arms felt around her, the way his kisses were so carelessly natural. She missed that. Adam had felt like that. Clark hadn't, and it still puzzled her as to why she'd let Clark be her first. Wishful thinking, most likely. That seemed to be the story of her life.
The swings were creaking in the breeze. It was too overcast for children today; a cold rain was on its way. Lana found a bench and sat, staring across the blacktop at the weather-beaten goalposts. Her first real boyfriend was dead, and she'd spent hours watching sweat pour from his body right here, running back and forth over this court. If things had worked out differently, they might be curled up in bed right now.
She watched the wind toss the wisp of net. He had spent hours on end of his life here, sun gleaming on his hair until sweat soaked it through. Shirt falling to the wayside, so much gorgeous skin. He really had been beautiful. And that grin, when he was happy -- his face lit up and nothing else mattered. And then things got rough. And then his father died. And then.... Nothing left but cold steel benches and an empty hoop trailing a forlorn scrap of rotted net on a windy autumn day.
Lana didn't hear the ball bouncing until it was almost upon her.
"Hey, you ok?"
"Yeah, it's nothing."
He bent down to her. "You know, I was just going to shoot some hoops. It always cheers me up. Wanna play?"
"Yeah, why not? Girls have to take PE, too."
She laughed. "Yeah, but I'm really awful."
"Come on, I'll show you."
Pete pulled her from the bench and dribbled over to a slow-motion lay-up, grinning as he sunk the shot.
"You're a show-off...."
"Couldn't resist." He smiled and threw her the ball. "Ok, dribble over to me."
They both laughed at her initial clumsiness, but his words were supportive.
"It's been a long time."
"It'll come back. It's just like riding a bike."
"Been a while since I did that, too."
"You're still taking that martial arts class, right? So, you've got the reflexes. Maybe," he teased, winking at her. "Good, ok, guard me. Remember, no fouls, just guard me. Stop my shot, stop my shot, that's it. Now, come on."
Pete shot and Lana jumped, batting the ball away with her fingertips.
But she was away, after the ball already, dribbling back up, aiming -- and Pete was on her, dancing around her, taunting gently, "Lana Lang, hotshot speedster, huh? Come on, show me what you got."
She ignored him, timing the flails of his arms, one-two, up-down. On three, she shot, on four and a half the ball hit the backboard, and on five it slipped through the hoop, tearing away the last trailing remnant of net. It fluttered away like a scrap of lichen on the wind.
She stood staring.
"You did it!" Pete cheered, thumping her on the back. "That was a perfect shot."
"That was cool," she said, grinning.
"Yeah, it was."
She stopped the rolling ball with her foot. "Let's do it again."
"All right! Now, my turn!"
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