During the next week, Eddy and I spent all our free time together. We fixed up the clubhouse, hunted snakes and added to our rock collections. It was just like old times, except ...
Except sometimes Eddy and I would be hunting down a bullfrog, knee-deep in swamp muck, when a strange restlessness would sweep through me. I would look at Eddy's face, rapt in concentration, and I would wonder how he could be so absorbed. I couldn't forget myself the way he did. The way I used to do.
Minerva had changed me forever, and I could never go back.
A hundred times a day I thought of her, of things she had said or done, of how she growled or laughed or tossed her head. Every place she had been, everything she had touched set off memories of her. Somehow, I had to see her, no matter what the risk.
There was only one way to pull it off. I had to get Eddy to cover for me. But how would I ever get him to do that?
That Friday night was cool and clear, and it was loud with crickets, a sound I knew meant summer was coming to an end. We lay in our sleeping bags in Eddy's back yard, looking at the sky.
I took a deep breath.
"Can I ask you something?"
"You're my best friend, right?"
"You've got to help me."
"I've got to see her, Eddy."
Eddy was silent. Oh boy, I thought. But then he said, "I sort of figured that."
"Yeah. These last few days I could see that somethin' was eating you. I guessed it was her."
"You aren't jealous?"
"Nah. I thought about it a lot when you were gone." Eddy's voice was solemn. "You're into girls now. I guess, sooner or later, it happens to everyone."
"You want me to cover for you, right?"
"When do you want to go?"
"Tomorrow. Tomorrow night. My parents are going out. I'll tell them I'm staying with you. I'll go and then I'll come back here. OK?"
"You know they'll throw you in jail if they catch you," Eddy said.
I propped myself up on my elbow and looked down at Eddy's freckled face.
"You know somethin', Eddy?"
I was going to say something sappy. You know, like "You're the best friend a friend ever had." Something like that. But no. This was Eddy. He'd just punch me if I said something like that.
So, instead, I just said, "Nothin'. Never mind."