Everything You Want

Everything You Want by Barbara Shoup Page B

Book: Everything You Want by Barbara Shoup Read Free Book Online
Authors: Barbara Shoup
running. We’d be freezing as the old chair lift creaked us up to the top; we’d be clapping our mittened hands together to warm them; laughing, making our breath puff out, white as snow. On top, it seemed like you could see forever: blue-green pine forests, frozen lakes, roads flung across the hills like narrow gray ribbon. Our own brown and yellow ski house, like a doll’s house, below. We’d look a long time, then we’d zoom down, our faces burning with the cold wind our speed made.
    Jules and I would ski with Mom and Dad for a while; then they’d send us off to ski North Peak where all the kids hung out. We made ski jumps near the edge of the slope, carrying snow out of the woods and packing it hard, then shoveling out the bottom with our hands to give a cliff-like effect. I lived for the moment I would be airborne, sailing up toward the sky. Then, boom, there was the thrill of starting down, hoping like crazy that both skis would touch the ground at the same time, tips apart. If they didn’t, if I fell—Jules would collect me, wipe the snow out of my face, and send me back up the chair lift to try again.
    Remembering this, my heart hurts, I’m so lonely.
    Jules and Will have fallen asleep in the next room, or maybe they’re just lying warm and happy in each other’s arms. I’m glad for her, I really am. So just suck it up, I tell myself. From now on, it’s going to be Mom and Dad, Jules and Will. And me.
    Well, that week, me and Gramps. We ride up the chair lift together; we’re pool partners, card partners, bowling partners. When we go to restaurants, Gramps introduces me as his date. Okay, I can see why everyone thinks it’s so amusing. But sometimes I get tired of the way everything in my family is up for grabs in the comedy department. Doesn’t it occur to any of them that, when you’re eighteen, the idea of being paired up with your seventy-year-old grandfather might be just a little bit depressing—especially on New Year’s Eve?
    We go to the Yuma Bar that night, a little country bar out in the middle of nowhere. Inside, it smells like beer and cigarette smoke, snowmobile exhaust, motor oil, and sweat. There’s a long bar, where the regulars lounge; a jukebox, heavy on Bob Seger; a half-dozen pinball machines. The tables are covered with faded yellow oilcloth, dotted with cigarette burns. At the Yuma, the Christmas decorations stay up year-round. Twinkling lights are strung around the bandstand and across the mirror at the bar. Ratty silver garlands wind round the rafters.
    We haven’t been here twenty minutes when a woman at the next table starts flirting with Gramps. She’s maybe sixty, perky in an awful Christmas sweater with real bells sewn onto it. He’s loyal, though. “Nah,” he says when she asks him to dance. “I got a date here.” He nods in my direction.
    “Go,” I say. “Dance.”
    He raises an eyebrow, like—are you sure?
    “You dance,” I say. “I don’t want to, anyway.”
    I really, truly don’t. I want to sit here, nursing my Dr. Pepper, feeling sorry for myself. But Mom and Dad get up to dance, too. Then Jules and Will. “Dance with us, dance with us,” they beg. Gramps and his new girlfriend boogie over.
    “Come on, hon.” She leans toward me, jingling. “Have some fun, why don’t you?”
    “No, thank you,” I say, not very politely.
    I get up and go over to the pool table, where a couple of guys are playing. They’re maybe thirty, wearing jeans and down vests and work boots, and smell of the forest. One of them, Dean his friend calls him, has a shaggy blond ponytail and a nice smile.
    “So what do you think?” he says to me, tipping back on one heel, surveying the table.
    I’m not the greatest pool player in the world, but I know the game pretty well from years of watching Dad and Gramps. “I’d bank it,” I say. “Go for the twelve. Right corner pocket.”
    He steps back and looks at me. “You play?”
    “Any good?”

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