Lukus’ letter took a long time comin’. I wondered if he’d regretted our talk, or if he was going to be stupid and try to “play it cool.” I should have known Lukus wouldn’t pull a mind-game like that. Almost a full week had gone by, and nada. It hadn’t occurred to me that Lukus, going back to his familiar home and life, might just be a lot busier than me. I had no car, no job, and my old friendships were on their last legs since, apparently, people’s lives had gone on without me.
Going to California and to my aunt’s was stupid. I had been planning on going on a missions trip to Spain, but had gotten too busy to fund-raise. While almost everyone else I knew was either going off on some grand, foreign adventure, or at least returning to the comforts of home, I was applying for jobs at the strip mall next to my aunt’s apartment complex. Lucky me, I got a job at a sandwich shop, hired on the spot by a dirty old man. I was painfully aware from the very beginning that it was going to be a long summer.
Day after day, I checked the mailbox. I couldn’t believe how desperately I needed that letter. Food could not satisfy me, sleep was restless, I physically ached for that letter. My aunt recognized my state and inquired every day if “it” had come. One day after work, I checked the mailbox and once again it was empty. I headed upstairs to wallow in my lack of existence, and there it was, on my pillow.
“Dear Elle…it was hard to believe you would be gone when I woke up.”
What sweet candor! He said he was sorry for taking so long, but he’d been so busy with mundane things that weren’t worth writing about, but he’d finally gotten a job. I soaked up every word, every trifling detail. It certainly wasn’t a love letter, he’d simply written about what was going on in his life and inquired about mine, but still, I could sense little nuances of affection. I read the letter over and over, and once I was full, I immediately wrote back.
“Dear Elle…” he and Brenden were working together at a door shop. “I listened to your message at least five times.”
“Dear Elle…” he was going to youth camp as a counselor. “Good-bye still stings.”
“Dear Elle…” the band was recording a demo. “When I got home from work, as soon as I saw your letter on the kitchen table, I completely forgot how hungry I was or how badly I had to pee, and gobbled it up.”
Sometimes two letters would come in one envelop. Sometimes, the letters were so thick, he had to make a new crease for the envelope flap to close. I missed him and was also jealous of him. His summer was so full of, if not fun, then at least distraction. My summer, however, was full of mayonnaise, and slathering mayonnaise onto a roast beef sub is not a helpful distraction for love-sickness. By now, it was becoming more and more apparent that we were, indeed, in love. As the summer progressed, it only seemed to get longer, stretching out ahead like an endless desert highway. At times, I really wondered if I’d survive. I was gone, fallen, right over the cliff, in love. But would it be the same come August, when my plane landed, and we saw each other again for the first time?