Summers end. Friendships shouldn’t.
“It’s just the school year,” Mona reminded me, as if saying school year sounded shorter than saying nine months. “I’ll be back next summer.”
“I know,” I told her, even though no matter how you looked at it, Mona was leaving the island. The Range Rover was packed up, her new step father was in the driver’s seat and the ferry line was just about to start moving, meaning in a few minutes Mona would be gone.
“Kennie, we’re going to miss you so much.” Izzy hugged me, squeezing so tight I could feel her new diamond wedding band digging into my bare arm, probably leaving a six carat imprint in my skin.
“Mom, come on, let her go.” Mona stepped between us, pushing us apart. “Kendra’s turning blue.”
Izzy nicknamed me Kennie in elementary school, something that an eight year old Mona found incredibly unfair. She’d always wanted a nickname, but Mona wasn’t exactly conducive to nick names, and believe me, she’d tried. The closest she ever came was the time she insisted everyone call her Mo. It lasted all of two days before she realized that Mo wasn’t any better, and might actually be worse.
Mona’s convinced that if her mom had actually told her unknowing father that she was pregnant, or at the very least sent him a letter telling him Izzy had given birth to twins, he never would have let her choose a name like Mona for the little girl with black fuzz covering her round newborn head. But Izzy never shared any details of her pregnancy or the resulting babies with the boy she’d met seventeen summers ago and never seen again. And the only details Izzy had ever shared about Mona and Henry’s dad was that he was too young and ill-equipped to be a father, no less raise a child – or two. But still, Mona’s convinced that if that boy had known he would have absolutely prohibited Izzy from naming his daughter after a Leonardo Da Vinci paining (“He was ill-equipped to raise a child?” Mona always liked to point out, “This from someone who named her twins after a portrait of a morbid-looking woman and a guy who painted a bunch of naked dancing ladies – would it have killed her to just call me Lisa?”).
“Izzy, we better get going, the line’s about to move,” Malcolm called from the driver’s seat.
She waved him away, but hugged me one last time before getting in the passenger seat and closing the door.
“You better go,” I told Mona, watching the first cars begin the drive toward the ferry ramp. “You don’t want to hold up the whole line.”
“I can’t believe I won’t be seeing you every day, I’m not going to have anybody.” Even before she finished the sentence I could see the tears building, the drops making her already blue eyes even brighter.
“You’ll have Henry, and I’m just a phone call away. It’s not like you’ll never talk to me again.
Mona nodded and wiped her eyes with the back of her hand. “I know, but it’s not the same.”
It wasn’t the same, and I didn’t even try to tell her it was. Instead I opened the back door and ducked down, looking across to the other seat. “Make sure she’s okay, Henry.”
Henry smiled at me and nodded. “I will Kendra, don’t worry, she’ll be fine.”
“I can’t believe this is it!” Mona sniffled as I stepped aside so she could get into the back seat.
“This isn’t it, Mona. Like you said, it’s just the school year.”
“Private school, yuck.” She pretended to stick her finger down her throat and I laughed. For the first time all morning, Mona smiled.
“Don’t forget about me,” I whispered into Mona’s ear before the door to Malcolm’s Range Rover closed shut and the ferry’s horn blew one last time.
Mona attempted to smile through the open window and whispered back, “Nothing will change, I’ll be back next summer and everything will be the same.”
If we’d only known how wrong she was.