My First - Jason & Katie(3)

By: Melanie Shawn

Sophie’s dad, Mike, was a fireman and her mom, Grace, was a nurse. Katie babysat for Sophie when Mike and Grace’s shifts overlapped. Katie’s house felt a lot less lonely with a bouncing, laughing, full-of-life four year old in it. But Sophiebell wasn’t the only distraction that the Hunters brought with them when they moved to Harper’s Crossing. They also brought Nick, Sophiebell’s older brother and Katie’s first love.

Nicholas Hunter was three months older than Katie and he never let her forget it. He had sandy blonde hair and the most beautiful green eyes Katie had ever seen.

The day before school started in seventh grade, two weeks after the Hunters had moved in, Nick came to Katie’s door to get Sophiebell for dinner. She’d never forget that day. Before he left the porch he looked over his shoulder, his green eyes sparkling in the sun. They were even extra green due to the fact that he was wearing his favorite Fighting Irish t-shirt. SWOON!

He had asked, “Hey, do you think you would want to be my girlfriend? It’s a lot easier to start a new school when you already have a girlfriend.”

He then proceeded to shoot her a smile that she would later come to know had gotten him anything he wanted since he was an infant. And with good reason, it was one helluva doozy of a smile!

As much as Katie wanted to act like the smile didn’t affect her, she knew the heat she felt in her cheeks meant that they were bright red. Dang. No way could she hide the evidence.

Still, that didn’t mean she had to acknowledge it. So she did what any super-cool eleven year old girl would have done when faced with Nick Hunter’s dreamy proposal.

She shrugged and said, “Yeah, whatever.”

“Sweet,” he smiled,” I’ll be here at 7:45 so we can walk to school together tomorrow.”

He then jumped off her porch before she could say another word. She slowly closed her front door and, once it shut, started to scream and run around in circles until she fell on her couch in utter exhaustion. Katie always did lean towards the dramatic.

Katie had no way of knowing then that the relationship she had just entered would last for the next six years of her life, and end in tragedy.

The summer after Nick and Katie’s senior year of high school, Nick had been out late one night joyriding and had tragically driven his truck off Spencer Point.

Hours later, when the police pulled the truck out of the steep embankment, they found a nearly lifeless body inside. Nick had lain in a hospital bed, deep in a coma, for three weeks following the accident. Katie and his family had been by his side every moment that the hospital staff would allow them to be.

Finally his parents, Mike and Grace, had made the most horrific decision any parent could ever have to make. They took Nick off life support.

His funeral was held three days later, and Katie had left that very same night to go stay with her grandmother in Chicago. She needed to escape, and she’d been running ever since. That had been the last time she had set foot in Harper’s Crossing.

Until today.

As she turned the corner onto Harper Lane, the street she had grown up on, she was amazed at how it looked as though nothing had changed. It was as if time had stood still on her street.

Not the rest of Harper’s Crossing, though, that was for sure! On the drive in, Katie had barely recognized the town that she had spent most of her childhood in. The last time she had been in Harper’s Crossing, it contained two traffic lights and one four way stop. Today there was a traffic light or four way stop at every intersection!

The field that Katie had learned to ride her bike in when she was five, played tag in, had attempted and failed to smoke a cigarette in when she was thirteen, and had spent almost every Friday and Saturday night parking in with Nick after he turned 16 and got his black Chevy truck…was now a strip mall.

The quaint, one story hospital that she had been admitted to when she had been suffering from chicken pox and had a temperature of 104 at age six, had her tonsils removed in when she was eight…and had spent three weeks practically living in when she was eighteen, keeping her vigil beside Nick’s motionless body as he lay in a coma…was now a four story hospital that looked to be straight out of the pages of Architectural Digest. And, if the exterior was any indication, it was now state-of-the-art.

She had counted four McDonald’s, three Burger Kings and two Taco Bells since she had entered the city limits. This was quite a contrast to her days in Harper’s Crossing, when there had only been one fast food restaurant in town – a Dairy Queen – and it had been the local hang out for all the pre-teens and teens in town. Katie had noted sadly that the Dairy Queen, which was another place that held so many of her teenage memories, had also been obliterated at some point in the past decade. Replaced by an Office Depot.