“I don’t want to go. You can go and I’ll help my mom get our popcorn and movie ready.”
I like the days I get to have sleepovers with Lesslie. I like any days I don’t have to be at home. I slide off the couch and walk to the front door to slip my shoes on, then walk outside and go lay next to Dean in the driveway. He doesn’t even look at me when I sit down next to him. He just keeps looking up at the sky, so I do the same thing.
The stars are really bright tonight. I’ve never looked up at them like this before. They’re so much prettier than the stars on my ceiling. “Wow. It’s so beautiful.”
“I know, Hope,” he says. “I know.”
It’s quiet for a long time. I don’t know if we watch the stars for lots of minutes or hours, but we keep watching them and we don’t talk. Dean doesn’t really talk a whole bunch. He’s a lot quieter than Lesslie.
“Hope? Will you promise me something?”
I turn my head and look at him, but he’s still looking up at the stars. I’ve never promised anyone anything before except my daddy. I had to promise him I wouldn’t tell anyone how he makes me thank him and I haven’t broken his promise, even though sometimes I wish I could. If I ever did break my daddy’s promise, I would tell Dean because I know he would never tell anyone.
“Yes,” I say to him.
He turns his head and looks at me, but his eyes look sad. “You know sometimes when your daddy makes you cry?”
I nod my head and try not to cry just thinking about it. I don’t know how Dean knows that my daddy is always the reason why I’m crying, but he does.
“Will you promise me that when he makes you sad, you’ll think about the sky?”
I don’t know why he wants me to promise him that but I nod anyway. “But why?”
“Because.” He turns his face back up to the stars. “The sky is always beautiful. Even when it’s dark or rainy or cloudy, it’s still beautiful to look at. It’s my favorite thing because I know if I ever get lost or lonely or scared, I just have to look up and it’ll be there no matter what...and I know it’ll always be beautiful. It’s what you can think about when your daddy is making you sad, so you don’t have to think about him.”
I smile, even though what we’re talking about is making me sad. I just keep looking up at the sky like Dean is, thinking about what he said. It makes my heart feel happy to have somewhere to go now when I don’t want to be where I am. Now when I’m scared, I’ll just think about the sky and maybe it’ll help me smile, because I know it’ll always be beautiful no matter what.
“I promise,” I whisper.
“Good,” he says. He reaches his hand out on the concrete between us and wraps his pinky around mine.