Grimestone had become incredibly cold as Thanksgiving approached. The bitter air had encouraged the old woollens to be pulled from musty bags and boxes to be given another life.
The kitchen was still fire damaged, with Elizabeth and Summer furiously debating the colour schemes that should be used it didn’t seem likely to change in the near future. Elizabeth was becoming quite frantic wanting to make Summer’s first Thanksgiving was truly special. Summer couldn’t see what the fuss was about.
The most that Summer was willing to plan was her Saturday evening. Summer would be meeting up with Zach after work, although she was on the late shift. That didn’t stop Zach squeezing in spending a bit more time with her by choosing a stool by the counter register to steal the odd snippet of conversation when she had a moment. Which wasn’t as often as he would have liked.
By the end of her shift, and by the end of the date Summer was exhausted when Zach walked her home. Summer tensed as they reached the porch, only for a moment, just before his lips met hers and she melted a little in his kiss goodnight. Snapped wide awake by Elizabeth who opened the door in the moment, like an ice cold bucket had been thrown on them they jumped apart. He bid them both a good night and disappeared.
Elizabeth asked Summer how her evening went, the one-word response of “good” didn’t cut it.
“Summer, do you remember I said I wanted to talk to you about something?”
“I know you know all about safe sex and all that. So don’t worry. But I wanted to talk to you about the emotional side of it.”
“Oh gross. Do you have to?”
“Yes. I don’t want you to make the same mistakes I made.”
“You’re not my mum.”
“No, I know I’m not, but I hoped I wasn’t just your cousin, I hoped I was your friend too.”
“So can we talk?”
“Good.” Elizabeth sat Summer down on the sofa and handed her a small glass of wine. “Because neither of us like to talk about private things.”
Summer took a sip and waited for Elizabeth to sit down with her glass. She took a few sips before she spoke again. “I must have been around your age, and the guy I was seeing at the time, well, he was a mistake, a big, huge undeniable mistake. I felt a lot of pressure from him to have sex, I always felt inadequate and he played on that.”
“Oh Ellie, I’m sorry. But you do know that isn’t Zach right?”
“I know, and if he ever pressured you or made you feel like my ex made me feel, I would probably kill him. Don’t look at me like that.” She took another sip. “Things got worse when we finally did have sex, it wasn’t romantic like they tell you in the movies. When you aren’t comfortable, when you have been coerced it doesn’t feel wonderful like the greatest thing ever. When you have doubts it doesn’t feel how they tell you it should. It feels invasive, like your whole body is no longer yours. Like I said from that point it got worse, you don’t need to know about that, but I do want us to have an honest relationship with one another and I know to do that, I have to be honest even with the things that frighten me the most.”
“Ellie, I wish that had never happened to you, whatever it was.”
“In some weird way I am glad that it did, it made me a whole lot stronger and wiser, and if it didn’t I couldn’t tell you what I know now.”
“Don’t settle, I see you with Zach and I can just feel you just going with it, going with the flow of something just ok. I’m not saying it has to be bells and whistles. He’s a safe guy, a good guy and I get that. I am definitely not saying try a bad boy, because I know how bad things can get. I am saying find someone who just gets you. Makes the whole world light up in a single smile, who infuriates you a split second later. Someone who you can be your true self around. Someone who makes you feel like you are safe, like you are at home in their arms and nothing could change that. That person, you are worthy of that.”
“So are you. Don’t pull that face, YOU are WORTHY. Don’t think that you aren’t worthy, don’t hurt me like that. I can see all that good in you. I’m not the only one either.”
“Sum, please, at least think about what I said, I saw you tense that second before his kiss, I saw you making all the first moves, you are chasing something that you know is just not there with him, not natural to you. Summer, I know it kind of sucks, I do. But whoever your first is with, make sure you are being true to yourself, both you and he deserve that. You deserve someone who gets you.”
“You mean like you and Simon?”
“What? No, no there is nothing going on with us.”
“That’s not the impression I get, you two get on pretty good.”
“Ah grown up time is over I think, I’m going to exercise the whole legal guardian thing and tell you its time for bed.”
“Ellie, if you like him, go for it.”