The Upside of Unrequited Page 33

It’s just strange that my mind keeps circling back to hazel eyes and stupidly white sneakers.

Cassie nudges me suddenly. “Hey, they’re starting.”

I open my eyes.

And the first thing I notice isn’t the crackling streak of the first firework.

It’s Mina’s leg, draped over Cassie’s. It’s their hands, laced together, resting softly on Mina’s stomach.



MY EYES SLIDE OPEN AT sunrise, and I feel a little unmoored. It’s still surprising, waking up on the bottom bunk. Above me, Cassie breathes softly. Not a snore. Just those Cassie sleep sounds she’s made since we were little.

It’s funny, the things that change and the things that don’t.

I wander downstairs in my pajamas, to find Nadine in the kitchen, sipping coffee. “Xav’s still sleeping?” I ask.

“Never.” She scoffs. “He’s in the living room with Grandma.”

“She’s leaving today?”

“Tomorrow morning,” Nadine says. “How were the fireworks?”

“Literally the best ever,” I say.

She laughs.

I smile faintly. “What?”

“Nothing’s ever just the best. Gotta be literally the best.”

There’s a sudden, loud wail from the living room.

“Eeep—there we go,” Nadine says, setting down her mug. I follow her into the living room, where Xavier has flung himself backward in Grandma Betty’s arms, sobbing.

“What’s going on, baby?” Nadine asks. “What is so terrible?”

“It’s this terrifying pigeon,” Grandma says, holding up a picture book.

“Hey,” Nadine says, raising a finger. “Don’t you diss Pigeon.”

Grandma laughs, and I sink onto the couch next to her. “How are you doing, mamaleh?” She strokes the back of my hair.

“Pretty good.”

“Now, you’re not working today, are you?”

I shake my head.

“Good. You girls work too hard. I think you should just take the day and relax.”

“Well, I need to get started on wedding centerpieces.”

“You’re doing the centerpieces?” Grandma asks. I nod. “Well. That’s very ambitious. How can I help?”

And she actually does seem up for it—so I let her cover the dining room table with newspapers while I grab mason jars and paint from the basement.

I hand her a paintbrush. “So, I saw this in a tutorial on YouTube.”

“Now, is that like the band?” she asks.


Nadine pokes her head in the doorway, grinning. “She’s talking about U2.”

“Ohhh. No. This is different. YouTube is like . . .” I trail off. I mean, how does a person explain YouTube to her seventy-year-old grandmother?

I give up, and start organizing my paints. I have these totally badass, magical Martha Stewart paints in pastel colors, and you can use them on anything—even fabric. Sometimes, I paint tiny flowers on the collars of my cardigans. My theory is that it’s impossible to plan a wedding without Martha Stewart paints, and I suspect there are studies that prove this.

“These are lovely,” Grandma says.

I show her where to paint, and how thickly to coat it, and we settle into a sort of quiet rhythm.

“You’ve gotten to be so artistic.”

It takes me a minute to realize why I’m blushing. But then I remember—I’ve had this conversation before.

With Will. And Cassie, being mortifyingly unsubtle, as usual.

“You know, my mother was artistic. Your bubbe. She was a wonderful seamstress.” She leans forward. “She had a model 201 Singer sewing machine, and she sewed all our clothing. They were beautiful pieces. The girls at school used to ask me where I bought my dresses.”

I nod, feeling like I should say something.

“She’d be so proud of you, mamaleh.”

I have this sudden vision of my great-grandma high-fiving my other ancestors in Cassie’s reality TV version of heaven.

“Now, tell me, do you have a sewing machine?”

I shake my head. “I just use a needle.”

“Oh, well, we’ll have to do something about that. Molly, it will change your life.”

“Okay.” I smile.

Suddenly, I hear Cassie’s footsteps on the stairs.

“Hey, I’m heading out!” she calls.

“Hold up.” Nadine steps into the living room, Xav balanced on her hip. “Where are you going?”

“To Mina’s.”

“Okay, but I need you back by dinner. It’s your grandmother’s last night.”

“Um. Okay. We were gonna—”

“Nope. You’re gonna be right here with your butt in this chair by six o’clock. Got it?”

Cassie starts typing on her phone and doesn’t respond.

Nadine shakes her head. “Yo. Put the phone away. This is not how conversations work.”

“I’m texting Mina—”

“Uh, yeah. I know.”

Cassie’s eyes flash. “Okay, I was literally texting her to say I need to be home at six. Which you’d know, if you just gave me a second without interrupting—”

“Whoa,” Nadine says. “You don’t get to talk to me that way. Now you’re not going anywhere.”


“You just earned yourself a day at home with your family.” Nadine shrugs.

“Are you kidding me? Because I sent a text? That’s fucking ridiculous.”

“Yeah, your language? Also not okay.”

Cassie throws her hands in the air. “Since when do you care?”

“You know what—” Nadine starts to say, but Cassie interjects.

“This is bullshit. Where’s Patty?”

“She’s delivering a baby,” I say.

Cassie huffs and sinks into a chair.

“Do you want to help us paint mason jars?” I ask, after a moment.

Cassie laughs harshly. “Um, no.”

“Wow,” I say.

“Jesus Christ. Molly, stop.”

“I’m not doing anything.”

“Ugh—you’re looking at me like . . . no. I mean, no offense, but do I want to paint fucking mason jars with you and Grandma? Or do I want to hang out with my girlfriend?”

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