My Book Boyfriend is a weekly meme hosted by Missie at The Unread Reader.
My literary crush this week is Cricket from Lola and the Boy Next Door, by Stephanie Perkins.
Lola and twins Calliope and Cricket Graham Bell (yep, that Graham Bell) have always been neighbors and close friends.
Lola was five years old when she first kissed Cricket. And he, six years old, kissed her back. They continued as friends until one day, when Lola was 15:
“Nice dress,” Marta Velazquez said. “Is it your mommy’s?”
I was wearing a vintage polka-dot swing dress-two sizes too large that I’d tightened with safety pins-over a long-sleeved striped shirt and jeans rolled greaser-style. I wanted to look pretty for my birthday.
I no longer felt pretty.
Cricket turned around, confused. And then… he did something that changed everything. He stepped deliberately in
front of them and blocked my view. “Don’t listen to them. I like how you dress.”
He liked me just as I was.
I needed him to touch me. I was obsessed with the way his hands never stopped moving, the way he rubbed them together when he was excited, the way he sometimes couldn’t help but clap. The way he had secret messages written on the back of his left. And his fingers. Long, enthusiastic, wild, but I knew from watching him build his machines that they were also delicate, careful, precise. I fantasized about those fingers.
And I was consumed by the way that whenever he spoke, his eyes twinkled as if it were the best day of his life. And the way his whole body leaned toward me when I spoke, a gesture that showed he was interested, he was listening.
Thanks to Calliope’s figure skating training, the Bells moved away and Lola moved on. Now, years later, they’re back:
Cricket Bell was always taller than most boys, but in the last two years, he’s added half a foot. At least. His slender body-once skinny and awkward, despite his graceful movements-had also changed. He’s filled out, though just slightly. The edge has been removed…
His dark hair is tall. It’s floppy, but… inverted floppy. I’m not sure how it’s possible without serious quantities of mousse or gel, but even when he was a kid, Cricket’s hair stood straight up.
But maybe Lola’s not quite as over Cricket as she thought. And Cricket seems to feel the same way:
He waits for me to look at him. Somehow, I do. I’m overwhelmed by sadness and confusion. I can’t take any more. I want him to stop but he doesn’t. “I’ll only say this once more. Clearly, so there’s no chance of misinterpretation.” His eyes darken into mine. “I like you. I’ve always liked you. It would be wrong for me to come back into your life and act otherwise.”
I’m crying now. “Cricket… I have a boyfriend.”
“I know. That sucks.”
And he’s not making things easy on her!
“Remember that day I made you the elevator?” he suddenly asks.
I give him a faint smile. “How could I forget?”
“That was the day I had my first kiss.”
My smile fades.
“I’m better now.” He sets the apple beside me. “At kissing, just so you know.”
He holds my gaze. His smile is sad. “I won’t. You can trust me.”
His scent is clean like a bar of soap, but with a sweet hint of mechanical oil. We don’t speak as he leads me across the street to the bus stop. I press against him. Just a little. His other arm jumps, and he lowers it. But then he raises it again, slowly, and his hand comes to rest on top of mine. It scorches. The heat carries a message: I care about you. I want to be connected to you. Don’t let go.