~A Drabble Series~
Summary: Kate, now 18, makes a sudden and strange realization: She has a crush on Arthur’s best friend, Buster. Despite the age difference, her nagging feelings remain. Will the two end up together? If they do, can they be happy with so many years between them? Find out in “Marigold Summer.”
SPECIAL: The series is being offered here in its entirety. No more waiting for chapters on ff.net, but if you want to follow the story there, you can find it here.
Theme 115: I wish…
So I was thinking about something today, then he appeared in my thoughts. I don’t even know where this came from! I mean, I’ve been around him my whole life. I think he’s funny in a strange sort of way, and I guess he’s good looking….
Okay, he is good looking, very, and—oh gosh, I’m blushing so hard right now!
I guess I just need to say it to myself and stop trying to talk myself out of it:
I am suffering from a massive crush on my older brother’s best friend.
I have a crush on Buster.
Theme 161: Spaceships
So I went up to that new museum today, the one with the spaceship that landed in the Pacific. No one would go with me except Kate. She looked so happy standing against those velvet ropes, looking at that marvel of human engineering.
Afterward, we went to the diner. Most people complain when I pile food together. She laughed. I don’t know why she did or why she kept looking at me the way she was. I think I’m going to ask Arthur if she’s been sick lately. She sure did look sick to me. I hope she’s okay.
The Water Park
Theme 46: Water park
Arthur invited us to a water park. DW brought Emily. I decided to try to hang close to Buster. Arthur told me he’d asked if I was sick. I couldn’t tell Arthur the truth. He wouldn’t understand.
Buster was nice the whole trip though. He talked me into doing a big slide. I was scared, but he rode with me. He must work out or something. His arms feel so strong…
I’m starting to like him more each day. I fell asleep on his shoulder on the way back. He didn’t notice how comfortable I was. I wonder if he ever will.
Theme 67: Lunch
I asked Arthur to lunch. Kate was with him. She was wearing her senior hoodie even though she graduated, but I guess the restaurant was cold.
She didn’t say much. Kate looked out the window, longing in her eyes. I wonder what she thinks about when she does that.
I almost didn’t finish eating. Something made me uneasy, like the memory of the trip. Kate looked so peaceful when she slept on me. And Arthur was so surprised she rode that slide. Even he couldn’t talk her into it.
I wonder what she thinks of me. One day, I’ll have to ask.
Theme 114: All Grown Up
I have to pick a school. Mom says I can’t sit around all summer looking out the window. I have to be a grown-up now. I even need to get a job.
Arthur and Buster have been out of school for a while, otherwise I’d pick ECU like they did. I might still pick it, but when will I see him? ECU can be so demanding…
I picked ECU. I have to do something with my life—Mom’s actually right about something. I wonder what he thinks of my major. I want to be a criminal justice major just like him.
Theme 8: New Job
I came into the Read house. Everyone was there for dinner. I had to tell them about my new job on the police force, well, my new spot in the police academy that would help me work for them.
Anyway, I was overshadowed by Kate. Seems she’s chosen Criminal Justice like I did. She doesn’t take me as the type.
I talked to her after dinner. I realized she picked because of me. I told her to change, to pick something she really likes. I’d be happy with whatever she chose.
She seemed relieved. But I wasn’t. I know now she’s not sick; she’s crushed.
My Sister WHAT?!
Theme 58: Fear
Buster surprised me today. He said Kate has a crush on him.
I thought he was crazy. How could Kate like him? I mean, there’s nothing wrong with him. I just expected her to like a jock or a nerd or both, not goofy Buster.
“The signs are there, Arthur. I just wanted to tell you,” he said.
I don’t know what to think. Could my baby sister really end up dating my best friend? I mean, he didn’t say he liked or not, but it’s a possibility.
I can’t think straight. It’s going to drive me crazy until I know for sure.
Theme 28: Family Crisis
Arthur and I fought today. He doesn’t even live here anymore but he thinks he knows everything.
So Arthur tells me I can’t be in love with his best friend. What is he even talking about? How did he even know? It’s not like we spend much time together.
Anyway, Mom heard but Arthur kept my secret. This is our fight. But I don’t know why we’re even fighting. I can do what I want now. I’m 18, fully grown. I can do what I want.
I think I’ll talk to Mei-Lin. Maybe she can help.
Theme 23: Hotter
Kate asked me to meet her. It was scorching at the park, so we went to the ice cream shop. She told me what was going on with her since graduation.
“I wish you’d told me sooner,” I admitted.
“Well can you help?” she asked. I bit my lip. Should she be with such an older guy. I didn’t know what to tell her.
But I knew I needed to encourage her. She almost looked sick. So I told her what my heart told me to say:
“Kate, I think you should go for it. What do you have to lose?”
I hope I told her the right thing.
Theme 95: Baseball
So Harry got Mom some tickets to a Metropolis game, and she had an extra, so I asked Kate along. I told Mom she was a huge fan, but really I just wanted to talk to her. Arthur told me about their fight, and I said I’d talk to her. What if we were wrong?
Seventh-inning stretch. We were on a balcony. I looked to her. She was trying to keep from staring at me.
“Is there anything you need to tell me?” I asked. She shook her head, staring over the crowd.
She looked nervous. I left her alone. She’d tell me when she was ready.
Theme 57: Feeling Blue
I can’t believe I kept my mouth shut. It was the perfect moment high above the stands. He asked me the right question. I should’ve given him the right answer.
I was so stupid! He might never ask me again. I might never admit my true feelings. What am I going to do?
I know, I’ll try another outing. He has work now but I’m sure we can work something out. I’ll think of something just as good as a ball game, maybe something with food, or…aliens! That’s it!
The Perfect Gift
Theme 165: Space Junk
Kate asked me back to the museum. She said they had a new exhibit she wanted to see but no one would take her. I met her at home and drove her there. She looked so happy.
We entered the lobby. She pulled me into some guy’s office, and I was nervous we were going to get kicked out.
Then he came out, handed her a container, then she handed it to me.
“What is it?”
“Look!” she squealed.
I opened the container. I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face: My very own jar of space junk. I’d never been happier.
Theme 143: Food Court
We went to a mall nearby afterward. We went to the food court and loaded up on food. We got a table away from people, sharing an order of fries.
“I think I need to come clean to you,” I began. He nodded. “I have a crush on you. I know it’s silly, but–”
“It’s not silly. You’re a young woman, Kate. Things happen.”
“And?” I squeaked. He smiled and lifted my chin, “I kind of like you too. Anyone who knows me as well as you do but can still like me must be special.”
“Want to be my girlfriend?”
Theme 68: Dinner
When Buster brought Kate back from the museum, I offered him some dinner. He accepted, joining us at the table. I eyed him carefully. He seemed to be doing something under the table–
He was holding hands with my daughter.
“What’s going on here?” I demanded.
“Mom, Buster and I are a couple now,” Kate said. Confident, no joking.
I nearly fainted. David spilled his drink and left the room.
“I don’t know what to say. Aren’t you too young–?”
“She’s 18, otherwise I’d have said no,” Buster said.
So my daughter was dating a twenty-six year old.
I was too stunned to say another word.
Blast from the Past
Theme 52: Video Game
So we hauled out our old Nintendos to play a Bionic Bunny game. Me and Buster, just like old times.
Something was different though. A few hours in, we stopped for a snack break. I asked him what was up. He told me the news: He’d asked Kate out and she accepted.
“Wait, are you joking?” I asked. He shook his head. “Buster, she’s like half your age!”
“I know she’s young, but she’s of age. We care about each other. We’ll make it work, okay? Now let’s get back to the game.”
I did but it changed nothing: I still didn’t know what to think.
Theme 129: Anniversary
Buster and I have been together a week. We’ve had lunch, walked around the neighborhood, and tried to stay cool. People are noticing though. Arthur’s friends eye us carefully. My classmates? I don’t know what they think.
I wonder what people will say when we’ve been together longer, a month, a year even. Do they even approve now?
I think about it but I don’t know if I care that much. Age is a number. Buster and I care about each other. That’s what a relationship is about: What the people inside it think. Everyone else can just disappear.
Theme 15: New Haircut
I’d heard the rumors. I mean, seriously, who hadn’t by now? Buster with Arthur’s baby sister. I mean really! DW is a nightmare, but why go even younger?
I thought I’d ask the girls about it. Get our hair and nails done while we talk. But no one knows a thing! I still look amazing, so it really doesn’t matter if the gossip was juicy or not. But I want to know! Is it even true?
If it is, well…honestly I never knew who Buster would end up with, that goof. If she likes him, really likes him, then it’s okay. Just tell me about it, okay?!
Theme 96: Softball
I saw Buster and Kate walking through the park on my way to practice. It was distracting. I mean, since when did he get a girlfriend?
Then I thought about it and growled. Catherine was with this old guy, 50-something and loaded. She’s what, 30-something now? That’s like twenty years. But they seem happy. I mean, who am I to judge? I kind of want a guy to take care of me like that too. I mean, Buster can’t really take care of Kate. He hasn’t had a serious job in years.
I hope he can make her happy though. She deserves it. She really deserves it.
Theme 155: Rainy
It was pouring outside, so I offered to drive Buster to the academy. He was so serious about being a cop so I wanted to be nice. And I needed to ask him some questions.
“I hear you have a girlfriend,” I began. He told me everything without further questions.
I was floored. I never expected him and Kate to be together. I never thought I’d see that look on his face about a girl her age either. He really seemed to care for her.
“You’ll take good care of her, treat her right. Understand?”
He nodded. And I could tell he meant it.
Theme 16: Personality Changes
I wanted to meet up with Buster again for video games. He kept dodging calls so I finally went over. Kate was reading on the couch. He was…
“Are you studying?!” I asked.
“Why’d you put it like that?” Kate questioned. I hated the way she looked at me. She could hear the skepticism in my voice.
Buster spoke, “Yes, I’m studying. Why?” Then he saw the video games. “Sorry, I’ve got an exam at the academy. I need quiet.”
So I left. I left him to study while my sister read. Buster was a new man, a man I didn’t even recognize. And it was because of my baby sister.
Theme 141: Party
Buster passed his tests at the academy. Kate was so happy for him. She had never glowed like that, so I offered to throw a surprise party. I had Arthur invite his friends. They all “hid” in the den.
Buster came through and saw Kate. She smiled and led him into the den.
The celebrations were amazing. Everyone was so happy for Buster. And even though I wasn’t sure how it would work out with him and Kate, I could finally see what she saw in him, and I felt happy about her choice. I just hoped everyone else felt the same way.
Theme 14: New Wardrobe
Kate came home in a uniform. It was a fast food gig, but she looked accomplished. David noticed. He pulled me aside.
“I like what they have,” he said. I thought about it. Buster had finally gotten serious about life. Kate was thriving. They both seemed happy, and they’d done so well together. Three weeks and not one ill word.
“I think you’re right,” I agreed. I never thought I’d say that, I thought. I never thought I’d want my daughter with an older boy, especially Buster. But this was going well.
Fourth of July
Theme 19: Summer
Dad took us all to see the fireworks. We had a cookout and rode out as a family…except Kate. She rode with Buster. They held hands when they got out, keeping to themselves. Mom and Dad didn’t say a word.
They looked too cute together, sickeningly cute together. I hate it! How did my little sister get a steady boyfriend before I did? And James doesn’t count! That was two weeks, just a joke.
At least the fireworks are pretty and it doesn’t seem as hot this year. And I guess I am happy for her…but only a little.
One Month In
Theme 60: Happiness
I couldn’t believe it’d been a month. Buster and I were so happy together. He had a new job on the force. I was starting college soon. Everything was perfect.
People seemed to be accepting. DW is jealous, as always, but Mom and Dad and Bitzi are happy. And I’m happy. And Buster is beaming. I mean things really couldn’t get any better between us.
Sometimes at night, when we haven’t seen each other in a few days, I pretend he’s there beside me. He holds me, tells me he’ll see me soon, then he disappears. I long for him though. I want him beside me for always….
I think I’m falling in love.
Theme 111: Grandparents
I asked Kate over to discuss things. I’d heard about her new boyfriend, but I thought it was just your typical schoolyard thing. I had no idea he was so much older.
But I had to see her for myself to know how things were. She was nervous. It took a while for us to start chatting openly. And when we did, well she told me everything I needed to know.
She had to leave for work, but I stopped her on the porch, “I want you to be happy. And…use your head. Love is powerful. Remember that.”
She smiled, nodded, and left. I watched her go, her head held high.
The First Day
Theme 119: College
I hadn’t seen Kate since our talk but she looked radiant, so in love. We met at the bookstore, getting our first titles. That’s when she told me we would be psychology majors together.
“I thought you chose Criminal Justice,” I said. She smiled, “Buster told me to pursue my dreams. I want to be a speech therapist in schools. This is a good place to start.”
I was so happy for her. She had the perfect boyfriend, a supportive one. I could care less about the age difference. She just looked too happy for me to care.
Theme 146: Jewelry
I had a good job on the force, which meant good money. Yeah, that meant cable, but I had a girlfriend to think about. I thought about getting her books for her—I had enough to cover it.
But then I saw a necklace while on the beat. I had to get it for her, so I asked the lady about it. It wasn’t cheap, but our anniversary is coming up. I really hope she likes it.
I was thinking of asking her to move in with me too. I live closer to the school. She can have her own room, but we can be together, and that’s what counts.
Theme 175: Rejection
Buster came over for dinner. He had something important to discuss. I thought he meant a date out of town, not Kate moving in with him!
She’s 18; if she were older, it would be different. But she’s just too young, and he’s so much older.
I thought it wouldn’t be an issue at first. I’d stopped looking at age. But this is too far. She can’t, she just can’t. And David thankfully agrees: This cannot happen! I’m so mad at him, I could scream.
Theme 62: Angry
Buster’s request was a long shot. The necklace was beautiful, but moving in with him? I mean, it’s tempting. His house is so much closer to school so I could walk.
But that’s a big step, and my parents were so mad.
I’m torn. I want to be on my own, and Buster is a good guardian. Maybe they think we’re doing things or something. I agree with Grandma Thora; I should be smart. We haven’t even kissed yet. Why would I do anything further?
Maybe we just need to talk. I just hope my parents will listen.
Theme 25: Sniffles
Kate told Jane she was sick, but I could tell she wanted to talk, especially about the fiasco a few nights before.
She was open with me. She said the decision was about location, not funny business. She knew to be careful, and she promised she wouldn’t try anything stupid.
But my gut just…I don’t know how this is supposed to be. She’s 18. She can do what she wants. But moving in with an older guy?
I trust my daughter. I just don’t know if I trust him.
Theme 83: Leadership
The call seemed routine. By the end, I’d thwarted a major robbery. I was getting a write-up in the paper; Mom was so proud.
But it was Jane who called me. Her and David wanted to talk. I wanted to try to work things out with them. I was still serious about my request.
The questions were overly personal. They wanted to know my intentions; I swore they were pure. They didn’t believe me, but I promised to love and honor Kate, and that meant none of what David called “funny business.”
I still don’t know their decision, but I think they’ll make one soon.
Theme 116: Dream Come True
“We’ll allow it,” Mom said.
That was not what I thought they’d say. But after Buster became a local hero, and after a conversation he told me about, something turned the tables.
I was being allowed to move in with Buster.
I couldn’t believe it. I’d have my own room. I had one now but only because DW was away, so this would be different. And magical.
I immediately packed my things. Mom couldn’t help; she was too busy crying. Dad left claiming work duties.
I knew it hurt them that I was leaving. But it was something I felt I had to do.
Theme 9: New House
I recognized the Read house right away. Kate watched as Buster helped me load the boxes. I’d heard the rumors but I didn’t believe ’em until now: Buster and Kate were a couple. And judging by the boxes, she was moving out…to be with him.
I mean, I try not to pry. But being a moving man allows you to get pretty good dirt on people. I respect these two though. Buster rode with me and he was just beaming. I envied him. I couldn’t wait to find me a relationship like that of my own.
First Night Alone Pt. 1
Theme 172: Candlelit Dinner
I wanted to make Kate’s first night special. She had class, so I spent the day cleaning up. Then I bought some dinner and candles, something I knew she’d like.
The lights were off when she came home, but Kate smiled. She sat with me on the couch. She told me about her day; I listened eagerly.
We cuddled to watch television.
Then, it happened.
First Night Alone Pt. 2
Theme 103: Winning
Electricity crackled through me. Our lips met, a wave of emotions.
I’d never felt like I did in that moment. So serene yet so amped up. It was magical, purely magical.
We pulled away. He took our plates to the sink. I followed him. I wrapped my arms around him at the sink.
“I’m glad we did this, but no further,” I whispered. He nodded, “It was just something special to show you how I felt.”
I nodded, following him back to the couch. We watched television and nothing more, but that was all we needed: each other.
Theme 156: Windy
I was shocked Mom and Dad would let Kate move out, but I knew they weren’t fully into the idea. They called me on a brisk day to send me over there. The wind was howling, but I checked in on them.
Buster and I played games while Kate studied in her room. Everything was fine. In fact, it seemed perfect. They looked happy, and the apartment was actually clean. Kate seemed to do him some good.
Before I left, he admitted he knew why I was there. He promised me they would take it slow, both of them. I hope he will. He better not hurt my sister, ever.
Theme 20: Fall/Autumn
I was running the candy apple stand when Buster and Kate approached, hand-in-hand. I didn’t believe the rumors until now, but man they looked stunning. They’d been together four months they said. I told them I was happy for them.
And I am, but I’m jealous too. Buster seemed like a completely different person, so serious and distinguished in his uniform. I heard later he was working security; he was only taking a few minutes to be with her. They were already the perfect couple, and they were so cute together. I’m totally jealous, and I honestly just never saw this coming.