The Summer I Turned Pretty Chapter 45 Free Read Online

Full Read the Online Chapter 45 of The Summer I Turned Pretty novel by Jenny Han for free.

The Summer I Turned Pretty Chapter 45:  I hated the last day before we left, because it was cleanup day, and when we were kids, we weren’t allowed to go to the beach at all, in case we brought in more sand. We washed all the sheets and swept up the sand, made sure all the boogie boards and floats were in the basement, cleaned out the fridge and packed sandwiches for the drive home. My mother was at the helm of this day. She was the one who insisted everything be just so. “So it’s all ready for next summer,” she’d say. What she didn’t know was that Susannah had cleaners come in after we left and before we came back.

I caught Susannah calling them once, scheduling an appointment. She covered the phone with one hand and whispered guiltily, “Don’t tell your mom, okay, Belly?”

I nodded. It was like a secret between us, and I liked that. My mother actually liked to clean and didn’t believe in housekeepers or maids or in other people doing what she considered our work. She’d say, “Would you ask someone else to brush your teeth for you, or lace up your shoes, just because you could?” The answer was no.

“Don’t worry too much about the sand,” Susannah would whisper when she’d see me going over the kitchen floor with a broom for the third time. I would keep sweeping anyway. I knew what my mother would say if she felt any grains on her feet.

That night for dinner we ate everything that was left in the fridge. That was the tradition. My mother heated up two frozen pizzas, reheated lo mein and fried rice, made a salad out of pale celery and tomatoes. There was clam chowder too, and half a rack of ribs, plus Susannah’s potato salad from more than a week before. It was a smorgasbord of old food that no one felt like eating.

But we did. We sat around the kitchen table picking off of foil-covered plates. Conrad kept sneaking looks at me, and every time I looked back, he looked away. I’m right here, I wanted to tell him. I’m still here.

We were all pretty quiet until Jeremiah broke the silence like breaking the top of a crème brûlée. He said, “This potato salad tastes like bad breath.”

“I think that would be your upper lip,” Conrad said.

We all laughed, and it felt like a relief. For it to be okay to laugh. To be something other than sad.

Then Conrad said, “This rib has mold on it,” and we all started to laugh again. It felt like I hadn’t laughed in a long time.

My mother rolled her eyes. “Would it kill you to eat a little mold? Just scrape it off. Give it to me. I’ll eat it.”

Conrad put his hands up in surrender, and then he stabbed the rib with his fork and dropped it on my mother’s plate ceremoniously. “Enjoy it, Laurel.”

“I swear, you spoil these boys, Beck,” my mother said, and everything felt normal, like any other last night. “Belly was raised on leftovers, weren’t you, bean?”

“I was,” I agreed. “I was a neglected child who was fed only old food that nobody else wanted.”

My mother suppressed a smile and pushed the potato salad toward me.

“I do spoil them,” Susannah said, touching Conrad’s shoulder, Jeremiah’s cheek. “They’re angels. Why shouldn’t I?”

The two boys looked at each other from across the table for a second. Then Conrad said, “I’m an angel. I would say Jere’s more of a cherub.” He reached out and tousled Jeremiah’s hair roughly.

Jeremiah swatted his hand away. “He’s no angel. He’s the devil,” he said. It was like the fight had been erased. With boys it was like that; they fought and then it was over.

My mother picked up Conrad’s rib, looked down at it, and then put it down again. “I can’t eat this,” she said, sighing.

“Mold won’t kill you,” Susannah declared, laughing and pushing her hair out of her eyes. She lifted her fork in the air. “You know what will?”

We all stared at her.

“Cancer,” she said triumphantly. She had the best poker face known to man. For a full four seconds, she maintained her composure before breaking out in giggles. She rustled her hand through Conrad’s hair until he finally wore a smile. I could tell he didn’t want to, but he did it. For her.

“Listen up,” she said. “Here’s what’s going to happen. I’m seeing my acupuncturist, I’m taking medicine, I’m still fighting this the best I can. My doctor says that at this point that’s the most I can do. I refuse to put any more poison into my body or spend any more time in hospitals. This is where I want to be. With the people who matter most to me. Okay?” She looked around at us.

“Okay.” We all said it, even though it was in no way, shape, or form okay.

Nor would it ever be.

Susannah continued. “If and when I go off slow dancing in the ever after, I don’t want to look like I’ve been stuck in a hospital room my whole life. I at least want to be tan. I want to be as tan as Belly.” She pointed at me with her fork.

“Beck, if you want to be as tan as Belly, you’ll need more time. That’s not something you can achieve in one summer. My girl wasn’t born tan; it takes years. And you’re not ready yet,” my mother said. She said it simply, logically.

Susannah wasn’t ready yet. None of us were.

After dinner we all went our separate ways to pack. The house was quiet, too quiet. I stayed in my bedroom, packing up clothes, my shoes, my books. Until it was time to pack my bathing suit.

Not that I was prepared to do that yet. I desired to go swimming one more time. I put on my one-piece and penned two notes: one addressed to Conrad and the other to Jeremiah.

On each of them I wrote, “Midnight swim. Meet me in ten minutes.” I slid a note under each door and then ran downstairs as quick as I could with my towel streaming behind me like a flag. I couldn’t let the summer end like this. We couldn’t leave this house until we had one good moment, for all of us.

The house was dark, and I made my way outside without turning on the lights. I didn’t need to. I knew it by heart.

As soon as I got outside, I dove into the pool. I didn’t dive so much as belly flop. The last one of the summer, maybe ever—in this house, anyway. The moon was bright and white, and as I waited for the boys, I floated on my back counting stars and listening to the ocean. When the tide was low like this, it whispered and gurgled and it sounded like a lullaby. I wished I could stay forever, in this moment. Like in one of those plastic snowballs, one little moment frozen in time.

They came out together, Beck’s boys. I guessed they’d run into each other on the stairs. They were both wearing their swimming trunks. It occurred to me that I hadn’t seen Conrad in his trunks all summer, that we hadn’t swum in this pool since that first day. And Jeremiah, we’d only swum in the ocean once or twice. It had been a summer with hardly any swim time, except for when I swam with Cam or when I swam alone. The thought made me feel unspeakably sad, that this could be the last summer and we’d hardly swum together at all.

“Hello,” I said, still floating on my back.

Conrad dipped his toe in. “It’s kind of cold to swim, isn’t it?” “Chicken,” I said, squawking loudly. “Just jump in and get it over with.”

They looked at each other. Then Jeremiah made a running leap and cannonballed in, and Conrad followed right behind him. They made two big splashes, and I swallowed a ton of water because I was smiling, but I didn’t care.

We swam over to the deep end, and I treaded water to stay afloat. Conrad reached over and pushed my bangs out of my eyes. It was a tiny gesture, but Jeremiah saw, and he turned away, swam closer to the edge of the pool.

For a second I felt sad, and then suddenly, out of nowhere, it came to me. A memory, pressed in my heart like a leaf in a book. I lifted my arms in the air and twirled around in circles, like a water ballerina.

Spinning, I began to recite, “Maggie and milly and molly and may / went down to the beach (to play one day) / and maggie discovered a shell that sang

/ so sweetly she couldn’t remember her troubles, and / milly befriended a stranded star / whose rays five languid fingers were—”

Jeremiah grinned. “And molly was chased by a horrible thing / which raced sideways while blowing bubbles: and / may came home with a smooth round stone / as small as a world and as large as alone. …”

Together, Conrad too, we all said, “For whatever we lose (like a you or a me) / it’s always ourselves we find in the sea.” And then there was this silence between us, and no one said anything.

It was Susannah’s favorite poem; she’d taught it to us kids a long time ago

—we were on one of her guided nature walks where she pointed out shells and jellyfish. That day we marched down the beach, arms linked, and we recited it so loudly that I think we woke up the fish. We knew it like we knew the Pledge of Allegiance, by heart.

“This might be our last summer here,” I said suddenly. “No way,” Jeremiah said, floating up next to me.

“Conrad’s going to college this fall, and you have football camp,” I reminded him. Even though Conrad going to college and Jeremiah going to football camp for two weeks didn’t really have anything to do with us not coming back next summer. I didn’t say what we were all thinking, that Susannah was sick, that she might never get better, that she was the string that tied us all together.

Conrad shook his head. “It doesn’t matter. We’ll always come back.”

Briefly I wondered if he meant just him and Jeremiah, and then he said, “All of us.”

It got quiet again, and then I had an idea. “Let’s make a whirlpool!” I said, clapping my hands together.

“You’re such a kid,” Conrad said, smiling at me and shaking his head. For the first time, it didn’t bother me when he called me a kid. It felt like a compliment.

I floated out to the middle of the pool. “Come on, guys!”

They swam over to me, and we made a circle and started to run as fast as we could. “Faster!” Jeremiah yelled, laughing.

Then we stopped, let our bodies go limp and get caught in the whirlpool we’d just made. I leaned my head back and let the current carry me.

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