The first time Sasha lay spread across my bed, I felt like the world had changed. She was wearing cutoff jean shorts and a plain white T-shirt, not the tiny, cropped kind lots of girls wear—Sasha never wears that kind of stuff. “So it has to be my rules,” she repeated, propping her head up and peering steadily into my eyes. I stared at her long, tan legs and thought: Don’t screw this up now, Nick.
“Your rules,” I agreed, and I didn’t screw it up, not then anyway. We went on like that for nearly five months, stretching her rules, rewriting them together, until she told me we were getting too serious, that I was too much of a distraction and she had her whole future to think about.
“I want to worry about school,” she said, crossing her arms and frowning like only Sasha can—like the world was coming to an end. “Not about trying to get on the pill.”
Now I know she was wrong about the world, though—either wrong or early—because I can live without Sasha. The past month has proven that. But I don’t know how to deal with what she’s telling me now.
“Say something,” she says urgently, grabbing my arm and squeezing hard. “Don’t do this to me, Nick.”
I glance up the driveway towards my house, at the icicle lights everyone but my mom continually forgets to switch on, and wrench my arm away. Dad will be here to pick me up in less than an hour. Christmas at his place with Bridgette—that was my big problem until thirty seconds ago.
“Nick,” Sasha repeats. Snow is falling on her hair and she’s wearing the leather gloves her mom bought her at the end of October. She still looks beautiful to me, or at least I know she would if I could feel anything.
I run a hand through my snow-crowned hair and say, “This has to be a mistake.” It’s what everybody says and now I know why.
“Don’t you think I checked?” Her hands close into fists. “You think I’d come over here to tell you if I didn’t know for sure?”
“I don’t know what you’d do, Sasha.” I squint in her direction. The sky is filled with white as bright as sunshine. “I don’t know you anymore, remember?”
Sasha laughs like she hates me. She turns in the direction of the road and stands there, motionless. She’s prepared to wait, to become some kind of ice princess at the edge of my lawn. Not a nice fairy tale—the pregnant ex-girlfriend—but then I guess most of them aren’t. Not in the beginning anyway. I glance at the dark hair spilling down the back of Sasha’s coat and shiver. My heart stopped beating at the beginning of this conversation.
“So what do you want me to say?” I snap, taking a step back. Sasha laughs again, shakes her head, and stares down my street. What has she done to deserve this, that’s what she’s thinking, no doubt. There’s snow on her lashes, her cheeks are red from the cold, and suddenly I feel like a complete asshole.
“Does anyone else know?”
“Lindsay was there when I took the test.” She swivels to watch me from the corner of her eyes. It’s not safe to look at me yet. She doesn’t know who I’ll be.
“What about your parents?”
Sasha doesn’t laugh this time. Her parents aren’t a joke to either of us. We spent five months arranging meetings behind their backs and coaching Lindsay and Sasha’s other friends on alibis. We never even came close to getting caught. Or so I thought.
So what happened? Okay, I know what happened, but it barely qualified as a mistake. And it was once, that’s all. I reach out and touch Sasha’s arm—she doesn’t pull away. She’s more mature than I am maybe, at the very least she’s had more time to think. “We should’ve gone—” I begin, but Sasha’s way ahead of me.
“I know we should’ve.” Her cheeks hollow out as the cold steals the word from her lips. “I wish we did. It’s too late now.” Our eyes lock. Freeze. Dart away. “Shit!” Sasha exclaims, her eyes on the road.
Mom is motoring up the street towards us, waving, with her extreme happy face fixed firmly in place. If there’s one thing I can’t deal with now, it’s that lame happy holiday face. The real thing is bad enough, but Mom’s imitation sucks any real life out of the holidays and reminds me of a time when they used to mean something besides trying too hard. Or maybe back then I was too impressed by stuff like company Christmas parties where the boss would dress up as a skinny Santa Claus and dole out cheap board games and action figure knockoffs. I mean, I know it wasn’t perfect. I remember the arguments as well as anyone, but I also remember the four of us driving around looking at Christmas lights for weeks beforehand and my parents taking turns bringing my sister, Holland, and me shopping for each other’s presents. Some of that was real. I can feel the difference.
“Sasha, I have to go,” I say. “My dad’s picking me up soon.”
Sasha shoots me an incredulous glare. “This is important.”
“Yeah, I know.” I take a step back as Mom pulls into the drive. “I’ll call you when I get there, okay?”
Sasha doesn’t wait for my mom to get out of the car. She storms off, kicking up snow and folding her arms in front of her. I know that’s a shitty thing to do—just let her go like that—but I can’t help it. Well, I could, but I don’t want to have to try. I keep thinking maybe she’s wrong about the whole thing. Those tests can’t be a hundred percent accurate—nothing is.
Mom opens the car door, ducks down in front of the passenger seat, and emerges with a collection of bags. “Nicholas, give me a hand,” she says, handing me half her stash. That stupid stale smile is stretched across her face so tight she’s practically mummified. “Get the door, please,” she sings, all nursery rhyme–like. I’m glad I’m not going to be here for Christmas, if you want to know the truth. All the pretending gives me a massive headache, but whenever Holland or I decide to stop, Mom withdraws into a catatonic state.From the Hardcover edition.
Excerpted from I Know It's Over by C. K. Kelly Martin. Copyright © 2008 by C. K. Kelly Martin. Excerpted by permission of Random House Books for Young Readers, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.