Letting Go by L.A. Fiore

Chapter One



            Cedar

            1998

            I first saw Brock Callahan on the day after my eleventh birthday. I was finally allowed to go into the woods on my own, not too far from the house, but it was a benefit of being eleven. While exploring, I’d discovered the fort. It looked old, beaten from the elements, and I wondered who had built it. Not that exploring the inside was going to happen because there could be crickets. Unlike most people, spiders didn’t bother me but crickets…nope.

            Why I went against instinct and popped my head inside was beyond me. The scream caught in my throat, seeing that the fort wasn’t empty. He was in the corner, his back to the opening. It was how he was huddled there that I knew he was scared or in pain. Again, instinct was to leave him alone, but instead, I moved closer. He turned before words could be spoken; gray eyes stared at me through brown hair that was too long, hanging over his eyebrows and brushing his shoulders.

            Sadness hit me first because he looked kind of lost. Recognition followed. There were so many questions running through my head, but I didn’t ask any of them. Dropping down on the ground, I opened my backpack and pulled out the cake wrapped on a paper plate. The pink icing was all over the plastic, and the vanilla cake was squashed, but it still tasted good. After taking a forkful, I handed the fork to him.

            He said nothing, just stared at me for a little bit. I stared back like I had all the time in the world. He reached for the fork, took a mouthful of cake. He tried to hide it, but he was hungry. He held the fork out to me, but I waved it off. “I’ve already had a slice. Why don’t you finish that?”

            He did, drank the three juice boxes I’d brought, too.

            The following day, I woke, grabbed some food from the kitchen and hurried into the woods. He wasn’t there and disappointment hit. I left the food, though. The following morning, the plates were empty. I wasn’t sure if it was the boy who ate it or the critters in the forest until I saw the single bluebell. Wild ones grew in the woods around here. He’d left one on the plate.

            For the next week, the routine continued. I’d bring him food, and he’d leave me a bluebell. A week to the day from our first meeting, when I arrived at the fort, he was there. Standing by the fort, his back to me. He turned when he heard me approach. He had the prettiest gray eyes I’d ever seen, and though I suspected he was thinking a lot, I couldn’t read him. Silence hung heavy for a few minutes as we both studied the other.

            He broke the silence when he said, “I’m Brock.”

            “Cedar.”

            That was how it started.



            Perched in the tree across the street from Mrs. Astor’s house, my binoculars were trained on her yard. It was five in the morning, and even for summer, there was a chill in the air. Brock was next to me, munching down on a bag of chips. His favorite part of surveillance work, the eating.

            We were playing detective. Mrs. Astor had complained at the neighborhood watch meetings that someone was cutting the flowers from her rose bushes. Of course, no one confessed, and no one saw a thing. It was possible Mrs. Astor was cutting her own roses, looking for attention. She did live alone, but for her three cats, so she was likely lonely. Brock and I were determined to solve the mystery, hence why we were sitting in a tree at the crack of dawn.

            “I’m almost out of chips,” he announced.

            “I’ll make you pancakes when we’re done.”

            “Chocolate chip?”

            I glanced over at him. “Is there any other kind?”

            He flashed me a grin. “Nope.” He then looked past me and jerked his head. “Look.”