I’ve done the one thing Cameron herself has never done:
I’ve bared a piece of my soul to her and admitted that I want to save her,
help her…maybe even love her.
Lessons in Gravity
a novel by Kristen Kehoe
It’s a risk—being honest with Cameron. Even when we were friends—excuse me, training partners—she was never comfortable with emotions.
It’s not that she didn’t feel anything…it’s that she resented the weakness, and worked really hard to never show it. I think back to every time I watched her at her starting line, whether it was for a jump or the relay, and recall the way she looked.
Girls around her would be jumping up and down, pacing back and forth, yapping at someone, laughing, scowling; swinging their arms and mimicking motions they would later use.
And CC just stood.
She stood with straight shoulders and a long frame. She stood with eyes open and face devoid of anything but focus. Every now and then her fingers would clench into a fist before unclenching again, but that was it.
When the command was given to hit her blocks, or take her run down the strip, she would breathe in, exhale, and get into position.
There was no flash, no play for attention, and no outward appearance of nerves or fear.
But she was scared. I’m not sure any of us—CC included—realized just how scared she was until the day she quit.
Now, she’s looking at me while a pile of sugar I know she hates sits in front of her, and I’ve done the one thing Cameron herself has never done: I’ve bared a piece of my soul to her and admitted that I want to save her, help her…maybe even love her.
While she looks at me, I’m taking a page from her playbook, working to keep my face calm and relaxed, as if it won’t bother me when she gets up from this table and walks away, telling me to shove my concern and leave her alone.
Why can’t I leave her alone?
That flash from freshman year zings through my head again, and I see CC when she wasn’t scared—CC when she had a purpose and knew that what she was doing was right…perfect. Loving.
“I hate bananas.”
It takes a second for her words to register. My vision sharpens, and I wait, because… is she really agreeing with me?
She laughs—laughs—a small, but there, smile curving her lips, visible even when she looks down, shoving her plate aside. “I don’t know why I ordered this.” That smile turns wry, a little lost. “I guess I could say that about a lot of things I’ve done lately.”
Her teeth scrape along her lower lip briefly. As if she remembers herself, she releases it and presses her lips together before taking a breath and shaking back her head, small pieces of silky caramel hair escaping the band she tied them back with and floating around her face.
“Why did you show up at my door this morning, Cam? I answered your question,” I say before she can shrug. “Now answer mine. Why are we here, when you’ve made it clear you don’t like me, that you want something more than what I am.”
She waits, eyes steady on mine. I admire that about her—the way she isn’t afraid to face something that terrifies her. Except…I think she is. I think this whole bad-ass, feels-nothing-like-fear-ever is an act. And I think Cameron Carson is terrified of caring about anyone or anything.