Home > We Were Liars(2)

We Were Liars(2)
Author: E. Lockhart

Aunt Carrie’s husband left her when she was pregnant with Johnny’s brother, Will. I don’t know what happened. The family never speaks of it. By summer eight, Will was a baby and Carrie had taken up with Ed already.

This Ed, he was an art dealer and he adored the kids. That was all we’d heard about him when Carrie announced she was bringing him to Beechwood, along with Johnny and the baby.

They were the last to arrive that summer, and most of us were on the dock waiting for the boat to pull in. Granddad lifted me up so I could wave at Johnny, who was wearing an orange life vest and shouting over the prow.

Granny Tipper stood next to us. She turned away from the boat for a moment, reached in her pocket, and brought out a white peppermint. Unwrapped it and tucked it into my mouth.

As she looked back at the boat, Gran’s face changed. I squinted to see what she saw.

Carrie stepped off with Will on her hip. He was in a baby’s yellow life vest, and was really no more than a shock of white-blond hair sticking up over it. A cheer went up at the sight of him. That vest, which we had all worn as babies. The hair. How wonderful that this little boy we didn’t know yet was so obviously a Sinclair.

Johnny leapt off the boat and threw his own vest on the dock. First thing, he ran up to Mirren and kicked her. Then he kicked me. Kicked the twins. Walked over to our grandparents and stood up straight. “Good to see you, Granny and Granddad. I look forward to a happy summer.”

Tipper hugged him. “Your mother told you to say that, didn’t she?”

“Yes,” said Johnny. “And I’m to say, nice to see you again.”

“Good boy.”

“Can I go now?”

Tipper kissed his freckled cheek. “Go on, then.”

Ed followed Johnny, having stopped to help the staff unload the luggage from the motorboat. He was tall and slim. His skin was very dark: Indian heritage, we’d later learn. He wore black-framed glasses and was dressed in dapper city clothes: a linen suit and striped shirt. The pants were wrinkled from traveling.

Granddad set me down.

Granny Tipper’s mouth made a straight line. Then she showed all her teeth and went forward.

“You must be Ed. What a lovely surprise.”

He shook hands. “Didn’t Carrie tell you we were coming?”

“Of course she did.”

Ed looked around at our white, white family. Turned to Carrie. “Where’s Gat?”

They called for him, and he climbed from the inside of the boat, taking off his life vest, looking down to undo the buckles.

“Mother, Dad,” said Carrie, “we brought Ed’s nephew to play with Johnny. This is Gat Patil.”

Granddad reached out and patted Gat’s head. “Hello, young man.”

“Hello.”

“His father passed on, just this year,” explained Carrie. “He and Johnny are the best of friends. It’s a big help to Ed’s sister if we take him for a few weeks. And, Gat? You’ll get to have cookouts and go swimming like we talked about. Okay?”

But Gat didn’t answer. He was looking at me.

His nose was dramatic, his mouth sweet. Skin deep brown, hair black and waving. Body wired with energy. Gat seemed spring-loaded. Like he was searching for something. He was contemplation and enthusiasm. Ambition and strong coffee. I could have looked at him forever.

Our eyes locked.

I turned and ran away.

Gat followed. I could hear his feet behind me on the wooden walkways that cross the island.

I kept running. He kept following.

Johnny chased Gat. And Mirren chased Johnny.

The adults remained talking on the dock, circling politely around Ed, cooing over baby Will. The littles did whatever littles do.

We four stopped running at the tiny beach down by Cuddledown House. It’s a small stretch of sand with high rocks on either side. No one used it much, back then. The big beach had softer sand and less seaweed.

Mirren took off her shoes and the rest of us followed. We tossed stones into the water. We just existed.

I wrote our names in the sand.

Cadence, Mirren, Johnny, and Gat.

Gat, Johnny, Mirren, and Cadence.

That was the beginning of us.

* * *

JOHNNY BEGGED TO have Gat stay longer.

He got what he wanted.

The next year he begged to have him come for the entire summer.

Gat came.

Johnny was the first grandson. My grandparents almost never said no to Johnny.

5

SUMMER FOURTEEN, GAT and I took out the small motorboat alone. It was just after breakfast. Bess made Mirren play tennis with the twins and Taft. Johnny had started running that year and was doing loops around the perimeter path. Gat found me in the Clairmont kitchen and asked, did I want to take the boat out?

“Not really.” I wanted to go back to bed with a book.

“Please?” Gat almost never said please.

“Take it out yourself.”

“I can’t borrow it,” he said. “I don’t feel right.”

“Of course you can borrow it.”

“Not without one of you.”

He was being ridiculous. “Where do you want to go?” I asked.

“I just want to get off-island. Sometimes I can’t stand it here.”

I couldn’t imagine, then, what it was he couldn’t stand, but I said all right. We motored out to sea in wind jackets and bathing suits. After a bit, Gat cut the engine. We sat eating pistachios and breathing salt air. The sunlight shone on the water.

“Let’s go in,” I said.

Gat jumped and I followed, but the water was so much colder than off the beach, it snatched our breath. The sun went behind a cloud. We laughed panicky laughs and shouted that it was the stupidest idea to get in the water. What had we been thinking? There were sharks off the coast, everybody knew that.

Don’t talk about sharks, God! We scrambled and pushed each other, struggling to be the first one up the ladder at the back of the boat.

After a minute, Gat leaned back and let me go first. “Not because you’re a girl but because I’m a good person,” he told me.

“Thanks.” I stuck out my tongue.

“But when a shark bites my legs off, promise to write a speech about how awesome I was.”

“Done,” I said. “Gatwick Matthew Patil made a delicious meal.”

It seemed hysterically funny to be so cold. We didn’t have towels. We huddled together under a fleece blanket we found under the seats, our bare shoulders touching each other. Cold feet, on top of one another.

“This is only so we don’t get hypothermia,” said Gat. “Don’t think I find you pretty or anything.”

 

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