Nantucket Blue

One

EVEN WITHOUT HOLLY HOWARD and Dori Archer, who’d been suspended for drinking on campus, we were supposed to win that game. The sun was high and white, and the breeze carried the scent of sweaty, shampooed girls and a whiff of the fresh asphalt from the school’s newly paved driveway. The sky was bright blue with three marshmallow clouds. It was such a perfect day for a lacrosse game in Rhode Island that it was hard to imagine anything else was happening anywhere in the world. I wiped my forehead with my arm, blinking my eyes against the sting of sunscreen. My cheeks were hot, my ponytail was tight, and my legs were aching to sprint.

We were playing Alden, our school’s rival for the past hundred years. It used to be all girls, like us, but went coed fifty years ago. They’d been pretty weak all season because Hannah Higgins, Cat Whiting, Sarah McKinnon, and basically all of their strong seniors graduated last year, giving the Rosewood School for Girls a chance to break a ten-year losing streak. We’d kicked their ass when we played them at an away game; kicked everyone’s asses all season long. Our girls’ varsity lacrosse team was, for the first time in a decade, undefeated, and yet here we were, tied on our own turf with three minutes left on the clock, the ball in Alden’s control as they tossed it around, calling out code words for plays: “Princeton,” “Bates,” “Hobart,” “St. Lawrence”—probably where the seniors were headed in the fall. Some of them should’ve studied a little harder.

For a moment there, it was hard to care. It was kind of hard to care about anything the last week of school, with classes, APs, and exams behind us, and summer so close, I could almost taste it. (What does summer taste like? Iced lemonade and fried clams.) The only things left were Founder’s Day, Prize Day, and watching the seniors graduate.

But all it took was a glance to the sidelines to begin to care, and care a lot. The silver bleachers, which usually glared as the sun hit the empty metallic seats, were filled with girls in variations of the school uniform. Siblings from the lower and middle school spilled onto the grass in front of them. Parents sat forward in their collapsible spectator chairs. As usual, mine were not among them. My mother was correcting papers in her fifth-grade classroom, and my father was at his office in the English department at the Rhode Island School of Design, or maybe helping his new wife, Polly, and her adopted Ukrainian son, Alexi. Nina, my best friend Jules’s mom, was usually there in jeans and one of her cashmere sweaters. They were gray or ivory or aqua—the colors changed, some had a belt or a ruffle; but this spring, Nina liked wraps, and she brought them back from New York in glossy shopping bags with ropey handles. That’s where she was now, I remembered. New York.

The principal, former women’s golf champion Edwina MacIntosh, was there in her favorite maroon suit, tortoise-shell glasses, and tightly permed hair. Teachers who don’t come to games were there. Even Mrs. Hart, the ancient English teacher, was there in her panty hose and pumps, one hand on her hip, the other gripping the strap of her beat-up black pocketbook as she peered over her beak at the action.

More important, guys were there. The boys’ lacrosse teams had finished their season last weekend. There was a whole group of Alden guys watching, including my future boyfriend, the delicious Jay Logan. Jules hated it