Henry twisted his clear plastic apple juice glass. Meg waited him out, vaguely frightened. "Some kid at Violet's school likes her. I mean, he like likes her. Like, he likes her."Meg suppressed a laugh but couldn't help smiling. Fourth grade. This was the age it all began. "And that bothers you because...?""Because I like her! Hello!" He looked at Meg like she'd gone AWOL."She's your best friend," Meg said. "That's different than like-liking her. Are you saying you have other feelings for her?"Henry sighed. "I just know that the kid at her school needs to butt out."Ah, jealousy. Really, a fear ofâ€¦a fear of loss, right? Of something being taken away. His friendship with Violet was priceless to him."You want things to stay just as they are," Meg said. The dejection in Henry's nod nearly broke Meg's heart. She, too, wanted things to stay the same. Their life was innocent and simple and so very, very good. Please don't grow up, Henry. Please don't change. Except - blossom."It's tough when someone comes along and throws everything out of whack and makes you feel things you might not be ready to feel, isn't it?" Henry nodded morosely again. "You've got to stick to who you are," Meg said, "because who you are is really special, and Violet knows that. If you change to try and keep her, you'll end up losing her. Does that make any sense?""Sort of," Henry said. "Not really, but sort of."Meg let out her breath in a disappointed exhalation at how the conversation had gone - maybe a B-minus on the mom report card. An A for effort, but a B-minus for helping Henry make sense of his world, because there just weren't always easy answers where the heart was concerned."The same holds true for me, Henry," she said. "You know Ahmed, that guy we met today at LuLu's?""Of course I know him!" Henry said. "I was sitting right there at the same table as you - you think I can't remember who I met, like, five hours ago? Um, duh!""You and your grandmother are so literal that sometimes it makes me want to scream," Meg said. "What I want to know is what you were up to by telling him we're single and wanting his phone number. What was that about?"Henry shrugged one shoulder. "I liked him.""I liked him, too," Meg said. "But I also like our life just as it is. We don't need any complications right now. If we run into him at LuLu's again, great. If not, that's fine, too. But we don't need to exchange phone numbers and you don't need to be telling him where you play soccer. It's not even safe, to tell people we don't know very well things like that. So don't do it anymore. Okay?"Henry made a maybe/maybe-not face at her, telling her without words that understanding was one thing, while agreement was something else entirely."I'm serious," she said.Henry extended his hand. "Nice to meet you, Serious. I'm Henry."One True Theory of Love: A Novel goes on sale February 3, 2009 in bookstores nationwide.
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