Photography by Poly Mendes at www.polymendesphotography.com
Ever since she can remember, wealthy but weary Saige Armstrong has felt different from her peers in Pechimu, New Jersey. With only one good friend to her name, she has navigated the complicated halls of high school and is now faced with the timeless question: Now what?
Fox Harrington, a fun-loving, socially charismatic graffiti artist uses his passions to color his world exactly how he wants it. He knows exactly where his life is headed. That is, until he meets Saige.
A summer project links the two together, making a tentative friendship bloom into romance, but despite their affection for each other, fundamental beliefs and ways of thinking threaten to destroy all they have built.
In this tender story of young love, N.K. Smith delivers a striking tale of two people standing on the precipice of adult life.
All of the sudden, Beyoncé is singing her song “Halo,” and I smile.
“Really? Never would have pegged you for a fan.”
With an exaggerated humiliated expression, he says, “Everyone likes Beyoncé, and it’s a good song, but now that you know my secret, I’ll have to keep you locked up so you don’t spill the beans.” He gets up and puts his hands in out in front of him, fingers crooked, but extended. “Or I could tickle you, which would probably be more fun than just locking you away.”
“Oh, my God, no!” I jump off the stool and dart away, but his basement isn’t big, so there’s no place for me to go. He grabs my wrist in a gentle hold, then twirls me toward him.
“You’ve just revealed how ticklish you are, Saigey-Paigey, and I didn’t even have to tickle you. But now that I know. . .” He lets the words hang there as he dramatically raises his free hand, fingers wiggling.
“No! Don’t!” My reaction is odd, even to me. There’s real fear mixed in with the giggles that have bubbled up.
His hand stops. “Why not?”
“Does anyone besides kids ever want to be tickled?”
Fox locks his eyes with mine. “I think you just can’t handle thinking about where that much laughing would take you. I’d tickle you, and you’d laugh like crazy. Maybe you’d even snort from laughing so much.”
“I don’t snort.”
“And I wouldn’t stop because the sound of your laugh would be like fuel for me, but then your muscles would start to hurt and those tears of laughter in your eyes would grow bigger, and then you’d realize that sometimes it’s okay to be free. That in the freedom that comes from that kind of laughter, comes the greatest release of negativity, and you’d feel like a million dollars.”