By: K. Langston

“You’re my best friend, you’re supposed to say that.”

“Do you really think I’d blow smoke up your ass?”

He lifts a brow, a gift apparently, considering I’ve tried countless times to execute the move and can never do it. “I don’t know…would ya?” he asks.

I punch his arm. “Lincoln Cole Matthews, you should know me better than that.”

“I know you wouldn’t. You’re the most honest person I know.” Then his eyes flash with excitement. “Oh shit, I’ve got it,” he says, hopping down from the tailgate to stand in front of me, placing his hands on my knees. “Let’s move to Nashville after graduation. I can work on my music, and you can find a job, I don’t know, somewhere cool. We can be roommates. Maybe save some money and travel. We can go anywhere we want.”

He’s grinning from ear to ear but his words are completely sincere. Thinking of the possibilities makes me giddy inside.

“You’re serious?”

“Hell yes, I’m serious. I want us to stay close. Just like this. I don’t ever wanna lose what we have. I don’t ever wanna lose you.”

My heart flutters in my chest, his words burrowing themselves deep within my soul. “You’ll never lose me. I’ll always be here for you, Linc. You know that.”

The thought of not seeing him every day saddens me deeply. I can’t remember a time when he hasn’t been a part of my life, and I don’t ever want to consider what it would be like without him.

“I know, it’s just…” He steps away, shoving his hands into the front of his jeans. “Never mind. It’s a stupid idea anyway.”

I remain silent for a moment, contemplating what he’s asking. We have another two years before we graduate. A lot can change between now and then but this is obviously something he wants. Whether I end up going or not, I’m not going to be the one to destroy his dream.

“Nashville, huh?”

“Yeah, maybe you could be my manager,” he teases.

“Manager? That means you’d have to do what I say. Think you can handle that?”

“As long as you’re there with me, yeah, I’ll do whatever you say.”

“Hmmm…I find that hard to believe, but it sounds too fun to pass up. Besides, I’ve always wanted to go to Nashville.”

His eyes light up and they are brighter than the stars twinkling in the sky above us. “So you’ll go?”

I nod. “Yeah, I’ll go.”

Under a blanket of stars, on the tailgate of his Ford, we make a pact to go to Nashville. To spread our wings and fly away from Grandeur.



There are moments that mark our lives. Moments when we realize nothing will ever be the same and time is divided into two parts.

Before and after.

The day Linc found out his father died is one of those days. Linc is sitting on my front porch, waiting for me when I get home from school. He didn’t show up today, and when I texted him to ask why, he never replied, but I know by the devastation in his eyes.

Losing his father has been one of his greatest fears.

He knew his father was a strong man, a tough man. But he was also a brave soldier who fought for his country and Linc knew that he would lay down his life in an instant if it meant saving the lives of others.

Which is exactly what had happened. His unit had been ambushed and Sergeant Cole Matthews took on most of the gunfire, protecting his men.

I’ve never seen Linc cry before.

Come to think of it, I’ve never seen any man cry before. But today he breaks down right there in my arms, weeping for the loss of his father and all the days they would never have.

I hold him tight, trying to absorb every ounce of his pain as my own. It’s hard to think about either one of my parents dying. I don’t know what I would do. I only know the ache would be deep and impossible to forget.

This will change his life forever. His father is his hero. He looks up to him, and in many ways wants to be just like him—honorable, loyal, and courageous. Even though they don’t agree on much, especially Linc’s plans for the future, the man loved his son. I saw it in his eyes every time he looked at him.