Driving to school one morning in October or November. It is a glorious morning, the sun shining the way it shines through stained-glass windows, the air crisp the way it is in apple orchards. I had woken up to the lonely, lovely cacophony of geese on the wing. I was basking in the glow of sunshine, relishing the brisk chill in the air, even savoring the way my wool sweater scratched my arms. It was autumn in Illinois, and my brand-new boyfriend, previously my best friend, was giving me a ride to school. We were sixteen and in love.
“Let’s just leave,” he said as music floated out of the speakers. “Let’s hit the road.”
I laughed in response and stretched my arms over my head, musing to myself that I had stepped out of my life and into a teen movie. And as we coursed down the broad avenue, underneath of canopy of golden trees and a gentle shower of drifting copper leaves, I wondered what would happen if I had decided to say yes.