Charlie Mills had joked about it, how Sarah used to take Abby every day to see the boats come in with all the rich summer people arriving for their stays in their second homes, wondering what she liked so much about it. Abby hadn’t read anything into it, just said how much she liked seeing the boats, and Charlie had laughed and dropped it.
The Wellingtons’ boat was the usual showy extravaganza as it docked first, Thomas and Vanessa Wellington making their way off the boat, Shea and Trish following. Abby had met Trish Wellington when she’d come for the summer the year before, but hadn’t really got to know her. Being a few years older, Shea hung out with a different crowd anyway so Abby never really had anything to do with her either. Shane Pierce was watching her, although she never even glanced in his direction. He went to watch the boats every weekend too, said it was so he could check out the new girls arriving on the island. As if any of them would be interested in a stupid little kid like him. Shane Pierce was such an idiot, and Abby didn’t know why Jimmy was best friends with him.
Another smaller boat followed them, with a couple disembarking, followed by another man who Abby thought was the first man’s brother, followed by two boys, the younger of whom was crying. “Uncle Marty? JD just puked,” the older of the two said, tugging at his uncle’s sleeves. As Uncle Marty went over to help clean him up, Trish Wellington wrinkled her nose and said “Ew. I hope he doesn’t get it all over my new dress.”
The older boy immediately turned on her. “Who cares about your stupid dress? It’s not my brother’s fault he got sick. Leave him alone.” He looked at Trish with disgust before turning his back on her and walking over to JD and Uncle Marty. Meanwhile, Abby’s mother had stepped over to his parents.
“Abby, this is Mr and Mrs Dunn, they’re old friends of mine from a long time ago. This is my daughter, Abby.”
The older boy held out his hand. “I’m Henry.”
Abby thinks back on that day now, the first time she met Henry. He’d genuinely cared about JD that day, wanted to protect his brother, and he’d appeared to be close to his Uncle Marty. How had he gone from being the kid she met for the first time that day to the killer who had stood over him that day?
Abby had taken Henry to Bassett Park to introduce him to her friends the next day, JD tagging along. “This is Nikki,” she’d said, gesturing towards her best friend from school, “and this is Jimmy.”
Jimmy had grinned at Henry. “Do you play football?” he’d asked. “You can play with us. Abby and I play all the time. She’s as good as any boy.”
“No, she’s not,” Shane had interrupted. “She’s a girl, they can’t play. You’re just saying that because…”
“Shut up, Pierce,” Jimmy had warned him, but Shane had lost interest. “Hey, look!” he’d exclaimed. “It’s Barf-mouth from the boat!”
Henry had turned around ready to say something to Shane, but before he had chance, Trish Wellington was storming over to him and gave him a shove that Abby hadn’t realised she was capable of, causing him to fall flat on his butt. “Leave him alone, you moron,” Trish snapped. “It wasn’t his fault, Henry was right. You shouldn’t call people names.” As Shane sat there, mouth opening and closing, Jimmy, Nikki and Abby burst out laughing.
“Face it, Pierce, you just got bested by a girl,” Nikki smirked.
“Henry…” Trish began. “And JD. I’m sorry I was mean yesterday.”
Henry held out his hand. “Forget about it. Come play with us if you like. Me, you and Abby against Jimmy, Shane and Nikki?”
Trish wasn’t much of a football player. But Henry made a big point of helping her so she could keep up with him, and in the end their team won. Abby smiled to herself when they all went out for ice cream afterwards and Henry let Trish eat half of his.
Abby had always thought of that day as the moment when they had all become friends. Well, except for Shane and JD, whose mutual dislike had begun that day and never really gone away. But they’d all hung out every day after that, that summer and for several others, and the day Henry entered that fishing competition that he’d later won, Trish had been stood there right next to Abby cheering him on. At eight years old, Abby didn’t care much about things like relationships, but looking at the photographs from that summer as she prepared to make the album for Trish and Henry’s wedding, she thought back to those times and thought about how even then, it must have been obvious that those two were going to end up together.
“Glad you’re here, Henry,” Charlie had said when the Dunn family disembarked. “Means Abby’s gonna be spending time with someone worth a damn for a change.”
“What was that about?” Henry asked Abby. “He’s never reacted to me like that before, and what did he mean about spending time with someone worth a damn?”
Abby didn’t know why she hadn’t told Henry. She’d spoken to him on the phone several times since it happened, but had always felt awkward about telling him, so she just hadn’t mentioned it. She didn’t know why. She’d told Nikki straight away.
“It’s Jimmy,” she began.
“Jimmy Mance? I always thought your dad liked him. It was Shane he always used to complain about.”
“That was until Jimmy asked me to be his date to Nikki’s birthday party at the end of the month. To which you’re invited, by the way,” Abby explained. “Now all of a sudden Dad can’t stand him. Keeps saying how I could do better.”
“Jimmy Mance, huh? I never knew…you and him.”
“Oh, it only just happened,” Abby explained. “Apparently he liked me for a long time.”
“Truth is, I kind of wondered,” Henry admitted, “even back when we all first met. But I think it’s cool. He’s a good guy. If you’re happy, I’m happy.”
“I should have just told you sooner,” Abby admitted. “I don’t know why I didn’t. I guess maybe I just wanted to tell you in person.”
“You know what?” Henry said. “Maybe I’ll be bringing a date to Nikki’s party too.”
A few days later, Abby had heard that Henry had asked Trish Wellington to be his date. She wasn’t really surprised; she’d known for a while that Trish liked Henry, and she thought they’d be good together. When Abby heard about how Thomas Wellington didn’t really approve, she and Jimmy commiserated with them. Charlie had even said something at one point about how old Wellington had a stick up his butt, and if he couldn’t see what a good kid Henry was then the man was a fool, and while a part of Abby wished her father could see the same thing about Jimmy instead of mistrusting him now that he and Abby were together, she agreed with him on the rest. As she watched Henry and Trish slow dancing at Nikki’s party, Abby knew she was watching the beginning of something that was going to last.
Abby wonders now if a part of her had sensed something in Henry then, whether that was why it had been so much harder to tell him she was dating Jimmy than it was telling Nikki. But Henry had talked about other girls before, he’d given her no reason to think he was interested in her as any more than a friend. And he’d been so quick to accept it when he did find out. Abby hadn’t read anything into it when Henry had told her he was taking Trish to the party, but now knowing what she knew, she wondered if by telling him she was with Jimmy, she’d somehow pushed him into asking out Trish, if he was doing it to make some kind of point to her. But they’d stayed together for so many years; surely he must have cared about her to some extent? Even at the time when Henry had found out Trish had cheated with Hunter, Abby had really believed he was upset about it. Sully had been so worried about him at the time that he’d called Abby and suggested that she come visit as a surprise to cheer him up. And even then, Henry had never once said or done anything to make Abby think he was interested in her in that way. It hadn’t been that long anyway before Trish and Hunter broke up and Trish and Henry reconciled.
Sometimes she wished she didn’t still think of the Henry she knew then, the Henry who had helped her when she cut her knee running from Shane who was looking for JD to fight about who knew what, the Henry who had made her laugh when no one else could, the Henry who had bought her her first alcoholic drink, held her hair back as she puked and then helped her sneak back into the house so Charlie wouldn’t notice she was drunk. Yet he had been such a part of her life for so long; it wasn’t so easy to just forget about him. Abby had spent so much time with him; were there any signs, anything she had thought nothing of at the time but now made sense? She knew that Thomas Wellington had never trusted Henry; at the time everyone had just taken it as him being an overprotective father thinking no one was good enough for his little girl, but had he seen something in Henry that no one else had?
Sometimes Abby thinks of Trish as she was back then, laughing, smiling, looking forward to a future with Henry. And she wonders if there was anything she could have done differently, instead of encouraging the relationship, that might have meant she could have been saved.
Trish had asked her once, right before Nikki’s party, if she had ever considered getting together with Henry, and Abby had laughed, said it wasn’t going to happen, that he was like her big brother.
If we only knew.