When surly teen Sandra witnesses her new neighbor, a strange dentist, possibly murdering a woman, she asks her sunny best friend Jamie to help prove a crime has been committed. As the summer progresses, though, both girls find that their long hidden romantic feelings for each other are only growing. Confronting the difficult truth soon proves to be the greater of the two challenges before them.
White Hill Lane.
The soft lights from within its identical, upscale homes dotted the dark along the tidily winding pavement.
It was nearly midnight, late especially for the young teen peering out through the pair of hefty binoculars poking out from between the blinds of her second-story room.
Sandra rested on her knees on her window bench as she stared out into the night. Searching. A wry smirk played at her lips as her vision swept from one house to the other, finding nothing impressive at first, but then stopping at the sight of a raccoon sneaking its way into a poorly closed receptacle.
"Ah, ha! There's the adorable fiend who's been nicking our trash!" she said. "Caught red-handed too!"
"I want to see!"
Jamie inched closer at Sandra's side.
They were both dressed in simple t-shirts and flannel bottoms, ready for bed. But Sandra had wanted to play her favorite game and knew she could count on her bestie to join her.
Jamie tried to see through the minute space between the binoculars and the blinds, and when that failed she looked at Sandra with an insistent gaze.
Sandra giggled behind the binoculars, pretending she didn't notice.
"The smallest hands are the reddest hands, indeed!"
"Sandra, come on!" Jamie begged. "Let me see already!"
A playful tussle erupted, the blinds jostling as Jamie became assertive. Sandra laughed, and suddenly pulled away from the window. A second later, Jamie moved several inches to the side with the binoculars in hand, searching anew.
Jamie released a satisfied breath. "Okay. Where is he?"
"Across the street, two houses to the left," Sandra said, looking out with her.
They sat together in the stillness and quiet of the late hour, illuminated by the dim light of the single small lamp at the farthest end of the room, set on the floor to assure their discretion.
Sandra waited excitedly, watching, delighting in what was to come.
Jamie found what she was looking for then, and beamed brightly.
"Ohmigod!" she squeaked. "He is so cute! Those little hands and little mouth! And that little tummy!"
Sandra allowed her faint smirk to become a smile. She swept back her hair, admiring her typically sunny friend. Jamie always reacted that way at the sight of a small, cuddly animal, and Sandra always enjoyed it. Even in the dim light, she was luminous.
Sandra turned then and held her legs to her chest, facing her room. The immaculate space was free of any decoration, even pictures. The lone possession she cared about was her binoculars, which she kept in the drawer of her bedside table.
Tonight, there was an inflatable mattress on the floor, off to the side, with its sheet and blanket and pillow, bought for nights when Jamie slept over. She thought it looked weird and wished Jamie could just share her bed.
Sandra gazed downward, her smile diminishing.
"If you could be any night animal, which one would you be?"
Jamie looked away from the binoculars, seeming caught off guard by the question.
"Oh, wow. I don't know." Her brow furrowed as she gave it serious thought. She itched at her shock of vibrant orange hair. "Rats are super cute. All tiny and minky. With a pink ribbon! That would be awesome! And? They can get through any hole they can get their head through. Did you know that?"
Sandra nodded, imagining it. "They don't live very long, though."
"I know," Jamie said, with the sincerest sorrow.
Jamie lifted off the bench and sat shoulder-to-shoulder with Sandra, one leg tucked under her and the other swinging freely.
"How about you?" she asked, resting the binoculars on her lap. "Nocturnal mammal."
"I'd be a bat," Sandra said coolly. "Terror of the night! Striking fear into the cowardly, and inspiring millionaire orphans to fight crime! I'd be all furry too, and dripping with precious diseases."
"Bats are hella cute. Lots of people like them, you know."
Sandra winced at the compliment.
"Yeah?" she said, quietly.
She wished Jamie wouldn't say such kind things. They made her stomach twist. She disregarded it, though, quickly and easily.
"My turn!" She snatched the binoculars from Jamie's grip and sprang up. "Ha!"
Jamie harrumphed, moving over as Sandra got onto her knees at the window again, binoculars aimed out.
Sandra reduced the zoom causing several homes to come into view all at once, all shrouded in the dark. Some had their curtains parted, allowing a glimpse into their sedate dens.
She couldn't shake the sweetness of Jamie's words. They made her uncomfortable, like a wet chill creeping over her skin, but only because they were so undeserved. Jamie was always too kind. But Sandra liked that about her.
Sandra forced a slight smile as she scanned the outside world.
"We should get jobs doing this," she said.
"You could work for the government."
"No, it has to be just the two of us," Sandra asserted. "We'll start our own business. Jamie Solomon and Sandra van den Broek, neighborhood spies!"
Jamie chuckled, adding, "Because you can never be too careful."
Sandra gasped and looked at Jamie elatedly, pointing at her.
"Yes! Yes, that is so going to be our slogan!"
Sandra, with a shy smirk, returned to looking out of the window.
She glanced to her side. Jamie was smiling at her warmly, with an adoring look that never made Sandra uncomfortable.
"Thank you for putting my name first."
"Well, you're the cute one," Sandra said, distractedly. "Of course, you're going to be the face of the company."
Jamie shrugged, quietly said, "I like your face."
"But I'm the bat," Sandra said, just a little defensively. Again, Jamie was being too kind. Again, it wasn't Jamie's fault. She calmed. "The bat and the rat. Right?"
Jamie nodded, smiling slightly less.
"I can't wait," she said.