The first time I saw him during the summer before sixth grade, he was eating a Snickers bar on the doorstep of Jovanna’s old house. I was so mad when I saw him there, dripping a melted candy bar onto the lawn where Jovanna and I had played for years. I marched up to him from across the street and sternly ordered, “Put that Snickers bar down! How dare you drip chocolate over this lawn!”
He rolled his eyes and spoke bossily, with a mouthful of caramel and peanuts, “Why? Thith ith my houth, and I’m the both.”
“Well, my bestest friend lived here before you came along.”
“How is this my fault?” he asked as he swallowed his mouthful of Snickers bar.
I was stumped. It seemed silly to be blaming this new kid for Jovanna leaving, because everyone in our town knew, but it was more of a silent topic. Reluctantly, I apologized and sat down beside him. I don’t know what made me feel so down, but my eyes began to water. Soon, I began to sniffle, my vision blurry and my throat throbbing. I tried to hold them in, but it was like trying to hold back the ocean with a wall of chicken wire. Before I knew what was happening, I was full-out crying. I hadn’t cried since fourth grade when Marina Kay called me an ostrich because I tried to deny that nobody liked me like the way an ostrich stuck its head in the sand. “Snickers” (that was what I thought of him as) sat there awkwardly and looked completely helpless. I wiped my tears and got up. To my surprise, Snickers pulled me down. “I’ve heard about your friend’s dad. I’m so sorry. One of my closest friend’s sister got badly hurt in a car crash. She didn’t make it. I knew her really well. It still doesn’t feel real. I guess we’re on the same train.”
I was shocked that he would be so honest with me, a strange girl who had demanded him to throw away his candy out-of-the-blue. A hint of a smile peeked out as I said, “I’m so sorry. About your friend’s sister. And sorry I was such a jerk earlier. I don’t know what’s wrong with me” I suddenly noticed that there were gold flecks in his big, warm greyish-green eyes. He almost looked like Jovanna’s chocolate Lab puppy, Coco. Blushing, I sat back down. As he wrapped an arm around my shoulder with a warm smile, he inquired, “What’s your name?”
“Sara,” I replied with a giggle. “What’s yours? Snickers?”
“Haha. Very funny. No, my name’s Gilbert. But you can call me Snickers, if you insist.”
“Okay, Snickers.” I laughed as I wrapped my arm around his shoulders. He smelled like chocolate.
Eight months and she still hadn’t forgotten. Hadn’t forgotten the feeling of not being alone for once, the feeling of having someone understand her, the feeling of love. Eight months and she still hadn’t forgotten him. She could never forget him, not even after everything he had put her through. He had moved on long ago, left her to the demons he had once helped her overcome, but she could never abandon him.
Now, she was alone once more, alone with only the monsters inside of her, the ones she knew would never leave her.
She sat curled up on her bed, trying to push back the tears, but any strength she had once held had faded away eight months ago. With every day away from him, she had allowed the wave of sadness to overcome her a little more, until finally, she was drowning in its waters. This would be the day she let it sweep her away. A silver blade swept across her wrists and she waited for all of her pain to disappear once and for all.
The sun has long since dipped into the horizon by the time I reach the lake, the last of its lingering shadows already faded into the dark oblivion of the young summer night. A slight breeze brushes against the lake waters, sending ripples across the smooth surface. It’s times like these when I feel the most alive: adrenaline courses in my body, excitement quickens my steps. And, despite the brown leather jacket that I had hastily thrown on earlier, I shiver slightly.
We had agreed to meet at this blissfully secluded area at the edge of our little town a few weeks before, at one of our meetups that always involved us going to our favorite ice cream parlor, Dream Cream, and staying overnight at one of our houses. It was something that both of us had always wanted to do, but never really found the time for in our hectic schedules. But now it’s summer, we have a whole two months ahead of us, waiting to be filled with midnight adventures and daring escapades.
Pulling the hood of my oversized hoodie above my head, I sit down on the soft grass by the lake with my arms resting snugly around my knees, contentedly watching the lake glimmer under the starlight.
It’s not long before my ears register the familiar footsteps behind me, causing a small smile to tug on the corner of my lips.
He sits down next to me, giving me the wide, boyish grin that I’ve come to love, and says the three words he’s been saying to me for the past two months:
“I like you.”
His eyes lock into mine; pressing me, daring me. All of a sudden, it’s hard to breathe, and my heart is beating wildly.
It’s the nice kind of wild, not the kind that usually arises when I need to speak in front of the whole class, or the kind when I’m embarrassed and wishing for the earth to swallow me whole, but the kind what makes me want to cry and smile at the same time.
Happy, I realize. I’m happy.And so, finally, I grant him a rare smile, for once not caring that my mouth is full of braces and that my smile is slightly lopsided, and utter the the four words I’ve been holding inside me for too long:
And so, finally, I grant him a rare smile, for once not caring that my mouth is full of braces and that my smile is slightly lopsided, and utter the the four words I’ve been holding inside me for too long:
“I like you too.”
His eyebrows shoot up in surprise before his grin inexplicably widens, creating a tiny dimple at the corner of his mouth. He leans in until I can feel his warm breath against my neck and whispers, “Tag.”
And, just like that, he’s off running and I’m left to chase after him.
It was a Saturday and I was going to my best friend Jonas’s house to hang out. We had been friends since second grade when we were in the same class. I smiled as I remembered some of the moments we had. It was probably our teacher’s most disastrous year. My dad was driving the car, and the streets were surprisingly empty. Trees flashed by and houses passed in a blur of color as the meter on the speedometer slowly increased. I leaned back in my seat as my dad turned onto Greenwood, the street Jonas lived on. We passed the other houses and I gazed at the trees. It was autumn and the leaves were a breathtaking orange. As we parked in his yard, I looked around but didn’t see him. “He must be in the house.” I thought. Then I remembered: “This is Jonas.”
Squinting my eyes, I gazed up into the tree that stood in Jonas’s yard. There was a sort of swing that you could climb into hanging from one of the tree’s main branches. There he was, way up top in the tree’s uppermost branches. I could barely see him because of the abundant number of intersecting branches obscuring my vision.
“Hey dude!!” I shouted up to Jonas.
“Took you a while to find me,” he said, obviously proud.
“Yeah I know,” I replied in defeat.
My dad, seeing that we were fine, revved the car, then drove away. Jonas climbed down into view from behind the “branch cave” that he had been hiding inside. The sun glinted off his blonde hair and green eyes. Once he had descended to a main branch of the tree, he leaped off and landed in a crouch, probably something he had learned from taekwondo, and pushed his blond hair out of his eyes, giving me a mischievous smile. Wearing a simple t-shirt, dark pants, and a pair of crocks, he stood up, about as tall as I was,“Yo,” He motioned for me to follow him.
I nodded to him and we walked down the brick path and into his house.
Opening the front door, we entered and took off our shoes.
“Hey, Liam!” Jonas’s mom had spotted me.
“Hi,” I replied.
She made her way into the kitchen and disappeared from view.
“Okay, what do you want to do?” Jonas asked me.
“I’m not sure,” I said, gazing around his living room. There were a couple sofas placed around a TV. Straight ahead of us was the kitchen that led to the garage and to our right was a family room that ended in stairs leading to the bedrooms. After a moment of decision, we entered the room on the right and Jonas picked up a beach ball that lay on a table and threw it at my head. “Woah!” I cried, alarmed, as I just managed to bat the blue, red, and yellow mass away from my face.
“Watch out, man!”
“Sorry,” he said, trying not to smile but failing.
We then started batting and slapping the ball around the room with glee, closely missing antique photographs and fragile vases. After many close calls, I finally pointed out this wasn’t the best place to play “volleyball” and we climbed the steps into Jonas’s room As we entered, I could see his desk and a glass lamp hanging from the middle of the ceiling. A beanbag chair slumped lazily in the corner. Catching me off guard, Jonas procured the beach ball out of nowhere and quickly smacked it at my face. Instinctively, I deflected it back in his direction. We proceeded to resume the game of volleyball and it turned into a competition as we began whacking the ball harder and harder, each of us encouraging the other. One hit of the ball brought it inches away from his shelves of trophies and another one almost collided with a picture on his wall. I glanced at the glass lamp above us, the most fragile thing in the room.
“I don’t think this a good idea-” I was cut off by the ringing sound of the beachball against glass lamp.
The lamp froze for a second as if deciding where to fall, and then fall it did, twirling in mid-air. Jonas plugged his ears and I took a step back instinctively. “SMMAAASSH” The lamp exploded on impact and shards of glass shot across where I had just been a second before and ricocheted off the walls. Immediately, we heard chairs shuffling and footsteps downstairs. Two pairs of feet were racing up the steps. I looked around the glass covered floor, “It was a miracle that neither of us were hit,” I thought. Glancing at Jonas, I saw that his green eyes were still wide open with excitement and shock. The door flew open. Jonas’s mom and dad came in, panting. “W-what happened?” Jonas’s mom asked.
“Well,” I couldn’t really explain. “We were hitting the ball and then…”
“Are you two okay?” She asked, clearly concerned,
“Yeah,” we both managed.
She quickly left the room to fetch a broom as we inched our way out of the room past stray glass shards. Jonas’s dad, who hadn’t said anything yet, spoke, “Don’t ever do that again, boys.”
“We won’t,” we replied in unison, still taken aback at what had just happened. Jonas’s dad, satisfied, moved so we could go down the stairs. His mom came back up, now equipped with a broom. She just gave us a stern look.
“Well, I guess no more volleyball,” I concluded later, after the whole mess had been cleaned up. Jonas was sitting on the stairs, restlessly swinging his leg.“We can play roof-bouncing now,” He answered, undeterred.
“We can play roof-bouncing now,” He answered, undeterred.
I started at him in confusion.
“You know, when you jump off the roof onto the trampoline.” He explained, misinterpreting my expression as a need for more information.
“Are you crazy,” I asked in disbelief.
“C’mon, it’s really fun.” He pleaded.
“Okay… how about indoor frisbee?”
I gave up and chased after him to begin the game.