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"I love you."
“Just trust me.” Cody kept his voice low. I laughed again and walked in the direction he told me to. When my toes finally touched sand, Cody took his hands away. We took our shoes off and left them by the road. I walked up to the water and closed my eyes as the water lapped at my feet. Cody walked up and stood beside me.
“What are you thinking about?” he murmured. A tingle ran up my spine as I answered.
“I’m thinking about the time we first met,” I whispered back.
“Do you remember that long back?”
“Yeah,” I admitted. “Didn’t it go like…?”
I set out my peanut butter and jelly sandwich on the napkin beside my chocolate pudding. I was just about to take a bite when I heard footsteps come up behind me.
“Move. I want that seat.” I turned to see the boy who just spoke to me. He was tall for his age and had shaggy black hair that hung down in front of eyes. He flipped the hair out of his eyes so I could see his eyes. They were a dark green. I glared at him.
“No,” I commented. I went back to eating my sandwich. Suddenly, I felt a shove and I fell on the ground. My mom always said I was a strong, independent girl; so I pushed myself up and swung around to face him. “Get. Out. Of. My. Seat.”
“No,” he repeated, so I pushed him back. He fell on his face and I slid back into my seat. As he pulled himself up and glanced at him. He stared at me for a moment and then smiled. “You’re okay kid. I’m Cody.”
“I’m Jennifer but you can call me Jen.” I grinned at him as he sat down beside me. I handed him half of my sandwich.
“I think we are going to be best friends Jen,” he laughed and bit into his sandwich.
“I still can’t believe that was first grade,” Cody sat down beside me as I pulled my knees up to my chest.
“I know right?” I took a glance at him. He was staring out at the sea with a thoughtful look on his face. “What are you thinking about?” He smiled at me; his eyes were gleaming.
“Do you really want to know?” when I nodded he looked back at the ocean. “I was remembering our first kiss.” I giggled remembering too.
“Wasn’t it in sixth grade?” I turned to him.
“Yeah,” he said. “We were…”
We were still best friends. Even though Jen and I had a lot of fights, we never stopped being friends. Everyone in our class was kissing but us. Katie came to me one day at lunch.
“Everyone is giving me crap about having virgin lips,” she complained sitting down on the lawn beside me.
“Virgin lips?” I chuckled. She glared at me and I stopped, looking back at my friends on the playground.
“It gets so annoying,” She wailed and buried her face in her arms. I sighed dramatically and put my hand on her shoulder.
“Jen,” I poked her but she didn’t budge. “Jen,” I said even louder. She looked up and I could see tears streaming down her face. Her mascara was ruined; she had just begun to use a little makeup-her mom only allowed lip gloss and mascara- so she looked like a raccoon.
“What?” her voice broke and I put my hand on her cheek. She froze in place. I hesitated in the way a man hesitates before a kiss. Then I leaned in and pressed my lips to her frozen ones. As I slowly pulled back I could feel the eyes of the entire sixth grade on us. Jen stared at me wide-eyed and I took my hand away. I stood up and got ready to go play basketball when I heard her whisper, “Thanks.”
“Let’s go; it’s getting late.” My voice broke on the last word. I wiped my tears on my arm but they kept coming down.
“Jen, are you crying?” I could hear Cody’s voice, frantic as he reached out to me. I pulled back, scared.
“No, I’m fine,” I quickly answered but a sob escaped me, giving me away. I crumpled to the ground and cried. “I’m sorry.”
“It’s okay,” Cody’s voice was right beside me now. “Sit up Jen.” I obeyed and he sat up beside me.
“It’s just been so long.” I leaned against his strong shoulder fitting into him like I always belonged.
“I know,” he whispered and I looked out onto the horizon. The colors of the sunset popped out at me. The vibrant oranges, purples, yellows, and reds didn’t seem to fit my mood. Suddenly, I sat up alarmed. “What’s wrong?”
“I have to go,” I felt a rush of déjà-vu as I seized my purse and ran away. I ran away from him, the memories, and the love I used to have.
I watched her run away with graceful movements, some that I cannot even manage. Her dark brown hair flew out from behind her as she rounded the corner and moved towards the boat. I felt broken inside. It felt just like the day I left her at the airport. I realized that she had taken half of me with her. But I couldn’t love her; I love Emily. I stalked off in concentration towards the boat.
On my way there I was seized by small arms that wrapped around my waist. I turned to look at Emily who had a huge smile on her face. I contrasted her with Jen. Emily was short in everything; her height was five foot even, her blonde hair hung straight, cut at her chin, every day, and her hands can barely touch my hair. Jen was totally different. She was a tall 5’9”, she had long lithe arms and legs, and her eyes shined with excitement every time I laugh or smile at her. I leaned down to Emily’s level to hear her voice.
“I love you,” her wind chime voice declared.
“I love you too,” I said back before I kissed her. But there was something in the back of my mind telling me that I didn’t.
West Jefferson, Ohio
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