California Dreams | Teen Ink

California Dreams

May 19, 2022
By Anonymous

Fresh air instantly filled the inside of the car as Cori rolled down her window to feel the warmth of the sun against her fingertips. There wasn't a single cloud in the sky which resulted in vibrant colors to bleed across the once blue horizon as the sun began to disappear behind the mountains. This was Coris’ favorite part of the day not because of how pretty the sky looked, but within these vibrant colors, she saw her dad looking down on her, and could feel as if he was with her once again even if it was only for a moment. 

“How much longer, my legs are falling asleep” Jackson whined,

This was Coris’ twelve-year-old little brother who sat in the backseat surrounded by suitcases, food, and other miscellaneous things that were carefully packed in order to maximize the amount of available space. Even though Jackson for once had a valid reason to be complaining about his current situation it had only been an hour and they still had 333 more miles to go until they reached the small town of Camarillo, California. This seven-hour car ride was anything but new for both Cori and Jackson since they had been to their grandparents' house dozens of times throughout the years. It was almost a second home to them where they spent most if not all of their summers and spent time with people who were like a second family. 

At first glance, Cori seemed to have a normal life. She was a fifteen-year-old girl who wanted to make the most out of her current situation, and the simple things in life like flowers, babies, country music, and sunsets brought her so much joy, on a good day. But Cori always felt like a little piece of her was missing, but she hoped that one day that empty void would be filled by someone, but she was under the impression that they weren't already in her life.   

After hearing Jacksons' consistent remarks on how uncomfortable his seat was and her grandmother's annoyed responses, the noises began to slowly disappear as she placed her headphones into her ears and increased the volume. As the surrounding world around her began to disappear, her eyes began to slowly close and were awakened by a familiar twist of the road that turned into her grandparents' neighborhood. Cori thought that the muscle memory of the way the car turned was so fascinating. 

It was a little past midnight when they pulled up to the gate, and Cori was still half asleep. It was a large metal gate which was painted the color black with an intricate design spirling near the top and was surrounded by walls climbing with green vines covered with pink and yellow flowers blooming throughout. Her grandmother rolled down her window to punch in the 4-digit code which opened the gate. After each pin that was pressed the familiar noise allowed us to enter and then made our way to the top of the cul de sac where the house stood. The driveway broke off into a half circle driveway which led to the front porch, while the other part went towards the backyard and garages that were located on the east side of the house. The only thing that was visible at this time in the night was the two huge palm trees that stood on each side of the steps framing the front door which was painted her grandmother's favorite color: red. Cori remembers when her grandmother and she spent two summer afternoons together painting the door when she was around the age of eight. By the end of the project, they had miraculously not gotten a single drop of paint anywhere but the door. 

Finally, as the car came to its final stop Cori opened her door and it felt like she was finally home. The smell in the air was oddly comforting to her, and the cool temperature was a pleasant change from the Arizona heat. As Cori made her way up the steps and stepped into her grandparent's house it was exactly as she remembered, from the dark hardwood floors that stretched all the way to the kitchen (that her grandmother was so keen on NOT scratching) to the green velvet couch that sat beneath the window in the sitting room, and finally, the vaulted ceilings where a gold chandelier hung down with light bulbs that reminded her of Christmas lights. Cori then proceeded to make her way up the stairs struggling to hold her pillow, white blanket, computer, and phone all in one hand without slipping. She slept in the “pink room”, which was the second door on the right when you got to the top of the staircase. Her bedroom had twin beds with pink bedding that her grandmother made as well as her grandfather's old wooden desk with shelves filled with old books that used to be her mom's and uncles when they were younger. It also had a small vanity with drawers and a mirror that sat on top. Sporadically placed on top of the dresser were antique perfume bottles that have been passed down from Cori's great-grandmother. Shortly after neatly putting some of her things away in the drawers, Cori got into the bed and fell asleep to the calming and familiar noise of crickets and frogs that lived in the pond which she used to catch when she was little. 

As Cori peacefully slept the sun that began to peek through the white blinds eventually woke her up as the light began to shine into her eyes. Cori sat in bed for a while as she took some time to become fully awake, and she also took some time to respond to the notifications on her phone. Cori slowly got out of bed and proceeded to go downstairs to eat breakfast. 

Already standing in the kitchen with the morning news on was her grandfather. They didn't have the same relationship as her and her grandmother did but that wasn't necessarily either of their faults. Cori’s grandfather had an extremely bad case of scoliosis which caused him not to be able to stand for long periods of time, so he was never able to participate in “normal” grandparent roles or activities, but he did his best. When Cori was little she used to love collecting seashells at the beach just like any other little girl, but her grandfather went a step further in order for her to always feel this joy each morning at their house. He would get up around 5:30 a.m, and would carefully place seashells around the pond in the backyard for Cori to find and collect each morning. He would say “The tide from the ocean washed some seashells up this morning” and with an overflowing amount of excitement and happiness Cori would rush out the back screen door and would place the most beautiful shells into empty egg carton containers. Then she would organize the newly added shells into her collection by size, color, and type. This memory still leaves a lasting impact on Cori even though she has gotten to the age of figuring out what had actually happened. 

For breakfast, Cori made herself two scrambled eggs with a slightly burnt everything bagel with butter lightly spread over it, as well as a fruit bowl that contained some strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries. Breakfast was one of Coris' favorite meals and loved making something for herself each and every morning. After she had completed making her breakfast she carried her plate to the wooden picnic table that sat on the back patio to enjoy her breakfast in the cool morning shade. 

The backyard was Coris' favorite part of her grandparent's house. The lot was just short of two acres and had trees covered with lemons, grapefruits, and oranges as well as a small garden Cori and her grandmother planted a few years prior. Blooming rose bushes covered the backyard in all kinds of colors and finally, it had huge oak trees that grew almost like the heart of the backyard and created the perfect amount of shade so in the summer months it wasn't hot. 

Suddenly as Cori was finishing up her breakfast the doorbell rang and followed by three knocks at the front door. Instantly she knew who it was and she shot up from her chair and started walking briskly to the front door, but before she could get there her grandmother had already opened the door. Standing outside was Tyler still dressed in green plaid pajama pants and a white t-shirt that he definitely had slept in. He was tan with brown curly hair that had blonde highlights from the California sun. He stood there talking with Cori’s grandmother for a while without seeing Cori, but as soon as he noticed her, his eyes lit up with joy and a smile spanned across his face. After a long pause, he finally said hello. His voice had gotten much deeper and he was much taller than Cori remembered. This made her wonder if she looked any different from his point of view, but before she could respond she was interrupted by 

“Tyler is that you” yelled from the top of the staircase, where Jackson stood wearing only his pajama pants and his hair was flying in every which direction. Jackson was only two years younger than Tyler but that didn't stop them from getting along just fine. Their relationship was funny to Cori mainly because they acted in similar ways as brothers do from the constant bullying to getting annoyed by each other's actions. Tyler liked to always say that bullying creates character, which in this case probably did for Jackson. 

Jackson then came sprinting down the staircase almost resulting in him slipping down the stairs. Cori's grandmother was biting her tongue, holding back the urge to say something about slowing down but he finally made it to the bottom before she could. He ran out onto the front porch and almost tackled Tyler to the ground from his hug. Cori didn't notice but Tyler wasn't even faced because he still had his eyes locked on Cori from the moment he saw her. 

Tyler and his family lived one house down from Cori and Jackson’s grandparents, which led to them spending the majority of their time in the summer doing various activities. These spanned from playing kick the can, swimming, cooking/preparing meals, and more. Their families became close friends as well and loved having the ability to always have someone available to watch the kids if needed. Tyler also had a younger sister, whose name was Sophia, she was the same age as Jackson. Which worked out nicely since Tyler was only one year younger than Cori. This led all four of them to have similar interests and become even closer with one another. Something that was not quite picture-perfect was that the four of them didn't always get along. Sophia had a tendency to create problems within the group and when things don't always go her way, it was a problem. Somehow no matter the argument the next day it was as if nothing had even happened. 

Tyler and Sophia’s parents were both pediatric surgeons, as well as amazing cooks. Cori and Jackson were very thankful for everything they did for them but they didn't always agree or let's say used to their strict parenting on certain things. One idea that they had which was very different from Jackson and Cori's upbringing was the number of chores they had to do. Cori felt like Tyler had a never-ending list of to-dos for the day and at times it was overwhelming. 

After Jackson and Tyler reunited, Tyler came inside to have some breakfast since the first thing he wanted to do that day was see Cori and Jackson. Jackson wasn't hungry yet since it was still early so he went off into the office and began to set up his extensive gaming setup that kept him occupied almost all day. While he was doing this, Cori was happy to spend some time with Tyler to catch up on all the things that had happened since the summer before. They made breakfast together but did not necessarily agree on how scrambled eggs should be made. Tyler believed they should be light and fluffy, but Cori only ate over-hard scrambled eggs, because the texture of fluffy eggs made her gag. 

“What on earth are you doing to my scrambled eggs, Cori?!” Tyler suddenly yelled,

Cori's face had a confused look upon it, and said “This is how I make mine, what is wrong with them?” 

“The only correct way of making scrambled eggs is having them fluffy and topped with cheese,” Tyler stated as he was quickly trying to save his breakfast. 

“Fine, you can make them then,” Cori said.  

While Tyler made his eggs the way that he liked Cori made his bagel. This was a usual thing for them to do together during the summertime; Tyler, Jackson, Cori, and Tyler's little sister Sophia, would have almost every meal together. Except on this day, it was only Cori and Tyler which was something that usually never happened in past summers. Cori began to realize as Tyler and she became older they started to shift away from their younger siblings and tended to spend more one on one time with each other. 

For breakfast, he ate four eggs topped with melted cheddar cheese, a bagel that was perfectly made by Cori, some fruit, and the rest of Cori's unfinished meal which remained at the picnic table outside. 

As they sat on the back patio eating breakfast, talking and laughing they looked as if nothing had changed from the last time they saw each other, even though so much in their own separate lives were different. They spent almost an hour talking about anything you could think of, and their conversation was constantly filled with laughter. They filled each other in on all their school and friend drama which was a great outlet since neither of them knew the people they were hearing about. Cori received good advice from Tyler and Cori gave Tyler advice in return. 

The back patio screen door made a sketching noise as it was slid open by Jackson who walked out of the house with his hands filled with a bowl of cereal as well as the actual cereal box for the usual three bowls for breakfast. 

“Such a nutritious meal Jackson” Tyler sarcastically stated. 

“I am a growing boy,” Jackson said back. 

After Tyler finished his food Tyler went home after breakfast because Cori needed to unpack and get ready for the day. She started out by unpacking the rest of her things that she didn't already unpack from the night before. She also had to get some other random things that she left in the car, like her school bag filled with summer reading assignments. However, she wanted to leave that bag behind. 

She walked out the back screen door to make her way to the end of the driveway which wrapped all the way around her grandparent's house. The car was parked outside and had the doors and trunk already open because her grandmother was unpacking her own things as well. Cori first decided to help her grandmother, then she finally brought in her own things. She walked into the garage which led her into a small rectangular room that was located at the back of the house you walked in from the garage. The location of the room used to frighten Cori because of the creaking noise the door made and the noise of the wind against the small window in the laundry room. The room was small but she was amazed by the number of things that were in the cabinets and scattered all over the counter. The counters were taken up by sugar, food coloring, and empty hummingbird feeders. These were used by her grandfather in order to make sugar water for the hundreds of migrating hummingbirds that fly through their backyard during the summer months. Her grandmother hated how he used the laundry room because of the mess that was left behind, which led to trails of ants leading into the laundry room where they would crowd around excess drops of sugar water on the counter. Cori always laughed at this because Cori's grandmother was just as messy but with her own things and so she didn't quite understand the problem of having the materials in the laundry room. The feeders were then hung by her and her grandfather in the large tree that grew in the center of the backyard. The tree held close to a dozen glass feeders ranging in all sizes, filled with colored sugar water. These bird feeders attracted what looked like hundreds of beautiful hummingbirds that were covered in shiny colorful feathers. 

When she was little she had an odd obsession with birds. Rather than having bedtime stories read to her by her mom, she would have her read from a bird encyclopedia. So one day when Cori was younger she was so set on the idea that if she stood completely still with her palm filled with sugar water, that a hummingbird would land and rest in her palm. As she stood under the tree Cori could hear the buzzing of the hummingbird's wings as they flapped at such high speeds. The hummingbirds flew in every direction around her for almost an hour as she stood under the tree waiting. On multiple occasions, numerous hummingbirds came so close to landing but even the slightest movement would scare them away. She was filled with an overwhelming amount of joy as she watched such small and beautiful blue and green hummingbird wings come to rest on the edge of her hand refueling with the sugar water. This memory had Cori so happy and was one of her favorite memories from her time spent at her grandparent's house. 

Buzz Buzz 

Cori looked at her phone and it was a text from Tyler. It said

“Do you and Jackson want to come over and have lunch with Sophia and me, our mom is making spaghetti and meat sauce?” 

That were the four of their favorite meals, something about the way Tyler’s mom made it was so good and it always sounded appetizing after a long day of swimming. It kinda became a tradition that on the first and last night they were all together they would have pasta with meat sauce and garlic bread as a welcome and goodbye meal. They would always sit outside by the pool or back patio and eat just the four of them. 

Cori walked halfway down the stairs to the point where you could see inside the office where Jackson was sitting by the computer. She had to yell at first because he could never hear anything because he always wore headphones while playing video games on his computer or phone. 

“Jackson, want to go swim with Tyler and Sophie?”

No response came from him, so once again a little louder she said 


Finally, he looked up and saw that Cori was trying to get his attention. 

“What do you want?” Jackson responded with an annoyed tone. 

“Want to go swim with Tyler and Sophia?’’

“No, i just got in this game” 

But before Cori could respond their grandmother overhead the conversation and stepped in,

“Jackson you have been on there long enough for one day its nice out go over and swim you can always play when you get back” 

Jackson looked up with a bit of anger in his eyes then glared at Cori and said 

“Thanks a lot, Cori”  

Cori just knew that now he was going to be angry for the rest of the day and that it was just going to be sooo great having him around. Cori wanted to make a smart-ass comment back so badly but decided that it might be in her own best interest that she doesn't since her grandmother was still standing there. She instead walked back up the stairs and began to pack a swim bag. She first picked out a swimsuit which was her blue and white striped triangle bikini top with the same color and pattern bottoms with ties on each side. She then put on a black romper as a swimsuit cover-up since they had to walk to their house in order to get there. Then she changed her shoes to flip-flops and made her way down the stairs. She was going to wait for Jackson but decided that he would take as long as possible in order for him to spend the least amount of time swimming as possible. She didn't quite understand why he was like this now because he used to love being outside last summer and years prior. But she came to the conclusion that he just came with his age and she honestly couldn't wait for him to go back to normal in a few years. She walked out the front door and started to walk down the driveway and onto the street. Their house was at the top of the cul de sac and then in order to get to Tyler and Sophia's house, they walked past one house which was the corner lot at the end of the circle, and made a right turn and their house was the next. It wasn't a far walk which was nice because it didn't take long to get there. They sometimes would even jump over the fences because in corners of both their backyards four other lots intersected and two of them being theirs and then Flosi’s and it allowed for a perfect section to climb and it only took a minute to get to where you wanted to go. But today Cori wanted to walk over because she wanted to see if any of the houses changed at all since she was last here. She noticed how one of the houses changed its front landscaping to be more desert-inspired because she later learned that it took less water to maintain and this was beneficial not only for their water bill but also because California was still experiencing a drought and had limited resources of water. Apparently, the city of California was offering tax credits for those who did this and similar things Tyler and Sophie's parents began to consider doing so because they already wanted to redo their front yard anyways, but they said that instead of dirt and rocks they would use more mulch and plants that used less water to survive but still had colorful flowers growing from them. 

Cori finally made it to their driveway which was also a long driveway but instead, it almost went straight up into a gated area where their garage and truck were parked. Cori liked how since they were such close friends Cori was able to just walk into their laundry room door at the top of the driveway without knocking. She walked in and made her way down the hallway into the kitchen where she heard Sophia and her mom talking and making the pasta. The kitchen was fairly large and had an island in the middle of it. The floors were a dark hardwood color and they were throughout the rest of the house as well. The cabinets were also brown and the countertops were dark granite which reminded her of her old house. As soon as Sophia and her mom saw Cori they both lit up and hugged Cori immitditilay. Sophia also looked different. She was the same height as Cori now and she was very tan, her hair became very long and was bleached blonde from the California sun similar to Tylers. Then out of nowhere, the pantry door flung open and Tyler walked out holding about a dozen pretzels in each of his hands. It was not surprising because he seemed to always be eating something. Dr. Flosi (Tyler and Sophia's mom) asked Cori all about what was new with her family and all the things she has done so far this summer, and while doing so Cori jumped right in on helping Sophia and her mom make lunch. Cori began cutting freshly picked vegetables from their garden that they built last summer together. They had just picked and washed iceberg lettuce, baby carrots, cucumbers, and some tomatoes (which were Coris' favorite). While she did this Sophia was making the salad dressing, Dr. Flosi was adding seasoning to the pasta sauce and Tyler was still eating pretzels while getting dishes and silverware out and ready to use.
Finally, they heard the laundry room door swing open and Jackson appeared. Of course, he was just in time as there was no more work or help needed in the kitchen and it was time to finally eat. They each grabbed a bowl and fork and began to gather their food down an assembly line. They then made their way outside and into the pool area where they had a table and chairs set up under a covered area. The top of this was covered in flowers and vines which were blossoming to create beautiful orange and pink flowers. As they sat down it was as if nothing had changed since they were kids. They laughed until their stomachs began to hurt about stupid little things. This made Cori feel truly happy once again without having the stress of real-life lingering in the back of her mind, instead, these ideas did not come across her thoughts even once for the first time in a while. While they were all finishing up their meal and about to go swimming because it was getting kind of hot since it was the middle of the day in summer, Tyler decided to pick up Jacksons' chair as he was sitting in it and began to carry it over to the edge of the pool where he proceeded to attempt to throw not only Jackson but the chair into the pool as well. Jackson was screaming at the top of his lungs as Cori and Sophia were laughing. Jackson began to stand up and by doing so threw Tyler off balance and Tyler, and Jackson's chair fell into the pool. 

Shortly after this Cori and Sophia got up from their seats still laughing from what they had just witnessed and ran and jumped into the pool as well. The four of them spent the remainder of the day swimming in the pool playing various games that they created over the years as well as making up new ones as they go along. Some of the games varied from tag to competitions that involve holding your breath, swimming, and finally jumping into the pool in various ways. As the sun began to set Tyler and Sophie's mom called in from the window that dinner was ready. They were all so busy and focused on swimming that they all didn't realize how hungry they had all become, so they were all thankful that dinner was ready. As they all hurried out of the pool and quickly got a towel they all raced into the kitchen to be the first one to get a plate and choose the “best” piece of smoked salmon, mixed into pasta and finally a piece of warm bread and kale chips. This was one of Cori's favorite meals that Dr. Flosi made while they stayed in California. The dish reminds her of a meal that she would have when she was little that her mom and dad would make. It wasn't the same exact meal but it had pieces from meals that she loved to eat when she was little. 

They all sat outside at a rectangular table that was made out of metal with designs on the top. Dr. Flosi first made Tyler clean off the table before we all helped set the table. Tyler used an organic lavender cleaning solution the smell of it brought back memories and times Cori forgot about from the previous summer. After Tyler cleaned the dirt off Sophia and Cori set the napkins and silverware down and then finally Jackson put out the place mates. Tyler and Sophia always had to do more chores and work than Jackson and Cori's parents made them do. It wasn't that Cori and Jackson didn't know how to do these daily tasks, they just didn't have to do them. They both felt bad though because they felt as if Tyler always got more work than Sophia ever had to do and he was always getting in trouble over stupid things, which was hard to watch since they were both such good kids. 

During dinner, Dr. Flosi was asking both Tyler and Cori where they wanted to go to college and all the normal questions that all adults tend to ask over and over again no matter how many times you see them. This really aggravated Cori because she never knew what to say since she didn't quite know what she wanted in a college experience as well as what she wants to do when she is older. But surprisingly Tyler knew exactly what he wanted to do once he graduated in a few years, which Cori never bothered to ask since they have never gone to school together. He responded by saying that he wants to go to NYU. This was at first a very random choice because Cori thought of him as the total opposite of a city boy but as time went on she put the pieces together and realized it could just be the location and it maybe wasn't a coincidence that it was the farthest college away from home. Tyler's goal was to get a scholarship to play water polo and then go into the medical field like both his parents. Also during dinner, Cori learned that both their parents went to amazing schools both for undergraduate and medical school. One went to Stanford while the other went to UCLA, this was also an additional stressor that Tyler and Sophia had to undergo on top of all of the chores that had to be completed each day. This confused Cori because their parents were always so nice and understanding towards Cori and her brother but weren't so understanding towards their own children and more times than not it was Tyler who was in the “wrong”.  This was something that bothered Cori was that their parents played favorites and it was made very clear at certain points during the day. Sophia's mom always was on Sophia's side and usually helped her get out of doing the work around the house, as well as in arguments between the siblings it was always Sophia and her mom against Tyler even if it was clearly Sophia's fault. Coris Grandmother even knew this information just by hearing and interacting with Sophia and Tyler on a daily basis. A great example of this was after dinner their mom made Tyler clean up the kitchen as well as put everyone's dish away because Sophia went to the store earlier that week and “helped” pick out the food. On rare occasions, Tyler's dad would side with him but never made this clear to Sophia's mom because he didn't want her to know that he knew what she did at times when he was still at work. Tyler also said that whenever Cori or Jackson was in town his dad would be more strict with him than usual but Tyler would say it was all worth it because he loved when he was able to spend time with Cori, Jackson, and their grandparents. 

Once again the next day Tyler was forced to complete yet another task that Sophia didn't have to do since she was having a friend spend the night and they wanted to get their nails done. Jackson and Cori were at the house when this was unfolding but as Jackson learned that Tyler needed to do some things and Sophia was leaving he thought it was the perfect time to go home and spend some much needed time on the computer and this time there wasn't a reason for their grandmother to tell him to go outside. Cori felt bad though and decided to stick around and help Tyler. In their backyard near the top of the hill, they have a mini vineyard with grapes growing as well as different kinds of fruit trees where they picked most of their fruit. The chore that Tyler was given was to fill three large bags with all of the ripe fruit and then juice all of the fruit that he picked. Tyler was so happy that Cori wanted to stay and help since that meant it would take half the time it usually did and his friend Cyrus could come over before it got dark if they did it fast enough. It had been a while since just the two of them hung out together and for some reason, Cori was nervous around Tyler which had never happened before. She was confused but just acted as if nothing was wrong, or tried to act normal around him. 

After Sophia, Dr. Flosi, and Sophia's friend left for their appointment to get their nails done Cori and Tyler quickly got to work to ensure that Tyler could have a friend come over later. They went into the garage and grabbed three large gallon buckets to fill up with fruit. Cori carried one and Tyler was happy to bring the other two. As they were walking up to the top of the hill where all the fruit trees were located Tyler began walking faster and so did Cori and before they knew it they were both racing up the hill. As they awkwardly ran up the hill with buckets in each hand they were both laughing hysterically trying not to trip and fall on the ground. As Tyler was about to win the race one of the buckets that he was carrying slipped from his grasp and began rolling down the hill in the dirt. Cori then was able to win their race and was so happy that she finally beat Tyler at something. Tyler then had to retrieve the bucket before they began picking the fruit. Once they began they decided to make it a game in order to work faster as well as make the most of the work they had to complete. 

Before they knew it the three buckets were filled and they both were simply just laughing the entire time, as well as some fruit throwing. Cori felt normal again around Tyler and it was like a big weight off of her shoulders since she really enjoys how good their friendship was and still is. The next challenge they had to face was carrying the buckets back down into the kitchen but this time they were filled and extremely heavy for both of them. They decided the best way would be to have each of them carry one down at a time. This went better than Cori thought it was going to go and it only took 10 minutes to get all of the picked fruit inside ready to juice. They were both making great progress on the task; they both began to believe that Tyler would be able to complete it before his mom got home. 

After they both couldn't find the juicer for what felt like forever they finally found it shoved behind the standing mixer in the cabinet above the oven. Cori used the excuse that she wasn't tall enough to see in the cabinet but they both knew Cori opened that door around a dozen times and didn't see it. They finally began juicing the oranges first, they set up a line where Cori cut the oranges in half then Tyler would juice them. After Tyler's arm started to hurt from his job they would switch roles. It was actually a fun chore Cori thought because they were blasting music throughout the kitchen on the Sonos speakers. Then after they filled up two large glass containers with orange juice they switched to lemons. Their process was the same with the lemons as the oranges. 

Around 25 minutes later, just as Cori and Tyler had finished cleaning up the kitchen and throwing out all of the lemon and orange peels they heard the garage door opening. They were quite pleased with everything they accomplished together and the smile on Tyler's face said it all as his dad walked in the door. 


Cori's alarm clock was blaring bright and early this morning. At first, the familiar noise of the alarm gave Cori PTSD from her mornings before going to school, but then she quickly became excited to hear this noise because today was the day the Flosi family, Jackson, and she was going to have a boat day. They were planning on looking at the channel islands off the coast of California and hopefully along the way get to see some dolphins. Cori spent some time laying in bed on her phone in order to slowly wake herself up, after this, she got up and headed to the bathroom. She began by doing her morning skincare routine which luckily didn't take long compared to other girls her age. Hers consisted of washing her face with water, then applying some sunscreen, and vaseline to her lips and she was done. Cori then made her way down the stairs to have a light breakfast because she had a tendency to feel seasick. Cori made herself a lightly toasted everything bagel with butter on one side and cream cheese on the other. As she was finishing up her breakfast she could hear Jackson's footsteps making his way down the staircase very slowly. The pace of his steps could be the result of one of two things. 1. He was distracted by being on his phone or 2. He was trying to travel at a slow pace in order to find a reason to skip out of going. As he finally made his way around the corner it was obvious that it was option one because his face was nearly glued to the screen of his phone with AirPods in his ears. For some reason, this always frustrated Cori because he never engaged in conversation anymore with anyone besides when he was asked something first. It not only frustrated her but also made her a little sad since when Jackson was little he would not have something to say no matter the time of day. So the two of them sat in silence as Jackson watched his youtube video and poured himself a bowl of cinnamon toast crunch. After Cori finished her breakfast she glanced at the time and quickly realized that they were going to be picked up in ten minutes and they both still had so much to do. Cori quickly ran upstairs and put on her swimsuit, a pair of jean shorts, and a tank top. She then packed a beach bag with a hat, sunglasses, and a towel. 

“Jackson, are you ready to go!” Cori screamed from the top of the staircase into the kitchen. 

But no response. Once again she yelled, “JACKSON” 

Finally, he responded with an angry “Almost” 

Suddenly the door flung open and it was Sophia at the door with Tyler stumbling in a few steps behind her. 

Sh*t you are early,” Cori said 

“No we are late look at the time,” Sophia said back

“Ok give me thirty seconds I just need my shoes…Jackson, they are here” 

The four kids and two adults squeezed into the car which was packed with beach bags, food, and other miscellaneous items that were needed for the day. The drive to the docks where the boat was parked was around a 45-minute drive. Cori and Tyler sat in the very back of the car while Sophia and Jackson sat in the two bucket seats in the second row. Cori was tired since it was still so early in the morning for her so along the way to the docks she began to doze off without even realizing it. 

She was woken up by a gentle tap on the leg by Tyler, and as she slowly began to wake up she realized that she had her head leaning against Tylers' shoulder throughout the entire car ride. She could feel her face become hot because of how embarrassed she felt. She looked to see if anyone else in the car had noticed and thankfully Jackosn and Sophia were too focused on unpacking and arguing with each other to notice. Cori then looked at Tyler and him just quietly sat with a smile beaming across his face. Cori then began to feel less embarrassed and felt something else but didn't say anything because she wasn't quite sure what it meant. 

As they got out of the car they all had their hands full of multiple beach bags, backpacks, and towels, but what a surprise Sophia had the chance to carry the car keys and a hat. The six of them made their way to the dock where a young woman who worked at the dock unlocked the gate to let them go find the boat that they rented for the day. Before they left both Dr. Flosi had to set up their satellite phone since their mom was on call for the day and needed to have a phone that would work in the middle of the ocean. Once they got the phone set up correctly they were finally able to undock the boat. The four kids sat in the front of the boat and the two parents drove the boat near the back. Since it was still quite early it was still kinda cold and with the speed of the boat picking up quickly, the lack of sunshine wasn't helping the situation. Sophia and Cori shared a large blanket and Jackson and Tyler did the same. As the speed of the boat picked up water from the small waves in the ocean would splash into the boat and soon would create the blankets to become soaking wet, but thankfully the sun began to come out as time went on. This was the moment Cori knew she would regret putting on sunscreen after being told multiple times by her grandmother, but she couldn't do anything now. 

The boat was getting close to the islands and suddenly they were driving over a pod of dolphins. Cori was overwhelmed with excitement as she looked over the front of the boat and saw dozens of blue dolphins almost dancing in the water below them. They were all of different sizes and even some looked like young dolphins following their mother's every move. They began to follow the pod of dolphins and watched as they began to playfully swim in the waves created by the boat. Some even jumped into the air off in the distance. After around 15 minutes of watching what looked like hundreds of dolphins pass them they finally made their way back on track to the islands, which were only a few minutes away on the horizon. 

When they got to the islands there was more animal life on the rocks and sides of the islands, they could see hundreds of seagull nests that were balancing off the side of the cliff as well as sea lions and their mothers sunbathing on the rocks near the water. They all decided this would be the perfect place to stop the boat and eat lunch since by this time they were all hungry. They ate fruit, cheese, crackers, and sandwiches Dr. Flosi made. They were on sourdough bread with salami, cheese, lettuce, tomato, and finally mustard. Cori wasn't the biggest fan of mustard but for some reason, it paired well with the other things on the sandwich. 

As they all finished up with lunch it was finally time to head back to the mainland. They were all getting tired from the sun and with the calming waves rocking the boat on the journey back they all fell asleep. 

Cori had dedicated today to her summer reading assignments since the deadline was slowly starting to approach, and she was still quite tired from yesterday's outing on the boat. She spent almost all day layed out across the light green velvet couch in the sitting area off of the entryway and had various papers, pencils, books, and her computer spread across the coffee table. Cori was dreading these assignments ever since they began in the 5th grade, but Cori didn't always dislike reading. It all started in her 1st-grade reading class, Cori was never as advanced as her classmates and this only progressed as time went on. After spending most of the day reading Cori managed to complete one of the three assignments she was assigned which eliminated a lot of stress, but throughout this time she hoped a familiar knock on the front door or text message would interrupt her reading. After deciding that she deserved a much-needed break she began to watch an episode of Ozark on Netflix. This was one of Coris' all-time favorite shows to watch. 

While watching Ozark Cori was interrupted by a knock at the front door. Only one person came to mind and she knew exactly who was there, or so she thought. As she got up from the couch and made her way to unlock the door. When she opened the door she first saw Tyler standing patiently waiting but then standing to the left of him was another person who was named Cyrus. He was just about as tall as Tyler was and also had a similar build. He had tan skin, brown hair, as well as dark brown eyes. The one thing that stood out most about his face was his eyebrows since they were a shade darker than the rest of his hair. Cori had spent a lot of time with Cyrus the last summer she was in California but he looked so much older than the last time she had seen him. It was a pleasant surprise since Cyrus was also very close in age with Tyler so this allowed for the three of them to get along very well. 

“I wasn't expecting to see you here, Tyler was just telling me how you were out of town,” Cori said. 

Cyrus responded “I just got back this morning for my water polo practice and went home with Tyler after” 

“We were going to come over earlier and ask for you to come over but we figured you didn't want to watch us play Xbox all afternoon”​ Tyler quickly added 

“Yea it's fine I was very productive today with my school work so it actually worked out perfectly,” Cori said. But deep down she really wished they would have since she had begun to really enjoy spending time with Tyler. 

“So what are you guys doing now?” 

“We were about to go to the empty lot a few blocks away and we were wondering if you wanted to come with us?” Tyler asked

Without hesitation Cori respond “Yea sure, let me get my shoes” 

Cori quickly ran up the stairs to get her shoes and socks off the dresser in her room. Then she walked into her grandmother's sewing room to inform her where she was going.
Her grandmother responded “Sure tell them I say hi” 

Cori then proceeded to put on her shoes and walked back downstairs where Tyler and Cyrus were on the phone with a girl that they both went to school with. But as soon as they both saw Cori they quickly said that they had to go and hung up the phone call which confused Cori. This automatically prompted Cori to ask who they were talking to and what was going on. As they began to walk to this empty lot they both didn't seem to be acting like their usual selves and were having quiet conversations that Cori was unable to hear. 

“What is going on your guys are both acting very weird” 

“Nothing is wrong,” Cyrus said as he glared over at Tyler

Tyler's face went white which hinted at the idea that it was something going on between Tyler. 

After a few seconds of awkward silence, Tyler blurted out “I want to break up with my girlfriend but don't know how to do it because I am best friends with her twin brother and he will get mad at me”  

Cori was then even more confused because her and Tyler have talked about these things multiple times since they were little. 

“Ok…what are you going to say to her,” Cori asked 

“I don't know I was going to ask you what to say that is why we came over so late” 

“Well first, why do you want to break up with her?” 

“That is complicated and I don't want to talk about that but the only thing I can say is I think I would be happier with someone else” 

“That is a reasonable reason but I wouldn't necessarily say that to her, if I was you I would call her and just say that you personally think it would be beneficial for you to take a break and see where you stand when the summer is over. That way if you aren't happier when not together you still have a small chance she will still be waiting for you” Cori explained, even though Cori herself was going through a similar situation and probably shouldn't be giving advice herself doesn't take. 

Cyrus agreed with Cori and said that is what he also thought he should say. He also explained however since he started dating Emma, Tyler doesn't seem to totally be himself when they hang out and she is there. After discussing this until they got to the field Tyler finally got the courage to call Emma and tell her what he had been rehearsing, but it didn't go quite as well as they hoped it would. 

While trying to tell Emma the reason why he was calling her she began to realize the point of the conversation and quickly hung up the facetime call. She then began to stop responding to texts and calls so Tyler instead had to text her the news which he felt bad about after the fact. 

Something about this still confused Cori though, why did they act weird about this around her because she thought it was a valid reason to take a break from a relationship? The three of them spent the remainder of the night laying in the empty lot looking up at the stars. Doing so she felt as if something was different about Tyler and the way he looked and listened to her. When he listened he went silent and gave her his full attention. She began to overthink and as they lay on the blanket every so often their arms would touch but neither of them would move away. Cori didn't know what to think nor if she believed the thoughts that were going through her mind because surely she was reading the situation wrong but a little part of her deep down wanted them to be true. As that crossed her mind a light flew across the sky appearing only for a moment. Cyrus suddenly says 

“Did you see that, I think that was a shooting star, quick make a wish” 

Cori and Tyler didn't respond but at that moment they both looked at each other and Cori began to convince herself that maybe their wishes were the same. For the rest of the night, the three of them were almost silent, which was a very rare occurrence for them, but they finally had to return home since it was getting to be late. 

They packed up their things and made their way back to Coris' house first but as they were walking back it began to suddenly rain. It wasn't just sprinkling, it began to pour and within seconds the three of them were soaking wet. They began to run as fast as they could to get under any kind of cover but nothing was in sight and the fact that it was dark out didn't help. As they were running Cyrus was in the lead but suddenly as he stepped into a puddle in the street his feet came out from underneath him and he landed on his back. Tyler and Cori couldn't help but laugh as Cyrus struggled to get back onto his feet yelling every type of curse word he could think of because of the amount of pain he was clearly experiencing. At this point, there was no good in running to shelter because they were already soaked from the rain as well as the fact Cyrus couldn't anymore, so the three of them made the most of the situation. Tyler opened his phone and began to play music and for them to dance in the rain under the light of the street lamp. Even though Tyler was younger he had a love for old music and rap but at this moment he played old songs that he knew how to play on the guitar. As Cori was dancing she once again felt an overwhelming amount of happiness and as she felt this she looked up and her eyes met with Tylers. He had already been looking at Cori and they both just smiled. After this moment it was as if the world had froze for a moment and the only two people left were them. 

Cori doesn't remember what happened after the time she was dropped off at the doorstep of her grandparents' house as she watched Tyler and Cyrus slowly disappear into the dark. She gazed into the distance for a few minutes replaying the night in her head until the front door suddenly opened and her grandmother standing inside with a confused look on her face. 

“What are you doing standing in the rain? You are going to get sick from being soaking wet, get inside” Her grandmother said 

“I am not even cold” Cori responded, even though she was trying to hold back her teeth from chattering and her body from shivering. Cori walked in and was wrapped in a towel and immediately made her way up the stairs and inside the shower as water trailed behind. Cori was still amazed at how the night went and she got into the shower with her clothes still on but it wasn't like it would have made a difference because they were already soaked.

Similar books


This book has 0 comments.