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I was steadily becoming more and more anxious about being with Cameron on our ‘first date.’ We sat there for a couple of minutes on the park bench, watching the glowing lights that were woven into the trees and commenting on the large projection screen that had been hung between two oaks. At first everything was just awkward conversation — that was, until the actual date got started. Pretty much as soon as the movie began, I allowed myself relax from the familiarity. I had probably seen it a couple hundred times, but that hadn’t stopped me from coming to see it with Cameron tonight.
Things were going nicely and normally, much like a first date should actually go! That is, until a little after halfway through the movie when Cameron began to act a little odd.
First, he started squirming, and I noticed many times that he would press his lips together until they had formed a thin pressured line. I continued to watch the movie, keeping one peripheral eye on him, finding that he would steal a quick glance at me when he thought I wasn’t looking. But of course I was, and soon I began to get a little uncomfortable myself. I realized my heart had begun to beat faster and faster as the movie went on. What was happening to me? My agitation truly to began to spiral out of control when Cameron leaned over and said, “Um, Waverly?”
I turned nervously towards him, praying that he wouldn’t notice. “Yeah?”
He paused, then quickly said, “Um, nothing, never mind.”
“Oh. Okay.” I was beginning to assume the worst. Did I have something in my hair? I tried subtlety to reach up and touch it, pretending to scratch my head. Nothing. My teeth? It occurred to me that sometimes the m&ms chocolate got stuck in my teeth. I ran over them with my tongue. Again, nothing. Well what was it? I turned and stared at the movie screen, but I couldn’t make out any of the shapes on it. I was about to excuse myself to the restroom so I could pull myself together when Cameron turned to me again.
“Waverly?” He asked.
This time I didn’t speak, just in case I did have chocolate bits stuck in my teeth. I turned to face him, raising my eyebrows to imply that I was listening.
“Can I ask you something?”
I could sense his nervousness and I was sure he could sense mine as well. “Mmhmm.” I nodded, still afraid to open my mouth.
He looked at me for a long moment, or at least it seemed as so. But he didn’t say anything, he just turned to face the screen and sighed in frustration.
“What is it?” I couldn’t help but ask.
“Well, I was going to ask if I could put my arm around you...” He looked at me timidly. My mind went completely blank as I stupidly started at him without saying anything. Cameron quickly retreated from his question, obviously extremely humiliated. “Never mind, it’s okay, never mind.”
Did I even want his arm around me? Duh! Of course I did! Why couldn’t I just tell him that? I wished Joy was here to help me, but then again Joy didn’t date. Maybe I shouldn’t either. I quickly dismissed the thought. I liked Cameron. A lot. I wanted to go out with him. Wasn’t that why I was here? He was always the one I had cared about. Never Brandt. Never Seth. It had always been Cameron. I liked him. No, I thought I loved him.
With that in mind I gently touched his shoulder, surprising myself a little that I didn’t back down.
He looked up, dejected.
My heart went out to him. “It’s okay, I would very much like for you to put your arm around me.” I smiled reassuringly. He smiled back, the light back in his eyes again. He scooted a little closer to me, but still leaving some space between us, he awkwardly put his arm around me. I smiled at him, and he at me, and we turned to watch the movie together.
When I had imagined Cameron putting his arm around me, I had always thought of warmth, security and comfort. Such was not the case tonight. His thin arm was bony and hard. It was also heavy on my shoulders. I found myself trying much harder than usual to sit up straight, which ended up hurting my back as the night went on.
He didn’t say anything else about it and I couldn’t tell if he was ecstatic or as nervous as I was feeling. For a little bit, I felt my heart beating so fast that I was afraid that he would hear. The movie was far from my mind now… I just kept hoping and praying that I looked good and that he was as happy as I was.
It wasn’t all bad, though. His hand on my right shoulder held me securely, and his thumb rubbed against me affectionately. I liked the feel of him being so close. I smiled in spite of myself. The very thought of him possibly kissing me had entered my mind. I didn’t get very far dreaming about it because Cameron had turned towards me again, drawing me out of my thoughts.
“Waverly?” he asked timidly again.
“Yeah?” I wondered what it was now. Was he going to ask to kiss me? My heart fluttered at the thought. I had never really kissed a guy before, except for Seth on our “date” but I didn’t think that really counted in the rulebook because he was the one kissing me and I was certainly not kissing back. I hoped. At least, that’s what I tell myself now.
“My arm’s getting kind of tired....” he trailed off. Quickly I replied, covering up my obvious embarrassment.
“Oh yeah, that’s okay.” He quickly took back his arm and suddenly my shoulders felt that familiar summer breeze, just light enough to give me a chill. But I felt slightly relieved just the same.
By this time, the movie had almost reached it’s end. I spent the rest of the time trying to get over my embarrassment and jitters. I only hoped my face was not a roaring red. I put my hand on my cheek to check. I was burning up! Could this night get any more embarrassing? I didn’t want to think of all the ways that it could, even if my mind could come up with a few hundred.
I felt almost a sense of relief when the movie had ended. Part of me wanted to tell Cameron goodnight and run all the way home, curl up on my bed and cry. The other part of me still wanted to salvage this night, my first real date. I decided to listen to the second part.
Cameron and I, and everyone else who had come to Movie Jam began to make our way out of our seats and head towards home. I could hear the gentle hum of other people’s conversation as we picked our way through and out of the crowd. Once we were away from most of the noise, Cameron asked me if I wanted to walk with him by the lake. I shyly nodded yes, still thinking about the arm thing.
As we slowly began to make our way down the path, weaving in between a natural avenue of large oak trees that he and I had lovely named Tara Oaks, I suddenly felt the all too familiar feeling of missing her. And I found myself wondering, if Tara was still alive, would this night even have happened? An uneasy feeling developed in my heart. But it was put far from my mind when I felt Cameron’s hand wander into mine, grasping it firmly. I looked up at him, surprised, for until then I had been studying the ground. He smiled at me, taking my breath away. My heart melted like butter on toast. I could barely manage a smile on my own lips.
Feeling a little out of my element, I looked up ahead, only to see “it.” The bench. Familiar dreams of having my first kiss on that bench filled my already chaotic mind. I felt my skin give way to goosebumps as I began to realize that those dreams just might happen tonight. I couldn’t help but squeeze Cameron’s hand as we approached it.
“Can we sit here for a little bit?” I asked in a quavering voice, already starting to sit down.
“Uh, sure,” he said as he sat next to me, looking at me questionably as I smiled at him expectantly.
My thoughts again wandered back to my favorite dream where I was sitting on this very bench with my prince, who always happened to look a little bit like Cameron and who happened to be always wearing a suit of armor. Of course, I was always wearing a shimmery Cinderella-like dress. Well, that obviously wasn’t what I was wearing tonight, but the idea was the same. There was me and there was Cameron; and we were finally alone.
What seemed like ages later, though it had only been about three minutes, I turned my head and watched Cameron intently. He didn’t seem to notice me as much as sense that I was watching and waiting. Hoping. Praying.
But he didn’t make a move. Not a single move. I began to force those girlish butterfly flutters from the pit of my stomach that had arisen with the prospect of getting a kiss from Cameron. He didn’t know that I loved him, really and truly. It was never Brandt. Nor was it Seth. Inside, he was always the one I cared for. I had just denied it.
“So-” he started.
“I-” I said at the same time.
“You go first.” We said to each other in unison. We laughed, glancing around nervously. I let Cameron talk first.
“Did you like the movie?”
“Yes.” It was then that I realized that I couldn’t even remember any of it. I felt my cheeks turn red again. I looked down and started to draw imaginary circles on the bench. Maybe this dream wasn’t such a good idea. I was scared half to death, and I wanted to be in the comfort of my own home. Once again Tara entered my mind, the uneasiness came back to me.
“Did you?” I asked, trying to cover up what I was feeling.
“Yeah, but the ending was kind of, well weird.”
This surprised me. “How come?”
“Well,” He seemed to be thinking hard about what he would say. “She came back, and he was happy, but nothing happened.”
I frowned. I had always just assumed that good things would happen eventually for them. “Well they could get married or something later. I’m not sure. I guess it was just the kind of relationship they had.”
Cameron nodded. The movement made me notice that he was still clinging to my hand. He seemed to notice as well and squeezed it a bit tighter.
“Waverly?” he asked.
“Yes?” My retort was a bit bland. All thoughts of him kissing me had been blown out my mind. Now I was expecting another comment about the movie.
“I don’t want us to have that kind of relationship.” He looked into my eyes, trying to pass on another message but I couldn’t understand it. I was confused. ‘That’ kind of relationship? What kind? He doesn’t want to date me? All these thoughts rushed in, crushing my already dulled spirits.
“What?” was all I could force out of my mouth.
“Waverly,” he said a bit firmly. I was beginning to sweat. “Can I kiss you?”
At first I wasn’t sure if I had heard him right. But as I replayed it in my mind, it was all too real. Yes, he had asked if he could kiss me. I stared at him, he was looking right back at me waiting patiently for my reply. After the shock, the butterflies came. Was I shaking? I almost pulled my hand away from him, but I didn’t because for now that was my only life line to believe that this was actually happening. Then everything blurred. Or did it enhance? I felt myself smile and saw him smile, charming. I heard myself tell him that yes, he could kiss me. Did I really say that? Cameron started leaning towards me, his hand still tightly holding my own. Did I close my eyes? I wasn’t sure. I couldn’t recall as I felt his lips press against mine.
Warm was the word that came to mind when he kissed me. It was brief and gentle. Then it was over. I came back from wherever I had been, still staring at Cameron. I couldn’t fathom what had just happened, so I pushed it out my mind. I shyly smiled and looked down, away from him.
“Shall we walk on?” I suggested, trying to stop my body from shaking.
“Yes.” Cameron pulled me up onto my feet and we walked all the way to my house without speaking a word about what had just happened between us. I wasn’t sure about him but I knew that I just physically couldn’t speak at a time like this. But inside, I was bursting with fireworks and doing a little happy-dance, prancing around cloud nine.
When my house came into view, the den light still flickering, we stopped walking and stood on the sidewalk right out front of our yard.
“I had fun.” Cameron ventured, hardly daring to look at me.
“Me, too,” I stuttered clumsily. I wasn’t sure if I was lying or not. But I found that I could not yet walk away. I sort of needed to know it was all real and that it wouldn’t go away when I took eyes off of him.
I knew why Cameron had stopped here, one step onto the front porch of my house and my parents and curious siblings would be hovering around us like moths to our flame. This was the last time we could be alone before I had to go. How I wanted time to stop and capture this moment forever and ever.
“I’ll walk you to your door, but...” He leaned over and kissed my cheek softly. I couldn’t find any words. But there were none that could describe how I felt. The entire English vocabulary had been erased from my mind. I could only smile and squeeze his hand as he walked me up to my front door. I braced myself for someone to open it and sweep me up by my family, but oddly nothing happened.
“Goodnight, Waverly.” Cameron said and let go of my hand. He began to walk down the steps which led back to the sidewalk. I watched him go, wishing I had said what I really wanted to tell him. Finally, before he was too far away, I made myself stand up straight and call out: “I really like you Cameron.”
I held my breath.
He turned and looked at me. His deep brown eyes sparkled, or was I just seeing things? He breathed in heavily and I felt my heart jump sky high. “I really like you too, Waverly.” He smiled at me once more, turned, and walked home.
Inside my house, I didn’t notice my family as they showered me with pestering questions about the night. I left them at the foot of the stairs, still begging for answers, as I walked in a daze up towards my room. Still in a heavenly trance, I got out my diary to Tara and wrote:
It’s true. All you need is love.
That was all I wrote. I put it quickly away and curled up in my bed, falling asleep in minutes with all my clothes and make up on, but with a genuine smile on my face.
Inside, I just hoped that tonight, I hadn’t been Tara in his arms.