It was the beginning of a new school year; the eighth grade for me. On the Monday of the second week of school, Sheryl Holmes declared, "We need new members!"
She wasn't wrong. After all, there was only the three of us in the After-School Detectives.
Strangely (well, not really, considering what happened over summer vacation), the last member of our small club, Samantha, hadn't shown up yet.
"Let's wait for Sam-"
As soon as I began to utter her name, Samantha popped into the room.
"Sorry I'm late...," she said, devoid of her usual bubbly energy. Instead, it was replaced with an awkwardness as soon as she noticed me. And as it had been for the whole week, she avoided eye contact with me.
What was going on between Samantha and I? Well, it all started when Sheryl's older brother, Mike, took the three of us to the beach, along with his girlfriend, three weeks ago during summer vacation.
We went through the usual. Got to the beach, changed into our swimming clothes. I blushed when Sheryl and Samantha came out with their swimsuits. We swam, we built sandcastles, we tossed a beach ball around. Standard beach stuff.
Then, near the end of the day, Samantha approached me as I was putting together the finishing touches on a sandcastle.
"Hi James," she said.
"Hey Samantha," I had said, still focused on my sandcastle. "What's up?"
She held out a gift-wrapped box and looked away, blushing, "I got you a present. For your birthday."
I turned and looked at Samantha for a few moments, before I had the heart to said, "Uh, thanks, Samantha, but my birthday isn't until next month."
Samantha's face turned red, then, she ran off away from me. Unfortunately, before she could get far, she tripped on a rock and fell down.
"Samantha, are you okay?" I ran up to her.
"Ouch...," she muttered. She tried to stand up and walk, but she fell again, after yelling out in pain. I noticed that her knee was bleeding.
"Here, let me help," I said, as I knelt down next to her.
She put her hand across my back and held onto my shoulder. Then, I held her by the waist as we got up, side by side. Like that, we hobbled back to the car.
Luckily, Mike was nearby, and he helped me bandage Samantha's knee with a first aid kit that he had in his car.
During the car ride back, things were awkward between Samantha and I, and then we didn't see each other again until the school year started. For the whole week after that, we were awkward with each other.