Alex spent the remainder of June in anxiety because of the previous fallout with Michelle. He knew she still felt broken trust toward him. Even he would be in doubt if he saw her with Grayson or Cameron.
For her actual birthday she was going to the mall with her mom and Mikayla, then to watch the midnight showing of Eclipse, the third movie in the Twilight series. He thought that was odd because she hates Twilight, but that’s her plan. So he can’t do anything special with her for quite a while. Maybe it’s a good thing; he needs to clear his head.
He dove into his pool and floated, his eyes closed, his senses cut off. It’s like flying. No noise surrounding him, nobody bothering him. He should do this more often. In fact, that’s all he’s been doing lately. Nothing interesting is going on for the moment. His cousin Kelly has arrived a few days ago with her family to stay for a few weeks. He had small chats with her, but he’s too preoccupied with the fight to make any more conversations. They did talk about it, though.
“She has every right to be mad. It might’ve looked like Whitney was actually kissing you instead of the opposite if she was at the wrong angle. Girls tend to be overdramatic sometimes, but I’d think the same if I saw someone I loved doing the incorrect thing.” Alex sighed, raising his hand to his bruise, which failed to heal. It’s still an angry red, the edges turning a slight purple. He never suspected that Whitney was really strong.
“How long has it been since the fight?” Kelly asked.
“About a week or so,” he answered, wishing it was actually never. “I just can’t stop thinking about it. She was so frail, so inert when she saw me come into her room. She wouldn’t even look at me; that’s how bad it was. I was so afraid that I’d lose her again, like in seventh grade. I can’t go through that again.”
“She said she believed you, right?” He nodded. “But it seems like she kinda doesn’t. She’s been scarred to the point where it won’t restore. Like a cutter who stopped slicing them. They put away the knife, but they still have lingering thoughts to pick it back up again and just use it for a tiny rip. Then it turns to where it’s as if they’ve never set down the knife in the first place.
“What I’m saying is that Michelle will always remember that day no matter how hard she tries to put it away. It’s permanent. Sharpies don’t wash off, tattoos don’t disappear, and the damage is done. The only thing left is to forget about it and focus on the positive.”
“Yeah,” he mumbled. “Thanks.”
“Anytime.” Kelly walked off and went into the bathroom, where he was planning to go to. He sighed in frustration. Instead he went downstairs and used the bathroom there. He locked the door and broke down.
Why can’t he ever not have a fight with Michelle? It’s the same stuff over and over, him doing the wrong things. Well, sometimes it’s her fault, but he wouldn’t dare admit that. He just wants to be free from the tangles that come with Michelle’s past and have her concentrate on the present. She needs to break out of the history she has with bad people and move on. Of course, he would never admit to her about that either. Maybe one day he will.
Wiping his tears, he got up from the floor and splashed water on his ruined face. Nothing would fix the pink, so he just walked out the door and confined himself to his room and tried so hard not to cry again.
The fourth of July rolled around quickly. A family barbecue in the backyard, swimming until his energy was depleted, telling stories as the sun went down. For some reason Alex wished Michelle was there with him, holding his hand and laughing along with him as he told funny tales about them. It made him sad to not share an evening with her. It’s been almost two weeks since they’ve last spoken, saw each other. It’s killing him inside.
Once all the food was cleared, the group piled into two cars and drove to a nearby field where the city’s firework show would be occurring. Alex sat in the very back, so isolated and deep in his empty thoughts. He stared out the window and predicted the evening would be awfully boring, and it was, but only for the first twenty minutes.
I don’t want to go to the firework show that’s down the street. I’d rather stay home and finish uploading my pictures from my birthday. Mikayla won’t be there; she’s going to the high school instead with her sister and her boyfriend. But it’s only for thirty minutes, maybe I’ll survive.
Ben and Mikey ignited a few sparks in the driveway before we left. Of course, I took pictures with my new camera. I stood alone, impatiently waiting to hurry up and get the event over with.
The sky was a liquid prison gray hue and also dirty, murky brown you’d find in a polluted river. That’s probably from all the explosions’ smoke. Everyone set up their chairs on the curb and chatted amongst themselves. Little kids squealed and ran around for a bit. I searched for anyone I knew, and I immediately found him. Some part of me wished he wasn’t here, but then again, I’m so glad he’s here.
“I’ll be right back,” I informed Dad.
Putting my phone in my white shorts’ pocket and leaving my camera in the chair’s cup holder, I sneaked up to him and made his shoulders jump. I had a smile on my face, but it fell short. Alex was with... a girl. A girl I didn’t know. Images of him and Whitney flickered strongly in my mind.
“Michelle,” he gasped. Upon seeing the shock in my expression, he quickly explained, “This is my cousin Kelly. She’s on my mom’s side of the family.”
“Oh,” I exhaled. I peered behind them and said hello to the rest of his relatives.
“I didn’t know you were going to be here.” He gave me a long hug, even in front of his people, and we’re not dating. “Let’s go somewhere.” My hand is placed in his and we ventured out to the middle of the meadow. Most of the people are nearby, but it’s so dark, no one can see us. We have some amount of time until the show starts.
He fiddled with my fingers, somehow making me feel totally calm. The scent of lavender mixed with the sparklers’ odor strangely blends well together. I’m completely at ease, and I don’t know how he did it.
Alex looked down at our hands entwined and smiled. This is what he always want, to have them locked in place. His mouth started to move, but failed to actually speak anything. I made the first move.
“I’m guessing we’re out here for some reason,” I nudged him.
“Yeah, I’m getting a tad tired of the cousins. Kelly’s cool and all, but when you’ve spent three weeks waiting thirty minutes to use the bathroom and she’s taken up two hours, you get a little worn-out from just standing there when you can just use it for about thirty seconds. Girls.” He laughed, flashing his beautiful smile. I know I hated myself for falling for him, but it’s too late. He may not replace Grayson, but he’s a close second. A nicer version of him.
He pulled me down to the ground, lying on our back. There weren’t very many stars, because of all the light and wispy clouds covering them, but we were able to spot a few. Every second I spent was just amazing. His arm felt secure and warm around me, knowing that someone loves me, was something I’ve needed for the last two weeks after the spat. Being with Mikayla didn’t repair the happiness I had before. I mean, I’m always glad to be with her, but it’s not the same kind of delight when I’m with Alex. I know I’ve lost the memories from camping, but this, it just about replaced it. I’m halfway over the ‘betrayal’, although there’s still a sliver of me that still makes me think twice about this. I can only wonder if he’s done this with anyone else behind my back.
I snuggled up to him, resting my head on his chest. His hand ran through my hair, murmuring how soft it was and how sweet it smelled. I don’t want to be the first to move, and I know he doesn’t either.
A thunderous boom startled us, but we knew it was just the fireworks beginning. The bright sparks overhead turned from magenta to blue, red to green, yellow to white, gold to silver, orange to pink. Each crackle wasn’t anything compared to the beating of my heart, which was pumping so loudly like a drum. I enjoyed being so close to him, my protector, my best friend, my love. Sparkles and twinkles burst in the air, the colors floating down and disappearing until the next “OOOOOH! AHHHHH!” Yes, the crowd was that boisterous. We could hear them even though we’re about half a mile off. I wish they could shut up so I can savor the moment, but of course, all the little kids there are just going nuts over a few colored flickers in the poisoned sky, so they won’t be quiet. Instead, I tried to tune them out, and eventually it worked.
“I’m so glad I’m here with you,” Alex whispered.
“Me too,” I whispered back. His brown eyes already trained on me, I figured he was going to talk about the quarrel, but he never did. The raucous fizzing brought us back to earth. The noise grew shriller and vociferous, which indicated the end is nearing. I looked at him, not knowing what’s supposed to happen. So I just stayed there until he moved. Surely I won’t be the first.
Except I was.
The finale was spectacular, but we’ve both seen better: the ones at Disney World are pretty hard to beat. We stood up and stretched, watching the last of the display.
Distant music was blasting far off, the cool night breeze danced along, and the diminishing eruptions was apparently the best time for Alex to kiss me. It was perfect. I was locked in the flawless world where no one but us lived. His lips tasted of lemonade, one of his favorite summertime drinks. It’s in those moments when I forget everything and take it all in.
Nothing could interrupt us but time, and it did just so.
We both broke away at the same time, knowing our parents will be needing us in the car so they can avoid traffic. We walked back hand in hand, hugged again, and I split off. It was hard to leave him; I wanted to keep doing what we were doing.
“Here’s your camera, Michelle.” Ben handed me the black thing as I stepped in the car, being the last person to arrive.
“Where were you?” Mikey questioned.
“I talked to a friend.” I hurriedly admitted, hoping they wouldn’t ruin my euphoric state.
“Which friend?” Matt smirked. Did he see us?
“Ashley,” I fibbed.
“I thought you weren’t friends much anymore?” Mikey glared.
“We just needed some catching up, that’s all.”
“Right,” Ben muttered. They did see!
I succeeded to ignore the conversation and replayed the entire event in my head. This is why we should have mental camcorders or something. If I ever get Alzheimer’s, I don’t want to forget this night.
In my room, I went through the inbox of my camera and observed the photos I got of the boys messing with the mini fireworks, the actual show itself, which I don‘t remember taking so I assumed maybe Ben borrowed it, and…
Ben. That’s how they knew! Ben used my camera after the fireworks and zoomed in on us kissing and took like fifteen pictures. Actually, the quality is quite good. It’s not blurry like most of them would be, since it was nighttime. Secretly I’m pleased that someone got a shot of us. Now I won’t be able to forget it.
I continued uploading and also add the ones from tonight, but not the one with Alex and me. My mom would have a cow if she saw it... Plus, there are other people that can see it, like, popular people that can instantly crush you. Who knows what’s their opinions on us kissing, let alone spending time together. We’re not dating, which is weird because if we’re so busy making out, then shouldn’t we be a couple by now? I certainly hope he’s not using me. No, he’s probably not doing that. It’s been three years since we’ve met; I’m sure he wouldn’t just drop and go. Unlike Grayson…
My eyes closed at the thought of the jerk. I can still see his beautiful face, brilliant smile, and gorgeous brown eyes. Unfortunately, it’s all gone. I can only remember seeing him like that when we were in seventh grade, over more than a year ago. His face has completely rearranged the next year. Blue braces, short hair that wasn’t curly, his almond shaped eyes darker and unrealistic. I haven’t seen his scar in ages, since I’m so afraid to look at him. I don’t really know who he is anymore. I only recall seventh grade. It’s like seeing a whole new side of him, how his personality is like, the way he treats people, and, especially me. Every night I wish we would be friends again. That’s all I ask for. When I was with the real Grayson, I was the happiest I could be in school. That feeling needs to come back again, soon. If only I didn’t fall for him, none of this would’ve happened.
He’s my first love, and nothing will ever change it.
His heart in a giddy whirl, Alex epitomized the whole night over and over and over again while sitting in his room, watching some random TV show. His mind doesn’t focus on anything but what’s inside his head. All he can think of was how perfect the moment was.
When high school starts, he’ll ask her out officially. It’s going to be the best four years ever.
But beyond that…
He knew Michelle hates it in Texas. He knows she’s going to move as soon as she can. What will happen then? A long distance relationship? Break up? Or move with her? Definitely if the last is in session, he won’t be living in Milk Springs anymore. But then, what if they don’t survive the years in school together? Certainly they will. Always they’ll be friends. But more than that, perhaps not. He shuddered at the thought of it.
Don’t even worry about it, he thought. That’s in four years. You’ve got that long to spend with her, and you’ll make the best of it.
He pulled the covers over his head and dreamed once again.
In his dream, he imagined they had a family. Two boys and one girl. The best house in wherever they’ll live, a tree house in the backyard. The kids playing on the swings while the parents watched. Picnic for dinner, everybody laughing. He was having the greatest time.
Alex woke up with shock.
Why was the wife’s face Whitney?