(Dan's Point of View)
Walking away from the shade of Haylee's garage, I felt a tingling sensation near my heart. I had half-expected her to tell me to leave immediately or yell at me for what I had done. Maybe she thought the guilt alone was enough to punish me. Or maybe she didn't. I had no idea, of course, Haylee was a very complicated person. Aren't all women, though? Absolutely.
I ducked into my car and turned the key, already in its slot, happily to start the engine. But before I stepped on the gas pedal to drive away, a thought wandered into my mind.
What will Chris think?
Some of my happiness turned into worry, but not quite all of it. Deciding that he'd be the first to know, I drove over to his house and knocked on the door. A few long seconds passed until the door swung open and there stood my best friend. I couldn't blame him for being surprised, for we hardly talked ever since Sophie and I got together.
"Yes?" He didn't look very welcoming.
"You'll never believe what just happened!" I didn't let his unexcited invitation dull my exuberance.
He furrowed his brow. "Umm..." He looked unsure of whether to let me in or not.
"Let's talk about this in my room." He finally said, beckoning me inside the doorway.
Once in his relatively clean room, I told the whole story, from getting back home to me visiting Haylee. I couldn't ignore the disapproving look on his expression when I got to the end.
"Don't you look at me like that!" I said, half joking, half serious. "If anything, you should be happy for me! The love of my life is slowly coming back, and you're acting like that's a bad thing!"
"You're the one that made her 'gone' in the first place!" He nearly shouted as he stood up angrily.
I blinked, shocked at his sudden outburst. "I didn't tell you. It was an act."
"It was an act." I repeated.
"Why on earth didn't you tell me?!”
“I was afraid…” I trailed off, uncertain of whether I should tell him or not.
“Afraid of what?”
“Afraid of what Sophie could do.”
Seeing his confused look, I filled him in on all the details, making sure not to miss a thing.
Once I was finished, he nodded slowly, at last seeming to understand my reasoning. “You know what I think you two need?”
I tilted my head a bit to the side. “What?”
“A road trip.”
“How will that help us?”
“Think about it, Dan! You two could fall in love all over again! It’ll be great.”
“Where will we go?”
“Oh, I don’t know. I was thinking maybe the Grand Canyon, since I’ve always wanted to go there.”
I nodded, suddenly very excited. “Yes! This is perfect! But will she accept? Haylee has a very strict schedule, you know.”
Chris’s knowing smile made me think twice about what I had gotten myself into. “There are fireworks going up on the fourth. All couples go to see fireworks together.”
“But we’re not a couple.”
“Friends go together, as well.”
“Okay. I’ll see what I can do.”
With that, I left Chris’s house and went to my own home. I had decided not to mention the fireworks yet, for I think that Haylee was still a little angry with me for making an assumption.
It was July first. I had texted her about seeing the fireworks, but her reply puzzled me.
Come on over. I’m gonna show you something, first.
Okay. Be over in 5.
Quickly, I made myself look presentable, and drove to Haylee’s. The sun was just about to set, causing the sky to turn all shades of pinks and oranges. She was standing outside waiting for me. I couldn’t help but notice that she looked even better than normal; her hair was perfectly straight, with ripped shorts on and a baggy t-shirt.
She must have seen me 'noticing' her clothing, for she eyed me up as well, but in a more sarcastic and mocking manner.
"Hey. My eyes are up here."
"Umm yeah, yeah. I was just..." I rubbed the back of my neck nervously.
She just rolled her eyes. I loved the sassy part of her, the one that would always keep me on my toes.
"Come on. I found something the other day." She beckoned with her hand, and we started walking down the sidewalk in the direction of my house. It was awkward for a moment; I didn't know how close she would allow me to walk next to her.
Nothing gets past her. Giving me a playful shove, she said, "Oh come on, Dan. I don't bite." Her smile gave me confidence.
Soon enough, we veered off and into the forest, and I gave Haylee a confused look.
"Trust me." Was all of a reply I got. Anytime, I thought, but not daring to say it out loud. It was tough for me, since I haven't ever really walked through the woods.
"City boy?" She questioned after a while.
I looked up from my struggle with a bramble caught on my shoe. "Yeah."
"We're almost there."
Sure enough, we happened upon a little clearing. A fresh forest smell hit my senses, causing me to smile widely. It smelled much better than the stuffy air of the city of which I grew up in London. Glancing around, I saw a big Japanese blossom tree in the center. Pink petals were scattered around it.
"Wow.." I mumbled. "How did you find this?"
Haylee shrugged. "Walking off a writer's block." She trotted over to the tree, looking back, apparently expecting me to follow. Surprisingly, she started to climb its trunk, grabbing its boughs for balance.
"Uhh.. What are you doing?" I called.
"What does it look like? Come on up!" She called back, glancing down at me.
I weighed my options: follow her with her crazy stunt, or be a party-pooper and just watch. I chose the first option, my hand reaching out to cling onto the first branch hesitantly. As I hauled myself up further up the tree to stand directly below Haylee, I looked down. I didn't let Haylee know that I was slightly dizzy, but instead kept going, placing my hands and feet where she had. She finally scooted onto a bough; it seemed as if there were a clearing in the tree with very little branches. She sat, her legs dangling, and patted the spot next to her, inviting me to sit as well.
Once I was comfortable, she asked, "So, what was it that you wanted to tell me?"
Ah, yes. "Oh. I noticed that there will be fireworks on the fourth. I was wondering... If you wanted to go see them with me." I wasn't sure if that's what just friends did together.
She brightened. "Yeah! That'd be great. But instead of going to the mall where they are, I found that I can get a great view from my roof."
"Great! So the fourth at...?"
"9:30. I think they start at quarter till."
"Alright. I'll be there." The conversation discontinued itself and an awkward silence started up. Haylee sighed, like she always does, making it even more awkward.
"So.." I tried to think of something, but I couldn't; my mind was flustered.
Haylee saved me. "So how's life been treating you?"
Not a normal conversation starter, but it'll do. "Umm.. Good, I guess."
"Nothing new or exciting?"
Nothing but the road trip. But I wasn't going to tell her about that just yet. "Heh. Not really.. I guess I should probably work on a new song, shouldn't I?"
"Yeah. The sooner the better."
We gazed up through the thin branches, watching the stars slowly appear. Nonchalantly, I cleared my throat and tried to scoot a little closer to her.
"Well, it's getting late." Haylee suddenly said. "We should probably get home."
"Yeah." I replied, a tiny bit disappointed. We climbed down, me almost slipping twice, Haylee having no problems at all. We walked back to her house, said our goodbyes, and I drove back to my own home.
That's one step closer towards the right direction.