Chapter Twenty-seven

(Dan’s Point of View)

I couldn’t believe it. I was almost positive that I would win. Apparently I should have thought twice about racing Haylee.

We stood there panting for a while.

"Good race!" Haylee gasped, still out of breath.

I smiled. "You too!" When we finally caught our breaths, Chris walked up to us.

"Who won?" He asked, and Haylee waved her hand.

A smile spread across his face. "Just what I expected."

"Hey! I almost had her there for a while." I said defensively, winking at her.

"I can help you improve if you want. Cross country taught me some things when I was in high-school." She said, walking over to me.

Of course I want to improve! "Sure!"

"Oh, great. Another lesson from the super ninja master." Chris joked, rolling his eyes.

"First off, you have to learn to breath correctly..." She continued, teaching me to breath through my lungs, and not my stomach. I knew how to do that because of singing, but it would be helpful when running, too. She taught us a bunch of other things, including how not to cross your arms in front of you, but instead keep them at your sides.

We walked to the playground and back, where Haylee piped up. "We should race again." She continued, glancing at Chris. "All of us."

"I ca-"

"Yes, you can. You have more muscles than Dan and I combined, which will be a distinct advantage." I guessed that Haylee wasn't going to tell him that it was a disadvantage as well.

"Alright, fine. It's not like I'm going to be any competition anyway." He said, shrugging.

“From here to the grass in front of the camper.” Haylee said, getting ready.

“On your mark, get set, GO!” She yelled, racing off with Chris and I by her side. I was surprised at first by Chris’s speed, for he was keeping up well with the two of us.

I thought came to my mind. If I stay just behind her, she might get cocky and not try as hard. I stifled a smile, falling back a tiny bit. Chris saw this, too, which seemed to give him a burst of energy. The grass came in sight, so I put forward my last effort, pulling ahead of both of them. I got a glimpse of the shocked expression on Haylee’s face as I crossed the grass first, throwing my hands in the air to mimic her.

“No way.” She gasped, her eyes wide. “I had you there! I thought you were already tired out.”

“That was definitely the plan.” I said, smiling.

She shrugged. “You got me on that one.”

“Yeah, I thought you were done, too.” Chris said, catching his breath. “You got both of us.”

“Whew, I’m tired now.” Haylee said, lying down on the grass. I lied down beside her.

“Haylee, we’re always tired after one of your lessons.” I teased, pulling strands of grass out of the ground. The stars were just beginning to pop out now, their faint glow just barely visible in the night sky. It was hard to believe that a huge storm had just been here, lighting the sky with lightning instead of stars. Chris lied down beside me a little ways away.

“Oh look. There’s Orion’s belt…” Haylee said, tracing the stars.

“The big dipper…” I say, tracing it.

“Pisces…”

“The little dipper…”

“The North star…” Our hands brush as Haylee points out the North star. I’ll take my chances. Slowly, I entwined my fingers with hers, smiling. We laid our hands down, our fingers still twined together. I look over at her, and just seeing the life that plays in her eyes makes me grin.

I thought about saying it. The three word, eight letter, three syllable phrase that means so much when used right. But what would she say back? My mind got caught up in a war with itself, but in the end, I couldn’t muster up enough courage to do it.

Suddenly, Haylee gasped, sitting up and letting go of my hand. “Ouch.” She started untying the bond on her calf, revealing indents of where the cloth used to be.

“Well, that hurts.” She said, trying to flex her calf.

“I’m such an idiot. We forgot completely about your cut yesterday!” I said, jumping up. “Here, let’s take care of that now so that it doesn’t get any worse.” I finished, offering my hand to help her up. She took it, limping ever so slightly to the camper.

“Why didn’t you make a bigger deal out of it?” I said, beaming.

“You know me. I only make a big deal about other people.” I could tell that she was hinting something, but I couldn’t quite get what it was.

We hobbled inside, where we dressed her wound properly and put a wrap on it, making sure that it wasn’t too tight.

“Thanks.” She said after I was done, meeting my gaze. She was trying to tell me something, but I wasn’t the best at reading minds.

Haylee stretched, stifling a yawn. “Alright. I think I’m going to bed now. It’s been a long day of writing.” She changed into some sweat-shorts and an oversized shirt, then curled up on the couch. I wanted to curl up with her, to feel her fingers entwined in mine again, but decided that I would have to wait for that moment again. I changed too, and fell asleep quickly, awaiting tomorrow’s tour.

The End

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