Before I knew it, Kyle and Jackie were settled into their small home, unpacked and ready to begin their new life in Pennsylvania. I texted Jackie.
You want to come on over? We have a surprise for you and Kyle.
I got a text back seconds later.
Sure! Be there in a couple minutes.
I texted Dan and Chris as well, telling to get their butts over here to start the bonfire. Luckily, they were here before Jackie and Kyle. We got the fire started, and I brought out all of the food that I had bought earlier that day. I had s’mores, mountain pies, and hot dogs. The two arrived just as we finished setting everything up.
“What is this?” Kyle asked, walking into my backyard with Jackie at his side.
“Well we needed to celebrate you moving into your new home!” I said, smiling.
“No, really, it’s fine-” Jackie began, but I didn’t let her finish.
“No, it’s not fine. We are going to celebrate, so you might as well enjoy it.”
“Well, little miss control freak, let’s get started.” Dan said, walking up behind me. “I hope you’re hungry, because we’ve got a massive amount of food, thanks to Haylee.” He finished, glancing my way and flashing a smile.
“Yeah, we didn’t eat yet, so that’s a good thing.” Jackie said, walking over to the fire.
“Okay, good. I’ve got the mountain pies over here, and the toppings are on that table over there.” Chris said, pointing towards the toppings on the table we had set up. We ate until our stomachs were full, and then had s’mores to top that off, as well. Afterwards, we sat in our folding chairs, me between Jackie and Dan. Engaged in conversation, I realized that Jackie and Kyle were laughing the most with each other. I couldn’t tell if her voice was flirty or not, but they were definitely much more comfortable around each other. Some things happen slower than others, I thought, listening to a story that Kyle was telling about his childhood in England. He told us about how he was being an idiot with a bunch of friends and was dared to touch an electric fence. This sparked up memories of my own.
“So you got shocked, too?” I asked, leading into my story after he was finished.
“Too?” Kyle’s brown eyes turned curious.
“Yep. So when I was in seventh grade we went on this field trip.” I said, launching myself into my story. “Our science, math, and reading teachers took us to Cook’s Forest at Tom’s Run. Mr. Wenner, who was our science teacher, favored me a lot because of my grades, apparently.” I shrugged. “We identified bugs and trees and fish and all, nothing special.” I smiled as I continued. “But then we went shocking fish. We were all wearing hip waders to keep dry, but most of us were soaked anyway. Mr. Wenner had warned us beforehand, ‘If anybody steps on this tail, we’re getting out. It’s just too dangerous.’ I wasn’t quite sure how the whole thing worked, but he looked like a ghostbuster, with a metal box strapped to his back, a pole with a ring at the end, and a white tail sticking out of the box that dragged on the ground. Anyway, we went treading in the stream, our nets out and ready for and shocked fish to float to the surface. We continued upstream, until we came to a large pool in the middle. Big, steep rocks lead down to the pool, but I didn’t notice that at the time. I was right behind my teacher, and before I knew it, I slid down on one of the rocks. The next thing I remember is seeing strobe lights, and feeling myself and everything around me being vibrated. A million thoughts were going through my head all at once. So this is what a fish feels. Some other people were saying that they got shocked, but I didn’t know it was this bad. It will only immobilize me for a few seconds, then I can come up for air.”
Kyle broke in. “Wait. So you were immobilized underwater?”
I nodded, seeing the shock on his face. “Yeah, but for some reason, I wasn’t really panicking. Anyway, I don’t remember holding my breath, or water getting in my nose, mouth or ears. I don’t even remember water stinging my eyes. The next thing I know, my head is just above the water, and I can’t find my footing, since I’m still on the slippery rock. Now I was panicking, since I had no idea what had just happened, but whatever it was, I didn’t want it to happen again. Water was filling up my hip waders, weighing me down. Suddenly, I see my math teacher’s hand reaching out to me, and I take it in a heartbeat. I clamber onto shore, where Mr. Wenner, my math teacher, and my bus driver, Susan, are standing around me, trying to slow my breathing. The memory kept replaying over and over again in my mind, trying to make sense of what had just happened. I was frightened, and holding back tears at the same time. I can remember Mr. Wenner’s soothing hand on my back, and slowly, I controlled my breathing until it was normal. We emptied my boots out, and walked back to the pavilion in my socks. Susan held my hand, but I was too shaken to think of what my classmates would say. I had already used my spare set of clothes, so my science teacher let me borrow his spare.” I laughed a little. “They must have been five sizes too big, but I was grateful anyways. My hands didn’t stop shaking till about three days afterwards, if I recall correctly.” I didn’t tell them the part about how some kids made fun of me, and thought that I was making a mountain out of a molehill.
“Well.” Dan said, his eyes wide. “What else have you been through? It seems to me as if you’ve lead a pretty interesting life.”
I thought for a moment. “Well, there was that time where we got into a car crash…” I said, leading into one story after another, holding the groups’ attention like the crystals did at the Grand Canyon. I told story after story, until my mouth grew dry from all the talking that I had done.
After a moment of silence, Kyle and Jackie got up. “Well, thank you all for the party and stories. I think we’re going to head out now; it’s getting late.” Kyle said, walking over to his car with Jackie following. She gave me a quick hug before leaving.
“See you later. Good luck on that book!”
“Thanks. We’ll set something up again sometime. That was fun!”
“Will do.” She finished, getting in their car with Kyle and heading home. With that, we took all the food inside and put the table away. Chris said goodbye after we put the fire out, so it was just me and Dan left. Together, we put away the chairs and I invited him into my house for a while, as if we hadn’t spent enough time with each other already. I changed into some comfy shorts, and we lied on my bed, talking until we drifted off.