During the second last week of school before summer, Ryan Proud fell 50 feet down to the ground, from ‘most popular’ to something that was equal to The Black Plague. Nobody knew why exactly, but all the popular kids started avoiding him, and the rest of the student body followed expectantly. Every lunch hour he would sit by himself―all by himself―with an entire lunch table to his fancy. Nobody dared to talk to him―nobody even walked near him―afraid they might catch whatever it was he had suddenly caught overnight.
“It’s not fair that you get the whole lunch table to yourself,” I said as I put my lunch tray across from his. He was busily occupied writing on a piece of creased line-paper, ignoring the stares of everyone in the cafeteria.
Ryan jumped at my voice. I’ve never talked to him before, but I saw him around the school all the time. We were in the same grade and have had classes together since the beginning of elementary school, but he was Mr. Popularity, a complete hottie, and I was an average girl with an average height, average weight, average looks and an exaggerated hatred towards frills, lace and pink. I doubt he’s ever seen me before. “You’re not afraid of me?” He asked, his bright green eyes shimmering with astonishment.
“Should I be? Do you have cooties?” I asked sarcastically, with a roll of my eyes. Ryan chuckled, flashing me his infamous perfect smile. “So make me laugh, what did you do that was so bad that the kids you knew since kindergarten pushed you down the monkey bars in less than a day?”
He shrugged softy. “I might have done some… not so nice things. Said some… not so nice but honest things,” he replied, still laughing. He changed the topic quickly. “Your name is Dannielle, isn’t it?”
I smiled. “It’s just Dannie. How’d you know my name?”
He laughed―again that exhilarating smile. “We’ve been in the same class together since elementary school. I’ll admit that I know nothing about you, but I know your name at the very least.”
I took a bite out of my sandwich and pointed at the paper he was half hiding under his big, masculine hands. “What’re you writing about?”
He looked nervously at me and crumpled the paper up. “Just a couple of things I’ve got on my mind.” Ryan threw the paper ball in the air aiming for a nearby trash can, but I reached my arm up at that precise moment and effortlessly swiped the ball from the air. He clearly didn’t know I could beat any stupid boy at any sport, anytime, anywhere. “Hey! Don’t read that. You’re not supposed to read that. Give it back!”
His body flew up. He was tall and his body hovered over the table, hands flying for the crumpled ball in my hand. “No. No. No.” I teased in a sing song voice. Turning my back towards him, I spread the rough piece of paper out. “Let’s see what kind of secrets you wrote down. 10 things I want to do this summer.” I glanced at him with a smirk and a raised eyebrow and began reading his list. “Number 1: Eat one litre of ice cream.” I laughed, “Are you kidding me? What kind of list is this?”
Ryan gave up and sat back down; cupping both his cheeks in his hands as a pout swiftly adorned his face. “I guess I’ll let you read it,” he said as if he was the one doing me the favour, “since I haven’t talked to anyone but my parents and the teachers for the last week and a half.”
There was a flicker of sadness in his eyes and I couldn’t help but pity him. Ryan had always been a relatively nice guy even though he had all the wrong friends at school. The truth was he couldn’t fit in with the rest of the average kids given that he was exceptionally attractive and athletic. Everything about him was charming and refreshing and I found myself captivated by him even though pretty boys were my least favourite cup of tea. I hated boys that had roses growing out of their backgrounds as much as I hated the color pink. Maybe it was because I felt kind of manly being around them.
Ever since I can remember, I’ve been called a tomboy. While other girls growing up with me preferred princess dresses, I ran around with my older brothers baking mud pie and daring each other to eat worms. When they started wearing makeup and chasing boys, I spent my time playing video games and working part time so I had the money to watch wrestling on Pay Per View. It wasn’t like I peed standing up or anything, I just liked to live life simpler and did things that I liked because it made me happy.
I continued reading his list. “Number 2: Shower under a waterfall. Number 3: Have a watermelon eating contest. Number 4: Go swimming with the Great White Sharks.” I looked up and saw him smiling at me.
“Cool huh? I’ve always wanted to do that! It’s going to be the best thing ever.”
I gave him a weird look. “Number 5: Get up to see the sunrise not sunset. Number 6: Play the guitar and sing in front of a crowd. Number 7: Watch a meteor shower.” I smiled at the thought. I love the idea of doing all these things. It was like a test of courage, like doing whatever your heart wanted without anyone’s consent. It felt like for once Ryan didn’t care what others thought if he suddenly stuffed his pretty face down a toilet bowl. “Why are you writing this?”
Ryan shrugged as he ran a careless hand through his dishevelled blonde locks. “I’ve never realized what life meant to me until these last few weeks. I mean, I was always caught up in so much unnecessary drama. If it’s not, hey did you hear ‘Kim slept with Jared,’ it’s ‘did you hear Finn cheated on blah and blah?’ I mean, do I really care?” He let out a long, exaggerated sigh and again shrugged, but this time like he was shedding off extra weight. “Now that I have no friends, I’ve got a lot of time to think about… well, me. I want to do something memorable, something unforgettable this summer to celebrate my realization of… Life.”
“I like it,” I said supportively. “This sounds wicked!” I continued reading down the list, eager to find out the last few items on his summer to-do list. “Number 8: Send a message in a bottle. Number 9: Give mom a dozen red roses and tell her I love her. Number 10…” I stopped. Ryan had erased the last thing and all that was left behind were the indented marks on the paper. It was still readable even though the black pencil lead was gone.
“Well that’s it,” he said. “Want to join me on my expedition sometimes?” He clutched a corner of the paper and pulled but I held it steady in my hands. Ryan didn’t look embarrassed about number ten, it was a different kind of look―one that I didn’t quite understand.
“Number 10,” I said staring into his eyes. “Fall in love?”
CHAPTER TWO – The red sunrise.
I was still sleeping in my bed when Ryan woke me up at 3am via throwing small rocks and pebbles against my bedroom window. Irritated, I rolled out of bed and landed with a loud thump on the carpet before picking my limbs up off the floor. It was honestly still dark out, but I could hear his voice – enthusiastic as ever – chirping outside.
Stumbling across my room, I made my way to the door of my mini balcony before opening the door and stepping outside. Ryan’s voice hit me before the cool night breeze did. “Good morning!” He yelled, looking a little bit better than gorgeous with the moonlight lighting up his presence and his usual smile spread out across his face.
“It’s still night,” I groaned. “Go back to bed.” I left the balcony door open, but went back to snuggle underneath my blankets.
I could hear him screaming outside for me to get my butt up and I was pretty sure he was eventually going to wake up the neighbourhood if I didn’t stop him. “Get up!” He shouted. “It’s going to be a beautiful day today! Let’s go see the sunrise!”
“Five more minutes!” I begged, burying my head in my pillow. “Please!”
Ryan laughed, but continued to pester me. “C’mon or Romeo is going to keep throwing rocks at your window until one actually hits you.”
A chuckle tumbled out of my mouth as I made my way back out to the balcony. Elbows resting against the metal railing, and face resting on the palm of my hands, I peered down at Ryan with amusement. “Romeo? Really?” I teased. “Where? Because all I see is a Juliet.”
Even in the dim lighting, I could make out the face Ryan gave me which made me laugh because he looked even more like a girl with that kind of displeased, pouty expression. “Alright. Alright.” I muttered. “Just let me throw on some clothes and I’ll meet you down there in five.”
Quickly, I threw on my older brother’s hand-me-downs and before five minutes even passed, I was flying out the front door.
After we talked to each other that day, Ryan and I met up to eat lunch for the last few days of school. It’s been two weeks since the start of summer vacation and he was still buzzing around me like a bee.
In a way, he was like a puppy with its butt set on fire, always yipping about until he forced me to become his new friend, until he invited himself over to my house, until he invaded my room because he wanted to see what it looked like.
“What does your room look like?” He had chirped.
“A room,” I had replied, but the boy doesn’t seem to be able to take ‘no’ for an answer.
It seemed like he wanted me to join him on his summer adventures too, and although some of it does sounded really cool, I was a little less than thrilled for waking up so early for a mere sunrise.
Ryan laughed when he saw me. “Did a bird build a nest out of your hair?” He said of my bed-head. “Do you have eggs in there?”
“Oh shut up!” I said and hopped inside his beat up convertible his dad brought him when he turned sixteen two months ago.
“I can’t.” He replied as he started his car engine. “I promised myself I was going to give honest opinions from now on, remember?”
He did tell me.
That was also the reason that his friends shunned him. It turned out that one of Ryan’s new found reasons for life was to live a life that wasn’t a lie, so he wrote up what he really thought about every one of his friends and told them to stick it. Apparently he sent the e-mails to them all at once and within hours was cut off contact.
I was surprised the guys he offended didn’t gather to beat him up when he confessed to me the real reason nobody would talk to him, but I suppose they felt the same way I did about Ryan.
He was just too pretty.
Beating him up would feel like beating up a girl – sort of unfair.
I sighed and turned away from Ryan as I felt the wind blowing through my hair. It was the first time I ever rode in a convertible and it was nothing like the movies made it up to be. The early morning wind was blowing the wrong way and my shoulder length, black hair was forming a steep mountain on my face. Ryan laughed and called me a gorilla all the way to Crescent View Hill, a cliff that stood at the edge of our town.
By the time we got there it was almost 4am and Ryan sat talking about writing a song for the mid-summer talent contest that took place down by City Park every year. The sun wasn’t up yet, but the sky had lightened to a soft, hazy black. Ryan got out of the car and brought out his guitar from the trunk. We sat outside on the hood of his car as he played a few notes for me to hear.
“Not bad. I didn’t know you can play.”
“Yeah?” He smiled. “I want to join the talent contest if I can. I’ve never played the guitar or sung before in front of any of my old friends.”
“Why? You’re not the best, but you’re pretty darn good.”
He shrugged. “Because I’m not the best, exactly as you said it. I’m not ashamed of not being the best, but I don’t want people to see me trying. It’s embarrassing. I mean, it’s not exactly cool if you have to try hard at something to be good at it.”
“That’s ridiculous,” I said. “Trying your best to achieve something is the best feeling right after succeeding after giving your best.”
“I know,” he said. Smiling, he stretched his legs in front of him. “That’s why I’m going to do it this summer at the talent show. I’ve got major stage fright issues – because I’m constantly worried how people might think of me – but I want to overcome it. I want to play it on stage even if people start booing.”
“You’re being melodramatic,” I said with an eye roll before smiling up at him. “You know I’ll be there to cheer you on no matter what.”
His special smile blossomed like a sunflower on his face and I knew by that look – the look where his eyes were nearly the size of the moon – that he got a weird idea in his head. “Want me to teach you?” He asked, holding up his guitar.
“No, it’s really okay.”
“Want me to teach you?”
“I said, it’s fine.”
“Want me to teach you?”
This was exactly what I was talking about before. Ryan had a tendency to annoy the hell out of you until you finally gave him what he wanted. “Yes, I’d love to learn Ryan,” I said depressingly.
He quickly showed me all the guitar strings and taught me how to play a simple song which I completely blew. I couldn’t even hold the guitar properly. “Here, sit here instead. It’s hard to teach you the proper way to hold it and play it if you sit like that.” He spread out his legs and motioned me to sit in between them.
I shook my head. That would be awkward. Usually it would be fine – I felt more comfortable being around guys than I did with girls anyway, but that wasn’t always the case with Ryan. It’s not like I wasn’t at ease when I was with him, he was fun to be with, but there was something else.
All I knew was I would have sat there without a second thought if it was any other guy, but not Ryan. Ryan was different.
I got weird butterflies when I was around him.
He frowned, took the guitar from my hands and stood it next to his car. Then he wrapped his arms around my stomach and pulled me over one of his legs and I found myself exactly where he wanted me to sit, in between his legs. He picked his guitar up and parked it on my lap. With both his hands placed on top of mine, we played the Itsy Bitsy Spider together.
When he finally freed me from his arms, the sun was peeking at us through a vivid rainbow of yellow, pink, baby blue, and violet. Ryan sighed. “I really can’t wait for the talent contest, but the problem is that I have to write an original song for the show. They won’t let me sing just any song. What can I write about?”
“Life?” I suggested with mild interest. “Why don’t you write about your new found glory of life?”
He laughed. “Don’t tease me just because you’ve always known what makes you happy. I just needed a little time to understand myself, that’s all.” He looked up at the sky. The colors were changing now, slowly forming a painting in the horizon. “I don’t even know how to write a good essay, I can’t write a song.”
“Just let the words form in your head,” I suggested. “Forget what the song is going to be about. Just play the melody written in your heart and the words will follow them.”
“Easy for you to say.”
The sunrise was in full bloom now, with its sudden orange-red warmth enveloping me. The baby birds were awake and were chirping away as the mother birds looked for food. A soft, fresh breeze flew by me, brushing my tangled and still un-brushed hair back. Ryan and I sat there for a long time just looking at the sunrise without any exchange of words.
“The melody in my heart,” he said abruptly, with his guitar still tucked nicely in his lap. He closed his eyes for a few seconds, opened them and started playing a nostalgic melody. Then he began to sing, his voice like an angel’s.
I wouldn’t ask you a single thing
If you just grabbed my hand and ran
Let out just a single word
I’ll do whatever I can
Oh because I’d do anything
Jump off a cliff if it’s for you
Baby, I’d do anything
Anything, if it’s for you
I didn’t know when, but I must have fallen asleep on top of Ryan’s car hood. It was probably past noon and the sun was beating down heavily on us. I was hot – he had draped his jacket over me when it was still cool that morning and had fallen asleep beside me with one of his arms resting on top of the side of my hip.
I poked my head up. Crescent View Hill was swarmed with people now.
Our town might have been a small one, but it had mountains, fields of greenery and lakes all around, not mentioning numerous festivals that occur throughout summer so it wasn’t that out of the ordinary to see tourists around this time of the year. Crescent View Hill was known for spectacular sightseeing and since the cliff was now flooding with people, curious and annoyed stares were inevitable.
I turned my head to look at a little girl with blonde curls as she pointed excitedly at us. “Mommy! Mommy! What are they doing?” The mother hushed her and glared at me angrily before storming off with her daughter in tow.
I only shrugged in response. It didn’t matter to me since it wasn’t the first time a mother has ever glared at me. Mothers seem to glare at me a lot these days – even more so then when I sent their little boys running back home crying when I was young. They used to call me Danger Dannie. I controlled the playground.
Throwing Ryan’s jacket over my shoulder and back inside his convertible, I sat up before shaking him on the arm. He had a bit of drool rolling down the corner of his mouth and I could only imagine what he must have been dreaming about. “Wake up pretty face,” I laughed. “You better have been thinking about cake.”
Ryan popped his eyelids open and gazed at me blankly, still in the midst of his dreams. “What?” He rubbed his eyes and then his mouth, sitting there completely dazed before smiling stupidly. “Oh, hello Dannie. Good morning.”
I gave him a noogie to wake him up.
After Ryan finally got his brain working, we drove down half an hour to a vegetable and fruit farm and picked up an enormous watermelon before driving down to the beach for the rest of the day. We found an empty platform where they docked boats and decided to bring the watermelon there before setting up our much anticipated watermelon contest. Ryan had packed a picnic clothe from his sports bag as well as a knife in a safe carrying case and after chopping the fruit into several pieces, we got fired up to bring the other down.
“Get ready to lose,” I screamed. “Nobody can eat watermelons as fast as I can.”
“We’ll see about that,” he said with a smirk.
We got on our mark and began, each of us with three big slices of watermelon. Ryan took big bites, laughing and spitting the occasional black seed in the air so that it fell in the deep blue water that was below us with an extremely delicate splash. My basic concept was to mow it down and eat it like I was brushing my teeth with it. The cool, sweet taste of the watermelon ran down my throat and trickled down my face staining my oversized white T-shirt red.
I won of course!
Bolting up, I danced around, rubbing it in his face as he playfully glared at me. Our faces were covered with watermelon juice and Ryan had a couple of seeds stuck on his face although oddly enough it just made him look that much more adorable. “Only because I let you win,” he said.
My mouth popped open to retort, but was rudely interrupted by a painfully annoying sneer. “Well, look who it is? If it isn’t Dannie Andrews and Ryan Proud!” It was like nails clawing down a chalkboard. “Hellooo reject club!”
I shuddered and looked up to find the school’s most obnoxious girl, Courtney Robins, standing there in the skimpiest diamond studded bikini – one that looked like it was stolen right out of Paris Hilton’s closet.
Courtney had just stepped off her daddy’s new yacht with some older boys that obviously didn’t go to our school. I sighed and rolled my eyes at her. I didn’t want to deal with her today. She was always such a pain whenever I saw her, most likely because she still held a huge grudge on me from way back during our simpleton days.
It was completely ironic, but Courtney and I met in kindergarten and actually used to be quite good friends. One day when we were seven or eight, she teased me by daring me over and over to push her into a swamp on a school field trip. So I pushed her.
Courtney has been out to destroy me since. I have no idea why she hates me so much – I only did what she asked.
Sighing, I started walking away just to keep a large enough distance between us. I wasn’t a pushover, but if I could just walk away from something, I’d do that. Save me the annoying drama.
“Why, don’t just walk away Dannie. Oh look at you, helping us recycle trash.” She glanced at Ryan, smirked. She was part of his inner circle. “I didn’t know you liked the manly type Ryan. Honestly, if I were you, I’d just go for an actual guy instead of someone that’s halfway in between.”
“We’re just friends,” I said a little bit too quickly before rolling my eyes. “And please Courtney, if you’ve got that much time on your hands, why don’t you book another appointment with your plastic surgeon? Maybe this summer he’ll actually give you a face that doesn’t look like crap.”
[* Ryan laughed. “And then you’ll finally be 100% made from plastic Courts! Congrats!” *]
Courtney growled and threw us both a menacing glare. “It’s no use talking to you pathetic people. It’ll lower my standard.” She flipped her extremely long blonde extensions that must have cost a fortune before walking away, swaying her hips so far out with each step that I’m not quite sure why her body hasn’t detached.
Ryan grinned at me from ear to ear before throwing a watermelon peel in Courtney’s direct path. My jaw dropped as Courtney stepped on the peel as predicted, slid on it like a skateboard to the edge of the dock and fell – plunk – into the deep water. Ryan and I burst into laughter and even the guys that Courtney were with, fell into snorts and cackles.
“I can’t believe you just did that,” I laughed. “You’re horrible!”
“I know,” he snickered. “I am!”
A loud, piercing scream brought our laughing to an immediate stop. “Dannie Andrews!! Ryan Proud!!!! I’m going to kill you once I get up there!” An arm shot up from beneath the docks and then another before Courtney’s head suddenly popped up, hair covering her face with a piece of seaweed on top of her head.
I stared at her completely baffled. She was one heck of a quick swimmer – probably from that swamp incident – and before I knew it she had clambered back onto the dock, huffing angrily at me and Ryan. “You’re so dead,” she hissed.
I stuck my tongue out at her as Ryan jumped to his feet; half chuckling as he quickly stuffed his things back inside his bag. “Oh crap! Run! Run!” His hand quickly grabbed onto mine as we ran as fast as we could – still laughing as Courtney chased us – screaming from one end of the beach to the other until we finally lost her.
I screamed at the top of my lungs and was almost in tears when Ryan handed me the airplane tickets. Screaming, and especially at the top of my lungs, was something I rarely ever did since I never found anything that can work me up to that stage.
There weren’t many things in this world I could say I’m scared of either, things that can make me freak out like I was twelve years old again or make me cry. I haven’t screamed this loud for years and the last time I cried was when I was five, shoved an earthworm in my older brother’s mouth, and got spanked because of it.
“Excited?” He asked, laughing at me.
“No kidding!” I said, looking at the plane tickets to San Diego. The boat tickets were there too, the ones that would take us far out to the ocean to dive with the Great White Sharks. “Are you sure? I can pay you back. It’ll just take me some time since I don’t have that much money right now.”
Ryan shook his head of golden blonde hair. “Don’t worry about it. I’ve got it all covered. My parents are paying and they just want us to have a good time, so what do you say? Are you in?”
I smirked slyly at him. “You know if you put it like that, I’ll say yes. I’m not a very humble person when it comes to free things.” Ryan just rolled his eyes at me as I broke into a light chuckle. “Plus, I really want to see the sharks!”
“Then I can count you in next week?” Ryan scrunched up his shoulders and stuffed his hands into the pockets of his jeans before throwing me a boyish grin. “On the plane, right beside me?”
I nodded. “Right beside you.” I said, smiling at him.
He beamed at me. “Well then come on. Let’s get going.”
Ryan walked over to his car, but I stood a good distance back on my driveway. “Wait, wait, wait,” I screamed. I held my arms out, one hand facing him like a stop sign as he turned around and gave me a questioning look. “I’ve always wanted to do this!”
Ryan knew exactly what I was talking about and gave me a nod of approval before I took a deep breath. My legs picked up instantly and I dashed down the driveway toward his car before I jumped, slid across his convertible’s hood and then… “Oww!!!!!!!!!”
“Oh my God! Dannie! Are you okay?!”
I burst into laughter as I rubbed the side of my butt. Oh God, that was so much fun!
Ryan on the other hand though, was not laughing. His eyes were wide like a bug’s and immediately upon seeing me on the concrete ground, picked me up bridal style off the driveway. My cheeks instantly heated up. I felt like he was just about to kick open the door of our honeymoon suite.
“Put- Put me down!” I screamed, flailing my legs. “I’m fine Ryan! Just put me down!”
“How can you be fine?” He barked. “You just totally wiped out!”
My jaw dropped at his insult and I immediately brought my face up to his. “I did not,” I hissed.
“You totally did!”
“I didn’t!” I screamed, and then turned away from him as I cleared my throat. “I uh… intended to do that from the very beginning.”
I gave Ryan a quick side glance and found him raising an eyebrow at me. “You intended to fall flat on your butt from the very beginning?”
I blushed. “Yes.”
Ryan was apparently raised to be very considerate because he didn’t bring the topic up again.
I sighed and quickly managed to recompose myself while he pulled out of my driveway and started down the road. It was a cool Tuesday afternoon and the smell of rain still lingered in the air from the early morning.
It had been raining for the past few days – a good change from the overwhelming heat – but now everybody was sick of it and wanted the sun back again. “Where are we going anyways?” I asked Ryan.
He shrugged before grinning at me. “You’ll know when we get there.”
Ryan ended up taking me to a meadow where they grew roses in a town several hours north of where we lived. He wanted me to help him pick some red ones up for his mom. It was number nine on his summer to-do list.
When we arrived, I was more than surprised at how wonderful the roses smelled. They gave off such an attractive aroma that was both refreshing and sweet. The owner gave us some garden shears and a small basket to hold our roses in.
Ryan got straight to work, carefully picking his roses from a few selected bushes with no thorns as I ran around smelling all the different types before making splashes in the muddy puddles out of sheer boredom.
“I never understood why people liked roses so much.” I shouted to him across the mazes of different colored rose bushes. Ryan was done picking his flowers and now stood wiping the sweat that trickled down his cheeks. The sun was up, shining brightly, carving a rainbow from the leftover raindrops in the sky. “I mean they aren’t the best smelling flowers in the world and they certainly aren’t the prettiest looking flowers in the world. Why is everyone so obsessed with them?”
Ryan shrugged and jumped over multiple rose bushes before coming to my side. “I guess they like it because of the symbols roses have come to represent. Orange roses stand for desire, white roses for innocence, pink roses for admiration and yellow roses for friendship. Red roses…” he said smiling, “symbolize love.” He bent down and clipped a red rose off a nearby bush. “Here, for you.”
Ryan slipped the red rose in my hair and ran off, only turning around once when he was too far away for me to see the color on his face. My fingers grazed lightly against the soft, red petals tucked neatly between the crease of my ear and my hair and wondered if my cheeks were the same color.
“C’mon!” Ryan yelled from the distance. “Or I’ll leave without you!”
“Coming.” I quickly dashed after him, but the speed of the incoming wind knocked the rose down as I picked up the pace. I turned around and swiftly bent over to pick the rose up, but dropped it once more when I felt a piercing sting on the tip of my index finger.
A small bulb of blood sat over the insignificant wound before overflowing and rolling off the side of my finger. Gingerly, I picked the rose up again before staring at it with curiosity. There – near the green bud of the rose – was a tiny, almost unnoticeable thorn sharpened near the edge for attacking.
I guess even the most innocent and pleasant looking flowers have a weapon that they’re hiding.
Holding the stem of the rose, I hurried after Ryan.
Red roses symbolize love, and red roses – despite their alluring beauty – can definitely hurt you.
I abandoned my flip flops and ran towards the water before digging my toes into the cool, wet sand. My hair was tied up in a messy ponytail tonight – it had grown a lot longer since summer vacation started, but a few loose strands still managed to break free from my hair tie. The sky was without a trace of clouds and all that decorated the shadowy horizon was a trail of freckled stars.
Ryan was behind me of course – like the lost puppy dog that he is – and was busily pulling and tugging his dad’s old canoe towards the shoreline. I turned to him and cocked an eyebrow. “Are you sure you don’t need any help there pretty face?” I teased. “I’m probably stronger than you are.”
“No!” He shouted and even though the darkness hid most of his face, I could still feel his determination pouring out and flooding the place. “You stay right there! Don’t even move a muscle!” He hollered. “I’ll show you just how strong and manly I am!”
I shrugged and let it slide. Ryan started behaving that way a couple days back after I inevitably won him in an arm wrestling match. He couldn’t seem to get it over his head no matter how many times we calmly talked about it. He’s determined to show me that he’s the stronger one and I just got lucky that day, not once, but five times.
After what feels like forever, he finally managed to heave the canoe all the way to the shore. He turned around and beamed at me before rolling up his shirt sleeve and flexing his arm muscles. “Check out these guns!”
“Oh!!! You’re soooo manly Ryan!!!” I cooed and then dramatically swooned.
“Okay, now you’re just making fun of me.”
“Haven’t I always been?” I rolled my eyes at him before changing the topic. “So when is the meteor shower supposed to happen anyways?”
“Probably soon. We should hurry.”
After pushing the canoe into shallow water, Ryan and I both hopped on and began paddling out into the open water. In a way, the lake at the park was a perfect place to watch a meteor shower since the lighting was subtle and the vicinity was quiet and secluded. Of course, it wasn’t like we were the only ones that knew about the meteor shower.
As much as I liked to imagine this as God’s reward for Ryan taking a leap into life and giving him a hand with his list, the truth was far from it. Apparently, NASA had known about this meteor shower months ago, and when Ryan had accidently come across this fact on the internet, he had just conveniently added it to his list.
The rest of the town had found out about it a week ago on the news and most of them were now hanging out on Crescent View Hill waiting for the show to begin. I had wanted to join the rest of them up on the cliff too, but even with my heavy pleading Ryan insisted we were better off watching it from lower ground – which frankly I wasn’t so sure about.
When we finally rowed out to a satisfying spot, Ryan pulled out an empty wine bottle from his bag and then a piece of paper from the pocket of his shorts. I watched him rolled the paper up diligently into a mini scroll before he held out his hand. “Can I have your hair tie?”
I gave it to him since I knew he’d eventually take it by force if I refused which would probably result in us going overboard and into the water. It didn’t sound all that bad, but to save myself the trouble, I gave it to him anyway. “A message in a bottle?”
He nodded and focused on the paper in his hands as he slipped the elastic over gently. “There’s something I need to say to someone, but I don’t know how. So I’m going to send this and hope that it’ll get to her one of these day.” He looked up at me, his eyes glittering. “They say if you send a message in a bottle, your feelings will get delivered. Did you know that?”
The only thing I knew was that this person he was sending this letter to was a girl.
Half wanting to know, half not wanting to know, I asked, “uh… what kind of message is it?”
Ryan shrugged – his face suddenly weary. Then he quickly slipped the neat paper roll inside the bottle before pushing the cork tightly in. “How should I put this?” He mused. “I guess it’s a variation of a love letter.”
A love letter? To who? Do I know her? Are you in love with her?
A million questions went through my head, but I didn’t have the courage to ask any one of them. Instead I just let out a small “oh.”
Ryan laughed suddenly – dry, short-circuit chuckles that sounded like a scratched up CD. “Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha.” He smiled. “Just kidding.”
I couldn’t tell if he was faking it. “Oh,” I said again. “I see.”
Bottle in hand, Ryan swung his arm back before throwing the bottle into the abyss of the lake. I heard a loud dump sound from behind me, but didn’t care to look. My heart was too busy having cramps of some kind.
It’s funny how you can sometimes believe in something so much that you shut your mind to everything else. You can go through your whole life believing in something until someone finally proves you wrong.
Ryan had just proved me wrong.
I wasn’t as strong as I had thought I was and I wasn’t as tough as I came off to be. I was starting to feel something odd towards him and I couldn’t make sense of them. Worse, I couldn’t get rid of them – I couldn’t stop feeling like someone had just ripped open my chest and given my heart a gigantic paper-cut.
So instead, I did the only other thing that I thought would slightly lessen the pain. “Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha.” I echoed the same robotic laughter he played to me earlier. “It’s so quiet and boring here. See? We should have joined everybody else on the cliff. It’s probably extremely loud and crowded right now.” I beamed at him. “It would be so much fun!”
Ryan suddenly widened his eyes in shock . “Really?” His voice was scornful and bitter. “Well jeez, I’m sor-ry. I only wanted to watch it with you. I thought it would have been good enough if the two of us were together, but I didn’t realize I was boring you all this time. Sorry for pestering you all summer.”
“No. That’s not what I…”
“Forget it Dannie. It’s not like I even care. You can stop hanging out with me and do whatever the hell you think is ‘fun’. I won’t stop you and I don’t want your pity if that’s all it’s ever been.”
Before I could say anything, the meteor shower started. A blanket of stars drizzled from the sky like a broken fountain of glitter. Arrangements of gold, orange and red decorated across the horizon. The sight was enchanting, breathtaking, once in a lifetime, and yet – for some reasons – all I could look at were my toes.
The following days after the meteor shower Ryan didn’t call or come over to my house. I ended up hiding out in my room and doing nothing all day or lounging in front of the T.V downstairs. I never had many friends growing up, but I’ve always managed to have a good time doing whatever whenever. Now I can’t seem to remember what I did for fun or entertainment during all those years by myself.
Life was unexpectedly boring and lonely all of a sudden.
‘I miss him, I want to see him,’ my heart rampaged.
I sighed. I’ve become very pathetic lately.
Sighing again, I rolled around on my bed with my comforter in my arms. The airplane tickets he gave me a few days back were still in my hands, but after our recent fallout I’m not sure if he’d still want me to tag along with him to San Diego. He probably hates me after what I did the other night. He wanted to hangout with me all alone and I screwed it up by saying something that I didn’t mean. It was my fault. I should probably apologize to him somehow.
Deciding I should go outside for some fresh air instead of sulking inside my room, I made my way to my front lawn only to find Ryan sitting on the grass pulling the petals off of my mom’s flower garden. She was going to destroy him if she ever saw – I knew that much. Her garden was worth more than my life, my brothers’ and my dad’s combined.
Ryan hadn’t noticed my presence when I stepped outside and I stood by my front door observing him for a bit before I spoke up. “What are you doing here?” I asked, crossing my arms defensively.
I hated that. I sounded hostile, but that wasn’t what I wanted to express or what I wanted to say. It was just easier for me to act that way.
Ryan looked up at me from the grass, and the corner of his lips instantly curved upward in a smile before he frowned and looked away. His hands returned to his floral killing until he decided it was better for him to tug out the grass on my lawn instead. “You didn’t call me,” he muttered.
I have no idea how that’s an answer to why he was loitering on my front lawn all by himself, but I dismissed the question. “You didn’t call me either,” I said. Ryan didn’t say anything after that, and my insides constricted, urging me to apologize. “Look, I’m sor-”
“I’m really sorry for last time,” he said, interrupting me. “I was overreacting and didn’t mean to take it out on you. I’m sorry.”
I liked that he apologized first. “I’m sorry too. It was partially my fault.” I hesitated before sitting down beside him with a one metre distance in between us. My heart started beating faster and my hands became shaky and fidgety until I started pulling out the grass on my lawn. “I thought you would hate me after.”
His shoulders rise and fell in a nonchalant shrug. “Like I said, I was waiting for you to call all this time.”
“No.” His hands paused for a moment before he started vigorously tugging out the grass – even faster and more violent than before. “It’s sort of like, you never call me and I always call you. I mean, I don’t mind calling you, but it would be okay if you called me too.” He gave me a fleeting glance before turning his entire body away from me. “But this time, I just wanted you to call me to tell me I was wrong – that you wanted to spend time with me as much as I wanted to spend time with you.”
“Well…” I grabbed a weed off the ground and started peeling off its needle-like petals. “That’s very nice and all Ryan, but why are you saying that with your back facing me?”
“Uh, well, um…” The soft summer breeze flew passed us. “Those are uh… embarrassing words for a boy to say out loud.”
And because I’ve been a tomboy all my life, I said to him, “I’m feeling ya.”
After we settled our misunderstandings, Ryan and I moved onto other issues. It had completely slipped my mind during all this time, but apparently the talent contest Ryan had signed up for in City Park was tomorrow. He was flipping out with anxiety and since he finished writing the lyrics and the music for the piece, he wanted to play it for me to see if it was any good.
It wasn’t so much the song being a problem as it was himself. Ryan was way too nervous and especially since this was his way of showing the world who he was, he was even more self-conscious than usual. In the end, he practiced his song all day in my room, and we worked on strategies for him to keep his cool, but it all went down the drain when I met up with him backstage the next day at City Park.
He had completely forgotten everything we said and his fingers were doing the chicken dance across the strings of his guitar. “Hey, you’ll do fine. Remember? You played it perfectly in front of me yesterday.” I couldn’t help, but laugh secretly when he wasn’t looking. It was probably quite sadistic of me, but he was such a mess that I found it adorable.
Ryan took a deep breath. “Yeah, but that was in front of you. I played it for you. I sang it for you. It’s different.”
A security guard walked up to us after making his round with all the contestants. “Miss, you’ll have to leave now. The show will start any minute so please cheer for him from the crowds.”
I nodded even though Ryan looked at me with eyes that begged me not to go. “Good luck,” I told him. “I’ll be cheering for you.”
Ryan gave me an uneasy smile as I started walking away. Outside, amidst the crowd of people in the blazing heat, I waited impatiently for the event to start. His competitions turned out to be pushovers – though a couple of the dance performances were really good – none of them were quite as amazing as he was.
When it was finally time for Ryan’s turn, he walked out to center stage before knocking over the mic with the base of his guitar. The crowd burst into laughter which just made him more agitated. He tried picking up the mic, but then dropped his guitar and knocked over the stool, swearing a couple times under his breath into the mic.
I wanted to cover my eyes. His stage fright was just unbelievable. Even when everything managed to settle down and he began playing his guitar, it was completely off key. I’ve heard it more than enough times to know that he was messing up – big.
Ryan’s eyes scanned the crowd over and over again and it was then that I realized he was looking for me. Smiling, I threw my fist in the air and shouted, “Go Ryan!!! Show them how amazing you really are!”
He gave me a nervous smile from upstage – a look that told me he really couldn’t do this after all, but I wasn’t going to let him back down from trying to overcome his fear. “Just do it like how you did yesterday,” I shouted. “Play it for me, sing it for me – like I’m the only one here with you.”
The crowd burst into excitement and laughter and I could hear some perverted things being said as some others wolf whistled. My cheeks lit up like a volcano. I had just done something completely unnecessary and rather than calming him down and giving him confidence, I had probably made Ryan more anxious than before.
My eyes flickered over to where he sat on stage, but to my surprise, he was perfectly calm and gave his guitar strings a soft pat to stop their movement before he started again – from the top, his eyes locked on mine like we were the only ones here – this time his playing perfect.
I wouldn’t ask you a single thing
If you just grabbed my hand and ran
Let out just a single word
I’ll do whatever I can
Oh because I’d do anything
Jump off a cliff if it’s for you
Baby, I’d do anything
Anything, if it’s for you
And I wouldn’t ever let go
Because there’s no other girl
No, there’s no other girl
I’d rather say I love you to
Oh because I’d do anything
Jump off a cliff if it’s for you
Baby, I’d do anything
Anything, if it’s for you
And I’d get you red roses to fill your room
Every Wednesday night
I’d take you on a shopping spree
Baby, whatever you like
So girl, please tell me
Tell me you love me too
Say you’re feeling the same way about me
The way I feel about you
Oh… Because I’d do anything
Jump off a cliff if it’s for you
Baby, I’d do anything
Oh, I’d do anything
Anything if it’s for you
Oh Baby, I’d do anything
Because you’ve got me falling in love with you
The four day trip from the port in San Diego all the way out to Isla Guadalupe near Mexico wasn’t how I had imagined it to be. Ryan, his parents and I had arrived in San Diego together, but only Ryan and I had hopped on the boat or vessel as they called it, out to Isla Guadalupe. It was out there that they would sink a cage down into the water where you could see the Great White Sharks up close. I thought that it would be filled with daredevils, but to my dismay, it was filled with jocks and girls who looked like Paris Hilton who flocked all over the much younger Ryan. My Ryan.
We spent the first day exploring, getting to know the other fourteen people on the vessel and getting acquainted with the boat crew and our diving instructor. The second day we learned all the techniques about diving and the general etiquettes with becoming friends with sharks. Although the weather wasn’t great that day and was too dangerous to dive, we did see whales, dolphins, sharks and otters on the surface.
I skipped onto the deck. The third day was beautiful, the sun was smiling and nothing could go wrong since it was the day we’d finally get a chance to go swimming with the sharks. Even the Paris Hiltons, who were all lined up on deck in skimpy bikinis, sun bathing while drinking a Bellini or a Cosmo, couldn’t have bothered me.
I turned to Ryan, who had woken up only fifteen minutes ago and was now sleepily rubbing his eyes. “Hey wanna have breakfast on the deck today?” I asked him.
A murmur of recognition tumbled out of Ryan’s mouth, but his thoughts were completely elsewhere, and all it took was to follow his line of vision to see who had preoccupied his mind: Christa Hebert.
Figures – I can’t even say I’m surprised.
Christa was exactly the type of girl you’d love to hate. Not only was she insanely gorgeous with big, doe eyes, long flowing blonde hair, and a luscious figure with curves in all the right places, she was also the epitome of awesomeness. Down to earth, outgoing and energetic, Christa looked like a supermodel, but had a personality and a love of dirt-bikes that rivalled any tomboy’s.
Before I had the chance to turn Ryan’s attention elsewhere, he raised one arm up in the air and started waving at her frantically like some star struck teenager. “Hey Christa,” he called out and I inwardly groaned as I dragged my footsteps after him to where Christa sat confidently on a lounge chair in a bright red bikini.
It wasn’t like I disliked her – we both enjoyed the same things and she was nice to say the least – but I wasn’t exactly fond of her either for whatever the reason.
Christa turned around at Ryan’s voice, whipping her golden locks in an array of sparkles as she smiled at the both of us. “Hey there Ryan. Hi Dannie.” Her hand waved briefly at the chairs beside her – motioning for us to take a seat. “Isn’t it gorgeous out? We’ll finally be able to dive today for sure!”
Ryan sat right down beside her without hesitation. “I can’t wait for that!” He exclaimed. “I’ve been waiting to do this forever.”
Christa laughed and flicked a loose curl behind her shoulder. “Oh and guess what?” She leaned in and whispered something in his ear that made the both of them crack up before Ryan whispered something equally as secretive back.
At that point, I realized I was the third wheel and decided to leave honourably – though it wasn’t like it would have made much of a difference even if I stayed. While Christa was probably the center of numerous male fantasies, I had roughly about the same sex appeal as a hippopotamus taking a mud bath that reeked of cow manure.
“Whatever,” I muttered to myself and started trudging down the corridor after I walked back inside the ship.
If Ryan wanted to run off and flirt with older woman then there’s absolutely nothing I can do about it!
In fact, I don’t even care! I don’t even want to know!
My footsteps pounded against the carpet as I stomped my way toward the dining center. Stupid Ryan! Moronic buttface! Gahhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!
My name echoed down the corridor suddenly causing me to jump in surprise. “Dannie! There you are!” Ryan rushed up to me, a little out of breath as a sleek smile spread across his face. “What’s up? You just vanished suddenly.”
I glared at him before crossing my arms in front of me. “I’m surprised you even noticed,” I muttered.
“Yeah, of course.” He gave me a weird look. “Why wouldn’t I?”
I let out an unladylike snort before continuing down the path with Ryan trailing after me.
“It wasn’t me, was it?” He asked after a moment, and when I didn’t give him a proper response, he uttered a sigh. “So it is me? Did I do something to make you upset?”
My face flushed. I didn’t know how to explain how I felt to him since I hardly understood how I felt myself. On one hand, I was extremely frustrated with him, but on the other, was there really a reason for me to?
No there wasn’t, but the point was I was still mad at him and I couldn’t help it.
Ignoring him, I trudged up the ramp to the restaurant before turning around. Ryan stopped walking when I stopped and stood a metre behind me with an innocent smile on his face. I threw him a glare in return. “Stop following me!”
“But I thought you wanted to eat together,” he murmured, sounding like a lost child.
“Well, I changed my mind,” I grunted, “so stop following me.”
I continued storming up the ramp until I reached the restaurant’s glass entrance and then stopped before spinning around once more. “I said ‘stop following me’ didn’t you hear?” But he wasn’t there anymore.
A part of me wanted to die.
He wasn’t actually supposed to leave!
“[* What- Whatever!” Leaving my troubles behind me, I went ahead, got seated inside the diner and ordered enough food for ten people. *]
Ten minutes later – still waiting for my food to arrive – Ryan showed up in front of my table and slid into the booth across from me. He didn’t say anything at first, just sat down with a frown across his face before pulling out something from behind his back.
It was a teddy bear – one that was wearing a shirt that read ‘I love Sharks’ that he must have gotten from the souvenir gift store when he disappeared earlier. Ryan tuned his voice into a childish, squeaky pitch as soon as he sat the bear on the table. “Ryan, Ryan,” he squealed, moving the bear’s head back and forth, “why do you look so sad?”
“Well.” He cast me a nervous glance. “It’s because Dannie is mad at me.”
“Why is she mad at you?”
Ryan looked at me with puppy eyes and a pout. “I’m not sure, she won’t tell me.”
He moved the bear towards me. “Hey Dannie! What did Ryan do? You have to tell him if he’s making you upset you know! He can be a realllllllll idiot sometimes. Do you want me to hit him? I can hit him for you!” Ryan moved the bear towards him and slapped his own face with the bear’s paw making a dramatic sound every time he got hit. “Now say sorry Ryan before I beat you up some more!”
“I’m sorry,” Ryan said sincerely. “Will you forgive me for acting like an idiot?”
A small smile escaped my face. “Well whatever,” I scoffed. “Only this time.”
He laughed and gave me the bear, “for you.”
“Thank you.” I felt the bear’s soft, smooth fur underneath my palms. “So anyways,” I started, “where is Christa?”
Ryan raised one eyebrow in a devilish expression. “Dannie,” he murmured mischievously, “were you jealous?”
All my blood rushed to my cheeks at that one precise moment. “Of course not!” I yelled, jumping up. The few people in the dining room all turned to gawk at me and I quickly sat back down as Ryan explained to me what happened.
As it turned out, Christa was engaged to our diving instructor, but they had a huge fight right after going on broad and Christa had blurted that she wanted to cancel the engagement in an angry fit. Ryan had caught Christa crying up on the deck that night and comforted her and the two had become friends. What Christa whispered into his ear earlier had just been of something really corny and sweet the diving instructor did to reconcile with her.
The rest of the trip was amazing after that and the shark diving was completely beyond! Christa, feeling a little remorse from my misunderstanding, even asked her fiancé to let us go night diving with them. It was another world to dive underwater, but another universe to dive underwater at night and see all the sea creatures that glow in the dark.
Christa pulled me aside and offered me a drink after we got up and changed out of our diving suits. “I’m so sorry about the misunderstanding earlier. I really hadn’t meant for it to end up that way.”
“It’s totally okay!” I leaned against the railing on the deck and sipped on my Coke. “I have no idea what you think happened, but there’s nothing you need to apologize for. Though I did enjoy the night diving.”
Her ruby lips shaped into a perfect O. “Well, I was just going by the fact that I would want an apology if it was the other way around. You were jealous, weren’t you?” She said oh-so-casually. “Since you like him.”
[* My jaw dropped and I whipped my head to the side and stared at her... and stared at her and stared at her and stared at her. “No- No way! It’s not- I can’t- That doesn’t-” For the first time, the idea actually swam around in my head and when I realized it made sense, my cheeks blew up in flames. *]
“Well,” Christa pressed.
“Well, I guess it’s not like, you know, impossible.”
Back in San Diego, we met up with Ryan’s parents at the hotel. Ryan’s dad was one of those people that didn’t talk much, but was exceptionally nice. Ryan’s mom on the other hand, was extremely talkative and when she was talking, nobody else in the world was, so I guess that made them the perfect couple.
Initially, we were supposed to stay overnight at the hotel and then leave the next morning, but typical Ryan had wanted to do some exploring while we had the chance so Mr. Proud agreed to let us stay for an extra day. Of course, I expected Ryan to be off the wall the next day since he was just that kind of guy, but I didn’t expect him to knock on my door at 7 in the morning – especially when we went to bed at 3 the night before.
“Oh my god, Ryan! Just let me sleep okay? You know I’m not a morning person.”
“Psh! Dannie! It’s me! Sweetie, let me in!”
My eyes widened at the white ceiling above my head when I realized it was a woman’s voice that hissed through the door. One, either Ryan had… No that’s not possible. It was definitely Mrs. Proud.
Making my way over to the entrance, I opened the door up a crack to take a peek and sure enough, Ryan’s mother stood outside my room with the biggest smile on her face. Apparently, while Ryan and I were away, she had took it upon herself to buy me a pretty, little, red sundress that was oh-so-not-meant-for-me.
“I’ve always wanted a daughter,” she chuckled.
“So did my mom,” I told her, but either she didn’t get my humour or she just didn’t care because she managed to get me dressed in 2 minutes flat anyways. Then came the ever torturous event of hair curling and makeup until I couldn’t feel my face and my head felt ten pounds heavier. When I finally thought the whole dreadful ordeal was over, Mrs. Proud brought in the high heels.
“Oh no!” I said. “I don’t do those… those things. They are completely out of the question.”
“But they match your dress,” she insisted. “You would look so nice with them on.”
“But you know what wouldn’t look nice? A leg cast – which I will definitely have to wear for the next 6 weeks if I so much as attempt to walk in… those.”
Mrs. Proud raised her eyebrows. “But you do want to look pretty for Ryan, don’t you?” She asked before she broke into school girl giggles and started elbowing me. “Right? Right? You do want him to tell you you’re pretty right? Because you liiiiiiiiiiiiiiike him.”
My jaw just dropped. I couldn’t believe it! This whole time – was I really this obvious? First Christa and now Ryan’s mom? Did everybody in the world knew that I liked him besides me?!
“Please darling,” Mrs. Proud continued, looking at me with the same puppy sort of eyes Ryan always did. “It’s just this once alright? I’ll teach you how to walk in them before I let you off into the wild. You’ll be fine. I promise.”
In the end, I was coaxed into wearing the heels and Mrs. Proud did keep her word and helped me practice walking in them for at least a good thirty minutes. The results were expected of course. It was an epic fail and no matter how much I improved since putting them on, I still fell over every once in a while. Beauty really didn’t come without any pain.
When Mrs. Proud finally presented me in front of Ryan at the lobby of the hotel, he just stared at me in disbelief. It was such an awkward experience that I wanted to crawl into a ditch and get buried alive.
“Alrighty then,” she cheered, ignoring the silence between us. “I’m going off on a date with your father so you guys go out and have fun. Don’t come back too early, okay?”
After Mrs. Proud made a quick escape dragging her husband behind like a toy doll, Ryan and I left the hotel and started down the busy street. Although he didn’t say a word to me, he kept turning his head to stare at me while smiling at me like he knew a secret that I didn’t.
“What?” I eventually huffed out.
His head turned back onto the road ahead of us. “Nothing,” he said with a cheeky smile. “It’s just that you look cute. Like really cute.”
“I feel fat,” I told him, but even as I said that, I could feel my cheeks being enveloped in warmth, and my stomach being filled with jitters. I smiled. “But thanks.”
He chuckled a little, and then we both burst into laughter.
Ryan and I ended up having a blast. Instead of eating a proper breakfast and lunch like Mrs. Proud gave us money for, we ended up buying snacks and eating them all throughout the day. We explored the city, all kinds of shops, museums, until we stopped by a park bench in the late afternoon so I could rest my feet.
As luck turned out, the park happened to have a delicate waterfall that ran down from a mossy cliff side and right into the small lake that was in the middle of the open space. I wasn’t exactly sure if the waterfall was natural or not, but whatever the case, it didn’t stop Ryan from jumping at the chance. He immediately dragged me around the corner to a near by supermarket where he picked up a few necessities.
“Ryan, I have to ask. When you wrote ‘shower under the waterfall’ on your summer to do list, you didn’t actually mean shower-shower did you?”
“Of course, I did.” He replied, flashing me a boyish grin. “Why else would I buy bodywash and shampoo?”
I rolled my eyes and watched him skip cheerfully ahead of me like a little kid. I tried catching up to him, but the shoes were a killer and by now, my feet weren’t necessarily motivated to keep moving on. “Ryan! Wait up, will you?”
He turned around and smirked at me. “Well then, hurry up slowpoke.”
Gathering what little strength I had in my legs, I picked up the pace and ran after him only to trip over my own two feet. Before I knew it, I was falling and I quickly closed my eyes, bracing myself for the impact, but instead of the hard concrete cement like I had expected; what I fell into a few seconds later, were a strong pair of arms.
When I opened my eyes, what I saw were an even stronger pair of eyes – so intense that they were paralyzing. A guy who looked just a few years older than I was must have walked by and caught me by coincidence, but coincidence couldn’t have been any friendlier because he couldn’t have been more of a looker.
He laughed when he realized I was staring, and still holding me in that awkward dance pose, he said to me, “Well, aren’t you a cute one. I wished it rained cute girls all the time.”
I was so embarrassed for him that I couldn’t even say anything since the only reason I was staring so hard was because the situation weirded me out. Still, the least I could do was give him my gratitude for catching me, but before I managed to even stand properly on my feet, Ryan pulled me away and held me tightly in his arms.
“Dannie, are you okay?” He was talking to me, yes, and he was using the most tender and caring tone, but his eyes were staring so angrily at the stranger who just saved my butt that I could have sworn somebody else was talking to me.
The other guy laughed at Ryan’s apparent hostility and then purposely blew me a kiss before he left. “See you around cutie.”
Ryan was so choked about the whole thing that even after the stranger left on his way, he continued glaring into the guy’s back like he was mentally throwing darts at him. Not that I mind since he was so preoccupied that he didn’t notice how tightly he was holding me against him and I sinfully let myself indulge in his scent by burying my nose into the collar of his shirt. Mmm….
“So, you’re okay right?” He asked after a moment, and quickly pulled me away so he could take a good look at me. “You’re not hurt or anything, are you?”
His eyes filled with concern and his voice was so gentle that I felt all squishy inside. The whole trying to protect me charade was just so… manly for some reasons. I giggled and then felt my cheeks reddening in the process.
When Ryan saw the expression on my face, his literally sank. “Why are you blushing?” He grunted and then glared in the direction the stranger disappeared off into. “God Dannie! Stop blushing! There’s nothing to blush at.”
There’s you to blush at, I wanted to say, but I just smiled and walked ahead of him feeling extremely airy and proud inside.
For the rest of the way to the waterfall, Ryan decided to walk my pace, but when we finally arrived, he instantly ripped off his shirt and jumped into the water. I sat by the edge of the lake and watched him, laughing as he poured multiple bottles of bodywash right under the waterfall so that the lake started turning into his private bathtub. Bubbles started forming everywhere and the kids in the park started screaming, joining him like a school of fish in the water.
When he finished having his share of quick amusement, he came over to the side and held out a hand, indicating me to join him.
I glanced around the park at the already pissed off crowd of adults and choked back a laugh. “Ryan, I’m in a dress.”
Ryan rolled his eyes at me. “Oh come on. The Dannie I know wouldn’t be stopped by a tornado. What can a little, red dress do?”
So, I took his hand and he swept me away into the rushing wave of the water.
Oh we ended up having a great time, until someone called the park security on us and we ended up at the police station. Luckily, Ryan’s mom wasn’t upset that we caused so much trouble, but when she saw us holding hands at the police station, both drenched head to toe in water, she almost squealed to death.
I frowned as I sat back in the hot sand and tried not to blind myself by staring straight into the sun. I’ve been having so much fun for the last little while that I didn’t realize that summer vacation was quickly coming to an end. There were only about 2 weeks left until school started again. Oh! The torture!
Groaning, I rolled over on my stomach and looked at Ryan who was walking towards me carrying a big bucket of ice cream. We’ve been home from San Diego for a while now and today, we decided to soak up the sun on the beach. Ryan popped down beside me as I lazily sat up, and placed the 4 litre bucket of ice cream right in front of him. “Can you eat all of that?” I asked him. “It clearly said only one litre of ice cream on your summer to-do list.”
His hair was messy, standing on its ends from swimming in the lake earlier, but he looked irresistible all the same with his goofy, boyish grin and his shirtless, tanned body. I, myself had upgraded and was wearing a bikini now – something I thought I’d never wear – although it was still nothing like those revealing ones.
“Four litres is nothing especially since you’re going to be eating it with me.”
Ryan smirked before handing me a spoon, and so we sat there, devouring the banana strawberry swirl ice cream while digging our feet into the hot sand below. Half an hour later, we were both groaning, completely full from the ice cream sugar overdose. Ryan lay down on the sand to watch the sun that was slowly falling asleep from the long summer day. “Hey, you better finish the rest of this. Don’t waste it.”
“No… I’m so full right now.” He pretended to fall asleep, snoring dramatically – the way my dad always did when he went to bed at night. Only in my dad’s case, he wasn’t pretending.
“Ryan, you’ve got ice cream all over your face.” He ignored me, continuing his sleeping act until I crossed my arms on top of his chest and then rested my head on top of them.
Lazily, his eyelids lifted and he gazed at me sleepily. “You do too.” Then, he raised his head and licked the tip of my nose. “Mmm, strawberry.”
“Ew!!!” I pulled away and gave him a kick on the side of the leg. “That’s gross Ryan Proud!”
“Oh look, Dannie Andrews is actually grossed out by something. That’s a new one.”
“Oh shut up.” Standing, I made my way over to the shoreline and flicked water at him until revenge ignited in his eyes and he jumped to his feet.
“I’m going to get you back for that! Get ready to run!”
Laughing and screaming, I ran as he raced after me across the water's edge until his arms held me firmly from behind. “Caught you! Whoo- Whoops!” I’m not sure what happened next – whether he slipped or I slipped, or the impact of him clashing into me caused us both to slip, but before I knew it we were both laying on top of the damp sand, my body on top of his, my face an inch away. I swallowed hard. My heart was pounding so loud inside my chest that I was afraid he would hear it. Panicking, I started pulling away when Ryan’s hand stopped me.
There was no sign of force – just a gentle hand that cupped my left cheek, his thumb padding across my lower lip. “Don’t,” he said. “Just stay here.”
My mind was thinking, yet not thinking at the same time. He was so close that I could feel my stomach being pecked by a swarm of butterflies. Then he started leaning into me which made my head start spinning. He was so close. So close. “Wait. Wait. Wait.” I closed my eyes, but then opened one eyelid to take a nervous peek at him. “I’ve… I’ve never done this before. I don’t think I’ll be any good.”
His smile broadened across his face. “That’s okay. It’ll come naturally and whether or not it’ll be any good – that’s for me to judge.”
Ryan’s lips parted as he grazed them gently against my own. “Wait. Wait. Wait.” I said. “Am I… Am I supposed to breathe?”
This time, he laughed. “Yeah,” he said. “But it doesn’t matter since I’m going to leave you completely breathless anyway.”
Then he kissed me – slow and gentle at first, then faster, and more passionate until it swallowed me up. “This is number ten on the list, Dannie.” He said to me, pulling away just far enough to give me time to catch myself. “Fall in love.”
I swallowed hard and got off him, suddenly embarrassed by his blunt confession. “I’ve um… I’ve liked you for a while too!” I quickly lowered my eyes, aware that I’ve been shouting as he chuckled and crawled towards me, pushing me down on the sand so that he was on top of me this time. When he leaned in to kiss me again, my entire body erupted with a burning sensation, making me savour every touch of his skin, lips and tongue.
I wonder if the way I taste drove him insane too.
Suddenly I felt something warm dripping on my chin and running down my neck and chest. I pulled away and realized it was blood. Looking at him, I laughed. “Ryan, you pervert! You’re having a nosebleed.”
Ryan straightened up and rubbed just below his nose with his arm and watched it stain red. “Shit,” he mumbled, got up and started walking away. “I’m going home Dannie.”
“W- What?” It was so suddenly. “Hey, if you’re having a nosebleed Ryan, you should lie down.” I got up and started after him. “Ryan, come back.”
“Don’t follow me,” he said, and then forced a laugh with his back still turned towards me. “It’s just bad timing. I always get nosebleeds so you don’t need to worry. It’s just, I was always better when I was with you.” Again, he laughed. “Or maybe, that was what I wanted to believe.”
“W- what? It’s just a nosebleed Ryan. You’re being weird.” But even as I said it, it didn’t feel right. Something felt off. The words. The atmosphere. Something just felt wrong.
“I’ll be fine. Go home. I’m just going to–”
And when he started coughing violently, something inside me knew. You didn’t cough like that from a nosebleed. You didn’t cough up blood like that from a nosebleed. You don’t just fall down and collapse like that.
Everything happened so suddenly that I couldn’t believe the reality that was happening in front of me. He was always so energetic. He was always so cheerful. Everything was so realistic yet everything was so surreal. It was all too sudden, or maybe, it was this way all along, but I’ve just never paid any attention to the finer details.
I didn’t understand any of the stuff they said to me even though they explained it over and over. Ryan’s mom rubbed my back just inside the hospital room, as if trying to make me feel better, but her expressions and her teary eyes didn’t help. “Dannie,” she called to me gently. “Ryan has terminal brain cancer.”
I stumbled back, shaking my head, laughing. “You’re kidding me right?” I looked from her to Ryan, who was now awake, sitting on his hospital bed with a weary expression on his face. “Stop it guys! This has got to be the worst joke ever!” I felt tears rolling down my face. “I don’t get it. It doesn’t make any sense to me. It’s not possible!”
Ryan’s mom held me in her arms. “I’m so sorry,” she cried. “I’m so sorry I didn’t tell you earlier.” And I couldn’t even get mad at her with the way she was holding me, the way her tears made my hair damp. “As a mother, I just wanted so badly for Ryan to live like a normal boy while he still could. I just wanted him to be happy. I’m so sorry. You don’t deserve this.”
I blinked back the tears and though my voice sounded so distant, heard myself speak. “It doesn’t matter.” I looked up into her eyes. “He’ll get better right?” I clenched onto her arm. “Right?”
The silence was so painful after that.
Ryan got up and walked slowly towards me. “No Dannie.” His voice was calm and his face lit with a soft smile, like it didn’t matter to him anymore, like he had already given up, accepted it. “I’m going to die.”
“No!” I screamed. “No, you’re not. You lair, you’re not! You’re not! I’m not going to listen!”
I ran out of the room. It wasn’t true. They were all lying to me. Why would Ryan die? Why would they take him away from me after I had fallen madly in love with him? Wasn’t that just too cruel?
My feet kept running and I wasn’t sure when I eventually stopped, but when I started to notice my surroundings I was in a garden of tall, well-trimmed bushes outside the hospital building. Ryan had chased after me from his room and was a couple of short metres behind me. He called my name softly, walking towards me hesitantly, trying to make me feel better like he always did.
But who was going to make me feel better once he was gone?
“Dannie, I’m sorry. I didn’t want it to be this way.” He looked at me longingly. “I wanted to tell you a long time ago, but I didn’t know how to say it. I didn’t want to get too close to you, but I did. I didn’t want to fall in love with you because I was dying, but I couldn’t help myself. I never wanted it this way either!” Tears surfaced to his eyes.
“You know I haven’t cried since I was a kid,” I said sobbing. “But then you walk into my life and take me on an emotional rollercoaster ride. Congratulations Ryan, for being the only person in this world that can make me cry. Now just stop it! Make this pain go away! Please take it away!”
He stood there paralyzed, shaking his head. “I never meant for it to end like this,” he said. “I never meant to cause you pain and I never meant to make you cry. This isn’t what I wanted for us. I’m sorry.” He held out his arms and I quickly ran into them, drowning my sobs and cries into his chest.
Everything was so unrealistic. I could still hear it – feel it – the sound of his heart. He was still warm and still breathing. He was fine. He was completely fine. And yet, the next moment, he might not be.
So I gripped onto him as hard as I could because I wasn’t sure what else I could do.
“You know, I want to be able to say that I’ll always be here to listen to you, that I’ll always protect you, that I’ll always stay by your side even when your world is crashing down, but I can’t.” His words caught in his throat. “And I hate myself because I have to hurt you this way.”
“Why does the world want us apart when we’re finally together?” I asked, struggling for words. Babbles of tears rushed out of my eyes again. “I can’t live without you Ryan! Don’t go! Don’t leave me! I love you.”
He held me closer. “I’m sorry.” And because he couldn’t do anything more, he kept repeating the same two words. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry.”
We sat inside the maze of bushes for a long time, holding hands until we were both calm. When it seemed like hours had passed by, he explained everything to me. I had been mistaken all along. It was never a summer to-do list that he wrote, it was a bucket list. Ryan’s doctor had suggested it, since he said Ryan might not live past this summer. Ryan could have gone through chemo, but that would have only dragged his life on a little bit longer and Ryan had eventually refused it. The tumour in his head was growing bigger every day, pushing against his brain, often giving him painful headaches and nosebleeds.
“Why won’t you go through chemo though? If it could let you live just a little longer, why won’t you?”
Ryan kissed my fingertips. “Because I’m happy,” he said. “God has given me everything I asked for; even when I thought it was unattainable. I thought it would be impossible for me to fall in love this summer and then God proved me wrong and sent me you. I’m happy Dannie. I don’t want to remember the last minutes of my life to be in a hospital bed, sick and lonely. It’s alright if I go like this.”
He kissed the teardrops falling down my face. “Don’t cry. I’m happy I swear, and it’s all because of you. I was always doing what other people told me to and I never expressed myself. I never felt alive once those years, but when I met you, I realized that my world wasn’t just black and white, and for the first time I saw a rainbow. I lived for the first time even though I knew I was actually dying inside. I have no more regrets.”
“But you can’t just die!” I argued. “What about telling the world what’s on your mind? What about showing the world who you really are inside? You haven’t done any of that!”
“But I have.” He smiled, touched my cheek. “I’ve shown you!”
And even though he smiled the same smile that always made me smile along with him – this time, I couldn’t.
“Dannie, I’m happy enough just being loved by you. So don’t think about it anymore. Let’s just be like we always have and when my time comes, promise me.” He held both my hands in his. “Let me go.”
I nodded and forced a smile through my tears, because even if I hadn’t, Fate wouldn’t have changed.
For the next couple weeks, we spent our time just hanging out and not doing anything in particular. We visited all the places we went to in the summer that we had enough gas money for. We went to the fruit farm again, the rose meadow, the beaches, the docks, the cliff where we watched the sunrise and lastly City Park, where Ryan performed his song that won first place. It was like we were tracing back our footsteps, trying to find a way to relive and rewrite our love story, but the thing was, no matter how much we changed, how much more we loved, the ending was still the same.
We went to the playground in City Park and swung on the swings silently, waiting for the night carnival to start. It was a carnival that was held once a year at City Park near the end of the summer – a tradition from the Natives that gave thanks to all the things that were harvested in the summer and a prayer to all the things that will be harvested later.
Ryan got off his swing after a while. “Want me to push you?” He asked me, smiling.
He smiled more lately, at me, at nothing, at everything. Maybe he didn’t know how much longer he had to smile. Maybe he wanted to leave a good memory. Maybe he wanted to make a good memory.
“No, it’s okay,” I said. “I’m fine. You don’t need to push yourself.” His body had become noticeably weak recently. The tumour was growing at a fast rate, pressing against his medulla oblongata, making it hard for him to breathe normally and giving him an irregular heartbeat.
It wasn’t long now. It wasn’t long.
He tilted my head back, stroked my hair aside and kissed me. “Just let me,” he said. “Since I can’t do anything more for you.”
It wasn’t true. He had done lots for me. It was I, not him, that couldn’t do anything.
I let him push me for a little bit before we left the playground for the festival. Everyone was so happy there, chatting, playing and eating candy apples and cotton candy. I envied them because they smiled so easily, like they couldn’t care less if the sky fell down.
Ryan and I went on the Ferris Wheel after a few walks around the festival and a couple rounds of games. It was almost midnight and they were going to start the fireworks at any moment. At the top, Ryan said to me, “You know, our little town is really beautiful.” He pointed at all the lights around us, the bonfire by the food stands, the full moon that shone down, leaving a shallow reflection of itself on the lake. “It’s funny how people never see how important and beautiful a thing is until they’re about to lose it.”
“I’ve always known how much you meant to me,” I said. Sudden vibrant flowers bloomed in the air making a loud boom in the sky. “Look, Ryan! Fireworks!”
Ryan smiled and kissed my forehead before resting his head on top of my shoulder. “Dannie?” He said, clutching my hands tightly in his when the Ferris Wheel took us back up to the top.
“I love you.” He closed his eyes as teardrops ran down his face.
“I love you too,” I replied.
The late summer rain started to tickle down. It would heal the dry cracks on the ground over time and give birth to new buds from flowers that had wilted from the passion of the hot summer sun. They were tears from the sky that needed to be cried.
But right now, it would dampen our parade.
I felt Ryan’s hands slowly losing grip on mine, his staggering breath coming to a quiet end. “Ryan, don’t go,” I cried. “Just stay with me. There are so many things I still want to do with you, so many things I want to tell you, show you. There are so many days I still want to spend with you Ryan! You can’t go! You can’t leave me alone like this! Ryan! Ryan! Stay!!!”
I screamed at the top of my lungs, letting the sound of the fireworks drown out my cries, and when his hands completely let go, I finally realized I was alone – that I was the only one still holding on.
I watched the little kids run out of their classrooms as I made my way back home from the last day of school. A year had went by, slow and suffocating as each day passed, but when I turned around, it had come and gone. Summer was already here and it was only a matter of time before the sun would blaze heatedly again. It would replay and remind me of the tragic tale that won’t fade from my mind no matter how hard I try.
A red helium balloon escaped from a young girl’s hands. “My balloon,” she cried. “Mommy, my balloon!”
I ran out into the middle of the highway and jumped up, just managing to grab the tail of the balloon’s string. Cars honked and screeched, breaking into a stop. Two cars sandwiched me, both barely missing my body. I squeezed out of the crack ignoring their curses and made my way back to the little girl. “Your balloon,” I said. “If you love it, don’t ever let it go.”
The mother gazed at me shocked with a hint of anger on her face. “Are you out of your mind?” She yelled. “You could have died!”
“I can’t,” I replied. “There’s a really mean boy in Heaven that won’t let me meet up with him.”
It was true because I didn’t know how else I’d explain it. Death was such a funny thing. One minute Ryan was right there beside me and the next he wasn’t. Time just passed by, and I’d wake up every morning, eat breakfast and expect him to casually pop by my house. Only I’d just sit there at the breakfast table and wait until night came, hoping to hear the sound of his beat up car.
Any minute now. He’s going to be here any minute now.
Sometimes I would see his shadow pass by from the corner of my eyes and I’d spin around, my heart beating violently. But he was never there. Every time I heard his name, I would turn and look, knowing very well it wasn’t him. He was gone yet his every smile, every laugh, and every kiss was vivid in my mind. It was unbearable and went on until it drove me insane, like an endless game of hide n’ seek with only one player.
I remember gathering my courage to go see Ryan, a month after he passed away. I went up to Crescent View Hill, to a bridge that linked two parts of the cliff together; there was nothing there except a deep fall into the thunderous water below. I was trying to climb over the bridge’s wooden rails when something knocked me back down and when I opened my eyes, white feathers were falling all around me like falling snowflakes. There were hundreds of doves that had suddenly flown up from under the bridge. One by one, they took a place along the rails of the bridge, making it impossible for me to climb over and jump.
From then on, I knew he had become my guardian angel. He was there when I needed someone to listen, there protecting me, making sure I was safe and there to hold my sky up when my world was crashing down.
One white dove had followed me back home from that incident and although it flew away sometimes, it always came back and I always knew it was the same one. Sometimes it would wake me up at 3am, knocking on my window with its beak. Sometimes it would sing, chirping a love song to me in a different language. Sometimes it would crawl under my bed sheets even though I didn’t like it, but it would always get its way, just like he always did.
I took a detour to my house and skipped by City Park which I did whenever I felt the urge to cry. I would swing in the swings by myself with no one to push me from behind. I would sit in the sand and eat ice cream or watermelon with no one to share it with.
Sometimes I’d go pick a dozen red roses at the meadow and bring it over to his mom. Sometimes I would get up extra early to see the sunrise on Crescent View Hill and I’d bring his guitar that he left for me. Sometimes I would borrow his dad’s old canoe and drag it out into the middle of the lake at night on the weekends. But there was never a meteor shower and there was never a Ryan.
They say it takes time to heal a broken heart. I wonder how much time?
The white dove that always followed me appeared by my side as I was digging a hole in the sand trying to bury my pain in it. It started tweeting then dancing, motioning me to chase it. I followed it as it led me along the shoreline, before it suddenly stopped and began pecking something shiny in the sand. I bent down and brushed off a lot of sand before pulling the object out. It was a message in a bottle and I recognized at once whose it was.
It was Ryan’s.
Tugging the cork out, and pulling my elastic off the rolled piece of paper, I took a deep breath. I wasn’t sure if I should read it, although I had always wanted to, but what if it said things that weren’t meant for me. The dove looked at me from the ground and cocked its head as if waiting. I sat down beside it and unfolded the letter.
“Dear Dannie,” I read. “I’m writing this to you from Heaven.”
I began to cry.
It’s a nice place here so you don’t have to worry about me. I’m sure that by the time you get this, if you ever, you would have already learned the truth about me. That I have fallen in love with you, that I can give you nothing and will leave your life as quickly as I entered. It was probably selfish of me to drag you into this, but the moment you came up to me that day at lunch, I couldn’t pull myself away. I had seen you so many other times before, always walking down your own path, wearing your heart on your sleeve. I wanted to be like that.
As time passed by and we got closer, I realized that our feelings for each other were mutual and my hatred for myself grew. I knew that in reality we were actually drifting further apart from each other and that I would have no choice but to hurt you and leave you in the end.
There were times you made me stay up all night asking why I had this sort of sickness, why I couldn’t be healthy, why I couldn’t be with you, if not forever, for a little longer. Then I realized that if I didn’t have this illness, we would have never spoken to each other that day and we would have never gotten to know each other. So if someone gave me a second chance to forget everything, go back and live without the illness, I wouldn’t. I would rather have loved you, been loved by you and end our love story as a tragedy than be lovers that never loved at all. I want you to know that I don’t regret ever getting to know you and I hope you don’t either.
I hope that you don’t remember all the things we did and places we’ve been as tragic things because I don’t want you recall me as a sad memory. That’s not how I want to live inside your heart. I hope that you would remember our time together as a fun and happy memory and smile whenever you think about me, not cry. I hope you can open your heart after I leave and fall in love again, deeper and more passionate than you’ve ever loved me.
Sometimes in life Dannie, whether it’s love or just a mere friendship, we find people who have the ability to touch our hearts. They come in our lives, share something special with us and then move on to share it with someone else. I don’t know if I touched your heart Dannie, but I know you touched mine. So now you have to move on and brighten the lives of others, the way you did for me.
So promise me you won’t cry for me anymore. I want you to move on. I want you to smile, live your life to the fullest and show me that strong personality of yours that I had fallen in love with. Know that I can hear you when you talk to me. Know that I try to catch your tears when you cry. Know that I’m watching over you even if I’m not right there by your side. Lastly, know that I love you.
Thank you for making the darkest days of my life the brightest.
And I cried because this I promised him would be the very last time. I knew that I had to move on somehow, that I couldn’t linger onto his broken fragments forever.
The dove rubbed his head against my cheeks, wiping the tears that rolled down my face until the feathers on its head was wet. I stroked his wings and brought him up close to me, giving him a hug. “You should probably go too,” I said.
It tilted its head and stared at me.
“Don’t worry, I’ll be fine. I’m not sure if you’re just a dove or you’re really Ryan himself, but thank you for keeping me company for the last year. I’m going to be strong and I’m going to live my life to the fullest from now on.” I sniffed my nose.
“Tell Ryan that I know there can’t be just 10 things he wants to do, let him know I’ll do everything and tell him all about it one day. Tell him, I’m going to have twice as much fun, laugh twice as hard, love twice as much, and share it with him when it’s my time to go to Heaven. Tell him that I’m strong, that I’ve moved on and lastly, tell him I love him.”
“And when you delivered my message, just stay in Heaven little dove. You don’t belong here.” I threw the dove up in the air, giving it a boost to fly, but the dove refused to leave. It circled round and round above me, chirping a painful, agonizing cry.
Maybe I’ve secretly believed the dove was Ryan all this time. That was why it had to go.
“It’s alright,” I said. “I’ll be fine. You need to extend your wings and become an angel. I’m moving on and you shouldn’t linger on the past either. It’s time Ryan… that you moved on.”
The dove kept crying above until it finally decided to leave. It slowly flew away, chirping that same old love song it always sang for me as it faded into the sunset.
That was the last time I ever saw that dove. But it was still around watching over me even if it wasn’t in my plain sight. And I knew, because I’d always find a red rose by my windowsill “every Wednesday night.”
It was pity that first made Dannie speak to him. She had known Ryan since she was a kid, but he had always been the popular Golden Boy, and she had always been the tomboy that didnâ€™t mind not having any friends. It was odd, she had thought, that all the popular kids who had once kissed the ground he walked on, didnâ€™t so much spared him a glance anymore, and it was this that made her sit with him that one faithful day and begin something that would only end up causing her pain.