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A Summer of Changes

DING! The bell sang out. The last day of seventh grade, the last day of school. Now it’s summer. The best part of the year. Going to the pool, seeing all my friends, soaking up the sun, riding bikes, and more. Much much more.
I couldn’t wait to be out of this place, the place that I was kept for hours and hours. Learning what I think to be pointless things. Will I really need to know polynomials when I’m a star athlete? I don’t think so. This summer I will be doing my favorite things. Basketball, volleyball, and relaxing.
After the bell rang, I rushed to my locker. I made sure I had all of my stuff and went along the long line of hugs and goodbyes. Saying, “Have an amazing summer!” and “I’ll miss you!” and “Call me!” Then waiting for the buses to wake up and bring me home so I can go to the pool.
When I arrive home, I changed quickly and scurry out. As I’m walking to the pool, I look up and around me. The bright, huge green leaves, making a canopy above me. The purr of cars whizzing by me. People everywhere, celebrating, and little kids yelling as they rush through the sprinkler. These are my favorite things about summer. The Popsicles and the constant sound of the lawn mower as dads go back and forth through the lawn to make it perfect. The moms on the block all in their chairs or standing around, gossiping about the new neighbors as they watch their kids. When I arrive at the pool, there is a long line waiting to get in. I see a ton of my friends and people I recognize. I then hear my name being shouted out.
“NICOLE!”
I spin around quickly and find one of my best friends.
“Lucy!”
“Hey, get in line with me”. She responds quickly.
I can’t wait until I get to dive into the pool. I can already smell the chlorine from the front. It smells like home. It’s the place I go all summer. The chlorine in the air, and the little kids screaming. The moms gossiping and watching the little kids interact and applying sunscreen over and over. All the high schoolers sitting out in the sun, working on their tan. And the middle schoolers running and jumping and laughing in the cool water of the pool.
As soon as I place my stuff at my usual chair. I tear off my cover up and jump into the pool, making everyone shriek around me. All my friends are there, Lucy, Santana, Brittney, Tina, Will, Kurt, Finn, Jesse, and lastly Luke.
Luke is the boy I like. And he likes me. We went to the Valentine’s Dance together. He’s tall, brown short hair, darker skin, and a great smile. We hang out all the time and have a blast together. I can’t wait for this summer!
Tomorrow he’s throwing an end-of-the-school party. His sister’s and brother’s friends are going to be there as well as many of my friends. I can’t wait to run around in the lake and play ghost in the graveyard, and infection in the dark.
Anyways, the pool was great; we laughed and were remembering the last school year. Seventh grade was great. The teachers were amazing, and the work was fairly easy. I had great grades, and worked really hard. It’s great to have a three month break. But, it was a pretty crazy, drama filled one. In January and February, two boys liked me. One was Luke and the other Will, one of Luke’s best friends. Both liked me and Will had liked me since fifth grade, but throughout the long months, Will stopped being one of my best friends and was kind of a jerk. But now, we’re best friends again. Luke was really sweet and nice and seemed like he really cared about me. The only issue is he’s a little shy. He isn’t as social and outgoing as me so sometimes it’s hard for us to connect, but it’s OK. I really like him. I think. Don’t I? Yes. Yes I do.
***
Lucy came over after we finished at the pool, so we could plan what we were going to wear tomorrow. We were both really excited and couldn’t decide what to wear. We took everything out of my closet and were throwing it around trying on and taking off, to find the perfect outfit. And then finally, I did. It was a plain White V-neck t-shirt with a grey tank top under, and my favorite blue shorts. My favorite flip flops, and my swim suit under my cloths so we could go swimming. Now, I couldn’t contain my excitement to see Will. I mean Luke. Yeah, Luke. Not Will. Will is just a friend. Right?
The next morning, I woke up around eleven. Which is pretty normal for me. I love sleeping. The day was amazing. It was one of the warmest days of the year and the sky was completely clear. I couldn’t wait for tonight!
I then started my normal summer routine. I walked around the house, relaxed for a little while. Then I ate breakfast, and got my swim suit on and headed out to the pool. All the normal people were there. All my pool friends and a lot of people from school. It felt like home. Diving in the cool water and the rush I always get after jumping off the diving board. People everywhere. Getting snacks, screaming and splashing in the pool, laying out and working on their tan, and just enjoying summer. This is what I live for. Summer. And I know this summer is going to be unforgettable.
Before I knew it, it was 3 o’clock and it was time to go. I was going to Macy’s house where we were all getting ready together. Macy and Will were going out I then thought, so I was OK. I definitely don’t like him. I like Luke. As we got ready, we danced around and sang at the top of our lungs. We helped each other with our hair and made sure our outfits were perfect. Then we finally saw 5:45 illuminated on the clock. It was time to leave. Macy lives on Lake Michigan and lives only a couple of blocks away from the Beach Club so we decided to walk along the beach there. It ended up not being a very good idea.
When we finally arrived at the Beach house after what turned out to be a long gross walk. The club was decorated and there were people all around laughing and partying. Music was playing and I saw Luke. He was standing there in the middle of all of his friends laughing, when one nudged him and he turned around. His smile brightened and they walked towards us. I was so excited and had so much energy I couldn’t help myself.
I ran up and hugged him and yelled, “Let’s get this party started!”
Everyone shouted in agreement and we ran to the lake. The water was absolutely freezing. We shrieked and sprinted out as fast as we could. Then we went back in. The water numbed my entire body. We were swimming and diving and dunking and just having a blast. After an hour, we couldn’t feel our feet and our teeth were chattering like crazy, we decided that we should get warm by the fire.
I sat down at on one of the beach chairs. I looked up at the clear sky and wished that every day would be like this one. As I looked around the circle I saw all my friends enjoying themselves and laughing. When I glanced over in Will’s direction, he was staring at me. I thought that was a little weird but I thought nothing of it. I smiled at him and kept talking to Luke. I wonder why he was staring at me. Oh well. It doesn’t matter. He doesn’t like me and I don’t like him. It’s definitely nothing.
We were laughing and talking and singing camp songs at the top of our lungs. It was a blast. I was having so much fun hanging with all of my friends and relaxing on the first official day of summer. My friends are amazing and are hilarious. And Luke was great. He was being a little quiet though. I am kind of a loud person myself, so maybe it’s just me.
Then Macy shouted, “Let’s play ghost in the graveyard or infection!”
A chorus of YEAH!’S erupted from the people, and so we went.
We went to the front, which had more woods and better places to hide than the back where all the people and beach was. Luke and I decided to hide together. I was happy because I got the advantage on finding the best hiding spots because it was his club. We decided to play infection, a game where you hide and there are one or two people that tag you. Once you get tagged, you are also it. After you get tagged you have to tag others and you can’t lie about being it or not. The last people tagged win.
This is one of my favorite games. It’s so much fun to hide and run around. First we hid behind a car. It was really creepy since you couldn’t see anything and we were never sure if it was a person coming or just an animal. We then moved to hide behind a shed that had kayaks and canoes hanging off the side. We were sitting and whispering. I was trying not to laugh out loud. It’s very hard for me to sit still and be quiet for very long.
Then all of the sudden we heard a knock. It was coming from where the cars were right next to us. I almost screamed but I covered my mouth in time.
Luke unsteadily whispered, “Who’s there?”
“It’s Will”, the ghostly figure emerged from behind a car. Then I saw the body of a tall, skinny, strong boy, with a light bulb shaped head. I was relieved. Something seemed different though. I could see his deep brown eyes staring at me, as if trying to go inside my head and find out what I’m thinking.
“Did you guys knock on the shed?” Will asked.
“What? No. We thought you knocked on the car!” Luke demanded.
“No”, Will replied looking a little scared.
“Oh my gosh,” I quivered, as the sound of gravel and leaves crumbling beneath quick footsteps sounded behind us. I quickly grabbed both of their arms and pulled them in between the shed and the canoes and kayaks. The space was small and we were all really close but we fit. Barely, but we did. We listened to the others walk right by us laughing and yelling and attempting to find us. I still didn’t let go. I was really scared. They sounds got louder and louder as they walked closer and then faded away as they gave up and turned around and looked somewhere else. I squeezed tighter and tighter. They could sense how scared I was, and started laughing.
“Stop it!” I squealed.
They laughed even harder.
“Shut up guys! They’re going to find us if you don’t be quiet!” I whisper-shouted. I could tell they were trying to stifle their giggles.
“Don’t worry. They won’t find us. We have the best hiding place,” Luke reassured me.
“OK”, I relaxed for a couple of minutes, until I could hear the footsteps and yelling again.
“Guys, they’re coming right at us. What do we do?”
“It’s fine. They won’t find us. Just stay still and don’t say a word,” Will suggested.
For the next five minutes no one said a word. My heart was beating like crazy and I was sure they could hear it. That was one of the longest five minutes ever. Especially being squished between two amazing boys that both liked me at some point and used to hate each other. The silence filled the air, and just as I was about to relax since I thought they had given up again, a loud voice sounded. The voice was so close I felt like it was right in my ear.
The voice shouted, “So, the only people left are Nicole, Luke, and Will. That must be interesting.”
A chorus of laughter filled the air, and we couldn’t help it. We burst out laughing and ran out of our hiding spot since they were coming near us. We darted into the woods. They were right behind us laughing and yelling. We were freaking out. The branches were scratching my bare legs and arms. I could see Luke in front of me and looking back every few seconds to make sure we were there and Will behind me, not taking an eye off me. We were running through the woods as fast as we could. Jumping logs and roots and dodging branches. When we finally got out of the woods, we were back by the cars and about four people were sitting there. We had won! We high-fived each other. Everyone was asking where we were hiding and what happened. We told them about the knock and hiding by the shed. They told us that they were looking for us for a long time and they had gone to the back because they were getting yelled at for being too loud. After we played infection, we played more games and ran around all night. We played ghost in the graveyard, froggy murder, and role call. We also had s’mores and sat around the light of the glowing campfire.
Later, Will came up to me and we were talking. I can’t help smiling when I’m around him. His smile’s so infectious and he’s really funny. It’s hard not to like him or not want to be friends with him. We were talking about the past school year and how crazy but fun it was when he randomly says, “Sorry I hid with you guys.”
“No. It’s totally fine. I don’t care. We made a great team!” I replied, a little surprised. I sure didn’t care. Personally, I was totally fine with it. I kind of didn’t want to be alone with Luke because it was getting a little awkward, he came at the perfect time, and also we won. Why was he saying sorry?
Will worried, “Luke and everyone was mad at me for hiding with you guys, so I thought I’d just say sorry.”
“No. It’s totally fine. I don’t care. I had fun. It doesn’t matter.” I reassured him.
“Alright.”
He slowly turned and walked away. Back to all the other people, glancing back a few times.

*********************************************************************************

The rest of the night went by in a blur. We continued laughing and playing games. It was a blast. The only thing that went wrong was Luke wouldn’t talk to me very much. It was like he was almost scared to, which doesn’t even make sense, because nothing was wrong that I knew of and I think of myself as not being very scary. But, oh well.
Will was acting really weird too. I wonder if he still likes me. No. No way. He doesn’t. Why would he. He’s going out with Macy. Maybe he just doesn’t want Luke to be mad at him. Or maybe it’s nothing and I’m just over reacting. Yeah. That’s it. I am definitely over reacting.
I look around at all my friend’s faces, and realize how much I love them all. All their eyes shining and happy and their lips in ginormous smiles. Summer is amazing. The best time of the year! I feel sad that the school year’s over though too, because I won’t see a lot of people over the summer.
I all the sudden am feeling a little down. I walk up the beach towards the sparkling water with the reflection of the moon shinning bright on it. I see the glow of the fire behind me and hear the laughter filling and echoing throughout the air. I start to think. Thinking about the past year is hard. It was long, and made me want to cry some days. So much happened. So many things changed, and I grew up. Were all the things that happened good? Were they for the better? I wonder. Remembering all the times of laughter and all the hard times when I felt like no one could cheer me up or really help me, because no one understood. I hate hurting people’s feelings and throughout this whole time that’s what I did.
I am proud of myself for getting through this. But, maybe I wish the outcome was different. Maybe I wish that the boy I chose was different. Maybe he turned out to be something different than he really was.
When I hear light footsteps behind me, I know exactly who it is. My best friend. The boy who is always there for me and always knows when something is wrong. I don’t turn around. I wait. Listen to the sound of the faint waves crashing in. When the footsteps grow louder and stop right behind me I turn around. I don’t look straight at him at first. I look beyond him in the distance towards all the people. And then search for one person in particular. Luke. Standing and talking to his friends, laughing not even caring about me. That’s when I realize that I no longer like him. I like the boy standing in front of me waiting for a response. The boy that has been waiting since fifth grade. Then I turn around again and face the water, so he won’t see the expression on my face. It’s of anger and sadness. I’m mad at Luke, but I still can’t let him go. Will stays. Even though he could be talking with everyone else and Macy. How could I have been so stupid? I let him go, and he won’t ever like me again. He likes Macy. He’s just being a good friend.
I stand up, turn and face him. I look into his eyes and say sorry. I hug him and tell him what a great friend he is and then we both walk back up to the fire and join our friends again. When I realize its 10 o’clock and it’s time to go. I feel relived but sad. This night really was great. I hug everyone goodbye and hug Luke last, saying that I’ll talk to him later.
Tonight all the girls are sleeping at Macy’s, since she lives down the road. They all make me happy again and I try to forget about Luke and Will. We go over the nights events, remembering and giggling the whole night.
When I woke up in the morning, I thought last night was a dream. It was so fun! But I also figured out something that I can’t tell anyone yet and have no clue what to do.
I walked over to the window since I was the first one up and enjoyed the stream of bright sunlight through the window, and the view of the lake. Soaking up the rays and can tell that today was going to be a great day!
I didn’t realize Lucy got up until she was beside me looking out the window and said, “You like him don’t you.”
Lucy always knew everything. It was almost like she could see the future sometimes. I didn’t even have to ask to know that she was talking about Will. I didn’t respond for a while. And finally said, “No. He doesn’t like me and I don’t like him. We are just friends.”
Even though we both knew that was a lie, neither of us said anything, and that was my answer every time I was asked. We continued looking out, until the next person got up.
We were all up and talking again by nine, again talking about last night. When I looked at my phone it blinked to show that I had one new message. I opened it and was pleasantly surprised that it was from Will. It read;
Hey. What’s up? I had a great time last night!
I responded quickly so no one would notice. We continued talking for a while. He always makes me laugh, and when I laughed out loud at something he said everyone turned to look at me and asked who I was talking too. I hid my phone and said I was talking to my friend from camp. I could tell no one believed me, but no one said anything. They just returned to their conversation.
Lucy and I started to talk about the overnight volleyball camp we were going to in a week. We were so excited. It was going to be so much fun! I love volleyball and it would probably get my mind off of boys for a while.
At ten thirty we all went home, but decided to meet at the pool at one. That is where we all go. We invited some other people too. I was so tired from last night and the sleepover that I took a nap as soon as I got home.
I had dreams about Will and Luke and all my friends and how this summer was going to be amazing but something was going to happen. Something big. I wasn’t sure what that something was. But I knew it was something big.
***
Later as I arrive at the pool, I am feeling much better. I’m the first one there as always, since I live practically across the street and it takes me about thirty seconds to get there. As soon as I put my stuff down in my normal spot, I dive into the well, and feel to cool water take over my body.
I continue thinking about last night. I still like Luke right? I think so. I’m not completely sure. What if I don’t? What will I do? What would happen? Does Will still like me? What about Luke? Questions circle my head. Not knowing what to do.
I was so wrapped up in my own world that I didn’t even realize that everyone else had arrived. My brain was driving me insane. When I noticed everyone staring at me, I quickly looked up and smiled and started talking like normal. Everyone seemed to relax then. I could see Lucy watching me out of the corner of her eye. When I decided I wanted to come out, Lucy came with me. I could tell she wanted to tell me something, but was deciding if she should or not.
“What?” I asked her, “What is wrong?”
“Will totally likes you and you like him. You guys talk all the time.” She repeated once again.
As always I deny what she says,” No. You’re wrong. He definitely does not like me. He thinks of me as a FRIEND! Only a friend. We’re just like, really good friends.”
“OK, I’ll pretend like I believe that.” She kept looking at me trying to make me say what she wanted to say. But, I’m going to prove her wrong. After talking with Lucy, I realized that I do like him. I really do, but I just don’t know how to deal with that right now.
I went back into the pool and went to talk with Luke. He was having such a good time I could tell, and I didn’t want to ruin it. It seemed that he liked me still. I can’t hurt his feelings. That’s just not who I am. I need more time to think.
I looked over at Will; he caught me and smiled wide. I just turned around and laughed. He’s such a goofball. When I look again, I can see him playing basketball and get tackled by someone. His face was so funny. I couldn’t help but laugh out loud. Everyone was laughing and he looked a little shaken when he came back up. I watched him a little more, and when he noticed once again, he swam over.
“Hey! What’s up?” He yelled smiling.
Laughing I reply, “Nothing, I just saw you get tackled.” I just couldn’t contain myself and I burst out laughing. He looked mad, and splashed me.
I screamed and yelled, “Oh, no. You didn’t!”
“Yes I did! What are you going to do about it?” He teased.
“This!” I quickly shouted and dunked underwater and swam away as fast as I could.
I came up since I was laughing so hard and I thought I lost him. I was giggling to myself, when I heard someone coming up behind me. I spun around fast. I definitely did not lose him. He was right behind me, smiling in an evil way. I yelped and swam away. He’s really fast, so he caught up to me with in seconds and splashed and dunked me repetitively. I was laughing to whole time. When I finally called uncle, he stopped and we stood there laughing. Until I quickly splashed him again and swam away. He chased after me; he picked me up and threw me into the water. When I came back up, I couldn’t stop laughing or smiling.
I could tell everyone was looking at us, but I didn’t care. His eyes were smiling as wide as his mouth and he looked so happy. I wanted to run up and hug him and just have him be mine. But, I knew I couldn’t do that. I could see Luke looking at me, but I didn’t care. Let him look. He barely even talks to me. For the rest of the time at the pool I talked mostly to Will, and a couple of my other friends. Luke seemed mad at me so I stayed away. He barely said two words to me.
Again, this brought back the thoughts about if I really chose the right guy. Is Luke really going to be the guy I want at the end of the day? Or is it going to be Will? The voice in my head was telling me to go with my heart, but it was so hard since I didn’t want to hurt Luke’s feelings. The voice in my head screaming trying to urge me to do it. But I can’t. I just can’t.

*********************************************************************************

The questions started entering and reentering my head. They would flow in, linger for a quick second, and flow back out. Each question making me even more intrigued and confused. The cycle continuing endlessly.
All the sudden I knew I wasn’t happy, and I knew that this shouldn’t go on for much longer. He is a great guy, but just not for me. The right one for me was sitting right over there, smiling and laughing. His smile is infectious. When he’s happy, so is everyone else around him. But I know that he will never feel the same way about me. I can’t do anything about it. He was hurt by me last year and in fifth grade. I don’t know how I will ever make those things up to him.
***
We stayed there for a while later. I tried to forget everything that was happening. I talked to everyone and cracked jokes and just enjoyed myself. I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep this up for much longer, but I did what I could.
Lucy and I talked about volleyball camp and how excited we were. We were leaving that next Friday. I can’t wait! Volleyball is one of my favorite sports and I’m hoping to play on a club team this year. I had about five or six camps or clinics that I was going to this summer. I couldn’t wait to learn even more and perfect my game. Lucy and I want to get on the same team this winter, so I have to work really hard. We talked about who’s bringing what and how excited we are to play again since it’s been so long.
Lucy is one of my best friends. We always go on bike rides and hang out all the time. This summer is going to be amazing.
It was a really nice day out. The sun was shining and the air warm. A perfect summer day. The leaves were swishing in the wind. We decided it was getting late and was time to go home. Everyone said their goodbyes and started gathering their things and dispersing out in separate ways. I hugged Luke goodbye and pretended everything was fine. He gave me a weird look but I ignored it. Just as I was putting my i-Pod headphones in for the walk home, I heard my name being called behind me.
“Nicole! Wait!” It was Will, running along behind me trying to catch up.
I could barely function. Does he want to walk home with me? We’re practically neighbors, but still. Omigosh. He does.
“Hey”, he exhaled once he was right next to me. “Want someone to walk with?”
“Sure”, I couldn’t help responding with a smile.
We walked in silence for a while, just walking straight ahead. When I surprised and said, “Sorry”.
“For what?”
“For everything.”
There was a small pause and he gave me a questioning look as if to tell me to continue. So I did.
“I’m sorry for last year and everything that happened. I’m sorry for fifth grade and I’m sorry for right now. I’ve been really rude to you and I feel really bad about it. You don’t even know how bad I feel about it. I want to make it all up to you. I want us to be really good friends. You can tell me anything.”
A silence for what seemed like forever as I looked straight ahead since I was too scared to look over. I could tell he was thinking. Thinking about a lot.
“Don’t worry. You don’t have to do anything. I was a jerk. None of it was your fault. You didn’t do anything wrong. All you did was tell me you didn’t like me like that.”
I almost felt that he was right, but I couldn’t let it go.
“Ya, well I’m still gonna do it somehow.”
When I looked up he was watching me and I realized we were at my house. I didn’t want to leave. I felt there was more to say, but I guess it would have to wait.
“Bye. I’ll see ya later.” He said with the smile that was almost always plastered on his face.
“Ya. Totally.” With a fake smile across my face, I turned and walked away, through my back gate and walked to the door. I looked back twice. He didn’t once. That was when I knew this would never work. He doesn’t like me and I don’t like him. I like Luke.
***
I didn’t have much time to worry about that. I tried to keep myself busy with diving and volleyball. Lucy and I were getting ready to go to overnight volleyball camp. We got food for the dorm and made sure we had all of our volleyball stuff.
Lucy and I spent as much time as we could together. We were psyched and I was ready to leave all of that for a couple of days. Everyone thought that I was in love with Luke that I liked him so much and that was that. A lot of people thought we were a perfect couple. And I acted like we were. We talked all the time. Most of our conversations weren’t very exciting, but oh well. I knew that he really liked me and I liked him. Luke was great. He was pretty nice to me and seemed to care about me. That’s all I was worried about.
***
As we were leaving for camp I couldn’t wait to go into our dorm and then go play volleyball for a couple of hours. Lucy and I drove together and we talked on and on. Going on about meeting new people and playing our hardest.
When we arrived I took a deep breath and took it all in. It was really pretty, even though it was pouring rain. After we registered and got all of our things together, we found our room. It was really nice. We each got our own room, and we were right next to the lounge. All the girls on our floor were our age and were in our group. We all talked and played games.
The three days went by really quickly and none of us wanted to leave. Lucy and I had an amazing time. We learned a lot of new things and got to do what we loved.
It took my mind off of things for a while. That is until I got home.
After I got home and slept for a couple of days, I finally got up the courage to check my e-mail and phone. I had no new messages on my phone luckily, but twenty on my e-mail. Most from Luke, saying all the normal things. I miss you, and we should hang out. My first response was to reply right away and respond the same way, but I looked at the e-mail again and it looked forced and fake. So I closed it and moved on to everything else I had to do and then I went to my room to rest and sleep, to forget about it and remember the amazing time I had at volleyball camp and all me new friends.
After three days of intense volleyball, I was ready to sleep for weeks, but I didn’t. I tried, but didn’t. Playing volleyball calmed me down and I felt much better. I was ready to face the challenge.

To Be Continued...





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