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One Chance, One Moment, One Summer
One chance. One moment. One summer.
That’s all they needed. He had spotted her for the first time, pretty and delicate, standing off to the side as she watched the party scene of wild teenagers dance before her. She had an amused look on her face, watching her fellow peers act silly and foolish and drunk. She turned her head and their eyes caught each other, a magnetic force denying the ability of looking away for either of them. For a few seconds all that mattered in the world was he and she.
A blush had blossomed across her face and he quickly plucked up the courage to walk over there and say something. He made his way to her, and she remembers perfectly, the lopsided grin he wore on his face. That grin could get any girl in the world and yet here it was smiling just for her.
He introduced himself and so did she. They talked for a while and then he asked her if she would like to dance.
The girl shook her head. The only dancing she did was late at night, in a dark room, with no one around, she admitted sheepishly. He laughed gently and had taken her hand in his. She marveled at the feeling of his large hand closing around hers, the feeling of his smooth skin touching hers. He quickly took advantage of the moment and led her onto the dance floor. She giggled in protest and he laughed again shaking his head.
It’s just dancing, he had whispered in her ear. I’ll be right here with you.
They danced. She swayed her hips and he wrapped his arm around her waist, pulling her a bit closer every time. The music changed. She wrapped her arms around his neck and he whispered more beautiful things in her ear.
That same night, behind an enormous willow tree, he had kissed her.
They had escaped everyone else, hiding behind this tree. He lifted her up to sit on a thick root, while telling her she was the best dancer he’d ever seen and he that he had enjoyed every moment they had danced together. She rolled her eyes, and told him to save the BS for some stupid beach blondie. He had laughed again, and she smiled just at the sound of it. They talked some more, but soon ran out of things to say. As the silence filled up the air around them, he scooted forward on the root they’d been perched on, closing up the space between them. She smiled softly and he could tell she was wary. But he wasn’t going to do anything bad, he just wanted to feel her lips on his.
This was the chance. So he took it, he grabbed for it, and he kissed her. Simple as that.
And she kissed him back. Soon enough, they had broken into a routine of pulling apart, gasping for air, and then pulling closer to each other, their lips meeting again and again.
An hour later, she tore herself away from his addicting lips and told him she needed to go.
She was here on summer vacation with her friends, as was he. He offered to take her back to her hotel, but she shook her head, insisting that her friends were probably waiting for her.
She left him there, sitting on the root of the willow tree, all by himself, with seven digits neatly sprawled across his hand.
The next day he called her and they met up by the pool. They splashed around and swam and teased each other endlessly.
You’re the girl-next-door. The one who thinks she’s not pretty, but has every single guy in homeroom drooling over her, he said smirking. And of course, she’s too cool and collected to notice.
You’re the guy every girl wants. The guy girls would kill and lie and cheat for, but in the end not a single girl wins you, she had said back. And when you do pick someone, all hell breaks loose.
He stepped closer to her, breaking the smooth surface of the water. Suddenly his hands were in her hair, cupping her cheeks, pulling her to him.
Then let all hell break loose, he whispered as he kissed her.
The day after that they met up again, going out for lunch and then to the beach.
The next day they went out to the mall.
And the day after that they went bike riding.
And they continued to see each other day after day, time after time, kiss after kiss. They spent their whole summer wrapped around each other.
They were half way through their summer already. Tonight our inseparable couple was meeting up at the state carnival.
He walked towards the big colorful tents and carnival rides, his eyes searching for her. Then he spotted her and he felt his heart soar. She was standing by a concessions stand, taking a sip of water from the bottle in her hand. Her hair came tumbling down her shoulders in glossy brown curls. The wind blew, and as her hair swayed with it, he almost swore he could that it carried her scent to him.
He sneaked up behind her. His hands flew to cover her eyes as he said, Guess who?
She laughed and covered his hands with hers, pulling them away from her eyes. She turned around to face him, intertwining her fingers with his.
Hey, she said into his lips as he kissed her. They pulled apart and he smiled big, Hey.
She blushed and he let go of her hand to reach down and brush her cheek. Her cheeks only grew redder, and he laughed in delight, planting a surprised kiss on her lips yet again.
They walked around the carnival grounds. He played the games and won her stuffed animals. He bought her pink and fluffy cotton candy. He took her to the carousel and the bumper cars. And they laughed together and talked and felt giddy with love just upon the presence of each other.
The carnival was going to close up in fifteen and so he asked her what ride did she want to go on last. She looked around for a moment. Her eyes suddenly light up like a kid on Christmas morning, and excitedly she told him she wanted to go on the Ferris wheel.
He led her over to the ride and they climbed into the little compartment. He placed his arm around her shoulders and she leaned into him, sighing quite happily.
The Ferris wheel carried them up, higher and higher. They looked down on the grounds of the carnival, the lights flashing brightly in the dark, the kids running around, the loud chatter of people. They were both silent as they watched and for a minute, she felt as though they were in their own world looking down on Earth, so loud and alive as they were peaceful and quiet.
He turned his head away from the noisy scene down there and looked up at the breathtaking sky. Look, he whispered. She followed his gaze and watched in awe at the sparkling stars and shining moon dot the canvas of the night sky, lighting it up.
She was still staring at the sky when she felt his gaze switch and linger onto her face.
Feeling self-conscious, she blushed and met his gaze, What?
You’re beautiful, he whispered. Did you know that?
She laughed quietly at the thought of her being beautiful. He kissed her gently, but with so much passion she was certain she was going to melt away right then and there.
He slowly pulled away, but she wasn’t done. She held his face in her hands, a fire licking against them as their skin touched, and brought her lips to his again. She gasped against his lips as she felt his tongue press lightly to her lips. She opened her mouth and his tongue explored her mouth. Her legs felt like jelly, and she was thankful that they were sitting down or else her knees would’ve given away as soon as she had felt the touch of his tongue in her mouth.
They pulled apart for a second, both trying catch their breath, and resting their foreheads against each other. As she ran her hands through his bronze hair, he smiled at her and she almost lost her breath because she had never seen such a beautiful person be glowing so happily.
His lips found hers again and they moved in synch, more desperate and passionate than before. After a minute of this, she started feeling quite light-headed, so she moved her hands to his chest and gently pushed him away.
He wrapped his arms around her and pulled her to his chest. She laid her head against it, feeling the rapid rise and fall of it. He pressed his lips on top of her head; he had never felt so in love with someone before. His arms tightened around her; she had never felt so safe in her life.
This was the moment. She was sure of it. Shaking only slightly at the thought of what she was about to do, she turned in his arms, lining her face with his so that now they were staring intensely into each other's eyes.
I love you, she whispered to him. Lifting a finger, she touched his bottom lip, soft and pink.
He watched her. His heart beat faster and felt heavier than ever.
Love you too, he whispered back.
In that moment, as they both had exchanged those three special words on the Ferris wheel, she felt on top of the world with him. And she knew, as he pressed his lips to her neck and buried his face between her neck and collarbone, that when they were together nothing would ever be impossible.
But the night, as all nights do, slowly faded away and soon the bright morning sun replaced it.
And as she woke up, she had a sudden ache in her heart just to see his face again, just to touch his cheek and feel the heat pass through her hands, just to hear his breath become one with hers.
This addiction to him lasted all summer long.
And as quickly as the summer had started it abruptly ended.
Now it was the last day of this blissful period. She felt a different kind of ache in her as she walked towards him. This ache was for not seeing him everyday anymore, not feeling his hands slid up and down her body slowly and lovingly, not hearing him say I love you over and over again.
Her steps seemed longer and heavier as she came to be only a few feet away from him now. Her eyes glazed over with tears. She couldn’t do this. She couldn’t say good-bye.
He approached her and swallowed her up in his arms. She sighed as his lips pressed to her forehead, cheeks, and finally found her lips.
I love you, he whispered, as the hot steamy tears escaped and trickled down her face. Nothing’s going to change that.
How do you know that? She asked skeptically. She shivered as he kissed her tears away.
Because, he answered, laughing softly.
She let it go. Hearing him be so confident about them was enough assurance to her. She wrapped her arms around his neck and they kissed.
They kissed as memories of this past summer flooded back and filled the space around them. They kissed as they promised to keep the other one tangled in their life. They kissed as they gave each other silent good-byes as their precious summer had now come to an end.
They spent that last day together of course. They sat down by the beach feeling the sand squeeze between their toes and the waves unravel at their feet. They said everything that came to mind that day, not holding back.
And the day was over, much too soon. They bid their good-byes with sad heavy hearts, but tried to remember that this really wasn’t good-bye.
They went back to the lives they had abandoned over the summer. They fell back into old routines and schedules as though they’d never left. They kept in touch through emails and phone calls and text messages. They promised each other they would. And for the first two months, everything went great.
She was thrilled to realize that just because they were apart didn’t mean that their love for each other had stopped. He was ecstatic whenever he heard her voice on the phone telling him how much she missed him.
But school started, and they both began a new chapter in their own lives. New friends, new priorities, with a new year starting it was hard to hold onto the old things. But they tried.
She called him, but he was at lacrosse practice. He texted her, but she was at a student council meeting. And just like that, little by little, the bond that had been so tight over the blissful summer was slipping away.
And soon they were no longer in contact, no longer knew how the other one was doing, and sometimes, frankly, just didn’t care. For they had moved on, and just thinking about rekindling an old summer love seemed silly.
So they went on with their lives. New boyfriends, new girlfriends, new experiences, and new memories being made that neither one was a part of.
And yet, as she caught another guy cheating, an old, sweet and forgotten memory slipped through her mind. He would never have done that. He would never have hurt her like that. Because he had truly loved her.
And as he listened to another girl complain about his attitude, his annoying playfulness, how he couldn’t take anything seriously, he suddenly gets caught up in an old yet familiar memory.
He could be serious. He had been serious with her. The way he said I love you to her, the way he kissed her, the way he felt when he touched her were all serious and deep feelings. And the way she kissed him back and loved all of his imperfections was serious too. Because she had truly loved him.
This old memory hurts. It sends a pain through their chest. It makes their head ache as they wonder, what happened?
What happened to a love that had been so growing and giving and so strong? What happened to all the promises, all the I love you’s?
And they are both hit hard with the realization that they let them all be forgotten, pushed away, never to be remembered again as they made space for a new chapter of their life.
They’ve grown up now. Maybe he is playing linebacker for the NFL. Maybe she’s studying law at Harvard. Maybe he’s a father, one who teaches his kids how to skip rocks, how to throw a football, how to stand up for yourself. Maybe she’s a mom, baking batches of cookies, healing little wounds, singing nursery rhymes.
Wherever they are, whoever they now might be, they do stop sometimes. They stop in their busy, separate lives and think for a moment about that the summer.
That was the summer. The summer they both had their first love. The summer that overshadowed all summers. The summer that something changed inside them. The summer that they made precious memories. The summer they made promises that would break as soon as the year started. The summer their lives tangled. The summer neither one would forget, no matter what.
She sometimes thinks about him; what he’s doing, if he’s happy.
But most of the time she doesn’t.
Because the thought of him brings back feelings and memories and promises that belong in the past, if only because they just hurt too much.