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“Hon! It’s so good to see you! I missed you!!”
“I know. I missed you too!”
The lights in the hallway were dimly lit as half-asleep teenagers, wondered around, talking to one another after being gone from school for a whole summer. The forest green lockers and the white and grey tiled floors were a warm welcome back. The ceiling’s paneling was old and ragged, but it had good memories attached to it.
Kelsey had dark brown eyes and bleach blonde hair. Her best friend, Amanda could’ve been her twin, except for the fact that her hair was a shade darker than Kelsey’s blonde hair. They had the same exact colored eyes. They gave each other a quick hug and smiled at one another. Kelsey always wore a smile on her face that made everyone else smile.
Out of the corner of her eye Kelsey could see her other friend, Jason. They had been friends since they were in 6th grade and now they were juniors at Greensville High School. Jason had short, dark brown hair and dark brown eyes. Whenever Jason got the chance to hang out with Kelsey and Amanda, he did. But Kelsey also allowed him to hang out with his guy friends too.
“Hey, Kelsey I think we should probably go to our classes now,” said Amanda, “I’ll see you next hour in chemistry.”
“Ok,” Kelsey yelled down the hallway after Amanda.
“What’s up, Kels?” Jason smiled down at her as they walked toward the math room together.
“Not a whole lot, I guess. Where were you yesterday? It tried to call you and you didn’t pick up. You never responded to my text either. That’s not like you.” Kelsey had a playful grin spread across her lips
“Oh, I was out with Tyler. Sorry I didn’t respond, because by the time that I got home it was late and I didn’t want to bother you.” Jason said with an apologetic look on his face.
Kelsey never really wanted to admit it to herself, but she had always liked Jason. He had the cutest, crooked smile and he was really, really nice. The only person that knew was Amanda. Kelsey would never have enough guts to go and tell Jason that she liked him right in front of his face. But she always dreamed about it.
At 3:00 the bell rang, which signaled the end of the day. A rush of kids came out of the school, and flooded out into the parking lot. As Kelsey and Amanda were walking out Jason came running up to the two.
“Hey you guys,” said Jason.
“Hi!” Amanda and Kelsey both replied back to him.
“What are you girls up to this weekend?” Jason asked with the crooked smile on his face.
“Um, I don’t think I have anything planned, yet.” Kelsey said.
“I’m going shopping with Nikki on Saturday. Why?” Amanda asked Jason.
“Well, I was wondering if you guys would want to go to the beach on Saturday, while the weather is still warm. Ya know it would be nice to splash around in the water and have some fun for once.” His eyes showed a hint of playfulness.
“I won’t be able to go,” answered Amanda, “but, Kels, you should go with him. It sounds fun!”
“Well I guess I am going then, Jason. Is anyone else coming?”
“Well if Tyler says yes then he will come and I know for sure that Alyssa is coming too, unless something comes up.”
Kelsey never understood what Jason liked about Alyssa. She was never nice to Kelsey and she walked around school like she was the queen. She was so spoiled by her parents. Alyssa could only seem to talk about herself.
On that Saturday, right before leaving her house, Kelsey got a text from Amanda. It said: Have fun with jason! And good luck with alyssa. Kelsey really hoped it would be a fun time and that maybe her and Alyssa might have a good time with Jason together.
As she arrived at the beach in her car, she could see Jason sitting on one of the beach’s benches texting someone. She stepped out of her car and started walking towards him. Kelsey was hoping and praying that he was texting Alyssa back because she said that she couldn’t come anymore. Yes, it would be nice to finally make peace between the two of them, but maybe this time it could be just her and Jason and of course, Tyler. That would be wonderful. And what would be even more wonderful, she thought, was if Tyler couldn’t come so the two of them were left all alone.
“Hi, Kels!” Jason yelled across the beach with the blowing sand. His smile was a warm one that was just so perfect.
“Hey! Where is everybody else?” Kelsey asked.
“Tyler just texted me and said that he couldn’t come today. And Alyssa called and told me that she was going shopping with her other friends today. So me, Alyssa, and Tyler are all coming down here tomorrow. So I guess it’s just the two of us hanging out and having fun today!”
Kelsey couldn’t quite believe what she had just heard. Her wish had come true. ‘Maybe this is going to be the most perfect day ever!’ Kelsey thought to herself.
“Oh, alright. I bet I can beat you to the water.”
Kelsey took off running down the beach, laughing as her hair was blowing in her face. Jason jumped off from the table and sprinted after her. As soon as Kelsey splashed through the water Jason came and tackled her. They came up from under the water soaking wet, but laughing so hard they could barely breathe. Kelsey felt like a little kid again, splashing Jason and trying to pull him under.
“You look cold, Kelsey. Your lips are turning blue! Let’s go and lay on the beach.”
“Okay,” Kelsey agreed.
Jason grabbed two beach towels from the back of his truck and wrapped one around Kelsey. They sat side by side with their shoulders against each other. Soon Kelsey started to get warmer as they sat silently for a while staring off into the distance.
Finally Kelsey broke the silence. “Can you believe that we are already juniors in high school?”
“No. It seems like just yesterday that I moved here and then I met you. I can’t believe we have been friends for this long. We’ve always had so much fun together.”
“Yeah, I know,” Kelsey sighed staring up into the sky.
“And, ya know what?” Jason asked Kelsey, with a gleam in his eye. “I’m kind of glad that it was just the two of us out here today. I miss just the two of us hanging out sometimes.”
Kelsey didn’t respond to that. She wasn’t quite sure how to.
“Wow,” Jason whispered to himself, yet it was just loud enough that Kelsey could hear it.
“So, how do you want to finish out high school?” Kelsey asked, looking directly at Jason. She couldn’t help but think how amazing his dark brown eyes were.
“Well, I would love to get a scholarship that pays off a lot of my college bills. And it would be nice to get a girlfriend.” Jason said, laughing and smiling.
Kelsey couldn’t help but wonder who the perfect girlfriend for Jason would be. She hoped it was her, but really she wanted Jason to be happy. Kelsey knew that he would find the perfect girlfriend, and if it wasn’t Kelsey, she would hopefully still like her. Jason deserved someone that was kind, sweet, and genuine. Kelsey thought that he should get no less than that.
“Yeah, a boyfriend would be nice,” Kelsey stated, nervously. ‘And maybe you would be a nice boyfriend, Jason.’
The sun started to sink down and the sky turned a pinkish orange color. It was one of the most beautiful sunsets that Kelsey had ever seen.
Jason must have been reading Kelsey’s mind when he said, “Wow! That sunset is amazing. I wish I had a camera to capture it forever.”
“Yeah, me too.” Kelsey whispered, slowly.
Time went too fast and eventually the sun was all but gone behind the water.
“Well, I think I should probably get going now,” Kelsey said. She didn’t really want to go, but she still had homework and she dreaded driving in the dark.
“That’s probably smart before it gets too dark out here to see. I think we might be the only ones left on the beach.” Jason gave a lighthearted laugh. “Let me drive you home. I don’t like the thought of you driving in the dark and it looks like it might start to rain.”
“Jason, that’s all right. I can make it home by myself. Besides how would you get back here to pick up your truck?”
“No, really Kelsey, let me take you home.”
“No, I’m fine by myself.”
“Ok, Kels, since you aren’t giving in how about I follow you home, to make sure you are ok.”
“Fine, fine. I give in. You can follow me home.” Kelsey smiled at him.
Jason smiled his crooked smile right back. “Good, now let’s get going.”
Suddenly Jason swooped Kelsey up by her legs and carried her to her car. She was kicking and screaming the whole way there to have Jason let her go, although, she didn’t really mind that much. He set her down on the ground and opened up the car door for her to get into. He shut the door gave her his adorable crooked smile, and a wink, before he jogged off to his truck.
Jason followed Kelsey all the way home and pulled into her drive way to say goodnight.
“See, Jason, I told you I could make it home safely.” Kelsey heart was pounding just a little faster than usual.
“Yeah, well that’s probably because I was watching out for you!” Jason said playfully.
Then, just like they always did, if they weren’t in public with tons of people around, they gave each other a hug. Jason looked Kelsey in the eye for a minute, but then he looked down at the ground. For the first time, in as long as Kelsey could remember, Jason seemed shy around her.
Jason hesitated, “Kels, I…”
Just then a light in the house turned on and stopped Jason from what he was going to say.
“Yeah? What were you saying?” Kelsey asked him
“Uh… Oh, never mind. Just that… I hope you have a good night!” The look in his eyes told Kelsey that, that was definetly NOT was he was about to say. But she didn’t want to pressure him into saying it, so she said good bye.
“Well, um, night Jason. I guess I’ll see you Monday?” Kelsey said sheepishly.
“Yeah, I guess. See ya.” Jason whispered and walked to his car.
Right before he hopped in the car Kelsey shouted to him. “Oh, and thanks for inviting me. It’s been a long time since just me and you hung out. I missed that. We should do it again!”
Jason smiled and answered with a “Yeah,” then started his car and drove off.
Kelsey walked through her front door feeling dazed. She didn’t know what to think, so she went up to bed and was going to let her mind wonder about whatever had truly just happened.
At school, in the morning, on Monday, Kelsey walked into the now more vibrantly, filled hallways. She stopped by Amanda’s locker and told her what had happened at the beach on Saturday. Amanda was so happy for Kelsey.
“Maybe, Kelsey, you should go for it. Just ask him out.” That was the reply that Amanda gave Kelsey. Kelsey wasn’t sure she would be able to do it. Once again they gave each other a hug right before they went to class.
On lunch break, Jason was by his locker when Kelsey walked by. He had the biggest smile on his face when he saw Kelsey come around the corner. She knew that something good had happened or was going to happen. Kelsey had seen that smile many times in her life and especially a lot on Saturday.
“Kelsey, come here. I need to tell you something!”
Kelsey’s heart sped up as she walked closer to him. She could only hope about what he was going to say.
“What is it Jason?” Kelsey asked with a smile forming on her lips. She didn’t want to get to ahead of herself.
“Well, first I wanted to tell you that I had an awesome time with you at the beach. It’s been such a long time since I had that much fun, too!!! I love how we always have so much fun together and …” Jason stopped mid-sentence and his smile grew wider. “I’m sorry I guess I’m just day dreaming. Anyway…”
Kelsey’s heart must have been pounding so loud that Jason could hear. She wanted him to spit it out, and stop dragging it on.
“…well Tyler couldn’t come yesterday, so me and Alyssa hung out together…”
‘What does this have to do with me? I wonder if she said something about me? Oh my gosh, why did they have to hang out alone? …’
Kelsey only stared to catch little bits of what Jason was saying. But each little piece was just enough to understand.
“…started to realize what an amazing person she is…” A smile appeared on his face. Yes, her crooked smile came slowly across it.
She zoned in and out not actually believing what she was hearing.
“…and after spending some time talking…”
‘Talking!? I still don’t get why he likes her. No, this can’t be…’
“…asked her out!” Now his eyes shone, even in the dirty, dim hallway lights. She had always wanted to see his eyes shine like that when he talked about her, and she had seen that on Saturday night.
‘No! It’s all just a mistake. He obviously is… No he would never lie to me! Not even now.’
“Oh, um Jason, that’s wonderful! I’m, uh, so happy for you!!!” Kelsey couldn’t help but stutter. Any moment it felt like she would boil over with tears streaming down her face. She didn’t want Jason to see her like that. She couldn’t even tell him what she really thought of his new girlfriend.
“I know! I’m so happy and she is so nice and amazing! I can’t believe it! Oh, I gotta go and meet Alyssa in the library. Sorry! I just wanted to let you know because, well, you are such an amazing friend. I hope you know that. See ya later!!!”
Kelsey couldn’t say anything back, her mouth wouldn’t move. Her throat felt dry. The pit of her stomach felt hollow and empty while her heart felt like it was in a million, shattered pieces. The dream she had been longing for wasn’t going to come true, at least for a while. And, even though they were all alone, and normally they would’ve hugged, they didn’t. Kelsey could sense that some things would never be the same between her and Jason anymore. She watched him walk away, as his smile grew and hers fell.
She sat there for a moment all alone in the hallway, slouched by Jason’s locker. Everything around her blurred into one giant mess, but did it really matter anymore? Finally after she couldn’t take it, Kelsey put her head on her knees and let the tears hit the floor.
She thought to herself…
‘Yes Jason, I guess I’m an amazing friend. And if that’s what you want for a girlfriend, I’m afraid that’s all I'll ever be… just a friend.’
I’m really happy for you. That you found a girlfriend, and one that you really love. I could say that I’m glad you two are together, but that would be a lie. I wouldn’t want to keep anything from you, because you have always been so honest and truthful to me. I hate that you two are together. I hate that you guys even hung out alone. And you wanna know why? Because I have been your best friend for 5 years. And Alyssa, well, you just started to get to know her. Let me tell you, that for as long as I have known Alyssa, she has been nothing, but mean and cruel to me. I just don’t get what you see in her. I think she made you blind. How could you not see that you meant more to me than just a friend? And I think you were pretty blind not to see that in the first place. I don’t know what Saturday meant, but I had so much fun and then when we hugged, well it felt like we were finally going somewhere. All you did was lead me on. You never seem to want to talk to me anymore and we never look at each other. I just don’t know when it went from being so good to so bad. I would be lying again if I said that I didn’t miss my old friend because, I do. I thought we had each other’s backs. We always smiled when we were around each other. Nothing is the same anymore. I miss it when you would come up behind me. When you would call me ‘Kels’. When you smiled your wonderful crooked smile. (I know that smile was just for me because, I’ve never once seen you give it to her. And when you smile it looks like you only put it up there to make her happy.) I always heard that friends make that best couples, but maybe those people are wrong. Maybe, just like it seems everything else has been, it’s a joke. A lie.
I know this is a tough letter to read, but, I just had to do it. Please know that I’m here and I always will be. Maybe it won’t be like before, but we can patch some things up. Can’t we? ‘Cause I thought we could.
(Found laying in front of Jason’s locker, an hour after Kelsey put it in there. And with fresh tear stains on it.)