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Springsteen

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“To this day when I hear that song,” my stomach tightens into a cocoon that butterflies emerge from. Even through the long, cold Maine winter, my body would erupt with warmth, and my mind would overflow with the memories of last summer.

I ended my sophomore year on a high note being a pageant queen, speaking out about my experience with bullying, and having so many good friends. But one friend in particular made my whole summer a lot brighter. He had just graduated high school, and we had been friends since he moved right across the street from me when I was three and he was five. Just before last summer had begun, every time I saw him, images of us playing in my front yard would fill my mind like my own personal, little movie. My brother and friend, being the same age and much bigger than me when I was four, would invite me to play Star Wars with them. Needless to say I would die by a lightsaber attack in the first ten seconds.

There are so many memories of last summer I could go on forever, but there is one particular time that is always stuck in my mind like a fly to a spider’s web. The last Saturday before my friend went off to college wasn’t the longest day of the year, but it felt like it to me. His family invited me out to their camp that set on the shore of a privately owned lake. I undoubtedly said yes to the offer, so off we went, his parents in the SUV and my friend and I in his bright yellow Jeep with the top down. This of course urged us to take the long way to the camp and the road where cops were scares.

We drove faster than I care to admit, but I didn’t care at the time. The wind was blowing through my long blonde hair that would sometime whip my face, and the smell of fresh pine would fill my lungs as we sped past the trees. I wasn’t paying any attention to the radio until my friend turned it up.

“I love this song!” I can still hear his words ringing in my ears. This statement was then followed by a country song that he knew word for word. Being me I paid no attention to this and just enjoyed the sun on my face.

When we finally arrived to the camp, his parents had been there for at least ten minutes. They were rustling through the coolers to find the hotdogs to cook over the campfire we were going to have later that night. I felt my feet automatically turn towards them to help, but found my path blocked by their giant yellow lab. She was sopping wet from playing in the lake, but she proceeded to jump on me, soaking my clothes.

“Get changed we are going out on the wave runner,” my friend yelled at me from the dock, his voice echoed over the lake. I did as I was told; I threw on my bathing suit and jumped on the wave runner. With a jolt, we sped off, disrupting the tranquility of water. I laid my face against his back, hiding it from the wind and glass-like sprays of water, I hugged him so tight as though I was afraid I would fall off and be lost forever.

I finally heard the roar of the engine die down as he stopped the waver runner in the middle of the lake. Without any warning, my friend turned and shoved me into the lake. As I emerged from the cold Maine water, I saw him dive over me. We swam for what felt like hours, undisturbed by others, as if we were the only two people left on this earth. By the time we returned to his camp, the sun was beginning to set, and his parents had already cooked our dinners. They were about to head home with the dog. They handed me a towel, as I thanked them for inviting me.

Sitting side by side, my friend and I shared a blanket next to the fire. We roasted marshmallows while watching the sun set in a fiery pink flare as though winking goodnight to us. Once the darkness had fallen over the lake and there no sound other than the crackling fire and the distant sound of loon calls, we talked about his future at college. Looking at him filled me with not only happiness and excitement, but the selfish desire of wanting him to stay.

The flames of the fire had died down to red ashes, indicating it was time for us to go. We hopped into the jeep and started our journey back home. The radio seemed silent and meaningless until that one song came on again, "Springsteen" by Eric Church.

Singing in a calm soothing voice to the song that was blaring through the speakers, my friend would glance at me everyone in a while.
We pulled up into my driveway; he quickly got out and opened my door. I was about to say goodnight when he grabbed me. He held me so close that I could hear every beat of his heart and every breath that he took. The hug seemed like it never end, and I wished it never would. Once he finally let go of me, he looked into my eyes and said “I will miss you, you are my best friend.” All that went through my mind was one line of the song: “I can still hear the sound of you saying, ‘Don't go.’”

Now that the summer is over, I hear his laugh and remember driving down the camp roads at night laughing at the stories we told one another. When he smiles at me, all I see are those long day and nights full of movie marathons and stupid conversations. When he comes home from college on breaks, I spend most of my time with him, wishing we could go back to last summer when he was always there.
Every once in a while, the song will come on the radio, no matter what I am doing I whisper the chorus to myself and remember all those days I spent with my best friend.

“When I think about you, I think about 17. I think about my old Jeep. I think about the stars in the sky. Funny how a melody sounds like a memory. Like a soundtrack to a July Saturday night. Springsteen.”



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