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Neighbors

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I looked out my mom’s bedroom window and saw a boy on the swings at the park. I ran down the stairs and out the back yard to greet him. I stopped breathless at the pole, trying to act cool. But I was breathless and sweaty, not to mention it was like one hundred degrees outside. “Hi! I’m Hali.” I gave him my best smile.
“I’m Ryan. How old are you?” He smiled back.
“Nine.”
“I’m ten.”
“Cool.”
My Dad came out with popsicles for us. “Here ‘ya go.”
“Thanks Daddy.” I gave him a hug and took the popsicles. Sitting on the swing beside Ryan, I handed him his and started eating mine.
“So which house is yours?” He asked. I pointed straight ahead. “That one.” More popsicle.
He smiled. “No way, I live in that one.” He pointed to the one directly next to mine. We looked at each other and smiled. We were both thinking it… Best Friend.


Everyday that summer we played together outside. Sometimes, we would just sit under the tree in our yards and talk. He taught me how to make grass bracelets, and I taught him how to whistle with the grass. When school started, he went to Glade Elementary, but I went to North Frederick so I could be at my grandparents for babysitting. So we didn’t get to see much of each other. The next three years went about the same.


When I was 12 and in 7th grade, I finally went to the same school as him. I even got to ride the bus with him. One day over the summer I ran over to his house, excited to tell him the news.
“Ryan!!! Come out! Hurry up it’s important!!!!” He came out red in the face and a little out of breath.
“What? What is it??”
I laughed. I’m riding the bus with you now! And going to the same school!”
He laughed too and grabbed me in a bear hug. “Guess you’re my new bus buddy.”
On the first day of school I walked outside to find him waiting on the front steps for me.
“Ready?” He asked.
“Ready!” I answered.
We walked down to the bus stop together and waited. Sat next to each other in silence. That’s how it went for the whole school year. We would ride home and then walk home together. Once we dropped our stuff off inside I came out with my puppy so he could go to the bathroom and Ryan would always come out and sit with me while I waited. Sometime we would sit out there for hours until it got dark and our moms told us to come in. So we would. But we ran up to our rooms and hung out the windows to talk to each other.


On my 13th birthday, he gave me a huge stuffed dog and a bouquet of white roses.
“Will you go out with me, Hali?”
“Yes!!” I ran up to him to give him a hug, but the dog and flowers were in the way. So we took them up to my room and then stopped in the kitchen for cake and to inform our parents. When we told them, they just smiled. My dad shook Ryan’s hand and winked at him. We all laughed. Ryan and I went for our usual walk. Down to the secret part of the creek. No one knew about it because you had to go through the woods to get there. We sat there together until it was time to go home. While walking back he held my hand and I smiled the whole way.


In the middle of that summer, he came over to deliver bad news. We sat under the tree while he held me on his lap. “I’m moving.”
That was it. That’s all he said. Nothing more. I hugged him tighter.
“You can stay with me.” My child was coming out. I felt tears rising in my eyes. He saw that and wiped them away before they could spill.
“I’ll be back in a year though.” He smiled. “Promise to wait for me?”
“Pinky promise.” I said. I stuck my hooked pinky out for him.
I helped him pack up his stuff and then move it the next day. I couldn’t go with him to help unpack because it was in a different state. Right before the new school year started, my parents told me we were moving. Never before have I told my parents no. But I pinky promised to wait. No matter how much I refused, I was still packing my things, just as I had done with Ryan.


When the year mark came, I wondered if he was back. And if he was mad at me for not waiting. It’s three years later and I still wonder. Not a day goes by where I don’t long for his friendship. I hope and pray that one day we’ll be re-united. So if your out there reading this, I did wait. Just not in the same place.

Love you Ryan. <3



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