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Swimming in jeans
“Hey Max, it’s me Lauren. It’s been awhile. I just wanted to see how you’re doing. Call me back soon, ‘kay? Just in case you don’t have my number, it’s 364-2957. Talk to you later.”
I hung up pressing the red “END” button, and my hands wouldn’t stop shaking. It’s funny how it’s in the middle of May and I sudden feel so cold. I wasn’t mad that he didn’t pick up. Truthfully, I sort of expected that to happen. It’s been a little over year since Max and I stopped talking to each other. I can still recall that day like a film without sound. It seemed like yesterday, the kind that lasted forever. It’s the kind that will give you nightmares for just thinking about it. I threw my phone on my bed and went to take a shower.
I waited all exactly five hours and thirty seven minutes for him to call me back. It was dinner time when I decided to give up. Maybe we’re better off this way, I don’t know. A part of me wants to let go, and the other wants to keep on trying. He was supposed to be my best friend, and friends can’t bail on each other. The more I think about it, the more my head aches. I went to the fridge and made myself a peanut butter and honey sandwich. My stomached told me not to. I had this feeling that I couldn’t eat a PBH without Max. This is what we normally eat whenever there’s “nothing” in the refrigerator. I took about two bites and went off to bed.
“I’m totally serious Rennie, you won’t regret this. Trust me.” Max said giving me his two hundred watt smile.
“What if we get caught?” I said frowning, hoping he would just change his mind.
“Then your parents will ground you forever, and forbid you to hang out with the coolest guy on earth ever again. Then your cell phone will be taken away, which means you can’t text anyone. Then your computer will be taken away, and you can’t go on facebook. And then…”
“Alright, that’s enough. It’s not funny.” I said. “Fine.”
“So are you in?” he asked, knowing that he just won the conversation.
“What the heck, it’ll be fun.”
“Now we’re talking.”
We both snuck out of the cabins that night. It was really dark and we both had on jeans. It was the last night at camp. Max wanted to do something he would remember for the rest of his life and he made me join him. Fortunately, Max brought a flash light. But the sad thing is, the boy “forgot” to change the battery. We managed to locate the pool and climbed over the fence. I pulled my calf muscle that night. Naturally, Max was the first one in the pool. I had on my cami, and I jumped in. The water felt like heaven. It was so warm. There was something about swimming in the dark that made it so much fun. There was a light coming in our direction. Luckily, Max pulled me into the corner, and then he went under water. The camp counselor missed us. We were free for the night.
The bon fire was my idea. By the time we got the fire started, we were dry. I used Max’s shirt to dry my hair and he thanked me for making it smell better. We sat on the deck wishing that camp would never end.
“I can’t believe I just did that, Maximus. But I’m glad you talked me into it.” I said punching him in the arm.
Max laughed. “I told you that you won’t regret it.”
We joke around and threw rocks into the fire for a little while watching it burn for awhile. “Oh mu gosh, what time is it?”
Max shrugged. “It’s time for you to get a watch! Just kidding, um 3 AM?”
“I have to go!” I said putting on my wet Rainbows.
“You are such a fretter.” He laughed, and walked me to my cabin.
I was as sweaty as Mia Hamm after a soccer game when I woke up. The room was as hot as Texas in the middle of July. Max’s few last words were still ringing in my ears. “You are such a fretter…. You are such a fretter…” I slept through my alarm. It was about 1 PM when I woke up the next morning. Good thing it’s a Saturday. I drove to Pizza Hut and got two slices of Pepperoni and a bottle of Mountain Dew. I ended up eating half of a slice and all of the pepperoni. If Max was here, he would knock the pizzas out in less than five minutes. He can eat up to seven or eight slices, even more. I remember how much he loves Mountain Dew and Pizza. We used to sit at the park and watch ducks run around while filling our stomachs with pizza and soda. I usually eat his pepperoni and he would eat the cheese. But Max isn’t here, so that reminds me to only get one slice next time. I went home to take Mr. Vincenz out. Don’t ask me why I named my dog that, it was Max’s idea. He made sure it was spelled with a “z,” too. I think he heard that name on a movie or something, he said it sounded like a superhero for whatever reason. I got most of my homework out of the way. It’s been a pristine day so far so I decided to go for a run. Clearly, I did the best I could to save our friendship. I can’t just sit and wait for him forever. It’s time to move on. I put on some shorts and drove to the lake. I decided to leave my phone in the car because obviously, Max isn’t going to call me back.
I was exhausted when I got back to my car. I also got a new text message.
“If you still want to, meet me at the playground at our elementary school.” The message was sent ten minutes after I went jogging. If I went for an hour, that means he’s there already. Max is the on the spot kind of guy. If he doesn’t tell you the time, it means it’s right away. I threw on the pair of jeans I left in my car. I grabbed my keys and drove to the Samson Elementary school.
When I got there, it was extremely dark. I sat on top of the slide and waited. I heard footsteps coming from behind me. He had on tan shorts and a green and white striped shirt from Hollister. His hair was lighter and longer, and he was about four inches taller. His voice was deeper, and he was very tan.
“Some things never change. She’s always late.” Max said, and I laughed.
“I waited for you,” I said. “So you’re the one that’s late.”
“No, I got tired of waiting so I went and looked for food,” Max said, giving me a shrug.
He sat down beside me. “I got your message. I can’t believe how long it’s been.” He said.
“Are you happy?” I asked, staring into his brown eyes. I can feel the chills running up and down my spine.
“Josie and I broke up a long time ago. About a month after we stopped talking. She said I wasn’t the one for her.” Max’s words were trembling. “Lauren, I didn’t even see it coming. Things were working out so great. Then one day, she just decided to break my heart.” He talked one two miles a minute.
“I’m sorry, Maximus. I tried to warn you. You wouldn’t listen, remember? You pushed me out of your life. I was devastated,” I said to him.
Max laughed, “I haven’t heard that nickname in forever. You were the only one who can call me that. I used to get so mad, but then I learned to get over it as soon as I realized you were never going to stop.” He smiled.
There was something missing in his smile. There was an awkward silence and then I spoke up: “I loved you, you know.”
“So it was true. All the rumors people were spreading. I can’t believe you kept a secret away from me. Why?” Max’s words were shaky but it was getting stronger.
“Because, Max, loving you hurts worst than being stabbed by hundreds of knives at once. You’re an easy person to like but an impossible person to love. I was scared, okay? I would rather have you in my life as my best friend than not have you in it at all. Do you have any idea how much of an obnoxious person you are sometimes? You drove me nuts! But you know what? I fell in love with you, anyway. I fell in love with our friendship. The times we spent together, the times we got in trouble together. The crazy inside jokes we have. That was an accident that I never meant to happen. I spend fifty percent of my time thinking about you, and the other fifty percent on why!” Tears were rolling down my cheek, and for the first time since our fight, I found myself crying.
“All I remember is you telling me not to like Josie because you don’t think she’s good enough for me.”
“That’s right, Max. Josie will never be good enough for you.”
“Oh, and who is? You? Is that what you’re thinking? Well then, news flash, apparently she broke up with me. So I’m the one who’s not good enough for her.” He was aggravated.
“Please don’t talk like that, Max,” I said, trying to calm him. “You deserve much more than that. Josie doesn’t even know you. She doesn’t understand you. Josie can’t just look at you and know that something is wrong. She can’t look into your eyes and know that you’re hiding a secret. Josie doesn’t love you. You can lie to her all you want because you’re a splendid liar, and she’ll never know. So why are you wasting your time on someone like that? Most of all, Josie would never take a bullet for you, Maximus.” I said looking up the stars, then back into his dazzling brown eyes.
“I don’t know what to say anymore, Lauren.”
“Listen, Max. Forget about the past and just let things go. Give us a try. I want to be able to share everything with you again. I miss having you in my life. Every time I see you, it's like seeing light in the darkest cave. The feelings I have for you are like a baby wanting his mommy. The baby will do whatever it takes for his mommy to stay by his side. The baby needs her as much as he wants her. I need you and I want you as much as the baby and his mother. As much as the darkest cave needs light. Yes, even though loving you hurts a lot, it’s something I’m risking. I do hope you know that I will always be by your side. My hand is always open and available to hold yours and pull you close, even if you're not ready. You're the light that never fades and the smile that will never go away in my life. I love you, more than you could ever know. More than words can ever explain, more than anything. And I do hope, dear God, that you love me, too.”
He stared into my eyes for somewhat seem like a while. Then he stood up, and started to walk away.
“I guess that’s a no. I never thought it was possible anyway. You’re such a fruit loop!” I yelled after him.
Max laughed. “You are such a fretter.” He turned around and smiled. His teeth glistened in the moonlight. “I guess you’re not coming then.”
“What? Coming where?”
“Ah nothing, I just had something in mind, that’s all.” He said spinning his keys around with his left pointer finger.
“Max, what are you talking about? What do you have in mind?”
“Let’s go swimming.” Max finally allowed me to get in his mystifying head.
“In jeans?” I asked.
“Yes, in jeans.”