" Guys, I'm drifting away."
"When I die, feed my cat."
"Maya are you done being dramatic? We know it's hot, but seriously, you're making it worse. What's with the water sounds? It won't make you any cooler." Aaron exclaims.
"Oh, I'm sorry that my pain annoys you, Aaron, I can't help but express how I'm feeling. And the sounds aren't intimating water, - it's the sound effect of the sweat dripping off me, - for your information."
"Girl, you are too much, - wait, do you even have a cat?" Natasha chuckles. "Oh yeah, that’s right, Sprinkles died like 2 weeks ago. But you know what, her spirit still lives." Natasha laughs while Aaron rolls his eyes.
"Today is like the hottest it’s been all week and I'm wondering why God is punishing me. I've been somewhat nicer to my brother and I've ignored my chores a little less than usual. I'm practically a whole new person. So, I ask God, why me?" I complained.
"Do you hear yourself when you talk?" Aaron remarked. "That's just how she is Aaron, you should be used to it by now." "Thank you, Natasha. Shut up, Aaron."
"Now onto particularly important matters, what are we going to do to get through this heat? I feel like I'm about to pass out." " We could go to the public pool," Natasha suggests. "Are you crazy? Do you know how many germs the pool carries? Not to mention I hate people." Aaron protests. "Looks like that's out of the question because Aaron's an antisocial germaphobe," I commented. "I am not! I just enjoy clean places and no people." "Dude you kind of sound like a serial killer," Natasha adds. Before Aaron can protest more, I interrupt. "Anyways, what else can we do? "I would suggest using the water from the fire hydrant, but I heard they are out of order. Figures." Aaron sighed. "Hey, you know what? Maybe we should go over to the lake we went to as kids. I doubt anyone would be over there since it was you know, a secret."
"I'm cool with it," Natasha replies. "I have some doubts, but you guys will peer pressure me into going anyway, so I'm in." "Then it's settled, get ready folks, we are preparing for an adventure." Aaron rolls his eyes once again which makes Natasha let out a laugh.
The lake was about 8 blocks away from us so it would take us a little while to get there, but in this part of New York, it'd be anything but boring because our neighborhood has the most unique people. They make this neighborhood the best it can be.
"Great, here comes Ms. Brinkman, - she's so.... weird," Aaron commented. "Come on, she's not that bad. Natasha exclaims. "Not to mention she's super-nice," I add. Aaron shrugs and says "whatever." "Hello, Ms. Brinkman, how are doing on this sizzling day?" I say cheerily. "Oh, what a joy it is to see my three favorite young people. I'm doing quite well darling, I sensed you guys would be coming by here today, perhaps to see the old lake?"
We all turn and look at each other. Meet Ms. Brinkman, our neighborhood psychic. Even though we know her well, we get shocked by all the new things she tells us. Cool, and weird.
"Never gets old does it?" She says looking at our shocked faces. "Nope, you never keep days dull Ms. Brinkman." "Doesn't mean you’re still not weird," Aaron mutters. Natasha elbows him in the stomach. "Ow! What'd you do that for?" Ignoring Aaron's loudmouth, I continue. "Well we should be getting on our way now, it's always a pleasure talking to you." " Oh, you’re a doll Maya, - here, the three of you should take some water since you forgot yours at home." She exclaims. "Ha! You're wrong! I have the waters in my book-bag, see their right- damn it! How do you do that?!" "It's a gift darling, now run along, Mr. Johnson is around the corner, he’ll want to talk to you all as well."
"Still weird," Aaron says walking away. "Sorry about him Ms. Brinkman, the heat is really getting to that big head of his," Natasha says running towards Aaron and playfully pushing his shoulder. "He means no harm, it's a defense mechanism, the spirits told me so." I smile, wave goodbye Ms. Brinkman, and walk around the corner where sure enough, Mr. Johnson is waiting.
"What's up, Mr. Johnson? Pretty hot outside today huh?"
"Yes, but really when isn't it? July usually gets very humid out here, I hope y'all are staying cool." "Trying to." "Natasha replied.
Meet Mr. Johnson. He's an old school, chill guy. He's always playing smooth jazz on his saxophone and telling old stories about his past. He’s awesome. He's like one of the coolest adults you'll ever meet.
"You got any stories for us today, Mr. Johnson?" Aaron wondered. "Yeah, but this one, I'll keep light and sweet. When I was your age, I had a friend group like yours, -Denise and Phillip. We used to go to that a secret place - Mount-shore lake. The one y'all fixing to go to. We had so many good memories but one day, we got into a fight and we never spoke again. The light of our friendship blew out and never went back in. I don’t even remember what the argument was about. It’s a shame we let something so small take over what was big, - each other. What I'm trying to say is never forget how important your friend is because one day they'll slip right out from in front of you if you let them. Friendship is part of the key to life; with them, you share some of life's greatest moments if you keep them close to ya."
"Don't worry Mr. Johnson, these are my friends for life. They'd never leave me if they could." I say this putting my arms around both of their shoulders. "She's not wrong," Natasha says leaning into me. "I wish I could retort but unfortunately, it's true." Aaron groaned. Mr. Johnson chuckles. "He knows he loves us," Natasha added. "Love is a strong word. I'd more say that I tolerate you both." "Shut up!" Natasha and I saw in unison.
"Also, how does everyone know about this lake? Or that we are going there? So much for this being a secret." Aaron scoffed. "You do realize that you guys are only teenagers, right? I've lived here for 50 years, so I know this place a lot more than you do. And I knew you’re going there because this is New York, word gets around fast." "I see your input; well we should go before the rest of the world finds out where we are going too," Aaron says mockingly.
"Yeah, we should go before Aaron whines anymore, see you around Mr. Johnson. I chuckle. "Remember what I said." Mr. Johnson calls out.
Further along, we talk more and more with our other neighbors like Mr. Chestnut our goofy science teacher, Mrs. Malcolm, the flower shop lady, we even greet Jessie and Bessie the local stray dogs that everyone takes care of. As we get closer to the lake, we begin to forget how hot it is and enjoy the day, mainly because of each other's company.
"Finally, we're here. I've so been looking forward to getting in the water." Natasha cheered. "Do you think we've been followed? Everyone we know frigging knew where we were going without us even saying it." Aaron retorts. "We aren't in some spy movie, what is anyone going to gain out of following three teens to a 'secret' lake. They're doing their own thing. They aren't worried about us." I respond. "If you say so."
We spend our time swimming in the lake, talking about how we'll finally be seniors, and how we'll take over the school. We laugh and tell jokes, smile, and play games. Aaron even loosens up. And you know how tense he gets. The sky darkens a bit, and we start to see the sunset. When Aaron and Natasha get up and explain how we should get ready to leave, I stop them.
"You guys, wait." "What does the impeccable Maya want now?" Aaron jokes. I make a funny face at him and continue. "I've been thinking a lot about what Mr. Johnson said and realized that we don't have many pictures together. I know I am dramatic and goofy sometimes, but I do appreciate you guys, I hope we stay friends forever." Natasha smiles." Aw, I love you guys too." We turn to Aaron and he looks like he's on the verge of tears. "Aaron, are you crying?!" I say shocked. "What, no! I just have some water in my eyes from the lake. How preposterous of you to assume so." "Oh, shut up you big teddy bear. You know you love us." I say this while hugging him, Natasha joining in. "Fine! I admit it, you guys are what makes me bear this ridiculous world, I suppose I do 'love' you both. Now please release me, my lungs are starting to give out." We both let go and laugh, Aaron, sneaking in a soft chuckle.
"Let's take a picture to capture one of our many memories to come. On three say Maya is the best, one, (Aaron) I will not say that. two, (Me) yes you are, three! (Natasha), I said this before and I'll say it again, Maya you are too much. "You know it!" I cheer.
After we went home, I walked to the mirror and looked at the picture frame of the three us from when we were in elementary school and smiled. I thought to myself how glad I was to have found them. On hot days like this, the heat could never break the cool bond that we all had. And for that, I’m forever grateful.