The first time you met Jesse Hargrave, you had a distinct feeling you would dislike this overconfident sixth grader. It was at a birthday party that your mother had wrestled you into going to. Because of your elder sister, Lexie got invited, and your mother assumed they had forgotten to invite you. Which even as an eleven-year-old you already knew was a bald-faced lie, but your mother being who she was wouldn’t hear any more of it.
She had said you were going, so you knew you were going. The first thing that got to your mind when you got to the party was how stupid it looked. It was the birthday party of the neighbour’s daughter, Marie Anderson. The stupidest girl on the block or planet, it seemed she grew stupider by the minute. Everyone knew that, but they all still came. Her parents unlike their daughter were however very smart, they had the biggest house with a pool, and they were almost as rich as your family.
Lexie didn’t waste time before leaving you alone, not that you cared. You had no interest in her friendship circle. They weren’t all impressive, but at least she had friends. You were not like your sister; you didn’t have looks, but you were smart, reliable and easily your parents favourite for your quick wits. So you didn’t care about having too many friends, maybe when you were in high school you would pursue it.
You sat out by the pool watching silly kids jump in and the awful sound of the ever so present giggling never going far from your ear. It was from this seat of yours that you saw him. Jesse Hargrave pegged to be the new hottest dude by the time he would be eighteen. But then he was just one of the silly kids. He didn’t strike an impression on you when you saw him; he looked much like everyone else.
But then boys and girls were gathered around him, listening intently to whatever rubbish he was saying. It was then you were curious. What could this boy possibly be saying that was so impressive that the children sat listening? Everyone knew Jesse Hargrave, he lived right across your house, and he played soccer on the middle school team; you knew because Lexie played for the girls' team and your father always made you come to watch her because he was the team coach.
You got up from your seat and walked over there keeping a safe distance but close enough to hear what was being said. It was when you heard him speak that you knew you disliked this boy. He was talking about the time he and his father caught an alligator. You looked to the people he was talking to as they showed faces and gasped as he gave them a blow-by-blow story of how he wrestled the alligator.
Your face was one of utter and complete disbelief. Not because the boy had such a keen skill on lies, but that the children believed every word he was saying and his audience was growing. You just about had enough when he said the alligator clawed him beneath his ankle so you said, ‘Oh yeah and I fought a shark last week in my backyard then I hit a bear across the face and rode a lion to my ballet class.’
That was the first time Jesse Hargrave looked at you, his eyes weren’t angry that you spoiled his story but amused. The others though looked ready to spit venom. You rolled your eyes and walked off. That was the first time Jesse Hargrave met you. The sarcastic girl whose grey eyes depicted pure boredom and dislike, not one bit caring about anyone's opinion.
‘Hello,’ he said to you. You looked at him; a bit surprised he had left his fan club to find you in the house.
‘What do you want?’ you replied.
‘I want us to be friends,’
You furrowed your brows, ‘Why?’
‘Because I’ve been waiting for over an hour for someone to burst out laughing and realising I’ve been joking, but they have all been too dumb to. And you’re probably the first person ever to shut me up,’ said Jesse.
‘And that’s a wonderful thing,’ you replied uncertainly.
‘You’re the coach’s daughter right and Lexie Rivers sister,’ said Jesse, ‘I’m Jesse Hargrave,’ he stretched out his hand.
You knew that you still disliked him but it wouldn’t hurt to see where this went he would probably get over this phase in a day or two so you said, ‘Allison Rivers nice to meet you.’
The next day he came over to your house and after that, the following week, month and year and soon enough you forgot all about your dislike for Jesse Hargrave, your new best friend. To commemorate your newfound friendship and become official best friends you made the rules which were all Jesse’s idea rules guarding the sanctity of your friendship he had said to which you rolled your eyes but still went along with it. The rules were as follows;
1. Neither of us can have another best friend till we die because saying you have two best friends is just a fancy way of betrayal- Jesse’s Rule (you said ‘it’s highly unlikely that I will have any other friends apart from you).
2. We shall hang out at least thrice a week no matter the circumstances including soccer, lacrosse or even football practice- Allison’s Rule.
3. No phone calls after three o’clock seeing as Allison is an owl- Jesse’s Rule.
4. We each have the power to veto any two relationship partners in a year to make sure it does not force us to hang out with dummies and superficial cheerleaders or freakish people- Allison’s Rule.
5. We will be best friends even after college, we will go to the same college, and when we each get married the other must be present, even if they should be fighting a war or creating a vaccine to save the world. We will be by each other sides and buried side by side. And all rules must be obeyed- Jesse and Allison’s rule.
Six years after and you still sometimes wondered what might have happened if you had kept your mouth shut when you met Jesse Hargrave. Shocking that one sarcastic remark began a six-year friendship leading up to this very moment on August 9, 2019, on the sofa in the living room of Allison Rivers. You lay on the sofa and ignored the horrible gurgling noises Jesse was making from the dining room. It was typical of him to ruin any chance of sleep you had.
‘Lexie tell Jesse to shut up or I’m coming over there to hit him in the face,’ you yelled.
This only seemed to make him continue even louder. You muttered a curse under your breath and got up and went to the dining room even though you knew that was exactly what he wanted.
‘Jesse, I will kill you,’ you said as soon as you saw him smirking by the end of the dining table.
‘You need to ease up on the death threats.’ said Jesse.
‘I will strangle you then chop you to pieces and thrown you in the sewers.’ you replied.
‘Should I worry at how well-thought-out that is?’ said Jesse, thoroughly enjoying himself.
‘Okay, I will stop disturbing you if you go to the party. I’ve been begging for weeks, Ally. Please, it's today,’ said Jesse.
You sighed. He had been trying to convince you to go to Sarah Leman’s party for days now, but you had no interest in going. Sarah Leman was a senior at Red Hill high, or at least she was as at last two weeks before graduation. Now she was throwing the biggest party as a goodbye to the town before summer ends. You knew Sarah throughout her high school life as the best party thrower after your sister Lexie who remained the most popular girl in town and according to the Red Hill students their HBIC (Head B---h In Charge). Jesse knew for a fact considering how you both met that parties were not your thing. But he didn’t want to go to the biggest party in town without his best friend, and he had to go because he was a senior, and he had graduated too.
‘Ally, summer is almost over and when it is, I am going to Harvard so do you want to refuse my last wishes?’ he said. He looked at her without a fake disappointed and pained look.
‘You’re going to college, not dying. I will go, but you can’t play the Harvard card again.’
‘Yes Allison, yes. No more fake I’m hurt speeches. Please go with me,’
You rolled your eyes and said, ‘All right, but I’m driving the car.’
‘So I will pick you up at seven,’ he said. He ran to you and lifted you off the ground. ‘Thank you so much.’
‘For Pete’s sake, put me down, Jesse!’ you screamed. You weren’t a fan of heights; you always liked and felt safer with both legs on the ground and obeying the laws of gravity.
He put you down, kissed you on your forehead and left yelling, ‘Wear something human Rivers.’
You put a hand on your forehead, trying to think of how you would survive a night surrounded by high school teenagers and vicious drama queens. You shake your head in pity for yourself and slight sorrow. It would be a horrible night.
‘The things I do for sleep,’ you thought.
You were about to head back to the living room when a foul smell reached your nose. You launched into a fit of coughs and immediately you knew Lexie was in the kitchen. You made your way to the kitchen door and as soon as you pulled it open; a puff of smoke greeted you.
‘Lexie, what are you doing?’ you asked your sister who was standing in a corner of the kitchen holding a piece of bread in her hand. Her orange apron seems to have taken a few fresh shades to it.
‘Making toast.’ she replied. You look at her bewildered.
‘Why is there a pot on the cooker,’ you asked in between coughs.
‘Well, I was trying an alternative way of making toast,’ said Lexie looking extremely satisfied with her explanation.
‘Lexie, mom told you to stay away from the kitchen. You’re always the common denominator for every accident in the kitchen,'
You still could not quite forget the time you asked Lexie to help you with a bake sale, and she had single-handedly ensured the kitchen caught fire and giving your mother a grand excuse to ground both for two months.
‘The cooker was off this time, you guys need to get over that, it wasn’t my fault,’ said Lexie correctly analysing the look on your face.
You loved your sister Lexie; she was a straight-a student, an exceptional soccer player, head cheerleader and a walking social media platform. She had gorgeous brown hair and lovely eyes, and she was the only person in this world that you could confidently say was almost as smart as yourself but for anything, in the kitchen, every single person in the household of the four's household Rivers family knew she had no hope. The clock on the dining table read 4:30.
‘You and Jesse are in cahoots right. I set a plan for sleep and you both gang up on me and ruin it,’ you said.
Lexie and you walked out of the kitchen and closed the door, ‘You’re going to the party?’
‘Yes, Jesse gave the Harvard speech again. I can’t wait for him to leave.’
Lexie sneered, ‘Yeah, right? I bet you’re already missing him. I feel bad for you though.’
‘Because I and Jessie were your only chance at a social life, and we are leaving. Just admit that you’ll miss us.’ said Lexie.
‘I’ll miss you but I’ll appreciate that the chances of the house burning down will be reduced to a minimum directed by fate’
‘I hate that you think you’re so clever,’
‘Oh no sweetie, you hate that you know I’m so clever. Does mom know we are going to a party?’ you said.
‘Don’t worry I already told mom I and Jesse would force you to go,’
You look at her open-mouthed as she grabbed you, led you out of the dining room and dragged you up the stairs, ‘Come on I’m dressing you up.’
‘The party doesn’t start until seven, what’s the rush?’ you asked.
Lexie gasped, ‘That’s not enough time to get you looking human.’
You rolled your eyes, ‘Haha well played big sister.’
Lexie did a mock bow halfway up the stairs, ‘I aim to please.’
By seven o’clock you wished you had strangled Jesse. Lexie decided it was time to let down your brown hair. She had you in an overly-skinny jean of hers (that you were convinced would cause temporary paralysis) and a lace top. You looked like an unfamiliar person in the mirror. When Jesse arrived with his Jeep, his first words were, ‘Wow. You clean up nice Rivers.’
After which he spent ten minutes running from you as you tried to hit him on the head.
Sarah’s house was right at the edge of town. You were sure after three turns you didn’t know where you were going. Then an argument started with you and Jesse, after which Lexie took control of the wheel and banished an infuriated you and a frustrated Jesse to the back seat.
When the three of you finally arrived at the party, it was eight o’clock and the party looked like it was just starting. In your mind, you had thought of how the biggest party thrown by Sarah Leman would be, but now looking at it, you multiplied that by 10,000 and it still wasn’t close. The entire place was a party, down to the streets for a minute there you worried that it could cause trouble but then you realised that Sarah lived at the edge of town so there was completely no neighbour around to complain about the loud music. Even kids from other towns around Red hill were here. This was the best party in ages. And for the first time, Sarah impressed you.
The host was receiving people as they entered, but somehow she seemed to spot you all and came out to meet you, Lexie and Jesse.
‘Hey, Lexie. I love those shoes,’ she said.
‘Thank you, this party is amazing,’ replied Lexie, putting on her most believable face.
‘I have been looking for a set of people to complete a truth or dare game we’re playing and you just arrived. What a coincidence?’ said Sarah.
You and Jesse exchanged looks, and then Lexie said, ‘What were the odds?’
Your newfound respect for your host immediately diminished.
When you entered the Leman house, you knew immediately once again you were right and like every other party it brimmed with people
The truth or dare table held six other players apart from you, Sarah, Jesse and Lexie. All of whom you knew. There was Steve, everyone knew Steve, he was Lexie’s on and off boyfriend, Mark, René who were all football players and Jesse’s friends. The other three were Ashley, Aimee and Anna known at school as the triple A’S and as usual, you were the only high school junior at the table.
‘Okay guys, I spin the bottle, and we start,’ said Sarah.
‘Aren’t we a little too old for this Sarah?’ said Rene.
Sarah glared at him and spun the bottle.
The first round started with Aimee daring Renee to hit Steve, which he did and the second spin was a truth.
Ashley said, ‘Steve, how long have you been telling people Lexie has chlamydia?’
That round ended with Steve being punched in the face again.
And after two more rounds, Sarah Leman smiled and asked, ‘Jesse, how long have you been in love with Allison? And were you ever planning on telling her?’
The entire table went silent as all heads turned to Jesse.
‘Sarah, what the hell is wrong with you?’ asked Lexie, but you barely heard. You were looking at Jesse, who was avoiding your gaze. Why he wasn’t laughing like he always did?
After a while, you said, ‘Jesse please a word’
He looked at you pale-faced, nodded and followed you as you left the table was now in a passionate argument between Lexie and Sarah.
When you were finally out by the balcony of the second floor, he said, ‘I’m sorry about Sarah.’
‘Why didn’t you say something?’ you said.
‘I don’t know. I didn’t want to change anything between us.’ he said, still avoiding looking at you.
‘You’re going to college, maybe you will grow out of it or something…’ your voice trailed off.
‘And you’re going to come to that college next year besides I’ve had six years to grow out of it but I didn’t.’
‘Just say it’ you silently reminded yourself. You knew that you’d regret it if you didn’t ‘Well I guess that makes both of us.’
Jesse finally looked at you, ‘Are you serious Rivers?’
You sighed, ‘Regrettably yes. I just wish we weren’t both such cowards who couldn’t say how we felt. I do feel something other than friendship for you and I want to find out what, especially since I know you’re madly in love with me.’
He chuckled and said, ‘Ally please don’t gloat.’
He moved closer to you and kissed your lips, suddenly kissing the boy who lived across you for years and you wanted another kiss, you ignored the voice in your head yelling ‘ALLISON STOP!!!’
When he drew back his lips from yours, you whispered, ‘Can I gloat now?’