A/N: This is a true story from the past couple weeks of my life. However, the names are falsified for obvious reasons.
“That may be the name of the park, but I am in no way responsible for you getting wet and wild.” His newly adopted New Zealand accent slightly lilted his words.
”Okay, Asshole.” She laughed into the phone.
”So, are you going to tell me what you have for me?”
Her eyes sparkled in the dim lighting of her shared bedroom as she briefly considered spilling her guts. “No, my love. Your curiosity is my assurance that you will show up on Sunday.” She shifted the phone as she scolded the creme-point siamese in her lap. “But take a wild guess as to what it is.”
”I don’t know.”
”Come on, Sweetheart. You’ve known me for almost two years now. Take a wild guess.”
”Jail papers?” She doubled over in laughter, startling and annoying her blue-eyed cat.
”Damn, you must think I’m batshit crazy! To serve jail papers at a water park to my male best friend?!“ A smile curved her lips as she continued. “Besides, it’s not your birthday yet, Sweetheart. Wait for April Fool’s Day to come back ‘round.”
“I mean, you are batshit crazy, a totally psychopathic, yet innocent, bitch.” He cussed out a driver in front of him.
”Fuck you!” She laughed. “But at least I’m your psychopathic bitch.”
”Time and place, Babe.”
”See you Sunday, Darlin’.” Still laughing, she hung up the phone and went back inside. Her phone rang out with Stay by Florida-Georgia Line, and shaking her head, she answered. “I just hung up, Sweetheart. Are you okay?”
Techno music blared into her ear as she waited for his response. “You better be glad I like you, Love.”
”Okay…What‘s wrong?” Her heart sped up as her nerves twisted into knots. Her mind focused on his statement, the only time he’d ever been that direct about his feelings towards her. “Darlin’, is everything okay?”
”I just realized what you’ve talked me into doing. You better be glad I like you, more Thani should, or I wouldn’t be going to this water park with you Sunday.”
”I hate public places.” She laughed softly As he hung up their second call of the night.
“Is he here?” Her blonde friend scammed the groups of people walking into the park.
”No clue, Sis.“ She twisted the bracelet on her wrist wondering how much he had change. “I ain’t seen him in sixteen months, so I have no clue what my love interest looks like anymore.”
”Excited?” She glanced down at her hot pink-and-white-polka-dot bikini top and black bottoms. “You look fine, Ember.”
”Fuck yeah. My stomach‘s in knots and my heart’s explodin’ in my chest.” Her blue-green eyes collided with a pair of dark brown eyes that she’d know anywhere. “I’m going to kill him, resurrect him, and kill him again.” She half laughed, half growled as she watched him walk towards them.
”Sweatpants? At a water park? In the middle of July? Down south?!” She glanced at his white t-shirt before focusing on his Christmas themed pajama pants. “Bless your heart! I thought you were joking about that!!! Why the fuck?!”
”I don’t like water parks, Love. I told you this.” He shrugged and she shook her head, causing her long brown hair to cascade over her shoulder.
”By all means, feel free to leave if you don’t want to be here.” She turned away so as to not show the tears pooling in her darkening eyes. Quickly blinking them back, she soldiered onward. ”Lockers that way, Arrow.” They proceeded to the small store. “How much sleep did you get?”
She turned a soft gaze of concern to her male companion who looked ready to drop where he stood. “We don’t talk about my sleep patterns, Love. I got enough to barely keep me awake to get here.”
”Baby, you need rest. You’re about to drop where you stand, and we plan to be here all day. You look exhausted, should go home and get some shuteye.”
”It’s your eighteenth birthday, Love. You’re leaving soon for college. I wouldn’t miss this for the world. Screw sleep.”
”This is going to kill you if you keep down this path, Darlin’.”
”Nobody will miss me.”
”I would miss you. I care, Arrow, more than you may ever know.” She gazed into his dark brown eyes. “I care about you. I miss you on a daily basis with you still being alive. I don’t even want to think about how bad I’d ache if you died.“
After refusing to leave, her two sisters, Arrow, and herself kept going. Up and down water rides the four females went. Every ride, he refused to join them, taking preference to watching their stuff over enjoying the rides. Ember stopped by a bench, her feet burning from the sun-baked asphalt and her head throbbing with pain. Sitting, she brought her knees to her chest and bit back the tears.
”Are you okay? Ember, what’s wrong? You going to be okay?” She felt his hand on her thigh and took comfort in the fact that the man she’d originally fallen for was somewhere behind the distant mask he’d thus far portrayed. She looked up just as her pain caused her tears to spill over. “Don’t cry, Love. It’s okay.” The overwhelming concern in his soft voice only furthered her tears so that she no longer knew whether it was emotions or pain that caused them.
”I’m fine.” She stood and fled to the bathroom, knowing she was being stupid for not telling him how she felt. Better to attribute it all to the pain than to her emotions. Once inside the females bathroom, she slid down against a wall, bringing her knees to her chest once more and letting her tears fall like rain.
How could he show up to spen time with her yet do nothing? Why was her head hurting so damned bad? Why that day of all days? The day she turned eighteen? Finally, she stood and splashed her face while regaining her composure. “Ma’am, there’s a young fellow looking for you. Shoulder-length brown hair, about five-eight, dark brown eyes, dressed for bed.”
”Got it. Thanks.” She pulled her hair into a high-ponytai, dried her face off, and headed back out, wincing as her migraine seemed to spike again.
”Are you okay, Love?” She’d walked straight out of the restroom into him. She momentarily let herself rest in his embrace, nodded, and continued towards the benches.
“My head.” She sat down, strapped her sandals back on her feet, and leaned her head back against the banister’s rail. Out of the corner of her eye, she watched as he sat beside her and prompt passed out. For the first time, he looked vulnerable, exposed, to her. She watched as his hair fell down while his head sagged towards his chest. She focused on the rhythm of his breathing as it seemed to calm his nerves. finally, she turned her head to face him. “Never in a million years did I think I’d fall in love with somebody like him,” she half mutt to herself.
She let her eyes trace his facial features, noticing the small blemishes on a mostly clear face. She let her gaze drop to the stubble on his face as she gently pushed his locks to the side. “If only it could be forever.” She sighed, wondering how to reach the man behind the mask. Finally, she spotted two of her sisters returning from the lockers. Ever so gently, she shook his shoulder. “Arrow, come on my love. Ariana and Mariella are back.“ slowly, he raised his head, shaking the locks out of his face once more.
”Wave pool?” She looked at her silently distant, and oh so exhausted, companion. “Just one time, my dear? We’ve been here for four hours and you’ve had no fun.“
”I enjoy watching you and hanging out with you. That’s my fun.” He pulled a latex glove out of a pocket. “And this.” She gave him an odd look and he conceded. “Fine. Wave pool.“
She smiled at him and shook her head. “Thank you, Love.” They made their way to the wave pool and waded in ankle deep. “See? Not so bad.” She waded out hip deep, letting the water lap at her body, while not losing sight of her beloved.
”WAVE!!!” She turned around to find a wave coming up. Thinking nothing of it, she watched in fascination, wondering how they worked the waves and through what machine they were created. Mid-thought, she realized that the wave was rising over her head. Holding her breath, she let herself sink beneath the surface. She felt the wave shove her and her sisters toward the shore. Keeping towards the floor, she swam towards the deep end, which stopped at nine feet.
She felt something hard brush against her hand and resurfaced with a large gasp for air. “Are you okay?” She gave her would-be rescuer a once over. “Seriously, I thought you were going to die or something with how long you’d been under.”
”I’m fine. Thank you.” A sharp whistle pierced the air as another wave proceeded to claim her and her would-be rescuer. She held her breath, sank, and swam towards the wave. Finally, she felt her hands brush against concrete. She’d made it to the other side, the wall. She then headed back, hoping her group-mates hadn’t left her.
”Ember?!” She heard him calling out her name, his accent thickened with worry. She then heard her sisters calling for her. “Found her!”
Shed stopped chatting with those around her to merge with her group once more. “I was fine.”
“I swam to the other side, stopping to socialize with the people I accidentally bumped into.” She avoids Arrow’s gaze, seeing only dissatisfaction and disapproval. “Besides, I don’t see the problem. I swim in a river all the time, and the current there is stronger than that of these waves. The water’s deeper there too.”
She pushed past them to clear her head and emotions. Usually, she’d confide in Arrow, but not after he’d been an ass and dropped the energetic mood of the group all day. Shortly later, they made their way to the vehicles they’d arrived in. Stopping in the parking lot next to the black PT Cruiser, she pulled something out, and turned back as her sisters got in.
“Arrow?” He stopped and turned back to her. “Here you go.” She handed him a purple folder with forty-plus pages of notes, letters, and poems. She took his hands in hers, pulling him to her. She kissed him softly, before turning back to the vehicles. “I love you, but as long as you’re destroying yourself, I am never going out with you again.”