Kale had increased his visits to the park after meeting Vanessa. There was just something about her that he couldn't describe. Maybe it was the way her soft blond hair twirled in the breeze, or the voice that was as soft as moonlight. Or maybe, it was the way she looked at him. No girl had looked at him like that before. Granted, he couldn't remember many times when a girl had looked at him at all, but there was something in her eyes. Interest possibly. She seemed as though she really wanted to know him. And she left leaving him more confused then he had ever been.
He never liked girls. He felt that they were a waste of time. Too often had his friends gotten caught up in a relationship only to be crushed when it inevitably ended. Of course he had an innocent crush every so often, but he never felt like this before. He couldn't stop thinking about her, and although he had better things to do on his summer vacation, he didn't want to. He never really imagined himself going on dates or getting a girlfriend, and he certainly never considered falling in love. But this girl, she was something different.
He walked the familiar path to Pomegranate Street with his eyes cast downward. He had walked it enough times to miss every stump or branch, but at late dusk he didn't want to take a chance. As he emerged on the main street he was surprised to find the light of a flashlight a mere fifteen feet away. He looked upwards for the owner and ducked behind the nearest tree.
He had felt it again. That unnamed emotion that had stirred when he saw her for the very first time. She hadn't changed in the past few weeks. The only noticeable difference was a deep tan that complemented her lightened hair perfectly.
"Hello?" Vanessa called cautiously as she strolled towards him.
He hoped that she was talking to someone else and he backed closer to the tree. It was then that he realized the problem with hiding in the path. The trees had been planted in the recent past and the one that he had shielded himself with didn't hide much more than an inch of his body in the middle with the exception of minor areas, which were covered by bright flimsy leaves. Realizing how completely sketchy he must have looked trying unsuccessfully to hide in the shadows he emerged slightly and responded. "Hi."
"Who's there?" Vanessa asked loudly, attempting to draw attention in case he was as dangerous as he looked.
"Kale," he called. "My name is Kale Markos. I live nearby."
"Kale?" She questioned. "That sounds familiar, have I met you?"
Kale attempted to hide his disappointment. He had been imagining the moment when he would see her again, and this was certainly not how it was supposed to occur. To hide his displeasure, he simply replied, "I'm not sure, who are you?"
"I'm Vanessa," she replied. "But that's all I'm going to tell you while you're hiding in the woods. And I'm warning you; I live very close and my father's home. If you make any motion to hurt me, I'll call him and he'll do things to you that you've only read about."
Kale couldn't help but laugh. He wasn't the type of boy who was usually threatened by girl's fathers. Not that he had met many girls' fathers, but those who he did meet asked him to stay a while. He was the type of boy that parents wanted their daughters to date, and the type of boy that the daughters wanted to hide from.
Kale emerged fully and leaned against the tree as he had seen the football players do at his school. Trying to act causal, he asked, "Vanessa who?" After hearing his tone of voice he looked down to see how utterly absurd he looked. He shuffled awkwardly away from the tree.
"Vanessa Laurence," she called back. "You do look familiar."
Kale smiled with the knowledge of her last name. It fell smoothly out of his mouth as he repeated it for effect. "I think I met you before. At the park, it was nearby here I think."
Vanessa's mouth turned upward with comprehension. "I remember you. You were the sweet boy who said I was pretty."
Kale was shocked. She remembered him. Not only him, but also something he had said. He decided to take another risk. "Hey, as long as we're both here, do you want to take a walk?"
"Uhm," Vanessa took a minute to reply. "Sure. I'd like that."
Kale strode onto the street, and he and Vanessa began walking. Over the next hour he learned that she had lived in her house for her entire life, unlike Kale who had moved into his three years prior. Her parents had divorced when she was young and while she was the only child from the first marriage, she had one stepbrother, one stepsister, and a half brother. Vanessa was sixteen, Mark was eleven, Marietta was eleven, and Jacob was six. Kale on the other hand had two original parents and was an only child. The one thing that they discovered that they had in common was their choice of music. They were both huge fans of classic rock. At one point they even strolled down the street singing "Smells Like Teen Spirit" by Nirvana.
By the time they had walked they had walked the entire loop and found themselves back where they had began they were laughing like old friends. Feeling strangely confident, Kale stopped and turned to face her. "I could take the path there and we would go our separate ways or, we can walk to the park and talk for a while longer."
Vanessa looked at her watch and jumped in surprise. "Oh my god! I can't believe we've been talking for so long. I was supposed to be home twenty minutes ago. I'm so sorry, I really wish I could stay."
Kale tried unsuccessfully to hide his disappointment. "It's fine. Don't worry about it. Maybe some other time?" He added hopefully.
"Yeah. That'd be great." She replied as though she really meant it. "Bye."
"Bye." Kale replied as he walked away. "Sweet dreams." He whispered as an afterthought as she disappeared around a bend. He didn't know how she felt about him, but at the moment it didn't matter. He knew he would have sweet dreams that night.