I didn't think I'd have any time to edit and post this for a while, but I wasn't feeling so well this morning, so I stayed home, passed out for a couple hours, and had some extra time that I should've spent doing make-up work... Buuuttt you guys are more important.
So last part section chapter thing :D Here goes.
When Evan dropped me off in front of my house, I waited for him to drive away before I turned to face my front door. The lights were on in some of the windows, which meant that either my mom, my dad, or my little brother was home.
Even though it was drizzling outside, I really didn't feel like going in. Without putting too much thought into the matter, I turned and started walking down the sidewalk instead.
It had been raining on and off all day. One of those late-spring rainstorms had been brewing for the past few days because of the warm weather. The air was humid and smelled like moisture.
As I walked, I didn't really give too much consideration as to where I was going. I just listened to the rustling of wet trees and the sound of cars rolling by on damp gravel.
I must've circled Hayden's block about four times before, ultimately, I found myself outside the shed.
I dug through my bag for the key. The rain was beginning to come down harder now, matting my hair and soaking my clothes all the way through. I got the padlock open just in time and stumbled in.
The shed, even after years of being used, still had a faint scent of plywood and wet paint. It also smelled a little bit like Hayden. I couldn't describe his scent even if I tried, but it was nice. It comforted me.
I kicked off my shoes by the door and took off my wet socks that had been soaked by the puddles. The next thing I did was roll up my damp jeans so they didn't drag against my legs.
I didn't bother turning on the television or any of the lights. The electricity probably didn't work, anyway. It often faltered out here during rainstorms, as Hayden and I had figured out early on.
Wrapping myself in my green blanket, I curled up on my lawn chair and faced Hayden's side of the shed.
Even with the lights off, I could tell you where everything was. First there was the blue lamp on top of the side-table, and above Hayden's lawn chair were a bunch of old movie posters and some glow-in-the-dark stars that we had put up back when they were considered "cool." Then, on the floor was a small camouflage area rug. At the foot of the lawn chair was the television set, and beside that was the mini-fridge. One thing that wasn't in its rightful place, however, was my best friend.
I shut my eyes and let my mind go void of all thought. I was tired of thinking about this.
Just as I was about to drift off, the door to the shed creaked open. A gust of damp air filled the shed and I heard someone step onto the wood paneling.
"What," a familiar voice asked, "are you doing, sitting here in the dark, Raegan Wimberley?" The door shut behind him.
"I dunno," I replied. My voice sounded confused, but not because of his question; because of his presence.
I heard Hayden flick the switch a few times, but nothing happened. "Ah. Well, that explains that," he said. I barely saw his silhouette in the darkness as he crossed the shed and reached for something on the shelf. "Did you try the lantern?"
"No," I said. "I figured it wouldn't work. You threw it at me a few months ago, remember?"
Hayden laughed. "Rae, if everything broke after I threw it at you…" He paused as he sat on his lawn chair and clicked the lantern on. The light, though very dim, still worked. "We'd have a shed full of busted crap."
A smile pulled at my mouth. Man, I had missed him.
I pulled my gaze away from him, remembering the thoughts that went through my mind at the library earlier. Even if he didn't have a clue, I still felt embarrassed of it. "So what're you doing here?" I asked, pushing the feelings away.
Hayden raised an eyebrow as if the answer was obvious. "I live here, Rae. This is sort of my backyard."
"No, I know," I replied. "I mean, how'd you know I was in here?"
Hayden put his hands behind his head and lied down, staring up at the ceiling. "I saw your footprints in the mud around the side of the house," he told me.
From there, the two of us fell into an awkward silence. This struck me as extremely strange. Hayden Barnes and Raegan Wimberley hadn't had an awkward silence since… Hell, I can't even remember if we had ever had one.
For a good ten minutes, I didn't hear anything except for the rain on the skylight, the soft buzz of the lantern, and Hayden's calm breathing.
"Rae," he whispered. I turned my head to the side so I could look at him. The lantern cast a soft glow onto his face. He looked pensive. "Rae, what happened to us, huh?"
I simply shrugged. I knew my voice would sound choked-up had I tried to respond.
"Rae, what happened? I haven't seen you in sixth months… We're best friends, Raegan."
"I know," I told him. "You've just been… busy, you know? I didn't wanna…"
"Not too busy for you, though… C'mon, Rae. I'd always make time for you. You know that, don't you?"
I didn't respond for a minute, telling him that, apparently, I didn't know. Hayden sighed, thinking over his words before he said them. "We broke up, you know. Me and Jenna. Last Tuesday."
"What?" I asked in disbelief. "Hayden, why didn't you tell me?"
"Believe me, I tried. You haven't returned any of my freakin' calls in months, Rae."
I bit my lip. "I'm sorry," I whispered. "And I'm sorry it didn't work out."
"Don't be," he said. I heard him shuffle around; the way he always did whenever something was bugging him. "I ended it."
"What? Why?! I thought you really liked Jenna… Why would you end it?"
"For you, Rae," Hayden told me.
I sat up and stared at him, giving him the "why-on-earth-would-you-do-something-so-stupid" expression. "Hayden! Why'd you do that!?" I exclaimed. "Hayden, I miss you more than anything, okay? And yeah, I wish we could spend every day together like we used to. But the reality of it was that, sooner or later, we were eventually going to grow apart. When I told you that I wanted you to be happy, I meant it. And if that means—"
"No. Rae, that's not what I meant," he said, cutting me off.
I closed my mouth and searched Hayden's face, attempting to figure out what he was trying to tell me. Hayden looked stressed and nervous and frustrated. He rubbed his forehead and shut his eyes. His foot was bouncing nervously.
"I meant that…" Hayden sighed, unable to continue. "C'mere a second, Rae."
Puzzled, I got up and crossed the shed. Hayden sat up and motioned for me to sit beside him.
"Raegan. I gotta… Uh… I have to tell you something. But, I… Um..." My best friend cracked an anxious smile. "I kinda suck at talking to girls."
I laughed. "Since when do you consider me a girl?"
Hayden didn't reply. I thought I saw a blush rise to his face.
"Here," I said, reaching out for the lantern. "Maybe this will help." I shut it off and the shed was engulfed in darkness. I couldn't even see three inches in front of my face.
I heard him shuffle around so he was facing me. "Yeah. Yeah, a little," he said. Hayden's voice was still shaky, however. "This is still gonna be hard, though."
"Nah… You're my best friend, Hayden. You can tell me anything, right?"
Even though I couldn't see him, I knew him well enough to know that he had just nodded. "Yeah. Alright. I'm holding you to that."
I laughed. "Alright," I agreed. "Now what is it?"
He took a while to collect his thoughts. More than anything, I wanted to hug him or hold his hand; just something to reassure him that I wasn't going anywhere no matter what he had to say. But I couldn't bring myself to do it. Something still felt weird between Hayden and me. I sat patiently instead.
He took a deep breath. "Wanna know why I agreed to stop dating?"
"Because you were fed up with it?" I asked.
"No," he replied.
"Because you suck at it?"
"Well, yes. But no. That's not why."
I folded my legs and sat Indian-style on the bed. I heard Hayden do the same so we were facing each other in the dark shed. "Then why, Hayden?"
His voice was soft, but what he said was unmistakable. "Well, I didn't realize it at the time… But it was because the girl I wanted was right in front of my eyes."
The air suddenly stopped in my throat. There was no way in hell he meant me. I was his best friend. That was all he saw me as.
"I… I always compared other girls to you. I think that's why relationships never worked out for me. Cause it was always, 'she's not as pretty as Raegan,' or, 'oh, I don't have as much fun with her as I do with Raegan'… I could never even look at another girl without thinking about you. But the thought that I might have… Well, the thought never occurred to me until we sort of kissed."
I was having trouble comprehending everything that Hayden was saying. I tried to focus on his words, but I was starting to feel slightly dizzy.
"And then, well… I kept telling myself that it was wrong. Because you were my best friend, and you didn't think of me like that. And you were so set on me going out with Jenna, so I did. I mean, don't get me wrong. Jenna's…" Hayden paused, searching for the right wording. "Jenna's incredible… But I guess you can't stay with someone forever knowing that the person you really want is drifting away from you."
My heart was speeding up, beating a million times a second now.
"So I guess I'm just gonna say it now. And I'm really sorry if I creep you out, because, honestly, that's the last thing I want to do," he stuttered. "But I guess now that I'm this far into it, I might as well just say it, because you probably know now anyway. I mean, I've definitely dropped enough hints and—"
"What?" He sounded alarmed.
"Just spill it already so I can say it back!"
"I—Wait, really? You mean you…?"
A smile pulled at the corner of my mouth and I rolled my eyes. "Only one way to find out," I challenged.
"Right. Yeah, so, uh… Here goes." Hayden cleared his throat. "I think I love you, Rae. And not the 'I've-been-best-friends-with-this-girl-since-grade-school-love,' either. Well, I mean… Of course I love you like that. But it's something else now, too. As in, 'I'm-falling-for-the-girl-I've-been-best-friends-with-since-grade-school.'"
Hayden took my hand and held it in his. A feeling that was a mix between nerves and excitement settled in my stomach. It hadn't been there when I held hands with Hayden in front of our shed and the camera flash went off. But it was there now, and I wondered why it had taken me so long to feel it.
"I feel the same way," I admitted.
"Really?" Hayden asked. Just judging by his voice alone, I could imagine his face. He was grinning like an idiot, like he always was when he heard something that made him happy.
He squeezed my hand. "Raegan?"
"Yeah?" I replied.
"I'm pretty sure now would be the opportune time to kiss you…"
"But it's really dark and I kind of can't see where your lips are. So I might miss."
I laughed. "That's okay. Just give it your best shot."
Hayden didn't miss, though. And judging by the extremely sweet, first "real" kiss he gave me, you'd never guess he was socially awkward around girls.
One of my favorite things about the shed was that it was one of the most serene places I could think of. If the TV and the stereo were off, it was almost like being separated from the rest of the world. The reality of it was that we were really only 30 feet from my best friend's house, but whatever. It felt secluded.
I opened my eyes and stared at the wood paneling of the ceiling. If I listened hard enough, I could hear the faint sounds of birds and the wind rustling the trees. A beam of early-morning sunlight flooded in through the two glass-pane windows.
Hayden was still asleep. I could tell by his steady, even breathing.
The two of us had been up until all hours the night before, talking about everything and anything until we got so tired that neither of us wanted to get up to go inside. We had pushed our lawn chairs together, and I fell asleep with my head against Hayden's chest and his arms around me.
Things had just about gone back to normal between Hayden and me. Well, besides the whole 'going out' thing, of course. We went back to the joking around and teasing and spending countless hours doing nothing, though.
Apparently, Hayden and I had been the only two people out of everyone on the face of this green earth (including both of our mothers) who hadn't seen it coming. The news spread around fairly quickly, and just about the only response we received was, "finally."
It's sort of funny how I always thought everyone was crazy for suggesting that my best friend and I would make a good couple, when really all it was was that I was just oblivious. I didn't see what was right in front of my eyes.
I sat up and stretched my arms above my head. At my sudden movement, Hayden shifted in his sleep and rolled over onto his side. In a matter of seconds, he was still and his breathing was quiet again. I stared down at him. His dark hair fell over his closed eyes. Hayden's expression was calm and his chest rose and fell steadily with each breath. Just looking at him was enough to give me butterflies.
A slight smile pulled at my mouth as I tore my gaze away from him and directed it above the window. My eyes immediately found the two pictures on the wall, tacked up side by side.
On the right was a picture of my best friend and me standing in front of our new shed the first day we got it. My favorite part of the snapshot was that we were holding hands. Back then, I had thought it was the happiest day of my life.
On the left was a picture of my best friend and me six years later in front of that same shed. It was slightly older now; weathered and peeling in some spots, but it was our refuge just the same. My favorite part of the snapshot was that he was kissing my cheek while I grinned stupidly. I'd never been so happy.
I'm pretty sure this is the most fun I've ever had writing a short story :D Hope you guys had as much fun reading it. Thanks so much!
Any final feedback or last thoughts would be greatly appreciated. To anyone who reviewed or sent a PM or added this to your favorites or alert list or whatever else, thanks very much!
I'm working on a few more not-so-one-shot-one-shots... Dunno when they'll be done and posted, since finals are quickly approaching (AHH!), but I'll try to work on them as soon as I get some time.