This is the part that was confusing me. I didn't understand why I always came here. Camping wasn't one of my favorite vacations and yet, I was here. Lake Kelpie, or Crappie to the locals who live a couple of miles down the road from the there. This was our last camping trip before junior high. It was our last day of the vacation, but still a while before we were scheduled to leave. I had survived another trip of camping without being eaten by a bear or chewed on by coyotes. I decided to visit the lake before we left. It was cold outside, maybe 50 to 60, definitely not swimming weather. There was still some fog that stayed above the lake and yet, I could still see the island in the middle of the lake where sat a big rock, a couple of small trees, and sand. As I continued to look at the lake, I realized something. I figured out that in all the times we had come here to camp, not once did I swim or bathe in the lake.
Shrugging my shoulders, I began to pull off my shirt and shorts, leaving me in my bikini that was lime green with black mini hearts on it. I stepped up near the shore line and tested the water with my toes. It was colder than I would like it to be, but it was swimmable to the point where I wouldn't freeze to death. I walked slowly into the water until it hit my midsection. From there, I pushed off the bottom of the lake and began to swim towards the middle. I didn't want to go too far because I was still tired from yesterday's hike. As the water reached up to my chin, I forced my body upward and began to float on the surface.
Floating on the lake was peaceful. No one was out here on boats or jet skis. Just me. As I looked up at the sun, it hung in the middle of the sky. Midday. I sighed and rolled over in the water already swimming back to shore. I crawled up onto the soft sand to dry. I closed my eyes and thought of home. I didn't realize that I had fallen asleep, but once I came to, someone had come to the lake.
A figure stood over me and blocked the sun. "You'll burn in you don't flip over, love."
I was startled and knocked back to focus. I started to panic then. "What time is it?" I asked still groggy.
"3:45, I imagine."
"Crap." I stood up and began to look around for my clothes. I spotted them at the base of a tree. Picking everything up save my flip-flops, I looked back at the figure and yelled to him. "Thanks for waking me up."
I woke up to the blinding rays of the sun, escaping from my blinds on my window. Light spilled into my room as I pulled the string down to raise the blinds up. This was strange to me. Beautiful Washington, but where I live, it rains, a lot. I guess this is its way saying goodbye to school. The last day of school and I was already starting off with a bad night's sleep. Still tired, I hopped into the shower and began top get ready for school. I trudged down the stairs and into the kitchen.
"Morning, dear." My mother said cheerfully.
"Morning, Mom." My greeting was not so joyous.
"Are you working today?" It was a simple question, but my mind wasn't focusing.
"Yeah, I'll be home really late. I'm closing." Now she won't ask questions. The truth was, I had actually spoken to my boss beforehand about having today off. The last day of junior year. The summer before our senior year. 'Super exciting!' as Ducky would say. Ducky is my best friend. She and I are twins separated at birth. Well not literally, but basically.
My mother, I assumed, didn't have the slightest idea of what I was planning on doing tonight, but I did. Or at least I thought so. See, life is like Egyptian War—where you need to have all the cards in your hand to win--, you don't always win unless you have good hand-eye coordination. Let's just pretend you don't for the analogy. Anyways, things can be unpredictable in Egyptian War, but probability is what makes the game.
I looked over at the clock to check the time. "I should get going, Mom."
Mom just smiled and nodded. "Will you be coming home before work?"
I thought about the question. "Yeah, I'll need my uniform." I walked out the door before Mom could ask another question.
The air outside was cool, but I could already tell that today was going to be at least overcast. My car sat on the driveway, dew clinging to the metal. It was a purple-gray, 2005 Mitsubishi Gallant. It was pretty. As I unlocked the door, I watched someone speed by into the neighborhood. Crazy people…
The engine quietly came to life and my seat began to warm, as I put the seat warmer on low. With the push of a button, the defrosters had my window crystal clear and, by then, the car warm. I slowly backed out onto the street and headed towards school.
I lived about 10 miles from school. My mom didn't mind since it was one of the better public schools in the district. A lot of kids there went to middle school and elementary school together. There were only a few people I knew from middle school. Two of them I didn't talk to and the other, well, was in the popular group.
I turned into the school parking lot, scanning it for a spot. My mind kept revolving about my dream, and I couldn't figure out why. Being so distracted, I didn't see what happened next. All I know is that, it scared the shit out of me. I stopped suddenly and glanced up at the hands that slapped down on my hood. There he was, Oliver LaRue. My crush. I looked up in awe as he walked to the side of my car and let me park. I parked the car and waited a few moments before getting out. Grabbing my messenger bag, I opened the car door cautiously, looking around to see if the coast was clear. I figured Oliver had left by now since he was way too cool to pay attention to me.
Surprisingly, I found him sitting on the back of the car next to me. Crap, I have to pass him…I thought to myself. I let some hair fall over my face, hiding my profile. It had been the first time he saw me all year. I always ducked out of sight and watched from a distance. He stared at me as I passed by.
"Hey Emily..." I stopped at my name. No, he wasn't talking to me. It was the other Emily in my Calculus class that he sits behind. Not me, Emily Browne. "Emily Browne. That is your name, right?" My heart raced as I turned around slowly and looked up at him. Oliver LaRue, 5'11", pale-skinned, blonde, curly and untamed hair, with blue eyes and a white smile. He was the track and the cross-country star. I was so nervous that I stuttered slightly.
"Y-yes." I spat out.
He looked at me funny and laughed slightly. "I remember you from Jr. High. You were so confident. Always in people's faces. So what are you now? A turtle?"
I blushed a rosy red color that blended with my scarf. "Yeah, I guess you could call it that." I bit my lip and looked at him. He jumped off the car he had been sitting on and placed his arm around my shoulders.
"Aren't you in one of my classes, Emily Browne?" We started walking to the school building. I blushed again as I felt his body heat. He was so warm and he was only wearing a thin zip-up sweatshirt. I was freezing and had on six layers of clothing.
"Actually, we have five out of six classes together."
He looked at me funny again. "Oh, then how come I never see you?"
I turned away from him and looked over towards the track. "I always sit in the back corner."
He smiled and laughed as we neared the cafeteria. "You are an observant little turtle, aren't you Emily Browne?" He laughed again and took his arm off my shoulder. "See you around Emily 'Turtle' Browne." He walked off towards his first period class and left me stunned and frozen on the stairs near the office. The warning bell rang and knocked me out of my trance. I rushed to my first period class, library teacher assistant, with my best friend, Ashleigh, or Ducky to me. I walked in with a second to spare and glided around the counter. "Hey Turtle." I looked at her. I smiled slightly, but I had too much to think about to ask questions. "Hey Ducky…" I said it in a tone with "don't ask me what just happened."
Ducky looked at me and went into 'best friend don't be a bitch' mode. "What happened before first period?"
Instead of answering her question, I came at her with one of my own mind-boggling questions. "Do you know how Oliver LaRue knew my nickname that you only use?"
Ashleigh looked at me like I was mental. "So that's what happened."
I blushed as I started to check in books. "Kind of. By the way, whose class is coming in?" I started for a cart and loaded up half of my overflowing section of books, fiction.
"Um, Mrs.… Barbinker for U.S. History." Ick. I hate that teacher. She didn't like me very much either I guess since I am getting a "C" in the class. I sighed and rolled the cart over to my section and began to put away my books. The phone rang and I rushed to answer it.
"Roger Williams Library. Student speaking." It was Mrs. Barbinker.
"Yes, tell the librarian that my class is not coming and that we'll have to reschedule." I wrote the message on a piece of paper.
"I'll tell her when she gets back, Mrs. Barbinker." I hung up the phone and handed Ashleigh a butt-load of passes that the library gave to people whose books were still out. "From me to you. Have fun!" She looked at me with desperation. "Bye, bye!" I said and pushed her out the door. I went back to putting away my section when I heard the door. I glanced at the person's shoes to make sure it wasn't Ducky.
You'll burn if you don't flip over, love. A flash of black low-top converse shoes appeared in my mind. I was confused. Am I hearing things? This memory of shoes. At this time? My face flushed as I shook my head and tried to recover. "Sign in on the sheet and leave your pass up on the counter." I didn't look at the person, not completely sure if my face had stopped flushing, but I heard footsteps coming towards me. When they sounded closer, I had started to put away my books again. "Can I help you?" I asked without looking over my shoulder.
"Yeah, I need to find a fiction book for the summer." I tensed at the sound of his voice. I stood up from my crouch on the floor and turn to face Oliver.
"Fiction?" I asked, my voice cracking.
"Yeah, do you have anything interesting?" He flashed his smile at me and my heart skipped a beat.
"Depends on what you think is interesting."
Oliver stood there and caught my eye. "Something with adventure."
I knew the perfect book. "How about this one?" I pulled out a book from the shelf.
Oliver looked over it quickly, skimming the description. "It looks great, thanks. You have a great eye for books."
I blushed at the compliment. "Thank you."
Oliver looked at the book and graced me with another smile. "I'll have to read it over summer break." Walking away from me, he turned his head and smiled. "Pleasure doing business with you, love." As he walked through the door, he called out. "See you around, Turtle." I fell back into one of the bean bags in the library and tried to catch my breath. Just as I sat down, Ducky came through the door.
"Hey Lazy Turtle. Get back to work!" Ducky yelled from the door.
"Sorry, I'm on it." I rushed back to my books and put them away quickly. At least she didn't ask me anymore questions. I don't think I could handle anymore today. The bell rang and ended first period. I gathered my things and headed over to my second period, English. My heart started racing again as I reached the door. I opened it to find out that he wasn't there. I sighed in relief. I'm not so sure my heart would have been able to handle it. I hurried to my seat and began pulling out my notebook and pen.
"So this is where you sit, love." Oliver looked over at the desk next to me that had been empty all year. "I think I'll sit here for today." I couldn't hold it in anymore.
"Are you doing this because I almost ran you over this morning?!" I blurted out. The girl in front of me gave me a strange look of question. I blushed from embarrassment. I placed my head and arms on the desk, wishing I was dead.
"No, Turtle, I'm doing this because you're a funny character." I looked up and stared at him. The teacher walked in at that moment and class started. I pulled out my book and began reading from where I left off last night. The teacher didn't have anything for us since today was the last day, so free time was our time. Something poked my side, but I didn't pay attention to it. It poked me again and again until I looked up and saw Oliver using his pencil to poke me.
"What?" I whispered.
"Do you want to eat lunch with me?"
I looked at him like he was psycho. "I leave before then."
He just smiled. "Me too."
I blushed and covered my face again. "Are you saying you want to take me to lunch?"
He flashed another smile at me. "Yes."
I smiled and thought about it. "Maybe some other time."
His face looked somewhat disappointed. "Anytime, love." My mind rushed at his words. What did it mean? I couldn't think. The bell rang then and I stood to leave. The rest of the day went by in a blur. Soon, the bell had rung for the final time to let everyone be free from school and enter summer vacation.
As I walked out to my car, a figure sat in a car on the curb, idling. I rushed towards it, instantly knowing whose car it was. I tried to open the door, but it was locked.
The passenger side window rolled down and a face I recognized leaned across the gap. "Hey, Kitten." His eyes peered into mine.
"Hey, Mike. Baby, what are you doing here?" My face was slightly flushed.
"I had to talk to you before I went."
My face formed a confusing smile. "Going? Going where?"
"I skipping town, babe. Life here just ain't me. And, sugar, you know that this has got to stop."
Now I really confused. "What has to stop?"
One word had left my mouth hang open.
I shook my head trying to clear it. "What…what do you mean?"
Mike sighed as if he was annoyed. "I mean, that we can't see each other anymore. We're through. Kaput, gone with the wind. I'm leaving town. You were my last stop before I went. Had to tell you. You know, the truth is, I never loved you anyhow. You were just a side fling. My little pick-me-up." He laughed at me with cold eyes. "Bye, Doll face." With that, he drove off and down the street, leaving me in the dust. My eyes began to water. I stood back a little before the tears began pool over. As the tears fell, I began to run.