Skyler and I worked on the Project Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday the next week since it was due on Monday the week after that. It was Friday now, and our last day pasting and gluing things on the poster we had to present. Both of us worked quickly and efficiently, extremely bored of our topic by now and wanting to get it over with.
And yet, as the end of our project drew near, a sense of dread began to grow in my heart. Would this be the end of my friendship with him? Was the only good thing to happen to me in years going to disappear after three short weeks? Around him, I didn't feel as dead or alien. I found myself needing him to be alright, as if everything could go wrong, but as long as I knew I would see him the next day, somehow he'd fix it. I had never been this close to anyone in a very long time, and it scared me.
"All done," Skyler said, and showed me the poster for approval.
"Looks good," I replied.
"Yep," he agreed and then checked his phone. "It's only 4:00. Do you want to get something to eat or do something?"
"I'm not really hungry," I told him. I shouldn't do anything with him, I thought, not until I know for sure…
"Then let's do something. We could go to the park," he offered.
"I should go home. Have to clean the house," I lied. Unfortunately for me, I forgot he had been inside my house.
"Liar. You're house is spotless. It'll be nice, I promise. It's a nice day today," he tried to plead.
"I shouldn't," I repeated, with less conviction than I originally had.
Seeing through this, he pulled the infamous puppy face out for me. "Please?"
Don't do it!, my mind yelled. "Fine."
His face lit up in his cute smile, and I found myself smiling back in return. We packed up our stuff and started walking to the park that was ten minutes away. Neither of spoke on the way there, and I kept looking up at him. I really didn't want his companionship to be fake. I feared that if things went back to the way it was before he showed up, it would be even worse than it was originally.
When we got to the park, no one was there. I suppose that made sense, since even though it was sunny outside, it was 50 degrees. We put our stuff down on the bench and tried to think of something to do. The swing set was broken, save one, and the red and blue playground was meant for toddlers. The fresh cut grass was wet, so that eliminated cloud gazing.
I was lost in thought, trying hard to think of something to do when Skyler said, "Come on," and started walking straight to the swing set. Frowning, I followed. There was only one swing. That didn't seem like a very good activity. When he arrived at the swings, he turned around and smiled at me. "I'll push you," he said cheerfully.
I froze in my tracks and shook my head. There was no way he was pushing me on that swing. People touching me freaked me out, thanks to my ever so kind father. I tried hard not to avoid any physical contact with anyone
"I'll be gentle," he promised. I shook my head again, still a good six feet from the swing. His smile vanished at my reluctance, as he became lost in thought, and all was silent. A few minutes later Skyler walked towards me slowly.
"I won't hurt you," he said softly, inches away from me. "It'll be okay," he said, holding out his hand for me.
I didn't look at him, just stood there as stiff as a statue.
"It'll be okay," he repeated. "Just trust me."
I looked up to his face then. It was gentle and kind, and his eyes were pools of desperation, as if he needed me to trust him. His hand was still outstretched in an inviting manner. Trusting someone was another thing I hadn't do in a very long time. I didn't even trust myself. But no matter how loud my mind screamed at me with thoughts of fear and caution, every other part of me wanted to trust him, to believe in him.
I put my hand in his outreached one. My hand was so small and pale compared to his tanned one. He gave me the sweetest smile, and led me slowly to the swing set. I sat in it stiffly, refusing to relax. I gripped onto the chain tightly and held my breath, waiting for the unwanted feeling of someone's hands on me.
"It'll be okay," Skyler whispered in my ear. His hands were suddenly at my waist, and I was moving through the air. He was gentle, as promised and never pushed hard. I found myself relaxing and even smiling a little. Maybe this wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.
"Are you okay?" Skyler asked concerned. I hadn't realized he couldn't see my face, until now.
"Yes," I replied in a happier tone than I was used to hearing come from myself. I knew he was smiling by then too.
After I had pushed Isabell on the swing for about ten minutes or so, I stopped and moved to the front to watch her face as she slowly came to a stop. She smiling slightly, and the wind from swinging moved her hair out of her face completely so I could see her eyes completely. Seeing her happy was quite a sight, one that I wouldn't forget.
When she finally came to a stop, we stared at each other with a new level of security for a little while. Eventually, she checked the time and we decided it was time to go home. I insisted on walking her home again. I treasured every moment I got to spend with her.
It was quiet for a few minutes before I finally spoke up. "Want to play a game?" I asked.
"It's not I Spy, is it?" she asked.
I laughed. "No, just the question game."
"The question game?"
"Yea. I ask you a question, and you answer truthfully, and vice versa," I explained.
"Alright," she said tentatively. I could tell she was scared I would ask a personal question, so I promised myself not to.
"What's your favorite color?"
"I don't have one."
"Why not?" I asked. Everyone I knew had a favorite color.
"It doesn't seem important," she replied simply.
"Well, if you had to choose?"
"Alright. Your turn."
"What's your favorite band?"
"All-time low," I replied easily. They had awesome music. "When's your birthday?"
"October 22. What do you want to do when you grow up?"
"I ugh, want to be a photographer," I said embarrassed.
She looked at me then, confusion in her eyes. "Why are you ashamed of that?"
"Everyone thinks I should be a doctor or businessman."
"A photographer is nothing near that."
"That shouldn't matter," she said.
I looked at her and said seriously, "It shouldn't, but it does."
She turned her head back to the ground beneath her feet. "I think you'd be a great photographer," she said quietly.
"Thanks," I replied just as softly. An awkward silence fell between us for about a minute, before I asked, "What's your favorite food?"
"Chinese food. Ummm, what's your favorite movie?"
"The Dark Knight. Where do you want to go to college?"
"Stanford. How far do you live from my house?"
"Twenty minutes. What's your favorite flower?"
"Don't have one. Do you play an instrument?"
And so the rest of the walk went along these lines. I finally got my chance to get to know more about her. I was happier, however, that she was actually talking to me in an active conversation. Not one of our stop go conversations that we had so often.
When we were on the same street as her house, she asked me a question that I hadn't been expecting.
"Why are you so nice to me?" she asked, the need to understand clear in her voice.
I frowned for a second. "What do you mean?" I inquired, looking to her.
She stared at the ground determinedly. "Why do you care?"
Realization hit me, and I started to think. Why did I care? I still wasn't sure. I didn't know why I was naturally drawn to her, or why I felt so compelled to be there for her. I couldn't explain why I loved her, or the way she made me feel.
We were silent for about two blocks, as I tried to think of a good answer, before she said, "I'm sorry. That was personal. I shouldn't have asked."
"It's alright," I said with a smile. "I just don't know how to explain it."
"What do you mean?"
Instead of answering her question directly, I told her something else. "Did you know you have the most beautiful smile, and the sweetest eyes? Did you know that I can pick you out of a crowd, even when you try to ghost away? Did you know that I enjoy spending time with you? Did you know that I'll be anything you want me to be?"
She was quiet again, staring at the ground. I watched her uneasily, almost wishing to take back what I had just said. She asked though, right? I wasn't going to lie to her. After a little while I stared at the ground too, wondering desperately what she was thinking.
About a block from her house, I suddenly felt a small hand lace with mine, and I looked up at her with confusion. She didn't look at me, just stared ahead at her house as it slowly came up.
"Thank you for today," she whispered, before she walked into her house and shut the door. I stood there for a little bit, wondering what had just happened and what it meant, and then walked home with a smile on my face.