Dear Diary,

I am still a little lost as usual these days to be honest with you. Although I will admit, my Me vs. Everyone mentality has slowly started to subside. I still can't fathom why I was slowly starting to think life may be.. worthy. If that's what they call it? Sometimes I wonder why do I keep trying to fight a losing battle. You know, why can't I give up and quit? I really have nothing left here to hold onto.. or so I thought. Two Saturdays ago Dan stayed the night at my house, and no, not in an sexual way- in fact it was in the most pure way. He didn't try anything, he barely asked questions, he knew I was upset, but it was as if he knew talking about it would only upset me more. He could see right through me and surprisingly I could see right through him too. Everything was so simple, calm, nice and over all extraordinarily good. We were identical to an old married couple spending the weekend together and excluding the world from our plans. I think that's only the best way I could describe it to you diary. And that night he told me about himself. Not everything, I'm sure, but he trusted me enough to tell me things. About his future, his favorite books, his cute little brother, how much he loathes his dad, and I just listened chiming in here and there. We sang terribly, he ate terribly as I watched (of course) and we told each other terrible jokes that no one in the world would giggle to except for us. Yet, I couldn't shake the question as to how I earned this trust and taste of the real Dan. I had never seen someone be such an asshole in public, but a gentlemen behind doors in my life. It was amazing how endearing I found him to be. And that guy, that endearing guy was my friend now, and for some reason he gives a shit about me. So diary, I'm gonna do something a little different in this entry, instead of going on about my weight, feeling bad about myself constantly, etc, I'm just going to say that I'm happy. For today at least..

~Emma

"You're looking a little pale. Are you okay?" Miranda asks me with a look of concern.

Concern. A loud scoff escapes my lips even thinking about that ridiculous word. I'm still not even sure how I got pressured into having this meeting with Miranda, but after the football incident she thought it would be good if I, 'Talked about my problems instead of hiding them'. Which is obviously a bunch of recently buried bullshit that I rather not dig back up.

"Yeah, I'm just really tired." Optimism was what I was aiming for when uttering that sentence, but my voice sounded so horse from recently purging that it didn't come out sincere. I budged this morning and had Eggs Benedict with toast.. twenty minutes later I realized how much that was a mistake and got it right back out. My body should be thanking me right now, I saved myself from the 448 calories of pure fat, and instead it's just been torturing me for it.

"Um, it's really cold in here. Can't you turn the heat on or something?" My hands were trembling even under my baggy hoodie and long sleeved shirt. I'm just so cold and hungry all the time. And my hair is falling out so badly, plus not to mention my period hasn't come in forever. Whatever, its probably normal.

Her soft brown eyes looked me up and down at my (apparent) preposterous request and I could feel it.. those warm eyes were turning cold and taking the ample opportunity to judge me. "You know, I've actually noticed that you've been saying that a lot at our cessions and I think that's a sign of-"

"What? Are you judging me cause I'm cold?" I ask snapping out of nowhere with my eyes narrowing. "That's all anybody ever does to me is judge, judge, assume, assume, call me a cunt, threaten to kick my ass, what do you people want from me? I'm just cold! Why is that a crime?" At the top of my lungs I yelled, wondering how did get to this point? How out of it would I become before someone started to care?

The look on Miranda's face is absolutely astonished at first, that turned into a look of pity. She always gives me that goddamn look and usually I don't mind, usually that means she actually gives a shit, but today I wasn't having it. Today I'm not gonna be little helpless Emma infront of her because I was sick of the damn pity already.

"Emma, please, I never want you to think I'm judging you." Miranda stands and comes over to gently sit me back down, not that it stopped my body to continue shaking in anger."I.. I think you're a very smart, sweet girl. In fact you're one of the few girls I talk here to that I can tolerate." She laughed softly in such a nice tone that my anger was starting to subside. "I don't- I just think there are more problems underlying in you that you won't admit. And I just want to help you Emma, that's all I want to do, but I can't help you if you don't start talking. Really talking and not the excuses that you call answers everyday."

"I don't have any problems. I'm perfectly fine, Miranda." Deep down inside I knew that was partly true. Happiness had hit me a lot recently since I've been talking to Dan, and sure, my eating habits have been weird lately, but I wouldn't consider them to be a problem. I just want to be thin with the perfectly toned body everyone envies and wanting that doesn't show any sign of trouble.. just determination for something better.

"But that sudden outburst a few seconds ago makes me think that you have-"

"Issues? You know, I think this whole bullshit of a public school therapy session is over." I got right up from my chair while grabbing my messenger bag and suddenly felt myself tipping over, but luckily I got control of it before Miranda could see. I didn't bother to stay any longer to hear her reply because, quite frankly, I'm done with her. A counsellor was the last thing someone like me needed and she obviously didn't get that.

I need an escape.

I need something.

Dan?

No- He's great but not right now.

It's just..

I need food.

I am so fucking hungry.

My stomach has been growling for days now. Sure, even with all my 'forget you're hungry' tricks it still keeps screaming at me. It sounds like thunder throughout the day and I'm just not sure how to make it stop besides just eating and getting it right back out. But it's getting to the point where purging was starting to give me this feeling of shame. I hated doing it again, but what other choice do I have? Ugh, I definitely did not want to think about this anymore. While walking to my car I figured where I needed to go to the second best place I know that could help me clear my head and forget about my stomach; the library. It's quiet here and my thoughts seem more clear, there is nothing else to focus on except for the various pieces of literature I have yet to read. This was the place where I found the greats; Salinger, Frost, Kerouac, Ginsberg, Poe, Bradbury and Burroughs to name a few. Although I must say that William S. Burroughs is and probably always will be my favorite author.

And I'll give you one reason why;

Junky.

That book is all kinds of fantastic. Despite the fact that I have read this book thousands of times doesn't stop that exhilarating feeling from pulsing through my veins everytime I pick it up. It's just about as incredible as any song I've ever heard, only thing is it lasts longer. But oddly enough I can relate to it, not in the aspect that I am an addict like Burroughs was, but in the way that he was so conscious of what he was and made no apologies for it. I'd like to think I'm the same when it comes to my weight. Deep down in my heart I want to think of it as something great. Because it makes me look better, feel better, and think of the future of being a better person in general.

But is it worth it all?

Is it really worth it all?

Will it ever be enough? I hope it's enough, I want it to be, and even if I have to force my body to comply with it, it will be enough.

I need it to be enough.

I couldn't bare looking at the book anymore without feeling a sense of sadness, anger, and self-pity again. So instead I took the time to find some things for book club that would make me feel less shittier; Naked Lunch, This Side of Paradise, Dandelion Wine, The Stranger, Virgin Suicides, The Bell Jar, A few plays classic plays from Shakespeare and Neil Simon before finally settling my last choice on Fifty Shades of Grey.. for my own personal amusement though. Regardless of that, having all my favorite books stacked up in my arms painted a small smile on my face. They were heavy, I mean so heavy it was hard to keep a balance and I couldn't have even cared less. All I wanted was to get some diet coke, do my homework so it's out of the way, and enjoy the rest of my day alone with peace and quiet. Things can never be that simple though; Can they? Of course not.

"I think you have a problem." I hear a familiar deep voice say infront of me, lifting the heavy load from my hands and transferring it to a nearby table. My own eyes felt like they were being tricked when I saw him because he looked.. normal. So damn normal that I couldn't even believe it. No varsity jacket, or perfectly tousled hair, he looked pale, not paler than me though, and it was nice. He was just a regular, white t-shirt and jeans guy with a beanie on hanging on his head.

"You may need an intervention Blondie." Still the same charm and terribly unnecessary usage of an unoriginal nickname though.

"I'm not a crack addict and enriching your knowledge by reading isn't a bad thing" My eyes were lighting up and my lips let out the most ridiculous giggle out that had to have made others feel second-hand embarrassment for me.

"Denial is usually what addicts do when confronted. Deny, deny, deny.."

Playfully I punched

"Some of it's for book club and only a few are for me, I will admit that." The last time Dan and I had seen eachother was when he generously came to my place changing my sullen attitude to a perky one. Still though we religiously talk on the phone now since we're now classified as 'buddies'. Man that word is so weird to even think about.

Dan chuckles under his breath at my response, which only made me feel more giddy than I was before to have him here. "Book Club? Yeah you really shouldn't admit freely that you're involved with that."

My eyes rolled playfully at his reply because of course he would say that. "What are you doing here anyways?"

"I like looking at the Edward and Jacob posters and drooling over their bodies." He joked with a shrug, "No but I was just returning some stuff my brother checked out."

"By brother do you mean you?" I whispered quietly, since he had some irrational fear that someone might think less of him if they knew he enjoyed reading. It was ridiculous but I still respected his wishes.

"Yeah." He admitted with a nervous chuckle. "I doubt my brother would be reading Ezra Pound."

In a joking fashion I replied, "Some seven year olds can relate to him, don't judge."

He took the bate of my lame joke and chuckled softly that got him a 'shh' from one of the librarians.

"When you're me there is no such thing as a break. So thank you but no thank you to that suggestion."

Suddenly his arm was wrapped around my waist and it was guiding me towards the exit door. Which.. not gonna lie the gesture felt pretty nice."Actually there is such a thing and I'm gonna prove it to you, blondie. You look lifeless and clearly need a break to have some fun since you don't know what that word is." He spoke loudly as we left the library with a few eyes turning at us confused. They knew who he was, they knew his game, they just didn't know why he was playing it with someone as revolting as me.

Those stares didn't bother me too much today though considering the fact that I had Dan around. Already he had this ability to make me feel as if everything was okay even when I knew deep down it wasn't. "I have all sorts of fun actually."

"Now that's surprising. Like what?"

"Um, I- I" Stammering with my words for a few second I tried to think; Fun, fun, I have had fun before.. or at least some resemblance of it. But when? "Well after tutoring a little later than usual a few nights ago I went to Starbucks." His eyebrow raised at where fun could found at a Starbucks, but I ignored the look and continued on with my story, "So I got a coffee but this occasion was special since-" I whispered close to his ear, "It wasn't a decaf. And it was wild you know! I felt alive!" The enthusiasm was added in my voice in hopes he would see the fun in it.

"Non-decaf drinks?" He stopped dead in his tracks, blinking a few times at me. That was around the time I realized how ridiculous it sounded. "That's your idea of fun? My god, sometimes I think you're just hopeless."

"I thought is was fun.." The bottom zipper of my black zip up sweat shirt got fumbled with as I played with it nervously. What other kind of fun can you have beyond that? I mean, besides getting wasted or having sex, which is something I wasn't open to what so ever.

"I know and that's what concerns me." He sighed deeply. "Alright keep moving we got some living to do."

"Living?" I had a questionable look on my face. He pretty much placed me in the passenger side of his car like a child and it left me feeling incredibly insecure instead of giddy in excitement that he even somewhat touched me.

Could he feel my rolls of fat?

Was it difficult to pretend like I weighed nothing?

Was this little trip just going to be him dropping me off at a gym and wishing me good luck losing the next fifty pounds?

Oh man, you have no idea how much I wished to fifty pounds over night.

"As much living as you can possibly have with an eleven o'clock curfew, right?" He asks out of the blue and it completely throws me off guard. I nod though, pretending like my thoughts weren't elsewhere. It's odd though, my parents are never home and never set a real curfew for me so I ended up just doing it myself. Yes ladies and gentlemen that's just how lame that I am..

"But where are we going? And my car is-"

"Here- I know. I'll just bring you back here instead of home so don't worry." He assures me softly. "And I'm not going to tell you since that'll ruin the element of surprise." Dan flashed one of his famous and charming grins my way before closing the door after I settled into my seat.

"I'm not very fond of surprises." I tell him once the car started up, only reaching over to change the station so my ears wouldn't have to subjected to the top ten pop (s)hits.

"Well you're just going to have to learn how to be" His dimples were in clear view as he spoke and it only made me melt more. I kept wondering how he does it.. enchants even the sceptical people like me.

"Oh are we gonna go see that Katy Perry movie in 3D that's screening at the park?" My arm nudged at him playfully as a smile formed on my lips.

He laughed and shook his head exactly four times in denial,"As much as I am going to drag you to that at some point this weekend, no, not today. We're going somewhere else."

"Wheerreee?" I whined impatiently.

"Whining will get you nowhere Ms. Graham."

"Fine." I huffed loudly so Dan would be able to hear it, funny enough he did and only chuckled under his breath in reaction to it. Intimidation had never been my strong point, but then again what exactly is my strong point in life in general? "Can you tell me how long it'll be to we get there at least?"

"Nope."

"You're treading thin ice, Jefferson."

"Hey you're living the luxury in my cool ass car with my cool as air blowing on your pretty little face. Just relax dude and feel content with the fact that I'm gonna show you a good time." He tried to reassure me as we took a turn down vaguely familiar just a few miles away from the library.

"Don't call me a dude, bro."

"Oh,you mad bro?" He joked, using the one free hand he had to ruffle up my hair playfully.

"Please don't bring up that awful saying ever again." I laughed fixing my blonde hair that he single handily messed up, not that it mattered though since it's been falling out a lot recently.

Once my hair was finally in a decent place I could tell from the corner of my eye Dan gave me this lingering look, a weird lingering look that was- he was checking me out! I literally cannot even.. I can't even.. I am unable to even! I have lost my ability to even I am so unable to even.. form words! What do I say? A million possibilities rushed through my brain before finally settling on pretending like I didn't even notice it. But the thought of his bright hazel eyes scanning on my everything was just too much for my brain to handle at the moment. How does one react to something like this? Ugh, this is why I need girlfriends, but I'm too much of a fucking loser for that.

The entire ride I kept thinking of way to act normal or to pretend like I hadn't noticed, but it was far too hard to ignore. Why was a dwelling on this so much, you ask? Well, the thing is, Dan is way out of my league. In fact every guy in my High School is out of my league, so having someone look at me like that was foreign. Nobody has ever checked me out with a look of want or interest- that's the best way I could describe his eyes on me, and it left me feeling so unsure of myself. But we were friends.. surely he wouldn't want to ruin that bond? But what if he did want to chance it? This all came out of nowhere and I started to wonder why? He must have notice how much weight I've been losing, I tried to reason in my own head. Every little thing in my life that seemed to be going somewhat well I always tried to reason that it had something to do with my weight. And why not think that anyway? There's not much else going on for me anyways. That prospect brought a small smile to my face since I was not losing much recently but-

"Emma!" All I could see was Dan's big, strong, hands waving up and down in front of my obvious dead and gone face. Dan made it seemed like it took an eternity to get my attention,"We're here Blondie get your head out of the clouds."

"Sorry." I mumbled shyly under my breath and looked up to see we were parked in front of a school. It wasn't our High School though, nope, it was an Elementary school. The one I used to attend with Dan, Kylie, and a bunch of other people who only notice my existence when they need someone to humiliate between clases."I'm confused why are we-"

"Dan!" A high pitched voice that belonged to a little boy yelled in excitement as he made his way towards the car. He had the same brown-tint hair color, similar shaped nose, and gorgeous eye color that even before Dan even got out of the car I figured out who he was.

"Capt. Cody Jefferson! How are you my man?" Dan picked his little brother up easily without one complaint of his size or anything.

"Amazing!" Cody's adorable smile wasn't to be missed even at my far distance.

The interaction between the two was sweet and almost too good to be true. The way Cody rambled on about his day and was so eager to show him an assignment, that Dan helped with, got him a sticker. Not to mention the way he raved about how good the lunch Dan packed him was made it was clear that he did everything for this little boy and it melted my heart. The jury is still out on why he thought I was trustworthy enough to see that little Daniel actually had something inside of him that resembled a heart.

"Okay buddy I want you to meet someone really special that I know." Dan told him with a smile, and I slouched in the car chair looking around for the special person because it sure as hell couldn't have been me.

"Who?" Cody asked all perked up.

"Who you ask?" Dan gives this adorable smile to Cody and tickles his sides swiftly as he walked over to passenger side of the car. I completely froze in that moment, he was really doing it, he really did think I was someone special."Alright Capt meet Emma and Emma meet Cody."

"Hi." Cody waved happily at me.

"Hey buddy." I grinned in such a goofy fashion that it surprised me the kid didn't run off scared.

"Did you know capt that Emma's never had fun a day in her life?" Dan tells him with a hint of concern in his voice.

"No way!" The seven year old gasps in disbelief.

My eyes rolled at where this conversation started to go, "It's really not true I-"

"Yes way!" Dan gasps right back. "So I think we oughta show her how to party."

Cody's eyes light up as if he knows something I definitely don't, which is honestly scaring the hell out of me. "We should!"

"Alright than it's settled. Go get in!" Dan lets him down and Cody piratically sprints to get to the back seat of the car. "Get excited for me Blondie, it's gonna be a good night." He takes a loose strand of my blonde hair and put it behind my ear. If that contact wasn't enough to give me a heart attack Dan winked at me before getting back into the drivers seat.

"Oh this was a bad idea." I whispered to myself. The way Dan acted around me in that moment made me feel.. I can't even allow think it in my own head it feels so impure.

"I heard that." He laughed, running a hand through his brown hair- that looked so much lighter in the sunlight and not to mention how you could see this beautiful tint of green in his eyes..

Is it obvious that all of this is making me swoon?

To be honest I never understood the hype about Dan looks that all the girls in school would constantly rave about, but every time I hang around him I start to get it. Boy do I get it. Hell, I spent half of the car ride that should have consisted of me talking with the two brothers that instead consisted of me trying to be subtle about looking at his stupid face. Actually my thoughts about Dan's appearance these days were starting to consume me so much lately to the point where it's not even normal any more.

"You're so quiet Emmaline, do you not enjoy our company?" The question came out so suddenly but thankfully it did wind me out of my constant thoughts today.

"No, no I'm just tired." My reply was a little too quickly, but still, I continued to talk,"How long is it going to be until we get to this 'party' place?"

He shook his head and took a look over at Cody in the rear view mirror, "You ask too much questions."

"You know what happens if I don't ask questions?"

"What happens Blondie?" He questions dryly, while giving an exaggerated yawn to successfully get a laugh out of Cody that worked perfectly.

"Well, you could be taking me off to some desert in Arizona to torture, kill, then leave me in the hot climate where my body will disintegrate and get eaten by maggots, etc. So in an effort to avoid that I make sure I'm aware of all of my surroundings and that we are going to the destination that you have promised." I answered with a firm nod. "Also, I keep giving my mom updates on my location every hour."

He simply looked at me in utter disbelief at the stop light with his mouth gaping open slightly,"Do you mind not mentioning torture and decaying corpses getting eaten by bugs because you know.. he's seven and all.."

"Oh my god, I'm stupid! I'm so sorry!" I yelled almost immediately, my stupidity had hit an all time high.

But Dan just shook his head in disapproval, "You're, like, super responsible and everything how could you forget to censor yourself?" He further scolded me.

"I know, I know." I sighed deeply and ran my shaky fingers through my hair nervously. Great, now would he ever let me around Cody again? I didn't think what I said was that bad. "I really am sorry. I was just kidding Cody if it helps that will never happen to you.. death doesn't even exist."

And than I quickly realized my instincts were right about it not being a big deal. How? Well, after I spoke Dan and Cody started to burst out laughing. It was so loud you could hear it echoing throughout the entire vehicle. There was a sharp fear inside of me that worried to the two might piss themselves because for some reason it was truly that hilarious to them. And I was not going to sit in the parking lot of some shady gas station wiping piss off of his truck seats.

"W.. we're guys who shoot people in video games and enjoy it Em. What you said was perfectly okay." He managed to spit out while laughing and my eyes easily rolled in response to

"You're a dick." I mouthed to him.

"Love you too." He mouthed back with a wink.

Suddenly this crazy, exhilarating feeling started to overwhelm my stomach in response. It came completely out of nowhere which was what made even more exciting. All I could do was sit there with my cheeks turning a bright shade of red and tried to deal with.. butterflies, I guess. This was turning into something special, but oh so new, and complicated at the same time. It's hard to trust feelings like these that are new to me.

The rest of the car ride consisted of these three things; Awful jokes that would make even kinder gardeners roll their eyes at how uncreative they were, Dan making various flirty gestures and expressions my way that were confusing the hell out of me, and singing badly to 80s glamrock songs that reminded us that a career in music would never be on our horizon. But it was fun. It felt like some cliché, but cute scene in some 80s teen romcom directed by John Hughes. Yeah, yeah just like that! The montage of the good times appears on screen just before the shit inevitably hits the fan once the 'happy' day is over. I don't know why I tend to think like that. Why I always expect the worse in probably one of the happiest situations of my life was force of habit, I guess. Plus history has shown that's usually what I can expect by tomorrow to be completely and utterly disappointed.

"It's already six-thirty and it's starting to get dark Dan. When are we ever gonna reach this 'party paradise' of yours?" As much fun as I was having this had to be the longest car ride I had ever experienced. We only stopped once and it wasn't even at a gas station just on the side of the road so Cody could pee. And believe me, I frowned upon it greatly the entire time.

"Just one more turn and.." Then my eyes looked up to see we were in the lot of some crowded park downtown. I heard about this place; 'Woodward Park' named after our most beloved mayor who died six months after the end of his term. "Here we are. Good Ol' Woody."

"Do you really think it's appropriate to bring some like me and a seven year old to this place?" I questioned completely baffled.

"What's wrong with it?" He questioned with a pointed look, clearly not getting it.

"Oh, let's see, the constant fornication that takes place on swing sets is just one of them.." One of my famous Emma Graham rants about the wrongs of about this place was about to occur, along with why we should just go back to my house and do something wholesome until I was interrupted by..

"What's a forna.. forty.. fornica-" Dan and I immediately knew what Cody was trying to repeat and shut down his question before it could even get finished,

"NOTHING!" We yelled in unison before facing eachother with a small exchange of worrisome faces.

"Guys, calm down." Cody's arms were up defensively to assure us that it wasn't that serious and he was willing to drop the subject much to our relief.

"Anyways," Dan continued bringing is attention and intense hazel eyes my way, "Look this place is cool and I wouldn't bring my brother somewhere that I thought was inappropriate. I'm not that stupid."

"I know you're not and I never said you were."

"But you think I have poor judgement ninety percent of the time." He challenged to which I couldn't completely deny easily, "I'm here and if anybody tries anything with you or him, note that I doubt they will anyways, but regardless I have no problem knocking someone out in your honor."

For some reason hearing that made me smile. Because he did care and he was going out of his way to assure me that nothing bad would happen to me in his presence. "Aw, for little ol' me?" I teased in a thick southern accent, hoping my humor would cover up how sweet I truly thought his gesture was.

"Shut up." Dan's eyes rolled as he unbuckled his seatbelt, "Now that we have established I'm a fun, safe, and attractive guy can we get out there already?"

"Whoa, said nothing about you being attractive?" I chuckled, taking one last glance around the parking lot before finally deciding to get out.

"You were thinking it though." My body almost froze when he said that sentence out loud. I mean, sure, I was kinda thinking it but he didn't notice it for real though right? "

Judging from that smirk that played agianst his lips as he pulled Cody out the car I guess you could say, yes, he most definitely noticed and I was embarrassed. But that's not anything new, right?

Surprisingly enough I found myself enjoying 'Good Ol' Woody'. The atmosphere was so cool and calming that I started to forget the infamous reputation that the park once had. Turns out that a little carnival was taking place to raise funds for a small daycare center that was close closing down. Apparently everyone in town had either attended the center when they were younger or had kids of their own who currently occupied the building.

"One of my maids, Lisa, takes her kids there." Dan explained to me as waited in line for funnel cake that Cody begged us both for. The little boy stood between us and had his left hand entwined into Dan's. His right hand? Well, it was entwined with mine. You could say that he warmed up to me very quickly, which was completely fine by me.

"And you're close?" I assumed with a small smile. He really was a gentle giant, sometimes I found myself calling him that out loud too.

I'm his blondie and he's my giant.

Cheesy? It certainly was. Did I care though?

Of fucking course not.

He nodded his head quickly at my question. "Been around me since I was one years old." He talked briefly about her the past few times we have hanged out, but never did I think she had that kind of effect on him. "Anyways, I just felt bad that her kids would have to change daycares when they were so comfortable here. So I made my contributions and decided to give more by coming here."

"I'm sure she's really thankful that you did that." My small was just getting bigger and bigger by the minute again.

"Oh you have no idea!" The expression that crossed his face was so animated, so different then the person I saw in school. Why did he have to be such a teenage cliché? "She won't stop thanking me, or my dad at least, she think he's the one who did it."

My smile quickly turned into a frown. There he was again, trying to keep up with an appearance that was in no way necessary. "Why do you do that?" I questioned loudly.

"Do what?"

"You know what." He just looks away from my eyes for the first time today because he knows what I mean. "You're a really good guy, you know."

It didn't take long for his eyes to meet mine again after that sentence was uttered. It was such a long, intense gaze that he gave me before biting his lip and looking down at the grass below us.

"D..Did I say something wrong?" I asked after standing five minutes with no one making a peep.

"No," Cody said in a small voice and tried to whisper in my direction quietly, "It's just that-"

"No one's ever said that to me before. I don't think anyone's ever said I'm a good.. well, anything in my life ever. " Dan finished, finally deciding to break his silence. I wanted to ask what he meant by that because, surely, someone must of told him that he was good at something.

But that shipped sailed because it was finally our turn in line. We got two plates worth of funnel cake, one that was for Cody only because he insisted on it, and the other was one Dan and I would share. We sat on a nearby picnic table and just tried to keep the conversation light hearted again. By the time we were finished it was back to getting on the small rides set up and playing games in attempt to win prizes that were dumb, but looked cool for the time being.

Dan won me a stuffed lamb actually. He said, "I know it's small and probably a dumb animal, but here." I thought it was partially because Cody didn't want to be seen holding a stuffed lamb because it be bad for his school image and I was right.

"Lamb's are actually great animals Cody," I heard the two boys give a big huff because they knew I was going to into the facts of why they were great and making sure to reference my sources while I was at it. "Okay, I get it, I talk too much."

"Finally." The two spoke in unison and I just rolled my eyes playfully at the comment.

That was the nice thing about hanging out with these two guys. I knew when they made fun of me it wasn't out of malice, and while it took awhile for me to understand that, it was nice to know there was a sense of humor underneath me.

"Well it's almost ten guys, so that means we should probably head back." Dan stated after checking his i-phone briefly before sticking it back into his diesel jean pocket.

"Aww no!" This time it was Cody and I who were whining in unison. We had such a fun time playing horseshoe, stuffin out faces, and going on the merry-go round several times until we got dizzy.

Dan chuckled at our childish tones though. "I know, I know, but we have time for one last thing though." Using his arms to motions us to follow along we got away from the hustle and bustle in the park into a more quieter area. Of course there was still people around, but the crowd was smaller and all you could see were these lanterns being lifted into the sky.

"Five dollars for a lantern for you and your family sir?" An older gentleman asked us, with several lanterns in both of his hands.

You and your family?

That part seemed to stick out to me. This man thought we were boyfriend and girlfriend, that the kid that was in Cody's arms now was our child or something. Something about that.. gave me one of my most second unfamiliar feelings of the day that I can't even begin to explain to you.

"Sure, we'll just take one though." Dan didn't even bother to correct him. He let that man see assume what he wanted without even a second thought. I wasn't sure whether or not to read too much into his actions, so I decided to shake it off for the time being. At some point though I knew it would cross my mind again though.

"I'll throw in a match for free. You kids have a nice night." I thanked him politely under my breath as he walked away on to make another sale.

"Alright, you hold onto one side blondie and I'll hold onto the other." Dan instructed me and I followed along with it without a second thought.

Once we finally got the match to work and lit up the paper lantern and it the wind slowly picked it up into the sky our mouths were all kind of open in amazement. There were now a sea of these lanterns filling up the usually boring, dark Ohio skies and finally giving them some character. While other families and couples took pictures or videos the three of us just tried to soak in the moment in front of us without technology.

And that night for the first time, Dan's hand entwined with mines without me even noticing. But once I did notice no dorky, embarrassing reaction didn't cross my face for once. Nope. I just squeezed his hand gently and laid my head on his other free shoulder (since Cody was on the other side).

His hands were rough, calloused from football too, but they fit almost perfectly with my own. I wanted that moment to last forever and even though it didn't, I was okay with replaying it over and over again in my head on the way back home.


Were you expecting an update? Because I certainly wasn't since this chapter has been decades in the making. Inspiration crept up me today I guess ;)