"So what's next on the list," I asked.
"For you, it's 'hike a new trail,' and for me…" she didn't say, but she shook her head.
"What is it," I said. "Skydiving, river rafting, passing a math test?"
Laura laughed at the idea of passing a math test. "No, I just don't think we should do too many things in one day. Let's sleep on it."
I opened my mouth to protest, but she did have a point. I was exhausted. If I were to go on a hike now, my muscles would be sore in the morning.
"Okay," I said. "We'll sleep on it."
The next day, I woke up bright and early. I dressed in old clothes and glanced at the bucket list hanging from my wall. I smiled to see the items I checked off. I raced downstairs when I heard the doorbell ring. Mom opened the door and Laura stood there. She was dressed in old clothes as well, but she made an effort to look better.
"What are you waiting for," I asked. "Let's go find Steven!" Steven was her crush. I knew he usually hung out around the skate park. We ate a quick breakfast and hopped onto our bikes.
"Yeah, let's go before I start thinking about what I'm doing," Laura said nervously.
"Come on," I said, rolling my eyes good-naturedly. "He's a human, not the plague."
Laura was silent for a minute or two.
"So let's talk strategy," I said at last. Laura shook her head.
"Not enough time," she said, pointing ahead. Steven was standing there with his friends. He was wearing a black t-shirt and blue jeans. His old white sneakers were planted on a skateboard. He was talking to his friend, who was laughing at his long blonde hair that reached his shoulder. I cleared my throat. Steven and his friend turned around. Laura blushed. I elbowed her. She took a deep breath.
"Hi," she managed to say. "I'm Laura." Her blush deepened.
"Hello Laura. I'm Steven, and this is George." George, a scrawny dude with black hair and an oversized baseball cap that fell past his forehead, waved.
"This is my friend Jess." She had a white-knuckle grip on her bike's black handlebars.
"So what brings you to the skate park?"
Laura froze. I decided to be helpful. I said, "We've never been to this part of town before, and we wanted to see what it looks like."
"Ah," he said, nodding understandingly.
"So you like to skate," asked Laura. She cringed slightly. I could almost hear her thoughts: That was a stupid question! He's on a skateboard, duh! But Steven didn't seem to mind.
"Yeah," he said casually. "I like learning new tricks, even though a few have given me stitches!" He held up his wrist to show off a nasty scar. Laura cringed more noticeably.
"You're crazy," she said, laughing awkwardly.
"Well if you're not crazy, then life is pretty boring," Steven said, taking off on his skateboard and jumping up. His skateboard landed on a nearby rail and he slid down to the other end. He jumped up, but ended up pitching forward and landing face-down on the pavement.
"Oh, no," Laura said, biking over to where he was getting up and touching his nose gingerly.
"I'm fine," he said. "Just a scratch." Then he laughed. "See? I'm crazy!"
"What do you do besides skateboarding," asked Laura.
"Depends on my mood," was his somewhat cryptic answer.
"I like to watch movies and play softball," she said.
"Cool," Steven replied, heading for the half-pipe. He balanced his skateboard on the rim and leaned forward. He zoomed down, then up the other side. He caught air and struck a pose, then he landed on the slope and zipped to the other side, doing a different trick. Then he slowed to a stop in the center.
"I forgot," he exclaimed. "I'm supposed to be grounded!"
"Are you sure you 'forgot,'" asked George.
"Of course I did! I would never disobey my mother," said Steven with a falsely innocent voice. Laura laughed while I rolled my eyes.
"So do you want to hang out, you know, when you're not grounded," Laura asked, her blush deepening.
"Sure. What should we do?"
"Maybe we could take a hike," I suggested. Laura nodded.
"Sounds good; I'll take George, and you could take… what was your name again?"
"Jess," I said."
"Right. Jess. So it's a… plan?"
Laura laughed, a little harder than necessary, and said, "Yes." They exchanged numbers. Then we had to leave. Laura was giddy the whole way back to my house.
"I know it wasn't an actual date, but it counts, right," she asked hopefully.
"Of course it does," I assured her. "So since we have time, what should we do?"
"Duh, we keep working on our bucket list!" She dodged a pothole gracefully.
"But we have two months! Can't we take a break from it?" I sped up; she was pedaling unusually fast.
"What, you're not having fun?"
"No, I am, but I do want to do other things this summer." I turned a sharp corner and felt my stomach do somersaults when I almost fell. "Like not die," I added, thinking of the skydiving and mountain climbing. Laura lost control of her bike for a second and rammed into a car, setting off the alarm.
"Sorry," she called to the angry owner of the car. Then she sped off. I followed close behind.
"See, we can't even ride our bikes correctly," I joked.
"So, how about we find a protest to join," she said, obviously trying to change the subject.
"Sounds like a plan," I said.