Was I in love?

I stepped into the cool summer night. It was the end of August and September was drawing near. Soon enough, school was gonna start and everything would pass by in a blur. Everything would be rushed. Everything would be crammed into another set of ten stressful months. Stopping to breathe would be quite a task.

I gazed at the sky. Stars were strewn across its endless shade of midnight blue. The moon was partially hiding behind the trees that lined the other side of the lake. It was a calm and peaceful night. Fireflies danced around and the waters reflected the moonlight that escaped through the woods. I sat down on the lone bench that overlooked the tranquil scenery. This was my favourite place in the world.

As I stared at the tiny lights flickering around, my mind wandered off to answer the question that echoed in my head. I remembered well it was the 7th day of May when we first met 3 years ago. My family had just moved into the neighbourhood and I was feeling pretty sullen about losing the few friends I had made in my previous school. I was not thinking clearly and I was stuck in a trance until I was hit by a basketball.

"Ow!" I whirled around, glaring at whoever threw the ball.

"I'm sorry. I was meaning to pass it to George," the guy came up to me, shooting a hostile look at one of his friends. The one named George backed away, both hands raised in mock surrender. I looked at the guy who came to apologize. He was my age, light brown hair and sea-green eyes. He towered over me by almost a foot and he looked sincerely apologetic. "But wait a minute..." He shifted the ball into his other hand, "I haven't seen you around here before. You new?"

"Yeah," I nodded, wanting to cut the conversation short and retreat back into the comfort of my own home.

"I'm Robin, but my friends call me Rob," he offered a hand. I raised a brow slightly, quite unsure.

"Jade," I said after a split-second, shaking his hand. He then motioned to his friends.

"That's George, Tyler, Mike, and Zach," Rob smiled politely. "You can hang out with us if you like. Although I'm not sure what sport you'd wanna play."

"It's cool," I chuckled softly, "Nice meeting you, guys! I have to go now, though." I bid them farewell and went back to my house, shying away from the unexpected encounter.

That was May 7... Things escalated pretty quickly. I was hesitant at first, always unsure of what to do. But the group was pretty accomodating and really friendly. Fast forward to a month later, we all seemed like we knew each other since birth. And I was not the only girl in the group. By then there was a lot of us and we were one big, boisterous crowd. But that was only how I met him...

What counted most were those sleepless nights when all we did was talk at this very same lake. I had a terrible case of insomnia and somehow it did not seem as much of a burden when I found out that he was in the same situation as I. Every night, we would meet up in the lake and talk about things ranging from non-sense to more serious stuff that regarded the future as we perceived it to be. We were open to each other, not holding anything back nor stopping to rephrase our thoughts. Each night we grew closer and, eventually, we formed a bond. Soon enough, we were best friends.

Summer was wild for the whole group. We had all the time in the world and we spent it on road trips and hanging out in the lake. Most of the time, we pushed one another into the waters. Whenever things got any wackier, someone ended up getting thrown into the lake with a giant splash that sent everyone running away to dodge the water that rained down messily. Almost every single summer day was filled with silly water fights and dares that involved humiliating stunts. But it was all in good fun. Nothing personal.

I remembered winter time and all the snow ball fights. We broke apart in teams and built our fortress. By the end of the day, the fortresses were torn down into deformed piles and everyone was out in the open, vulnerable to every snow ball coming their way. The snow ball fights were fun but there was a definite highlight to that winter. Only a certain portion of the lake was frozen and it was off-limits to everyone. However, our friendship knew no limits to stupidity. I recalled one specific time when Rob and I snuck out while everyone was sound asleep in their own homes. We wore our ice skates and skated on dangerously thin ice. It was fun until I passed over a particularly brittle part wherein I fell into the cold water. Rob pulled me up and we went back to snow-covered ground immediately, laughing hysterically. I got back into the house, unnoticed. The next day, I was struck with a high fever and Rob came to visit with a big box of chocolate in his hands and a goofy grin on his face. No one knew what stunt we pulled the night before. It was our little secret. We snacked on the chocolates and by the time my mom came into the room, the chocolates were gone and we had carefully stashed the huge box inside the closet. Another secret of ours. It seemed like we did not have any secrets from each other but we both had secrets that only the two of us knew and the rest of the world was clueless about.

There were too many stories to tell, too many memories to write, and too many words to describe every single moment. We were together through all the stupidity and the victories: like the time we won at a badminton tournament as a team - and how he wore his shirt backwards in a rush to get to the court since he woke up late that day. I was there through his numerous heart breaks and he was there through mine. We knew each others' strengths and weaknesses. We were familiar with each others' frustrations. It was the kind of friendship you would happily die for - the type that everyone thought did not exist. And as I spent over a year taking a break from all the dating I was doing, I had enough time to think: We were a perfect match - but I did not know if what I felt was one-sided. He had never asked me out on a date. All we ever did was hang out as best friends. I was not sure where I should stand... So the question remained...

Was I in love?

And right at that exact moment that I asked myself again, I felt a familiar presence. I looked to my right and saw him sitting there, gazing at the lake, the light glinting off his eyes.

"How long have you been sitting there for?" I laughed, raising a brow in amusement.

"A few seconds," Rob shrugged, turning to look at me. I met his gaze and stared at him for what seemed like an eternity, waiting for a silent answer to my equally quiet question.

"Jade..." His eyes melted into a warm pool of pure green. "Will you go out with me?"

My heart picked up its rhythm. Memories engraved in my mind flashed in my head. It was chaotic at first but gradually, a path seemingly cleared. I think I knew the answer...

"Yes."