A wet hand slapped my chest, and it was at that point I realized I had zoned out and was staring at nothing, lost in my own daydream.
“You having a starting contest or something?” the voice had said.
After looking down to my right, I saw that the voice was Rey’s. “I guess so,” I said with a small laugh. I could feel the embarrassment growing inside me. Just standing there looking at nothing.
“Well, wait on me. After I dry off, we can go get something to eat,” Rey said.
“Okay, yeah, no problem,” I replied, and she walked to the locker room.
I stood there wondering why I got so embarrassed in front of Rey. Rey is my best friend, has been since 1st grade. She was much shorter than me, had bright natural red hair that didn’t meet her shoulder, along with equally bright green eyes. Seemingly polar opposites with me being fairly tall with jet black and dark blue eyes. Our appearances weren’t the only polar opposite thing about us. I spend more time hunkered down in my dorm room while she can make friends with just about everyone.
We both went to the same college on an athletic scholarship for swimming. The college was small, and the town surrounding was small as well. We were both in our second year here, and we both enjoyed it very much.
It was odd because, during high school, we couldn’t be separated and spent most of our time together. Still, when it came to college, our time together was cut down just because of our own separate busy schedule, but we always saw each other at practice, along with getting food and working on homework together.
I had made some friends from the swim team and had gotten close to my roommate, mostly just guys, because I am a nervous wreck around girls. To my own surprise, I actually had a girlfriend last year, but we split up when she transferred colleges.
Rey had many new friends, both guys and girls. She was much more outgoing than me. Rey really experimented during her first year, going to a handful of parties and things of that nature. She had settled down a little bit in her second year and was more focused on school and improving her swimming skills.
A few minutes later, Rey came out of the locker room, her hair still wet and in regular clothes. “Ready,” she said.
I got up from the bleachers. “Yep, I’m starving,” and we left the pool to head for the school cafeteria.
I opened the door and let her through first. The sun was bright, and it took a few seconds for my eyes to adjust. It was springtime, late April, and perfect spring weather, a sunny seventy-five-degree day with a bit of breeze every now and then. It was a nice welcome; winter can get very cold.
We both were from Florida and have never been in such a cold environment. Until our first year of college, we had never seen snow. Rey and I both still have tons of pictures of us throwing snowballs at each other, sledding, and building a snowman for the first time.
All the warm weather was a great welcome, back to wearing shorts and tee-shirts inside of pants and hoodies. The campus itself was more alive since spring started. People were out walking dogs, throwing frisbees, and studying under shaded trees.
The cafeteria was on the other side of campus, only about a six or seven-minute walk total. We were walking side by side then Rey started talking. She can’t go long without talking to someone. It just isn’t in her nature.
“I’m ready for summer,” she paused. “I’m ready to go home if I’m being honest.”
She was looking at the ground. “Why is that?” I asked.
She thought for a moment and looked at me, and my eyes darted away. “I don’t know. I guess I’m just homesick is all,” she said.
We had spring break about two or three weeks ago, and we both had gone home. “Are you just homesick, or is it something else?” I know her better than anyone, and she usually wants to go home whenever something is bothering her. Usually, whenever she has trouble in her classes or something along those lines.
“Is it me, or has this semester felt…” She trailed off. “Different, I guess.”
She was right. Ever since coming back from Christmas break, something had felt off. What was off? I didn’t know. “Yeah, I kind of get that; something is just different, but I’m not sure either,” I said.
“I figured you had felt it too. It’s hard to explain, but I know you understand where I’m coming from,” she said.
She was right again. I fully understood what she meant. Something was different or at least off, but it was impossible to try and figure out what it was. “Maybe it’s the classes. I mean, we both finished our gen ed’s this year and picked our majors for next year. Maybe it’s just really setting in,” I said.
She thought it over for a minute. “You might be right; it was a bizarre feeling to be picking a major already. It feels like just yesterday we toured campus together,” she said.
Gosh, it does feel like it was yesterday. I remember it perfectly because I was a nervous mess, and she was over the moon happy. I wasn’t a complete mess because Rey was with me, and having her by my side was comforting. She’s probably the only reason I adjusted to college as well as I did, knowing I had at least one person on campus I could turn to.
We were deep into our conversation, and before we knew it, we had already made it to the cafeteria. We both went inside and flashed the student IDs to let us access anything the cafeteria had to eat. I made a salad and grabbed some ranch dressing. Rey got a pre-made sandwich and a bag of chips.
We picked a table and started to eat. Many people make fun of college food, but we had the luxury of having pretty good food on campus. It definitely was better than what some other places got.
“Let me ask you something,” she said.
“Why are you acting so weird today?”
I was caught off guard. I didn’t expect her to say that. I was about to put a bite of salad in my mouth. My heart sank a little bit. How was I supposed to respond to that? I didn’t even realize I was acting weird. “No weirder than normal, I think,” I said with an awkward laugh.
Rey smiled. “Yeah, I guess you’re always a little weird.”
I thought I was in the clear at that point, but she continued.
“It’s just that when we made eye contact walking, you broke it instantly. I know you’re bad at eye contact, but not usually with me,” she said.
“Force of habit, I guess.”
“Also, at practice, you were just staring at me getting out of the pool, and you have seemed distracted today.”
Dang. That was my only thought. I can’t hide anything from her. She knows me too well.
“I guess I have been. Got some stuff on my mind,” I said, a little embarrassed.
I stared at my salad bowl in thought. “You know, I’m not exactly sure, to be honest.”
And that was the truth. I didn’t know what had been on my mind. I couldn’t really put my finger on it. I probably would tell her if I could find out what was going on with me.
She changed the conversation after that, and we talked about stuff that was happening on campus and the piles of homework we had due this week. After dinner, we were both tired and went to our dorm rooms.
It was Thursday, and my roommate, who was on the swim team with me, went home for the weekend after practice. It was always nice to get some alone time every now and then. I didn’t have a problem with my roommate, but my introverted personality just needed some time alone.
I picked up some of the trash and dirty clothes that had accumulated over the week. After that, I played some video games with some friends back home. Playing online with them was a good way to keep in touch. I played for a few hours and decided to get off a little early and watch a movie. The movie had just been released on Netflix, and it was about a guy and girl who get stuck in some sort of time loop. They end up repeating the same day over and over, but they are the only ones who recognize this. They spend pretty most of the time together since they are stuck in this strange situation. Other than trying to figure out a way to break the cycle, they end up falling for each other romantically.
I actually enjoyed the movie; even the romance was nice. The characters were trying to make the best of their bad situation. Whenever they were with each other, they felt so much better even though they broke the laws of time.
Toward the very end, I found myself putting Rey and me in that situation. How would we handle the whole ordeal? She would be the one who found the positive in the situation. I already know I would be the one stressed out the entire time.
Toward the end, the two kissed and were lying in an open field, staring up at the stars.
I wish that was Rey and me.
I was lying down and instantly sat up when I realized what thought I just had. I couldn’t believe that I would actually think about something like that. I sat there in deep thought for a good while, not knowing what to think. I had to be honest with myself. I had put Rey and me in that situation for a reason.
As much as I didn’t want to admit it, I knew it was true.
I was falling in love with my best friend.
I couldn’t fall asleep. I tossed and turned all night, trying to make sense of what my mind had conjured up. I tried to rationalize that maybe my feelings were wrong, that they weren’t true. That there had to be some kind of explanation, but I came up with nothing.
My feelings were true, and I knew it.
I got up, showered, and ate a pop tart and breakfast bar. I stayed in my room watching tv most of the day. I wasn’t really in the mood to do anything. It was the weirdest feeling in the world. Something hard to explain. It’s like overnight, my worldview changed with the flip of a switch.
Usually, if I had something on my mind, I would go to Rey about it. She never got tired of listening to me and whatever problem I had going on. This problem, however, I just couldn’t go to her about. There would be no way to explain this to her.
I searched through my desk drawer and found my journal. I wiped the dust off and found where the little tassel was bookmarked from where I wrote in it last. The last date in the book very close to a year ago exactly. Writing was a way for me to get down all of my thoughts and feelings in a safe place no one else could know about. It was a perfect way for me to express all of the new experiences healthily. Journaling and having Rey with me pretty much got me through my first year and helped me enjoy my first year away from home.
I sat down at my desk and got my favorite pen, and started to write.
Four pages and a hand cramp later, I got all of my thoughts out on the page. Even though the journal didn’t solve my problem, it just made me feel a little bit better that I could physically look at it and get it out of my head.
There were two main points that I had realized when writing that I didn’t consider while trying to sort out the thoughts in my head. The first one is that I tell Rey exactly what is going on and how I feel. That option could have two different results. The more realistic alternative is that she doesn’t feel the same way, and she doesn’t want to be friends with me anymore. Or the second option is she loves me, too, and then we go from there. That option seemed like a miracle that would never happen.
Or there was another way to handle this entirely. I could just keep it to myself. That way, no risk was taken, and Rey and I could keep being friends, and nothing would change. Of course, I would have to be constantly keeping a secret from Rey, which I have never been good at, but I would do it to protect our friendship.
I would have to think about it, and it would take a long time to find the answer. If I ever did find the answer.
I tried to keep myself busy, so I didn’t overthink. Everything was fine for the first few hours until I got a text from Rey.
Rey: You still going to the movie with me tonight?
Aw hell, I thought. I’d completely forgotten that we were supposed to go watch the new horror movie coming out.
Me: yeah absolutely, what time does it start?
I couldn’t just ditch her. This was something we had planned out for weeks. We both loved horror movies, and this was a sequel to the one last year we’d seen. Sure, I would probably make things awkward, but I’d take that chance.
Rey: It starts at seven. I’ll pick you up at six. See you then. 🙂
Not going to lie, I was a little nervous about the whole thing, but I was more afraid of how weird I might act around her. Everything just felt different now, and I wasn’t sure how to handle it.
Keeping myself busy had been working. Now I had a mental clock counting down to 7 p.m. Six to be more exact, the car ride to the movies was going to be the bain of my existence. I mean, what do I say on the way there? I have to say something I can’t just go the whole ride and not say anything that would raise some questions.
I decided had to do something instead of just dwelling on the things that might or might not happen.
I spent the next few hours doing homework and watching a stand-up comedy routine on Netflix. The weather had cooled back off, so I decided to wear a pair of jeans and one of my favorite t-shirts I have had for years, and for shoes, I just went with my pair of gray Nike’s. I saw no reason to dress up nice. It was just my best friend and me after all.
I waited until I got her text saying she was outside and went to meet her. I opened my dorm door, and her small green KIA Soul was parked by the sidewalk. I’d kept my nerves under control, but it felt like they all left my body when I saw her car.
I could feel myself getting a little shaky. My heart started to race, but I took a deep breath and walked to her car. I climbed into the front seat. When I sat down, I was met with the cold AC and a vanilla scent from her air fresher.
“Hi,” she said with excitement. “You look great!”
She then looked at her phone, changing the music. She was in a teal spring dress and had straightened her red short hair. She wore a little bit of makeup, and her red lipstick matched her hair just right.
I looked away before I was caught staring. She didn’t notice my looking since she was still picking music. She chose the playlist I’d made for her. It was something we both made when we traveled back and forth from school to home. I made a playlist on her phone, and she made one on mine.
“I just put on the music you like. It’s kind of growing on me,” she said.
“Ha, really, you’re starting to like my music,” I said. I could feel myself getting hot, so I moved a vent toward me.
“Yeah, I started to listen to this playlist even when I’m by myself.”
Rey and I didn’t have many differences, but we still had different tastes in music, but not by a lot.
“You okay?” She asked.
I was caught off guard by her again. She was good at doing that. “I… um… just got hot getting ready is all,” I said. A terrible save, but it was all I had.
“Oh, okay, gotcha. You ready to head out? We got a movie to see.”
“I’m ready. You just better not get scared like last time.”
She put the car in drive and started to move. “I was not scared. I handled the movie better than you.”
“Oh, whatever. If I remember, we sat in my dorm’s parking lot for almost two hours after because you were too afraid to go to your room. You were afraid you would have a nightmare.”
“Well, part of that might be true, but I’m much braver now than a year ago,” she said.
We were about to get on the interstate, and the sun reflected off her face just right. It made her shine. I’d spent many hours in a car with Rey, but I’d never looked at her like I did right then.
“Well, I guess we will see. This movie is supposed to be scarier than the last one,” I said.
We continued driving, and I had settled down a little. The brief sweat I had broken out was gone, and I was more comfortable. We just talked about the movie and everything else we could think of. Rey mentioned some of the fun things that happened on campus sometimes. We usually went to all of them unless something important came up. After about ten minutes, I felt more normal around her.
But for how long? I thought.
Sure, I was okay in the car, but what about walking into the movie? And then the film itself with it being dark for close to two hours.
I told myself to not worry about it and tried to shove those thoughts out of my head. I made myself act normal this far, and I planned on keeping it that way the rest of the night.
We eventually made it to the movie theater, and we went and bought our tickets and popcorn. Every time we went, we always split a large bucket, and between the both of us, we almost finished it the majority of the time. We got our bucket and our drinks and headed to the theater.
We were about to hand our tickets to the theater employee when Rey spoke.
“Wait a minute—We forgot butter!”
She grabbed the bucket from me and dashed for the butter machine. I couldn’t help but laugh at how quickly she moved and how excited she was about butter.
“It’s like the best part of the popcorn,” she said as butter flowed all over the popcorn.
“You’re not wrong. I can’t believe we almost forgot it,” I said. I couldn’t help but focus on her smile. I had never noticed how white her teeth were before and how they contrasted with her red lipstick.
She walked back over to me. “Okay, I’m ready now.”
I handed the employee our tickets, and he told us to enjoy the movie and pointed us toward our specific screen room.
Rey was walking fast. I could tell she was getting excited about the movie. “What’s the hurry for? Are you already getting scared?”
She turned to look at me but kept walking backward. “No, there are new seats in the theater, and I want to make sure we get them.”
“Wow, I didn’t know that. I’m curious now.”
“Yep, it was kind of a surprise. Now, come on!”
She turned back around darted into the door on the right, almost missing it because she was walking backward. The room was already dark, and the previews were playing. I looked up and saw a handful of people, but not many.
I looked back at Rey, who didn’t glance up toward the top half of the seats. I followed her toward the front. She went down to the middle of the fourth row with was the last one in the front half. I sat down on her left.
I saw that the seat had some kind of folding tray that you could set stuff on. “These are pretty cool,” I said.
“Watch this,” Rey then sat back in her seat, and it unfolded a leg rest, and she laid back like a recliner.
“Woah, no way,” I said and did the same to my chair.
“Pretty cool, huh,” she said, grabbing a handful of popcorn.
“Better than cool. This is the only way to watch movies from now on.”
After about five minutes, the previews ended, and the theater got even darker.
The movie was a good distraction from the overload of thoughts. My nerves weren’t a problem, and I didn’t feel worried. I just enjoyed what was playing on the screen. The movie was scarier than the last one for sure. Rey jumped multiple times during certain scenes and even put her hands over her eyes once or twice. I even got a little jumpy through the movie. I couldn’t remember the last time a movie had me this scared.
About halfway through the movie, Rey shifted in her seat and leaned more toward me. I started to focus on that, but a fake jump scare in the movie got me, and I jumped a little bit. The thing that was in the closet was actually the family cat.
Rey gave a little laugh. “Afraid of cats now,” she whispered.
“Hey, we still have the other half of the movie to get through. Do you think you can make it?”
“Sure I can, tough guy,” she said with a smile.
The rest of the movie went well. Sure, I was scared, and I know Rey was more nervous than I was, but it was fun to be scared sometimes. When the movie ended, we got up out of the reclined seats. I stretched after sitting for so long. I was mid-stretch when Rey poked me in the side. She always liked to mess with me.
“I have to pee,” she said.
“Okay, me too.”
I went to the bathroom and waited on a bench in the lobby. I was playing on my phone. Rey snuck up on me from behind and grabbed my shoulders.
“Whatcha doing!” She said loudly.
I jumped, startled. “Gosh, you scared me bad!”
“Ha, I know! You’re so jumpy,” she said, laughing.
“Yeah, yeah, sure,” I said, laughing. “You ready to go?”
“Yeah, let’s go,” she said and headed for the door.
The sun had gone, and so had the temperature. The parking had a few cars parked in it, spaced out from one another. We climbed in her car and headed back for campus.
We talked about the movie and what our favorite parts were. I had enjoyed the movie more than I thought I would. My mind came up with multiple scenarios that could have gone wrong, but none of them happened. Everything was fine.
We got to my dorm parking lot, and she pulled into a spot.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“Oh, nothing,” she replied.
“You parked in a spot and didn’t pull by the door. Something’s up,” I said.
She sighed. “Okay, I’m scared. My roommate went home for a few days, and I’ll be by myself.”
“I figured that movie had you terrified,” I said, giving a little laugh.
“Yeah, I would ask up to my room, but you know,” she said.
“Yeah, we would get in big trouble for that.”
There was a moment of silence. Neither of us knew what to say or do.
“Could you at least stay and talk to me in the car for a while? Like last time?
“Yeah, I can,” I said.
Part of me was worried, but I had made the whole evening without a problem. Another hour or so should be no different. Just got to be me.
So that’s what we did for the next hour and a half. Just sat and talked. Talked about everything. The movie, school, life, life after school, just everything. Even relationships. She asked if I was seeing anyone. I told her I wasn’t, and she said she wasn’t either—that was about all we said on relationships. There was a little awkwardness after that, and I know she could feel it.
“Just haven’t found anyone I like that way, you know,” she said.
“Yeah, I understand that. I’m the same way.”
She changed the subject after that, and twenty minutes later, I told her bye and went to get out of the car. She thanked me for staying and talking with her and gave me a hug. I was surprised at that but quickly gave her a hug back.
I walked back to my room feeling good about how the evening went and worried about the future and if I would spend every day like this around her.
The latter proved to be true. Almost two weeks went by, and the only word to describe it was hell.
I’d been losing sleep to my racing thoughts and the what-if scenarios that no one but me could see. I’d been unable to focus on schoolwork or at swim practice. My guard was always up around Rey, I was always trying to act normal and not tip her off to anything, but it was exhausting.
It’s no way to live—all of the little things. The everyday little moments were now major incidents for me.
One day while writing in my journal, I decided that it was time to do something about it. I couldn’t physically keep living like this. I thought it wouldn’t be so bad hiding my feelings, but it was draining the life out of me.
I was about to do the hardest thing I would ever have to do in my life.
I made my decision to do something about it. I had to reveal my feelings to her and tell her what was going on. I felt like it was the best thing to do, and whatever the outcome would be, it would be for the best.
Coming to that realization was a weight lifted off my shoulders. Just coming to that conclusion made me feel so much better. I knew I would need that feeling to help me get through the next few days. I had to think of a way to tell her.
I didn’t want to just walk up to her and tell her. Coming at her like that out of the blue didn’t seem like the best idea to me. It had to be somewhere private and special where we could discuss this.
Is anywhere the right place to do this? I thought.
It would have to be, I told myself. I had to pick a place and make the best of it.
The idea came to me when I was taking the trash out behind my dorm building. I put the bag of trash in the can, and when I turned around, I was looking at the sun lowering over mountains as the sunset.
That’s it, hiking. I thought.
Hiking was something that Rey and I both enjoyed doing but had only done a handful of times and not at all this year. The park near campus had some excellent trails that went all through the mountain and some that followed the nearby river.
Hiking felt like the right thing to do, so I decided to ask her. It was Thursday, so I planned on asking her to go on Saturday. I checked the weather multiple times from multiple different websites, and they all said it was going to perfect spring day with no chance of rain whatsoever. The temperature was supposed to peak at 82 degrees. Perfect.
I texted Rey and asked her if she wanted to go. She instantly said yes, and I started to get nervous. It was a mix of dread and excitement. Part of me, of course, wanted to see how this could backfire and blow up in my face, but part of me was hopeful.
Hope is all I have to go on now. I thought.
I made it a point to not make myself not overthink this situation. I was just going to let it play out. I would catch myself worrying about what I would say, but I decided to say whatever came out.
Just let it come from the heart.
The day finally arrived. I got up at nine o’clock and showered and got ready. I wore an old baseball cap and a tee shirt with slip-on Nike shorts along with my tennis shoes. No reason to dress nicely when you’re going to get sweaty.
We had planned on leaving by ten that morning. I offered to drive this time because it was my turn, and two, it would help to not overthink what I was about to do. Since we lived in the same neighborhood in Florida, we took one car to school, not needing two.
I got the, I’m outside, text at 10:05 a.m. and headed out to meet her. She had already moved to the passenger seat. I climbed in and put my drawstring bag in the backseat.
Rey was wearing black exercise pants and a pink tank top. She had her hair in a ponytail, and it was fed through a pink hat matching her tank top.
“You’re late,” I joked.
“Very funny, I couldn’t find my hat,” she said with a big smile. “What music do you want to listen to?”
I thought for a moment. “Let’s listen to your playlist. It’s growing on me.”
She changed the music, and we made sure we had everything we needed and headed off. Even though it was ten in the morning, campus looked alive. People were outside, walking, talking, and having a good time in the warm weather.
It was only about a fifteen-minute drive to the park. Rey and I started talking about anything and everything. It didn’t take much to get us talking about something. We had the windows down, and her feet were on the dashboard. For a brief moment, I forgot about everything that was about to happen, and it put a smile on my face.
“I thought we might hike the trail that leads to the top of the mountain,” I said.
Rey got excited. “I’ve always wanted to do that one. I’m ready.”
We made it to the park, and I pulled the car into a gravel lot. She jumped out of the car without another word. We grabbed the small drawstring bag we both brought and headed for the small dirt path that led into the woods.
Everything was in full bloom and leaves shaded the ground below us. The bright sunny day suddenly became a few shades darker and cooler. It was perfect weather for a hike.
Rey was moving a lot faster than me.
“I wouldn’t rush; there are a lot of uphill walking after the first mile or so,” I said.
“Ughhh, going up is the worst part, but I want to get to the top,” she said.
“At least going down won’t be so bad,” I said, and we continued walking.
The both of us were quiet for a good while. It wasn’t an awkward silence, but the silence that lets you take in all the nature around you. I was definitely nervous about what was coming at the top of the mountain, but being surrounded by the peaceful woods made me feel a little more at ease. Part of me felt better because no matter what happened today, I would be able to move on with my life, for better or for worse.
I tried to just focus on the trail and not trip over and sticks on the ground being the clutz I am. Rey always got a laugh out of my clumsiness, and I couldn’t blame her. It was funny.
We got to a point where a faded sign told where we were, and the trail would be heading uphill for the rest of the hike. We took a break, both of us starting to sweat. We sat down beside each other on a log and drank from our water bottles.
“Ready for this?” I asked.
“I guess I’ll have to be,” she replied. “I’m really not looking forward to this whole uphill thing.”
“Me either, but it will be worth it,” I said.
“You’re right. It definitely will be,” she said.
We both took a last drink and put our bottles in our bags. We looked at the trail that started to go up word and started walking.
We didn’t talk much on the way up because of the strenuous walking. We both were physically in good shape, but it was still a challenging hike. We stopped for a few breaks here and there. All of them huffing and puffing, sitting on tree stumps, and drinking water.
I knew I was getting hot and a little tired, and I could tell Rey was too, but we were almost there. Less than half a mile to go, I assumed.
We jumped back up, and the excitement of reaching the top was all we needed. As we rose higher on the mountain, my nerves rose as well. Every step I took, the situation was feeling more real.
I was lost in my racing thoughts when I realized that we had made it. We finally made it to the top. Trees had been cleared, and an elevated wooden platform looked over the other mountains.
“We did it!” Rey shouted, also a little out of breath.
She burst into a run and climbed the steps of the wooden platform. I jogged after her, and both of us, out of breath, leaned our hands over the wooden railing. We both stood there saying nothing, just admiring the beauty of the mountains. Green covered the ups and downs as far as the eye could see. It was something beautiful. Pure nature, no roads, no cut logging tress, just nature being allowed to set peacefully.
After a few minutes of looking out, we had caught our breath.
“Definitely worth the hike up here,” Rey said.
“Absolutely worth it,” I said.
We stood and looked for another few minutes. I’d been so distracted by the view, I’d forgotten why I’d come up here in the first place. I wanted to think things through, but that time had passed. It was time to finally talk, to tell her.
I went to open my mouth and say something, but Rey caught me before I could.
“What’s that?” She asked, pointing down below the wooden platform.
It was a big rock that was flat on top. It was clear, and the sun was reflecting off of it. Before I could respond to her, she said something else.
“Let’s go down there and sit on the rock.” Without even giving me time to say it might be a bad idea, she started climbing the wooden railing.
This was the spontaneous nature of Rey that came out every now and then. I decided to not try and argue with her and started to climb over too. By the time I got over the railing, she was already sitting down at the rock. I sat down beside her. The view was even better from here, perfectly looking over the other mountains. Even though we were just a few feet lower than the platform, I felt a lot closer to the mountains.
Rey broke the silence. “My ass is hot,” she said in a casual voice.
I was so caught off guard that I burst out laughing. I couldn’t help myself. She laughed hard too.
“Yeah, I guess mine is too,” I said through my laughing.
After a few minutes, we got out all of our laughing out of our system.
“It’s beautiful up here,” I said.
“It sure is,” she said.
It was the perfect time to say what I wanted to. So, I just went for it. No thinking, just talking.
“Rey, there’s really no good way to say this, but something has been on my mind for a few weeks now,” I paused. “You and I have a special connection. We always have, but now I feel like something has to happen to it. Like I feel another kind of connection being made between us.”
I wanted so bad to look away, but I forced myself to keep eye contact.
“I know I’m not good at this sort of thing, but you’re on my mind constantly, and I can’t stop thinking about you. I start to get nervous around you, and I start to act weird.”
I stopped, and Rey started speaking. “I guess that explains why you were acting strangely for the past few weeks. I knew something was going on, I know you inside and out, and I can tell when something is bothering you. I figured I would just wait and let you tell me in your own time.”
“Yeah, that’s basically how I feel. There is so much more I want to say, but it would take hou….
My words were cut off by Rey, who in one swift motion leaned over and kissed me on my lips. She held there, kissing me for what seemed like forever. I didn’t know how to react, and it took me a few seconds to close my eyes and attempt to kiss back. It felt like my brain melted in that instant.
She pulled back, and I opened my eyes. My eyes met hers. She was smiling the biggest smile I had ever seen. It was a look of pure joy.
I smiled back, still taking in everything that had just happened.
“Do you feel better?”
“Yes, very much,” I said.
We both looked out at the mountains that sat still, almost frozen in time. That was what her kiss felt like. Time stopped moving altogether.
“You know I would love to stay here until the sunset. Maybe that will give you enough time to talk about all of your feelings,” she said, looking back at me. “And share some of mine own too.”
“I would love that.”
“Me too, “she said
Rey wrapped her hand around the back of my neck and pulled me in for another kiss. This kiss felt longer than the last.
Again, time froze. This time I instantly kissed back, and instead of my brain-melting confusion, I felt nothing but pure safety and happiness.
All of the little things added up to this big moment.
Our kiss ended, and we looked back over the mountains. I pulled Rey close to me, and she put her head on my shoulder. We waited for the sunset together.
Ethan Rose is a junior at University of the Cumberlands, majoring in Psychology and minoring in Creative Writing. Upon graduation, he plans to pursue a master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. He was born and raised in Williamsburg and enjoys reading, writing, and fishing.