I didn’t know how it happened, but over the last few weeks, Ginny and I’d become pretty close. She was such a cool person. She wasn’t the type to sit indoors, mess around on social media, and watch WooTube like most of my friends. She liked to explore the world! And she would always ask me to do the most amazing things I would have never thought to do.
Today, she was being a little mysterious, not letting me know where the heck we were off to or what we were even going to do. I just had to trust her. Last week, she’d showed me a tiny hot springs in the middle of the woods that I’m sure no one in Brindleton Bay even knew about. So, I wondered what she would help me discover today.
We hopped on some bikes and I followed her like I always did.
The sun was setting and I thought it was strange we were going to some ruins. I’d seen this place before, too. Old Brindleton Bay when it was just a pirate cove over three hundred years ago. I knew the place would get dark. I hoped the moon was full tonight.
“Wee!” she cried as we coasted downhill.
“I think we should stop here.” She slowed her bike and I hit my brakes.
The ruins had this peaceful, romantic quality to it. Over the past weeks, even though I’d become such great friends with Ginny…I did have growing feelings for her. Ginny was smart, pretty, fun, interesting…so many great qualities, I should have already gone for it, but…I knew she’d want a relationship, and I really didn’t.
Ginny flailed her hands as she was relaying one of her many stories about her archeologist parents’ quests. “And so I was like, ‘are you kidding me? Mermaids don’t exist’…” She was so over the top. I chuckled.
I thought it was cute how someone could be so passionate about everything.
Looking at my life, honestly, I hadn’t been passionate about really anything. Well, except Henry Puffer, but that was kids stuff. I didn’t have time. I was watching over my siblings. And now that I had time on my hands, I was really seeing the world through someone’s eyes who loved life and everything in it.
I didn’t like that about myself. Even thinking back to what my plans were with Mala seemed so…worthless. Yeah, raising kids was a noble thing, especially since my parents were so bad at it, but…what was I passionate about? My mom loved to do her animation. Dad had his acting and music. Even my kid brother was passionate about airplanes. He knew every kind since the earliest invention. And little Brandy loved animals. She said she wanted to be a vet when she grew up. Cute little five year olds were funny. But it wouldn’t surprise me if she actually accomplished it.
When we settled down, Ginny produced a surprise picnic basket she’d hidden earlier. I laughed, shaking my head. “What’s this?”
She shrugged. “I thought it might be nice to have dinner before we explore.”
“You really think of everything, don’t you?” I asked, feeling a little awkward. This felt like a date now. Not some friends hanging out.
“Someone has to since you’re obviously not going to do it.”
That kind of cut into me. She was right. I wouldn’t think up all these fun things to do. “Yeah…well, I’m not as creative as you are.”
“Oh God…did I just say that…don’t mind me, Liam….” She winced and turned away. “Shit,” she whispered.
I flung myself on the ground, sighing. “No…it’s okay. You’re right. I…just am not like that. I wish I was though.”
She shook her head. “You shouldn’t wish to be anything other than yourself, Liam. That was awful of me. I’m sorry.”
I pulled myself up on my elbow. “Yeah, but it’s true. I didn’t grow up the way you did. It was just me and my siblings for the most part.
“I had to figure out how to cook by the time I was nine. And I’ve been watching my brother and sister and taking care of things around the house since almost always. But…I love to get out and explore the world like you do, Ginny. It’s fun.”
She brightened, lightening the mood. “Well, good. Then I think you’re going to love what we’re going to see next.”
I tried to needle her into telling me what it was but she kept shaking her head, laughing. “It’s a surprise, silly!”
After we ate sandwiches, I had to go take a leak. Once I got back, I noticed she held an apple. I’d already eaten mine, but I wanted to tease her.
I reached out to take it and she stopped me. “Hey that’s mine! You already had yours.”
“But I’m a growing boy. I just want a bite.” I tried to swipe it again, not really trying though, just wanting to see her eyes light up and get angry. She was pretty predictable.
She raised a finger. “Okay…I’ll give you one bite. But that’s all.”
She lifted the apple to my mouth and I had to suppress a laugh. She was so stinking cute. I wanted to kiss her right there, but I resisted. I wasn’t going down that road with her.
After our picnic dinner, she pulled out a lamp from her bicycle basket and lit it. Wow. She really did think of everything. She led me in the middle of a dark forest. The autumn leaves rustled and swirled around in the cool air. “Where are we?” I asked.
She looked at me coyly. “Just be patient. I’ll show you. Come on!”
We walked for about thirty minutes until I saw some sign of civilization. There were streetlights around at least. “Are we there yet?” I said.
“We are,” she answered. “Take a look in front of us.”
“Whoa,” I gasped.
The most interesting building I’d ever seen glimmered in the darkness.
“What is this place?” I asked.
The building looked like a glowing honeycomb orb. I could hear buzzing coming from inside.
Ginny explained, “My parents donated this to the town. It’s a bee sanctuary park. They’d discovered rare midnight bees while on an excavation dig in Al Simhara. The bees produce a rare honey that have glowing properties. I thought you’d want to see it.”
I actually had heard of the park. It was pretty out of the way, so I’d never gone to it. “That’s so cool,” I said, raising my hand. “Let’s go inside then.”
I was blown away as we entered. The room had this natural, homey quality that put me at ease. “I can’t believe your parents built this.”
“It was a long time ago. Like when I was five, I think?” Ginny said. “My parents are hippies at heart.” She chuckled nervously.
The tension between us made my skin buzz. My hand had brushed up against hers as my heart thudded hard in my chest.
There was something magical that was happening between us like God was saying I shouldn’t resist. I should just go for it like I’d wanted to. Like me and Ginny were meant to be. Like we fit each other. Like it was our destiny.
Quickly, without thinking about it any further, I grasped her hand. It was warm…almost as warm as my face that was probably blushing. I was so glad it was dark in there.
She squeezed my hand back, smiling up at me.
I didn’t regret going forward with her like this. I wanted her to be my girl. And it wasn’t because I was rebounding.
There was something bigger going on. Something I knew would change me for the rest of my life.