One Friday afternoon, Juliette brought a new friend from school home with her. Well, they weren’t exactly friends yet, but Juliette liked her and hadn’t scared her away yet. They sat outside on the porch and talked for about 15 minutes before they were interrupted by her brother.
“Juliette, did grandma say to use rosemary in the–oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t know you had company.”
The girl had been admiring the bay across the street and was watching a sailboat go back out into the deep waters. Jonathan noticed the girl’s appearance and didn’t pay any attention to her. Her hair was in a very long, messy ponytail, clothes were rather plain, and her pants and shoes were very worn. Once the boat had disappeared into the sunset, the girl turned her attention back to the conversation. Then, he saw her face…and she saw his.
Holy cow plants! She’s gorgeous!
“Hello,” he said, trying to put some bass in his voice. “I’m Jonathan.”
She was stunned by the lightning that struck through her body when she laid eyes on him. “I’m…I’m, ummm…”
Juliette thought the scene was pathetic and let her friend suffer through embarrassment before helping her. “Skyla! You’re Skyla! Sheesh.”
Skyla looked at Juliette and smiled painfully with gratitude and turned back to Jonathan. “I’m Skyla…and so embarrassed!”
“Don’t be. It happens to the best of us. Right, Juliette?”
“Mmm hmmm,” Juliette said incredulously.
Skyla’s phone vibrated, and she took it out of her pocket. “Excuse me…I’m sorry.” She checked her messages, and whatever she saw made her happy and lit up her face.
Jonathan saw an opportunity to gather certain important information. “Message from your boyfriend?”
“No,” she said and went to reply to the message. Then she realized how her response may have come across to him. “Well, what I mean is I don’t have a boyfriend.”
Noted. “Oh. Interesting…”
Juliette was getting annoyed, but she kept her nerve.
“It’s my father,” Skyla said. “He always sends me gushy messages.”
There was something about her that he liked. He was attracted to her, but that wasn’t it. There was something sweet and innocent about her. There was also something sad. He wanted to know everything there was to know about her.
“Oh yeah? You guys must be close,” he said.
“Yeah. Well…it’s just the two of us, so…”
“Oh! I’m so sorry! I shouldn’t be so inquisitive I mean we just met and I–”
“It’s ok, Jonathan!” She laughed at his attempted smooth recovery. “You didn’t know. And it’s been a few years. I’m ok.”
Neither knew what to say next. They didn’t realize it at first, but they were gazing at each other. Jonathan realized it first looked away. “So, ummm…do you live around here?”
“Oasis Springs,” she said hesitantly.
“Oh! Cool. I don’t go there much, but I think it’s beautiful over there.”
“ENOUGH,” Juliette yelled.
“What do you want, Jonathan?! Did you come out here to flirt with my friend??”
“Chill, Juliette! We’re just talking! You could join if you’d like.”
“NO! She came to visit ME! Go make your own friends! You guys always take my friends!” She got up and stormed in the house.
“I’m sorry, Juliette,” Skyla said, although she wasn’t quite sure why she was apologizing. It felt like the right thing to do at the time.
Juliette knew it was highly probable that this would happen. That’s why she never invited Skyla in.
Jonathan joined Skyla on the bench. “Are you ok,” he asked.
“Yeah.” She was a bit shaken. “Have I offended her?”
“Nah. She always causes a scene.”
Jonathan was glad they were alone and wanted to get back to their conversation. “So…where were we?”
Skyla smiled and said, “Oasis Springs.”
“Right! So, how long have you been there?”
“Really? How come I’ve never seen you at school before?”
“Well, I think I’m a couple years behind you, but I tend to keep a low profile. Up until a few years ago I was homeschooled.”
“Wow! I’ve never met anyone who was homeschooled. Was that…fun?”
“I guess. It was nice spending time with my mom every day.”
Jonathan could sense a touch of nostalgic sadness in her voice, but he didn’t feel it was the time to ask about her mother. After all, they had just met.
“That sounds nice,” he said instead. “What part of Oasis Springs do you live?”
Suddenly, fear struck through Skyla’s heart. She was hoping he wouldn’t ask her.
“Ummmmmm…I…I’m not good with directions,” she said slowly hoping he would buy it.
“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have asked you that. That was like, totally stalkerish…I’m sorry.” He hesitated with what to say next. He wanted to respect her privacy and the boundaries of a brand new friendship, but he couldn’t help how he felt. “Can I be honest with you?”
“I just want to know you! I don’t know why… There’s just something about you. I want to know everything! Is that weird?”
She smiled, and her heart was warmed. “No.”
They smiled at each other and found comfort in knowing they had mutual interests.
“You should probably get home,” he said. “We wouldn’t want your father to worry about you. After all, you’ve been hanging out with strange characters all night.”
“Yeah…that’s what they say. May I escort you home?”
The fear came back in the pit of Skyla’s stomach. “Ummmmmm…n-no, but thank you. You’re very kind.”
That was too much. Slow down! “Can I at least walk you to the end of the street?”
“I’ll race ya!” Jonathan got up and dashed off the porch.
“Wait! No fair!”
She chased him around the driveway and to the street. They stopped short of the taxi stop and stood in the middle of the street. Somehow, it had just occurred to them that the night was over and they would be exiting each other’s presence. They didn’t like that thought and stood in the street trying to hide their frustrations.
“So, ummm…can I call you sometime,” Jonathan asked.