“So where are you living now?” I asked unsure of which direction I should be going. “At home…with my mom.” Joselyn said as she shifted around in her seat.
“Do you want me to drop you off there or…” I let the sentence hang in the air, suspended above our heads with a tiny weight on the end of it that grew larger every second. It came crashing down on us when I looked over at Joselyn. Her eyes were pleading with mine.
“Whatever you want to do is fine.”
I didn’t know why Joselyn didn’t want to go home, I just knew she didn’t want to and I wasn’t ready to end this strange encounter with her. I kept driving until I saw the bright yellow slide coming into view. I pulled the car up to the curb and turned off the car, “Race you to the swings?” I looked over at her and reached for the door handle.
She smiled and darted from the car. I ran, without looking behind me to see how close she was. I reached out and grabbed the swing. I was about to turn and gloat when I noticed she was already sitting down on the swing. “How’d you get over here before I did?”
She smiled and kicked her feet to get herself to swing higher, “You went around the bench and I jumped over it. I’ve had some practice running and jumping over things.”
Normally I didn’t care much of what people thought of me. As long as I had a few friends that liked me, I was okay. But I really wanted Joselyn to like me and think I was interesting.
So far I didn’t think I accomplished any of those things. As I watched her swing herself higher and higher I thought about what she said to me at the diner.
She had stories and I wanted to be a part of one of them. I also wanted to take a picture of her, with her head thrown backwards and her hair flowing behind her like a cape. For now though, I’d settle for the mental picture.
No matter how hard I pumped my legs, I couldn’t quite get to the height Joselyn was at and I think that’s the way she wanted it, “I’m sorry for what I said earlier about you not being memorable. You will be, depending on how good or bad your photos are.”
I laughed and stopped the swing with my feet, “Thanks, you want to see some and judge me harshly?” Joselyn stopped the swing and leaned over. Her hair smelled like rain on a warm summer day with a hint of sweat but for a girl who slept in a bathtub last night, she smelled good.
Girls usually smell like a strong floral bouquet or sickeningly sweet candy, but not her. I showed the pictures on phone instead of the ones of her on my camera. I wasn’t sure whether she would be flattered or completely creeped out so I stuck to the ones that didn’t involve her.
“I like that one.” She said as she pointed to a photo I took of a couple, holding hands and walking down the sidewalk with their backs to the camera.
“Any reason in particular?”
“You can’t see their faces, so you don’t know whether or not they’re happy or sad or maybe one of them is happy and the other is sad. It’s open to interpretation, nothing is set in stone.”
“That’s interesting, I put my phone back into my jacket pocket, normally people like to see the faces so they know how they should feel. You’re different, I like that.”
She pushed herself away and made the swing move from side to side, “So Matty do you have a girlfriend?” “No.” Her swing bumped into mine and jolted me to the left, “Then who is your muse for the pictures you take?”
I started moving my swing back and forth so that we were bumping into each other but not too hard, “Recently?” I said as I looked over at her. She stopped the swing from moving side to side and just sat there with her head down.
“My mom used to take me to a park like this by my house, she would only push me a few times before yelling at me and telling me I was going to high. Of course it only made me want to go higher.”
When Joselyn told me this her voice got lower and her tone changed, as if there was some pain behind what she was telling me. I didn’t realize it then but this was when she was deciding whether or not she could trust me.
“I have a playground story but it’s not a happy one, it does have a sort of happy ending.” “Spoiler alert.” She laughed
“Yeah, I was at this playground when I was 6 or 7 and my parents were playing in the sand box with my younger sister and my older brother was over on the monkey bars seeing how many pull ups he could do. I was sitting by the river, throwing rocks in and playing in the mud, you know normal boy stuff...
I must have been sitting there for a long time because when I finally walked back up to the playground they were gone. I ran around the park yelling for them but they weren’t there. In fact no one in the park paid any attention to the little kid screaming his head off. I guess they were too worried about their own kids...
anyway, the park was about 5 blocks from my house so I just walked home. They didn’t even realize I was gone. The only thing my mom did was yell at me for tracking mud in the house.”
I never told anyone what I just told Joselyn, not siblings or my parents and I sure as hell wouldn’t tell my roommates. They poked fun at me as enough as it is. From that day on I made sure to stay with my family whenever we went somewhere. I didn’t want to be forgotten again.
Joselyn looked over at me with an ashamed looked on her face, “I lied when I said I didn’t remember you, I did.”
“Why did you pretend not to?”
“Because I’m a bitch, I knew that it mattered to you so I decided not to give you that power. I have issues in case you haven’t noticed.” “Who doesn’t have issues? You admitted it to me though so you’re not a bitch in my book.”
“I should probably get home, she stood up and held her hand out to me, gimme your phone, I stood up and handed it to her, There, now you can actually talk to me rather than follow me around a party and taking pictures of me all night.”
She handed the phone back to me and walked away smiling, “Next time we hang out I’ll show you the photos.” I yelled. She turned to face me and nodded, “As long as they aren’t in your basement.” I shrugged my shoulders and laughed, “Actually it’s more like a dungeon.”
She rolled her eyes and turned back around, “Catch you later Matty.” She said with two fingers up in the air.
I could remember everything about that day. I remember what the air smelled like. I remember what she wore and how her hair curled up at the ends from the humidity in the air.
I even remembered to stop at Dunkin Doughnuts to get Danny’s coffee in my haze of euphoria. I grabbed a blueberry muffin for myself even though I just had breakfast with Joselyn about an hour ago. I must have been in the mood for something nostalgic because of our encounter.
Maybe it was because of the story I told or something else entirely, but I really wanted to be reminded of my childhood.
When I got back to the house it was mostly cleared out of the occupants from last night’s party. I walked around to the back and found Danny sitting on the patio with his head in hands. I was about to present him with the “magical elixir from the gods”, as he once called it, when I heard a voice behind me.
“Sup.” Ryan said with a subtle nod.
I tightened my grip on the take out bag when he brushed past me. The girl that he hooked up with last night walked past me with her head down. I hated to admit it but it would have made for a perfect picture.
Maybe the girl wasn’t “innocent” when she went into the shed with Ryan but she definitely lost something when she came out. She was ashamed of what she did but, she did it anyway. For what? What made hookups or one night stands so appealing to people my age? These were thoughts I had a lot but never shared with anyone.
“Is that my hazelnut heaven I smell?”
I nodded and handed it to Danny’s outstretched hand, “Three creams and two sugars.” “What’s in the bag?” He asked as we walked towards the gate. “A blueberry muffin, you want it?”
“Yeah, are you sure?" “Yeah, I looked behind me at the shed, I’m not hungry anymore.”