Sitting on the edge of the pool, Jenna dipped her pink-painted
toes into the water. It was a blistering hot summer day at the
end of June. The bright sun was beating down on her back. She
tightened the strings of her new green and blue polka dot bikini
around her neck. She tied her long, dark hair into a messy knot
on the top of her head and put her sunglasses back on. Sliding
into the water, it felt as though her skin cooled instantly. Her
heart-shaped necklace glinted off of the water. It was a good day
to be in Phoenix, Arizona.
Looking around, she didn't recognize many of the people. There
was Mrs. Donahue from down the street and Jake Houghton. He had
been in her senior English class, but they didn't talk. She had
left for college in the fall and had just gotten back late last
night. After being in Denver for so long, it felt good to be back
in the sun again. Snow wasn't Jenna's ideal weather. She had
grown up in Arizona and that's where she planned to stay once she
graduated. But she dealt with the snow to go to the college she
had always dreamed about. The Art Institute of Colorado was one
of the top photography schools in the country.
She wondered where all of her friends were. Trying to stay in
touch was harder to do than it looked. Especially since everyone
had spread out so much. Starlight Pool was always the place her
group of friends used to hang out at. They had been going to it
for years. She began to reminisce when a wave of water engulfed
"Hey!" she shouted.
"Hey yourself," the voice came from behind her. It was deep and
obviously belonged to a boy. She instantly recognized it. Taking
of her sunglasses and wiping her eyes, she looked over her
shoulder. She saw a pair of deep, brown eyes staring back at her.
She saw a crooked grin that could only belong to one person in
"Damon!" she squealed and ran over to him as best she could in
the water. Jumping up, she flung her arms around his neck.
Feeling his arms circle her waist brought back memories of high
school. "How are you?" she asked, letting go.
"I'm doing great now that you're here," he grinned. He had always
been a flirt. Damon Evergreen had been one of Jenna's closest
friends since the first grade. They had done everything together
until after graduation when they went their separate ways, like
everyone else. He had been her first kiss.
"Of course you are," Jenna mused. "I missed you."
He didn't give a response. He just hugged her tightly once more.
Jenna sat in her bedroom. She hadn't been home since Christmas.
It felt good to lie down on her bed. Looking around her room felt
so different than her dorm in Colorado. It was much larger. She
didn't have to share it with anybody. Although her roommate
Rebecca was nice, Jenna preferred her own space.
It was just the same as she remembered. The walls were still
green. Papers were still shoved inside her desk. Her bed had the
same black and white flowered comforter. The white curtains still
flew in and out of the room with the wind. Her bean bag chair
still sat in the corner next to the lamp she used to read by. The
photographs taped to her mirror were still there. One of them was
of her and her best friend, Stephanie, laughing hysterically at
something that she couldn't remember. There was another of her
brother and her sitting on the porch swing. Their matching brown
hair and blue eyes gave away that they were related. Another was
of her parents dancing around the kitchen together in their
pajamas. Her eyes caught her favorite picture. It was of Damon.
She had taken the picture herself. The sun was setting behind the
trees and his profile was all but a silhouette. His jaw was much
rounder than it was now, his eyelashes curved towards the pinks
and purples of the sky. Jenna got up and walked over to the
photo. She traced his straight nose with her finger. The soft
waves in his golden hair were stilled by the photograph.
The last day of summer was always disappointing. The last day of
summer before high school was even worse. Jenna and Damon sat in
the middle of the park two blocks away from her house. The wind
blew the grass around their bare feet. It tickled her toes and
legs. She wore his navy blue hoodie over her shoulders. The arms
were too long for her hands to make it out of the holes. It
smelled like him.
They had played at this park dozens of times. There weren't any
kids with their parents out this time of night. The tether ball
pole's paint was still chipping away. If you looked in just the
right place at the bottom of it, you could make out the initials
D.E. and J.M. The two swings rocked in the wind and rattled their
chains. The merry-go-round still had a gash in the side of it
where Jenna had fallen and smashed her knee into it. She still
had the scar to prove it.
"What do you think it'll be like?" she asked quietly, tossing a
rock down the hill in front of them. Damon knew exactly what she
was talking about.
"Well Bryan says it's great. There are cooler things to do in
high school. You actually get to leave school to get lunch. How
cool is that? I can't wait for tomorrow," he answered. She didn't
quite trust what Damon's older brother said. He wasn't exactly
the most reliable person. When she was younger he said that if
you could lick your elbow you were considered special. She told
him to try it but he said he didn't want to make her feel bad if
he could do it and she couldn't. She had tried all day until she
got home and her mom told her that nobody could do that, no
matter how special. Maybe it was dumb to hold a grudge, but she
did all the same.
"That doesn't make it any less scary," Jenna whispered, more to
herself than to the person sitting next to her.
Change was one of her greatest fears. It wasn't what she did very
well. She was perfectly content on being inside her comfort zone.
The only bright side she could think of was that it would be the
same people that she had gone to school with for the last eight
years. Lost in thought, she began to twirl the curls in her hair
like she always did. She watched the trees sway back and forth
slightly. She listened to her neighbor's Chihuahua yapping down
Damon had turned his head towards the setting sun. The outline of
his body was perfect against the sky with his arm draped over his
bent knee. Jenna couldn't help it. She held her camera up to her
face and snapped the picture, the flash making little black dots
dance in front of her eyes. Damon twisted to look at her.
"Sorry," she said, blushing, "It was just too perfect." They
stared at each other for a moment until he started to lean
closer. Jenna wasn't sure what to do. She fiddled with the hem of
her skirt to keep from moving her body too much. He was just
centimeters away from her when she closed her eyes. Their lips
met and she forgot about the sunset and high school and
everything else in her mind.