I look out and see the carnival across the parking lot. The Ferris wheel seems to shine.
“Ferris wheel first?” I ask.
“Sure,” he answers as we get out of the car.
I take Dan’s hand as we walk, and he smiles at me. Maybe if I had been honest with him from the start about my feelings and about how I expected to be treated, we could have been this happy all along.
After walking around and playing a few games, we decide to go eat. We don’t have reservations, but we go to the steak place by the mall. We have a short wait, so we sit outside watching all of the people walk by.
“What are you thinking about?”
“I don’t know. Just what a great night this has been.”
“It has been, but it’s not over yet.”
When they call our names, we head to our table. I tell him about the play and how much Ava loves being in it. He says that he will definitely come to see it.
“I wonder if Ashley will?”
“I don’t know. She is pretty messed up over Ethan,” he says as he shakes his head.
“What do you mean?”
“She didn’t tell you? When she went there Tuesday to surprise him, he was out with another girl.”
“Oh my gosh. Poor Ashley.”
“I mean all I hear is what my mom says so I don’t know exactly what happened. I just know that she is crying a lot. I can’t believe that you didn’t know.”
“Well we aren’t as close as we use to be,” I mumble. I want to add because you wanted me to spend all of my free time with you once we started going out, but that’s not really fair. I should have told him that I was going to spend time with Ashley no matter how mad he got.
“Huh,” he says.
I say, “I’ll call her tomorrow,” and I try to enjoy our anniversary dinner.
After we split dessert, we get in his truck. He won’t tell me where we are going, but as we get close to the peninsula, I guess that we are going to the beach.
“I know that you love sunsets, but I wasn’t sure if we would be done with dinner in time.”
I lean in and give him a kiss.
“Want to exchange gifts before we walk over to watch it set?” I ask.
Dan hands me the box that is in the back seat. It looks like jewelry. As I open it, I see that I am right. It is a beautiful charm bracelet with one charm of a red heart on it.
“It’s perfect Dan. I love it.”
I hand him my card and he thanks me as he looks at the gift card for a movie theater. I feel bad all of the sudden that I did not think of something sweet like the charm bracelet that he bought me. His birthday is tomorrow so I decide that I will buy him something else in addition to the t-shirt that I already bought him.
We get out and walk to the beach. Dan always has a blanket in the trunk, so we bring it down and sit on it as the sun disappears into the lake.
While the sun sets into the horizon, I think to myself that this is a new start for us. This year will be better. Maybe I will stay at the community college one more year. I really do love Dan.
As we drive back from the beach, Dan asks, “So now what? I planned the carnival, dinner and sunset but hadn’t thought of anything after that. Want to go to a movie or back to your house?”
“Let’s go to the baseball field,” I say shyly. In all the months that we have went there, I have never once suggested it.
Dan gets a huge smile on his face and responds, ”If that’s what you want.”
When we park, we move to the back of the truck, and I start kissing Dan right away. I reach up and run my hand through his hair. It feels so soft. I lean in and kiss his ear as I say, “I love you. Happy anniversary.”
“Oh Harper. You are driving me crazy.”
This makes me more brave as I reach down and undo his pants.
“Do you have a condom?” I ask knowing that he always does.
“How about I do all the work for once?” I whisper as I climb on top and push my dress up.
As I look Dan in the eyes, I feel like this is truly the first time we have ever made love. I mean we have had sex often and in different positions, but usually I just want him to be done. Today, as I move back and forth and kiss him, I feel different sensations than I usually do. I think that this must be what people write about when they describe making love.
When Dan finishes, he lies still beneath me and asks hesitantly, “Was it good for you?” which he has never asked me before.
He has such hope in his eyes that I am happy that I can honestly say to him, “Yes Dan.”
Maybe this truly is a new beginning for us.
When he drops me off at home later, I kiss him with all of my heart and say, “This was a great anniversary.”
“It was. Night Harper.”
As I lie in bed reliving the evening, I pick up my phone and text Dan.
I love you. Happy Anniversary again.
I wake up Sunday morning and decide to go for a run before church and rehearsals. Before I start though, I text Ashley.
I miss you Ashley. Call me please.
I don’t want to say that I know about Ethan so I hope that she calls me back. As I pick up the pace once I have warned up, I feel so free. It is early in the day, so the air is not too hot yet. I run about two miles then head home to change for church. Jake never goes with us but my parents and sisters are getting ready. I shower then have a quick bagel before we are on our way.
“Did you have a nice date, Harper?” my mom asks on the way to church.
“We saw you guys holding hands at the carnival,” Sara says.
“Why didn’t you say hi if you saw us?” I ask her.
“I don’t know. You looked busy,” she says with a laugh.
My dad changes the subject by asking, “So how is the set coming along?”
“Great”, says Sara, “It’s almost done.”
“It better be. We have full rehearsals on the stage in less than three weeks!” chimes in Ava.
“It’ll be ready,” I say like an expert, from being involved in the theater last year.
After church, I still have no response from Ashley so I text her again.
Let’s get together tonight after rehearsals? I am done at 6:00.
I also text Dan
I am at rehearsals. Have fun at work. Love u.
I know that he works all day and evening since he had off yesterday for our anniversary. He is a manager of the pizza place now so he works a lot on the weekends.
After rehearsals, I drop Ava and Sara off at home and head to Ashley’s since she still never responded to my text. I ring her doorbell five times before she finally answers.
“Did you get my texts?” I ask her.
“Yeah. Sorry, but I don’t feel well,” she mumbles.
“Want to go for a walk or can I come in?”
She steps to the side as she says, “Sure.”
We go to her room and after much prodding she finally tells me about Ethan. She tells me that since she knows how happy Dan and I are and that I was mad that she wouldn’t try out for the play, she was afraid to tell me. I don’t know how she could possibly think that I wouldn’t care. I explain that we have been friends for a long time and even if I were mad, I would always want her to come to me. Even though Dan has never cheated on me, I tell her that things are not always as perfect as they seem. Without telling too many details and criticizing her brother, I tell her that every relationship needs to work through issues. She doesn’t think that her and Ethan will ever get back together since he seems to have a new girlfriend already.
“When you are ready to date again, there will be some wonderful guy waiting for you,” I tell her.
“You really think so Harper?” she asks hopefully.
“Yes. Now let’s go get some ice cream.”
While she washes her face, brushes her hair and changes clothes, I call my mom to ask if I can keep using her car. She says that she doesn’t need it for work and seems happy that I am spending time with Ashley. When Ashley is ready, we head out.
We have so much fun laughing and catching back up, the evening flies by. I don’t tell her about looking at transferring to a new college, but I have plenty to talk about with the play and telling her about Ava and Sara.
When we pull into her driveway, I see that Dan is home from work. I want this evening to be about us, so I tell her that my mom wanted me in early with the car so I say bye. We make plans for later in the week. I am not sure of Dan’s work schedule, but with work and the play, I don’t have that much free time to see her.
“I had so much fun hanging out, Ashley,” I tell her as she gets out of the car.
“Me too Harper. See you Wednesday evening for a movie.”
As I drive home I reflect on what a great week this has been. Not that I am glad that Ethan hurt her, but it was nice to reconnect with her. Things with Dan are going well; I love being part of the play; life is great.
I call Dan when I get home and tell him how much fun Ashley and I had. I tell him about my plans to see a movie with her on Wednesday. Luckily, he is working so he seems happy that I will be with her.
“Maybe you can help her snap out of it,” he says.
I am not sure that a person can snap out of a broken heart but I just say, “Yeah.”
“Well I love you. I am going to bed soon.”
“Night Harper. Love you too.”
I toss and turn for thirty minutes then decide to go downstairs. I hear the TV and decide to go watch a little with whomever is still up. I see that it is Jake, so I say hi as I sit down on the couch.
“What do you want?” Jake scowls.
“Just couldn’t sleep,” I tell him.
“Fine, but no talking,” he says, “I am watching a movie.”
“Okay,” I reply and start watching too.
After about five minutes he says, “I don’t understand you girls.”
I have no idea what he is talking about so I just sit there. Suddenly, he is going on and on about a fight that he had with his girlfriend Kristy and how all she does is complain.
“I never tell her she is pretty. I never do anything that she wants to do. I never talk to her. All I want to do is work on my car and watch TV,” on and on he goes.
I listen and every once in awhile I say, “Uh huh.”
Finally he asks me, “So what do I do?”
After thinking how funny it is that he is asking me, of all people, for relationship advice I say, “Tell her she looks pretty. Do stuff that she wants to do. Talk to her and show her that you do care about her.”
Jake is silent for a few minutes then says, “Fine, but no more talking. I am watching a movie.”
I don’t even say another word and just get up and go back to my room. This day has been crazy, I think as I pull back the covers and climb into my bed.
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