When I woke up in the morning, my right arm was holding something soft close to me. My covers kept its distance from my face, staying just below my neck. My eyes were glued to the ceiling, but something about it was different. A moment later, the light bulb lit up above my head when I realized there wasn't a ceiling fan. I looked around the room I was in and noticed I was in my dads' house. The first thought that crossed my mind after the sudden realization was Emily. I was in that room because of Emily. Instead of wondering about her, I used my free hand and removed the covers from myself. I saw that what I was holding was Cotton, my old stuffed animal.
While a blush filled my cheeks, I placed Cotton on the pillow next to me and sat up. I rubbed my face in hopes of rubbing away how tired I was. It didn't work, and I sighed as I got out of bed and walked to the bathroom across the hall. Unfortunately, I found the door closed and locked. Groaning, I ran a hand through my hair and stood impatiently outside the door. It didn't occur to me that it was Emily inside and that my dads had already left for work. When the door opened and a wave of warm, humid air attacked me, I stood paralyzed seeing Emily standing in front of me.
"Oh, you're finally awake. Morning, Blondie." Emily smiled while holding her towel in place around her.
Her hair was wet, but it wasn't dripping with water. Her skin had this glow I never noticed before and I found myself staring at her like some creep who's on the verge of drooling over food- not that Emily is anything close to food and I want to eat her, although I was hungry.
"Uh, morning." I said softly and blinked a few times after realizing she probably thought I was a freak just staring dumbly at her.
I quickly stepped aside and let Emily walk past me. She kept her smile on her face and I let my eyes follow her until she disappeared into the guest room at the end of the hall. While shaking out all the unnecessary thoughts of Emily from my head, I walked in the bathroom and locked the door behind me. Minutes later I was walking in my room to find Emily sitting on my bed- that still needed to be made, but would probably stay a mess. I was relieved to see she hadn't noticed Cotton and found myself gawking at her for wearing one of my old t-shirts.
"Hey Emily." I spoke up, trying to suppress the stupid blush I knew was bound to come. I failed.
"I hope you don't mind me borrowing your clothes." I shrugged my shoulders, not feeling the courage to speak to her.
"Your room is cool. I like the action figures you have on your bookshelf. I take it you weren't much of a reader."
"Uh, yeah, I wasn't." This blush was like a permanent mark on my cheeks and the burning sensation didn't seem to fade. The worst part about it was that Emily chose to look back at me and smile.
"Are you okay? You make a cute strawberry, but you're scaring me." I noticed her bite the inside of her cheek, so I took the opportunity to cough before I answered.
"I'm okay, yeah." I nodded and rubbed the back of my neck. Clearly, she was doing something that was making me act weird.
"Good. I'll heat up your breakfast while you change."
I nodded my head as she stood up from my bed, but right when she walked by me, I registered what she said.
"Your dad made breakfast, so I'll heat it up for you while you change to save time." Emily explained before walking out of my room and shutting the door behind her.
I stared at my door trying to process what happened. Emily is offering to heat up my breakfast while I change my clothes. Why do I find this to be such a big deal? Is the world starting to end? Is up the new down? Maybe I'm in some other dimension. This could be some parallel universe. Wait, she's probably going to do something to my food. I should brace myself.
Emily was staring out of the window while I laced up my shoes by the door. She had taken my only black jacket because there was a good chance there would be rain. By the time I was pulling the last knot tight, Emily had opened the door and stepped outside. She immediately titled her head up and stared at the dark gray sky. It was like she was expecting something, probably rain, any second. I quickly locked the front door and stood beside her.
"I don't like getting wet."
"Then you better prepare yourself because it's going to rain today."
"Is this why you moved to Arcade?"
"No, I prefer the ugly weather."
Emily nodded her head before putting on my jacket and walking to my truck. I quickly followed her and right when I got inside, she placed her hand on my arm and gave me this look that worried me. She took a few moments just looking at me until she finally said something.
"Thank you for bringing me here."
"You don't have to-"
"You could have turned around."
"No, I couldn't have. I was unintentionally driving home."
"Well, thanks anyways."
"Before you start your truck, I need to ask you something."
"Can we make a stop at some place so I can pick up smokes and a lighter?"
I rolled my eyes and started the truck feeling slightly annoyed because I thought Emily had a serious question to ask me. As I drove around trying to think of some place I could take Emily, I noticed she had put the hood of my jacket over head and slumped in the seat. Not wanting to drive in silence again, I turned on the radio and scanned through the stations until I found a familar song. I smiled like an idiot at the lucky song.
"Shut up, I'm listening to the song." I chuckled at Emily's reaction to Heart-Shaped Box playing. She turned the volume up and for the first time ever, I heard her singing along with the song like she memorized every word and break in the song.
"This should be our song."
"Don't people do that? Like, there's this song they both really like and it becomes their song."
"Yeah, but... are you sure you want this song to be our song?"
"I think it should be. It's a good song."
"Let's keep our options open."
The next song on the radio that played made Emily shriek and turn up the volume even louder. It sounded a little depressing and slow. But again, she knew every word and as soon as the lyrics started, she sang along again.
"What song is this?"
"You have got to be fucking kidding me."
"Don't talk to me right now."
"Just shut up."
I huffed and waited until the song finished for Emily to say something, but she was just as excited for the next song. At least the truck wasn't quiet. When I reached a red light, Emily finally stopped singing, but kept a smile on her face.
"What was the last song?"
"Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin. This one is Nothing Else Matters by Metallica."
"These songs are so sad and depressing."
"You are so weird."
"I like the Led Zeppelin one better."
"Of course you do."
"What does that mean?"
"You would be into The Who if they came on or The Rolling Stones. What if Black Sabbath played?"
"I've heard of The Who and The Rolling Stones. Who's Black Sabbath?"
"Oh my god, the band Ozzy Osbourne performed with."
"Do you like Pink Floyd and AC/DC?"
"What do you listen to?"
"Do you like Queen?"
"Yeah, I like Freddie Mercury."
"Fucking hell, of course you do."
"I know the perfect place to take you."
"Were you seriously driving around aimlessly?"
"You took me to a record store?"
"This place looks cool. Wait, is that... holy shit."
I laughed at Emily as she went to the rock section where the vinyls were and immediately flicked through them. When I caught up to her, she was holding a used copy of some band I've probably heard of, but don't recall them.
"This is Appetite for Destruction by Guns N' Roses. I wanted to by it at the record store in Arcade, but they didn't have it."
"Want it?" I asked, surprising myself for how quickly it came out.
"Ok." I took it from her hands and held onto it as she stared at me like I had grown five heads and had one eyeball. I swear I saw a thing like that on one record I passed by and my reaction was hers at the moment.
"I may be here for like an hour just browsing. This place is huge and awesome."
"We can be here for two hours, I don't mind."
"You know, you never answered my quesiton."
"What kind of music you like."
"Uh, anything. So when did you get into, um, rock music?"
"I heard the neighbor blasting Welcome to the Jungle every Saturday night when I lived with my mom. The music grew on me. I am very selective, though."
"Do you like The Who and Queen?"
"Honestly, only a little. I think The Rolling Stones are better, but that's because I am biased."
"You have a unique taste for music."
I had expected some snark comment or some snide remark, but she was soon lost in the records. I had never seen Emily so happy about something before. She looked like a child in a toy store going from one place to another as if she had a short attention span. Every vinyl and CD she recognized, she would show it to me and tell me a couple of her favorite songs. I had no idea she was so into music before, and I just loved how excited she would get when she found another record.
We only stayed in the record store, Crash and Strain, for an hour. I had tried to buy Emily the vinyl she wanted, but she gave me this killer look and I couldn't continue with the transaction. So, she ended up purchasing the vinyl herself with a pleased smile on her face until we went outside. It was raining. It wasn't pouring rain, but it was enough to cause Emily to grumble about how she hates rain and being wet. There was a slight breeze making the air colder and the rain go everywhere.
"The weather is a mood killer." Emily said as soon as we were settled in my truck.
"Not really. Now I can take you to my favorite place when it rains."
"Is it some place warm and dry?"
"I'm not a fan of surprises."
"If I tell you, you'll make me drive us home."
"Watch your step."
"Why do we have to walk in the rain? Where are you taking me?"
"We're almost there."
"This is horrible. You call this place your favorite?"
We were almost at the place and I started to question why I thought the idea was a brilliant one. The ground was already covered with water and Emily followed me as I carefully led the way on the paved path through the trees until I reached a bridge over a creek.
"Okay, you're going to have to hold my hand because the ground is slippery."
"What the hell?"
"Just trust me."
"Are we going under that bridge?"
"Maybe, now please take my hand. I don't want you to fall because there's poison ivy in certain spots."
"You're an idiot."
"I know, so are you coming?"
"You said it would be warm."
I took off my jacket and gave it to Emily to put on over the black one, but she just stared at it in my hands. The rain wasn't as bad anymore and was slowly letting up. When Emily shook her head implying she didn't want my jacket, I sighed and put it back on.
"What's so special about some stupid bridge that's bigger than it should be?"
"Fine, I'll go."
Emily took my hand, lacing her fingers between mine, and carefully followed me under the bridge. She did slip once, but I caught her before she could fall down. Once we were under the bridge, I heard her gasp at the sight. The bridge was made of wood, and though it looked old, it was only built a few years ago. Under the bridge, you could see the carvings people did over time. Most were at eye-level, but some escaped towards the top and bottom.
"So you come here when it rains and creep on what other people did?"
"When you say it like that, it doesn't sound as fun."
"What's your favorite spot?" I pointed to other side.
"If I tell you, you will definitely call me a creep. You wouldn't like that side."
"What's on that side?"
"Did you see the one of the guy on a horse? The detail is incredible."
Emily rolled her eyes at my attempt to change the subject and crossed her arms before turning to face the opposite side. Being her stubborn self, she walked to the edge of the creek. Carefully reaching one leg across the water- the creek is really small- she walked across and stared at the other side. I waited for her to say something, but instead she laughed. Her laughter made me feel even worse about myself, so I walked across and stood beside her.
"What's so funny?"
"The fact that these people think they'll be together forever, when in fact, most of them won't be."
"That's because of your obvious death reason which is just a fact of life."
"Also, some of these people are hopeless teenagers."
"So what? They're in love."
"This side is your favorite?"
"I've always wanted to do this, but I never had someone to do it with."
"Didn't you have that one girlfriend?"
"She refused to come down here. She probably thought there was a troll, rats, or spiders."
"That must have been a terrible relationship."
"I liked her, though."
"Until she broke up with you."
"We were still friends."
"Of course. We just didn't hold hands anymore." I smiled.
"What about now?"
"What about now?"
"Do you still want to do this?"
"Unlike you, I hope to have a girlfriend, and yes. I would like to carve our names in a heart. You can make fun of me, but I don't care."
"I can't see you defacing something."
"Well, I'd show you right now, but I don't have anything to use."
"Or a girlfriend."
I felt this weight of sadness placed on top of me after Emily reminded me. It was like she reminded me that I couldn't think of her more than just a friend. In that moment, I realized it would be pointless for me to ever make a move in the future because she doesn't believe in that stuff and she could never be persuaded otherwise. For the rest of the time we were there, I stood around with my hands shoved in my pockets and listened to Emily torture me as she read aloud all the couples' names and what they wrote. At that point, I really didn't care much for the rest of the day or anything. Emily said the rain was a mood killer, but she murdered my mood.