Hurdles

Our relationship. It wasn't sonnet inspiring, the story of it won't make thousands want to listen. But it was complicated and it was special to us. It was certainly more than I bargained for from just seeing a boy with a football helmet across the room.

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12. Twelve

One day after school my parents have gone out with Brie and Daniel for the evening because it's my parents' anniversary and Daniel's birthday so they decided to all go out bowling and for dinner. Why bowling I have no idea but whatever makes them happy I suppose. I'm just sort of moving from room to room, bored out of my mind. I have no idea why I'm bored because I have eleven friends but somehow they're all busy, either with girlfriends or doing homework but then Harry messages me. I realise I missed him out, he just escaped my mind. He says:

Are you bored?

I reply:

Yesss

He doesn't reply but instead I see his car pull up outside a minute later. I roll my eyes as I step outside, going up to his window. He rolls the it down.

"Want to go for a drive?" he asks. "I mean, I went through that u-turn so I'm hoping you'll say yes."

I laugh. "Alright, let me lock up."

I lock the front door and get into the passenger seat and he grins at me. "Thank you. I was bored as hell."

"I know!" I agree. "Where is everybody?"

"Girlfriends and homework and shit." he says, shaking his head. "Ridiculous."

"How dare they have more going on than us!" I say. "Why don't they have nothing to do but hang out with their parents?" 

"God knows." he says and then laughs. "Have you eaten?" 

"Yeah but if you wanna get something, we can go." I tell him and he smiles, putting the indicator on. 

"Awesome. Let's go to that diner I showed you last time."

He parks up and we both get out of the car and as we're walking along towards the diner, I can hear the music coming from the inside and I can already see people moving around through the windows and it looks like a nice place. I've always preferred loud restaurants to quiet ones, I don't know why, so this is exciting to me. 

"I think this is my most American moment yet." I say to him when we get sat down at our table and he laughs, looking up from the menu at me. 

"Really?" 

"Yeah." I say. "I mean, the football game was a close second."

"Was that a very American thing?" he asks. "I thought that was pretty standard."

"Yeah, for you. For me, that was the most exciting thing ever."

"Just because it was American?" he raises an eyebrow. "Not anything to do with our extreme talent?" 

"I mean, you were better than the other team." I smile a little inside, knowing my lack of knowledge must be frustrating him a little bit. "You won. But I don't know what makes a football player good."

"Well, y'know, you knock them over, you run away,  you catch the ball. All very basic stuff."

"If it's all basic stuff, then anybody could do it really right?" I say, dead serious just to annoy him a little more.

"Well, no." he says, frowning and then his face settles a little bit. "Wait, are you kidding?" 

"Yes I'm kidding." I laugh at him and he glares at me but the corners of his mouth are turned up. 

"Well if you take anything away, remember that I'm the quarterback so I'm the best." he teases and then looks down at the menu. "Now what are you having?" 

"Nothing." I say and he raises an eyebrow, still reading through the menu so I explain. "I didn't bring any money, I didn't know we were getting anything. I'm not hungry anyway, it's fine."

"Well do you want a milkshake or something?" he asks, looking up at me. "I can get you a milkshake."

"No no, I'm fine." I say and he smiles at me in a patronising kind of way but not the patronising way I used to hate so much. 

"I can afford a milkshake for you, it's all cool."

"Are you sure?" I ask, feeling bad. "I'll pay you back when I get home."

"Alice, stop." he laughs. "I can spare three dollars." I finally give in and he looks up at me, smiling a little. "Considering you have been so mean recently, you're being polite tonight."

"I have not been mean to you recently!" I protest.

"Yes you have!" he argues but I know he's only teasing. "You tried to stop me from speaking to my new friends."

I groan. "That isn't a thing. They are not your friends, they're mine."

"No no, we've bonded." he shakes his head. "I'm going to England to visit them."

We argue some more over that and then argue some more over when I punched him and whether it really hurt or not but then we joke about things and it goes like that for the whole meal and it's a new kind of atmosphere between us, one where it feels like we're bouncing off each other constantly, flirting even, but it's natural too and I really like it. We're quiet in the car but it's a nice quiet where we're both listening to the song that's on. 

"Is the sunset the prettiest sunset you've ever seen tonight?" he asks in a mocking kind of tone and I narrow my eyes at him. 

"Actually, it is." I say like a matter of fact, looking back at it. "I like all the purple in it."

I don't look at him but I know he's probably got some kind of smirk on his face. When I look at him, he's raising his eyebrows, a smile on his face like he knows best. 

"What?" I say.

"You and your purple in the sunsets." he says and then smiles at me properly. "Wanna go where we went last time?"

"Yeah!" I say. I hadn't even thought of that but I'm happy he suggested it because I love it there. We get there and sit on his car bonnet again and this time I get my phone out to take pictures to show the others back in England. He laughs at me, shaking his head. I laugh too even though I don't know what he's finding funny. 

"What?" 

"You're seriously amazed by this aren't you?" he says but he doesn't sound like he's teasing anymore. "Like, just being here. It's so nice to watch."

"Really?" 

"Yeah." he smiles. "Like I've lived here my whole life, everything's old to me. I like showing you around, seeing you be all excited about everything."

"That's nice." I smile, looking back out at the sky because what he said was so sweet I can't look straight at him. "I like seeing everything. Whatever you can show me, I'm happy to see."

He pauses and then looks at me again. "What about Zilker park?" 

"What are we going to do at Zilker park at this time?" I ask. It's eight now and already the sunset is starting to fade and it's getting dark. 

"Swimming." he says like it's obvious and I go to object but then I think it through a little more. This is the kind of spontaneous, fun thing I always love to happen however rare it is. 

"Okay." I agree and he grins and I swear as soon as that smile appears on his face, everything goes so fast and suddenly we're jumping in the car and driving across to Zilker park and then we're both running through the woods to where the lake is and that's the most fun thing. It may not be rebellious or anything particularly exciting, but when you're younger you just run as fast as you can because it's the thing to do. At this age, there's a novelty to it, to running with everything I have through the woods while he runs ahead of me, laughing and looking back every now and then. 

Time doesn't slow down yet. He pulls his sweater over his head and takes his jeans off and I'm shocked that I'm not even shy to do the same and then we both stand by the lake for the slightest moment before running up and jumping in, both of us screaming just because we can. 

I squeal when we both come up to the surface of the water because it's freezing. "Oh my god. This is the coldest thing I've ever experienced." 

He laughs, treading the water. "We have to come back here in the summer."

"This is another thing I'm finding amazing by the way." I tell him and he smiles at me. 

"Good." 

We're quiet for a moment and then he splashes me so I splash him back and we swim around for a little while longer before we get too cold and it starts to get too late so we get out, putting our clothes back on and there's one moment where I'm complaining how cold I am and he rubs my arms to try and warm me up and he had this little smile on his face it's kind of over before it even begins but when he drops me off back home that night and I'm in bed, that's the moment I keep replaying in my head the most. 

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