These entries from July's challenge were selected as Honorable Mentions. Those who completed this challenge are now encouraged to share their stories in the comments section of the "July Writing Challenge."
“Did you know that I was starting to fall for you when you started going out with him?” he leaned towards me slowly, his long curly hair falling in front of his eyes.
I of course, being the naive girl that I am, had absolutely no idea. I looked down at the sand and blushed; thankfully it was concealed by the flames of the campfire. “No, I didn’t know that.”
We were only friends, had been for almost a year now, and were growing quite close. We often hung out alone together, but never this late. He looked away and sighed, “You shouldn’t be going out with him.”
This topic of conversation came up frequently with my friends as they weren’t a huge fan of my boyfriend. I looked down and started to fidget with my hands as I often did when nervous. Deep down I knew I shouldn’t be dating him. He wasn’t good for me. He made me feel badly about myself and was ruining my relationships with my friends. But I couldn’t help falling for him. I was drawn to him. I just can’t seem to break away. It’s unfair really because I told myself that if he asked me out I’d say no, because I knew it was a bad idea from the start. But he didn’t. He just kissed me and then led me on for a week until I finally had the courage to ask him what was going on.
“I know,” I said sadly with my head hung.
He shook his head. “Then why haven’t you left him?”
I looked up at him and looked into his eyes that were staring into mine. All I could see was pain. Like what I was feeling all the time and I couldn’t seem to switch off. But it wasn’t my fault. I didn’t know he was hurting. I didn’t know he had feelings for me. “You don’t understand. It’s difficult. You can’t help who you fall for.”
“I know,” he said angrily and stormed off in a huff.
I quickly got on my feet and chased after him. “Wait!”
He wasn’t slowing down. In fact, he was gaining speed, and I was struggling to keep up with him. I had to start running until I finally caught up, gasping to catch my breath. “Oh, wow, I made you chase me,” he said arrogantly, which annoyingly I found attractive. He was sitting on the rocks now, high above me.
I looked up at him. “Please come down. I’m sorry that I upset you.”
He turned away. “No, actually I think I like it up here.” I rolled my eyes and started to climb until I could pull myself up beside him. Reluctantly he scooted over to give me some room, still turned away.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t know you had feelings for me.”
He glanced at me over his shoulder. “It’s okay, I should have done something about it.” I put my hand on his thigh, and he turned around to look at me. I gave him a weak smile, which he returned. I laid my head on his shoulder and closed my eyes.
“I know you’re going through a hard time right now,” he said softly. And in that moment I reflected over all the things that were making me feel miserable and realised that he was right. I thought about how important he was to me and how scared I was of losing him. Without realising, tears were streaming down my face, and before I knew it I was sobbing.
“Hey,” he whispered and gently moved my hair behind my ears. I looked up at him and sniffled, suddenly really embarrassed of how gross I must look. But he didn’t seem to care about that. He wiped my tears away and gave me a smile. “I’m here for you, no matter what.” I cried even harder as he pulled me into a hug and I clung to his chest.
“I’ve made a huge mistake.”
“But there’s still time for you to fix it.”
I pulled away and wiped my eyes. “I’m sorry about this. I’m such a mess.”
“Don’t worry about it,” he smiled. “Me too.”
“I’ve ruined everything by going out with him. I’m miserable.” I looked up at him and took in every detail, from his shining eyes to his curls to his lips. And staring right into his eyes, I said, “I shouldn’t be with him. I should be with you.”
His face lit up, and he pulled me towards him and kissed me, catching me completely off guard. It was soft at first but then became less gentle and soon became intense and rough. When we finally broke away, we smiled at each other in disbelief, my stomach filled with butterflies.
The fire danced between the two wanders that sat on either side of it, a red glow painted their faces as they gazed out into the endless horizon. They didn’t speak, yet the silence said more than they could. They had a future full of endless possibilities, yet they sat in the moment, watching as the waves crashed against the shore and rolled back into the ocean. It was oddly metaphoric to their situation, continuing a new chapter to their life in only a short amount of time but soon enough returning to the normal they once knew, repeating the process endlessly. Sitting on the beach without a care in the world, their future didn’t seem to faze them. They seemed ready to venture into the unknown, hand in hand. But at the moment, they just took a moment to enjoy the view, and put worries aside for a moment in the hot summer air, a memory they would hold with them forever.
I’ll never forget this past Saturday. It was the first day of summer, and perhaps one of the most life-changing ones I’ve had thus far.
My best friend, Logan, and I had planned to set up a campfire by the beach that night. It was a tradition we started back after freshman year. Our classmates always throw some sort of rambunctious party celebrating the end of the school year, so we decided to start a less chaotic tradition of our own.
That evening, Logan picked me up in his ancient truck, and we headed for the beach. It’s about 30 minutes from where we live, so we just listened to music and daydreamed on our way there. It felt nice to not have the stresses of school weighing us down anymore.
When we got there, the beach was surprisingly empty, at least where we were anyway. So, we set out to find the perfect place to set up everything. Logan was carrying an insulated bag full of our refreshments while I was carrying my backpack (which was filled with essentials).
“Here,” Logan said with certainty in is voice. “This is where we should set things up.”
At that spot, we were perfectly secluded. So, I fetched a lighter out of my backpack as he began gathering sticks and stones.
Once everything was together and placed as it needed to be, I set the sticks on fire. Our homemade campfire began as a gentle glow and really came alive when we threw more sticks into it. For a good five minutes, we just sat there and watched the flames attack the sticks, which were disappearing more and more with each passing second.
“What did you bring for us?” I said, breaking the silence between us.
“Oh, uh…” He paused as he grabbed the bag and searched through it. “Okay, we got beer and a bunch of junk food.”
“Woah, beer? How did you get that?” I exclaimed. As far as I know, Logan hasn’t ever drunk alcohol, and neither have I. Alcohol is one of the main reasons why we stay away from the parties our classmates throw.
“Luke got it for me,” he replied rather calmly. Luke is Logan’s troublemaker older brother. I’m not surprised.
“Oh, alright,” I said, trying to match his calm demeanor. “Hand me one then.”
He pulled a cold one out of the bag and handed it to me. “Here ya go.”
I took a sip of it and immediately questioned why someone would drink this for pleasure. The bitterness of it was almost too overwhelming.
But after a while, it seemed to become a little more bearable. So, I kept taking small sips of it as we stared out into the wide, never-ending sea.
“Bella, I need to tell you something.” Logan said suddenly and seriously. “But you have to promise not to get mad. I would’ve told you sooner, but I didn’t know how.”
“I promise. What’s up?” My mind immediately came up with tons of scenarios of what might be wrong. None of which were positive. Logan is hardly ever serious. Even if he is, he never phrases things like that. Why would he need me to promise him such a thing? We have a chill friendship. Even if I figured out he was dating my worst enemy, I would be cool with it. Because he’s Logan. Dealing with him, everything is alright. Or so I thought.
“Well, you see, the thing is…” He paused, kind of nervously. “I haven’t been feeling like myself for a while.”
“What do you mean?” I said, anxiously clutching onto the beer bottle that I forgot I still had.
“I’m depressed, Bella,” he said slowly but calmly. “And I don’t know what to do.”
My initial reaction was shock. Logan has always been the type to cheer people up. I can’t tell you how many times he’s dried my tears after some jerk broke my heart. To know that he’s been sad himself surprises me. I’m his best friend. I should’ve noticed! What is wrong with me?
“It’s okay, Logan,” I said, staring up at his face. It was then when I noticed a smooth teardrop gracefully gliding down his cheek.
“No, it’s not,” he got out between sobs. “Sometimes…”
“Sometimes what?” I said desperately.
“Sometimes I… I just feel like things would be better if I weren’t here anymore.” His sobs were violent now. I started cradling him, as if he were a newborn.
“It’s okay,” I replied, sobbing now myself. “Everything will be alright. We’ll get you some help.”
In that moment, nothing mattered more than he did to me. I just wanted him to get better. I just wanted him to be okay.
We have just gathered enough driftwood for the campfire when the sun begins to set. You and I find the perfect in-between from the shore to our tents; I sit down and watch you put your boy scout skills to the test.
I pass you a stick and throw the bag of mallows when you’ve successfully started a flame, and I shift to face the water as I sit on the warm sand. We roast our marshmallows like a proper camping in the wilderness, but with the front seat view of the ocean and a magnificent background of the shifting sky.
You pop the still hot soft candy in your mouth, barely biting it to lessen the burn on your tongue. We laugh at your brief agony. When you finish it, you breathe in the view before saying, “It’s good to be back here, huh? Just taking time and getting our sanity in check after the loaded weeks.” You impale another marshmallow and bring it towards the flame.
This is what we refer to as “our” beach, the only place in the world where we can let the quiet sink in and just forget the chaos in our lives. The only place where we can stop and stare and appreciate the beauty of our surroundings, instead of getting trapped in its stressful ways. But despite the peaceful collision of them all, only one thing in this setting keeps me captivated the most. You.
Your dirty blonde curls dance with the breeze and your blue eyes prove much brighter than the sea. But this is where I cross the line, for you will never understand how much you mean to me.
“It’s always beautiful here,” I answer, building up the courage to say what I’ve always wanted to. “Is it true?” I continue, my heart racing every minute. “That when you tell someone you like them, the feelings just fade away?”
A small smile plasters your face, teasing blue eyes look into me. “Are you finally into someone, kiddo?” you say, and the nickname alone slaps me in the face. “Well? Who is it?” you urge, and I wish I had never brought it up.
“I-hope-you-don’t-hate-me-after-this,” I say in one breath, the waves crashing louder now, embodying the thoughts in my head. Your expression falters for a second, either you didn’t hear what I said or you understood every single word. “I like you,” I finally blurt out, and then I want the sand to just swallow me whole.
Your eyebrows furrow a bit, gears in your mind twisting and turning, until you are forced to believe what I really meant. I wish you had taken your time to think about it, but I know you really didn’t need to. The now rough waters is the perfect representation of how I feel.
“I’m sorry, Bryan,” and it’s all you had to say.