Wednesday, January 29, 2020

A Short Story: Bravery Reimagined

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By. Jessica B. 

This story is dedicated to  
all the imaginary friends  
and of course, the people to whom they belong. 

"You don't need me anymore," said the purple dinosaur, who sat on the blue-sheeted 
bed. “You’ve grown-up." 
“Of course, I need you! I wouldn’t be the same without you, Bertie!”  said a 14-year-old blonde boy with pale skin and gray eyes who sat on his bed next to the dinosaur. 
“Let’s face it, you don’t need an imaginary friend anymore; you don’t cry over going to school or-” started the dinosaur. 
Then a knock came on the front door and the boy stood up.  
“Who’s that?” asked 
“Naomi Summers, I kind of invited her over to watch a monster movie with me.” 
“That’s another thing, George; girls! You’ve begun to think about them, it’s not just about baseball anymore! Look at the facts, you don’t need me! 
“It’s not like that!” 
The knock came harder on the front door. “George? George, are you there?” 
“I gotta go.” George raced out of his bedroom, down the stairs, and over to the front door. He opened it, slightly out of breath.  
14-year-old girl with curly ginger hair, olive skin, and dark eyes stood, smiling, in the doorway.  
“Hi, George,” she said.  
“Hi,” he smiled back, stepping out of the doorway.  
She walked in, looking around.  
“It’s not much, I know. Nothing like your place, nothing at all.” George moved over to where she stood.  
“I don’t like my place much, there’s no place you can really be alone or hang out with your friends. I like your house, it’s cozy.” She smiled at him. “Do you have your own room?” 
“Yeah, don’t you?” 
“It doesn’t really feel like my room; it seems it always needs cleaning.” She laughed. “So, what movie are we going to watch?” 
“The Vampire from the Mist? I guess.” 
“Sure.” 
They walked into the semi-cluttered kitchen.  
“Do you like popcorn, Naomi?” 
Doesn’t everybody? 

A few minutes later, George was seated on the small living room couch, the popcorn bowl sitting in his lap, next to Naomi 
The movie vampire, Count Dunkan, popped out of the thick shadows, and Naomi jumped, moving closer to George and reached her hand into the popcorn bowl.  
He looked at her, then awkwardly put his arm around her shoulders and turned back to the movie.  
“See, you really don’t need me,” whispered a voice in his ear. “You can think for yourself.” 
“Get out of my ear,” muttered George.  
“Hmm?” Naomi turned to him.  
“Nothing.”   

After the movie had finished, George removed his arm from around Naomi 
“It was nice watching that movie with you,” she smiled. 
“Yeah.” 
“I should be going, don’t want to worry my mother. Sorry.” 
“It’s fine, it’s not your fault.” he stood up. “I really hope I can see you some other time.” 
She stood up too. “That would be nice.” 
I’ll give you a last favor,” whispered a voice in George’s ear. “Walk her home, then ask her to the Halloween dance. Goodbye, it’s been nice.” 
“Wait,” said George. “Don’t go!” 
“What?” Naomi turned; she had been about to open the door. “I’m sorry, I have to go.” 
“Oh, er…may I walk you home?” 
She smiled. “Sure.” 

The Summers house was medium sized and attractive with a large white front porch.  
“Thanks for taking me home, you didn’t have to,” Naomi smiled. “Think you can meet me tomorrow at the ice cream shop?” 
“Yeah, I guess so. I’ll have to check with my mother you know.” 
“Well, goodbye.” She reached for the doorknob.  
“Wait, will you go to the…er dance with…me?” 
“Oh! Oh, sure... Yeah, yeah. I…” she moved towards him, quickly kissed his cheek, then raced inside.  
He touched the place she had kissed, turning and walking away from the house.  
When he walked up the pathway to his front door, he saw his older brother’s car.  
What happened to you, you look like you’ve seen a ghost,” said the 16-year-old boy from inside the car. “Something happen?” 
“I…I asked a girl out.” George stumbled his way up to the front door. “To the dance.” 
“Wonder where you got the courage to do that?”  
“I…I don’t know. It just kind of came to me. Is mum home, Dan?” 
Nope, it’s just you, me and Angel.” 
“Angel?” 
Dan stepped out of the car. “Angelina, my girlfriend. She’s helping me sew our costumes.” 

George sat across from Naomi in a booth inside Ricky’s malt shop on John Street.  
What’s your costume for the dance?”  asked Naomi, leaning over the table towards George and stirring her chocolate milkshake with a silver spoon absentmindedly.  
“Oh, uh…I don’t know,” he replied, sipping his birthday cake shake.  
“I’m going to be a princess.” 
George looked at her for a second, not knowing what to say. Bertie would know exactly what to say, he thought, missing his old friend.  
“There’s not something wrong with that, is there? I mean, I could be something else. I have a trunk full costumes, anything you like,” Naomi said.  
“Uh… no, no! It’s a nice costume, I mean you’ll look good.” 
“You don’t like it, do you?” she sighed.  
“It’s not that, I…I just have someone else on my mind.” 
“Who? Some other girl you wished you had asked instead of me?” 
“No! Nothing like that, I…I want to go with you.” 
She smiled. “I didn’t think you had another girl on your mind.” She moved her hand across the table and touched his.  
He looked into her eyes; which were a lovely shade of deep green 
She leaned forward, looking into his eyes.  
He leaned a little forward, knocking his milkshake onto her.  
“George!” She stood up, looking down at her black turtleneck sweater. “You’ve ruined my only black sweater!” 
“I’m so sorry, Naomi!” He stood up also, grabbing a napkin and handing it to her. “I…I didn’t mean to, I’m sorry!” 
“Oh, George.” Naomi looked at him. “I’m going home to change. I’ll see you at the dance this weekend.” She walked towards the door.  
“Wait!” George rushed over to her. “I’ll take you home.” 
“No!” she said sharply. “George, I think you’ve done enough for me today.” She patted his shoulder. “Good-bye. 

Halloween night arrived quickly, but George still didn’t have a costume.  
“Dan.” He stuck his head into his brother’s room. “I need a costume.” 
“I’m busy.” Dan threw a tan jacket at his younger brother, then returned to fitting his girlfriend into her angel costumeDan was already in his devil costume.  
George looked at the jacket for a second, then still holding it walked back into his bedroom.  
Bertie would know what to do with this, he thought. A black tie in his open closet fluttered next to a pair of brown pants.  
“Bertie?” he asked hopefully, but no reply came.  
He put on a white button-up shirt, the tan jacket, a brown pair of pants, and some white socks with black shoes, then looked at himself in the mirror.  
“I look stupid,” he muttered.  
“George,” said a woman’s voice from the doorway, “you look so handsome and you’ve grown up so much.” 
He turned, his mother stood in the doorway, beaming at him.  
She was walked over, embracing him tightly. “My little lad’s grown up to a young man.” She released him, holding his head in her hands and kissed his forehead.  
“Mum, let me go.” 
“Oh, that’s right you’re going to pick up your girlfriend.” 
“She’s not my girlfriend.” 
His mother smiled and kissed his forehead again. “Good luck, sweetheart.” Then left.  
He sighed, then with one last glance in the mirror followed her.  

The Summers house was covered in cotton cobwebs and hairy plastic spiders, the front yard was littered with fake tombstones and zombie hands and feet. 
George rang the doorbell which emitted a female scream.  
Mr. Summers answered the door, dressed as a vampire. “Hallo, George, come to pick up Naomi?” 
George nodded.  
“Naomi, George is here for you,” called Mr. Summers.  
A girl wearing a black 1920’s style dress and pearl necklace with matching earrings walked over to the door, her ginger hair was tied up into a bun atop her head and her eyelids were dusted with golden eyeshadow.  
George didn’t recognize her for a second. “Naomi?” 
She smiled stepping through the door frame.  
“Have fun, you two.” Mr. Summers closed the door.  
 “I suppose we have matching costumes,” said Naomi.  
“You…you’re…you’re so…so,” he started.  
“Your pretty handsome yourself.” She smiled 
“Yeah.” He blushed. “What about your princess costume?” 
“It didn’t fit, but I guess it worked out. I mean, we’re a 20’s couple, I guess.” 
“I don’t know.” 
“Why didn’t you tell me you were going to wear that?” 
“Last minute idea?” 
She laughed. 
“Hey, Naomi, who’s your little boyfriend?” called Charles, a schoolmate of theirs. 
“He’s not my boyfriend,” she called back, taking his hand in hers.  
“You want to walk with us to the dance?” Charles asked  
I guess so.” She walked over to him, holding George’s hand.  

The dance was held in the city hall, which was decorated to fit the occasion with two witches on either side of the door and orange, purple, and black streamers hanging from the ceiling. Carved pumpkins decorated the corners of the large room, a band dressed as dapper sugar skulls played a waltz on the stage, and a table of refreshments lined one wall with candy eyeballs floating in the green punch.  
Many couples were dancing in varied costumes that ranged from Frankenstein’s monster and his bride to Cleopatra and Julius Cesar.  
“Shall we dance?” asked Naomi, sweeping George onto the dancefloor   
 “Er…Naomi, I don’t really know how to dance.” 
“It’s easy, just follow me.” She placed one of his hands on her waist, placed her hand on his shoulder, and held his other hand in hers.  
As they began to dance, George immediately stepped on her foot.  
“So sorry,” he muttered, blushing.  
“It’s fine, you just need to fall into the rhythm of the dance.” 
After a few minutes without having him step on her feet, she shifted both of his hand on to her waist and put her arms around his neck. They were almost alone on the dancefloor now.  
He looked into her eyes.  
She smiled, placing her head on his shoulder.  
Something hit him in the back, and he turned, slipping of a banana peel and falling to the ground.  
Many of the people laughed, and George turned scarlet and raced out of the room.  
“I wonder where the little cry baby is going,” jeered a beefy boy dressed as a vampire.  
The girls that surrounded him giggled.  
“Why don’t you dance with me, beautiful,” he called to Naomi.  

Meanwhile, George sat sobbing on a stone bench outside of the city hall, his head in his hands.  
I’m no good with girls! I can’t dance! I’m such a fool!” 
You’re not a fool and you can dance,” said a girl’s voice as someone sat down next to him.  
“Don’t kid yourself. I’m an ugly fool.” 
“I don’t think so.” She lifted his face from his hands. “I like you.”  
“I’m crazy, I thought I could just ask out the most popular girl in school and be fine.” 
“I don’t think you’re crazy.”  
“Naomi,” George said. “This may sound strange to you, but I had an imaginary friend called Bertie, who used to help me. It was his idea that I ask you out, because he knew I liked you. You probably don’t believe me, do you?” 
“I had an imaginary friend called Pinky, she helped me too. Told me to accept your invitation and to ask you to meet me at the ice cream shop.  She left a few days ago.” 
“Mine left a few days ago too. I really miss him.” 
“I miss Pinky, but it kind of feels like…like….” 
“Like they’re still watching over us.” 
He looked into her eyes, then saw something right behind her. 
George, what is it?” She glanced behind her. “Are you alright?” 
“Do you want to, you know, go back in?” 
“What?” She looked back at him.  
He stood up. “I mean, you want to have a…. a glass of punch with me?” 
She smiled, standing up. “Sure.” She took his hand and they walked back into the city hall. 
The beefy boy dressed as a vampire was dancing with a slender blonde.  
“Looks like the little cry baby has returned. Your girlfriend plead you to come back?” he jeered.  
George glanced at him, but Naomi squeezed his hand and steered his towards the refreshment table.  
“Green or blue?” she asked.  
“What?” 
“Green or blue eyeball?” 
“Blue.” 
She scooped some acid green punch, with a single blue eyeball floating on the top into a glass.  
He smiled “I’m sorry I spilled my milkshake on you, that I stepped on your feet, that I ran off.” 
“You didn’t mean to spill your milkshake on me or step on my feet. I understand why you ran away.” She touched his arm. “You were embarrassed and uncomfortable. I’m not a very good dancer anyway.” 
I liked dancing with you. I’ve never danced with a girl before.”  

Later that night, after some dancing, punch drinking, and cupcake eating, George sat on the porch swing of the Summers house, next to Naomi.  
“It was nice being with you,” she said.  
George didn’t answer, unsure what to say. It was his first real date with a girl. He looked out at the moon- and streetlamp as it lit sidewalk, trees swaying gently in the breeze and he smell of the scent of pumpkin and spice 
She sniffed as a teardrop rolled down her cheek. “I…. I don’t t-think I’ll be popular anym-more.” 
“What not?” he looked at her.  
“P-pinky made m-me popular, she m-made me who I…. I am.”  
“Well, uh…. you don’t need to be popular.” 
She was sobbing now. “I’ll l-lose all m-my friends and-” she hid her face in her hands. “you’ll hate m-me, you’ll t-think I’m a spoiled b-brat.” 
He put an arm around her shoulders. “I…. I don’t think your spoiled. You just have…. have some money.” 
“T-too much money, I…. I k-know what you’re t-thinking.” 
“That’s not what I’m thinking.” 
She sobbed into her hands for a second. 
“Look, I don’t care about your money. I like being with you.” 
She raised her head and looked at him;  he thought she looked pretty even when she was crying, the golden eyeshadow was still sticking to her eyelids and the blush had trails of tears run thorough it.  
“Here.” He pulled a napkin from his pocket, she took it and wiped her eyes, then looked at him.  
“It’s getting late, I should go in,” she said.  
“I guess so.” 
She stood up and smiled at him; her tear stained face glowing in the moonlight. “Good-night.” 
He stood up too. “Will you go with me somewhere tomorrow?” 
“Where?” 
“It’s a surprise, will you?” 
“What time?” 
“Lunch time.” He looked at her, hoping she would agree.  
“Sure.” She moved forward and hugged him. “Thank you.” 
“For what?” he put his arms around her. 
“Letting me be myself, understanding.” 
The front door of the Summers house opened, and they released each other.  
Naomi turned; her eight-year-old sister stood in the doorway.  
Mummy thought she heard somebody. She’s been wondering where you were,” the little girl said.  
“Tell her I’ll be right in.” 
The little girl didn’t move.  
“Jan, please, give us a moment,” smiled Naomi. “Alone.” 
When Jan didn’t budge, Naomi turned back to George. “It was nice being with you, George. I’ll see you tomorrow, good-night.” She kissed his cheek.  
“Mummy! Mummy! She kissed the boy! She kissed the boy!” Jan ran into the house, leaving the door wide open.  
Naomi smiled and rolled her eyes. “Always the little tattle-tale.” 

The next day, which was slightly cloudy, Naomi opened the door and found George standing on her front porch.  
“Hello,” she said, smiling at him.  
“Hi. Are you ready? I mean, to go with me?” he asked.  
“Sure.” She stepped out of the doorframe. “You brought your bike.” She looked at a red bicycle with a wicker basket on the front, leaned against the stairs of the porch as they walked towards it. “Are we going far?” 
“Not too far, no.” He climbed onto his bicycle. “Come on.” 
She climbed on the bicycle behind him, putting her arms around his waist 
A few minutes later, they arrived at a lake and stopped by a beech tree.  
“It’s beautiful, but where are we? I haven’t seen this place before.” She climbed off the bike.  
“You wouldn’t have. This is my great uncle’s private estate.”  
“He lets you be here?” 
“He…... he’s sick most of the time, my aunt cares for him, she lets me come here, to be alone.” George sighed heavily and turned his back to Naomi.  
“I’m sorry,” she said softly. “I didn’t…. I didn’t know.” 
He took a blanket from the wicker basket and spread it out under the tree, placing the basket in a corner.  
“It… it’s really beautiful here.” Naomi sat down next to George, as he pulled out a plate of sandwiches   
“I wasn’t sure what kind you would like, so I had my mum make a few different kinds.” He pulled out two bottles of water.  
She looked at the different types of sandwiches; salami, deviled ham, cucumber, roast beef, and peanut butter and jelly.  
“You didn’t have to make her make these,” she said, looking at him.  
“Oh, she was glad to, excited that I have a girlfriend.” 
“Am I your girlfriend?” 
“Oh! Uh… you know how parents are, always over thinking things.” He was blushing slightly. “Want a sandwich?” 
“Answer me honestly, am I your girlfriend?” 
He looked down at a ladybug in the grass, then she placed a hand on his hand, and he looked into her eyes. “I… I don’t know. I’ll think about it, er…. will you have a sandwich?” 
They both reached for a roast beef sandwich.  
You have it.” He moved his hand away.  
She picked it up and held it to his lips. “Take a bite, George.” 
Naomi, I....” 
“Please.” 
He looked from her to the sandwich, then gingerly took a bite.  

A few minutes and sandwiches later, they were laughing.  
“Your cat really did that?” George laughed.  
“Yeah, Devon was a real crazy cat, would do anything for food.” 
“I wish I had a cat.” 
Naomi looked at him for a second, wetting her lips. “I’m getting a kitten of my own, do you… I.” she smiled nervously, “I mean, would…. would you…. like to help me…. name it?”  
“Yeah, of course! Thanks! 
“I was just thinking; I mean you’ve done so much for me and…. you’re very sweet, I’ve never met a boy like you.” She moved towards him, touching his hand and blushing 
They looked at each other for a second, then he moved forward and kissed her.  
It took her a few moments to fully realize what he was doing.  
She pulled away, touching her lips and tucking a bit of hair behind her ear.  
He’d turned scarlet, his mouth slightly open, surprised at his own actions. 
A raindrop splattered down upon her nose and she smiled, then settled herself next to him.  
She shivered and a few more raindrops splatter down on them.  
He slipped off his jacket, which was a bit too big, and draped it over both of their shoulders.  
She moved closer to him, putting her arm around his waist and leaning her head against him.  
They sat in silence for a few seconds, George half wondering if he’d really kissed her.  
“George!” called a woman’s voice. 
“That’s Aunt Zelda,” he whispered, slipping the jacket completely off his shoulders and standing up. “Yes, Auntie?” 
What are you doing out here in the rain? For Pete’s Sake, dear, you’ll catch cold!” said Aunt Zelda, who was plump with short-cut golden hair. “Come on in, will you.” 
“Stand up,” whispered George to Naomi.  
She stood up, holding his jacket over her shoulders.  
Aunt Zelda looked at Naomi for a second, then addressed George. “George dear, I have a little cake left if you two want it.” 
“Sure, Auntie.” He grabbed his bike.  

The next day, which just happened to be Sunday, George sat on the ground under the large oak in his front yard, scribbling out the homework he had forgotten to do on Saturday evening 
“Hey, Georgie!” called Charles from the sidewalk. “When’s your wedding?” He laughed, then ran off.  
“What’s that supposed to mean?” George called after him, not have the faintest idea of what he meant. 
A moment later, Naomi rushed over to him, looking angry.  
“Why’d you tell them?” she demanded.  
“What?” 
“You know what!” 
“Naomi, sit down and explain.” 
She sighed. “You told them about where you took me yesterday, all about it! Everything I said and did, they know, even about you kissing me! How could you?” 
He looked at her for a second, barely understanding, he hadn’t said a word about any of it, especially about their kiss, to anyone. He hadn’t even told his mother.  
“I…. I didn’t! It’s just between us! I wouldn’t…” he stammered.  
“You think I believe you, George?”  
I swear to you I didn’t!” He stood up. “Please, I don’t know how they knew, but I didn’t tell them!” 
“You expect me to believe you?” she moved forward. “I wouldn’t have let you let you kiss me or even take me out, if I had known you would tell!” 
“I thought you wanted to be my girlfriend!” 
“Yeah, but I didn’t want the whole world to know about you kissing me behind a tree!” she screamed, shoving him backwards.  
“I didn’t even tell anyone, not even my mum!” he stumbled backwards, nearly losing his balance.  
“I never want to see you again, you liar!” she stalked away. 
He watched her for a second, then turned, gathered up his things, and walked into his house. 
He stormed up to his bedroom. “Women, I just don’t understand them!” 
“Something wrong?” Dan stuck his head the room.   
“Yeah, she said that I told them about…... about our date!” 
“You went on a date with a girl?” Dan sat down next to his younger brother. “You’ve grown up  
so much!”  
“Shut up will you! Yeah, I went on a date with a girl, down by great uncle’s pond! She thinks I told everyone about it, but I didn’t!” 
“Can I give you a bit of advice?” 
“Sure, go ahead, I’ve already told you more than mum knows.” 
“If I were you, not saying that I’d want to be, I’d hunt down that piece of scum who found out about my date.” 
“Don’t know how I’d do that.” 
“Go ask your girl who she overheard talking about it.” 
“Can’t. 
“Why not?” 
“She doesn’t want to see me anymore, murder me if I come over.” 
Dan smirked. “I wouldn’t mind have you gone, but seeing as mum would kill me for that, I’ve got an idea.” 

George stood on the Summers front porch holding a rose and a box of chocolates. He glanced nervously behind him at Dan, who nodded. 
He gingerly stretched out a finger and rang the doorbell. 
It was swiftly opened by Naomi, who looked slightly as if she had been crying.  
“Oh, it’s you. What do you want?” 
“I…. I wanted to say I’m sorry and,” he held up the rose and chocolate box, “give you these.” 
She looked at the rose and box for a second, and her face seemed to soften, then she looked back at him, and her face hardened again. “I don’t want your apology and I don’t want your gifts!” She began to shut the door.  
“Naomi, please, just tell who you heard talking about us!” He shoved himself against the door, trying to keep it open.   
“Don’t act like you don’t know, George! Charles! Charles, you told Charles first! He told me, and he’d make a much better boyfriend than you!” She slammed the door.  
George sighed and walked over to where Dan stood.  

The next day afterschool, George watched Charles walk Naomi home.  
“Well, I didn’t ask to be told all about your date, did I?” Charles said, trying to grasp her hand.  
“Of course not.” She moved her hand away.  
“But you were quite pretty in that flowered dress.” 
“What?” 
“He said you were pretty.” 
“Oh.” She smiled. “He’s very sweet.” 
“You’re forgetting you broke up with him, because he talked about your date.” 
She looked down at her feet. “He really shouldn’t have. I guess he just couldn’t help himself.” 
“No,” said Charles sharply. “He wanted to embarrass you.” 
“I don’t think he meant to, he just-” 
“He wanted to embarrass you; he isn’t in love with you!” 
They reached the Summers porch, George who had been following hid behind a bush.  
“Nice of you to take me home.” Naomi forced a smiled. “Good-bye.” She reached for the doorknob.  
“Don’t you want to thank me a bit more for taking you home, you know I didn’t have to.” Charles grabbed her wrist.  
“W-what do you mean?” she looked at the hand that tightly gripped hers, then at his face.  
“Like a kiss on the cheek, like you did for your ex-boyfriend.” He moved a little closer.  
A look of disgust flashed over her face and she opened her mouth as if to say something, then closed it  
again. “I…. I, well….” 
George couldn’t stand it anymore, he had to do something. “Hey, Charles!” he stood up. “I need a word with you, now!” 
Charles released Naomi, who fled into her house, and turned to face George.  
“What?” 
“Come a little closer.” George reached into his jeans pocket.  
 Charles moved forward a little and cracked his knuckles, he stood about a foot taller than George.  
“Did you find out about my date?” 
“So what if I did?” 
“How?” 
“I watched, how else? It was disgusting, the way she held that sandwich to your lips, how you put your coat over her shoulders, and the way you two kissed! You should have seen your face afterwards,” he sneered.  
“Thanks, that’s all I needed.” George reached into his pocket again, then brushed past the larger boy and knocked on the front door.  
Jan, Naomi’s younger sister, answered. “Naomi, it’s a boy for you.” 
“Which one?” called Naomi from another room.  
Jan looked up at George. “It’s the one you was kissing.” 
Naomi walked over to the door. “George.” 
He smiled. 
“What do you want?” her voiced sounded falsely angry.  
“Can we go for a walk?” 
She hesitated. “Can’t you tell me here?” 
“It would be better if we were…. more alone.” 
Ooooh!” said Jan. “You gonna kiss her again? I’ll go tell mummy.” 
“Jan, you’ll do no such thing.” Naomi put a hand on her younger sister’s shoulder. “I’m sure if he…. wanted to kiss me he’d…. he’d….” 
“Can we walk, please?” 

A few minutes later, George walked next to Naomi, holding a little tape recorder.  
“You should have seen your face afterwards!” Charles voice came out of the tape recorder.  
George pressed a button on the recorder and shoved it into his pocket, then looked at Naomi.  
She looked at him for a second, then smiled. “You really didn’t tell?” 
“I wouldn’t do that.” 
“So, he followed us to your great uncle’s lake?” 
“I guess so.” 
             “It really isn’t a big deal, is it? I mean, everyone knowing about ….us?” 
“That’s the thing, only a few people know about us; Charles, Aunt Zelda, my older brother, you, and me.” 
She smiled, putting an arm around his shoulders and kissed his cheek. “Sorry I was mad at you.” 
“Don’t be.” He smiled, putting an arm around her waist. “But, am I really your boyfriend?” 
She laughed. “You tell me, am I your girlfriend?” 
“According to my mother you are.” 
“I’m being serious, am I your girlfriend?” she removed her arm from his shoulders and stopped walking. 
He looked into her eyes for a second, then took his backpack off his back and opened it. He pulled out a slightly squashed heart-shaped box of chocolates and bent down on one knee. “Will you be my girlfriend?” 
She laughed, taking the box from him and opening it. “What’s your favorite?” 
“Carmel.” He stood up, slinging the backpack onto his back. 
She picked up a square chocolate with caramel drizzled over the top. “Open up.” 
He opened his mouth, letting her feed the chocolate to him, and putting his arm back around her waist.  

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