It was the fourth of July and I was headed to our biggest local park to watch fireworks with my friends tonight. I would also be watching them with another special person, Eric, the guy I had been crushing on for almost two years. We met the first day of high school and had eyes for each other from moment one but neither of us had the nerves to say anything. Instead of spending our first year as freshman’s together, we spent it being coy and eventually even dating other people. I feel like an idiot for not saying something sooner. I started dating a different guy I had a class with and he was really sweet…until he wasn’t and we eventually went our separate ways. For some reason neither one of us spoke up even after that. We were, however really great friends, he was even teaching me how to play better on my guitar, it was only at school after class, but I still enjoyed our time together, no one could make me smile like him. He seemed to enjoy our time together also, but still never said anything, so I chose to keep it to myself.
Then one day he announced to me that come Summertime, I wouldn’t see him again, due to he was moving and switching schools. I felt sick when he told me this, I had spent all this time with him and never once expressed my feelings. Oh sure, we play flirted a few times, but nothing ever happened and I honestly assumed he just saw me as a friend at this point anyway. So that night I went home and cried, I cried my eyes out knowing that I would never see him again once school was officially over, and we were only weeks away from that happening. I felt deeply depressed, but what could I do? Confessing my love then wouldn’t have done any good and before I knew it, the last day of school approached and we laughed and joked but then awkwardly hugged while getting emotional and saying goodbye. I could tell he was sad, he kept his words short, but, again I assumed it was general sadness over moving and leaving his friends. We talked about staying in touch but I figured it would never happen.
The school year ended and Summer came and went like a blur. I actually enjoyed my Summer with my closest friends, going to the beach, the pool, hanging out, sleepovers. Basically a typical teenage Summer. While I had fun, his face never left my mind and I missed his friendship dearly.
School started up and all I could think about was the previous year on my first day, and his face sitting across the room from me, but this time he wasn’t there.
Life went on as usual. I continued seeing my friends, my ex boyfriend wanted me back, which was never gonna happen but I still wasn’t over the pain of having lost my best friend and never letting myself admit my feelings to him. I could’ve lived just fine not being his girlfriend so long as I could still see him and talk to him, but knowing he was just gone…made my life and heart feel empty. What’s worse is that I couldn’t even tell anyone about it since not a single person knew how I felt, not even my closest friends. We joked in the past about how cute he was and would go watch him play guitar in band class but nothing past that. I never once admitted that I seriously wanted to date him. At this point I felt completely silly about the entire thing and continued to convince myself to let it go, and believe me, I tried.
Eventually I became focused on my daily routine enough to not feel so down about it and I thought maybe I was finally letting it go. When school started back again, it felt like I was on autopilot but I found plenty of moments to enjoy with my friends, I had been asked out by a few people but nothing ever felt right and I decided to wait before making a decision either way.
When first semester was coming to an end, I still hadn’t heard or even seen much from Eric online, he wasn’t very active on there anyway. Dozens of times I wrote out a message to him, but kept backing out.
Finally I decided on one quick message, a simple, Hey! I hope all is well! Everyone here misses you! which never got opened or read and I never heard back. Holiday break had already arrived and I was enjoying time with family and prepping for the next semester. During that time I felt like maybe it was time to get over him and let it go, when school started back, I would move on.
But then one night, the day after New Years, I was sitting in my room with my laptop on when suddenly I heard a ping. A new message, surely it was from Lindsey who probably wanted to chat. When I checked to see who it was, I saw it… new message from Eric, with a green dot next to it, showing he was currently online. My stomach dropped and my heart began to race, and instantly any thoughts of forgetting him were gone.
Hey Sophie! Oh man, I feel like it’s been forever! I’m sorry it’s taken so long to get in touch, I’m like, never on here and I’ve been insanely busy with the family and practice, we actually only just recently got fully settled in, but I have great news! I thought we were moving out of state since my dad had on offer far away, but he ended up just transferring one town away cause he liked the location better. Isn’t that awesome? I mean I know I’m still not there, but come this Summer, I’m gonna get my license and try to save up for a car, then I can visit. Anywayyyys, I miss you Soph, and everyone else, I hope all is well with you too, message me back and hopefully we can chat soon!
My heart began to race even faster with excitement. He was only a town away from me and he wanted to visit this Summer.
Immediately I messaged him back and asked if we could exchange numbers to catch up quicker. I had so much I wanted to tell him and so much I wanted to know. Luckily he wasn’t busy so he called me and we found ourselves talking for nearly two hours until our parents booted us off.
That night I laid in my bed daydreaming about him, wondering if maybe, just maybe, even with the distance, we could have a chance at being together. I didn’t know if he felt the same way as me, but I couldn’t help but think that maybe he did, the way he says things to me, always makes me feel like he likes me the way that I like him. I put in my headphones and listened to all the songs that made me think of my crush. There was absolutely no way I was getting over him. I fell asleep replaying his voice in my head.
Many phone calls later and he finally started opening up to me about a few things, and one night in particular, changed everything.
“Sophie, I have a confession,” he started, “I’ve always liked you but was too afraid to say anything.”
I couldn’t believe it, “really….because me too…”
“Yes, absolutely, I just wasn’t sure how you felt so I never said anything,” I laughed.
“Oh man, that’s crazy, all this time…I can’t believe we never made it happen, we could’ve been together way sooner!”
“Do you, by any chance have a Valentine yet? I thought maybe I could come see you.”
“No, I don’t,” I smiled as I spoke.
“Could I be yours then?”
“Of course, I would love that more than anything.”
“Great, then we’ll plan for it, the weekend before maybe?”
When we got off the phone that night, my heart was racing and I put on my favorite love songs as usual that made me think of him. I couldn’t believe he finally confessed his feelings to me. It almost didn’t feel real, we were finally going to give it a try and I couldn’t wait for Valentines Day.
However….Valentines never happened, he couldn’t get a ride with his brother into town and he was still months away from getting his license. In fact, after that, we couldn’t find any good time at all. He was needed by his family ever since they moved to help out with odd jobs and keeping an eye on his little sister while both of his parents worked. He got even busier once school was out and we were beginning to think we should just give up seeing each other at all. Even though we were only an hour apart, we were just too busy and had no help to make it happen. But he kept assuring me that once he had a car, things would be different, so I hung on.
By this point, the only thing that we were both looking forward to was the day he could take his driving test and come see me regularly. We had to wait until he turned sixteen in June, but for me, I could certainly say it would be worth the wait.
Until that day came, we spent nearly every night talking on the phone until one of our moms would make us get off, and then we would text each other all day. I got butterflies each and every time.
We both kept marking the days off on our calendar, counting down until the thirtieth of June. In the meantime, his father was helping him find a good starter vehicle, they didn’t have much to work with, but he managed to find someone selling off their little car so they could move. All it needed was a bit of a tune up and some new tires and he would be good to go. I didn’t know the first thing about cars but I would listen to him go on and on about how excited he was and all the work he was putting into it.
The days and weeks were passing by, school was out and we were getting closer. One night while discussing the moment we would see each other, he had an idea.
“So, I’ve been thinking, I’ll be getting my license literally just days before the fourth, and I know you mentioned that everyone would be going to that one park in town to watch the fireworks, and I kind of thought, what better way to spend our first day together in person as a couple, then right under the starry night and flashing lights, what do you think?”
“Honestly, that sounds magical,” I managed to say, excited at the thought.
“Perfect, in that case, once I convince my folks to let me drive there, and maybe spend the night with a friend so I don’t have to go back till the next day, then we’ll make a plan of it.”
“I’m so excited, I just can’t wait.”
“Neither can I,” he said softly, almost in a whisper. “I’ve got to head to bed now cause it’s the middle of the night and my mom will be mad if she catches me still on the phone,” he laughed.
“Okay, probably mine would be too but she’s fast asleep right now.”
“Good, glad you won’t get in trouble tonight, do me a favor and get some rest beautiful, and I’ll text you when I wake up.”
“Okay, I will, you do the same, goodnight Eric.”
“Goodnight, and don’t forget, if all goes well, I’ll be seeing you under the fireworks very soon.”
When the day finally arrived, my friends and I decided to get together and hang out until night came when we would all pile in with a family friend of our’s who offered to drive us. Eric and I were texting off the hook, to the point that my friends kept rolling their eyes.
“I know you and Eric are all googly eyes for each other now and I’m so happy for you, but girl, put the phone down before I call him and tell him to let me hang out with my friend without interruptions!”
We all laughed in unison and I had to agree that I hadn’t put my phone down almost all day.
“Okay okay, I’ll text him right now and tell him I’m putting my phone away for awhile, happy now?”
“YES!” They all said at once.
He too needed a break fortunately since his parents made him agree to spend the day with their family at a BBQ until it was time for him to go. They also made him agree to drive here before it got dark, so he would give himself an hour and half he decided.
I was enjoying spending time with my friends, just hanging out, drinking some frozen lemonade, dancing to music, laughing, and all the while, my stomach turning, knowing that I was only hours away from finally seeing him in person, not just as my friend this time, but as his girlfriend.
As it was getting later and we were almost ready to head out to the park, my phone buzzed in my pocket.
Hey, just wanted to let you know that I’m getting ready to leave here in a few and head out there, so you won’t hear from me while I’m driving and I’ll text you once I’ve entered town and on my way to you.
I can’t wait to see you, don’t forget, to meet me under the fireworks. <3
I will definitely be there 😉 I can’t wait either. See you very soon.
Now, we’re all here, waiting for night to come, and me, waiting for Eric. The Sun was beginning to go down, the sky turning orange, loud music and the sound of people talking and shouting. There is so much energy in the air and I can feel my spirit shaking with all the excitement all around. My friends and I found a good spot on the grass, not too far away from the parking lot where all of our friends were parked. It was already packed so I knew he would probably have to park further out from here and walk the rest of the way. I was getting antsy because it would be dark anytime now, the fireworks beginning soon, and there was still no sign of him.
Hey, the fireworks will be starting soon, are you close?
Yes, actually. I just got into town and it should only take me about ten minutes to get to the park. But might take longer to find parking so I’ll keep you updated.
Okay! Be safe!
Twenty minutes later, and the Sun was almost fully set which meant that the fireworks would be going off anytime. Again, my phone buzzed.
I finally found some parking across the street and I’ll be walking your way in a few minutes.
I’m waiting 😉
I stood up to look around, it was already a bit too dark to see very far but still I searched across the field and parking lot until I finally saw his shadow from afar.
Instead of standing and waiting, I decided to make my way to him, and as he got closer, I sped up. He noticed me coming towards him and he ran as well, and before I knew it, I was pressed against his chest and in his arms. We had hugged in the past, but this time it felt completely different. We were both nervous and you could tell.
“I’m so happy to see you,” I manged to say while still in his arms.
“I’m happy to see you too Soph, it’s been way too long.”
He grabbed my hand and pointed towards where our friends were, “shall we?”
“We shall,” I grinned.
We couldn’t help but nervously laugh and giggle on the short walk over to the grass. It was completely dark now and we were just playing the waiting game. Another mutual friend of ours piped up when he saw us coming, Dylan, the one Eric had arranged to spend the night with.
“Ooooo, Eric and Sophie! I always knew you two would end up together, love birds!”
We both blushed and laughed and sat down close to our friends.
“I started to think you weren’t gonna make it on time,” I quietly told him.
“Nonsense, no matter what the obstacle, I’ll always find a way to make it on time,” he assured me.
He grabbed my hand while I laid my head on his shoulder. In the middle of all the chatter surrounding us, we kept finding each other’s eyes and before we knew it, the fireworks had begun. It was like watching multicolored shooting stars, and like shooting stars and wishes, I wished to have many more moments like these.
When no one was looking, Eric reached out and touched my face and in an instant, our lips were pressed together in our first kiss, right under the fireworks and right under the stars.
“I’ve waited so long to do that,” he smiled.
“Me too, I’m so glad we finally made this happen, and I look forward to more nights like this.”
“Absolutely, and from this moment on, you can count on me always meeting you under the stars, the sky and the fireworks every year, our own personal forever. You can count on it, always.”
And I did, and my heart was full and the Fourth of July was my new favorite holiday.