The following chapter came from an actual experience of a first date I went on when I was younger. I love to use real life experiences that I have had or that I heard about, but then add a big dose of imagination to change details and to make it meaningful. I think often those real experiences come through in the best way when I write. I hope you enjoy this excerpt form my book, Riding Waves.
When Ashley comes over at six, I tell my mom that I am going to the carnival at the mall. Once again, if she knows about my date, she doesn’t say anything. We walk through the neighborhood and across a river to get to the mall, but we don’t talk much as we walk there. Our friend Mary drove her parents car and is already there.
“So tell me all about it. How did he ask you?” Mary wants to know.
I tell her about Dan asking me out yesterday as we walk around the carnival. There are a lot of people from school there too. I see Dan walking towards me, with a group of his friends and my brother, so I give Ashley and Mary a half smirk and smile.
“Hey,” Dan says as he nods to us.
“Hi,” I say quietly back.
“Let’s go on a ride,” he suggests and off we walk. I don’t know what his friends are doing, but I keep seeing Mary and Ashley, who giggle every time they see us. Dan doesn’t try to hold my hand, but he sits very close to me on the rides. I can smell the cigarette smoke on him, but he doesn’t smoke with me there. I have tried cigarettes before and my mom use to smoke, so the smell isn’t that bad, but I am glad that he doesn’t do it in front of me. We are having fun going on rides, and talking a little bit about movies and how our summer is going. He is a lot nicer than I thought he would be. He is actually so sweet when he asks me what I want to do and what rides I like. He listens intently and laughs at all of my jokes. I never really looked at him this way, but I can understand why girls like him. He seems so confident and sure of himself. I know that he has had many girlfriends, and I know that he was the one that broke up with most of them, but I never really heard any details. After some more rides, we head over to the carnival games. It is so cute how serious he is as he tries to win me a stuffed animal. After he tries a few times, Ashley texts that Mary is ready to go and wants to drive us home. I guess we could have asked Dan for a ride, but we had asked Mary first since I wasn’t sure how long Dan and I would stay together at the carnival.
“So Mary is going to give Ashley and I a ride home. So, ah, thanks for everything,” I stutter with a pause, “Well bye.”
“You are welcome. Bye,” Dan replies as I walk away.
I expect a million questions from Mary and Ashley, but they are surprisingly quiet as we walk to her car. Mary asks if I had fun once we are in the car, but after I say yes, she just turns up the radio.
Ashley gets dropped off at my house too, and we go straight to my room.
“So? She asks.
“Give me all the details,” she says as she just screams at me.
She does not believe me when I tell her that there is not that much to tell. I explain that we had fun, talked a little and that he did not even try to kiss me. I have to admit that I am a little surprised by that too, given his reputation. After I walk Ashley halfway to her house and then back home, I throw myself on the couch, and turn on the television and start flipping through channels looking for something to watch. I replay the evening in my head. It was fun, and Dan was nice but that was it. I am ready for everything to stay as it is. I will be going to college this fall, and I am ready to start it off right. I have lost some weight this summer, started wearing more makeup and put a few highlights in my hair too, so maybe this is the year that I will fall in love.
The next morning when I come down stairs, my brother keeps looking at me and chuckling.
When I ask him, “What is so funny?” he just shakes his head.
I call Ashley to tell her how weird my brother is acting. I don’t ask her if she talked to Dan since I don’t want her to think that I am interested in him. We decide that we want to go for a bike ride before I work tonight. She tells me that she is going to ride her bike to my house first, so I go get ready. I keep on my shorts that I slept in, put on a clean t-shirt and flip my hair into a ponytail to go. I think about putting some makeup on but decide that I will get sweaty riding anyway. As I tell my mom where I am going, Jake comes in shaking his head again.
“What?” I yell.
“Nothing, just go out front and you’ll see,” he laughs.
As I walk out front, all I see is a huge big blue bear and a pink elephant. I glance around and there is Dan leaning against a green truck.
“What’s this?” I ask him.
"I won these for you," he responds with a big smile on his face.
“Thanks,” I mumble.
“I got a new truck today, and it’s my birthday.”
“Wow. That’s cool. Happy Birthday! So how old are you?” I ask. I thought that his birthday was in the summer, but I didn’t realize that it was today. It is probably weird to ask but since Ashley didn’t tell me it was her brother’s birthday, I figure I should just ask him.
“Twenty. No longer a teenager,” he beams.
So now he is twenty, and I am only seventeen still. He has on a tight green t-shirt and jeans, of course, and does seem even older looking today than yesterday. As I look at him I notice that he is quite cute. I remember how nice he was at the carnival.
“Want to go for a ride?”
“I can’t now. Ashley is on her way over to go for a bike ride.”
“Okay,” he says then adds, “You look cute with your hair in a ponytail.”
I touch my hair and reply, “Thanks” as Jake walks out with that stupid grin still on his face.
“You got the truck that you wanted?” he says to Dan.
“Don’t I always get what I want?” he chuckles.
“Yep,” Jake says as he gets into the passenger side of the car as Dan is saying, “Want to go for a spin?”
I stand there not knowing what to do with the stuffed animals as Dan waves, and they pull away.
Ashley rides up on her bike with a huge smile on her face and asks, “What are those?”
“Stuffed animals,” I stupidly stammer.
“Obviously. Why are they here?” she wants to know.
“Dan won them for me after we left the carnival last night. He drove here this morning to give them to me. I guess.”
“Wow. He must really like you.”
“I guess. He got a new truck too,” I say stupidly again since he is her brother.
“I know. That’s all he has been talking about for weeks. My dad told him that he could get it on his birthday.”
“Why didn’t you tell me it was Dan’s birthday when we talked today?”
“I don’t know. I just didn’t think about it. Let’s bring them to your room,” she suggests as she picks up the elephant. Good thing she still can think.
“Where did you get those?” my mom questions as we walk into the house.
“Dan won them for Harper at the carnival last night after we left. Harper and Dan also went on a date at the carnival,” Ashley blabs.
“That’s sweet,” my mom said.
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