the central park of our town.
Summertime sadness was always a thing for me. Year-round sadness is more like it. But something about the summer of my seventeenth-eighteenth year was different. It was a mixture of some of that exhilarating ”summer nights” feeling. You know. The summer nights where you’d go anywhere and everywhere with your best friends, from diners to parks to movies to the hillside overlooking the city lights. But the mix also threw in depression along with isolation, something I wasn’t very new to.
High school wasn’t as bad as everyone makes it out to be, at least from my perspective. And that’s saying a lot coming from someone like me.
If you surround yourself with the right people and avoid the wrong people at all costs, you’ll do just fine.
But do as I say, not what as I do. Because I didn’t really take that advice.
Summer ’15 was eventful, not including the transition from high school to college—something I really wasn’t ready for, but felt pressured to go by every person I encountered. It was almost a year since me and my boyfriend got together, but he broke it off for personal reasons. It crushed me, and it still does, but I know deep in my heart that he’ll come back. We have too much to just let go of.
I graduated in mid-June.
That’s a lie.
I was supposed to graduate mid-June. I flunked. But hey, I graduated before college classes started so it’s alright, isn’t it?
I spent what free time I had left in the two weeks until summer school started away from peers and at home to hide my shame. I made sure no one knew, but once June 19 got here, everyone would know who that empty seat in the C area of the auditorium belonged to. And the one next to it. Yes, many flunked. That includes my best friend.
Our school wasn’t great.
The last week of school I spent with this group of guys from the grade below me that were probably supposed to graduate with my class. We would go to the big national-park-like field and just hang out. We were more than thrilled when we found out our Field Day would be help there.
That day everyone would meet up at the school building or the park, wherever the pupils saw fit. I went on my own to the park and hopefully not get too lost looking for the rest of those familiar faces.
My best friend decided not to go for whatever reason. That antisocial dropout.
There couldn’t have been a better day for us not to be glued side to side.
Because that’s the day I met Cade.
I wasn’t sure if he was with our school and I had just never seen him before, or if he was just at the park fixing up his skateboard. He looked too old to be a middle-schooler but too young to be in any grade above tenth.
I kept walking past him avoiding eye contact but was interrupted by the sound of footsteps behind me. It was the boy.
I blankly stared at him, expecting him to start the conversation as I never do when I first meet people.
He mumbled something but I couldn’t hear him at first. I didn’t want to appear too aggressive when I told him I didn’t hear him—I went through that every day.
“You’ve got... under your shoe...”
I lifted my foot expecting to see dog shit or something underneath my shoe, but I hadn’t only stepped in shit. I had stepped on one of the poor boy’s screws for his bike.
I awkwardly scrape both off my soles, embarrassment clear. “Do you want it back?”
I let out a nervous laugh hoping he’d do the same and to my relief he did, only it was genuine.
“How much do these cost, anyway?” I point at the shitty screw on the ground.
“Not a lot, I guess.” He stood, wiping dirt off his jean shorts. “My older sister usually buys them for me.”
“Sister.” I was trying to make it sound like a question, but it came out as a statement.
“She’s not normal.” He gives me a cute smile, a deep dimple showing up on his cheek.
“Nice.” I nod, trying to end the conversation by slowly backing up and turning towards the direction of the school gathering.
I turn back around to face him. “Caden.”
We both stood and looked at each other until I once again made my way toward field day.
The thought of him kept gnawing at the back of my head. Was it his dimples that looked similar to my ex? Maybe it was his alternative style. It was rare to find similar people.
Either way, the name Caden kept popping up in my brain until the next time I saw him about a week later.