That looks hard, I'll fall!
The cold shoulder was getting tiresome, Liam & I had not spoken to each other at all the whole day. I was standing in the parking lot waiting for Harris since he was taking me somewhere today and to be honest I was having second thoughts about it.
The school doors opened and I looked up meeting eye to eye with Liam, he lingered his impenetrable eyes on me longer than needed as he walked by, heading for his bike. The sunlight bounced from the natural highlights of his chestnut hair as he ran his fingers through it. Although he looked unapproachable he was surrounded by girls who tried to talk to him. He shot each one down apathetically. Liam placed the helmet on his head and the engine roared to life. As quick as a flash he was gone, leaving me watching the dust settle back on the ground.
“You ready?” Harris brought me back.
“Yeah, where are we going?”
“You’ll see.” He had a charming smile on his face that just reminded me that he was a genuine, all round nice guy.
We were in his midnight blue car, it wasn’t anything fancy but it got us from A to B. I fiddled with the stereo and ‘Barbie Girl’ vibrated through the speakers. I glanced at Harris with a stupidly wide smile plastered across my face.
“Classic.” He muttered as a way of explanation and he wasn’t wrong.
I watched as his lips twitched during the song, like he was desperately trying to hold back from singing. We reached a stop light and he glanced at me, face lit up with happiness that echoed on my own. Wearing knowing looks on our face we both broke out in song, winding the windows down to make sure the cars next to us could hear us howling. We the proceeded to sing the next three songs, all extremely girly and something you wouldn’t expect a basketball player to have in his car.
As we pulled up on the promenade I already felt better. Liam was mostly out my mind and Harris was doing a good job at distracting me with his feel good songs.
“Whenever I’m feeling down I come to this promenade. I start here and work my way up back towards our school. I have a checklist and we can’t leave until we complete the checklist, you wanna hear it?”
“We must consume cotton candy, donuts, a corn dog and an ice cream. We must win a stuffed animal at one of the kiosks. We must take advantage of the photo booth. We must ride the Ferris wheel and lastly we must challenge each other to best out of three on the dance mat.”
H grabbed my hand and pulled me towards the first stop, donuts. He was telling me about how comfort eating is the best way to make you feel better but you don’t want to get sucked down the rabbit hole of eating your feelings so you pick one day where you eat your weight in junk food and where has the best junk food? Promenades. It seemed legit. We got a small paper bag with little sugar donuts inside, they were still warm and melted into your mouth radiating the appetizing smell of cinnamon and sugar.
“Okay which kiosk you want to win a stuffed animal at?” he asked as we stood sizing up our options.
“There’s basketball hoops there, you would definitely win one there.” I pointed towards the stand that displayed three tilted basketball hoops, the animals you could win was a plush goldfish in all different sizes. The toys were kind of ugly but I figured basketball was our best shot at winning.
“Nah, too easy. We do this one”
Harris pointed towards two rope ladders that dangled vertically and then proceeded to go up into a slope. The ladders were surrounded by colourful padded mats. He had a super big smile across his face showing off his slightly imperfect, white smile that just added to his charm.
“That looks hard, I’ll fall!”
Harris let out a belly laugh that made his hazel eyes shine with flecks of gold.
“I bet I’ll make it to the top and you won’t even make it to the middle.”
Harris applied enough pressure to my competitive side to make me want to give this my best shot and reach the top before him. He gave the guy manning the stand a few coins and we hopped onto the ladder after taking our shoes off.
“You ready to lose H?” I asked him looking over my shoulder as I positioned myself on the ladder.
“You’ll be the loser Liv”
I steadied myself the best I could but the rope kept twisting and turning under my body weight. The bottom wasn’t so hard but as I climbed higher the rope flipped me upside down but I managed to cling onto it with my hands and feet.
“You don’t look like you’re doing so good Liv” Harris shouted from below me on his own ladder.
I somehow shifted my body weight so the ladder flipped back round, stalling for a few seconds while I steadied myself. I could see Harris climbing higher out the corner of my eyes. He was catching up. It applied pressure and I started moving faster which made the ladder sway. I was almost at the top, but then so was he. Harris and I were level, three more bars to climb before one of us could ring the bell. We kept glancing at each other, narrowing our eyes to try and intimidate the other. As I moved my foot to the next bar I missed it and went through the hole, the whole ladder flipped upside down again and this time I didn’t manage to hold on, I tumbled down and landed on my back sprawled across the padded cushions. Upon landing I heard the triumphant bell ring and it wasn’t long before Haggis has joined me on the mat bragging about his win.
My tummy was stuffed with so many great foods that I thought my buttons were going to pop. I was having such a great time with Harris, it was easy. Easy conversation, easy company. No mood swings, no saying the wrong thing. We were sitting inside a red cart at the top of the Ferris wheel, up here we could see practically the whole of our town.
“So whats the deal with your friend Tia?” he spoke up breaking the comfortable silence.
“How do you mean?”
“uh... she’s dating someone but they’re not exclusive. Why? Are you into her?”
“Thinking about it.”
Tia and Harris together would be such a good thing and I was really routing for this couple. Now I knew he was into her I made a mental note to play cupid.
“So we’ve ate everything except the ice cream, won this gigantic teddy bear and rode the Ferris wheel. We’ve got the photo booth, dance mat and ice cream left. How you feeling?”
I stopped to think about it, I haven’t thought about Liam for a few hours now. Harris kept me distracted. I’ve had fun, my mood had uplifted considerably and I think that reflected on my face.
“So much better, this is exactly what I needed. Thanks. Though I don’t think I’ll fit the ice cream in.”
“Ah, Ah” H wagged his finger at me “ice cream was part of the package. You eat it no matter how full you are.”
Harris, the huge teddy and I crammed into the photo booth taking lots of different photos in silly poses which printed out onto a long strip. He took one strip and I took the other.
“This is to remind you that bad moods don’t last. When you’re having a bad day you can always turn it around. Whenever you’re having a hard time look at these photos and remember it’s not permanent. Things always get better.”
Harris explained to me the reasoning behind the photos, it was a simple analogy but also quite deep and I took on board every word.
“Dance mat time” Harris pulled me towards the arcade.
I halted on the spot and my eyes widened.
“H... I can’t go in there.”
“I know it looks like a dump but it’s not that bad, it’s always empty so we can hog the dance mat.”
“It’s not that.. it’s -”
But before I could finish that sentence Harris interlocked his fingers in mine and walked me inside, hand in hand. I told myself it was going to be fine. Liam wouldn’t be working today but as Harris guided me through the double doors I remembered that Liam only took his bike to school when he picked up hours in the arcade.