Blaine and I spent the next hour playing games and looking at the various vendor booths set up in the area. He managed to win me a small teddy bear after spending way too much money at a ball toss game. We decided to start heading back to the Wharf to get something to eat. Taking my hand, we walked towards the end of the park where we parked the truck. “How was your first county fair?” He asked.
“It was fun! Thank you.”
“You’re welcome.” Turning the corner, we both stopped when we saw the truck. It was sitting at an angle, a condition that was caused by the two flat tires on the driver side. Letting go of my hand, Blaine jogged over to his truck. “FUCK!” He yelled, kicking the door. I bent over and looked at the front tire. There was a slash about three inches long on the top of the tread.
“This is my fault.” I said softly. Running his hands through his hair, he looked at me confused.
“How is this your fault?”
“C’mon, Blaine. You know this had to be Hannah and her gaggle of bitches. The coincidence is way too much for it not to be. I’ve been so busy being upset about living with Hannah but I never thought about how it could be affecting you.” Tears threatened to fall as I looked at him.
“No. No. No. Don’t cry, Ker.” He whispered, walking over to me. He cupped my face in his hands and pressed his forehead against mine. “They could have done a lot worse. I needed new tires anyway. But none of this is your fault. It’s not like you forced me to like you. It’s a sacrifice I’m more than willing to make. Especially if it means spending every moment I can with you.” He wiped a stray tear with his thumb and lightly pressed his lips to mine.
“Oh that was corny.” I said, laughing. He grinned, kissing my forehead.
“I try. Now I’m going to leave a note on my windshield and we can start walking back. It’s not too far.” He disappeared into his truck and came back with a pen and piece of paper. He scribbled PLEASE DON’T TOW on it and tucked it under the wiper blade. Locking the door, he grabbed my hand again and we started walking up the street.
“I’m sure if you tell my dad he will pay you back for the tires.” I said, looking over at him. He shrugged.
“It’s no big deal. It’s not his fault either. I have spares at home in the garage. I’ll sap them on tomorrow with my dad. I just wish this didn’t happen tonight. Trying to impress you and now we gotta walk a mile to dinner.”
“Believe me. I’m impressed.” I elbowed him in the ribs lightly.
“Now who is the corny one?” We both laughed as we walked. People walked leisurely around, heading towards the county fair and other eateries around the area.
“So you want to play a game?” I asked. He nodded.
“Sure but just remember that I’m quite competitive.”
“You can’t win this game.”
“Then it’s not a game.”
“Fine.” I groaned. “It’s a learning experience.”
“Alright then. What is it?”
“I’ll ask you a question and you have to answer it. Then you get to ask me one but it can’t be the same question. You get one pass too.” He thought about it for a moment.
“Okay but can I go first?”
“What is your favorite flower?”
“Hmmm...I would have to say orchids.”
“Oh yeah? No roses or anything like that?” I shook my head.
“When I was a kid, my mom had this orchid that a lady from work gave her. She would water it and take care of it but would always wilt when she touched it. I took care of it for her because she is a notorious plant killer.”
“Remind me to not touch your mom when she comes to get you at the end of the summer.”
“You’re safe as long as you aren’t green and leafy. My turn!”
“Oh joy.” We walked passed houses as we headed back towards the Wharf. The sun was still pretty high in the sky which meant that there was still plenty of time before the fireworks.
“Oh shush. We’ll start out easy cause you’re a baby. What is the first thing you would buy if you won the lottery? And I’m talking unlimited cash flow here.”
“You mean besides roadside assistance? It would probably be my own art gallery. I’ve always wanted to show off my work in a gallery.”
“Why don’t you show it at the art gallery where your mom works?”
“Cause she only wants established artists and I’m just her nobody son that no one cares enough about to pay to see.”
“Well I know that will change. The world is going to want to see your work. I know I love it.”
“Thanks.” He kissed my hand,
“You’re welcome. Your turn.”
“What you consider living here if your mom moved here?” I stopped for a second and looked at him.
“Like packed up and moved here forever?” I asked as I started walking again. He nodded. “I would. I don’t think I could take living with Chris’ family full time. Not even because of Tammy. It’s the demon child spawned from her womb. But if my mom moved down here, I would have no issue giving up Maine. I’ve got nothing important there anyway. That would never happen though. Mom lives for her work and I don’t see her picking her whole life up to move now.”
“I’ll do my best to convince her.” Blaine said, winking at me.
“What’s keeping you here?” I asked, looking at him. “I mean you have the talent and the means. You tell me that your mom is oblivious to your talent. Why not try to make it somewhere else after graduation?” He sighed.
“Let’s just say it’s family ties, alright? I could never leave my family behind.”
“You could always come back and visit. It’s not like once you leave, you can never come back. Is it?”
“I suppose not. Who knows? Maybe after college, the future will hold some traveling for me.” The streets began to get more clustered and the smell of fried fish wafted in the air. We must be getting closer.
“When you look in the future, what do you see?” He asked as we passed by families walking towards the Wharf and setting up blankets and lawn chairs for the fireworks. The grassy picnic areas around us were quickly filling up. In the distance, I could see the neon signs in the Wharf windows.
“Pass.” I replied, not looking at him.
“Pass? Really?” I shrugged.
“I am not sure how to really answer that one quite yet. I’ll let you know though by the end of the summer.”
Blaine and I got some food from the ridiculously long line and found a spot to sit on the edge of the dock. The fish was amazing and we shared a basket of chicken tenders as well since my father said they were “world famous” in two states. They were pretty damn good along with the fresh salads and french fries that came with them. While we ate, we talked about different things such as school, our favorite foods and music, and generally anything else that came to mind. I couldn’t believe how much I loved talking to him. It was as if I had known him my entire life and we had been best friends since birth.
Back in Maine, boys and I never really meshed. I had never been kissed before and had never really liked any guys that I came across. My mind was mostly on when I was going to see my mom next after working a double and what I would be making her for dinner. When I started getting into photography, I felt like I was pulling more away from my peers and closer to the one passion I really had in life. But now as I sit here talking to Blaine, something in my soul felt different. It was as if I had found a missing piece of me walking and talking around North Carolina waiting for me to show up. Everything about him made my heart skip a beat and my palms sweat more than a fat kid at fat camp.
Twilight began to fall faster now and the lights from boats floating in the marina twinkled at us like the stars in the night sky above. The music was still playing from the sound system off the back of the Wharf and food was still being served. I was amazed there was any still left with the gigantic mass of people that had came through. I guess Dad was right about being world famous.
“The show should be starting any minute now.” Blaine said, looking at the large barge on the outskirts of the marina. I could see the outline of people walking on it and the large cannon blasters that usually shoot out fireworks. “You’ve seen fireworks before, right?” I shot him a glare.
“I didn’t just crawl out from under a rock, ass. They have fireworks every year for the Fisherman’s Glory Days back in Portland. Biggest celebration in the whole state pretty much.”
“Just making sure you weren’t going to jump out of your skin when they blasted off.” As he spoke, a loud explosion filled the night sky, the bright white filling the ink black canvas. The crowd made a sound of awe as the lights on the water and land went out so everyone could see the show better. It was quickly followed with more bursts of light, differently colored and sized. I felt Blaine wrap an arm around my waist as we both looked up at the sky. I leaned my back into him, relaxing against his side. I was getting use to this.