Chapter 19 - Today Was a Fairytale
“But can you feel this magic in the air? / It must have been the way you kissed me / Fell in love when I saw you standing there / It must have been the way / Today was a fairytale” – Today Was a Fairytale, Taylor Swift
“10:52 pm,” I say, looking at the car clock as James puts the car into park in front of the garage of my house. “Not bad timing.”
“I’m smart enough to know that staying on your dad’s good side is the key to being able to keep seeing you.” James says, “I also know that he is still up, watching the TV, waiting for you to come through that door.”
“That’s a pretty good prediction,” I say and then undo my seatbelt. “Thank you for a great evening.” And then I lean over the console and lightly kiss him on the lips, while he sits there and just accepts the kiss as if he is holding himself back.
As I sit back in my seat, James says, “I hope this means I can plan the next date?”
“Is it going to be the Maple Sugar Shack?” I ask.
James plays with the idea in his head, “I’m considering it.” And then he just smiles at me.
“Then you can,” I say, opening the door of the car and stepping out.
“See you on Monday,” James says.
“See you Monday,” I say and then shut the door. James doesn’t even leave the driveway until he sees that I’m inside the house, and then I wave to him before shutting the door.
When I step into the living room, as predicted, my dad is still awake, watching the TV. When I walk into the living room, he looks at me and then his watch. “How was your evening?” Dad asks.
“Perfect,” I say, still coming off the high of being with James.
“Perfect?” Dad asks skeptically.
“Well,” I say, “Pretty close to perfect, James was great, the perfect gentleman if you will.”
“Well, he knows he’ll have to deal with me if he is anything but,” Dad says.
“Dad.” I say, “James is amazing, you have nothing to worry about with him.”
“Save the oohing and ahhing for your mother, Arya.” Dad says, “James seems like a decent guy from what I’ve seen so far, but the minute he steps out of line, you let me know and I’ll take care of him.” I laugh on the inside, spoken like the true father of two daughters.
“I swear you’ll be the first to know if he does anything wrong.” I say, “Now I should head up to bed.”
“Goodnight, love,” Dad says, and I make my ascent up the stairs, but before going into my room, I knock softly on Mia’s door and walk in. She’s in bed already, but on her phone.
“Mia!” I say as I walk in and jump on her bed.
“Arya!” Mia says and then puts her phone on the nightstand. “How was it?” she asks, “Tell me everything.”
And so I tell Mia about the entire evening with James, leaving nothing out. Well, I may have not gone into detail about the kiss we shared, because I don’t think that’s something my little sister needs to hear.
“Where can I find one?!” Mia whines at the end of my retelling of the night and I just laugh.
“James is special,” is all I say, “I’ve never met someone like him. I already like him so much, it’s crazy!”
“Does he have a younger brother?” Mia asks, and I respond by grabbing one of her many pillows and hitting her with it. “Just a question, I’ll take that as a no. But seriously Arya, I’m happy for you, you deserve a guy that treats you like the queen that you are. When are you going to see him next?”
“I don’t know,” I say, “Probably at school on Monday.”
“Are you guys official?” she asks, “Did he ask you to be his girlfriend?”
“Chill, Mia.” I say, putting a hand on her knee through her duvet cover, “It was just one date.”
“Yeah, but I’ve never seen you like this before.” Mia says, “I think Mrs. Arya Fox has a nice ring to it.”
“Now you are getting way ahead of yourself,” I say.
“But you have thought about it!” Mia says, and then I hit her with the pillow again and start walking out of her room.
I open the side door of the house that leads to the kitchen, carrying in the cooler, and flick on the lights. I’m about to start unloading the cooler, but I hear the TV going and head to the living room in the opposite corner of the house to see who’s still up. When I walk in, I see my 13-year-old sister in a giant blanket, on the couch, eating a bowl of popcorn, while watching the TV on her own.
“Rachel,” I say, “What are you still doing up?”
“James!” she exclaims in a shouting whisper, pausing the TV, “You’re home!”
“Yes, and shouldn’t you be asleep by now?” I ask.
“I’m almost done,” Rachel says, pointing at the TV with the remote. “I’ll go to bed after this.”
“What are you even watching?” I ask, walking over to the TV.
“The Bachelor,” Rachel says as she presses play on the remote.
“How can you even watch this?” I say, “It’s ridiculous, he’s dating like 20 different girls at the same time! How could he possibly choose a wife this way? And these girls? Why would they subject themselves to this?”
“It’s the ridiculousness of this show that makes it great!” Rachel says, her eyes on the screen.
“Did that girl just eat a bug?” I ask, slightly horrified.
“Yes,” Rachel says, “Now sit down and tell me how your date went.”
I take a seat next to Rachel, watching another girl eat a bug, “What the heck? Seriously, aren’t you too young to watch this?”
“That’s why I have to wait until I have the TV to myself,” Rachel says.
“I shouldn’t let you watch this,” I say, seeing all these girls wearing clothes that leave nothing to the imagination. This is not what I want my sister looking to for inspiration. “Give me the remote,” I say, holding out my hand.
“No.” Rachel says, “Now tell me how your date was.” I glare at her, “And then I’ll give you the remote.”
“Fine.” I say, “It was amazing. We served food at the church for the community dinner, ate dinner at the park, and then went to Samson’s house on the lake for a bonfire.” I leave out the part of our detour to the abandoned house.
“Do you like her?” Rachel asks.
“Yes.” I say quickly, “I like her a lot.” Not wanting to reveal too much to my younger sister.
“You’re different,” Rachel says, popping a piece of popcorn in her mouth.
“What do you mean?” I ask.
“You have the vacation glow,” Rachel says.
“What the heck does that even mean?” I ask.
“You know when people come back from vacation and they are genuinely happy?” Rachel says, “That’s what you look like right now. Like you are genuinely happy. You must really like her.”
“She’s different,” I say, thinking about Arya, especially that kiss we shared, it’s ingrained in my mind. I hear a female shout from the TV and turn to it. “That Cassie girl is terrible,” I say.
“We hate her.” Rachel says, “But she keeps getting a rose.”
“Can’t the guy can see what a terrible person she is?” I say.
“She doesn’t act that way around him.” Rachel says, “She acts all sweet and kind in front of him, and then as soon as he’s gone, she becomes this evil witch.”
“I don’t believe that he doesn’t realize it,” I say.
“Some girls are very good at hiding who they truly are.” Rachel says, “Now hush, it’s the final rose.”
“There’s no way he’s giving it to that Cassie girl,” I say, crossing my arms and focusing on the TV.
“Don’t be so sure,” Rachel says.
“And the final rose goes to…” from the TV, “Cassie.”
“WHAT?!” I say. “He really chose her?”
“I told you,” Rachel says, “Some girls are good at hiding their true selves.”
“Okay, I think it’s time for bed,” I say, getting up from the couch and start walking back to the kitchen.
“Fine,” Rachel says and shuts off the TV. “James?”
“Yes?” I say, turning back to my sister, “Can you take me to Annie’s house tomorrow morning? Mom’s working tomorrow and can’t.”
“Doesn’t Annie like half an hour away?” I ask.
“25 minutes.” Rachel corrects. “Please James, her mom will drive me back after dinner.”
It’s hard losing a parent. The hole they leave behind can never be filled. I have spent the last two years making sure that my sisters never lose out on anything because our dad is gone, I’d do anything for them and more. “Sure,” I say.
“Thank you, James!” Rachel says, “You’re the best!” and then she happily skips off to head upstairs.
I walk back to the kitchen and begin to take out everything from the cooler. I thought I packed a lot of food, but clearly Arya has a big appetite for a small person. I hear my phone go off and check it.
‘I’m going to be running late tomorrow – can you pick up the new designs from the farmhouse before heading to site?’ – Uncle Terry
‘No problem.’ – I reply
‘Thanks! See you tomorrow’ – Uncle Terry
There’s another message.
‘Hope everything is okay! I think we’ll try and make sure Lisa doesn’t come out to any of our hangouts anymore’ – Samson
‘No worries. I’ll see you guys Monday’ – I reply
‘Remember we have soccer practice before school on Monday’ – Samson
I start putting everything in the dishwasher. Work, taking Rachel to her friend’s, an entire Biology lab and English essay that needs to be finished for Monday and soccer practice Monday morning. Lovely. My phone goes off again. I almost don’t want to check. I don’t need another thing added to my list.
‘Had a great time tonight! See you Monday!’ – Arya
The text makes me smile and feel happy. When everything is piling up, she’s like a light in the darkness. It’s like everything will be okay if she’s around.
‘I had a great time too. Sweet dreams.’ – I reply
Then she sends me a picture. The picture is of me in the pink apron that she took when I wasn’t looking.
‘You better not show that to anyone’ – I say
‘Why? Would it hurt the image of East Side’s popular soccer player?’ – Arya
What do I say to that?
‘Nothing is more manly than a guy wearing pink. Especially an apron.’ – Arya
‘At least let me pose for the photo next time?’ – I reply
‘LOL!! Good night, James.’ – Arya
‘Good night, Arya’ – I reply