Parade Day

by Laurel Critchfield

Parade Day It was one of those days.

A day when you look out your window and the sun is shining. You think it’s going to be a beautiful day, until you step outside and it’s practically fourteen degrees below zero. You are on the top of the world until you have to change clothes. It is a universally known rule that clothes for cold weather are immensely less attractive than tank tops and shorts.

Today was one of those days.

I threw on jeans and a sweatshirt. I pulled a stocking cap over my head and wrapped a scarf around my neck. I neglected to straighten my hair, leaving my blonde locks wavy and down around my face, and went light on the makeup: Some foundation, a dab of blush, and a sweep of mascara. I didn’t feel the need to go to an enormous amount of work. I didn’t plan to see anyone I knew.

The car was already running by the time I sleepily stumbled out the door and my mom was rambling about how I was going to make us late if I didn’t hurry up. It was not convincing and I maintained my current sleepy speed. I considered sleeping on the way but couldn’t persuade my body to fall back into dreamland. I watched as all the signs passed, seeing but not recognizing what was on each one. The drive was monotonous.

When we arrived, I had to lug my warm body out of the car and into the cold air once again. All I knew was that I needed hot chocolate to warm myself up before I could even consider functioning properly. I walked down the infinite flights of stairs and out the door of the parking garage and submerged myself into the thousands of people lining the streets.

My mom led us through the sea of people, seeming to know exactly where we were supposed to go. I followed aimlessly, still wiping sleep out of my eyes.

That’s when I saw him.

It took my mind a minute to comprehend why we were stopping and then a minute more, to recognize who he was. I hadn’t seen him in years. He looked so different. He had grown and matured into a very nice looking young man. He had finally grown into his ears … somewhat. My best friend from childhood was standing right before me and I looked like a complete slob.

I have to admit, I was extremely attracted to him. He had always been practically my brother, but I guess when you don’t see someone for five years, everything changes. I suddenly and unintentionally became shy. I am never shy, but for some reason I couldn’t bring myself to start a conversation with my best friend.

Since neither one of us could begin a respectable conversation, our parents had to intervene. They asked if we remembered one another and we both nodded. I’m sure I had a somewhat stunned look on my face. Both wanting to get out of an awkward situation, he asked me if I wanted some hot chocolate. I’d completely forgotten about the freezing cold and my intense craving for the creamy beverage, but as he brought it up, it all came rushing back.

I immediately said yes.

I had a feeling that he was in the same state as me, because his face was red and he was much quieter than I remembered. He told me that he’d seen a place down the street selling it for cheap and offered to pay. I eagerly obliged. A walk downtown with a cute guy I’ve known forever to get hot chocolate that he’s paying for sounded like a great idea.

I silently hoped that he would notice that I was cold and put his arm around me or something of the sort but nothing of the sort happened. Both of us were way out of our comfort zones and too nervous to do anything out of the ordinary.

We got the hot chocolate and headed back, sipping it lightly, as to not burn our tongues. We had to hurry back, not wanting to miss the start of the parade.

When we got back to our spot, we could already hear the beginning of the marching bands approaching. He stood by his family and I by mine. The kids stood near the front, to be able to see and grab candy as it was tossed their way.

My mother leaned over and whispered in my ear. I could hardly make out the words but I got the gist of it. She said, “He got cute! You should like him!” I could see his dad whispering something too, and a smile coming to Kyle’s face. I may never know what his dad said there, but I hope it was similar to my mother’s well-wishing.

The parade was wonderful. I got a few pieces of candy from my little sister’s sack, watched several of my friends in the marching band, and wonder if the boy I was admiring, was admiring me too. It was an overall good day, but I couldn’t let it end just yet. I had to get up the nerve to talk to him.

As our parents were packing up, I pulled him to the side and asked him how he was doing. We had a polite conversation and I was becoming more comfortable around him. I asked him if he was going to the game later that day and when he acknowledged that he was, I asked him if he would like to sit by me. He said that he would love to, and I could sense a hint of enthusiasm in his voice. We exchanged numbers in order to meet up later and went our separate ways.

The entire ride home I was thinking.

I wondered if everything I’d seen was real or just a dream. If it was real, did I really catch all the signs that he might be into me, or did I imagine them? Thoughts were continuously running through my head. I didn’t know what to think.

I looked down at my phone.

There I was a text from him.

It said …

“Was I imagining things or did you feel it too?”

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