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More Than Just Friends

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I was pacing in my room back and forth, counting all my money. “I have fifteen, twenty, twenty-five, twenty-six twenty-seven…” I needed much more money for a ring, chocolates, a toy… There is so much I want to give her but I’m not sure I can.

I recount my money for the third time, my fingers literally trembling in fear.

“Hey James,” dad opens my door and looks at me counting cash. “What are you doing? We’re leaving in a little bit.”

“I’m, uh, I’m just…” I don’t know what to say. How do you tell your dad that you’re counting money to buy a bunch of gifts for your fat, but hot crush? “I’m just looking for souvenir money, I want to buy gifts.”

Dad smiles. “What kind of souvenirs?”

I nervously rub my thumb on the money. “Just pretty things for Minty…” I bite my lip and look up at him, nervously.

“That’s sweet. If you really want to, I can give you some money.” Dad takes his wallet out from his pocket. “Here, just ten dollars. Maybe you’ll find something.”

“Hmmm…” I look over all my money, considering it carefully. “Do you think I can buy a ring?”

“Why do you need a ring?” Dad laughs, putting his wallet back in his pocket. “James, you just turned eleven. You don’t need to propose.”

“I just want to tell her how I feel.” I recount the money in my head, this time having an extra dollar adding up to thirty-eight.

“What are you going to tell Mint?” Dad asks, sitting down on the end of my bed. “Tell me, I’ll help you revise.”

“I, um… I’m gonna write her a letter, and maybe a poem,” I tell him, my fingers trembling. “I want her to know. She deserves to know. She needs to know. I want to tell her under the beautiful sunset, the waves coming gently, washing our toes with both our bellies full and the stars will watch us when she says yes.  It will be perfect…” I look at the money, stroking it gently.

“Whoa, James, this is too much. You guys are so young,” dad looks at me, with all seriousness.

“Are you saying I can’t tell her? She needs to know dad!” I explain. “She needs to know how I feel. I really want her to know. Who knows, maybe she will feel the same way…”

“James, I’m all for you telling a girl how you feel, and that you like her and whatever. But James, what you are planning is a bit much.”

“I mean, I just want her to know. It will be fine dad! I’m going into the sixth grade, I’m old enough for this.” I open my own wallet and slip the money in. I have to think of something to buy. Hawaii has expensive souvenirs and toys.

 

My mom and dad picked up Mint, and we all drove to LAX for the plane ride. I was so excited to go to Hawaii! I have never been to Hawaii. I heard it’s beautiful, and the sunsets are really pretty. Mint’s sister Storm went to Hawaii a couple times before, but Mint has never been there. So, our first trip to Hawaii will be special for the both of us. Not only is it both our first time, but I will give her gifts and maybe if I’m lucky, I will get a kiss from Mint –  but I highly doubt it. I’m more worried she’ll be freaked out, and slap me or run away.

During the plane ride, it was all I could think about. She was sitting next to me, looking out the window for most of the trip. I kept thinking of her running away from me, yelling, “What is this James? I just want to be friends!” It gave me a stomach ache the whole plane ride.

I wanted to tell her right then… I really did. I almost did when she started talking to me, like, a lot. She was looking at me, right in the eyes, her round face blushing a little. I wanted to tell her so bad. I felt this strong urge in my gut, this instinct. But I knew I would regret it, so I kept my big mouth shut.

When we finally landed, I was so relieved. I almost told her. I fall in love with that face, and I get lost in her eyes, so green, and bright, so soft… I can’t find my way out of them…

I literally couldn’t contain myself when the plane finally landed. Dad got our carry-ons from the overhead bin, and my mouth was just running to Mint like a little water fountain. I kept saying “You’re gonna love it.” Then I said I won’t snore because we’re sleeping on a bunk bed. She smiled and said “Okay James.”

The four of us went to pick up the rest of our luggage, and I help Mint get her suitcase off the conveyor belt. I help her carry her backpack, and make sure her hair isn’t caught in the strap. She pushes me away though, her hand on my belly. That made me nervous. Either she doesn’t like me, or I smelled bad. I wore deodorant, and the cologne my mom bought for me. So she might not like me…

When we went to the van that will take us to the resort, Mint was really tired. I could tell by how she was rubbing her eyes and yawning. We woke up really early so we can make it to the plane.

“Minty, are you tired?” I ask her when we wait in front of the airport for the van.

“Yeah,” she stretches.

“We’re almost there, don’t worry,” mom held Mint’s shoulder. “Then we will get breakfast, and you can play in the water, then you will sleep like a rock.” She pushed Mint’s hair behind her ear.

Mint smiled. “Yes, I will sleep very good.” She looked at me. “James, should I take the bottom or top bunk?”

I shrug. “Depends. Which one would you like?”

“I want the bottom if you are okay with that.” She says. “I always feel better when I’m on the bottom. I’m scared of the top.”

“I’ll sleep on top. I don’t mind.” I’m excited to tell her everything. I’m still debating on gifts though. I want to get her one of those flowers you wear in your hair, and maybe a necklace. I want to get her some soaps, she’ll definitely give me something if I get her soaps. They were all so pretty when I saw them in the little shops.

The van finally comes, and I sit next to Mint. She is sleepy, I can tell. “Mint, why don’t you rest on my shoulder?” I offer to her, pointing at it.

She shies away. “I don’t know.”

“It’s okay. I don’t mind.” I put my arm around her shoulder and pull her in. Please let me hold you.

“Oh, thank you James.” She lays on me, and I scream in my head.

I look out the window. It’s so green outside. Perfect for me to lay in the grass with Mint by my side, staring up, counting clouds and birds.

Very soon, I hear Mint softly breathing. I have won. She fell asleep on my shoulder. Isn’t that like, the biggest sign that someone trusts you?

We sit like that the whole way to the resort, mom and dad talking to the driver, and Mint asleep on my shoulder while I look out the window.

When the van pulls up to the lobby, I shake Mint’s shoulder. She yawns, and looks at me.

“It’s amazing!” Mom exclaims as the driver opens her door. “Come look James!”

I come out, dad waiting for me to get out before he went out. The resort was beautiful. One side they had check-in, the other they had lemon water and those beautiful flower necklaces.

Dad helped Mint out, who was yawning and rubbing her eyes. When she finished, her eyes widened. “It’s so gorgeous!” She turns to me. “What do you think James?”

“I think it’s spectacular,” I say. “I can’t wait for the pools though!”

“Yeah, Aulani has a lazy river, water slides, a mini water park. It has a lagoon with sand that you can play in!” Dad says after bringing over some luggage. “You two will love it.”

Mint jumps in joy. “I can’t wait! I never thought I would go to Hawaii. It’s like a dream come true!” She hugs herself, and I smile. “And especially with my best friend.”

Mom laughs. “That’s so sweet.”

Dad calls me over to help him with luggage before I can say anything. Mom continues talking with Mint; I can see it from the corner of my eye.

When we finish getting all our stuff, we walk over to reception. “Hello, and welcome to Aulani.” The woman at the desk hands us each a cup of the lemon water. “Checking in?”

“Yes,” dad says, taking his card out. “Checking in under Wilson. Two kids and two adults.”

The woman goes in the computer. “Eric Wilson?”

“Yes.” Dad nods.

“Here,” she gets out some of those beautiful, traditional Hawaiian necklaces. My dad and I get one that is made up of polished black stones strung together, and Mint and mom get one with the flowers that smells amazing!

We check-in, and the bell-boy takes our bags to the room. We get our bathing suits out though because we won’t have our room until three, and it’s only ten.

After changing, we go get some breakfast at a little coffee bar. Dad tells me to get a seat, and I bring Mint with me. We get a nice little seat in the shade.

“James, I want to try the water slides!” Mint tells me. “I looked them up, and one of them goes into the lazy river! Isn’t that cool?”

“I know, I’m really excited. It’s gonna be a blast!” I says.

She pulls on her bathing suit. “I was so excited for vacation that I bought some new bathing suits.” She stands up to showcase it to me even though I already saw it. “I convinced Mama Thunder. I thought they were really pretty.”

“They are,” I assure her.

“Thank you!” She giggles, and sits down while sucking her finger.

“Hey guys!” Mom comes over bringing coffee and pastries. “Eat you two, you must be starving.”

Dad came over and brought his own coffee. “It’s expensive, but bellies need to be filled!”

I feel so stupid because dad is embarrassing me. Mint laughs at his stupid joke, probably because she feels bad for my dad embarrassing me. That’s what I’m guessing, and I’m pretty smart so I must be right. I mean, I kind of hope I’m wrong, even though I’m usually right. What was I worried about again?

“These flower necklaces are so pretty!” Mint told my mom. “Look, it even matches my bathing suit.”

“I see,” mom says. She smiles at Mint, who is eating her scone while staring at it in admiration. Times like this, I feel bad for poor Mint. Talking to my mom like she is her own. I don’t know, I always found that weird.

“What do you want to do first?” Dad asks me. “Your mother and I want to know where to set up our towels.”

“Um, what do you think Minty?” I turn to her.

“Oh, we should try the water slide! The one that goes into lazy river!” She licks the jam on her fingers from the blueberry scone.

“So the lazy river?” Dad says after he drinks his coffee.

“Yes,” I tell him. Mint looks at me, giggling softly.

She likes me. She likes me. She likes me.

I want to convince myself that she likes me so I’ll be really confident when I tell her my letter and poem which I need to write! Maybe I should let dad revise my letter…

We all talk while eating our breakfast. Mint is really excited about our vacation. I can tell by how bright her eyes are, and her wide smile.

After that, I lead Mint to the “perfect” seat. I wanted her approval. It was right next to the entrance of the lazy river, close to the water slide.

Mint was practically jumping up and down, yelling things, pointing to the water slide. “James! Hurry! I want to go now!”

Dad runs over and puts towels over our seats. “You two go on ahead, we’ll be right behind you.”

Mint runs ahead of me, and I grab a tube with two spots to sit in. I wait in line behind her.

“I can’t wait James!” She claps her hands. “Aren’t you excited?”

“Very,” I tell her. “It will be amazing. Look how high it is!” I point to the top.

“When we go down, we should just lay in it, and go around lazy river.” She looks over at it. “It’s very pretty, look at it, just like a jungle river.”

“Jungle river?” I hold the tube over my head, walking up a couple steps because the line moved.

“Yeah, like in movies, when they crash the plane and go in the jungle.” She looks over the fence along the stairs.

I laugh. “I understand what you are saying, but I don’t what movie really.”

“Me neither,” she turns to me, “but I thought you would know because you watch so many movies.”

“Yeah, I guess.” I stare thoughtfully up at the sky. “I do watch a lot of TV.”

“Me too,” she says. She touches her fingers together, then sucks on her thumbnail. “James, do you think the water will be warm? I don’t really care to be honest, but I know you do because you’re a sensitive boy.”

I feel kind of stupid when she says that. It’s like being called spoiled, and that I don’t get the real world. I don’t blame her though because I like the water warm.

“I like the water warm, so I hope it is. I don’t want to be cold when we sit in the tube.”

“It’s very warm out. Does that make water warm?” She looks up from sucking her nail.

“Yeah, that makes the water warm.” I want to go on lecture about warm water, but Mint won’t be interested. I know that.

“So, is summer now-”

“It’s summer now,” I correct her.

“It’s summer now,” she eyes me, holding in a laugh, “so the water will be warm. Don’t worry.”

The line is kind of long. I’m all worked up about the floor being wet and I don’t want to slip. I hold the tube way over my head, so I can see the ground.

Mint doesn’t notice my dilemma, probably because she’s so busy looking over the fence again, waving at people. I want reassurance about my pool tube.

We get on top, and I’m so happy to finally get on the tube and ride down the slide.

We both sit down, and the skinny guy with red zits all over his face pushes us down. Mint starts screaming as water sprays all over us as we go down the small slope. “James! James!” she screams through laughter.

I grip on to the handles of the tube, laughing as well. We dive down through a cave, water flying all over me. I can smell the chlorine, and I feel the cold water hit my face, and my wet shirt sticking against my belly.

Mint is so happy, our tube gliding over little bumps, water flying everywhere. I laugh so hard, almost coughing because I’m having the time of my life. It is then we go down a little curly slide, and go down really fast, flying into the lazy river, water exploding in my face. The tube hits the water so abruptly that Mint falls off. I laugh, jumping off myself, dragging the tube behind me.

Mint lifts her head laughing, all wet. “The water is good!” she tells me when we get out of the slide-landing-zone-thing.

“It is good,” I say, my swimming shirt soaked.

“James, we should race in water!” Mint suggests. She jumps on our tube, looking at me. “Please race with me!”

“Of course Minty.” I push the tube away, Mint jumping off as I push it away.

“The water is so nice.” She lays on her back, belly up, arms out.

I jump in the water, throwing my whole body in. “Wanna race?”

“Yeah,” she turns, “I’ll beat you!” She pointed at me, and jumped in the water, swimming away so elegant. At least for a big girl.

“That’s not fair!” I yell after her. I run through the water, being dragged down by the heavy water.

I push passed little kids with goggles and fat people stuck in tubes. I run after Mint, but that isn’t the fastest thing, so I dive into the water when the crowd breaks up.

When I catch up to her, I jump on her, and we both fall in the water giggling.

“That was not fair! You went without me!” I tell her, out of breath.

“No, you should’ve kept up,” she says getting up, pulling her shirt down because it went up. “You’re just chubby!” She giggled, and hugged me.

I was like whoa! in my head. I liked that, it was sweet. “Do you want to try again?” I ask.

“Yeah, to beat you again!” She let go of me, and put her fist in her hand.

Together, we do a few more races, running through the water, getting dragged with the current, giggling when the little water falls sprayed our heads.

When we slowed down, letting the curreng take us while we sat on our backs, Mint started talking.

“James, it’s so sweet of you to take me on trip. I appreciate it.” She looked at me.

“Well, my dad had this deal thing,” I explain. “It was this package we got for four people, so he offered to bring you.”

“But it’s sweet you all chose me over Peter,” she says.

I look away when she says that, but I say: “You’re a really good friend, that’s why.” To he honest, we were going to bring Peter. But dad was angry with him when he crashed the family car. Peter got angry, and stormed off with his friends.

We didn’t even buy the package yet at the time, but mom thought of the idea to bring Mint because she knew I liked her.

So here we are now.

“You’re sweet James!” She picks up a leaf, and comes over to me, putting it on my head.

I laugh. “What is this Minty?” I pull it off from my already wet hair, and look at it.

“A present!” She squats back down in the water, clapping her hands.

“Very nice,” I say, stroking it, taking a little piece off.

She smiles and goes under the water. We play together in the lazy river for a little while, pretending to be fish. Mom and dad wait on the side, and everytime we pass the lazy river entrance, I see mom standing at the edge, putting her feet in the water. Then she waves to me, and I wave back.

Pretending to be a fish was really fun. Mint would chase after me, I would chase after Mint. I almost knocked over some tiny white kid when I was pushing through a crowd to reach her.

When we slowed down after I caught up to her, Mint started complaining she was hungry. “James, all I had was pastry and some coffee!” She whined.

“Where do you want to eat?” I ask her. I loved the lazy river. I can just float, and the water will take me.

“Food!” She says. “No, I want chicken. Or pizza. Either is fine.”

“Um, we can get pizza for dinner tonight. We can eat in the room.”

“Fine, then chicken. Your mom told me the tour guide said the place across street has amazing chicken.” She looks up, thoughtful. “Amazing chicken for amazing bellies.”

“Ha ha,” I say.

“A-ha!” She says back. Mint is really happy, I think I have a chance of winning her heart!

We get out of the lazy river and go to the seat we reserved this morning. Mom rubs the towel on my hair to dry it off in front of Mint, and it makes me feel embarrassed.

“Stop, stop!” I say under my breath while she does it. “Mint is here!”

“You’re fine James,” mom says rubbing me.

We finish drying off, and go to the room to change. The bell-boy brought all of our things to the room, and I change before Mint because I always get a rash when I wear the wet swimming trunks for too long.

When I’m done, I start unpacking my things while Mint changes. I like everything organized when I stay in a hotel.

After everyone is ready to go, we go to the restaurant across the street to eat chicken.

 

That night, Mint and I sat in the jacuzzi, talking. I was so focused on everything she was saying, studying her. I wanted to know what I can write my poem about. This is all I got:

Roses are red….

Violets are blue….

We both look pregnant…

Lets fall in love…

I know, it’s bad. I’m already out of ideas!

She starts talking about how she convinced her mom to buy her a guitar!

“I watched some videos, and I think I can play pretty good!” She flips her hair at me, and winks.

“That’s nice,” I tell her, pulling my shirt down because the jacuzzi pumps keep pushing my shirt up! I mean, I’m kind of embarrassed, but tomorrow I have to go shirtless, cause we’re going to the lagoon and I have to tan!

“I want to show you it, I’m really good!” She blushes. “I mean, if you want to see it.”

“Of course I want to see it,” I say, scooting closer.

She nods. “I will show you if my mom lets you come over, though I don’t think she will.” She looks at her finger after taking it out of the water.

I stare at her, looking at her finger, her big green eyes, widening in fascination at all the wrinkles.

I almost say “You’re so pretty” or “You look so cute.” But right when I’m about to say something stupid, she looks right at me and exclaims: “Look at James! So soft!”

I look over at her finger. I’m so close that I can smell the scent of her wet hair. It smells kind of bad if I’m being frank. Sitting on a plane for six hours, and sitting in the chlroine all day is not a good mix.

“It is all wrinkly because you were playing in the water all day,” I tell her.

“Yeah,” she continues looking at it. “James, I had a lot of fun in lazy river, and eating chicken. I know is early in trip, but it’s really sweet of you to take me. I can’t wait to go in the lagoon!”

I liked listening to Mint tell me nice things, so I didn’t want to correct her english. “I like that,” I say to her. “I’m happy to bring you. We’re gonna have so much fun!”

We stay in the jacuzzi a little longer, because mom told us we have to sleep.

We go back to the room, and get ready for bed. By the time I’m climbing up the ladder to my bed, Mint is already falling asleep in her bed.

I whisper: “Goodnight Minty,” and she smiles to herself.

I sit in my bed, looking at the ceiling. Dad turns the lights off, and goes in his bed with mom. I stare off, trying to think of things I can write to Mint. Or maybe gifts I can buy.

Very soon, everyone is asleep but me. I can hear Mint breathing under me, every so often mumbling, or whimpering. I wanted to hold her hand, because I thought she was so cute today. I know that’s weird, but I guess I was just feeling nervous in the dark.

I did fall asleep though, to Mint’s mumbling. She was talking to someone in her dream (I hope it was me), saying things like “We should do this more” and “Good friend.” I really hope it was me.

 

The next morning, mom got Mint and I pancakes before we even woke up. I got up before Mint because I could smell pancakes in my dream, and when I was opening my eyes, I said to myself “Wow I really want pancakes today” and then they were there.

I started eating pancakes at the little dining table with my mom, sitting in my pajamas, when Mint started stretching.

She opened her eyes and looked at us. “James, is that food?”

“Yeah, we have pancakes,” I say. “Want some?”

“Yes!” She jumps out of bed, and sits next to me, staring at my plate.

“Here Mint,” mom puts two uneaten pancakes on Mint’s plate.

We all eat, and my dad joins in. The food was good, and Mint kept looking at me.

Anyways, after we ate and got ready for today, we went to the lagoon! I was really excited for this because there were fish you could see, and the sand was soft, I could tan.

We picked another seat, this one under an umbrella because it was so hot. Mint ran off into the water without me. She was giggling, and smiling while splashing the water.

I took off my shirt, and put on my sunscreen because I didn’t want mom to scold me. Before coming to our seat, mom coated Mint with sunscreen because she is so pale. She knew Mint wasn’t going to do it herself.

I ran down to the water after some time so the sunscreen could rest on my skin. I jumped in the water next to Mint, who was already all wet.

“James!” She hugged me, and I really liked that. I hugged her back, swaying from side to side.

“Minty, Minty…” I say in her ear.

We let go of each other and play in the water. Mint runs on the edge of the water, me chasing her. It was a lot of fun, playing with Mint.

I was tired after running so much. My fat belly, and massive ass really slowed me down.

We sat together in the sand, and I talked to Mint. I told her how much fun I was having, and that I really enjoyed her company. She giggled and said: “I feel the same way James.”

Then I started talking about my games, and about Minecraft like a dufus. Like, did I not have anything better to say?

When she started telling me about Storm, I decided I’d rather listen than run my big mouth.

“Storm is so mean,” she says. “She hits me all the time, and when I was choosing my bathing suits, she said ‘Oh, your fat belly won’t fit. Besides, those bathing suits are for pretty, slim girls.'” She crossed her arms. “So mean.”

“That is mean,” I look at her. “But that’s not true. You’re very pretty, you’re perfect.”

“You think so?” She blushes.

“Yes, I know it. You’re wonderful,” I scoot closer.

She doesn’t seem to notice, and pulls up her shirt, looking at her gut. “It fits in fine,” Mint mumbles to herself, pinching her fat belly. “I love how you plan trip, I don’t think I will have period, because it already happened.”

“Oh, um, cool,” I say, kind of clueless. I don’t know that stuff very well, even though Mint never shuts up about it! “It’s a good thing that you’re not having it, right?”

“A very good thing!” She claps, smiling at me. “Anyways, I just want to say you’re so tan.”

“What?”

“You’re so tan…” Mint gently ran her finger along the side of my soft belly.

“You like it?”

“Oh, yes, very much! I wish I could tan like you!” She rested her chin on my shoulder, her round green eyes looking over my tan gut.

“Thank you, thank you so much,” I say to her. “I’m happy you like my belly.”

“Hmmm…” She lays her head on me, humming to herself. “I just get red, and it stings! I hate it… I wish I could tan like you.”

“I guess it just runs in my family,” I shrug, rolling my head towards her.

“Ugh, I wish I could tan just like you,” she complains. “Then I would be gorgeous, right?”

“You’re fine now Minty, I think you look perfect.”

“Then we go together❤. White and dark chocolate🍫.” She smiles up at me, eyes bright.

I feel this surge go through me! I think she’s going to say yes! Don’t you think? She likes me so much, I can see it.

Suddenly, there is a big red sailing boat coming in, filled with people with life jackets on.

“Minty, look! There is a boat coming in!” I point.

“Oh yeah,” she looks up. “We should ride it later with your parents.”

“It looks like fun,” I tell her as the little boat pulls in. “What do you think?”

She sits up and stretches. “It looks like fun. I will definitely go with you and your parents. The three of you are so good to me.”

I blush. “I try, I really do.”

“You are doing very good,” she looks and smiles at me. “Good boy.”

I feel myself beaming from the inside out. I relish in all that, as well. Mint is giving me all this flattery, how can I not feel this way?

“You want to play in water?” She asks.

“Yeah, of course. I was waiting for you to ask,” I scratch my gut.

She grabs my hand, and we run back to the lagoon. We splash water at each other, giggling, and getting ourselves all wet, the disgusting salt water taste stinging in my mouth.

My mom and dad join us. They treat Mint like she is their child, hugging her and kissing her. Mint loves it, holding my mom’s hands and saying “I love you family!”

We are all having so much fun. I hold Mint, and she pushes me in the water. “Sweet boy!” She yells at me, pushing me down.

I push myself back up, holding her hands that are on my chest. I’m already taller than Mint, which my parents always found strange. My voice did crack in the fifth grade, and everyone thought I was faking it! I felt like a dumbass, being called ‘Voice Crack’ and ‘Cigarette Boy’ and ‘Pervert’. I don’t know why, but kids really didn’t like me in elementary. They always thought I was a creep, and called me names because I shaved my legs, and wore pink shorts. I hope middle school can change that, though I doubt it. I forgot what my point was. I think that I’m taller than Mint, and I have a voice crack. Yeah, that’s it.

It was so much fun, playing in the water. Though I was getting really hungry, and I was too embarrassed to say anything. Why should I be embarrassed in front of Mint? If I love someone, shouldn’t I feel comfortable around them? “I’m starving,” I announce with Mint’s arms around my gut.

“What do you want to eat?” Mom asks, breaking herself from my dad’s hug. Everyone was playing with each other…

“Um, what about pizza?” I suggest. “Mint, you wanted pizza, right?”

“But pizza is like a Friday food, James,” Mint explains. She takes her arms off of me. “It’s only Thursday, silly.”

“Then what do you want?” I ask, my belly growling, basically in Mint’s face. She wanted pizza the other day and it was fine, but now that I’m hungry I can’t have it? Don’t shame Mint, I tell myself, I’m her only real friend.

“Hungry boy,” she holds me again, pressing her face against my stomach. Now I feel embarrassed.

“We can go get sandwiches,” dad offered, “it’s quick.”

I feel my stomach growl, and I rub it, touching Mint’s hand. I hear her go “Hmmm,” which is something she says when she likes something.

“Poor boy should get a sandwich, his belly is so empty,” Mint rubs my belly’s side.

I see my dad staring at us. “So sandwiches?”

“Yeah,” I say, gently running my fingers through Mint’s hair.

 

That night, Mint was in the bath, cleaning herself. Mom went in to help her.

My dad and I were sitting on the couch, watching TV. I have a notebook out, doodling. I got that from Mint, the doodling. Ever since we first hung out at my house, drawing, I loved it.

So I was drawing a picture of Mint and I holding hands for my letter. I was working on the letter too. This is what I have so far:

Dear Minty,

I think you’re really pretty and I really like to hang out with you. You’re so cute and funny. You have beautiful green eyes, and long, black hair, and perfect, kissable cheeks…. Maybe too far, but maybe one day I can kiss them.

Anyways, I really liked you for a long time, and I wanted to know if you liked me. Maybe we could hang out more.

So you’re really pretty, and I like it when you hold my hand. It makes me feel really good, and when you slept on my shoulder, that was really cute, you sleep really cute.

 

That’s all I have. I don’t know if it’s good. Hopefully it is. I’ll probably write a new draft, because in that one I just ramble.

I continue doodling my artwork. It looks okay. Not that good, but I hope Mint likes it. I gave myself my big belly and my man boobs. I gave Mint her pretty bathing suit. I brought some colored pencils to make the artwork.

Dad is staring at me. “Working on your proposal?” He asks.

“Dad, shhh!” I hush him. “Mint cannot know!”

“She’s in the bath, don’t worry,” he said. “So, can I see it?”

I pull out my colors and put them beside my paper. “Fine,” I say, giving him my letter.

Dad reads it over. I continue drawing, my fingers shaking a little. I hear Mint in the bath, talking with my mom.

“James,” he finally says. “It’s sweet, but a bit weird.”

“How?” I say, taking it from his hands.

“Just saying you think she sleeps cute is strange, James,” dad explains.

“You want me to say she sleeps ugly?” I ask.

“No James, just don’t mention her sleeping at all.” Dad looks at it. “You can say it if you really want to.”

“I mean,” I take the letter back, “I just want to be upfront and real with her.”

“Did you think of a gift?” He then asks.

“Oh, no, um…”

“Don’t worry, I can take you to the stores in the morning tomorrow while your mother and Mint are still sleeping.”

I smile. “Really?”

“James, you deserve to be happy and give Mint some gifts,” he says to me. “I’ll help you.”

I feel so excited! I can’t wait to buy Mint some gifts; she’s gonna love it!

Mint got out of the bath, and mom dried her hair. Mint sat with me on the couch and I showed her my drawings (not the one of us holdng hands).

She said they were really cute and that she thought I was a good artist. I felt a funny feeling in my tummy when she said that.

After that, Mint went to bed, falling asleep very fast after her warm bath. Her breathing was so soft, it made me tired when I was in my bed.

 

The next day, dad woke me up a little earlier than usual. I was so excited to get Mint a gift!

“James, James.” I look over to my dad shaking my shoulder.

“Dad?” I mumble, sleepily.

“We’re going to buy some gifts for Mint,” dad told me.

“Oh yeah!” I sit up, almost hitting my head on the ceiling.

I quickly change into some shorts and a light shirt and my socks with sandals. My dad leads me out, and we walk together.

“I’m excited for you to tell Mint, she will be very happy,” dad says. “She likes you, she isn’t good at hiding it.”

We go to some souvenir shops, looking at soaps and earrings. I find some things that look really pretty. Here is the list of stuff:

  • Flower Earrings and Necklace – $11.59
  • Soap Pack with Five Scents – $15.49
  • Six Scented Candles Set – $8.99
  • Woodless Colored Pencil Set with Notebook – $24.99
  • Pajama Set with Onesie and “Summer Outfit – $18.30

I asked my dad what he thought Mint would like.

“Mint likes to draw, but then you would only have like fourteen dollars left,” my dad said, examining it. “Get her the earrings, she will like that.”

I grab the earrings and necklace pack. I look at the soaps, considering them. They smelled good, I think Mint would like them. “What about this, dad?” I say, showing him the soap.

“I mean, maybe. I think she would prefer the candles and book – and I know that goes over budget, but I will pay,” he looks at the candles. “Mint would like these, look how fancy they are.”

I look at them as well, admiring their colors and the little containers shaped as turtles.

After some consideration, the two of us settled on the coloring, candles and earrings, what we chose at first.

It went over my original budget (which is about thirty-eight dollars), but I wanted Mint to love her gifts.

We asked the cashier if she could wrap our gifts. She did, and they all looked so pretty.

When we got back to the room, mom was up, but Mint was still asleep. I’m not keeping the sleeping part, but Mint is literally the cutest! Her sleeping position and habits are delightful. She looks literally adorable with one hand on her belly, and other up by her head. And when she would mumble, that was the literally the cutest thing ever!

I hid my gifts under my underwear so Mint wouldn’t go near them. I’m pretty sure they’re safe.

My mom got us some pastries and donuts from the same coffee bar that we went to on the very first day.

I ate donuts and looked over my letter, and decided to rewrite it to make it more serious, and romantic, I guess.

 

Dear Mint,

I’m writing you this letter because I know when I will try to tell all this to you, my words will just get stuck in my throat. So I just wanted to tell you that I really like you. You’re such a good friend, helping me when I’m stuck in a hole, or when I can’t figure out where I went wrong. You are always there, holding me, making sure I’m fine.

I just think you’re really pretty, and I really hope we can hang out more, (maybe)(if you want to)(I really want to), and I can get to know you as more than a friend.

I love it when you hold my hand, and smile at me. I love it when I can hug you and you hug me back. I love it when we talk and talk and talk and talk. I just, I love you. I love you with all my heart and soul.

I really, really hope you and I can maybe make something special… And I know it’s early or whatever, we’re young, but I just like everything about you. Your curves and pudgy fingers. Your round face and soft belly. You are just perfect, and I want to tell you before I chicken out…

Anyways, it’s okay if you don’t feel the same way… I just wanted you to know. You deserve to know.

Sincerely,

James M. Wilson

 

I looked at it. I thought it was really good. Short, and gets right to the point.

My heart thuds at the thought of her saying yes. She was so pretty and just wonderful… I just want to kiss her one day…

I hide my letter before mom can see it. Mint is also waking up, so I hid it with my gifts.

I think that the letter I just wrote is the draft I’m sticking with. I’m going to rewrite it one more time with a blue pen and in cursive so it looks cute.

Mint gets out of bed and eats donuts with me. She has been sleeping in a lot on this vacation, not like I’m upset, she’s just tired I guess.

After the donuts, we went to the lobby to see if we could do a two hour hike or something tomorrow, on Saturday (today is Friday, so hopefully pizza🍕).

We got a quick four hour hike along the waterfalls that was about forty-five minutes to an hour away from Aulani. The woman at the desk offered a trip to Pearl Harbor, but Mint said no. She looked like she was about to cry when my dad asked “Are you sure Mint?” and she shook her head.

When we finally went to the pools, I led Mint with me to a jacuzzi that was somewhat empty.

“Minty, why didn’t you want to go to Pearl Harbor?” I ask. “You could’ve learned some stuff.”

“I don’t know, I just thought it would scare me. You’re a boy it wouldn’t scare you,” Mint said. “Besides, I’m a stupid baby.”

“What about me?” I joke. “Remember when I cried in the fourth grade when Mr. McNicky didn’t have enough time for me to share my toy?”

“Yeah, you were upset. You were talking about that toy all day, you were so excited to show it!” She says. “But then I hugged you, and said ‘Next time’ and you were happy.”

“Oh yeah, I forgot that part,” I blush and feel all tingly in certain places. “But what about Pearl Harbor? Are you sure you don’t want to go.”

“I’m not so sure, James. It’s like a war thing, it will scare me.” Her eyes are glazed with tears, like she is about to cry.

“Minty, it will be fine. I will be there, don’t worry,” I beg. I wanted to go to Pearl Harbor. Of course it’s terrible, and people died, but it’s something that needs to be remembered. I just wanted to go ever since my parents booked the trip almost a year ago. I think about, not saying much about it. I want to go after a hike, maybe like Tuesday or Wednesday.

We sit together in the hot water, Mint laying on my shoulder. I don’t want her to fall asleep, but I like that she is laying on me, humming to herself…

Mom joins us, sitting beside me, talking to Mint, who is sitting up now.

“We’re so happy you could come Mint, James is very happy,” mom says, already embarrassing me.

“I know, I can tell,” Mint says looking at me.

“You can tell?” I say nervously, my mom and Mint both closing in on me.

“Of course she can tell,” mom said, wrapping one arm around me.

Mint was looking at me, her eyes glimmering in admiration.

I have never felt so anxious in my life. I didn’t like this, it made me scared.

“Why don’t we go in the lazy river?” I suggest. “It’s really hot in the jacuzzi.” I stand up, some little kids across us staring.

“Sure James,” I hear my mom say.

We head over to the lazy river. When Mint goes in, I stay behind a little, my mom at my side.

“James, what’s wrong? I thought you liked her,” she says.

“I do, just don’t say anything,” I tell her. “She’s going to laugh at me.”

“Why? I doubt she knows. She likes you… She might not even know she likes you James!” She pauses. “Mint is a child too James, she probably doesn’t know. She thinks that you are just her friend.”

“Maybe,” I say. “I really, just…”

Mom holds my shoulder. “It’s okay James.”

We follow Mint into the water, who is giggling and splashing.

“Hey Minty,” mom says, rubbing her hair. “You are having fun?”

“Yes,” Mint says. “So much!”

“Very good,” my mom says.

We stay in the water, sitting in floaties, talking about food and the snow cones.

“I really want a snow cone,” Mint said. “A big one with red, yellow and pink! It will be so beautiful!” She made a shape with her hands as a little ball.

Mom talks about the pizza place that we’re going to tonight. “It has these big salads and you can put whatever you want in them, and the pizza slices are so big and greasy.”

“Ooh! I love that!” Mint licks her lips. “I can’t wait!”

I like the thought of that, rubbing my belly. “That sounds amazing… A delicious greasy pizza…”

“Oh James! Stop! I’m hungry now!” Mint hugged herself in her tube.

“We’ll eat tonight,” I assure her. “You will be so happy, I promise.”

She smiled at me. “I know I will because you’re there.”

Mom smiles to me, and I look down, not letting any of them see me smiling at my feet.

 

I was really excited for dinner tonight. We were going to get pizza!

I was drawing my card for Mint on a blank piece of paper while Mint was getting ready. I was rewriting my rough draft on that same blank piece of paper with a blue pen. I tried my best to do cursive, but I’m not gonna lie; I suck.

I practiced on my notebook, and decided to just do really neat print. But when I heard the bathroom door open, I quickly hid my paper, my face turning red.

I went to a page of my notebook with some fake doodle so Mint won’t question me. I pretended to be working on them.

“Hi James,” Mint says from behind me, putting her hands on my shoulders. “Is James excited, like Minty?”

I turn, to see Mint in a dress, all ready. “Very ready.”

“You look very handsome for pizza,” Mint comments. It’s obvious sometimes that Mint doesn’t think before she speaks. Maybe she does, who knows with Mint.

When the four of us are all ready, we go to the pizza place across the street. Mint is so excited, I’ve never seen her so happy. She keeps looking at me, and smiling, then she skips ahead of us, giggling.

We go to the pizza place and get a booth in the corner. We look over the menu and my parents talk with each other over what to get.

Mint is looking at something on the wall, mesmerized. “What do you see Minty?” I ask.

“James, look,” she points at a t-shirt in a frame with some fat white kid eating a pizza beside it.

“What is that?” I say.

“If you eat an entire pizza in three minutes and thirty-three seconds, you get a t-shirt, one-hundred dollars, and a…” She was looking at it. “Co…upon.”

“Coupon,” I correct her.

“Coupon,” she repeats. “I wish I could eat an entire pizza in three minutes and thirty-three seconds!”

“Wait, what?” My dad looks up from his menu, taking his glasses off.

“There is challenge thing, and I wish I could win the reward, but no way I can eat pizza!” Mint slaps her forehead. “I would be sick!”

“Then just order something else,” my dad says.

“Yeah, but like you get all that cool stuff…” Mint gives it a longing look.

I begin thinking of the hundred dollars. I could spend some of it for more gifts for Mint… And I can win that t-shirt and everyone in school will like me. Besides, that kid in the picture and I have so much in common. I’m a white, fat boy who likes pizza, I’m like the default winner.

“I’ll do the challenge for you Minty,” I pipe up.

Mom turns to me, eyes wide. “What?”

“I can eat that pizza,” I say running my hand on my gut. “I haven’t eaten in forever, it will be a piece of cake!”

“I’m not so sure James,” dad starts. “It’s an entire pizza, like an entire regular sized pizza.”

“That’s easy, I can do it even if I just ate an ice cream!” I dismiss him with my hand.

“Fine,” dad says, shrugging his shoulders. My mom joins in, and they continue looking at the menus.

I see that I have won, and get excited that I can buy Mint some gifts.

The waiter comes, and everyone orders their food, and I tell him I want to the challenge thing. He laughs, basically in my face, but when he comes to serve our food, he brings an entire regular sized pizza and a timer.

I stare at it, it’s beautiful, moist cheese soaked in grease, the pepperoni baked into little bowls containing more grease. The crust was golden, and I almost took a slice, but then I remembered what I was doing.

“Are you sure James?” My dad asks again.

“Very sure,” I say crossing my arms, feeling my ego puff up in my chest.

My mom is smiling at me (actually more like a smirk). I’m going to do this, and Mint will probably kiss my fat gut and call me pregnant. That’s like the best outcome. Now I have even more to look forward to.

“Are you ready?” the waiter asks.

“As ready as I’ll ever be,” I say, adrenaline pulsing in my veins. Mint hugs me, and wishes me luck, and then the adrenaline finds a new path.

The waiter sets the timer. “Ready, set…. GO!”

I take the first slice and quickly begin shoving it down my throat. I hear Mint cheering. “James! James!”

My parents are watching me as I get halfway through the first slice. This pizza is amazing, the pepperoni is soaked in grease and it’s pouring down my chin onto my nice shirt. Actually, that sucks, but this pizza is pretty damn good!

There are six slices in total, and by the time I finish the crust of my first slice, a minute and seven seconds has already passed.

I quickly start gulping down my next slice, more grease pouring on me. It feels amazing, this hot pizza falling in my gut, and the even hotter grease spilling on my neck.

I’m halfway through the second slice and I hear “One minute left!”

Then, I start shoving the entire pizza in my mouth, tears coming from my eyes pizza I can feel it going into my throat. I cough as I try to break it up in my mouth, but instead I choke.

I didn’t want to look gross in front of Mint, or all the people in the restaurant, but I cough up the pizza. All over the table. The waiter calls time, and I feel Mint’s hand touch my own.

I stand up, covering my mouth, pushing my way to the bathroom. I run through the door to the nearest open stall, throwing up.

I clutch the sides of the toilet, on my hands and knees, my whole body convolting as the pizza I ate was pushed out of me, long droplets of saliva hang from my lips. I shook violently, as I threw up again. This time leftover drool and vomit hung from my chin and bottom lip.

I sat my butt down on my legs, quivering from shock, rubbing my belly with both hands.

It was then dad came in, and lifted me up in his arms because though I was fat and kind of tall, he could still carry me.

He took me all the way back to the room, mom and Mint staying behind to get all the food into to-go bags and boxes.

Dad set me down in one of the sofa chairs, letting me lay. “Did you learn your lesson?” he asks after starting the bathtub so I can wash myself.

“What?” I look up at him.

“Did you learn that you shouldn’t crazy sh- things like that?” He asked, sitting down in a seat across from me.

“You didn’t say anything,” I retort.

“Yeah, but James, you’re old enough to know that you can’t eat an entire pizza in three minutes.”

“Three minutes and thirty-three seconds,” I point out. “But you’re right. I just wanted to buy more gifts, and impress Mint.”

“It’s fine now, just rest so we can do our hike tomorrow. At least it’s later in the day so you can rest,” dad said. “Here, let me wash you.”

I take all my vomit soaked clothes and throw it on the bathroom floor. My dad wants to help me but I push him away. I can clean myself.

It takes a while for mom and Mint to come, because when I get out of the bath they are still not home.

I work on my letter with my pajamas on after my dad gave me some stuff so I don’t throw up again. It looks really neat, so I think Mint will like it.

Then, I hear the key ring when my mom puts the card in, and I switch to my fake doodles. Mint puts everything on the counter, and runs to me crying.

“James, you poor baby,” she hugs me, rubbing my back.

I feel so weird. Mint is all over me, I can feel her wet cheeks on my chest.

“She got you something,” mom says. She pulls out a little bag. “Mint, give him your things.”

Mint squeezes me tighter, then lets go to bring her gifts over. “Here James,” she sets her bag down. She bought a can of macademia nuts, orange juice, a warm up bean thing that helps sore muscles and a friendship necklace that was like those hearts that breaks in half.

“You’re so sweet,” I hug her. “You’re wonderful…”

My parents watch us hug, and when we stop I feel my face turn hot. Mint blushes, and mom smiles at us. “Are you two ready for bed?”

“Yeah,” I get up and stretch. “What about you Mint?”

She nods to me. “Today was so crazy! I’m so tired!”

“I can tell,” I say to her. I know I threw up today after trying to eat an entire pizza, but the love Mint gave me was worth it. That was the original objective from the beginning; to impress Mint and win her heart. I mean, I didn’t impress her, but we won’t have to worry about that. I’m James, I can do something.

I look over the gifts she gave me, feeling the stuffed animal in my fingers. She was in the bathroom getting ready when I looked over them. I ate some of the macadamia nuts covered in chocolate before it was my turn for the bathroom.

Then I brush my teeth, and crawl into bed, falling asleep before Mint, even though she went into her bed before me. I held her stuffed animal in my hands, sleeping like a kitten.

 

We wake up the next morning at seven so we can get ready for our hike at nine. I put on some shorts and tuck in a light t-shirt.

Mom wakes up Mint so she won’t sleep in, and we all get ready. I get my little backpack and put some water bottles in, and snacks that Mint and I can share. Finally, at seven-thirty, we go out to eat some breakfast across the street.

Then we look around at some shops until eight-twenty to go wait for the shuttle to take us to the hike. It ends up coming early and we load up in the shuttle.

Mom keeps talking about the butterflies, and the waterfalls. I’m excited to see them, and take pictures with Mint with my camera. We share an album where we collect pictures, so I’m excited to make a Hawaii section in our album.

The drive is about forty-five minutes, and Mint is telling me how she is so happy I feel better. That made me feel good.

We went out of the van when it parked and met with our tour guide. It was us, another family of three, and a couple. The tour guide was named Jordan, and gave us each a map that had a key with all the animals that we might see.

Jordan led us on a path, explaining the plants and insects. I looked at my key, seeing all the plants. Mint seemed fascinated by some of the beautiful flowers with all their bright, gorgeous colors.

Mom was so happy to see us enjoying the nature. I took some pictures of the flowers, some of Mint, some of my parents, and even some of myself (with my family in some pictures).

It was a long hike, and the waterfall was beautiful. It was amazing, I got a few photos, and I got some pictures of her and I smiling. She was so pretty, she made the scenery even prettier!

Finally, we went down to the starting site, and ate lunch. I was very hungry by then, so I was so excited to eat!

The van provided us with food, which were just sandwhiches and chips. They also gave us Pepsi Max, and I ate to my gut’s desire.

After eating, we went in the car, and I fell asleep. I was still tired I guess from yesterday maybe, but I fell asleep on the car ride back.

When I woke up, we were already back at the hotel. Mint was shaking me, saying: “James, we are home. We have to get our snow cones.”

I sit up, stretching. “Of course Minty…” I murmur to her.

We all get out of the van, and my mom tips the driver. She leads us to the room to change into our swim suits.

I put on my swim shorts and Mint puts on one of her bathing suits. Dad stays back in the room to organize our things.

Mint and I lead mom to the lagoon so we can swim, but mom literally coats Mint with sunscreen. She puts it on her back, shoulders and arms. Mint was literally white as chalk.

We had to sit on the side to let the sunscreen go in. When it was all done, I ran in the water with Mint. It was so much fun splashing around. The water was so clear and gorgeous, I can see my toes and the sand.

Mint played by herself a little as well, making mounds of sand and sculpting a turtle. She kept looking at me for my approval. It made me think of my letter…

I should draw more pictures! One of us holding hands. Another of us in the water, our bellies out because that’s always cute (Mint is so hot I swear!). And one of us sitting in front of the sunset, hearts over our heads. Perfect!

Mom urged us to come over, and we went to get snow cones. I got grape, pineapple and orange on mine. Mint got cherry, blueberry and lemon. She got the colors she wanted! Mom got one with lime, pineapple and cherry on her’s.

When we served our snow cones, we sat on the beach, eating them. It was sticky, and hard to eat at first, but when it started to melt, I was able to drink the juices at the bottom.

Mint was chattering away about the plants and flowers. She talked about all the colors, and that she knew what everything was.

When Mint rambles like this, I smile to her and let her just continue. I’m not that interested but Mint deserves to show off her skills, and knowledge. Sometimes it’s hard to see she has any!

After eating our snow cones, the juices spilling on our hands, Mint and I sit on the lounge chairs.

It’s around five, and the snow cone place just closed. Dad came out of the room and went in the water with mom while Mint and I bask in the sun. Mint digs her feet in the sand, getting so deep that it’s wet now, and I just stare. I’m thinking about Pearl Harbor again! I really want to go, maybe I’ll actually use my brain in learn something over summer break.

“Hey James.”

I look up from staring at my crotch, and smile at Mint. “Yeah?”

“Do you want to walk with me? I want to look over there,” she points up at the cliff side overlooking the ocean. “It must be gorgeous up there, don’t you think? Maybe we can see the sunset…”

That’s where I want to tell Mint how I feel… Right when the sun is setting. I get worked up over the thought of it, and my words get all caught up and I start stuttering my words. “Yeah, but, like… My parents… They can’t find us.”

“What?” Mint looks confused, but the face she’s making makes her look angry.

“Oh, I mean, we can go,” I am all nervous. James, don’t be nervous! This is the most romantic place in this whole resort! “Let me just tell my parents.”

I get up, and walk down to the water to tell my parents about how Mint and I will watch the sunset.

“Oh, we’ll come too!” mom says, running out of the water.

“No, it’s okay. Mint and I want to be alone a little bit,” I bite my lip, and look down at my toes.

“Um, sure,” mom looks at me, her eyes wide. “Whatever you want.”

“Yeah right,” dad says. “You’re not going alone with Mint. Just stay at the seat.” His tone his harsh, so I know he means business. Probably because I tried to eat an entire pizza to impress Mint, so he doesn’t trust me alone with her.

“Of course,” I nod, and run back to Mint.

“What did they say?” She jumps up, looking hopeful.

“They won’t let us go. So lets just hang out here.” I sit beside her. “You can see the sunset from here very well.”

She nods, smiling at me, but I think she’s disappointed. I am too, I could’ve been smooched!

We stare at the water, watching for the sun to come down. I see my parents playing in the water like children, but this is also their vacation, so they deserve to have fun.

We are quiet for a bit, but once the sun seems to hit the water, Mint says: “James, I’m sorry you got sick last night.”

“Oh it’s fine, I felt better after your gifts,” I promise her.

“Really?” She hugs me, and I feel her soft skin against my chest. I feel embarrassed at first, but I feel that good feeling, and I hug her back.

The two of us hug until I hear my dad yell across the sand “We’re going home!” he says.

I immediately let go, my face turning hot. Mint continues hugging. “Why did you let go?”

“Just because we’re going inside, so it’s fine,” I lie. I stopped because my parents could see us, and it was already weird enough with them watching us yesterday.

We walk back to the room in awkward silence. Mint keeps looking at me, smiling. I smile back at her, while she hits her hands together, giggling.

Mom scans the key in the door, and we all follow into the room.

“James,” dad says when we all get inside.

“Yes dad?” I take some fresh clothes to change into.

“Your mother and I are going to go out tonight, at the adult restaurant.” Dad explains.

“Oh, so what do we eat?” I ask.

“Don’t worry, there are a lot of leftovers from pizza night, so you two can have that,” dad assures me. “You and Mint can hang out for an hour or two.”

I like the sound of that. “Sure, I don’t mind.”

My parents get ready for their night out, and Mint, and I get in our pajamas. Mom kisses me good-bye and tells me where the leftovers are while dad holds the door open for her.

“There is the pizza in the fridge, along with the salad. Mint got you that orange juice. Eat as much as you like,” mom hugs me, and kisses my head. “Love you James.”

“I love you too mom,” I say, hugging her back.

“Have fun you two.” Dad signals to us a good-bye, and he along with mom go off to enjoy their night.

When the door closes, Mint and I eye each other. “What do you want to do?”

“Can we have sone pizza?” She scratches her face, looking a bit anxious.

“Sure, I’ll heat some up.” I open the fridge, and pull out the slices of pizza, the salads, and some Pepsi Max.

Mint gets some paper plates out along with some little plastic cups. I pour the Pepsi Max in a glass for each of us.

Mint sets up the plates, with napkins and plastic utensils on top. I got the pizza out and served both of us, putting out some salad on the side.

The two of us set up the table, glancing every so often at one another to see how the other is doing. When we sat down to eat, we both burst out laughing.

Then we stop, and eat our pizza looking at each other.

“What?” I say through laughter when Mint stares at me.

“What do you mean?” Mint giggled, almost choking. “You’re looking at me!”

“No, no, no,” I counter. “You started it.”

“No, you did. With your round, golden eyes and pink freckles,” she swallows, “you started it!”

I savour that one, because that was cute and flattering. I ate the warm pizza, and I quivered, excited when I felt it fall in my belly.

We began talking about the food, and about my parents going out. Mint says that she wishes she could go, but we had pizza instead, so it was fine.

Then, Mint changed the topic to school. “I’m scared to go to school, James. Kids are going to fo very bad things to me.”

“Like what Minty?” I lean in, and look her in round, nervous eyes.

“I’m scared the kids will hurt me, or make me do drugs,” Mint says. “They will bully me more.”

“Everyone is bullied,” I say. “I was bullied.”

“I know James, I went to school with you.” She sighed, and looked down at her pizza slice, chewing slowly. “I don’t want to be hurt James. I already went through enough at the other school!”

“It’s be fine Minty, don’t worry. I will protect you.” Before Mint went to my school in the fourth grade, she went to a special school so she could have therapy or something. The school had psychologists, and the teachers knew how to deal with a kid with autism. I remember in the fourth grade, Mint would still act up and Mr. McNicky scolded her.

“James, school sucks so much. It’s no fun, you’re the only good thing about it,” she sighs again. “You’re the only good thing about my life.”

“Minty, don’t say that. There is a lot in your life to live for,” I reach for her hand because she set her pizza down.

She looks at me. “You’re so cute James. So sweet and funny.” She was now giggling and smiling. But then she frowns and looks at her fingers. “But I find it wonderful that you say that to me. It’s good to know you truly care…”

“Oh, I do, very much,” I sputter, my mouthful of pizza. “Excuse me.”

“It’s okay James,” she rests her head on her hand, smiling at me. “I know one thing I live for.”

“What?” I say like an idiot, my mouth still full of pizza because I took another bite because I wasn’t planning to say anything.

“You. You are one thing I know I live for.” She smiles, and blushes, looking down embarrassed. “Is that dumb?”

“No, not at all,” I shake my head, finally swallowing. “Actually, I wanted to-” I cut myself off. Don’t say anything! “I wanted to tell you that I live for you too.” I manage a smile, tapping my fingers together.

“Are you excited for school?”

“Um, kind of.” I shrug. “I don’t want to be bullied more, but I think I will be.”

“I wish I could fight against bullies, you know?”

“But you can. I will fight the bullies for you,” I shove the last bite of my slice in my mouth. “I’ll take them down!” I get up, and flex for Mint.

She starts tittering, trying to suppress, but she was unable to control it. “James! You have no muscles!”

“What?” I turn to her, genuinely offended. “I mean, I have some.”

“I know right,” she says as she reaches over the table, poking my gut. “I can see them!”

“Okay, not there.” I back away, gripping my hands, gently, under my fat rolls. “But on my arms, and legs. I’m really strong, kids fear me.”

“Is that why Butch calls you Fatty Boy?” Mint looks up to me, grinning. “Fatty Boy is such a cute name, it fits you.” She sits back, nibbling away at her slice.

I sit down in my seat, picking at the salad, kicking a tomato around. “I can’t believe you just called me fat.”

“I’m just saying what I’m seeing,” she rebuts. “Besides, can you disagree Belly Boy?” She drinks her Pepsi Max while holding in a laugh, and I glare across the table.

“The other day you were saying I had a good tan, now you’re fat shaming a very slim, in shape, beautiful boy,” I inform her. “I am a bit round, but that does not mean I am a Fatty Boy.”

“Don’t be upset. I’m a Fatty Girl.” Mint takes the last bite of her pizza and picks up her dirty plate. “It’s okay. I like you soft anyway.” She throws away her plate and turns on the TV.

“Really? You like a softy boy?” I turn all the way to her.

“Sure.” She lays on the couch, one hand over her gut, channel surfing. I don’t think she is up to deal with my belly nonsense.

I eat my pizza and salad in silence, listening to the TV in the background. I recognize the voice from Mint’s favorite show “Dog Man.” She loves that show, she is literally obsessed.

When I finished my food, I ate almost the whole pizza, and I threw away my dirty plate. I opened the fridge and put the Pepsi Max away, and the leftovers of the salad. That salad was disgusting, the pizza was amazing, but the salad was like the white part of the lettuce. And it was soaked in ranch, I hated it!

I cleaned the whole table and went to sit with Mint, but I saw her fast asleep on the couch, breathing softly. She had the chair opened so it would rest her legs, and she had her hand beside her head. I sat beside her, and gently shook her.

“Minty,” I whisper to her softly.

She stirs, but sits up. “What? What is it? Fire?” She rubs her eyes, and looks around, a bit panicked. “Oh, hi James.”

“Hi Minty.” I scoot a little closer, and push some hair out of her eyes. “You passed out on the couch. I wanted to stay up with you, but if you’re sleepy…” I stop.

“If I’m sleepy, then what?” She blinks at me, and lays back down. “Because I am sleepy.”

“Then you can sleep,” I say. “You can sleep on my shoulder again.”

“Hmmm, sure…” She closes her eyes, and nuzzles a little closer to me. I wrap my arm around her and watch her fall asleep in my arms.

I continue watching the show on TV. Mint is twitching her fingers, and mumbling things. I suppose it’s just a dream.

I watch the TV for almost an hour, but Mint wakes up, and starts talking. “James, when will your parents be back?”

“Probably soon,” I tell her. I close the chair. “You want to play a game on the iPad?”

“We can do that.” She sits up and stretches, and I did my best not to stare at her belly because her shirt went up.

I pick up my mom’s iPad, and open Minecraft. I know that’s so dumb, but Mint and I enjoyed ourselves switching back and forth. We build a three story house, stables and a garden.

We talk the whole time, about school, and bullies. Mint is really worked up about school, I feel bad for her. She says how she doesn’t want to go to another special school, and that she’s scared. She talks about how Storm bullies her at home, and will probably get worse at school.

I listen to Mint while I mine coal with our iron pickaxe. Finally, I say: “Minty, no one will touch you. I won’t let them, I promise. I know I’m a Fatty Boy, but when I need to protect you, I’ll be a muscular boy.”

“Oh, that’s so cute! Muscle boy!” She puts her face in my chest.

I laugh, and rub her back. “Do you want to play now?”

“Yes,” and she takes the iPad.

I watch her play until nine, and when my parents don’t seem to be coming back, I get ready for bed. I’m exhausted from our hike and all the swimming, along with it being eleven in L.A., which is way past my bedtime.

I’m in bed beforw Mint, and I hear her brushing her teeth in the bathroom, with the faucet running on and off. I fall asleep. I couldn’t keep my eyes open!

I wake up a little later to my parents coming in. They’re talking so much and laughing.

I yawn, and stretch.

I hear my dad. “The kids are asleep.”

“I saw,” mom replies. “Poor Minty is whimpering in her sleep.”

“Yeah, James is planning his proposal,” dad jokes.

Instinctively, I sit up, hitting my head on the ceiling, but still yelling: “DAD! Shut up!”

Dad turns to me, and my mom pauses from taking her shoes off.

“James, what the hell did you say to me?” My dad snaps.

I hear Mint below me, yawning and saying aloud “What is happening? Someone tell me what is happening.”

“Nothing Minty, go back to sleep,” my mom hushes startled Mint.

My dad is looking at me, eyes wide, and making confused gestures like throwing his hands in the air. I shrug my shoulders at him, then make a “quiet” sign by putting my finger over my mouth.

I hear Mint’s gentle breathing again, and my dad signals me to come over. I crawl down the ladder, and I sit on the edge of the big bed.

“James, you have to chill out,” he says to me. “Calm down. She doesn’t know.”

“I know.” I rub my wrist nervously and look at her sleeping. She’s out, so she won’t hear us.

“When do you plan to tell her? We’re going home on Thursday.” He tells me. I hear the shower go on, realizing my mom is nowhere in sight.

“Maybe like Tuesday. I want to go to Pearl Harbor though. She doesn’t want to go, so if maybe if we go, I can practice or something.” I look back at him.

“Who’s we?”

“You and I. Mom and Mint can stay together, and eat out somewhere.”

“If you really want to go James,” my dad crosses his arms. “I hope it doesn’t scare you.”

“Oh, it won’t,” I ensure him “Don’t worry. I’ll be so worked up over Mint, it won’t be a problem.”

“Do you want me to schedule a short tour for Tuesday morning?”

“Yes please.”

My dad promises he will find something, and I head back to my bed, falling asleep.

 

The next day was Sunday. There were some activities in the afternoon today, but my parents seemed more interested in that red boat Mint and I saw a couple days ago.

The four of us get breakfast across the street, and my dad starts talking about the boat and Pearl Harbor.

“Ruby, James wanted to go to Pearl Harbor,” my dad brings up. “He and I can go, and you and Mint can stay in the resort.”

“Oh, James, you want to go to Pearl Harbor?” My mom asks me. “It’s okay if I stay with Mint. I don’t mind.”

“Yeah, I don’t want to go,” Mint interjected.

“We know,” my dad tells her. “You don’t have to worry.”

“You want to go to Pearl Harbor?” My mom asks me, somewhat surprised. “Since when?”

“I wanted to go for a little while. Don’t you want me to learn something?” I say.

“I didn’t say no, you can go,” mom tells me. “Mint and I can stay here, right Mint?”

“Yeah, sure, James can go. I do not care.” Mint looks at me. “Just have fun, and don’t tell me.”

I laugh. “Whatever you like Minty.”

“So we’re going on Tuesday, right James?” Dad asks me.

“Oh, yes! I want to see it! Maybe it’s be fun!” I clench my fists, and start jumping in my chair.

“Yeah, you really love the museums,” Mint comments. “Remember, last year, when we went to the Museum of Tolerance and you were so excited?”

“I really liked that. I liked learning about it, even though it showed us videos of Hitler yelling in the microphone!” I look out thoughtfully. “I learned a lot that day. You were so scared!” I reach in for Mint, and grab the sides of her tummy.

“I was scared. I felt so bad!” She pushes me away, and I feel stupid, again. “I always feel so bad because I’m German, even though I know it’s not my fault, but still, it’s so sad!’

“I don’t remember too much from that though. I just remember writing an essay about it, and you cried.”

“I did,” Mint says staring at her food, picking at the eggs. “Eggs are so gross!”

“I’ll eat it,” I say reaching to take her plate. “I’ll eat your eggs.” My idea is that if I try the eggs (Mint took a bite out of some of them), I will know the taste of Mint and maybe I can write a poem along with my letter. I know, I sucked before with my poems. It was so bad! I ripped it up and threw it in the trash because it wouldn’t make Mint love me if I called her fat. Well, we’re both Play-Dough bellies.

“Sure James. You need to get your muscles!” She rests her head on both hands and admires at me while I eat. “So cute…”

I eat my eggs, trying not to look gross because I already have her attention. This vacation is my chance to win Mint’s heart. I can imagine when I read it to her, her eyes getting wide, a beautiful glimmer in them, and then I get a kiss. Just like in the movies! I’ll kiss her right back, I want a taste of Minty! I mean, just as friends… Maybe… I don’t know. I just, I just have to win Mint’s heart!

 

All throughout the day I practice my letter in the mirror. I went to the bathroom next to the pools, reading over a rough draft that I could bring with me. It was weird when I would read it.

I would stand at the mirror in front of the sink, and a man and his kid walked in, and were staring at me. But I didn’t care. I needed to know this letter, not by heart, but to some degree so I can read it without stumbling on my words.

A couple times when I read it, I started crying, and I buried my face in my hands, kind of crumpling the letter, and sobbing to myself “Minty, I love you so much… I love you, please just say you feel the same way…” I couldn’t help it! I needed to wash my face so Mint wouldn’t question me. I feel like we’re more than friends, and I just hope she can understand, and maybe realize that as well…

All through Sunday and Monday I read over that letter. When my mom would coat me with sunscreen, or when we ate, or when I would go to pee, I took the letter so I could read it. When I went to the bathroom, I had to put it in my swimming shorts’ pocket, and the thing was literally soaked! Monday morning, I wrote a couple more fakes so if I ruined one, I could try another. Okay, I may be just a bit obsessed, but I swear, there are stakes!

Monday night, we were getting ready for dinner. I was really worked up because there were less than twenty-four hours until I told her. It was eight o’clock right now, and I planned to take her to the spot at six-thirty. We’re gonna talk a little, and I plan to lead her into the deeper parts of the water. At six-fifty, I’ll get my stuff ready. And I’ll read her the letter, and then we’ll see when the sun sets before the clock strikes seven…

We’re going to the expensive place across the street, the “Monkey Bar.” It’s really expensive, but my father wants to take us all out before I ask Mint out. I wish he chose a later day, maybe Tuesday night, because I had a hard time ordering. I was looking at the spaghetti and the letter I wrote was running through my head. Mainly the part that said: “It’s okay if you don’t feel the same way.” I don’t want her to say that! I know I said it’s okay if she doesn’t like me, but really, it’s not okay at all! It’s not! It’s not! It’s not okay at all!

All throughout dinner, I just staring at her. I was picking my nails, that is how nervous I am. I told myself that it’s okay if she doesn’t feel that way… It’s okay if we’re friends. Many boys and girls are just friends…

But then I think of the potential. Mint and I a team, growing up together, holding hands, kissing and marrying. Okay, marrying is a bit much, but when you feel this way, it’s always a thought that crosses your mind.

There is so much we could be. There is a whole world filled with possibilities! A whole life filled with stories to tell! A whole pair that is the definition of love! I could share it with her. I could share with her my home. My car. My child. My achievements. My life. My love.

When the spaghetti is served to me, I see the shredded mozzarella cheese, layered on top of my spaghetti, two basil pieces spread apart from each other perfectly… I look into it, and I see Mint. I see her pale skin, and round, beautiful, green eyes, looking right at me. Then I hear her voice echoing in my head… “I love you too James. I love you so much.” I stare at her eating salmon filet, and she looks up at me, and smiles, clueless about what I was thinking of.

You know when you are really excited and nervous at the same time, and you feel sick and it’s hard to eat food? That’s what I’m feeling now. It’s not a really good feeling, but all I can hear is that voice, ringing through my head all throughout the dinner. I eat my food, but I didn’t have an appetite for dessert, which is unusual.

I just have to remind myself, I have a chance. I have a chance of making my dreams come true. I have a chance of getting my first kiss. I have a chance at discovering my true soul mate. All I have to do is tell her.

 

The next day, I woke up pretty early. Well, not really. At eight o’clock my dad woke me up, and told me to get ready for our tour in Pearl Harbor. I dress a little more appropriate than before. What I mean by this is longer shorts and a button-up shirt. I looked pretty handsome, so maybe I can keep this for tonight as well… Even though I already have an outfit for that.

My dad and I eat some quick breakfast, and during this, my mom woke up as well. “You guys are ready to see Pearl Harbor?”

“Yes, I am very ready,” I say. I’m also very ready for Mint tonight. At least to some extent.

“James is excited. He’s gonna learn some stuff, aren’t you proud, Ruby?” dad jokes. I mean, I guess it’s a joke because I don’t learn anything during summer.

“I’m proud of James, he’s adorable and is also in love,” my mom tells him.

“A lot of people think I’m adorable…” I mutter.

“I know! Minty thinks you’re literally adorable!” my mom squeals.

I feel myself blushing. “I mean, I guess you can say that…”

“Are you done James?” my dad asks. “The van will be here soon.”

“Oh yeah, I’m full,” I get up, rubbing my belly down to signify that I’m full.

My mom hugs me. “You’re such a big boy,” she squeezes me and rocks me back and forth. Just like I do to Mint… “Mint will say yes to you, I promise.”

“Um, okay,” I say, looking at Mint, who is mumbling. “I love you mom.”

“I love you too, James. I hope you have fun at the Pearl Harbor. Tell Mint and I about it when you come back.” She lets go of me, and looks down at me. “You’re such a big boy at eleven.”

“I know mom, I am big boy.” I look away, touching my fingers together.

I see my mom smile from the corner of my eye, and I smile at the ground. It is then I hear Mint say: “Oh, James, you’re going to the Pearl Harbor?”

“Yeah, I’ll tell you about it tonight if you would like.” I say grabbing a light jacket.

“Hmm, I’m excited for you,” Mint says. “Have fun!”

“Of course!” my dad and I say at once. We wave good-bye and then we’re off to the van.

 

The drive is really short to my surprise. It takes less than thirty-five minutes to get there.

My dad leads me out, and I take his arm, a bit nervous. Is it weird for a young boy to go to Pearl Harbor? I don’t think so, but I still feel nervous.

It’s like a museum, but it’s a memorial. I mean, I think that’s the same thing… It’s a memorial because it’s built on the site.

A tour guide walks us around the memorial, talking about the attack. The guide, Vanessa, told us about how the tensions between the U.S. and Japan were going on for a while, but that Pearl Harbor was a sign of war. Japanese fighter jets flew over, and a little before eight in the morning, nearly destroyed twenty American naval vessels.

I learned quite a bit. I enjoyed myself, even though some of the videos and pictures kind of scared me. But it definitely took my mind off Mint, but I was still pretty excited for tonight.

The tour was a little longer than our hike that we did earlier in the trip. It also included lunch, and I was really getting worked up again. I brought some rough drafts again, and I was reading over them every chance I got. I can probably quote the whole thing by memory by now.

During lunch, I was feeling a lot of pride for myself. I realized that it took a really, really smart boy to plan all this out. I’m so clever! I made the card, bought the gifts, wrote the letter… I did everything without any help! I deserve to win Mint’s heart!

The ride home was fun. I kept giggling, and swinging my legs because I was so excited. I can imagine myself reading it. I’m so confident and Mint says yes! That’s just what’s dominating my brain right now. It takes center stage, and I love the show!

But then, backstage, there are the thoughts that she’ll say no. She tells me I’m weird. She tells me that she doesn’t feel the same way. She tells me that “we’re just friends.”

She’s smarter than that though, right? She must know what we are meant to be! We think almost identical. We love the same food. The same shows. The same movies. The same toys. The same YouTubers. The same games. We should feel the same way about each other, right?

Are we just friends and I’m just letting my brand new hormones take over? Did I lose sight of reality? Do I lack common sense? I hope not…

When the van parks in Aulani’s lobby, I start to get freaked out. It’s getting closer and closer until I tell Mint. I check off everything I did.

-Practice and rehearse letter: Check

-Get some gift and wrap them: Check

-Plan out location: Check

-Decide time: Check

I think I’m all checked out! Just need to ask her now, which is actually the hardest part… So maybe I’m not all checked out.

The thought of her saying no gives me a bellyache. It was around two o’clock by the time we got to the room. I was really nervous to see Mint. She wasn’t in the room, neither was mom. They actually went out and walked around, and got snow cones again. I wanted another snow cone, but my dad wouldn’t let me because he wanted me to be hungry for dinner, but of course Mint could get it!

I changed into a new set of clothes because I was kind of sweaty. I got on a nice outfit with one of those Hawaiian shirts tucked into some shorts. I think I look good. Hopefully so will Mint.

I take the gifts and letter and put them in a little bag that’s like a man-purse. I don’t want Mint to question it.

We leave the room at around three, and meet Mint and my mom on the beach. We all talk, and wander around from resort to resort. It was fun. Mint and I talked about games, and books, while my mom and dad talked about more vacations and the food we are all going to have tonight.

We’re going to a seafood place tonight before I tell Mint how I feel. It’s in the resort, so we’ll be out of the restaurant by six-fifteen if our reservations are at five o’clock.

Mint and I walked along the water when we came back, because we wanted to pass time. I take my sandals off, and Mint and I chase each other along the water. That was fun, even though I was putting all my effort into making sure my shorts didn’t get all wet. Mint didn’t care, but I really thought the dress she was wearing was really cute. It was light, and pink with little yellow flowers. My mom got it for her while my dad and I were gone. It got a little wet, but she still looked amazing – as always.

We go to our reservation a little early, at around five forty-five. We have to wait on the side, and now I’m getting the effects of stress. I was worked up before, but now my stomach was turning in on itself. My belly was gurgling all up until six o’clock. My mom had to reassure me multiple times, and tell Mint nothing was wrong. I don’t think Mint noticed, but when I was rubbing my aching belly, she asked “Does James have a bellyache?”

“Maybe,” I say, lifting my gut and letting it hang over my shorts. It actually really hurts, I’m having a hard time.

The waiter gives us our seat at six, and hands us our menus. I read it to myself, the menu shaking in my trembling hands. I look over the fish, and shrimp. I want a lemonade so maybe I won’t throw up. I’m really worked up, I have to calm down!

When we all order, and the food comes, I try to not focus on my worries. I comfort myself with thoughts of her saying yes. And it helps, to some degree.

Mint is talking a lot to me today. She asks about Pearl Harbor, and my dad and I tell her and my mom how it was. It takes my mind off the letter and all that for about the second or third time today. Maybe the fourth time, but whatever time it was, I definitely was calmed down.

I ordered the Buttered Shrimp, and I loved it! Mint got oysters, and she ate them with a spoon. I didn’t want to try her food, but I wanted her to try my shrimp. I want to get her a little curious, and maybe tonight will be the answer…

Dinner was long, and relaxing to say the least. I ate a lot, and even ate dessert, which was like a lava cake with chocolate chips and ice cream. When we left, the sun was on it’s course to set.

We went to the beach with everyone else to watch the beautiful sunset. We took some chairs, and some pictures. I kept checking the time, because at six-thirty, I wanted to take her to that beautiful spot…

I kept looking in my bag to see if I had everything. Which I did. So I was prepared. Now I’m just praying that 1.) She’ll say yes and 2.) She isn’t freaked the hell out!

We were sitting on the chairs, kicking sand and looking over the beautiful ocean when my dad says: “Well James, isn’t it really getting gorgeous?”

My mom nods her head in agreement. “It’s really getting beautiful, this sunset, isn’t it Eric?”

I look at my little watch and realize it’s six twenty-five! I turn to Mint. “Hey Minty, there’s a really pretty spot right up there,” I point up at the cliff side overlooking the ocean. “It’s very beautiful. I want to show it to you.”

“Oh, I wanted to go there earlier!” Mint jumps up. “Yeah, of course we can go James.” She then looks at my mom and dad. “Are they coming?”

“Um,” I look at each of them, both of their eyes round with anticipation.

“No, we’re going to stay down here,” my mom then says. “We might get our feet wet, and take some pictures.”

“Yeah, you two go on ahead,” my dad notions for us to go off. “Just come down when the sun sets.”

I nod my head, and feel this burst of adrenaline! “Of course! We’ll be back soon!” I wave to them, and grab Mint’s hand. “Come on Minty, it’s gorgeous.”

“Sure James,” and she follows me up the short pathway.

We get up there, and it has some people. It’s definitely quieter than the beach, but not as empty as I would have liked. But better this than packed with people.

I take out a little blanket from my bag, and lay it out. “Sit with me,” I offer as I pat the blanket to smooth it out for her.

She sits next to me. “Thanks James. It’s beautiful up here.” She looks around, scanning the surroundings. “The sunset will be amazing, I know it.”

“Oh yeah, me too.” I smile sheepishly at her, getting excited.

We start talking, like usual. I check my clock, and by six-forty, I decide it’s time to begin the journey of my love letter.

“Um, Minty,” I start off.

“Yes James?” She turns to me.

“I just wanted to tell you I’m having a great time with you, and that…” I pause, and breath so I don’t get choked up.

“I’m having a great time with you too James.” She smiles at me, and I regain some stride.

“I just wanted to tell you some stuff that I was thinking about during this trip.”

“What were you thinking about?”

“Just you. And me.” I heave a sigh. “I just have a lot of feelings for you. For a long time.”

“Me too James, I have some feelings too.” She scoots closer to me. I think I have her attention.

“You’re really sweet, and cute. You treat me so well, and I just feel we’re really close.” I back away, because it feels that we’re both leaning into each other. “I feel that we have a chance of being more than just friends…” I take my bag from behind me, and take out the little gift bag. “This is for you,” I hold it out for her.

She takes it, smiling. “You’re so sweet James. You bought all these gifts for me?” She takes out the little, wrapped earrings and looks over them. “Is it because I bought gifts for you?”

“Oh, um, no,” I shake my head. Maybe she doesn’t know what I’m trying to say.

She continues looking over them. “Then what is it for?”

I gently take the letter out, and open it. I take a really, really deep breath. “This is why,” I inhale again, and read. “Dear Mint, I’m writing you this letter because I know when I will try to tell you, I, I mean my…” I trail off, and start again. “Dear Mint…” I clench my teeth, realizing I’m holding back tears.

I know Mint has autism, but even she seems to see something is wrong. “James, is something wrong? Are you okay?”

“Let me try again,” I take a deep breath, one of those deep breaths when you’re crying at the same time and it sounds like a whimper. “Dear Mint, I’m writing you this letter because-” I stop. “I can’t read it Minty, I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be sorry,” she tells me. “Let me read it.”

I hand it to her, my hands shaking and the words floating around in my head. She immediately begins reading it, a smile crossing her face. Then I see little tears, just like me, rolling down her cheeks. “James, this is so sweet.” She looks down at it again and continues reading.

“You like it?” I ask, still crying.

“Like it? I love it!” She hugs me, and I feel relief wash over me. “You wrote this?”

“All by myself,” I boast.

She lets go, and we eye each other. “It’s amazing James. I didn’t know you could write so good.” She looks over it again, smiling. “You like my pudgy fingers?”

“I love them,” I say, holding in a laugh.

“And the drawings are so cute… You drew my belly,” she turns it to me and points to it.

“I know. I worked very hard on that letter…” I look away, and touch my hands together. “But all that aside, is there anything else?”

“Oh yes,” and she leans in and kisses me on my cheek. “That, and I like you too. I liked you ever since the fourth grade, almost the minute we met.”

“I know that part was a bit weird, but I just wanted to tell you.” I look at her, my heart thumping in my chest. I look up, and the sun is setting. The sky is pink, and orange. It’s gorgeous…

“James, you’re my favorite. You’re my best friend. Or best brother?” She looks confused. “No boyfriend, I’m too young like you said.”

“Well, at least I tried.” I shrug. “Mint, can I just have one last thing?”

“Sure James,” she says while looking over her gifts again.

“I just, I just want to…” I stop talking, and just kiss Mint. I kiss her lips. She kisses me back. It feels a bit weird, having Mint’s soft lips against mine. So then, I fall back, looking at her, my eyes wide in shock. I kissed Mint! “I’m sorry Mint. I didn’t mean it. I mean, I meant it, but, I just… I’m sorry, so sorry.”

“Why James?” She scratches her head. “I mean, aren’t we more than just friends?”

 

The rest of Hawaii was just as fun as before. I told my mom and dad what happened, and they thought it was hysterical. Mint was happy too, telling me I was so brave, and awesome.

I could hardly sleep that Tuesday night because I was so excited, but when I did, I felt so good!

On the plane ride home, Mint slept on my shoulder just like when she did on the car ride to the Aulani resort. I was exhausted when we got to LAX. Mint was leaning on me when we were waiting for our luggage. It was two in the morning!

The drive home was pretty good too. There was no traffic (well obviously, it was two in the morning). I slept in the car, and Mint slept beside me.

My dad let her stay over for the night because Mint’s mom was probably asleep, and already hated us enough, so she would be pissed if we woke her up at three or four in the morning.

Mint and I were really happy. We kept talking, and giggling, it was so weird! But I guess it’s okay. Everything turned out better than okay if I’m being frank.

We dropped Mint off at her house in the late afternoon. I took her things in for her, and we didn’t kiss anymore, but when I left, I heard her yell after me “I love you Jamesie Boy!”

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