Chapter 14

When Shayla and I arrived at the park, she didn't waste any time waiting for me to open her door. She immediately got out and ran to the swings. I shook my head, smiling as I followed her to the swings.


"Swings are the best part at the park," Shayla told me as she started swinging.


"I would agree, but the monkey bars and slides are my absolute fave."


"Monkey bars and slides are cool and all, but you feel free when you're swinging towards the sky."


"If you say so." I smiled.


"You know I'm right! I really love it when I jump off. I feel like I'm flying. One time, I really did fly."


"Yeah, right." I rolled my eyes playfully.


"I'm serious!" She laughed. "I was gliding for five seconds. Then I fell. It was fun while it lasted. I really couldn't believe it was happening!"


"So, what did you do? Stick your arms out like a bird and flap your wings?"


"You got jokes, I see," she laughed. "I did stick my arms out, but I definitely did not flap my wings. How else would I fly?"


"Magic!"


"Oh yeah, it was totally magic." She said in a sarcastic tone.


"Of course, it was. Nothing beats magic."


"Michael, why don't you come and swing with me?"


"Alright, I will. I'm going to jump and fly as you did."


"Oh no... You can't do that. That's a once in a lifetime experience. You can't plan to fly when you jump off a swing. Besides," she smirked. "I'm the only one who has the power to fly."


"Oh, is that so? Watch me prove you wrong, Ms. Shayla-Elizabeth Johnson." I said as I got on the swing and began swinging.


"Ooo! You used my full name. You must be pretty serious!" We laughed.


I started to swing higher than Shayla, "I'm going to prove you wrong, Shayla!" I shouted as I got higher.

"Yeah, right!" She started swinging higher.


"Three, two, one!" I shouted and jumped off. I swung a tad bit too high. I started gliding for my five seconds and fell to the ground on my feet.


Shayla gasped, "Jeez, Michael! That was pretty high!"


"Yeah, and don't you forget that I was gliding too!"


"Oops, my bad. I blinked. Can you do it again?" She teased.


I cut her a look, "I proved you wrong. You know you saw me too." I laughed and leaned against the swing pole.


"Okay... I'll admit, I saw you. You proved me wrong. Congratulations. You never have the power to fly."


"Thank you, thank you!" I bowed.


"Since I proved you wrong, you owe me something."


"Oh, yeah? And what is that?"


"Hmm..." I thought about it. I didn't want to be too forward, so I settled on a hug. "Perhaps a hug?"


"A hug?"


"Mmhm. Come on. You know I deserve one." I smiled as I opened my arms. She rolled her eyes playfully and got off of her swing to hug me. I held her close and closed my eyes. "You give awesome hugs," I whispered.


"An awesome hug? I've never heard that one." She laughed as she tried to break away.


"Nope. Not yet."


"That's more than five seconds!"


"Who said I was timing?" I asked as I let her go.


"Well, Mr. Jackson. I'm going to go over to your beloved monkey bars. Will you join me?"


"Will I ever?" I smiled and ran over to the monkey bars.


"Well, you're excited!" She shouted.


"I'm too tall for these." I sighed.


"Well, just lift your legs." She suggested and jumped up to hang on a bar.


"How tall are you?"


"Five, five." She grunted and made her way on top of the bars. "How about you?"


"Five nine."


"You're as tall as my dad. All of my brothers tower over you by at least two or three inches though." She jumped off.


"You're not afraid of heights, are you, Shayla?"


"Nope. People aren't really scared of heights. It's the fall that's really frightening. I'm not afraid of the fall." She shrugged.


"Is that so?"


"Are you afraid of the fall?"


"Sorta..."


"Don't be. It's quick when you think about it. It's not that bad. You weren't afraid of the fall from that swing. I want to go skydiving one day."


"Yeah, you're crazy! But-"


"Don't be afraid of any fall." She made her way over to me. I looked in her eyes then looked down at her lips. As much as I want to kiss her, I have to resist until the right time. I bit my bottom lip. "What's wrong?"


"Nothing," I said as I looked around to find a slide. "Now, that's a cool looking slide over there."

I could feel her still looking at me before she decided to turn around and look at the slide, "Woah! That does look fun! I'll race you to it!" She started running.


"No fair! You're cheating!" I started running.


"Nuh-uh! You're just a slowpoke!" When I finally got to the slide, she was already climbing up the ladder. I climbed behind her. "Hurry up, slow poke! There's a nice view up here!"


I finally reached the top and stood behind her, "wow, this is a nice view." She turned around and smiled at me. I smiled back as I bent down to slide, "last one down is a rotten tomato!" I called as I went down.


"Rotten tomato?! Cheater!" She slid down behind me.


"Shayla-Elizabeth is a rotten tomato!" I laughed.


"Michael, you're the rotten tomato! You cheated!" She whined as she got off the slide.


"Me? A cheater? No... I simply went down the slide an told you that you were a rotten tomato."


"I got you next time, Michael."


"Oh, you do, huh?"


"Yep, I sure do. And you won't even know it."


"Ooo, I'm shaking in my boots."


"You better be, because you have no idea what I have in store for you, Mr. Sir."


"Mr. Sir?"


"Yep." She nodded.


"Okay, I'm sorry, Shayla. Here, let's make up. Come give me a hug." I opened my arms.


"Oh no... I got you. Don't try to soften me up."


"I want a hug. Hugs never do any harm."


"You're not getting a hug from me."


"Aww...." I pouted.


"Nope. That face isn't going to get you anywhere. No matter how much you try." She folded her arms.


"Please?" I smiled.


"Nope."


"Please?"


"Nope."


"Fine." I picked her up and put her over my shoulder.


"Ahh! Michael put me down!" She screamed.


"Nope." I started to run a little.


"If you drop me, I will be very upset."


"Interesting. Let me drop you then."


"No!" She screamed as she held onto me tightly.


"I'm not going to drop you, girl."


"You better not!" She said as I put her down.


"I see that smile on your face." I smiled.


"You're making me blush."


"I can't help, but to compliment your natural beauty."


She smiled, "well, thank you."


"Anytime."


"Where are we going?" She asked as we made our way to the car.


"Do you want some ice cream?"


"I do! I love ice cream!" She was excited. "Michael, you're strong." She said and touched my biceps. I opened her door for her to get into the car.


"What's your favorite flavor of ice cream?" I asked.


"Sherbet."


"Sherbet is good."


"I know! People always ask why I like it so much. They think it's nasty, but it's not. What's your favorite?"


"Um, I'd have to say Cookies and Cream."


"I like that one, but then again so does the whole world."


"I used to like Chocolate."


"I like all flavors of ice cream, except for Mint Chocolate Chip, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough and Blue Moo."


"Blue Moo?"


"Yeah, it's a Cincinnati thing. It's blue ice cream that kind of tastes like bubble gum and it has cookie dough balls in it."


"That just sounds nasty."


"Exactly. Matthew loves it though."


"Does he know you're out here?"


"Yeah, I tell him everything."


"You two seem close."


"Yeah, but he definitely annoys me sometimes. Boys will be boys though." She shrugged.


VII


"Can I try the Cookie and Cream Deep Freeze?" Shayla asked the clerk.


"Sure thing," he smiled and began making it for her. I waited my turn as I pondered what I would get. She watched as he put the ice cream in the cup and put it in the mixer. 


I pushed a strand of hair behind her ear. "I like your hair."


"Thank you! And I like your afro." She smiled.


"I'm thinking of getting something different done to my hair," I confessed.


"Aww, I'm going to miss the afro. What do you want to do with it?"


"I might try one of those perms they have out now."


"I don't use them personally, so I can't really say anything positive or negative about them."


"Here you go, Miss," the clerk handed Shayla her ice cream. "And for you, Michael?"


"I'll just have a Vanilla ice cream cone."


"Do you come here often?" Shayla asked me.


"Oh, yeah. They treat me like family here."


"Do you get special discounts?"


I smiled, "maybe..." She smiled and put a spoonful of ice cream in her mouth. After I paid for our stuff, we sat outside to ear. "What do you think of LA?" I asked her.


"It's beautiful. The weather is really nice. Have you been to Ohio?"


"Yeah, I've been to all the major cities."


"Columbus is the best out of all of them."


"Why is that? Because of Ohio State University?"


"Yeah, but also because it's the capital and it's really pretty."


"Understandable. Do your parents know you're here?"


"I didn't tell them, but I'm sure Matt told them. He'll tell them anything. Oh yeah, Robert and Mary are getting married."


"Really? When?"


"Once I get back. My dad isn't going though. When my dad told him, that was the first time I've seen Robby shed a tear as a grown man."


"That's horrible."


"I know. He was devastated. My mother said she'll try to convince him to go though."


"I hope she can."


Shayla sighed, "me too."


"Do you want to head back to the house? It looks like it's going to rain." I looked up at the sky.


She looked up at the sky too, "we should go swing at the park again."


"And get wet and sick? I think not."


"We won't get sick."


"How do you know?"


"Because I said so." She shrugged. "Tell you what, I'll give you a hug if we can go to the park for at least thirty minutes."


"No. If we do that, you have to give me unlimited hugs. You're jeopardizing my health. I can't just get one hug out of this."


"Fine. Unlimited hugs."


"So..." I hinted at her. She rolled her eyes playfully and gave me a hug.

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