When I was young, I was friends with a neighborhood boy who liked the same things as me. Both of us were dirt poor, but it didn’t matter; as long as we had each other, there was always a make-believe adventure right around the corner. He grew up to be a star basketball player, and now that he’s wealthy beyond imagination, he seems to have forgotten where he came from.
I hadn’t talked to him in years, but my mom’s death brought him back to the old neighborhood, where I reconnected and reintroduced him to the life he had left behind. I was nervous and didn’t know what to say. Because I had just lost my mom, I started crying. He gently put his hand on my shoulder to comfort me.
“Hi, Cole… You probably don’t remember me, but I’m Kara! We used to live in the same neighborhood and used to like the same things…”
He smiled at me and said, “Of course, I remember you! You were always so kind and put others before yourself! I’m so sorry about your loss, but I would love to catch up with you, just not here…” I nodded and gave him a hug. He remembered me but didn’t remember where he came from…
“How’s your basketball career going?” I asked him after our hug, and he replied, “It’s going great! I made a lot of friends on the team, but I heard about the passing of your mom… I wanted to see you. I wish it were under better circumstances. I’m sorry I didn’t come home earlier. I’ve just been so busy, and-”
“Shush. It’s okay. Seriously, I’m just glad you’re here now.” I beamed a reassuring smile at him through my clenched teeth. He could have visited if he really wanted to. He wouldn’t need a life-altering event to drag him here if he really yearned to see me. Did he even miss me at all? God knows I missed him.
Well, he guided me to the pond in Camden Park, which used to be our “top secret” hangout spot. “There, nobody will be nagging for my autograph here.” He laughed, but I’m not all too convinced he was kidding. After all, he is quite a big deal now. I go to talk, but before any words come out, he speaks first.
“Listen, Kara… I was wondering if you’d like to get coffee sometime?” I smiled and nodded. “I’d love to, Cole.” Tears were still streaming down my face. He lifted his hand and caressed my cheek, wiping the tears away. “Don’t cry. You’re too pretty to cry.” I was taken aback by what he had said. He thinks I’m pretty? He added, “I know you’re hurting, but you need to be strong, for yourself… and for your mom. I don’t like seeing you like this.” I sniffled and nodded.
I started backing away and walked towards the pond. “I missed you, Kara. Even though I was busy with basketball, I always thought about you.” I turned around to look at him, tears forming in my eyes again. “I don’t understand… how do you remember me, but you can’t remember where you came from?” Cole tilted his head. “I don’t know. I remember this neighborhood, but maybe I don’t remember the place where I was born. You were my best friend back then, so how could I forget you?” He replied, smiling. He started walking towards me.
“Remember when we were kids, this was our hangout spot?” I smiled and nodded.
“Of course, I remember. We had a lot of fun together and made a lot of fond memories.” I paused for a moment and looked at him.
“Hey Cole, I missed you too. I wish you visited more…” He frowned.
“I wanted to, but with basketball and everything, I was in a tight spot…” He started crying.
“Did you even miss me at all? I really missed you! You were my best friend! Your dream was always to be a basketball star, and you achieved it. Do you know how hard it was for me to take care of my mom and worry about you?” Tears started rolling down his face.
“Of course, I missed you, Kara! And I’m so sorry that I didn’t visit you more…” I sighed.
“It’s ok, Cole. I understand. If I was a basketball star, I’d probably be busy as well. I didn’t mean to yell at you. I’m sorry.”
Cole wiped his tears away and gave me a hug. “Don’t be sorry. You have every right to be mad at me. I should’ve made time for you despite my busy schedule. You would do the same for me.”
I wiped away my tears and replied, “Of course, I would.” I wasn’t mad at him…
After our hug, I decided to walk to the pond to see the beautiful fish. Cole was standing behind me in the grass. “Kara, be careful!” I turned around. “I’ll be fine-” Suddenly, I slipped on the rocks in the pond and hit my head on one of them. Everything went black.
“Kara!” Cole started panicking. “Kara, hang on!” Cole ran towards Kara and picked her up. Her forehead started bleeding.
He quickly grabbed his phone from his jacket and dialed 9-1-1.
“9-1-1, what’s your emergency?”
“Help, my friend was playing in a pond and slipped and hit her head on a rock. It’s bleeding!”
The dispatcher responded, “Please calm down, sir. What’s your location?”
“Ok, help is on the way!”
After a few minutes, sirens were heard, and the ambulance arrived. There were two EMTs. The one EMT asked, “What’s her name?”
Cole replied, “Kara. Kara Williams.”
“And what’s your name, kid?”
The EMT sighed. “She’s lucky she didn’t hit her head too hard. She would’ve died…”
Cole gently put Kara down on the gurney that the two EMTs had rolled out. They opened the back doors and wheeled her into the ambulance. The EMT said, “Hop on, kid.” Cole nodded and quickly jumped on.
On the way to the hospital, Cole held Kara’s hand the entire time. When the EMTs opened the back doors, Cole jumped off to help the EMTs wheel Kara into the hospital. After a few minutes, Kara was moved into a hospital room. Cole sat there in the chair by her bedside. There was a bandage wrapped around Kara’s head, and Cole noticed dark circles around her eyes. He started crying while whispering, “This is all my fault… I shouldn’t have let you go into the pond. You always had a thing for nature.” He got up and gently placed a kiss on Kara’s cheek.
Tears were rolling down Cole’s face, and he whispered, “I’m so sorry. Please wake up…” Cole realized that before the accident, she was overwhelmed by losing her mom and then seeing him after all this time. It was only a few years since they last saw each other.
Cole wanted to visit her, but he was always busy with basketball. He hated it. All of a sudden, Cole looked at Kara and said, “I love you, Kara…”
Whose voice is that? I started to wake up. Pain shot up to my forehead. I groaned and squeezed someone’s hand. Whose hand is this?
I slowly opened my eyes, but it was blurry. “Mom?”
Cole sighed in relief. “Kara! You’re awake!”
“Who are you?”
Cole frowned. “It’s me, Cole!”
Cole? My vision became clearer. “Oh my God, Cole! What are you doing here?”
He replied, “We were at our hangout spot at Camden Park, and you wanted to see the fish in the pond. I warned you to be careful, but it was too late. You slipped on some rocks and hit your head. I called 9-1-1 and here we are…”
“Oh… I’m sorry I made you worry…”
Cole wiped away his tears. “It’s ok. I’m just glad you’re safe. Kara, I have something to tell you.”
I tilted my head and asked, “What is it?”
Cole took a deep breath. “I think I always liked you more than a friend. When we were little, I had a crush on you. I still do. Despite me being busy with basketball, I had plenty of chances to visit you, but I never did. I’m so sorry. I’m such a jerk.”
I could tell he was being genuine. “Cole, I-”
He added, “I know this is all too much… but I love you, Kara.”
I smiled at him. “You’re not a jerk. And I’m not mad at you, so please stop thinking that. I already told you I understand. Being a basketball star isn’t always easy. And I love you too.”
Cole started blushing. “Kara, I’m serious-”
I giggled and grabbed his arm. I pulled him into a kiss. After we pulled away, I smiled. “I know, Cole. I love you too. After all, it started with me and you.”