“Koty…” Kyla Jameson breathes as she sits in the crowd of waiting wedding guests.
“Sorry, what did you say?” Lyla, Kyla’s five-year younger sister, asks.
“Oh, nothing,” Kyla says, “Just thinking out loud,” she adds as she gazes at the man next to the groom’s best man. Koty Cullen, she thinks to herself. Wow! I haven’t seen him in forever, she thinks as she remembers her days with him, nearly ten years prior. She was fifteen years old and he was seventeen. They had been best friends since birth, but things were about to change drastically.
“I can’t believe you’re leaving,” Koty says as he and Kyla sit at their favorite spot on a hidden pier at Sunshine River. The heartbreak he feels from knowing he may never see his best friend again is clearly seen in his eyes and heard in his voice. “I don’t know what I’m gonna do without you.”
“I know, Koty, I don’t know how I’m gonna survive freshman year without you!” she says as she draws her finger in the sand beneath them. “I’m going to miss you so much!”
“How could your parents do this? How could they just move you to England before you start high school? Before I start my senior year…I was going to ask you to be my date to prom!” he blurts out.
With a wide-eyed stare, all Kyla can do for a moment is gaze at her best friend’s downcast face. “You…. You can ask any girl you want, and any of them would say yes, but you would ask me. Why would you do that? Why would you ask a freshmen to senior prom?” she asks in shock.
Looking up from the water and staring into her eyes, he confesses, “Kyla, I know we’re still pretty young and that you haven’t even started high school yet, but… I…I really want to kiss you right now.” He was going to say he loves her, but decided he better not.
“Then why don’t you?” she asked both confused, though she knows what he really wants to say, and longingly.
“Because… Because I care too much about you. And…if I kissed you now…I know it would only hurt me. I can’t survive that kind of pain.”
“Koty…” Kyla breathes, not knowing what or how to say anything to him.
“Kyla!” her mother yells. “It’s almost time to go.”
Somehow hearing her mother yell the inevitable gives Kyla the courage to say what she wouldn’t say otherwise, “I know I’m only fifteen, but…I think I know how you feel, and I think I feel the same way…will you make me a promise?”
“I’ll promise you anything,” Koty promises.
“Will you wait for me?” she dares to ask. “I promise I’ll come back. I just…I want a chance with you…when I’m older, and we have a better chance.”
“I’ll wait for you, no matter how long it takes. I’ll save my first kiss for you, my first date…my first everything.”
“Kyla, it’s time to go!” her mother yells from the picnic area near the river. That’s when the waterworks start. Not only does Kyla start crying, but Koty does as well.
“I swear I’ll do it Kyla. I swear to wait for you! Even if it’s another ten years before we see each other again.”
Through the whole wedding and reception, Kyla struggles to focus on the bride, her friend Sarah Jenkins, because the whole time Koty is an obvious presence in her mind. After the ceremony and reception, she greets the new Mr. and Mrs. Adam Smith, and with her sister, she starts to walk home.
“Kyla, are you alright,” Lyla asks as she stops her sister in their steps.
“Yeah, don’t worry, Lyla, I’m okay. I just have a lot on my mind,” she answers as she feels a tap on her shoulder.
“Hey, Princess,” an all too familiar, but long unheard voice whispers behind her.
“Oh my gosh, now I know why you’ve been so quiet since the moment we sat down at the ceremony. You knew who one of the groom’s men was. I can’t believe after all these years, the one and only, Koty Cullen is here,” Lyla says, recognizing the nickname Koty always used to use to address her sister.
Moving around slowly, Kyla turns to see the man behind her—the man she had been dreaming about every night for the past ten years. “What are you doing in New York?” she asked.
“What is any crazy artist doing in New York? I moved here nine years ago, right after graduation, to get a job. I now own a studio, which I have split into an art studio, a recording studio, a dance studio, and a photography studio,” he answers proudly. “You should come by some time; it’s called Arte Bella in downtown Manhattan.”
“Sorry to interrupt again, but is that the studio next to Starbucks and The Book Store, because I go there every single morning to check out your students’ art! We live in the apartment complex right across the street,” Lyla asks informatively.
“Yes, actually, it is. It’s strange I haven’t seen you before, you’re the one I noticed before I saw Kyla, you’d think I’d notice you at the store. How long have you been visiting?”
“Well, we’ve lived here for three years, so I’ve probably been visiting for the past two and half years,” Lyla answered.
“Why haven’t you ever visited, Kyla?” Koty asks curiously.
“I’m normally in The Book Store reading or writing something,” Kyla answers. “Besides, Arte Bella has always been Lyla’s thing.”
“Always the bookworm and grammar freak,” Koty teases reminiscently as he winks. “So, what brought y’all to New York?”
Hesitating to answer for a moment, Kyla debates whether she should tell him the full truth or half the truth. Lyla looks over at her big sister and gives her an encouraging smile. “Well, after my graduation, I begged my parents to let me move back home. They were hesitant at first, but eventually they decided I could move in with Aunt Lexi. Because we became best friends after leaving Georgia for England and losing our friends, Lyla immediately begged if she could move with me. My parents decided it was okay, so we lived in Rome until she graduated. Then, as Lyla already said, we moved here three years ago. We figured what better place for a couple aspiring writers and musicians to live than New York City.”
“Oh,” Koty responds awkwardly, feeling regretful that she didn’t find him at home. No one knowing what else to say, they walk in silence for a while. Then Koty comes to a realization. “Kyla, do you know what today is?”
“May 24,” she answers confused.
“Yes, more specifically, it’s the ten year anniversary since we last saw each other. Do you remember the last thing I said to you before you left?” he asks hopefully.
With realization dawning on her face, as if she had somehow forgotten those words she reminded herself of hundreds of times a day, she asks, without daring to hope, “And did you, Koty? Did you do what no twenty-seven year old man could ever do?”
Having had many in-depth conversations with her sister, Lyla knows what they are talking about; she also knows how emotional it is, so she stops walking, until they are just barely out of earshot, and slowly starts walking again.
“Of course I did, Kyla,” he promises. “I promised I would, didn’t I?”
“You did, but we were kids, and you were a senior, while I was a freshmen. As much as I had hoped, I never actually expected you to keep your promise,” Kyla admits, doing everything she can to avoid Koty’s eyes.
Noticing that Kyla refuses to look at him, Koty stops dead in his tracks, with Lyla stopping behind him, and gently turns Kyla toward him. “Kyla,” he says, hoping she’ll look at him. When she doesn’t he begs, “Please look at me.” Once she reluctantly looks up at him, directly in his eyes, he says, “I swear I waited for you, and I promise it was no struggle at all. I didn’t date anyone, or hold a girl’s hand. I didn’t kiss anyone, or do more with anyone. Heck, I didn’t even take anyone to prom. I trusted that we would somehow meet again, and I clung to that trust with every ounce of my being.”
“That’s impossible,” Kyla says, “There’s no way it wasn’t a struggle. It’s been ten years, you had to have been attracted to someone!”
“I won’t lie and say I was never physically attracted to another woman, but I will tell the truth and say no woman has ever mentally, emotionally, or spiritually attracted me as anything more than a friend. My attraction to you has always been way too strong! I know it sounds cheesy, like some lame chick flick where you know the ending, and very strange, like I’m a creeper or something, but I always wanted to be in love with you. I always wanted to meet you again, take you on a date, and marry you. And, I would be beyond honored if you would let me call your parents and ask their permission to pursue a relationship with you, for the pure purpose of marriage.”
“Somehow, I doubt my parents would have any problem with that,” Kyla answers with a grin. “I know I certainly wouldn’t, and Lyla always thought it would be cool to have you as a brother,” she adds.
To Possibly be continued in another short story…