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“Hayley!” you yell, poking your head out of your dad’s old jeep. “Come on!”
Sighing, I snap one more picture of the flower I’ve been focusing on for the past ten minutes, and start walking toward the school parking lot. I breathe deeply as I walk, savoring the warm sunlight on my skin and the faint scent of the lilacs that grow behind the football field. This was the same place that I’d just spent my entire free period, taking enough pictures to fill up my camera’s entire memory. Now that the school day was over, though, you and I could go wherever we wanted.
As I hop in the passenger’s seat, you look over and smile at me adoringly. “My little photographer,” you say affectionately, squeezing my hand and starting the engine. “Let’s go to my house, I want to look at dresses for us, and you can work on your collage.”
“Okay.” I smile. Ever since the night that almost tore us apart, the night that you showed me the picture, I got into photography. Really into it, to the point where I’d taken to toting my camera around everywhere, taking so many pictures of my friends that they’d started jokingly covering their faces every time they saw me. You’d gotten used to it, though, and you agreed to letting me make a giant collage of pictures of us. It had become a bit of an obsession once I started it, and now I was always working on it, bringing it back and forth between our houses. Currently, it was in your room, after I’d brought it there last night with the intent on both studying and working on it, a plan that didn’t exactly work.
Meanwhile, your latest hobby has been searching for prom dresses for us, a thought that still intimidates me a little. After our scary almost-breakup, I’d promised to be more comfortable with our public relationship, and that included going to prom. Even though most people at school were either totally fine with our relationship or just didn’t care, there were still times I overheard or saw something I wished I hadn’t. Names they called us, whispers and raised eyebrows when we held hands in the halls. But I followed your advice and did my best to ignore it, to focus on our own happiness.
“Turn on the radio, would you?” you ask as you slide on your sunglasses and start pulling out of the parking lot. Obligingly, I turn on my favorite oldies station, and crank up the staticky ACDC song so it blares out of the car’s old speakers. You laugh as I sing along shamelessly, loud and hopelessly off-key. “Come on, Soph, sing with me,” I say, grinning and poking your arm. At first, you roll your eyes, but after a minute, you laughingly join in. We grow gradually louder, until we’re belting out the lyrics, rolling through town and attracting amused glances from people on the streets. We can’t stop laughing.
Once we reach your house, we hop out of the Jeep, still laughing. The sunshine is too nice for us to stay inside, so I grab my collage from upstairs and bring it out into your backyard. A minute later, you join me, lying down on the grass with a few catalogs and prom-themed magazines.
“Looks great,” you comment, nodding at my collage and smiling.
I look down at it proudly. “Thanks. It does, doesn’t it?” Setting it down on the grass, I sit back to admire it.
The pictures are glued onto a giant piece of poster board that I cut into a heart. In the very center is the picture, the one you showed me on the night we nearly broke up. Surrounding it are some of the many pictures I’ve taken of us over the past three months. There’s us at the beach, smiling sleepily at the camera as we lie on our towels. There’s you, sitting halfway up on your bed, squinting, your hair tangled, flipping your middle finger at the camera for catching you half awake. There’s a picture on of our friends took without us knowing, of me sitting on your lap, laughing at something, you kissing the top of my head, your arms around me. There’s one you took of me, making a face at the camera, a lit cigarette between my fingertips, its tip glowing red against the black of my shirt. There’s you, looking particularly gorgeous at a party, winking at the camera and making a heart with your hands. There’s one of one of the trees in my yard, with the words Hayley+Soph roughly etched into the bark.
All of these pictures wordlessly tell our stories, showing all the moments we’ve shared.