When it became 7am, Arthur said goodbye to Kat and started to get ready for the hike that they planned together. Arthur’s mom was down stairs cooking yet again. Arthur and his brothers get ready for school, and once Arthur gets dropped off, he waits for Tyler to come by with his car and the girls. His mother doesn’t know that they’re ditching school to go hiking, but Arthur is sure that his mom wouldn’t even care. Tyler comes around with his car and a cowboy hat and tips it.
“Howdy, pardner! Why don't you be a good fella and hop on in." Tyler says. Arthur and everyone starts to smirk and then Arthur lets out a laugh,laughing so much he started to cry as he got in the car. The trip to the park lasts 2 hours and while they are driving there, Arthur thinks about what he should say to Elizabeth. They get to a gate that surrounds Huntsville state park. There’s a guard there, allowing anyone that pays to enter the park and camp if they please. The guard stares at them with confusion.
“Shouldn’t you kids be in school?” The guard said slowly walking out of the cabin he works in.
“Well, no, because school is over for Oak Ridge.” Tyler says with a smile. The guard looks at them and sighs, letting them go. They park and get out of the car and get the backpacks and cooler that they packed this morning. “OK guys, we follow this route and we’ll hike about 10 miles. Is everyone ready?” Tyler says, arms on his hips, ready for the climb.
Elizabeth, drinking water, gives a thumbs up; Kat doing stretches nods, and Arthur agrees as he heads to the restroom. “Ok, let's just wait for Arthur and we can get going.” As Arthur gets out, Tyler waves his hand signaling the gang to start walking behind him. Tyler has been hiking this route almost every week by himself and decided that since school is close to ending, they should try to do the hike with him. Tyler has always been the more athletic guy in their group, but he wanted friends that were more laid back and didn’t try to run the entire 10 miles, so he asked Arthur and they asked Elizabeth and Kat to hike with them. Tyler is wanting to join the Marines and helps Arthur with exercises and workout sessions. Their hike is a difficult one, with everyone tripping a few times here and there. Kat walks right behind Tyler talking to him as they let Elizabeth and Arthur have some more alone time.
“So Elizabeth, how are you liking the hike?” Arthur asks as they traverse the path.
“Oh it's good. I'm glad we came out here to enjoy some nature. We don't do this often because we stay inside playing games, which I don't mind but still, it's always nice to do things like this. How about you?” Elizabeth says as she trips. Arthur however, is fast enough to grab her before she falls. He blushes and Elizabeth follows not far behind as they back off each other and laugh a bit. “Haha, sorry clumsy old me, right?”
“No, you’re fine Elizabeth, I'm sure I’ll fall once or twice on this hike. Just be sure to catch me when that happens, ok? Speaking of, it's great. I agree that being outside helps relax and calm me down. Being with you makes me feel more free and-” Arthur stops and realizes what he’s saying. “I mean, you and Tyler and Kat are great friends and, uh, yeah.” Arthur looks at Elizabeth, who is frowning a bit, but shrugs it off and continues. The group had hiked 8 miles when they got to a lake. They all sit down and rest for a bit, grabbing snacks and water before walking again. Elizabeth eats a bit and gets up to start some more stretches, but when she does, Kat and Tyler signal Arthur to go and talk to her since it would probably be a good idea to do it now. Arthur looks at them fearfully,then at Elizabeth, then back at them. He shakes his head fervently and Tyler starts to look very serious and walks over to Arthur and whispers to him.
“Arthur, this is your time to do it and if you don't, I feel like there won't be any better moments today. We won't hate you for what happens and neither will she ,in fact, whatever you say, as long as it’s not mean or horrible, she’ll love it and she’ll accept whatever comes out of your mouth. Now go.” Tyler pushes him to her and Arthur looks at her, takes a deep breath, and becomes the confident person he needs to be. He walks up to Elizabeth and looks up to the lake. She finishes her stretches and looks at him.
“Hey Arthur, what’s up? Need to talk about something?” Elizabeth asks as Arthur turns to her.
“Elizabeth, I’ve known you for the entire time I’ve been in high school, and I think that these four years with you, me, Tyler and Kat have been some of the best years of my life, but it's not just that. I slowly started to learn something about you, that I didn't notice or cared about until this year.” Arthur looks into her golden eyes, that sparkle with sunlight as she listens to the next words that come out of his mouth, as if they’re his last. “You are truly an amazing and beautiful woman and I want to make you happy and-” Elizabeth closes her eyes and puts her hands on Arthur's face. Arthur feels her lips touch his. This is his first kiss ever in his lifetime and the warmth of her lips surprises him. They stay like this for a while. To them however, it felt like time slowed down, making this moment last forever. Arthur opens his eyes just as Elizabeth opens her, and that's when they slowly back up from each other. Elizabeth bends her head down, moving some hair behind her ear again. Arthur puts his hand on her cheek. Their eyes meet again and they smile. Tyler ruins the moment and comes up right behind Arthur and slaps his shoulder.
“Well, well, you two should get a room, haha.” Tyler jokes as Arthur and Elizabeth blush in embarrassment. Kat giggles and walks up behind Tyler.
“Now, let’s continue this hike, ok?” They all nod and finish the last 2 miles, Arthur and Elizabeth holding hands, enjoying their new found love for one another.
When they complete their hike, Tyler suggests that they go eat somewhere and, surprisingly, head to McDonalds for a refreshing few pounds back from that hike. After that kiss, Arthur feels more open with everything, more fearless, ready for anything to come his way. Tyler looks at Arthur, being proud of what they all became, not just close friends, but a family that trusts each other with secrets that they know would be kept. As Tyler's mind slips away and he looks at Kat.
"I think we should tell him." Tyler finally says. Kat stares at him in confusion, and realizes what he means. Her eyes widen in horror
"NO. We promised to not tell him anything about that." She stops herself and looks at Arthur and smiles.
"Well that ruined my mood. Guys, what are y'all talking about?" Arthur asks, looking at Tyler and Kat, who is now looking down in embarrassment. Elizabeth looks at them in confusion. "Y'all can tell me anything, right? I thought we wouldn't keep secrets from each other." They continue to stare, frozen and unsure what to say. Arthur feels the restaurant start to become quiet, the sound of the employees are muffled by the walls and the sizzling of the fries. Arthur is baffled by this and gets up. "Fine, if you don't want to tell me then don't. I'm going to use the restroom." Arthur walks away to get a breather. What were they talking about? Arthur thinks to himself. Back when they were in their junior year, they promised each other that secrets were for the people outside of their group. The four of them would tell each other inside jokes and gossip that they hear around the school but never tell anyone else what they know. In fact, they really never talk to any other students. They kept to themselves and only the teachers got to hear what Arthur and his friends had to say. "Feels pretty coincidental that I felt that my trust with them was so strong at that moment. Maybe it's just nothing and I'm overreacting," Arthur reassures himself. Arthur just decides to ignore it and doesn't want to try to start something that probably doesn't matter. He walks out and sees Kat arguing with Tyler. Elizabeth is sipping her drink, looking incredibly bored by the argument. Arthur smiles and walks over. "Hey, let's just stop worrying about this OK? Look, I overreacted and should let you guys have secrets to each other. I'm sorry." Arthur says, sitting back down next to Elizabeth. Tyler and Kat looked at each other, sigh and nod to Arthur. They get in the car and drive home, cracking jokes and enjoying the time they have right now. They dropped Arthur off first and let him give Elizabeth a good night’s kiss before they left. Elizabeth looks at Arthur and smiles.
"Arthur about what happened today at McDonald's, just know that-"
"You know what they were talking about?" Arthur interrupts her. She looks down ashamed and looks at him with the most serious face Arthur has ever seen on her.
"We want to keep you safe and away from harm. Arthur, you mean so much to me and to them and telling you what Tyler wanted to tell you could make things scary and you could get hurt." Arthur analyzes her face making sure she isn't lying. Everyone in the group can tell if one another is lying and right now, Elizabeth's face is not fazed at all as her eyes stop sparkling. Arthur knew she wouldn't lie about something like that and not tell him.
"Alright, don't worry about it. I won't push any further with asking questions ,OK?" Arthur says as they hug one another. They pull away and give each other one last kiss before saying goodbye. Arthur goes inside and sees his mom looking out the window, then she turns to Arthur and smiles.
"So how did it go? Did anything interesting happen?" Arthur's mom says getting close and winking at him.
"Nothing happened." Arthur said, walking upstairs. His mom smacks him in the back of his head. "OUCH MOM!"
"Don't lie to me after I saw what you and Elizabeth just did. Finally, my son has a strong woman that I can trust to take care of you and she’s beautiful." She says looking at a picture of Arthur when he was younger. "Arthur Junior Grey, you better not screw this up."
"Mom, everything will be fine, I don't think anything is going to happen between us." Arthur smiles. "Anyways I'm going to take a shower, love you!"
"Love you too! I'm going to pick the kids up from school!" His mom says as she walks out the door. Arthur enjoys the rest of the day as he and the others get online to play some games. Enjoying the night. Tomorrow they planned to go out and eat at some fancy restaurant Kat loves to go to. They all agreed to dress as high class, like kids attending an awards show. Arthur wishes everyone good night before getting off.