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I lean down and pet Jasper. He is no bigger than a teddy bear, a 3-month-old Golden doodle. He looks disoriented in the dark, outside of his new home. His little paws are damp from the wet pavement. He reaches for my hand and bites it lightly. I slowly pull it away, rubbing his soft blond fur again.
Sydney picks him up."He doesn't want to walk today."
We continue strolling down the suburban Oakville neighborhood. Suburban is an understatement for Oakville. Every house around us looks massive and newly built.
"He's cuter than a baby," I say to her.
In agreement, she mumbles something about how babies aren't cute and look weird either way. I think about having my own children one day.
As we keep walking down the street in a circle, Sydney playfully scolds Jasper for refusing to walk on the pavement. She wears a coat hardly suitable for the February weather. Half her dark blond hair is up and the rest barely brushes past her shoulders. There is a light pink pigmentation on her cheeks.
"He wants you to pet him again", she says, "Do as he says!"
"He?" I reply, smirking at his owner who is smiling back at me with her lips and her green eyes, with her new dog in her arms. I pet Jasper one last time before we return him home.
Sydney drives us to a beach by the lake. The main gate to the lake is closed. We walk past it.
"Is this also a sketchy area?" I ask her.
"No, it's not sketchy at all."
"Well damn! That's too bad," I say, disappointed.
"Why you wanted it to be?" she asks.
"Yeah... it actually looks like a graveyard," I respond, seeing the lamps on the ground, illuminated in the fog.
We walk past the parking lot, the grass and the trees and as we get closer to the lake I notice little rocks and sand beneath my feet. Just a step away from the water, Sydney and I find a single, fallen tree on the beach. As we talk about astrology, I lean back on it, put up my hoodie, and turn my body towards her. She makes brief glances in my direction as she talks, correcting me that "no, Libras are not indecisive" after all, only to avert her gaze back to the beach that stretches ahead of her.
We walk around in the darkness until we come across a hill made of large stones. We climb on top of it and sit with our feet dangling towards a large body of water, with the lake in full view. Dim, little lights are ahead of it, like a faint smudge implying a life beyond.
"Do you see that fog? It looks like a wall", I say to her, poining to my right.
"If I stare at it too long it starts to scare me," she replies. Sydney is inches away from me. Our legs and coats are cold and wet but we stay seated in the same spot for what feels like forever, in an ironically mirrored seating position, while Sydney's gaze is stubbornly and continuously lost elsewhere.
Finally I ask her, "Sydney, are you a good kisser?"
"I don't know." She responds.
"Well, you dated three people, and no one told you if you were?" I ask, confused.
"No. And I kissed more people than that." She said, staring at the lake, a few feet below us.
"And you've never asked?"
"I can't remember."
"Don't you want to know?" I persist.
"I can tell you."
She turns and looks me in the eyes. "You can tell me..." she repeats. She has an unreadable expression on her face.
I lean in and kiss her once, then twice more. Her soft mouth lightly kisses mine each time.
"Not bad for the first time", I say, as I move away. We go back to our old conversation and talk briefly before we get up and walk back to her car. Sydney puts on her Cranberries CD and we listen to their peaceful melodies as she drives me back home.
As we are waiting for the barista to place our order by the counter, I look at the girl next to me. She is glancing anywhere but in my direction.
"Hey Sydney, say Nazrin," I say to her.
"Nazrin." she replies.
"Finally, you said my name for the first time!" I feign excitement, wondering how the rest of this day will go.