A blog about whatever randomosity my fevered mind conceives.

Just a peek…

{The following is a scene I had to cut from the second chapter (Chapter 2: Love, Lust and Other 4 Letter Words) of my novel today. Though I like the scene (I find it has that certain poignant sweetness that fits in with the awkwardness of first love) the tone of it is out of balance with the rest of the story and I don’t like the perspective I dropped into while I wrote it. This scene will now face an extreme rewrite and the original innocence of it will likely be sacrificed in the process. Still, I don’t have the heart to slice it away without first allowing it a tiny moment in the sun. The scene is about the main character reminiscing about a simpler time in her life. I hope you enjoy it, since this is the first time anyone has been allowed even a tiny peek at The Trinity, and if not for a little encouragement from a new friend, I would likely never have had the nerve to post it. Thanks ~Robin~}

*

I’m thinking about how beautiful it all is as I follow Ethan across the stony beach towards the shaded edge of the pool. I realise that we’ve dawdled so far behind the pack that now, not only are we the last to arrive at the water’s edge, but everyone else already seems to be settled in for the long afternoon.

There are a handful of kids resting on their blankets and towels as Ethan and I lay out our own, but the majority of the horde is already floundering noisily in the water. I drop my pack and settle, cross-legged, on the worn orange blanket beside Ethan. I watch him as he pulls a dog-eared copy of Oliver Twist from his own pack and wonder how many times I’ve already seen him read that book. He grins at me before his eyes disappear behind the pages.

I don’t mean to, but I cast a glance in Nate’s direction. He is standing about fifteen yards away, just beyond the shade. Like every other day of this stupid trip so far, Nate is surrounded by girls. There are three of them there now, all clearly vying for his attention. Carmen – a blonde with abnormally long legs and annoyingly perfect tan (I’ve never seen her before this summer; never had a single conversation with her; so I don’t really understand why I feel so much animosity towards her), and two brunettes that are year-long residents of the ranch. I think the brunettes are Natalie and Kathy or Katrina – something like that – everyone calls her Kat. All three are quite beautiful and the acknowledgement of that causes a strange twinge in my belly. It takes me a moment to realize that that twinge is envy, and a moment longer for me to grow completely irritated with myself.

I close my eyes against the heat of the day and tell myself; for the thousandth time in the last ninety-six hours; to stop acting like such a spazz.

I’m beginning to suspect that I have been taken over by a pod person and that, before long, I wont have anything left of my own personality. I wonder, in an absent sort of way, if Ethan might be suspecting the same thing by now. It would explain the strange looks he keeps tossing my way when he thinks I’m not paying attention. I also wonder if it even matters at this point. Maybe a complete eclipse of my consciousness would be a welcome thing, if only because it would mean an escape from feeling so… so… I don’t even have the words to describe how ridiculous I feel.

I take a few deep, calming breathes and try to force my mind to clear. I open my eyes and whatever peace I’d managed to force over myself whooshes out of me and, for just a second, I think I’ve forgotten how to breathe.

Nate is staring back across the distance and as soon as he is certain I’m looking, he smiles at me. It’s not one of those grins either; I think I could dealt with that; but that full smile that produces the slightest hint of a dimple in his left cheek. I know I should smile back at him, but something icy seems to be slithering up and down my spine and all I can do is gape at him. Maybe I should be grateful that I’ not drooling like a complete idiot. Though, at this point, I doubt that the presence of drool would make me look any more the fool that I must already look.

The blonde – Carmen – follows his gaze and glares at me for a second before she touches Nate gently on the shoulder. She smiles warmly as he turns his attention back on her. Again I feel that twinge in my guts. Again I feel that self loathing. Nate turns back to her only briefly however, and says something to the three girls that I can’t quite make out across the distance. Judging by the disappointment on all three faces it’s not what they wanted to hear and I feel oddly elated by their displeasure.

But then Nate is turning back to me. He’s smiling again, peeling off his white t-shirt as he makes his way across the shore and I feel the heat rising in my cheeks. I drop my eyes to the orange blanket and notice a small tear in the weave. I concentrate on this little fissure as though it might actually open up wide enough to swallow me whole. I think that if there truly is a God, it will open up and gulp me down its gullet. Of course it does no such thing and a moment later I can see Nate’s sneakered feet at the edge of the blanket.

I remind myself to breathe again, but I don’t look up.

“What’s up E.T.?” Nate asks as he kicks his cousin’s outstretched foot playfully.

“Don’t call me that, jerk.” Ethan responds. From the corner of my eye I see him scowling up from his book, but there is a smile in his eyes even if it never fully reaches his lips.

Again I don’t mean to, but I glace at Nate’s face. He’s grinning down at his cousin – that cocky-lopsided combo grin that I know best – and then, without warning, he plops down on the blanket right between Ethan and I. Ethan grumbles, but says nothing as he moves to make a little more room for Nate. Not nearly enough room; our bare legs are only inches apart.

I expect Ethan to say something, to make some excuse to pull me away from the awkwardness of the moment like he has been so skilled in doing over the last few days, but he does nothing. He just turns his full attention back to his book; that stupid book that he has read so many times he must be able to quote word for word by now; and I feel somewhat abandoned.

I think, traitor, but I say nothing. Instead I force myself to sit impossibly still, struggling not to fidget while I chew my lower lip hard enough to draw blood. All I really want to do is disappear.

I keep my eyes trained on the kids frolicking in the water.

With every second that Nate sits there without speaking I feel my anxiety level rise. I also feel that strange static running between us again, though I’m pretty sure that part is all in my imagination.

Pod person, I think. That has to be it. Or maybe I’m just slowly slipping into the bowels of madness. For a second I picture myself sitting at the center of a white padded cell, clad in the ever-fashionable straightjacket that will never go out of style amongst the insane. This almost makes me laugh but I’m a little terrified of what that might sound like so I just bite my lip harder instead.

Suddenly – shocking me – Nate reaches out and takes a lock of my hair between his thumb and forefinger. I really don’t want to, but I can’t stop myself from looking up at him now. I know my eyes must be wide and crazy and I wish I could turn away, but I no longer seem to be at the wheel. This is good though; soon the pod person inside of me will have full reign over the controls and I’ll no longer have to endure this lunacy.

“Y’know,” he says in a voice too casual. It’s as though to him, this close proximity is the most natural thing in the world. “I’ve never seen hair this colour in my whole life.”

Déjà vu. I am certain he’s said these exact words to me before; I can almost hear a younger Nate uttering them verbatim; but I can’t quite pull the memory into focus. For some reason I think, cherries.

“Oh,” I hear myself mutter, not realising I’d even meant to speak at all. It doesn’t sound like my voice and I’m a little disgusted with myself as I realize it may be the single most coherent thing I’ve said to him since he arrived at the ranch.

Nate chuckles, and for a brief but horrifying moment, I think he’s mocking me. I feel my face flush again and I have the sudden urge to stand and up and run away. I think that maybe, if I could just catch a lucky break, I could find a nice pack of coyotes up in the hills that might be willing to gobble me up and spare me from any more of this embarrassment.

Ever the glutton for punishment, I just sit there staring at him with my cheeks and ears burning.

He’s still holding the lock of my hair between his fingertips, but he’s lowered his eyes and I think he might be staring at my fissure now. When he speaks again, his voice is a little ragged and a lot less self-assured than I’m used to. “You mad me Dani? You’ve barely said two words to me since I got here.”

I feel a surge of sadness knowing that my idiocy has made him think this. I want to tell him that I’m sorry for acting so strangely. I want to tell him that I don’t know what’s wrong with me; maybe even mention the pod-person theory; but that I am definitely not angry with him.

All I manage is a weak “no” and I guess I should be content that that too came out coherent.

He lets the lock of my hair fall from his fingertips and the broken contact – no matter how subtle – feels almost painful. Nate shifts a little on the blanket. When he moves I feel something inside me move… it’s as though I’m being affected by some bizarre gravitational pull. I bite my lip harder still and try to concentrate on nothing beyond my own breathing.

This strangely awkward person I seem to be lately is not the ‘me’ I know. To be so out of control of my thoughts and actions is beyond frustrating. I wish he’d move away and go back to stand with the girls – the three still watching us from down the shore – so I can breathe properly without needing to concentrate so hard on doing it. At the same time I wish I could shut down my thought process altogether and enjoy this closeness while it lasts.

When Nate speaks again, his voice is still subdued and less confident than it should be and I feel another shard of guilt twisting through my abdomen because I know that all of this unease between us is my fault.

“Come for a walk with me?” He asks. He sounds almost shy. In all the years that I have known Nathan Ryker, shy is one mannerism I would have never guessed him capable of. I wonder for the first time if he is also feeling this strange… whatever it is… that I’m feeling.

I want to tell him no; I’m terrified of how much worse this uneasiness between us might become if they day were stripped away of all distractions. I acknowledge my want, but I feel my head nod up and down as my body betrays me; not for the first time this week.

“Cool!” Nate is on his feet in a heartbeat; before I’ve even had enough time to fully process what’s going on. He grabs both my hands and pulls me up easily beside him. That lopsided-cocky grin is back and he no longer sounds uncertain at all.

When I don’t at first move, Nate pulls me into motion behind him, still gripping me by the hand. That electrical current is there again, like it was on the first day when he hugged me in greeting. It’s not unpleasant, but it is somewhat disconcerting.

I glance hopefully at Ethan – pleading with my eyes for him to interject – but he pretends to be unaware of my distress even though I am almost certain that I see a hint of a smirk playing across his lips.

Traitor, I think again.

Nate continues to pull me along behind him until I finally resign myself and manage to get my feet moving. As we head towards the path that winds back behind the sandstone wall and up into the hills, he lets my hand drop from his, but our fingers linger closely together as we move. Not the electrical current now, but the static.

For awhile we walk in silence, carefully manoeuvring the trail. I’m staring down at the dust motes my footsteps are kicking up on the path and reciting a Frost poem in my head –

 

If, as they say, some dust thrown in my eyes

Will keep my talk from getting otherwise,

I’m not the one for putting off the proof.

Let it be overwhelming, off a roof

And round a corner, blizzard snow for dust,

And bind me to a standstill if it must.

 

– even though I don’t really understand its meaning or how it might pertain to my current situation. I really can’t even remember when or where I might heard the poem, or how I know its Frost, but I’m comforted by the distraction. I must remember to ask Mila about the poem; she knows about stuff like that.

I am aware that Nate is watching me cautiously from the corner of his eyes but I can’t bring myself to look at him. After awhile I realize that I can no longer hear the others as they splash in the cool water behind us. I wait for a fresh wave of anxiety to wash over me, but it never comes.

“I missed you this year,” He says after what feels like an impossibly long silence. His tone is so mater-o-fact that it seems to give a certain power to his words.

I’m surprised when my own voice comes out clear and completely articulate – if maybe a little too hushed – as I reply in total honesty, “I missed you too.”

There must be something encouraging in my voice because when Nate speaks again he sounds more like the Nate I’m used to – lighter somehow and without even a trace of the hesitation I’d sensed down on the beach. “That’s good to hear,” he tells me. “I was beginning to think you’d rather set me on fire than speak to me.”

I laugh slightly and am relieved to hear nothing that hints at encroaching insanity in the sound.

“Weird times,” Nate says, partly to himself I think.

“Weird times,” I echo.

I am vaguely aware that we’ve come to a stop on the path, but this information seems far away and unimportant at the moment.

“Uncle Dom gave me his old Mustang,” Nate announces.

I can tell by the smile spreading across his face that this is supposed to be a good thing, but I can’t help wondering why as I picture the car in question. The Mustang had been sitting up on blocks at the edge of the Ryker property for as long as I could remember. Rust had so thoroughly taken hold of the vehicle that it was impossible to tell what colour it might have been back in its glory days. I can feel a grin spontaneously stretching across my face as I say, “cool” without out nearly as much enthusiasm as Nate seems to be expecting.

“Hey!” He blurts, but there is good humour in his defensiveness so I know I haven’t offended him. “That car is a gem. Wait and see… I’ll bring her back to life and she’ll be gorgeous. You’ll be jealous.” He flashes me a wicked grin and this time I can’t help but smile back.

In the most natural of movements he suddenly locks his fingers around my own. My heart skips a few beats before catching back up to itself, but I’m happy to realize that my breathing is staying on track and I feel nothing at all like anxiety. I make no move to pull my fingers out of his, and find I rather like the current that seems to be moving between us. It’s quite pleasant. At the same time, I know whatever might have once been between me and Nate is no longer. It really has mutated somehow, but I get the sense that maybe that metamorphosis is nearly complete. Either way, I feel good. Better by far that I have felt in days. Maybe even better than I’ve ever felt before.

“I can drive up and visit you more often after I get her fixed up…” he lets his words hang in the air; half suggestion, half question; but he is watching my face carefully as he tries to judge my reaction.

I wonder if he guesses at my excitement over his words, but if he does nothing in his face gives it away. “Sure,” I say, my tone calm – noncommittal – but he grins like it’s exactly what he wants to hear.

He steps closer, though there’s really not much room left between us, and I’m acutely aware of that extraordinary static filling what’s left of the void between us. It reminds me of the feeling in the air right before a big lightening storm.

When he speaks again, his voice is thick and a little husky. “I just gotta try something,” he says. And then he pulls me close enough to erase the remaining space between us entirely. I can smell the warm sunshine on his skin, and it’s intoxicating. He looks down at me, his eyes full of something I am certain I have never seen in them before, and he brushes a stray lock of hair from my cheek. I feel a shiver go down my spine. He cups my face in his warm hands and smiles – that true smile again – before leaning down to kiss me.

I feel the temperature rise in a way that has nothing at all to do with the blaring sun above us and suddenly everything; every maddening, awkward second; that has passed between Nate and me over the past few days makes complete and utter sense.

 

 

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10 responses

  1. more please

    February 28, 2012 at 1:28 pm

  2. WOW!
    Like Kyle said, MORE!
    I wanna turn the page!

    February 28, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    • OMG I love you guys!!!

      February 28, 2012 at 4:05 pm

      • Dude. You know we had that conversation where you said “if”.. FORGET THAT FREAKING IF! You’ve got me hanging onto every word.

        February 28, 2012 at 4:10 pm

      • Wow… I needed you years ago… where the hell have you been all my life???

        February 28, 2012 at 4:11 pm

      • Haha. I’m here now. Better late than never! 😛

        February 28, 2012 at 4:13 pm

      • This is most true… and I am sooooooo thankful!

        February 28, 2012 at 4:14 pm

      • Nooo. Don’t be! Just keep writing and taking my breath away!

        February 28, 2012 at 4:18 pm

      • lol I shall do my best.

        February 28, 2012 at 4:20 pm

      • I added an index menu on my page… hopefully that will make it a little easier to navigate.

        February 28, 2012 at 4:27 pm

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