Author: YasuRan PM
Definition: a condition that is not related to specific set of values and beliefs, but can vary infinitely within one idea. Or two.Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Drama - Chapters: 9 - Words: 20,021 - Reviews: 44 - Favs: 7 - Follows: 6 - Updated: 12-13-09 - Published: 04-27-09 - id: 2665781
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
"You do realize that I was only joking when I asked you to sock it to me?!"
"My hand slipped." Zoe polished her knuckles against her shirtsleeve. "Boys these days…"
The skin on his arm still throbbing from the strike, hair loose and free to form a murky halo around his head in the salty breeze, Kevin steadied himself and smirked to disguise his apparent 'lack of masculinity' from gleeful grey eyes. With the tiniest hint of a smile tugging her lips upwards and the sparsely scattered freckles on her arms, she could have passed for a younger Cameron Diaz in her modeling prime.
"Seriously, you could've knocked out Lennox Lewis with a hit like that."
"You're still standing."
They had just left The Shelter to watch the waves rise and tumble beneath a blue night sky. Paint The Town Red had proved its worth to a willing audience which had made Scott Thomson a most content seventeen year old for the moment. On a whim, they'd both cast off their shoes and were now wandering around barefoot. It felt cold beneath her feet. Grainy too. Clumps of wet sand began to lodge themselves between her toes and under the soles of her feet. Something glimmering caught her eye in the dark so she bent down to stroke it, hoping it was a shy little hermit crab who'd ventured out from the safety of its shell. The smooth surface slid across her fingertip easily. Aw shucks, it was only her painted toe-nail, the black varnish gleaming like a fake pearl.
"I've always wondered about those seagulls." He spoke.
It was a cool night, one which smelt like sea salt and dry ice, each molecule of each scent stinging her skin, raising bumps over its pristine smoothness. She picked at a stray freckle or two, digging into her flesh just to make sure of its clarity. Fair skin can't tan, can't take each hit of the sun like the rest…
"I mean, d'you ever think about how they're almost human?"
It was a starry night, one which sounded like sparkling fairy bells waiting to burst into song. The wind picked up, causing her hair to whip around her head so that she couldn't see the whole of the moon. A full moon, at that. She and Melody used to have these competitions when they were kids, like who could find the big round moon first. They would each take turns on their Dad's shoulders, long legs encased in scarlet stockings dangling around each side of his head, rounded hands outstretched and reaching out for the night's elusive wonders.
"Well, they kinda go for anything you throw at them, literally. They squawk, screech, caw and do just about anything to attract attention. Not to mention that they fight over the most stupid trivial things."
"Yeah, you're right. Good point."
"Hah, and they call me the simpleton."
"For the most part. You do come with your surprises though. Even if they do involve… seagulls."
Probably blissfully unaware of the irony intended, he bent his arms behind his head and leaned back to gaze at the view above them. "They're beautiful, aren't they? Stars. This must be the only place on the West coast where you can find this many."
"Must be something in the air. The sky's usually barren out here."
True enough, it was an unusual night, one where the stars glowed bright. It was a terrifyingly beautiful picture which she vowed to commit to memory. Brushing aside scientific theories of constellations, black holes, red dwarves and zodiac signs, she made room for a rare speck of what wonders life could offer.
"I wish I could paint."
"Haven't you learned anything from living with Barney?"
"I wanna be like Neil Armstrong and fly to the moon."
"Someone's feeling random tonight."
"You know what I want right now? An ice-cream cone."
"You're gonna fall over, Kevin. Don't bend back so much – "
"The vanilla one with the dark chocolate shavings. Oh, and a bowl of popcorn and The Karate Kid on cable – "
With an ungraceful stagger that reminded her of a lame flamingo, he landed flat on his back with a 'squelch!' against the sand. To his credit, she noticed that he'd still managed to grin like an idiot on the way down. The good part? Here he lay, at her feet, spread-eagle and eyes glazed over with serene calm while she stood over him triumphantly.
"Can't say I didn't warn you."
"Who said I was complaining?" He countered, stretching his arms out to luxuriate in the cool wet sand. "Damn… that feels great. Better than great, maybe. Way better than I expected. You should try it, Zoe."
"What I'm trying to do is imagining my Mum's face when she sees the gunk I'll be tracking through her spotless white living-room after I'm done making sand angels with you here."
"Sand angels? Brilliant!"
Suppressing a groan, Zoe supposed she could admire his zest for the smallest pleasures in life, even if she'd have to risk stray beads of sand being hurled in her direction as he wriggled his arms and legs to form a rough silhouette of a cookie-cutter angel. As the sounds of his laughter ascended the levels of vibrancy, she found it easier to let go of the rope binding her throat from echoing his voice. Down she descended, the muscles in her abdomen contracting from their prolonged joy, down below to lie down next to dark-haired boy in man's clothing. Falling wasn't so bad after all, she guessed.
He turned to his side, facing her, streaks of silver grains lining his exposed skin and hair. Now as the laughter bubbled away along with its warmth, she trembled slightly from the breeze. Eyes meeting, grey and black melding, at times like these, she wished that she could be a hermit crab and scuttle further away into the sand, away from contact.
The night was beautiful. She was all too aware of that.
Next morning, beneath a steaming hot shower, she almost felt the sand in her hair. Grains of dirt rendered warm from the flushed skin on her cheeks, the black varnish on her toes gleaming like glistening wet shells. And the stars had shone so bright that night and they had seemed so near like fireflies in twilight so all she'd had to do was reach out and catch one but no, she'd just had to obey gravity and stay right down there watching the lights ignite the cool hues of his eyes while she watched the minutes fly by with the summer breeze…
Just breathe easy, Zoe.
The ice-blue foam from her shampoo flowed down her shoulders in streaming rivulets and swirled around her feet before dissipating into the water. Mint fresh leaves and lemon, the aroma of a spring which felt so far away.
It wasn't like anything happened.
This time, the goosebumps lining her skin were flushed red from being scrubbed so vigorously, just in case the sand remained. Her neck felt bare, the first time it had in a long time since she'd cut the rest of her hair off on a whim when she was thirteen. Before that, her long platinum gold sheet of hair had always been her cover, her trump card to escape the leering bright lights. But then, she'd grown and she'd thought she didn't have to hide, just as long as she could don a pretty mask and an air of nonchalance around her shoulders like an airy fur cloak. In a way, short hair left a woman out in the open, exposing the rise of her collar-bone and the swell of her chest when she needed to breathe deeply.
Short hair. It was a hazard.
Mitch Reva couldn't be considered handsome in the traditional sense. A broad frame and crooked nose bespoke three years of college football during which he spotted his now wife Amy in the bleachers cheering for the rival team. As the story went, he'd been too busy gawping at the petite brunette with the prettiest smile he'd ever seen to take any notice of the burly offensive guard heading his way. Suffice to say, the home team had gone down twenty to seventeen and Mitch had earned a bloodied nose, a black eye and a fluttering heartbeat. Since then, 'Talk about falling head over heels' had become a favorite family joke although at present, her father had decided to opt for less painful hobbies.
"Photography?" Zoe questioned, raising an eyebrow as she hefted the heavy black object from its place on the kitchen counter. "With this old thing? Ever heard of the Digital Age?"
Mitch chuckled quietly, sky blue eyes crinkling just like how his wife said she loved it. "Like the old timers say, when you start something new, begin from the obsolete scraps and build on. By the way, that's an antique you're holding. Careful with it."
"It actually works?" She peered skeptically through the lens. "Kinda musty in here."
"You're looking through the wrong end, honey."
Annoyed, she set the camera down. The world appeared much better through a fresh pair of eyes anyway. What had been a beautiful night was now reborn as a beautiful morning with fresh rosy cheeks and a golden smile. She often thought of Night and Day as sisters who were polar opposites. Day was the lively one with the open nature and easy laughter, auburn hair and sienna eyes, blessed with the peace of inner warmth. Night was the silent one, the mysterious lady in waiting who lounged in the shadows with a slow grin. To know Night, one had to know the shadows. They observed everything and revealed nothing.
"Oh, by the way, I heard that your friend Kevin's band received some rave reviews at The Shelter last night."
"Yeah, they did pretty good."
"He's a nice boy."
Uh-oh. Dad always used non sequiturs when he wanted in on something like how one of Melody's dates had gone. Zoe sympathized with him on that count. Mastering the language of girl talk took a great deal of trial and error, especially if you happened to be the sole man of the house.
She replied calmly, refusing to give him another stumbling block to hinder his progress. "That he is. Kevin's a good guy."
"You were sure out late that night. Almost missed your curfew."
"It's okay. But what kept you?"
Heartbeat rising, pulse throbbing through her skin. Steady, steady now…
"We were at the beach."
"Oh, the beach! Did I tell you about the time I ran into your mother at the boardwalk near Boston once?"
Zoe smiled wryly as her father's eyes lit up while his mind wandered back down his more impressionable years. Some leopards would never change their spots. Mitch would forever love Amy, no matter how old, fat, wrinkled or grey she got with each passing year. Perhaps, if she dared to believe it, some birds were meant to fly together through hailing skies as well as the clear ones. Looking at the man before her, the heart of the boy he would always be still beating strongly within him, she thought she felt a twinge of worry at the state of her own jaded perception on life and love.
Seventeen was no longer an enchanting age. The magic belonged to sixteen and eighteen. She'd passed one without as much as birthday wish and the other seemed more like a modern myth culminating in the first shot of champagne and hormonal rampages through the cheapest bars in the state. Hanging in the middle wasn't that bad, if not a little dull at times. Things like pixie dust were invented by the Disney Channel anyway. Who could believe in a pile of sparkly silver pile of sand that was supposed to make the world all shiny and new in an instant…
The tiniest of voices in her head promptly dubbed her a hypocrite.