|Eyes Like a Stormy Sea
Author: Nanumi PM
"I'm still unsure as to whether I cajoled him into letting me make him up in my cosmetics or whether he was a willing participant; I do remember that it turned his sweet, plump face into something more feral – an innocent perversion of faux femininity – and that it struck an odd chord somewhere deep within me." Speculative fiction about feral teenagers in a plastic world.Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Angst - Chapters: 2 - Words: 4,577 - Reviews: 4 - Updated: 06-15-12 - Published: 05-25-12 - id: 3025825
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/N: This my first attempt at writing anything of substantial length; normally, I'm a fluffy-prosaic kind of writer, and therefore I'm aware that my dialogue/character interactions are largely absent or poorly written. If you happen to look over this, leave some kind of critique. It's not asking much, and it's why FP has a big 'REVIEW' button at the bottom of every story. I'll update as and when I manage to write, but until the status changes from 'In-Progress' to 'Complete', it's still going.
I suppose it all began in my thirteenth summer, a time that I won't reflect on with idyllic bliss despite my perfect hindsight. I and he shared a mutual acquaintance; my childhood friend George, met through the annual visit that his family paid us.
The skies that year were utterly beautiful, such was the efflorescent quality of the light; azure lapis lazuli blue, merging in the long evenings in gradual waves of colours not found in mortal physicality, peppered here and there with little fluffy clouds that swam languidly across the sky like tiny, gold-framed islands. The air itself seemed to carry a strange electrical charge, filled with secret promises of magical events just waiting to happen, and every colour was vivid and crystal clear. The weed-choked alley at the back of my house was littered with accoutrements of childhood innocence; plastic toy go-karts vying for space amongst discarded Frisbees, garishly-coloured rubber balls and all manner of cheap, amusing tat, designed purely to preoccupy attention-deficit children for all of thirty seconds. The large trampoline which we shared with our next-door neighbours squatted proudly next to the mould-green shed beneath an enormous catkin tree in whose shade we often lounged during the long balmy afternoons, when the heat reflecting off of the shattered fragments of crumbled tarmac threw a shimmering haze over everything. It was a wonderland of scarcely-contained energy, primed to explode and blossom into something beautiful at the ideal moment, and I think that we all in our different ways sensed the changes on the horizon, approaching fast, yet unknown until they had swept us with them. I had spent that precious holiday sunning myself like a cat, splayed across the trampoline with my contraband packet of Lambert and Butler cigarettes and bottle of cheap vodka, alternately swigging and inhaling surreptitiously when my Mother's back was turned, thinking myself quite the grown-up.
The state of affairs at that point could have been described as 'tranquil', I suppose, despite the rarely-spoken of war between my parents, who had split up two years previously and were still bickering like cats on crack in a sack. However, the imminent arrival of a family friend, Emilia, and her brood of sons, George, Leo and Frank, who were fourteen, twelve and seven, respectively, meant that any peace, however superficial, was about to be shattered like so many of our household items. Every year they descended, at some point in the summer, rambunctious and headstrong, wreaking havoc and generally banding together with me and my younger brother Joseph to cause mischief and generally drive our parents to distraction for a handful of precious, carefree days which were devoid of the usual heavy consequences for acting out. It was no small measure of heaven. These visits, since my earliest childhood, had always been anticipated with a surge of adrenaline and impulsive tenacity unrivalled by other more conventional holidays like Christmas or birthdays. As always, their arrival was heralded by a dervish of heavy, careless footsteps and over-excited shouts growing louder as they surged through the house like a tsunami; a normal reaction from energetic young lads to being cooped up in a battered Ford Escort for the best part of five hours beforehand.
This year, as with every other, they exploded through the back door like three heat-seeking missiles, annihilating sentient objects in their destructive wake, a by-product of their presence that I had come to expect and revel in. However, this time there was a difference to their numbers; an addition to the veritable Cerberus of destruction. He followed them up the steep stone steps leading from the basement kitchen into the poky little yard, less sure of himself than they, clearly uncomfortable and overwhelmed by the series of new faces and places. His posture was slightly hunched, giving the appearance of trying to curl into himself, as though afraid. I hastily flicked my cigarette over the protective mesh frame surrounding the trampoline which protected the littlies from hurling themselves onto the adjacent dry-stone wall, and watched it arc and fall into the neighbouring plot. Rapidly squeezing myself through the gap in the net, I hurried over to greet them all with the scorn and playful insults that I had and still have rather a penchant for.
The newcomer was in plain sight now, stood self-consciously close to George, whom I quickly dismissed with a snide comment and a grin. Then I turned to the new boy; the first thing I noticed about him was his shoes, which were crepe-soled creepers, made of black and white chequered pleather. My curiosity was instantly piqued. He wore his chocolate-brown hair in mid-length gelled spikes, a style he would later refer to as his "porcupine fish" look, and his t-shirt carried the name of a band I had never heard of. Like the rest of us, he wore scruffy jeans with frayed hems and faded knees, snagged with holes from years of rough'n'tumble. George, quick as ever to avoid any social awkwardness, interjected with an introduction;
"Oh, hey, this is Merrik. He's a friend of mine."
As with all visitations from the Claytons, chaos and anarchy took hold within mere hours of their arrival. For a few days, we all put aside our respective sibling tensions and rivalries to band together into a roaring, forceful and incorrigible mob of high-spirited youths, pulling pranks and enraging the adults with an endless torrent of noise, mess and mayhem. Whilst Joseph and Frank experimented with putting various household objects in the microwave and watching the ensuing sparks and fizzing, George and Lawrence rushed through the narrow, dingy hallways of our steep terraced house, thundering up and down the stairs to the bellow of terrible rock music, knocking pictures askew and air-guitaring with no less enthusiasm and vigour than Hendrix himself. As for me, at thirteen I thought myself above such petty displays of immaturity, and whilst secretly longing to join them in their extroverted shenanigans, I instead drifted aimlessly through the house, aloof and haughty, Merrik following close at hand. As there was the aforementioned union of youth, I didn't think to question why, as George's friend, he stuck to me preferentially. Mostly, we talked: young, self-conscious teenage stuff; music, TV, hair dye, rock stars, hopes and dreams, the standard repertoire. At the risk of sounding terribly dramatic in hindsight, I came to the poetic conclusion that his lilting Highlands accent sounded like 'the burr of Scots honey, warm and golden like syrup.' Whether that was teenage romanticism or not, the fact still stood that I would have happily listened to him talk for hours upon hours.
More than anything, he made me laugh. Uncontrolled belly laughs that were as far away from the tinge of desperation that had coloured all my interactions with the Clayton boys as the sun is from the moon. Instead of the wild tinge of manic and implacable longing for something always slightly out of reach that I'd felt on their previous visits, I let go of my aloof pretences and relaxed into a stream of communication, and felt a comfortable same-ness with this strange, new boy. Somehow, though, it filled me with a woodsmoke-sweet rush of excitement that I'd not experienced before. He showed me his full-length silver opera gloves, and I showed him my bedroom. I'm still unsure as to whether I cajoled him into letting me make him up in my cheap 99p collection of cosmetics or whether he was a fully willing participant; I do remember that it turned his sweet, plump face into something more feral – an innocent perversion of faux femininity – and that it struck an odd chord somewhere deep within me.
The ravaging of the house continued, right on schedule. Mealtimes were a rushed affair; huge vats of vegetarian pasta in pans big enough to bathe in, all of us perched on an assortment of garden furniture and cobbled-together benches, wolfing the food down with minimal chewing in our eagerness to return to our ceaselessly energetic troublemaking. One evening, I and Merrik were laid like lazy, happy starfish on the trampoline, watching the glorious midsummer sun creep down into the west like a naughty child sent to bed early. The air smelt of freshly cut grass and loamy soil with overtones of the lavender that grew haphazardly in one corner of the back-yard that my Mother liked to call her "herb garden". The fading sky was transitioning through a myriad of gorgeous colours before our eyes; from indigo in the east ranging through hues of livid, bruised purple and shameless, scorching pinks to dazzling burnt orange in the west. There were no clouds to mar the view, and the emptiness of the sky instilled in me a sense of the enormity of the world: one world under the same sky – everything connected by one arcane canvas of vast space.
Earlier, we had pleaded for alcohol, clearly responsible enough to drink, and Emilia had conceded and snuck us a few bottles of cheap cider, which we drank in giggly slurps, the bubbles rushing up my nose and making me cough and splutter when I tried to gulp it down too fast. Of course, he and I were just talking, talking, talking. I asked him about girls; he had met my boyfriend, a whiny seventeen-year old with a bad moustache and an obsession with Nazis that set my nerves on edge. I think I broached the question which every shy fifteen year old male prays not to be asked;
"Hey, Merrik? You ever had sex?"
He has since remarked that I looked "genuinely horrified" at his denial, but to my memory I secretly thought it was adorable; by that point in my life, I was certainly nothing resembling virginal in the slightest, and my friends and peers were either as much or more debauched than I. Yet he…I thought of kissing him, but didn't follow through. After all, what crueller punishment to inflict upon someone so innocent; to steal their first kiss, with the omnipresent possibility of never seeing them again looming large? Usually, these scruples would never have crossed my mind, let alone been acted upon. It was a small episode that was completely 'out-of-character' for me.
The day they were due to leave, I went to see some friends in another part of town, and missed their departure. During that day, I had gone to play snooker with them, and one boy there, Sheep, had kissed me in the dingy, smoky recesses of some god-forsaken snooker hall. He had pretty, shy eyes and curly brown hair; he spoke softly, quietly, and everything about him spoke of gentleness. I gave him my number and went home to find the house empty of the life and vigour that had so recently possessed it. It was as if, while they were here, the house had held a tremendous gift, and now they had gone it was nothing but an empty box with all promise of laughter obliterated forever. Melodrama was my forte at that age, and I sighed over their departure more than in previous years, because this time, there was no promise of an identical re-run the next year; Merrik, I suspected, had been a one-off guest star in our yearly show, and this was something that I felt sadness for without really knowing why I did so.