Franki Jefferson likes to think she has everything in her life well under her control, from her career path to her grasp of love but no one ever knows the true meaning of love until they run headlong into it...like a dead end in the mirror maze. Lucas Wright has been the salt to Franki's pepper, the upside down to her frown, the abominable to her snowman since they were little more than children. Yet even as she calls him the bane of her existence he is still closer to her than anyone else.
Franki and Jeremy Stanley have been in love with each other since grade school, each one reluctant to take the first step leaving them stuck in the no-man's-land between friendship and something more.
Lucas Wright has been the salt to Franki's pepper, the upside down to her frown, the abominable to her snowman since they were little more than children. Yet even as she calls him the bane of her existence he is still closer to her than anyone else.Franki's life hits a wall late in her second year of University forcing her to look at her life and making her wonder what she really wants and who she really is. Along the way there are bumps and bruises, tears and smiles and the harsh sometimes bittersweet, sometimes bitter, sometimes joyous and somtimes painful experience that make up Life.
I crumpled up one more piece of paper, covered with scribbles on both sides and tossed it angrily on the floor beside me. There was a steadily growing pile at my tapping feet.
I sighed angrily and shoved my hands roughly through my tangled hair brushing my bangs off my face. I'd been trying unsuccessfully for the past week to give some kind of direction to my life. My second year of university was quickly inching by me and my thoughts were still all in a tumble. I had no idea what career I wanted to pursue and that was causing me more grief than I knew how to deal with. I was worried about my future and there was a constant tug in the pit of my stomach telling me that I was forgetting something, that something was missing and I couldn't tell what it was.
I stared blankly at yet another blank piece of paper in front of me knowing only one way to work out my problems; words. I wasn't a writer, that was my housemate Sharie, but my shelf full of notebooks filled from cover to cover with scribbles were evidence of my overactive mind.
I blew out my full cheeks as I heard a knock on the door of the apartment. "I've got it Sharie!" I said loudly, not having expected her to have heard either the door or my shout over her music and writer's coma.
I made my way to the door, noting that I should probably tidy up soon. I brightened up as I opened the door to a blank face. "Hey," he said simply, flashing a smile when he saw me.
"Jeremy, hey! Come on in!" I pulled the door open wider and motioned him in. He smiled at me as he passed and I felt my own smile grow even wider. He kicked his shoes off and followed me into the kitchen. "So to what do I owe this visit Jer?" I asked bustling around the kitchen trying to keep myself busy. "Tea?"
"Yeah that'd be good. And I just thought I'd drop by I haven't seen you in a while."
I chuckled. "Yeah... I just haven't been up to going to class lately. I'm... experiencing some inner turmoil," I finished smirking at myself as I slipped into a chair beside him, putting my long legs on his lap.
He smiled again, and sighed out loud. "Care to share?" he asked.
Jeremy Stanley and I had been friends since grade school, fallen out of touch for most of highschool and ended up at the same university by some twist of fate. He was one of few people I would consider my best friend and even though there had been a break in our friendship for the larger part of highschool we had fallen back into our old routine. We'd dated on and off at an age when the word 'dating' was an over exaggeration and come close to actually dating in our older years but circumstances always managed to keep us apart. That didn't keep us from being friends.
"Hmm," I mumbled. "I've just been feeling kind of trapped lately, stifled. Like everyone else in my life is gently directing it in a direction that I'm not quite sure I want. Every time I think I have something figured out and set in stone someone says 'Oh Franki I don't know about that. Have you looked at the other side of the coin?' or you know, something along those lines. Then I reconsider and worry that I'm making the wrong decisions and start all over again. I'm just getting sick of it. Emotionally and physically and I don't want to have to deal with it anymore." I sighed pulling my legs out of his grasp as I heard the water begin to boil. He'd started rubbing my shins reflexively as I'd spoken.
"You have to deal with it," came a much deeper voice.
I jumped and barely stifled a squeak as I stood. "Lucas? You freaking scared me!"
"You can't just ignore it," the newcomer continued, ignoring me. "If you do it'll just come back to bite you on the ass and no matter how beautiful I think that ass is, anything would look unattractive with a great big angry issue hanging off of it by it's teeth." He grinned cheekily at me as I huffed. "And yes, I would love a tea!"
"Wright." I heard Jeremy greet him.
"Lucas what are you doing here?"
I saw him shrug out of the corner of my eye as I got out mugs. "I came to see Sharie obviously, 'cause there's no other reason that I would want to come over here."
I heard the sarcasm in his voice but ignored it. "Go away."
"Fine, I'll just terrorize your cat if I can't terrorize you."
"Don't you dare!" I shouted as he turned to leave.
He shot a smile back over his shoulder at me. "Tea ready?"
I made a face as I gave it to him, watching him not even flinch as hot tea rolled over the side of the mug. He blew me a kiss and left the kitchen. I heard the TV click on as I brought Jeremy his tea and settled back down.
"You don't mind sitting in here eh?" I asked.
He shook his head. "Not at all."
We sipped in silence for a while and I tried to smother the giddy feeling in my gut. Whenever Jeremy came around I climbed up on a roller coaster of emotions. He had the uncanny ability to make me feel on top of the world one minute and lower than dirt the next and he didn't even have the slightest idea of it.
"Anything else bugging you?" he asked. I looked at him questioningly. "You're jiggling your calves, you're fidgety." He smiled softly at me.
I just grinned goofily. I wasn't about to tell him that the other thing bothering me was him. For as long as I could remember Jeremy Stanley had taken a central role in my thoughts. They went in a cycle. I would refuse to acknowledge the effect he had on me and then convince myself to talk to him the next time I saw him, which I always chickened out of. The end effect was me never figuring out my feelings for him.
We weren't talkative people Jeremy and I. We kept things inside and overanalyzed circumstances until we found the worse in them, scaring ourselves away. We laughed over that together often. We'd made things awkward when we were in school together, when we were still young and chatty. We'd made the issue of our feelings for one another awkward. I'd made it awkward.
We never talked about our feelings to one another, even though we both knew the other was feeling the same as we were. The issue of our feelings was taboo. Being so keen to avoid any kind of awkward situation, Jeremy and I talked around it, over it, under it, anything but about it, each waiting for the other to say what they were feeling first. It would never get us anywhere.
As I sat contemplating those thoughts for the umpteenth time staring into my mug of tea Jeremy continued to massage my legs, staring off himself. This is how most of our conversations went– silently. I began to get aggravated. All I wanted was him to say what I knew was on his mind, it wasn't that difficult. What was the reason that he couldn't talk openly to me.
"So," he started. "I uh, I went out for coffee with that redhead from my biology class. Melanie?"
I looked up at him, the giddy feeling completely smothered by an aching sadness. "Oh?" I said simply.
He was twisting his now empty mug in his hands. "Okay, fine. It was lunch and we had a great time. She's so hilarious. I was thinking about asking her out again. You think she'll say yes?"
"Oh! Um... Well if you guys had such a good time on your lunch date you should totally go out again. You never know!" I nudged him jokingly in the ribs with my feet grinning.
He smiled shyly. "So you're okay with it?" he asked quietly.
"Of course I'm okay with it! Why shouldn't I be?" I asked giving him the opening and pulling my feet back to myself and putting them on the floor.
He just shrugged and another surge of annoyance washed over me. "No reason."
I snapped. I knew it had been coming. Practically every time we talked one or the other of us snapped. "Oh come on Jeremy! No reason? Are you sure there's no reason you're asking? I'm not your keeper so why are you asking my permission? Just spit it out already! I'm sick of this we do this all the time!" I stood and put my mug in the sink.
"Yeah, we do do this all the time, but that's not entirely my fault is it?" he asked calmly and cryptically implying that I should be the one to say something.
"No you're right it's not! But that's not going to stop me from saying this once more. Why don't you ever say things clearly!?"
"Jeremy not again. God why do we always do this? You make me want to tear out my hair." I stormed back over to the table and took his mug as well depositing it in the sink then heading out of the kitchen. I heard Jeremy's chair scrape as he followed me. I stopped in the living room. 'I think you should go,' is what I wanted to say as I turned back to him, but I wanted him to stay as well. I could never make up my mind so I just didn't say anything.
And neither did he. We just looked at each other, each knowing what the other wanted to say but neither wanting to take the first step. I felt my aggravation growing as Jeremy just calmly looked at me. I knew that he wanted me to take the first step and wouldn't budge no matter how hard I urged him. His patience and holier-than-thou attitude aggravated me even more than his more often than not cryptic sentences.
"Jeremy," I began. He just raised an eyebrow at me. "Argh!" I drug my hands through my hair once again, getting my fingers caught in tangles. I did the only thing I could do without having to make a decision. I spun on my heel and crossed the living room to my room, slamming my door behind me, leaving the decision making in his hands.
I leaned heavily against it scowling and trying to figure out why I couldn't just say what I had on my mind. There was a harsh meow from my bed and I looked over to find Frank, my very oldest friend stretching on my bed. I heard low mumbles of voices outside my door.
I climbed onto my bed being careful not to crush Frank and he cuddled under my neck as I flopped down. He started to purr, his strong deep rumbling contrasting with his patchy aged exterior. I blew gently on his head and tried to sort out my brain. A heavy feeling was creeping over me again and I couldn't identify it. The fact that I couldn't identify it made me more aggravated than anything. I closed my eyes.
I must have drifted off because I woke when I felt Frank climb over my legs and start to paw at my door. I sighed and sat up, grabbing an elastic from my night stand and pulling my hair up into a fast ponytail before getting up and pulling the door open for Frank. When I stepped out into the living room Lucas turned from the TV throwing his arm over the back of the couch.
"How long have I been in there?" I asked.
"About five or ten minutes. He's gone," he added as I started for the kitchen.
I felt my shoulders slump but continued on to feed Frank. Of course he would leave, he liked making decisions even less than I did. And I'd slammed my door in his face. What would make him want to stay? I growled at myself as I fed Frank, earning myself a cold look from the old cat. I trudged back out into the living room planning on heading back to my room to scribble some more but as I entered I found Lucas in the same position I had left him.
"What?" I asked harshly.
Lucas Wright and I had known each other since my first year of highschool. Not exactly friends yet too acquainted to be acquaintances. Through some sick twist of fate he'd ended up at my same university. I'd celebrated when I'd heard he was supposed to leave the province. He was Sharie's cousin and her best friend and when his family had moved to our town in the beginning of highschool he'd slipped easily into our lives.
From the beginning Lucas and I had bickered. Sarcastic and funny, full of wit and hidden plays on words, a meeting of minds in a fast and snappy matter. Many people upon observing us thought that we were constantly in the middle of a fight but it was quite the opposite. We were never at a loss for things to discuss and I always enjoyed putting him back in his place. Ours was a... unique relationship.
"Why do you let him do that to you?" he asked.
I gaped at him. "Let him do what?"
"Let him crush you like that? Why don't you just say what you want to say?"
"Because I don't want to be the one who has to say it!" I shouted. "I was the one who ruined it the first time yes, but that doesn't mean that I should have to be the one to speak. So maybe it's old fashioned and I don't know, like... reverse sexist but the guy is supposed to make the first move. I don't want to always have to be the strong one." I clapped a hand over my mouth, shocked at myself. That wasn't any of his business.
Lucas just kept looking at me. "Have you told him that?"
I shook my head, starting again for my room feeing myself starting to blush.
"Uh maybe you should," he said mockingly.
"I shouldn't have to. He knows anyways," I mumbled. He just looked at me. I knew he wanted to say more but I didn't give him the chance. "Whatever, I'm just going to... go into my room now. Don't eat my cereal."
I closed the door behind me cracking my elbow off my chair as I sat down. "Ow! Shit!" I jumped around waving my arm before I was suddenly overcome by a wave of exhaustion. I slumped into my chair, more carefully this time, and caught sight of my blank paper. Pure and simple, I wished my thoughts could be like that. Understandable. I wished I could be like that. Comprehensible.