i. New Beginnings
I watched my hands with numb, detached fascination. There was a tiny mosquito bite on my left hand – on my index finger of all places. My right thumb was rubbing against the bite – getting redder and more swollen by the second – almost viciously. But I couldn't stop. I had no control over my own actions. I just watched.
"Sophie, are you listening to me?"
At that sharp inquiry, I looked up and met the probing, concerned yet exasperated, gaze of Ellie Bennett. She was tapping the pen in her hand impatiently against the hot pink clipboard (boldly emblazoned "Suncampers") she was holding.
"Of course I am," I replied, no trace of guilt in my voice. After all, I had been listening. Not fully, but still.
"Right," Ellie continued gazing intently at me for a moment, before continuing her speech. "Okay, remember – get all the families to sign up first, before taking them to Reception. Answer whatever inquiries they might have, and then show them the way to their tents." And then finally – "Right, go to your posts, guys!"
I continued to stand there, my right thumb still rubbing that red spot on my left index finger, and watched as everyone else – all the other couriers – bustled away.
"Sophie. Quit spacing out. C'mon!" I got pulled out of my semi-reverie when Jamie, sometimes-friend and fellow courier, pulled on my arm. We work our way through the campsite, already crowded and bustling with activity.
With lead in my stomach, my eyes automatically glance at the familiar sight of someone's reddish-brown curls in the swarm of people. The sun shone so brightly, and its rays were reflecting brilliantly on that hair. My eyes widened, and I stopped moving entirely.
It can't be.
Please. Please let it be.
"Sophie? What –" Weakly, my eyes met Jamie's. There must have been something in my expression because all of a sudden, she stood right in front of me and both her hands gripped my shoulders. I shook my head and stepped aside, looking back at the spot when I had glimpsed that copper hair just moments ago. The guy – whoever he was – was gone.
Jamie's left hand, still on my shoulder, gripped me again. I met her gaze again, irrationally annoyed with her.
"What? What happened? You've been acting all weird since you woke up."
"I just... I thought I saw someone I used to know." I laughed a bit, and continued, "And I've been having this weird feeling in my stomach. Like, something's about to happen."
"Something good? Bad?" At her question, I shrugged uneasily. "Maybe you're just overanalysing. Stomach ache?"
I give her a look. "Something."
We're leading the Steadmans to the Suncampers office. I'm making idle conversation with Mr. Steadman – "Yeah, the weather's warm all year round here." "Oh, no, I work as a courier only during the summer." "Oh, did you see the swimming pool yet? It's huge" – while Jamie's talking to the youngest offspring, a girl around nine.
Jamie entered the big green-and-yellow tent, and motioned for the both parents to enter. The children – all three of them – stayed outside with me. I smiled awkwardly at the girl, the one Jamie was chatting with. I've never been good with children. Adults were my speciality.
There was an uncomfortable silence as I felt all three children simply looking at me. I cleared my throat, trying to think of something, anything, to break the silence. Just as I was about to compliment the girl's shoes, I felt all air knocked off my chest. I found myself being hugged tightly – sandwiched –between three bulky males.
"W-wh-what?" I sputtered incoherently, coughing a bit. I firmly planted two feet on the ground, trying to regain my balance so that I wouldn't trip over.
Three boys – men, actually – looked at me enthusiastically, wide grins and identical chocolate-coloured chunks of hair plastered on their faces. It was almost unreal to see the three cousins – considering the fact that I had dreamt about them just the night before.
"Sean, Peter and Gus! Oh my goodness, guys!" The last time I saw the three of them was two years ago. I can still recall waving as their jeep drove away, looking smaller and smaller, before disappearing from sight entirely. Throughout the send-off, the three of them had waved back ever so earnestly – even Gus, who had been driving.
But what I recalled even more plainly was that copper curls glinting in the sun as the same jeep drove away. The head that never once turned to face me as I waved and shouted my goodbyes. The head that determinedly looked straight ahead even as I called out his name. The head and the hair belonging to one person.
"Becky said you'd be here this summer but – blimey!" Gus grinned again. Wow, Becky. It's been so long since I've heard about her. I felt a squeeze in my heart. I miss her. And I missed Sean. And Peter. And Gus.
Their animated chatter brought me out of my daydream. They'd be here the whole summer, they excitedly told me. But even as I beamed at them, my mouth itched to ask questions: How is he? Is he here? Where is he?
But I resisted. And then the three of them floated away, waving their arms exuberantly, and promising to find me later.
And they were gone, leaving an uneasy silence in their wake. I turned to look at the Steadman children, who had been silent throughout my reunion with my friends, and found them looking back at me in return. Remembering my intention to compliment the girl's shoes, I opened my mouth and –
My eyes had unintentionally strayed to the crowd and they were caught.
He looked exactly the same. Same long-limbed body, same tanned skin, same old guitar case strapped around his back, same hair, glinting brilliantly in the sunshine. And the same piercing stare – so blue, you could drown in them.
A/N: This is the second in-progress story I'm posting today. I'd typed this out ages ago, but only got off my lazy ass to post it today, ha. Was this interesting? Boring? Confusing? I'd love to hear your opinions, whether favourable or not. Thanks for reading!