"Lindsay, will you sit still already? You're making me nervous."
I looked at my mother from where I currently stood in the kitchen. I'd been walking around—not really pacing, though it probably looked like that—from place "to place, anxious as I was.
"Sorry, Mom." I leaned against the kitchen counter and, unable to stand completely still, drummed my fingers against my thigh.
Tonight was the night my mother and Thrasher would finally meet. He was due at any second to join us for dinner. Lorraine was in the family room watching TV while my mother had been in here, preparing dinner. When I saw that Thrasher was to arrive in a few minutes, I'd gone into the kitchen and began my "pacing."
My mother watched me skeptically. "Are you sure you told me everything there is to know about this boy?"
"Yes, Mom, I did." I shifted my weight from foot to foot and glanced at the clock once more.
"Then why are you so nervous? I already know what to expect."
"But what if you don't like him?" I agonized.
"I told you I'd reserve my judgment."
I made another noise to express my uneasiness and moved over to the fridge as if to get myself a drink.
"Should I be worried that you're this nervous?" she queried, cocking her head to the side and studying me curiously.
Before I could answer, the doorbell rang. I straightened and ignored my mother's slightly amused stare.
"I'll get it," I told her unnecessarily, and then hastened towards the front door.
I opened it to see Thrasher standing on the other side, holding a plate of chocolate chip cookies and appearing just as apprehensive as I felt. In a strange way, this was comforting.
"Hey," I greeted him, not even bothering to hide my jumpiness. "Come in."
He smiled shakily and stepped over the threshold. I smiled back, looking straight into his brown eyes. We'd decided it would be best for him to leave out the colored contacts so as not to overwhelm my mom. At the same time, we had a big discussion about whether or not he should continue his entire scary appearance, including his contacts, his hair, and his piercings. I was adamant that he no longer had anything he needed to hide behind, but he responded that all of that was a part of who he was now. Even if he wasn't sold on the idea now, I was confident we would get there someday.
"You brought cookies," I observed stupidly as my eyes traveled to the plate in his hand.
"Um, yeah. I felt dumb coming empty-handed."
"Right." I nodded. "Well, follow me this way."
I led him into my kitchen, where my mother stood at the stove with her back to us.
"Um, Mom?" I called tentatively.
My mother turned around, smile already in place. She gave Thrasher a swift once-over as she walked towards us, hand outstretched. Her smile faltered a bit as she took in the red-haired boy standing in front of her, but she quickly rectified that.
"Hi . . . Thrasher." Her voice was surprisingly warm. "I've heard so much about you."
Thrasher uncertainly smiled back and grasped her hand. "Hi, Miss Callahan. Nice to meet you."
"Yes, I'm so glad I'm finally meeting you."
Thrasher bobbed his head. "Um, me too." He shot me a questioning glance, but I just shrugged. My mother's thoughts were perfectly masked by the smile; I couldn't tell at all what she thought of Thrasher so far, even though it would really only be a first impression.
"Well." She dropped Thrasher's hand at last, and he immediately shoved this hand into his pocket. "I'll just finish dinner. You two go hang out."
"Um, I have cookies." Thrasher thrust the plate at her.
"Oh!" She sounded genuinely delighted. "Thank you!" She took the plate from Thrasher and turned to the stove, setting the plate on the counter next to the stove.
I turned to look at Thrasher. We both seemed to exhibit the same level of discomfort, so I suggested that we go out on the back porch despite the frigid air of early February. He nodded and went out through the sliding door to wait for me as I gathered my winter gear so I wouldn't freeze my butt off. Once I was snug in my winter coat, gloves, and hat, I ventured out onto the back porch. Thrasher was
sitting at one of the outdoor tables, staring out at my backyard. The lights from my house barely lit up the entire porch and cast an eerie shadow of the silhouette of Thrasher and the chair.
"Hey, Thrasher." I watched my breath puff out in front of my face.
He turned and looked at me, then pulled out the chair next to him for me. "Hey." This time, his smile was big and confident as I dropped into the chair. "Your mom was nice."
"Yeah, well, I warned her about how you look and stuff before you came over." I reached for his glove-free hand, red and chapped from the cold. "Aren't your hands cold?" I asked in disbelief. Even though I was warm in my layers, I could tell that it was freezing outside.
He shrugged. "I'm fine."
Typical boy. Not caring or paying attention when they were cold.
"Do you want gloves? We have some extra."
"I'm fine, Lindsay."
"You're not fine," I insisted. "Look, your hands are all red."
He looked down and shrugged again. I rolled my eyes and reached forward to grab his other hand and held them both between my own gloved hands.
"Lindsay, seriously." He yanked his hands out. "Don't baby me."
"Thrasher, honestly." When I reached out again, he held them off to the opposite side of me. I lunged forward, meaning to grab his hands and then sit back in my chair, but I moved too far forward and instead ended up splayed awkwardly and painfully across the chair, propped up by the armrests.
"Oof," I grunted when I landed on the armrests. The nearest one sunk deep in my stomach, and I narrowly avoided banging my chin on the farther one. The armrest from my own chair banged my hip bones. I was lying across Thrasher's lap, but not actually touching it.
"That hurt," I groaned. I placed my palms on the farther armrest and pushed myself up into a strange push-up position.
"I'm sorry . . ." His apology trailed off. Using whatever strength was in my arms, I pulled myself forward over the armrests with the intention of sitting in Thrasher's lap. This effort failed, though, when I only managed to pull myself so my breasts uncomfortably mashed up against the far armrest.
"Lindsay? What the hell are you doing?" Thrasher asked.
"Nothing," I snapped back, embarrassed. I pushed myself up with my arms again, pulled myself forward only a couple more inches, then gave up and rolled off the chair altogether. I managed to slow my progress to the ground by grabbing the chair and letting my legs fall first, but the end result was still me lying on the ground.
"Lindsay?" Thrasher leaned forward and peered at me. "Are you okay? Seriously, what are you doing?"
I stood up hastily and finally sat sideways on his lap, letting my legs hang over the armrest. I wrapped my arms around him and pressed my face into his neck.
"Nothing," I mumbled into the exposed skin there.
He shivered and placed his own arms around my waist. I felt his head rest on top of mine. After a couple minutes, I pulled away and pressed my lips to his. Both of our lips were cold and chapped, like his hands, but they warmed up as we pressed ourselves closer together.
Until his stomach growled loudly, and I pulled away and laughed.
Dinner went well. Much better than I had expected. Lorraine kept any ravaging comments she had to herself, and my mother, true to her word, reserved her judgment long enough to get past Thrasher's hair and piercings and realize that he was actually a good guy.
"Well," my mother began after I came in later that night from the movie Thrasher and I had gone to see after dinner. She and Lorraine were sitting in the family room watching a movie that I'd never seen before. "Thrasher seemed like a nice guy." She turned and faced me. "I'm glad you warned me first, though."
"Shhhh!" Lorraine scolded, hugging a pillow to her chest and leaning forward towards the TV. "This is an important part!"
With a sigh, my mother grabbed the remote and paused the movie.
"Moooom!" my sister whined. "Come on!"
"Lorraine, what did you think of . . . Thrasher?" The hesitation in my mom's voice indicated that she had not yet gotten used to calling a teenage boy "Thrasher." I couldn't necessarily blame her, either.
She shrugged. "Whatever. I already met him."
"You did?" my mother responded incredulously.
Oops. I'd failed to tell my mother that for a while I'd been driving him in addition to Lorraine.
"It's nothing," I interrupted before Lorraine could say something to make the situation worse. "I've just been giving him rides and stuff so he wouldn't have to take the bus."
"Oh." Upon hearing that he would have ridden the bus instead, my mom sounded sufficiently satisfied. "Well, okay then."
"Mom, can you please un-pause the movie?"
"In a sec, Lorraine." My mom turned back to me. "He doesn't look like the sort of boy you should be hanging around, but he seems okay."
I visibly relaxed, and my mother chuckled.
"You guys have fun," she told me as if Thrasher and I were just about to go somewhere, and then she turned back to the TV and resumed the movie. Lorraine immediately focused back on the screen with an intent gaze. My mother leaned back against the couch and slowly averted her gaze from me to the television. I stood there watching the two of them for a couple moments before joining them. Lorraine and my mother, seemingly unconsciously, both shifted in opposite directions from one another to leave me more room between the two of them. I made myself comfortable between them and tried to catch up on what I had missed in the movie thus far. It was the first time in months that the three of us had ever been together like this, and even though we were simply watching a movie, there was a sort of intimacy to it I hadn't even realized I missed until now. It hadn't occurred to me that, during my weeks of loneliness, both before Thrasher became my friend and after we'd argued, I could have turned to my family for solace.
When my mother absentmindedly rested her hand on my leg, and when Lorraine leaned against me as she grew sleepy towards the end of the film, I smiled. For once, it felt like things were going right.
At school, Thrasher and I were old news once more. After the shock at our current relationship status wore off with the student body, we were left in peace once more. I was completely ostracized from the rest of the school now that Amelia and I were no longer friends, but in a way that was a good thing because now nobody bothered me about Thrasher like Amelia had. Sometimes I missed interacting with more than one person—besides, my family, of course—but I spent enough of my free time either working or with Thrasher, that it didn't matter as much.
"Sam and Amelia are talking about us again," Thrasher informed me dully one afternoon before Biology class had started.
I sighed and looked over at the aforementioned girls. Sure enough, they had their heads together like they were conspiring and shot us furtive glances every now and then when they thought we weren't looking. When Sam saw me staring back, she defiantly held my gaze before smirking and turning back to Amelia.
Okay, so not everyone had gotten over Thrasher and me: Sam and Amelia still seemed inexplicably interested in the relationship between us.
"God, don't they have anything better to talk about?" I rolled my eyes as I turned back to Thrasher, who was bent over the Calculus homework we'd been assigned today.
"You think we'd be old news after . . . how many months?" He paused from his homework and counted forward from the October. "After about four months."
"We are old news," I responded. "They're just obsessed."
He shrugged and turned his attention back to the problems in front of him. "Just forget about them."
"It doesn't really bother me anymore," I remarked to him, propping my chin in my hand.
"I'm serious!" I scowled at him. "I mean, I don't like the idea that people are talking about me, but whatever they say can't really do much damage. So whatever." I shrugged to show my nonchalance despite the fact that he wasn't looking at me. "It doesn't bother me."
He raised his eyebrows and looked at me. "I'm proud, Lindsay," he told me, mostly joking, although could tell a part of him actually meant it. Then he turned back to his Calculus.
I rolled my eyes yet smiled at the jest and thanked him in the same tone of voice. He smirked at his Calculus homework. Then Mr. Mayhem walked in talking about cellular respiration and class officially began.
Thrasher and I were squished together on one of the few items of furniture on the wooden deck at the back of his house. The deck itself was old and weather-beaten, and extremely hazardous in terms of splinters, but the chair we were in was only a couple years old. It was reclining chair, technically only made for one person but wide enough that Thrasher and I both managed to squeeze in next to each other. I leaned back on him with my shoulder on his chest and my head in that spot between where his neck connected with his shoulder, and we held hands. The sunset was before us.
"So when do you have to pick up Sittou again?" I asked him. His Lebanese grandmother was over at one of her friend's houses playing that complicated card game Bridge.
"At ten. Old people don't stay out as late," he responded. I grinned as I felt his chest rumble underneath me.
We sat in silence for a couple moments.
"Thrasher," I spoke up after a bit, "if Sittou doesn't ever drive, how come you didn't just take her car to school instead of the bus?
"Gas," he answered simply. "I'd rather spend my money on other stuff and just take the bus. Besides," he added as an afterthought, "it's better for the environment."
I chuckled at the mention of the environment. "But doesn't it bother you being a senior and having to take the school bus? And the public bus—what's that like?"
"First of all, no, it doesn't bother me. I think you're forgetting who you're talking to." He shifted slightly under me. "And second, it's like the school bus, only with adults instead of kids. And it's not free. But that's it."
We continued to watch the sun sink down, turning the sky brilliant shades of red and orange. I'd never really taken the time before to watch the sun's various movements about the horizon. It was a whole different experience from glancing out the window at it every now and then, or seeing it without really paying attention to it while driving. Usually, sunsets were just annoying when you were trying to drive west. But it felt nice to relax in Thrasher's arms and just wait for the sun to dip lower and lower.
"Red sky at night, sailor's delight," Thrasher randomly mumbled.
I tilted my head back and looked at him. "What?"
He repeated what he had said more clearly. "It's this old superstition sailor's had that a red sky at night meant calm weather. Then there's red sky at morning, sailor's take warning—like there's gonna be a storm or something."
"How do you know that?" I queried incredulously.
"I dunno." He shrugged his one free shoulder. "My dad told me. He used to know lots of random stuff like that."
I let my head drop back down to rest on his shoulder, so I once again faced the sunset. "Oh."
A few more moments of quiet, and then: "Hey, Lindsay?"
"Um . . ." He took a deep breath. "Thank you."
I frowned and sat upright so I could twist my body to see him. "For what?"
He looked down at his lap. "You know, for being my friend and stuff even though I was really mean to you at first."
"Thrasher . . ." Finally, I had my opportunity. I'd been waiting to do this, trying to find the right moment to suck up all my pride and admit how much I needed him. "Thank you."
His confused gaze met mine. "Thank me?"
"Yeah, for letting me be your friend when I really needed one, even though you didn't want to and even though I was annoying."
The ends of his lips quirked upward in a small smile. "Well, you're welcome."
"You're welcome too." I smiled back at him, staring straight into those brown eyes, and leaned forward to kiss him. When we pulled away, I snuggled into his side again and searched for his palm. When I found it, we laced our fingers together, and I gave his hand a squeeze.
Holding hands, we faced the setting sun.
Mondo Author's Note:
See? This time, it really is the end. No more! It's been a great pleasure posting this up for you all. Sorry it was so short, but if I'd made it any longer it would have seemed dragged out and pointless. Anyway, I always ask at the end of my stories what you find the weakest aspect of this story. If I were to do a rewrite (which I probably won't, so don't get your hopes up), what part of this story needs improvement? And what do I, as an author, need to improve on in general?
Thanks. All comments and (constructive) criticisms are appreciated. :)
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Now on to speak of my subsequent work! (If you don't plan on reading anything else I post up here in the future, you can stop reading now.) At the moment, I have two one-shots I plan on posting to my Rejection series, and one one-shot that I plan on posting in general.
As for full-length stories, I am sorry to say that I have none on the backburner right now. Usually, by the time I finish a story, I have another story that I plan to use as my next full-length work with a chapter or two already written. Although I do have several story ideas floating around in my head or in a Microsoft Word document, I can't say that any of them have really tickled my fancy like a story has to in order for me to dedicate myself to it. There are two other reasons, though, that I will not be posting a full-length story any time soon:
--I'm currently a freshman in college, and from what I hear, college (especially my college) provides you with little to no time to write. So even if I had a story that I planned to use, who knows how often I'd get to write it?
--Somehow, over the past year, writing lost its joy for me. Don't get me wrong, I still enjoy writing now and then, but I found that while I was writing this story, there were several times I had absolutely no motivation to write anything at all; in fact, there were more than enough times when I didn't want to write period—whether it was this story or some other random story I had an idea for at the time. I think a part of the reason may be that I've stopped writing for myself and started writing for the reviews—or for others in general. I include in these stories what I think others want to see, and not necessarily what I want to see. Not to mention that the fear of disappointing all you guys—whether it be by a late update or by a certain turn of events in the story—hung so lowly on my head that I forgot I used to like writing even before all the popularity. This is not the kind of author I want to be. So as cheesy as it sounds, I want to start at the beginning and try and remember why I began writing in the first place. "Get in touch with my writing roots," you might say.
In summary, do not expect to see anything but one-shots from me for a long time. And don't be surprised if even the one-shots are infrequent. (I get more inspirations for full-length stories than I do for one-shots. Sometimes I try to turn these long plotlines into shorter ones that fit a one-shot, but it doesn't usually work.)
Have no fear, though, because I will still be out there reading and reviewing when I have the time!
Thanks for sticking around. :) I'll try to reply to your reviews, but seeing as how I'm now a busy college student, no guarantees. If you have an important (or not-so-important) question, though, I'll try to answer it ASAP.