. ; ; .
You can spend years of your life being around a person, but never try to sum up the important elements of what you've gathered into words. If asked, you might recite that her favorite colors are blue and orange, that her ponytail is always positioned slightly to the left of her head, and that she'd stay in and study if it meant missing a Friday night movie because she didn't understand something in class. But you might never think to say:
"She's a really focused, passion-driven person. It's in those pretty eyes of her, I think."
—Because you'd never really given any thought to describing her besides, "Yeah, she's pretty cool," and the details about her ponytail would come only after much prodding.
Or maybe that was just me.
She was one of those people whom I suppose I took for granted. I always counted on seeing her when our families got together, but she was never more than a cup of punch and some polite conversation to me.
We talked sometimes, as if we were good friends. I don't know—maybe we were friends. I knew what she liked, and I knew what she was like, but hearing this dead-on synopsis of her personality sounded odd to my ears; it was odd that my cousin who had conversed with her for less than an hour was voicing the thoughts I'd never thought, in all the days I'd know her.
But he was right, I think. She was really focused, and extremely passionate. I just—was it weird that I'd never really considered this? Because these things he said—these were a testament to who she was. How many years had I known Olive, only to realize that the deepest observation I'd made concerning her was that her favorite colors were complementary according to the color wheel?
It was something I was determined to change. If you asked me why, I don't think I'd be able to give you a straight answer.
But for whatever reason, I wanted—desperately—to understand Olive more, to see if her eyes really were that pretty.
I guess I'd have to stop staring at her lips first.
. ; ; .
Her eyes were the coldest day of autumn.
The Tuesday my cousin Ian had flown back to Canada on that second week of summer vacation, I'd phoned Olive. "Up for some coffee?" I'd asked as I walked around my kitchen, wondering what I'd use to scrape off the gum that I'd somehow gotten stuck to my shoe. Where had I put that potato peeler?
This was always happening to me. The gum thing, I mean. I didn't always misplace my potato peeler. In fact, I'd only found out two days ago that it worked better on my shoes than my sister's tweezers, which I'd misplaced after my pocket knife had gone missing. Go figure.
"Talk about heck yes and a bottle of rum!" she'd answered enthusiastically, and I stopped searching for about half a second to smile. That was another thing about Olive—her, uhh, way with words. Most people would've just said Sure.
"Meet you at Susanne's Bakery in twenty?" I asked, looking at the clock on the microwave: 7:40 AM.
"Twenty?!" she cried. "I need at least a week's notice for these kinds of things. What is it with men and their impromptu dates? I'm a lady and I expect to be treated like one!"
This time, I stopped searching through the drawers completely.
"Uh. . ." I started awkwardly.
"Jokes!" she exclaimed, her laughter chiming across the phone lines. "Man, if you ever asked if I wanted some coffee and then decided to schedule it for, like, the next day, I would think you were a bit—" her voice lowered and I pressed the phone closer to my ear instinctively, "blurry in the head!" she whispered. I gulped.
"See you in—seventeen and a half!"
I started to say Bye?—only to be met with the dial tone. I shook my head and put the phone back in its cradle. Five and a half minutes to get the gum off, and eight to get dressed. I could pull it off.
And I did. I grabbed a jacket and my keys, jumped into my car, and tried as best I could to make it there in four minutes—honest I did. But stupid people just had to exist. You know, the kind of stupid people who forget that green means Go, apparently—and keep impatient people like myself waiting behind them? Yeah.
I rolled my eyes and honked, startling the idiot of a man into motion.
Needless to say, I made it there in seven.
I spotted Olive in a corner, fiddling with the salt and pepper shakers. She was using them as action figures, and she made the sound effects as they fought their epic battle.
It was actually kind of cute.
I cleared my throat. She looked up at me, then down at her watch. "Where have you been?" she asked, frowning. "You're, like, twenty seconds late, jeez!"
More like four minutes and twenty-three seconds, but I wasn't about to correct her.
"Am I really?" I asked, as I slid into the seat across from her.
She snorted. "How the heck am I supposed to know? I have better things to do than count the seconds I've been waiting here for you."
I grinned at her, and raised my brows. "Like play with salt shakers?"
She blushed. "Pfftt, yeah!" but slid the shakers back into place anyway. That did not stop her from staring at them longingly.
"I'll buy your drink for you if you'd like," I offered her, shrugging. That got her attention. She eyed me suspiciously, and I shrugged again. "Fifteen cents for every second I was late. You get those three-dollar Irish Creams, yeah?"
"Negatory," she responded beaming.
"You don't?" I asked, and the charming smile slid right off my face. For some reason, I knew she liked Irish Creams—I was crap sure of it, for whatever reason. And it bothered me that I was wrong.
"I get those 3-dollar Irish Creams with the 25-cent sales tax," she amended, and I ruffled her hair in some sort of relief. She placed her own hand over the one that was perhaps enjoying too much the softness of her wind-blown curls, removed it, and enclosed a quarter in it before laughing. "Thank you ever-muchly," she said, and I stared bemusedly at the quarter before shrugging and walking to the counter. I guess I'd use it if she wanted me to.
"Can I get an Irish Cream and a peppermint mocha, tall-sized? Oh, and two apple cinnamon pretzels," I told the lady. You couldn't go to a bakery and just order coffee—I sometimes forgot that Susanne's wasn't a coffee shop, seeing as they made better espresso than any café around.
The lady hmm-ed and repeated the order to the people behind her. I drummed my fingers on the cool surface of the wooden countertop before she handed me the hot goods. I accepted them gratefully, and somehow I was able to get everything back to the table without spilling.
"Oh, yum!" Olive said wide-eyed as I handed her a pretzel. Someone was easily pleased.
"So," I began when I had settled down. "What's up?"
She stared at me a bit, a frown creasing its way delicately between her brows. "Uh . . . nothing?"
I blinked. "Oh, cool."
"Yeah," she mumbled, and went back to picking at her pretzel.
I knew I had to salvage the (nonexistent) conversation somehow, but what had I to say? After four years of formally knowing you, I think I want to really learn something about you, Olive.
Uh, no thanks.
Unfortunately, I was forced to admit that to her—she was going back to playing with the shakers.
And when I told her, her mouth parted slightly, and then I started staring at her lips again.
Oh, no, it wasn't like that; it was not a lustful sort of staring by any means. I just—when Olive talked, she had a way of wrapping her whole mouth around every word, so smoothly, so carefully, as if she were afraid she'd somehow ruin it. She didn't have a particularly wide mouth, and it didn't look like I could just sneak my fist in there every time she opened it, she just—I don't know. It seemed that she gave every bit of attention to every word she uttered. And her lips were really pink.
Suddenly the thought crossed my mind: I wonder how she says my name with that mouth of hers? So I decided to stare until she did so.
"Sheridan?" she questioned and I swallowed thickly. Crap, that was sexy.
And crap, when did I start thinking like that?
My eyes connected with hers as I shifted in my seat, all flustered. "Hmm?" I asked, trying to sound collected.
She grinned, perplexed. "I said, where's Ian?"
Suddenly, I didn't feel like a twelve-year-old boy with his first crush. I quirked a brow coolly, regaining control of myself. "Canada."
Why did she care an inch about the whereabouts of my cousin?
"Oh," she sighed sadly. "I miss him."
I paused, frowning. "You just found out he wasn't in the States two seconds ago. You miss him already?"
"Yeah," she shrugged, as if it was the simplest thing in the world. Then her hands shot out for the salt and pepper shakers again.
I clasped my own hands over her smooth palms before she could start playing with the condiments again. I laced my fingers with hers and asked her curiously, "Why do you miss him?"
She looked up in surprise, and blushed at the sight of our locked hands. I didn't budge, even when she bit her lip and looked away, silently pleading for me to do so. "Well . . ." she glanced back up at me and sighed.
It looked like this was really hard for her, so I gave her hands a squeeze.
She breathed out again. "Promise you won't get mad?"
I lifted my eyebrows, and she took that as a Yes.
"Well, it's just—no offense or anything—but Ian, he . . . well, he paid attention when I talked to him about things," she admitted, avoiding my eyes.
I opened my mouth to protest, but she cut me off. "But with you it's like, one would think you were paying attention, because when I talk, you're staring at me so hard and intense and all, as if you're catching every word. But I know you're not, because when I say 'So that's why I want to be a lawyer,' and then five seconds later, 'Which is why I've decided to be a carpenter,' you just say—'Mmm.' I want to be an artist," Olive whispered. "Do you even care?"
I blinked, swallowed, and chanced a look at the eyes I hadn't really noticed all day.
Ian said they were pretty.
They were . . . well, her eyes were the most curious unity of gray and amber, and they were staring back at me with all warmth and with all frigidity. "I—" I cleared my throat. "Well . . ."
She pulled her hands away. "I mean, it's perfectly fine if you don't, Sheridan," she shrugged, and I licked my lips when my name rolled off of hers. "It's just—next time you ask me to talk about something as personal as my life ambitions, don't tune out after the first word. It's sort of a blow to my ego," she joked wryly, looking down.
"Olive," I murmured regretfully. For Pete's sake, I was nineteen years old. I did not need to go screwing things up with this girl because I thought she had nice lips. I wanted to be her friend, not her make-out partner. "I'm really sorry, really I am. I do want to know everything you have to tell, but it's just—I'm really distracted." By your mouth.
How did Ian do it? Maybe he was gay.
She brightened up at my lame apology, looking relieved. "Oh, nooo problem then! As long as you don't think I'm a boring turd, I guess we can put this behind us."
I smiled genuinely. "Thanks."
I really was going to know everything there was to know about this girl. I just really had to stop staring at her lips.
. ; ; .
"I believe in love, you know," Olive told me thoughtfully, licking at the dripping sides of her ice-cream cone.
I stuffed my crossword into my pocket and looked at her curiously.
On Wednesday, I'd asked if she believed in Fate. Thursday, soul mates. Today was Friday, three days after I'd asked her for coffee, though it felt like an eternity and then some.
I don't know where these generic Do You Believe In questions were coming from, but I'd asked them anyway—I really did want to understand her, even if I had to embarrass myself with questions one would hear on the Disney Channel.
And today I was going to pose the query concerning the L-word, but I chickened out for whatever reason. Instead I bought her an ice-cream at the counter, started my crossword, and we'd been enjoying a comfortable silence ever since. She'd brought the issue up for me, bless her soul. "Oh?" I asked. "Like the Romeo and Juliet, eternal and to-die-for love?"
Olive snickered, leaned her head against her sticky palm, and stared at me with keen interest. "Well, yes. No. Yes? . . . Wait, no. Well, Romeo and Juliet had it easy. I think that's why people like their play so much," she shrugged, and pulled her elbow off the blue table, mumbling a "Well, that was rude of me" and reprimanded her offensive elbow with her eyes.
"Oh?" I said again. Man, I sounded lame. Maybe if she'd quit licking like that— "How did they have it easy? They freaking died," I said, scratching my neck. And now I sounded downright stupid.
She laughed, and it was suddenly very warm. "Well—yeah. But they got to do everything they wanted before they died, yeah? They, you know, rebelled, made—uh, love, and snuck around their parents to do so." She paused, nibbling at her cone, watching me with eyes the color of a fall morning. "And then they, well, killed themselves at the very height of their passion—after they'd done everything they wanted, of course. So now they're preserved in eternity as this pair that epitomizes true love because, hey, 'they freaking died' for each other." She smiled wistfully. "But I believe in a love that is carried on through old age, even after Romeo realizes that Juliet has really messy hair in the morning or whatever. I think that two people can be in love their whole lives through and maintain that first week's passion. Do you know what I mean?" she asked, and she was staring at me like she really wanted me to understand.
I'd paid attention that time, and I was really pleased that I did. When she wasn't being silly, she was even more captivating. Well crap, but I wouldn't mind spending my life with a girl like her.
"Yeah," I said, looking away. "I know what you mean."
By Friday, I'd figured out a way to stare at her lips and eyes and still know what she was saying.
. ; ; .
"Hey, you wanna know something?" Olive asked, picking at the grass at the foot of the tree we were sitting under, and looking as though she were fighting hard to withhold a grin. She'd dragged me to the park that day; school was fast approaching, and the summer I'd spent entirely with the girl beside me was melting away more quickly than the Winterfresh on my shoes.
I'd spent the last three months getting to know her. In that time, I'd confirmed that, yes; Olive was extremely dedicated to her art which she pursued with a motivation I'd tried hard to comprehend. But if I had to add to that précis of her personality, she was also very clumsy, opinionated, and timid when she was not in control of a situation.
Did I want to 'know something'? Yeah. But she was fun to aggravate. "Nah," I responded easily, shifting so that my head was in her lap.
Not a good idea.
She tweaked my ear harshly, and didn't let go until I said, "Oww! Okay! I'd love to hear something. I want to hear something so much my ears are hurting from not hearing the sound of your voice telling me something. Please do tell me something before they fall off and I won't be able to hear something."
"I don't appreciate your cheek," she told me, grinning. And then her soft lips were brushing against my cheek, and a tendril of her hair was tickling my ear. She pulled back, laughing hysterically. "Man, I've wanted to use that one since the beginning of time!"
I was just staring up at her, watching her bright eyes, feeling my throat go dry.
"Don't do that," I ground out hoarsely.
She started, and her last-week-of-autumn eyes widened. "Why not?"
Really, I don't know why a kiss on the cheek affected me so much. It didn't really matter why to me. It just mattered that it did.
"Because," I said feverishly, lifting my head out of her lap and standing, "just don't."
She looked confused, and just a little angry. She stood up as well, saying, "Does that mean you didn't think it was funny?"
She was upset because I didn't find her kiss funny?
Oh, for Pete's sake.
Before I could control my body, it was slamming Olive right up against the tree, firmly pressing against hers until I could feel every inch.
I almost shrugged. I was breathing hard and fast as I stared into those eyes, moved by a desire for her that I had tried to forget existed.
But it all came rushing back now. Olive's face looked every bit shocked at my actions, and her lips parted the same way they did when I started to realize that, heck, I wanted her.
And I captured those lips with mine, caressing them as gently as I could as my hands found her waist, which I gripped not-so-gently. She was mine, and crap, I wanted to show her that.
She kissed me back after a tense pause, and I celebrated inwardly. Crap. Was I smiling? Crap. Crap. What a load of crap. I was a sissy.
I broke away, panting, but I did not want it to end. My mouth found her ear, and I nipped at it playfully, licking and biting just to feel her shiver against me.
When my lips rubbed tentatively against her neck, she gasped.
"Sheridan," she sighed into my ear, and I just about lost it.
But the moment was lost instead. She'd been shocked and staring the second she'd said my name, and now she was looking up at my fearfully, blinking, pushing me away.
"Olive," I exhaled desperately, running a hand through my hair, closing my eyes. "I'm sor—"
But she would have none of it, and she tore out of that park as fast as she was able. She did say she ran track in high school. Crap.
Who did I think I was kidding? I knew I needed to stop staring at her lips.
. ; ; .
The last week of summer was completely Olive-free.
It was torture.
She would not return my calls. She was not at her apartment when I went out to look for her.
And it was time to go back to school. (Crap.)
I freed myself from the girls who'd ambushed me upon my arrival with a polite smile, and turned the school over as I looked for the girl whose avoidance techniques were the best I'd come across in all my years of living.
Oh, wait. Never mind.
I stood in line behind her at the water fountain, waiting for her to finish drinking.
Crap, she was slow. She did say she loved water. And fountain water was her favorite. "Do you mind?" I asked, disguising my voice.
Her whole body tensed. Okay, so maybe I wasn't very good at changing the way I sounded, but she was no good at Chutes and Ladders, so I guess we were even. Olive turned around anyway, probably realizing that she wasn't getting away this time. "Oh, heeeey, Sheridan. Long time no seee," she said, laughing awkwardly.
I was not amused.
"Where have you been?" I demanded, a week of frustration working its way into my voice.
She looked down and lifted a shoulder weakly. "Oh, you know. Around?"
"Away," I corrected darkly. I put my hands on either side of the fountain. She was trapped. "And why have you been away, Olive?" I murmured against her ear. Eh, couldn't help myself.
Olive swallowed, flushed, shifted, and avoided my gaze. "I—umm—you. . . I—could you stop that for a second?!" she finally asked, all flustered and huffing. I tore my lips away from her jaw obediently, but not before grinning sheepishly—more like arrogantly—at her.
"Look," she sighed, rubbing her left elbow with her right arm. "I just—I don't know what you're doing."
I smiled at her and shrugged. "I just wanted to be your friend."
Her hazy sunrise eyes snapped up to meet mine, bewildered. "Oh," she mumbled, and smiled kind of oddly. "Okay then?"
I tucked a curl of her dark hair behind ear. "Well, that's how this all started," I admitted, and she scratched her cheek in question. "I thought we'd make good friends. But the more you talked, the more I wanted to hear. And the more I wanted to just—kiss you," I whispered, suddenly embarrassed. Was I even getting my point across? Did I have a point?
"Oh," she said again. "Okay then?"
I frowned. "Okay then?"
"Okay then," she beamed.
"Okay then," I drawled, a bit annoyed. What was that supposed to mean?
She stared at her shoes pensively before steeling her shoulders. She looked up determinedly and then . . . kissed my cheek. "I don't appreciate your cheek!" she exclaimed, laughing so hard I had to press her face against my chest to muffle the sound. People were starting to stare. "You know, I wanted to kiss you, too, sometimes," Olive confessed, staring right at my chest.
"Yeah?" I asked, starting to smile.
"Yeah, but at least I controlled myself!" she reprimanded, flicking my cheek with a grin that made me grin right back at her.
"Wanna grab a coffee next month or something?" I asked, waggling my brows.
Olive laughed, looking at me like she didn't believe we were talking like this, or about this. "Okay then," she said, "but I think you're a bit blurry in the head. You always have been, huh, son?" she said pityingly.
I kissed her cheek lingeringly after I accidentally — though she would beg to differ — stepped on her foot. "I don't appreciate your cheek!"
Holy . . . what was she doing to me?
Her laughter vibrated against my chest, speeding up that beating thing inside it. She punched me half-heartedly. "Well, if all our conversations are going to be this—circular, I thought you should know that my favorite shape is—not the circle. It's the hexagon, if you would remember. I believe you asked me before." An indignant sniff kind of made me want to hug her. "So get your own jokes, you freak!"
"Okay then," I answered, even though I probably wasn't going to.
Once you got to know a person, you couldn't help but let them rub off on you just a little. And you know, you were crapping glad that they did.
Or maybe that was just me.
"Aww, crap, did I just step in gum?!" Olive wailed miserably.
Well. I guess not. I kissed her soundly.
. ; ; .
a.n. Harhar, once again an attempt to shoo off my writer's block. I wrote this last night when my cousins left, whom I hadn't seen in forever. Who knew they were cool?! Yeah, so my cousin Ian was the inspiration for this. That "focused and passion-driven" thing was what he said about my theatre-obsessed-sort-of-friend. Ian came to visit for our grandma's birthday and he's graduating in a few weeks as a drama major, so my friend(?) was talking to him about, you know, acting stuff, which I'm just not cool enough to understand. My brother asked him later how the conversation was going and he was like, "Oh, you know, good. I'm trying not to reveal that she probably knows more than me." -laugh laugh, pause- "She's a really focused, blahblah.." and then I was like WOW, she is! I never thought about it like that before! Well, I didn't say that, I just thought it. And then this story was born. YAY? We were also talking about R&J for whatever reason, and Ian said basically what Olive did. YAY?! So…thank Ian. He gave me the rest of his Golden Grahams.
Oh, and as you can probably tell, I'm terrible with handling endings. Maybe I'll edit this baby someday. I'm hungry. It's Memorial Day. YAYY. Review if you've got time. It's totally keewll. And much appreciated. Annddd it's so durn fun that your mouse is scrolling over to the button as we speak.
edited: o5.26.o8 - o5.27.o8