It wasn't like we hadn't known each other for years, since technically we had met back in junior high when she had moved here. It was just that before that day, I hadn't really talked too much to her, she was a mysterious figure in the side of my life, and sure I had talked about her a few times to my good friends, but it was nothing serious. However after that day at lunch I couldn't stop thinking about her, no matter how hard I tried, and that made me wonder, how had I ever managed to not think about her? Suddenly her black, crazy curly hair and piercing blue eyes were everywhere, her bright pastel attire haunted me and of course her incredible shortness couldn't get out of my head.
"Hi," she stretched out her arm, hand open, waiting for me to shake it. "My name is Clark, I'm going to die in a year, will you marry me?"
She was far from typical; even her introduction was completely different from anything I'd ever experienced before. I'm a man who loves adventure, I'm a man who believes in love at first sight but can't stand Romeo and Juliet. So my answer to this proposal was crystal clear.
"Nice to meet you Clark, but you shouldn't propose to people when you meet them, they could turn out to be total serial killer jerks." I grinned, taking her hand in my own, and shaking. I was so excited at that point I thought I might wobble her arm out of place. Perhaps I'd be able to contain myself better if one of my good friends were there, but as it were, we stood in the commons with anyone who wanted to watch looking on, and I couldn't be more thrilled.
"Your point seems valid. I like you," she broke a smile herself, and at that moment I decided I'd never let her go a day without smiling again, because her smile was just that beautiful.
"Then let's be friends, hmm?" I chirped, and so it began.
I admit to literally floating through the rest of the day. All I talked about was her, to my good friends that is. I do well not to talk to others very much, although I did ask my teachers about her. We had discussed to meet for further discussion in front of the school gate. Unfortunately that meant I had to tell my sister what I was doing after school today, which rarely ever happened.
"Gray," which is not my name—and I don't appreciate being called that, "you're nuts. That Clark girl hears voices, she's off her rocker, I mean, what is wrong with you?" The funny thing about my sister is she doesn't really listen to herself. She tells me this girl is crazy, and then asks what's wrong with me.
"Sheesh Emma, make it sound like I hooked up with a girl in a straight jacket. She's not half as bad as people make her out to be, you'll see," I assured her, and I meant it. There was no way such a perfect doll was anything but that—perfect.
"You're way too... open," she said with a loud sigh, and she did have a point. I have always been something of an easy target, but I didn't mind. I'd rather be an easy target than some holed up person wishing what they could do. I chuckled at her ability to observe her own flesh and blood. "Well, I'm getting to work. Have fun waiting for crazy pants." With that quip she turned her blonde head away from me, her long straight hair falling down her back and catching in the slight breeze.
"I will, have fun answering phones," I said as I stood. She walked away as I stretched in the warmth of the magnificent sun. My stretch was interrupted by a surprising prod in my side, getting me to double over awkwardly. I heard her laugh and was immediately filled with strange warmth. "Good to see you happy."
"Good to see you here at all. I think this is the first time someone didn't stand me up or at least leave me waiting for a good twenty minutes," she made an annoyed face, but then lightened up, looking back to me. "But not you!"
"Nope, not me. So what do you want to do, I have all day," I grinned, happy about this fact. I was excited to do anything, and had been wondering what all we could manage to do before the sun set on the day. However Clark's buoyant expression changed to one of annoyance as a new man approached us.
"Hey Clark, I heard you proposed to Grayson," he said cockily, acknowledging that I was there, yet ignoring me in the same moment.
"So what if I did?" she snapped back at him, and I couldn't help but smirk. I knew this man—Joshua Tree, and although I knew him to be a good friend of Clark's, I also knew he wasn't good enough for her, though I'm sure he thought he was. He wore a purple, satiny button-down shirt and black slacks, and that unbearably cocky expression. "It's not really any of your business, is it Joshua?"
"Well, Clark," and I hated the way he said her name, "you might remember that you're almost a senior and you still act as awkward as ever. I sort of expected you to grow out of it. Edward's not going to appreciate your outlandish behavior," Joshua was stern with this, putting a hand on Clark's shoulder, which was a sight since she was so short. His dark slick-backed hair and Mexican skin just made him seem even more full of himself at this point.
"I don't mind," I intruded, finally forcing him to pay attention to me. If I knew the Edward he was speaking of, and I imagine I did, then I saw no problem.
"Sorry, don't mind what now?" he asked, moving past Clark to address me properly.
"Her awkwardness. I don't mind it. Actually, it's sort of charming. If I'm thinking of the Edward you're talking about, I don't see an issue, I'll take good care of Clark," I said, returning his holier-than-thou expression with a flamboyant smile.
"Edward Kail," he sniped, and I nodded to affirm this is who I meant as well. "You're a dangerous man messing with Clark Robert. Most people think she's crazy, and those who don't are very protective. For instance, Edward has severely mauled before for the poor girl."
As much of a threat as that sounded like, for some reason I really didn't mind. "I don't mind. I'm sure I don't look it but I'm actually a pretty tough cookie. Besides, perhaps I'm not considered crazy but it's not like I'm some meat head. You'll learn to love me, as will Clark, as will Edward... as you all will learn to love my friends, I will learn to love you. Heck—I don't need to learn," I put a hand on his face, smiling as I leaned in as if to kiss him. "I already... love you..."
"You sure no one thinks you're crazy?" Joshua lost his nerve, pushing me away, getting me to laugh.
"No, most people just think he's gay," my good friend Bogie interrupted, punching my stomach lightly before walking away. He had a habit of doing things like that, cutting in and then backing out before you realized he had been there at all.
"Love you too Bogie!" I yelled after him, getting him to wave but not turn around in response. He worked after school, so it was surprising he had bothered to stay so late on the grounds at all. "Anyways, I promised to spend this afternoon with Clark, not you dear Joshua."
"You're gay?" Joshua asked, looking honestly perplexed. I found this utterly hilarious, and thus laughed rather rudely.
"I'm not, but that guy who got me in the gut, Bogart, he is. He's also one of my best friends," I explained. "One of those people you're going to learn to love."
"We'll see if you can handle Clark and me, then Edward, and if you can, I'll be sure to love your little friends," Joshua patted my shoulder, which was a slight reach for him since he was about three inches shorter than me.
"Deal. Now Clark, to our date?" I reached a hand out to her, which she took, but she looked a bit off in her quiet state. "Are you okay?"
I'm not sure what possessed me to do it when she didn't answer, but I swooped her up. Her scream hit my ears but I paid it no mind, since she didn't resist me. Her stomach was level with my face, and I wanted very much to kiss it. I vaguely noticed Joshua taking his smug expression and leaving.
"Wh-why?" she mustered, her expression both amazed and scared. I let out a low chuckle, rubbing my cheek against her stomach, which was covered by her plaid pink shirt. She looked like she wanted to defend herself, but kept her hands planted firmly on my shoulders. "D-don't touch my stomach—"
I ignored this plea, making an observation instead, "We weigh the same, huh?" my copper hair got in my eyes as I looked up at her. However, she shook her head, her face incredibly flushed. I raised an eyebrow; sure I had estimated her weight about right.
"You weigh less," she muttered, and I wasn't sure how she could know that. Deciding such minor details were not to be fussed over I shifted her, letting her fall as if she were a bride in my arms. She squealed out, but didn't let go of my shoulders as I let out another chuckle.
"To our date now then?" I queried, smirking as I let her down to the pavement once more. She nodded hastily, cute as she took a deep breath.
"I think I might actually have bit off more than I could chew with you," she breathed out, then smiled. "Never thought I'd see the day."
This startled me—I was sure Clark was more than enough to handle someone like me. I was almost too sure. "If it doesn't creep you out too much, I've actually been meaning to talk to you since I first saw you last year. I guess I'm not as up front as you," I said with a smile, patting her head. I was a full eight inches taller than her, after all.
"S-so where do you want to go?" She asked, looking around, something catching her attention. "Right now."
I looked to where she had landed her focus, catching sight of a dark clad girl. I decided to act entirely on impulse, once again tossing Clark into my arms, this time over my shoulder. She let out a shriek, trying to find a grip on my back as I headed off.
I ran until I could barely breathe anymore, feeling a familiar burning in my chest. I flopped her stressed body on a nearby bench unceremoniously before plopping down next to her to catch my breath. She took a long moment to collect herself before doubling over in laughter.
"That was amazing!" she burst, and I couldn't help but smile despite still being short of breath. "What a way to travel!"
"Glad you had fun," I held my chest taking deep breaths between each word. "I'm out of shape..."
"You're crazy, that's what," Clark giggled, then covered her mouth at the sound. I couldn't help but laugh at her, taking her hand from her face and leaning my own face near to hers.
"Only people with mental problems fall in love, so you'd best hope I'm crazy," my breath touched her cheek, getting her to flush and push me away. I was embarrassed, rubbing my head, "sorry."
"N-no, I just... I haven't... since..." Clark stammered until I gave in and shushed her. She looked away, biting her lip. Suddenly I realized my foul.
"I already know. Since Dexter, right?" I smiled as charmingly as I could manage, patting her frizzy dark hair. "And now you're conflicted between Isaac and I, but luckily enough for me he's interested in someone else. But I bet, even though he's interested in someone else, you managed to kiss him anyways."
I hated knowing stuff like this.
She blinked, clearly bewildered by my level of knowledge about her. I knew a lot about a lot of people. Clark piqued my interests, so I kept tabs on her. "How did you know—?" she began to ask, and I just kept my usual smile plastered on my face.
"I told you, I've been meaning to talk to you for awhile. Not to mention I did say I might be a serial killer jerk. You never really know," I took a deep breath in. I was sort of surprised to hear her begin to chuckle, then outright laugh.
"You are a very interesting person Grayson. More so than I ever honestly expected. Tell you what; I'll give you one wish, okay?" Clark smirked, putting a finger over her mouth as if to say "shh".
"A wish?" I was honestly puzzled, but decided to play along, whatever she meant. I hummed loudly, as if I were thinking deeply. There were tons of things I wanted, but I didn't want to relay that kind of information to her yet. "I wish... I was passing all my classes."
"Hmmm, is that all?" Clark didn't seem too disappointed, grinning and biting at the air. "No problem." This prompted me to raise an eyebrow, but I decided to continue with not questioning her.
"I'm hungry, let's get crepes." I suggested, promptly standing and extending a hand for her to take. She accepted, standing as well and allowing me to lead her to the park's crepe stand. We ordered crepes, she got a banana one, I chose strawberry, and then we walked down onto the beach. I don't know why, but she took off her black slipper-like shoes, carrying them under her arm as she ate her crepe. I watched as the sand sank in between her toes, wondering how nice that must feel.
I devoured my crepe within a couple of minutes, looking out over the ocean. For a long while we didn't say anything, but the silence was comfortable. The sun was setting now, the weather hazy and unexplainably calm.
"So Clark, do you really hear voices?" I asked, surprised by own voice. It was like the sea had asked her, instead of me. At first she didn't answer, the pause was long enough I wondered if she had heard me, as she finished eating her banana crepe. Once it was gone she knelt down, putting her black shoes next to where the waves lapped up onto the shore. She hovered for a moment, and then stood, beginning to walk again, leaving the shoes to be eaten by the sea. I kept walking with her, deciding not to look back.
"I don't. Hear voices, that is. I'm not actually crazy, I'm not actually a lesbian, I'm not actually all too abnormal at all, really," Clark smiled, but not like she was happy or relieved or anything. More like she couldn't stand not to make the expression. "I think as if I'm talking to people—I have all these conversations in my head that will never convey into reality."
"Really? I think... kind of in colors. It's hard to explain. I guess I was half hoping you were completely off your rocker. I don't know why. I guess so I could somehow save you from the brink of insanity, and you'd fall in love with me, and we'd live happily ever after or whatever," I chuckled at this idea. Clark kept that weird smile on her face, looking straight ahead. "Want to go skinny dipping?"
I'm not sure where the question came from, I'll be honest.
"You're kidding right?" She blinked those fierce blue eyes at me. I laughed as I met her expression.
"Am I?" I pulled my arms over my head, giving a yawn before I took off my back pack, then my shirt and kicked off my shoes in a swift motion.
"The water's freezing..." Clark raised an eyebrow, losing her smile to shock, putting her messenger bag down by my back pack. I didn't care, unbuttoning my pants and wiggling out of their legs. I decided to not go completely nude, leaving my boxers on as I walked into the waves.
"I don't mind. I'll give you one wish Clark," I grinned at her over my shoulder, feeling the sand in between my wiggling toes, feeling the waves lap up against my legs. The water was in fact cold, but I was already getting used to it. She followed me a bit, so her toes were kissed by the waves. I couldn't help myself, I swept her up again, then waded with her out to sea. I went out up to my waist, unable to take her further without getting her wet.
"I wish for you to stay with me. For better, for worse, no matter what," Clark said softly, like her voice was heavy, and each word took all her strength to conjure up. I regained my grin, her skirt touching the water just a bit. Dusk was settling in, the water was freezing my manhood but I tried not to mind. The only light was golden, pouring down on us.
"Alright, but you have to trust me, and you have to be willing to get wet," despite how cold I was beginning to feel my voice came out as triumphant and bold. I could feel her squirm in my arms.
"Wh-wh-what? Wet? Like right now?" Clark clutched onto my neck a little tighter. I began to chuckle, nodding.
"Oh yes, right now seems like a good time. One thing I'm praised for—my recklessness," which is completely true. I decided not to just drop Clark, that would be too easy. I walked out a little further, laughing as she tried to get up onto my shoulders to keep dry. Her efforts were in vain though, as the water started to come up to my chest. The wake grew, and she lost her grip as I swayed with it, and I took my chance—I threw her out to sea.
Her scream flowed out, the air the only thing catching her before the ocean swallowed her in its waves. She thrashed, struggling at first to find her footing, realizing she couldn't even reach the bottom. I couldn't help my laughter as she swam up to the surface to gulp for air recklessly, and I took her back into my arms. My eight inches on her were good for this, since I could have my head out of the water she couldn't stand up in. I lifted her up to her torso, taking a couple of steps back to be more out of the water myself. She gasped for air, coughed, then looked—quite unhappily—down at me. I was still laughing.
"You are crazy!" she screeched, her voice cracking. She shivered, freezing in the cold water.
"Well, no, but, I don't believe at any point one should lead a boring life. Which is why, dear Clark, I was so excited when you spoke to me today, because I have seen you from a distance and I realize your life is worse than boring—it's depressing and boring!" I bounced her in my arms, splashing the water around us. She stared blankly down at me for along moment, and then put her hands on either side of my face. They were freezing, but so was my face. Her dark hair was heavy with water, almost straight although still crazy and frizzy falling around her face. I could feel my own copper head sticking to my forehead.
"Wow," was all she said, breaking for once an honest smile.
With that I decided I was cold enough from the water, it was time to go be cold on dry land once more. I dropped Clark gently on the sand, sitting down next to her in my boxers. I stretched out across the beach, noticing her noticing me, and her wet clothes clung to her body. She didn't seem bothered by her wet clothes, which I was happy about. After all, she was the kind of girl who let her shoes get swallowed by the sea.
"So what are you scared of Grayson?" she asked, her voice pulsing with the heat of a million suns. I honestly hadn't anticipated the question, so I took a moment to soak in her tone.
"I'm scared of dying unfulfilled, a virgin to life itself. I want to do things, amazing things," I explained, my voice cheerful but still seeming to blend with the sound of the ocean. "And you?"
"I'm scared of living," and silence came. I didn't know what that meant—being scared of living seemed preposterous to me. But then I wondered, how big and empty the world must seem, how depressing and boring it could get. I let my callused hand slink across the sand to meet her pale, slender hand. "I thought when I came up to you today, that we were opposites. That I was this unreserved psycho and you were this polite, mellow mannered boy. It turns out we are opposites. Since I'm this scared shit, and you're this fearless velociraptor."
"First impressions are usually wrong," I cooed. "You'll see, we'll be the best of friends."
With that I was too cold and decided she probably was too, so I got up, picking up our bags and my clothes. By this time she'd stood as well, so I took her hand in my own and walked with her to her home.
"Should I come up and explain to your parents why you're wet?" I asked, since I had gotten at least most of my clothes back on during the walk home and didn't want her getting in too much trouble for being sopping wet. However she shook her curly hair head, which was now dry enough it had regained its crazy curls almost completely. "You sure?"
"My folks are pretty laid back. If I come home in one piece they're usually pretty content. How are you getting home?" she asked as we walked up the stairs to her apartment.
"I'll call Bogie. He was planning on picking me up anyways, he almost always does. I have a scooter but on school days we usually hook up so I never bother to bring it," I explained, Clark nodding. We reached what was apparently her apartment, stopping and looking at each other, neither of us seeming sure what to do. "So I'll see you tomorrow."
"Yeah. Thanks for... everything," Clark smiled, turning to go into the apartment. For a moment I wanted to stop her, tell her I loved her, kiss her, hold her, anything, I just wanted to touch her life in a way no one would ever touch again. But I didn't. The door to the apartment closed, and I was left in the hall alone. I sighed, walking to head back outside, taking out my cell phone and holding down the number three, speed dial for Bogie. I put the phone to my ear, not surprised when he picked up with his usual "h'lo". He agreed to meet me outside with his car in a few minutes, so I prepared for the wait.
It didn't take long for him to show up in his older model red car, a hand me down from his parents that he adored. I hopped into the passenger's side of the vehicle, immediately saying my thank you before buckling in. Bogie nodded, beginning to drive yet again.
"You wouldn't believe how great of a day I had!" I beamed at him. Bogie's a brunette with shoulder length straight hair that he holds out of his face with bobby pins. He tends to look pretty feminine, but I've never paid much mind to it.
"I bet I actually could, considering what company you were in when I left. I nearly wet myself when I found out she had approached you. Teach me for going to band meetings during lunch," Bogie chuckled.
"She's better than I imagined Boges, she's amazing, and she's not even crazy," I couldn't stop grinning.
"Just try to keep it low key that you are," Bogie smirked. "Remember not everyone likes to spend their days on the edge of the knife," Bogie turned down my street. "Besides, even if she's not crazy the girl does manage her own problems. You can't save the world, just be supportive and whatnot bra."
I love Bogie's sense of humor, for the record. "Oh I hear you. Want to come in?" I offered, but he shook his head in decline.
"I would but it's getting late, and some of us have homework," he reached to pat my shoulder.
"Thanks again for the ride Bogie, you're the best!" I leaned over the divider, kissing his cheek. It wasn't like a love kiss, or even a friend kiss, it was a brother kiss.
"Yeah, yeah get out of my car," Bogart joked, but I complied, exiting the vehicle. He backed out of the drive, waving as he headed off into the night. I slinked into my house, dropping my back pack down and yawning dramatically.
"GRAYSON!" the annoying female voice pierced my ears. My sister tends to overreact. She stormed into the living room where I was stretching my arms up to touch the ceiling, fuming. "Do you have any idea what time it is?"
"Uhm, evening?" I let my arms fall back down to my sides, not really caring what time it was.
"It's after eight, are you wet? Where were you?" she raised an eyebrow, her hands on her hips. Her long blonde hair swayed as she fumed about.
"I went for a swim. Calm down already Emma, it's not like you're mom," I said, mocking her a bit as I started stripping off my clothes, heading to the bathroom. She followed behind me, which wasn't uncommon, she tended to hover.
"No, mom wouldn't even care. But she's not here and you're supposedly my responsibility since I'm the oldest," she huffed as I started the shower. By this time I was completely naked, and slightly annoyed that she was getting on my case about this.
"You know, most sisters don't follow their brothers around when said brothers are naked and trying to shower and whatnot," I quipped. Emma flustered, throwing her hands in the air and marching from the bathroom, closing the door on her way out. Hot water poured down on my naked body, a relief from the cold of the ocean water. Suddenly all I could think about was her smile as the whisper of wow escaped her mouth, her hands, cold, wet and pale on the sides of my face, her piercing blue eyes looking right down into my core.
Life was either going to get a lot easier, or a lot harder, and either way, I was going to love it, because she would be there now.