Coming to Terms

Neon Scribe

Sometimes I drive so fast
Just to feel the danger
I want to scream
It makes me feel alive

--Anything but Ordinary, Avril Lavigne

"Houston, we have a problem," Charlie groaned into her walkie-talkie, peering over the rims of her Ray-Bans. Her right eyebrow was raised, assuming the position it always took when she was irritated. She had finally put the tacky red whistle to good use, surely earning permanent hearing loss during her line of duty.

"You didn't let a kid drown again, did you?" Greg's voice crackled through the speaker of the ancient device.

"Negative," Charlie rolled her eyes. "And for the record, I did not let that kid drown. His brush with death just gave him a good scare. I even made sure to give him a severe warning about the deep end being the devil's playground. For future knowledge, of course." She shifted in her lifeguard's chair, one hand holding the walkie-talkie to her mouth, the other shielding the sun from her bright green eyes.

"What's the problem then, Charlotte?"

Charlie's eyes narrowed as Greg used her full name. Sure, he had worked at the marina since his teen years long ago, but she, too, had been working at the marina long enough for him to call her 'Charlie'; surely consecutive years of lifeguard-duty were enough to earn her that much. Charlie had known Greg and those above him since she was in diapers; she practically lived at the marina, finally getting a job when she was fourteen. She had started out small, selling candy on the Louise, New Lanton's most prized ship. Charlie had worked her way up in marina society, finally earning a staff position as a lifeguard. Technically, she was pretty terrible at her job, but she had put in the most amount of time, virtually living at the marina throughout the years.

In all of this time, one would think that a Homo Sapien as intellectually gifted as Greg Julian would have grasped Charlie's obvious distaste for the name, 'Charlotte.' Could Greg at least acknowledge the fact that she hated her outdated name, instead of constantly reminding her of it? She put her resentment behind her, now fully amused in the situation at hand.

"We've got a Code Brown, Sailor."

The line was silent for a moment while Greg took the information in. "A what, exactly?"

Charlie huffed, the words spewing from her mouth in a trail of sarcasm. "A foreign beast be swimmin' in our chlorinated shores, Mon."

She waited for Greg's brain to register the meaning behind her bizarre terminology, clicking her unpainted nails against the side of her perch, chips of the whitewashed paint falling on her tanned thighs.

"Oh…" he muttered. "I see."

She waited for Greg to reveal his in-depth plans to remedy the situation. Charlie hoped, for her own amusement, that he would put some of his 1992 Navy Seal summer camp experience to good use; she was dying to watch her boss bring out his best moves. Oh god, it was going to be great.

"Good luck with that, Boss." Charlie released the buttons of her walkie-talkie, closing her eyes and leaning back in her chair, the back of her neck resting against its hard edge. Her electric red ponytail swayed against the rear of the chair, the tips tickling the skin of her tan back. Her short siesta was interrupted by Greg's too-high-to-be-manly voice ringing through the hot Californian air surrounding her.

"I'm going to need you to grab a net while I adjust the filters. I'll have Hannah and Logan send the swimmers on their way."

"Uh, excuse me, Mr. Trump," Charlie scoffed. "I'm a lifeguard. I don't deal with human excrements. Bodily waste really isn't my forte, Sire. Besides, don't Thing One and Thing Two need my help corralling the herd?"

"Hannah and Logan will be just fine without your services, Charlotte. I need you to grab a net. Now, if you please," he humored her.

With an eye roll, Charlie climbed down from her high lifeguard perch, donning her flip-flops in the process. She stormed to the supply closet behind the pool locker rooms, not sparing a glance to the girl she almost mauled. Charlie grabbed the net with intense fury, practically strangling the inanimate object as she slammed the door behind her.

Her long, vibrant auburn ponytail swayed behind her, tickling the exposed skin on her lower back. Charlie was radiating fury, her face approaching the color of her brilliant mane of hair.

"I don't get paid for this," she muttered to herself, not caring that her voice was nowhere near a whisper. Charlie stretched her arm as far as she could; the net wasn't quite long enough to reach the infamous turd. "This isn't my fucking job."

As Charlie fished for said feces, she heard a low chuckle behind her. She whipped around, practically thrashing a boy her age with her long locks. She took in his unfamiliar appearance: sandy brown hair, not too long; dark chocolate eyes usually found only on people with extremely dark skin; he wasn't too tall, compared to Charlie's 5'8"; he was, dare she say, decent looking. He wore the signature red swim trunks, obviously working for the marina. It was the smirk on his face that made the steam shoot out of her ears.

"You think this is funny?"

The boy—man, almost— took in her stormy appearance.

"Actually, yeah. It's pretty funny." The boy's eyes danced with mirth, edging her on. Charlie knew that if she wasn't careful with her short temper and sharp tongue, she'd certainly get herself fired. She took in a deep breath and looked back into the boy's coffee-colored eyes.

"You're standing awfully close to the pool," she stated.

"You wouldn't dare," he replied, slightly narrowing his eyes, defying her. A challenge was the one thing Charlie Fletcher could never resist. Her eyes lit up and a smirk slowly planted itself upon her tanned face, stretching her rosy lips, and bunching up the freckles on her nose.

"While my twisted mind is screaming at me to send you catapulting through the water, I'd probably get fired. See that old guy over there?" Charlie pointed in Greg's direction. The boy turned to look. "His name is Greg Julian. He loves me and all," she paused for effect, "but he'd fire my ass in a second if I did what you and I are both thinking." She shrugged. "Call me crazy, but I rather like my job. Well, I liked it before today." She gestured to the pool.

With one quick movement, Charlie scooped up the source of the pandemonium and slung the long handle of the net over her shoulder.

"See, I'm a Californian. In comparison to the rest of the country, California is pretty damn close to Hawaii. Being seventeen and all, I often feel the need to relate to my generation. You know, bask in the culture." Charlie shrugged her shoulders, the net jiggling slightly with the movement. "With that said, later brah."

Charlie walked away, leaving the unidentified boy with her words ringing in his ears.

"I could go for Italian."

"Kristin, babe," Charlie joked into her cell phone. "No way am I forfeiting my right to choose the food because you have a craving for Italian. It's common knowledge that Chinese take-out rules all. Just deal, girl."

"This much is true," Kristin responded, holding her cell phone to her ear while wiping the counter of the marina's restaurant, The Lobster Mobster. She pinched the phone between her cheek and shoulder as she folded up the menus for the six o'clock shift.

"And besides, I think I deserve to choose since I had to clean human excrements out of the pool today. Why the hell does the marina have a pool, anyway?" Charlie's voice started to rise. "Do people not appreciate the natural abundance of water we have in that big blue thing out there beyond the Taco Bells and Gatorade factories of the world?"

Charlie's voice had risen to such a pitch that it was audible from across the marina. The new boy was privately watching her as he collected the sailing school's ropes, taking his time coiling them around each other and placing them in the designated tubs.

"We live in a material world, Charles," Kristin stated, untying her waitress apron and hanging it on the hook under the counter. "Hey, I'm off now, so I'll meet you somewhere. Where are you?"

"Under my chair," Charlie replied. "But I'll meet you halfway."

"No, that's okay. I'm going to call Dom as I walk over."

"Ah," Charlie sighed. "I'll leave you to your fawning."

"Much appreciated," Kristin laughed and ended the call, dialing the number of her longtime boyfriend, Dominic Paige. He and Kristin were the kind of people everyone expected to get married straight out of high school. In fact, they would be among the two percent of high school sweethearts to actually make it without inflicting some sort of serious bodily harm upon each other.

Charlie had nothing against Dom, personally; she actually truly cared for him and believed that he was right for her best friend. Dom was "The One" for Kristin if there ever was such a person, and Charlie knew it.

It was his Y chromosome she didn't trust.

Charlie had never been abused in her life. She had never been sexually assaulted, and she was not a victim of incest. No, Charlie Fletcher distrusted the male race because, damn, that girl could hold a fierce grudge.

She flipped the hair out of her animated green eyes, standing up from her seat on the pool ledge's concrete surface. Charlie pushed her Ray-Bans up onto the top of her head, using them to hold back stray wisps of wavy red hair.

She stared at the sunset, watching the glowing orb fall into the depths of the ocean. The simple beauty captivated her; bright colors were shining off every surface of the marina. Charlie watched as the light on the faces of her coworkers slowly drained, the pool losing its daytime glisten as the underwater lights turned on.

As the last of the sun fell into the sea, Charlie looked wistfully at the waves, wishing she could spend the day getting lost in the ocean's mysteries. She felt so insignificant next to the depths of the ocean; Charlie wanted to know so much more… there was so much waiting for her. She knew she had to spend time getting caught up in its beauty… its purity.

Unlike the pool, she thought darkly.

While the ocean was a mystery to her, there was one thing Charlie knew for certain. She sure as hell was not going to settle for pool-duty any longer.

Author's Note: Here's the first chapter of Coming to Terms! What are your thoughts/reactions/likes/dislikes? Let me know!

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Love, Neon