worlds through closed eyes
Hello. This is my first story on Fictionpress, although I have written over thirty stories for Fanfiction. I suppose I just wanted the chance to branch out and create stories that don't have to stem from characters and situations others already own. This story contains many personal, close emotions and memories from my own life and I hope you enjoy it.
I have heard it said that the opposite of love isn't hate, but indifference.
We're running and running as though the expanse of grass in front of us won't run out, like our tiny fingers can grab onto metal link after metal link on the playground until we reach the skies. Flushed cheeks, breathing coming in pants, and we reach the top of this cage-like structure.
"Wanna jump?" he asks.
I'm looking at red hair and brilliant blue eyes and he's my childhood playmate.
"No," I say, laughing.
I do anyways, just because.
He's the typical second grade prince.
I shift in my seat and pat my curls because we're singing in church and I have to look just right.
"What are you wearing?" The little girl to the left of me asks. She's beautiful, with blonde ringlets and green eyes, a whisper in a breeze.
I wonder what will happen if I blow gently in her direction.
"My mommy's lipstick," I say.
The sound of scraping fabric echoes behind me and then his fingers are gentle on my shoulders, rolling softly.
"I like the lipstick," Ryder says, brilliant blue eyes light.
I giggle at the feeling of his fingers rolling against my skin, giving me a nice massage, and pat his spiked, ginger hair.
"That tickles," I say, but it feels nice.
I'm the princess of the castle and he's my prince on his dashing steed (more or less, if you consider a chair a horse.)
(until the moment ends with the twinkling of dawn.)
Teasing, talking; we're walking along the path to Starbucks and he's chuckling at something I'll probably never process.
"You have to tell me about your classes," I say, feeling incredibly stupid as soon as I do. Of course, as soon as we escape the clutches of school, I have to bring the topic back up.
Ryder raises an eyebrow, looks at me incredulously, "You're kidding me, right?"
I shrug, "No. You know I've never had the experience of public school." I pause. "Well, apart from first grade that is."
And now I sound even more stupid, treating myself like I'm some sort of martyr for allowing my mom to teach me at home; at least I didn't slip in the 'socially deprived' comment I normally do when faced with awkwardness.
Ryder's lips thin, and great, I've made him irritated again.
"Ok," he says simply, tone curt enough to suggest that I'm boring him.
"Sorry," I say as I move one hand from it's position at my side, taking a five out of my wallet as we approach the Starbucks. "I tend to make conversations awkward."
Ryder lets me open the door and follows me inside, "I can see that."
He opens the door for me as we leave the Starbucks and I blush slightly under his protective look. His cheeks and the corners of his lips tighten ever so slightly when he feels strained, although in this case it's okay because it's over me.
"Thank you," I say, "but you should have let me pay." I'm stumbling over my words but he doesn't seem to notice.
Ryder only shakes his head, "Chivalry seems to have died along with the twenty-first century." He takes a sip of his caramel cappuccino and a little bit of it drips down the side of his chin towards his neck. If I was a flirty blonde then I might have the courage to wipe it away.
But, as it is, I tell him, "You've got a bit of, um -" I point to the droplet, "the cappuccino, on your chin."
He dabs it away with the back of his hand and grunts to show his appreciation.
"So, about your classes?" I ask hopefully, having wished before that he would have brought it up beforehead.
"Katie," he says with a sigh, but nods finally, "it's not as fascinating as you might like to imagine. The drum core kids I am required to associate with are mostly atheists, the extremists target anyone who dares wear a cross visible around their neck; and the classes, well, they're practically mundane."
"Sounds dangerous," I say, taking longer strides so that he won't leave me behind (even though he's purposely slowed down for me.)
He smirks in amusement, "You act like high school is a SAW movie or something."
"Well -" I begin, cutting off, because he's sort of right.
I step a little closer and jump as the sleeve of his gray shirt brushes my bare shoulder-blade. It's nearing spring break and while everyone else is wearing tank-tops and shorts Ryder insists on short-sleeved shirts and jeans, his favorite combination.
"Sometimes I wonder if you sleep in them," I muse to myself, not noticing that I have said it out loud.
"What?" Ryder cocks an eyebrow at me, looking understandably confused. He always does that cool one-eyebrow thing when unsure about something.
I tell myself to act cool, but I can feel a flush creeping up all the way to the roots of my dark hair. May as well confess, I figure.
"I said, sometimes I wonder if you sleep in your t-shirts and jeans," I say bluntly.
Ryder just looks at me for a second, blue eyes thawing, and then he bursts forth in laughter.
I love his laugh.
He's druming, rapping sticks against the surface of his drum set.
I allow my eyes to slide shut, ignoring the pokes from friends on either side of me (oh, so suddenly you can't close your eyes in church,) and find myself sinking into the rhythm of the drums. With every beat I feel my own heart tugging, and it triggers something deep inside of me, something I cannot seem to understand about myself yet.
With each beat of the drum-sticks I fall further and further into the encompassing pulses of the song, reveling in the peace that it brings me.
Ryder brings all other drummers to shame, I determine.
"Hey," I say to him after the service is done. We're surrounded by several dozen youth and yet to me it seems that we're the only two people in the world.
Ryder looks up, those blue eyes I lo- find brilliant shining with satisfaction. But when those eyes spot me they dull.
"Hey," he says back, and that's all. He rarely ever actually says my name, I realize.
I fiddle with my fingers, wishing that I was more of an extrovert. Then again, Ryder isn't much of one either, so that's alright.
"You did a great job," I finally say.
Two other guys - both of which I've known since elementary school - are coming over to congratulate Ryder and the air seems to tighten around me. God, let this moment last.
"Thanks," says Ryder, and then he looks away and greets the other two boys with a bright smile.
I back up a little, willing myself to say goodbye; but I can't manage to make a sound. Damn shyness. My hand closes around one of the doors leading out of the sanctuary and I exit, looking back for one lingering moment to spot my best friend's familiar head of ginger hair.
"Goodbye," I whisper.
Then I'm gone, and it's my reality, my world.
I wish it wasn't sometimes.
His warm fingers are around mine as I sit on the stool facing his drumset.
"Clutch it like this." His voice, velvet; his warm fingers tightening mine around one of the sticks.
I look up at him and, just to spite him, I smack one of the crash cymbols and the bass drum at the same time, sending more of those vibrations coursing through me. But they aren't melodious, not like when Ryder plays.
Speaking of Ryder, he's glaring at me with a mixture of annoyance and amusement in his eyes. Annoyance because he doesn't like anyone messing around with his drumstick, or with his time, actually. Amusement because I know he knows he can't find it in his heart to really be mad at me.
"Katie," he says with a sigh, "can you please pay attention?"
I smirk at him and then it fades to a smile. "Fine," I say, frowning as he holds a hand out for the drumsticks.
"Give them," he orders.
I shake my head, "Nu-uh."
He tries to grab the sticks from me, but he's not really trying because he can't bear to break his drumsticks (or me.)
After a minute Ryder breaks away with a huff, "Damn it, Katie."
I really look at him, noticing the bags under his eyes etched with a mixture of gray and red. My fingers waver and then drop the drumsticks into his hands.
"I'm sorry," I tell him softly, touching his cheek. He jumps a little, not expecting it.
Our eyes meet, dark and stormy; I tremble a little as he leans closer. No boy has ever gotten this close to me of his own free will before and it's slightly terrifying. After all, with all the angles on his face and the hard curve of his body, Ryder comes across pretty intimidating. But I know, know more than anything, how gentle he truly can be.
"Don't take my drumsticks again," he whispers, his breath hitting my face.
I smile shakily and wish I was courageous enough to lean a little closer. "You should get some more sleep," I whisper back.
The drumsticks clatter to the floor and the sound sends us rocketing apart.
(and the color fades from the moment, leaving the truth.)
The world seems much too small a place all of a sudden.
I find myself standing in the middle of the youth fellowship hall at our church. My eyes moisten and I lick my lips, trying to dispel the tears. There's still color in the world, I remind myself. There has to be.
I jump at the sound of his voice, both because it's him and because he said my name.
"Ryder." My voice comes out, choked. I can't breathe; it's too much.
His scent envelops me as I fall into his embrace; my hands tighten around his waist as my head burrows into the crook of his neck (and for a moment I can imagine forever right here.)
"I'm sorry," Ryder whispers into my hair. I feel his fingers stroking my back softly, gently, and the fact that it's him makes the tears come faster.
"What are you sorry about?" I mumble through tears, resisting the urge to rub my nose with my sleeve. I absoluely loathe crying and hate myself for giving into it every time.
Ryder shrugs, "It seemed appropriate." He keeps holding me, but I notice that his grip doesn't tighten like I wish it would.
I want to tell him about my brother being bipolar, about the way he hits me and kicks me and leaves grooves flowing with fresh blood, at least until he takes his lithium pills. I want to tell him about all the times I cry alone but I don't because I know, despite him holding me now, Ryder doesn't want to hear about my problems.
Ryder doesn't want to hear about me.
I blink back tears once, twice.
"You - you're going to have to burn this shirt now," I say, prodding the bright red fabric of the tank-top Ryder is wearing. It's a shame; it's probably the only tank-top he owns.
Ryder chuckles under his breath at my remark and I prod his shirt again, looking ruefully at the mascara trail I've left behind.
But I won't let myself think about it too much.
Now is the time to cherish him.
(and I sound like an old married woman.)
Feet dipped in the water, toes linking together, fingers sliding into each other comfortably.
"Sometimes," I begin, looking over at him. His red hair shines in the light and I can't make myself finish: I think about spending forever with you.
Ryder squeezes my hand and smiles. He looks tired; happy though. I find myself smiling as I look at him, because when he's smiling the whole world just seems more alive, like I've been blind up until this point and now I can see all the colors of the rainbow.
A duck swims by in the pond and splashes water on our ankles. I laugh at the silly creature, watch it swim over towards what I assume is it's mate and twine their necks together.
"Now is our forever," I say, tucking my head into the crook of Ryder's neck.
Ryder's arms tighten around me and I know that he cares.
I stand, watch him talk to another girl animatedly, and then make my way towards a table stocked with various forms of food ranging from gumballs to slabs of steak. Talk about wide variety. I grab an off yellow plate and fill it with a piece of salmon and a handful of flaming hot cheetos and seat myself at a table near Ryder.
In my mouth goes a cheeto. Crunch. Fires lick hungry trails up my tongue and I shiver at the feeling.
Crunch. I've never seen Ryder talk so much, not with anyone at our church. Now his whole face is lit up and his fingers are playing with his face.
Crunch. More burning. I welcome the sensation, my eyes shooting to the object of his attention. She's decent looking, her brown hair pulled back in a semi-ponytail and freckles speckled across her porcelain cheeks. She laughs at something Ryder says and braces flash on her white teeth.
A cheeto crumbles to pieces in my fist and I watch crimson bits fall onto my plate.
Ten minutes later I'm gone, my fingers flying across the keyboard on my laptop. Crumbs from a huge slice of brownie lay littered across the front of my lap and several empty cans of Coke sit on the table in front of me.
Facebook loads and I'm paling. No. No. Please no.
A new post reads: Ryder Donovan has changed his relationship status to In A Relationship with Samantha Morrison.
I'm dying, shriveling up inside, melting, disappearing into a black hole of nothingness. Clicking on the girl's name I wait for her page to load and my lips wobble as it opens to a picture of the girl Ryder was talking to earlier.
(and it seems that forever is relative.)
We're lying on his couch watching reruns of CSI - well, he's also typing away at his laptop - sitting too close for us. Feet tangled, legs brushing. He's wearing light brown shorts and I can see the strawberry blond hairs on his legs bristling with the breeze.
"What are you looking for?" I ask him when his typing becomes rather irritating. The CSI episode is just reaching it's climax and his typing is drowning out the actors' lines.
"Hmm?" he mumbles distractedly.
I chuckle, nudging him with my foot. "What are you looking for?"
"A copy of August Burns Red's Constellations album," Ryder replies, still kind of out of it.
I lean over his shoulder, "Then why is there a picture of a Jigglypuff on your google desktop?" I refrain a laugh for his expense.
Ryder turns five different shades of red and mumbles something about 'freaking Pokemon.'
"I was thinking about August Burns Red," he tells me finally.
My chin comes to rest on his shoulder. "I thought you already had all of their albums."
"Not the 7-inch vinyl record that comes with ordering their album Constellations from a certain dealer," says Ryder. He starts typing again.
"Will you stop that?" I groan, my hands tugging his off of the laptop. I don't know what he sees in the metal genre, but I find it most times too intense for my liking.
Ryder looks at me with that one eyebrow thing. "What do you mean?"
"You've made me miss the climax of the newest CSI," I grumble, leaning into him despite my irritation just because I love being close to him.
He kisses my brow and I freeze up a little because he's never done that before. Then come the tremors, because, oh God, I don't know how to -
He's kissing me then and his lips are soft, so unlike what I thought they would be. His tongue darts out, traces my lower lip, and I shiver.
"Do you forgive me?" he breathes into my mouth.
I look at him through misty blue eyes, "I haven't made up my mind yet. Maybe I need a little more persuasion."
His lips are on mine then, and I lose track of the world.
(I don't even notice that Ryder's turned the TV off, nor that the sound of my parents' voices is floating through my mind, at first. then: hands shaking me from darkness, blinking eyelids...)
"Do you ever think about college?"
We're standing out on the patio and everything is white, my face is probably pale white, but it's okay because I'm used to it now (no, I will never be.)
Ryder sighs, stuffs hands in his pockets, and briefly glances at me.
"I've been thinking about it for months," he admits finally, and the fact that he's actually talking to me makes just a little color spill onto my cheeks.
There's no one around us and the way Ryder is purposely not looking at me is making this all the more difficult.
"Do you know where you're going?" I choke the words out, because I have to know.
Ryder turns, looks down at me, and I swear I see a glint of sadness in his eyes. But then he's all steel walls and wariness again, something I can't break through no matter how hard I try.
"UCSD," he mumbles.
I can't breathe, because he'll be hours away and -
"Commuting?" I whisper.
Ryder chuckles, "Please, who would commute to San Diego?" I feel my cheeks burn, because he makes me feel so stupid sometimes.
"Yeah," I say, swallowing. "Right."
I don't say the words I'll Miss You, because Ryder doesn't want to hear it, doesn't really want to talk to me.
"Look, I have to go." He smiles, but it's empty, and then he's weaving his way behind me into the crowd and I'm alone again.
"I'm going to miss you," I breathe into the side of his neck as we cuddle on the couch in his living room. The curtains are closed and everything is so dark but I'm not afraid, because he's here.
Ryder looks at me, smiles gently, and brushes a stalk of my brown hair behind one of my ears.
"I won't be gone forever," he tells me, kissing my cheek. "Besides, you'll forget about me when you're out there writing famous novels."
I smile at his words, "You don't know that my books will be published."
Ryder kisses me softly.
"I've read all of your books," he says, "and they're fantastic. Of course they'll be published."
I giggle, the sound echoing around the dark loft, then press my lips against Ryder's and try to savor his taste.
(It never lasts. Reality steals the fabric of dreams away every time.)
I sit on my bed and hold a picture of the two of us running and jumping and playing on the playground when we're little, smiling at the way the light makes his red hair glow and our blue eyes sparkle joyfully. In this picture we're sitting on this metal cage with our arms around each other and the memory is so sharp it hurts.
"I -" I drop the photo on my sheets and grab the sides of my waist, trying to keep myself together. Without him I can still survive, but that doesn't mean it doesn't hurt, makes me want to swim to the depths and sink just so I can forget.
"Do you know where you're going?"
My breath catches. It's only been six months, only been a little bit.
"I love you," I whisper to the silence of the empty room before me. "But I'll never be enough, will I?"
- the end -