worlds through closed eyes
So, I just couldn't let this story go; I decided to add a part to it, continuing along Katie's story, for those that are interested. I got several remarks from readers saying that they'd liked Katie as a 3D, relatable, realistic character, and I thought this might be a little treat for you. The only difference between Part One and Part Two is the POV. Obviously they're different - I was experimenting, but I hope this will still suffice. This first paragraph is from a review I recieved via Part One, and I love it to pieces. The reviewer's name is Silent Winter; you should all check her out :D
It has been said that every girl who has been through high school will realize that there is a guy who is /the one/ but is hard to obtain. Sadness happens, and your heart gets broken. But we are all just waiting for a good guy with a roll of duct tape and pretty stickers to come and put the pieces of our heart back together and keep it safe from breaking.
She gets a job at Six Flags Magic Mountain because she's never been one to sit around and allow herself to mope for hours on end. As she walks through the security booth on her way to clock in for her shift she eyes her broken, cracked nails ruefully. Between moping sessions and staring blankly at walls, she got into a horrible habit of chewing her nails wherever she went, and watching her tears sparkle against the mirror in her room.
Because, yes, she's pathetic now, apparently.
When she gets to her permanent location she's greeted with the cold stares and mocking laughter of her supervisors.
"What a freak," they chant as she slaps her till down onto the countertop and begins to chip away at the paper holding together a roll of quarters.
One woman comes up to her and asks, "You're the homeschooled one. Katie, right?"
Katie nods - a simple jerk of the head - and tries to smile, because even though nobody here cares to talk to her it's still not right to retaliate by frowning. May as well be cheerful, she figures.
"I wish you were here," Katie whispers under her breath as she slides her till into the register on the side of the cafeteria serving tacos and burritos. She pictures red hair and blue eyes like sapphires and sighs.
Now's the time to prove she can survive without him.
She's just handing a customer their fresh Nacho Supreme when she hears his voice, and her head shoots up. Eyes connect, and she can't breathe, because he's standing right in front of her dressed in a striped t-shirt and jeans, and -
"It's really you," Katie murmers softly, forcing herself to focus on the touch screen in front of her with rapt attention. "Um, welcome to Food Etc. How can I help you sir?"
She hears Ryder snicker in that amused way of his, and he clears his throat.
"It's good to see you too," he says calmly, raising an eyebrow as she doesn't answer instantly.
Her fingers tighten around the register, and if she wasn't across the counter from him she would be flinging her arms around him right about now.
"Can I interest you in a Nacho Supreme, sir?" She continues in that perky voice, while inside she's screaming with a bit of joy and shock.
He laughs again and presses pale hands against the counter-top, trying to meet her eyes.
"There's only one thing that can interest me," Ryder says, reaching out a hand to try and touch her. She shivers as his fingers stroke the edge of her work shirt, and has to hold back a smile as she hears other customers begin to groan from behind Ryder's back.
"Can I get you anything to eat, sir?" Katie tries again, knowing that, at least, Ryder isn't one of those guys who makes a sexual inneudo about everything that comes out of her mouth.
"Um -" Ryder begins, stroking his chin where tufts of hair have begun to sprout, "yeah, can I try the Nacho Supreme, but with no jalapenos, and salsa on the side?"
Katie bites her lip, "Afraid of burning your mouth?"
He only shoots her a look, "Aren't you going to be the typical employee and try to upsell me a souvenir bottle?" He points to the red bottles stacked beside the regular and large cups for fountain drinks.
She knots her fingers together nervously, "Would you like to add a souvenir bottle to that, sir?"
Ryder smirks, "Nope. That will be all."
She has to refrain from slapping him - the nerve of that boy. Instead, she forces herself to type in the correct numbers on the screen and waits for the computer to add it up.
"That will be $10.96," she says at last, hoping her voice sounds confident enough. "Would you like to use Discover?"
He's already handing her a wad of cash, "Don't have it. Sorry."
She unfolds the bills, and opens the register, sliding the money in and collecting his change.
"It's no pro-"
Katie breaks off as their hands brush, and heat shoots through her body. It's not even sexual - more of a longing to hug him and never let go.
"Thanks." Ryder's smiling at her and his face is growing paler.
"Don't go, Ryder," Katie says, but everything is fading away, and she can hear the blaring of an alarm clock -
She sits in the youth room at church and stares at his picture on the wall, hugging her legs to her chest. She's not a damsel in distress - nothing like that. But sometimes, when she looks at his precious face for long enough, she can nearly picture him here beside her.
But he's never really there, and he won't be until summer. It's only a few months, considering it's already February, but as Katie looks at her watch now, it seems that time is slowing down.
"Do you know where you're going?"
"Please, who would commute to San Diego?"
Her nails - or what's left of them - dig into her hands and she swallows, hard.
Katie runs hands over the surface of the picture frame, her ocean eyes glued to the way he's smiling as he drapes an arm about a palm tree while trying to straighten his super expensive sunglasses. Typical Ryder. The corners of the frame read: I Love You, Forever & Always.
"You do love me." It comes out in a whisper, because she's never been totally aware of the theory before, and doesn't want to jinx it. God, could he actually love someone like her? Truly love her?
She traces the word Forever and smiles to herself.
She's invited to sit with people from work, and it's like they never shunned her in the first place.
"Give me your phone," the supervisor growls at the employee beside her, who quickly shoves her phone into her pocket and tries to duck beneath the table. Katie doesn't know whether to laugh or look absolutely shocked. As it is, she combines both and ends up looking totally retarded.
And for a second, she wishes he could be here to see this, to tangle their fingers together and tell her that she's special.
"What's up with your face?" The employee - who's face is currently being smashed into the table - asks. "It got all pinched looking, aha."
Katie starts to attention, and forces a smile on her face - she hates acting like some stupid Barbie girl in a world with no problems and a totally ripped Ken by her side.
Lies (and she learns to say those two words a little too often.)
"I can see you." Ryder's voice floats through the phone, and she presses it tighter to her ear.
"Where are you?" she asks impatiently, walking throughout the line of airport gates looking for his familiar head of red hair. He's been gone for too long and now that she's so close to seeing his face it's like God is taunting her by hiding him.
He did say this airport, right? She didn't accidentally drive to LAX when he said some obscure other -
She turns around, meets blue eyes, and before she can help it a wild squeal breaks from her mouth. She's rushing towards him, flinging arms about his neck and hugging him way too tightly (because maybe if she holds on tightly enough he can't leave her again.)
"I missed you," Ryder breathes into the crook of her neck.
She nearly misses the words, too caught up in his heady scent - it reminds her of raging, untamable flames licking through dry underbrush - and how the stubble of his beard is scratching her cheek. She missed this feeling of being complete (and once again she can imagine forever right here - she never really forgot, though.)
"You need to shave," she says giddily, but she's too happy to criticize him much. Who cares if his chin is covered in stubble she would much rather vanish? Who cares that his blue eyes are filled with a sadness beyond his years she's never seen before and doesn't know how to reverse?
He's here, and that's all that matters.
(the plane's lights are very bright now, and she's blinking, awakening -)
She bakes a muffin - the oven is billowing black smoke afterwords and the muffin is closer to a rock than an edible substance, but it's the thought that counts - and decorates it with orange frosting (and it's almost like he's here again.) She presses nineteen candles into the muffin until you can't even see the pastry anymore, then she lights the candles and watches them burn, mesmerized.
Eyes glaze over, but she won't cry. Not now - not when she's so close to seeing him again.
"Happy birthday, Ryder," Katie murmurs.
(how many times can she remember that he's gone before she cracks?)
"Happy birthday, Katie." His voice tickles the skin of her neck as his lips kiss a trail down her collarbone and the two freckles that sit on either end of her torso, paralleling her shoulderblades.
Katie closes her eyes, tries to remember when he arrived, how he swung her around and around and how he smiled. She loves his smile; typically he does that quirk of the lips smirk whenever amused, but every once in awhile, when he's just happy, he'll smile and it's beautiful.
Lips, tracing patterns down her back. Fingers pulling off her blouse and unbuttoning her jeans. She nearly reaches hands down to cover herself because she knows she's not skinny enough, hasn't worked out in awhile. He'll see the rolls of fat and -
"You're so beautiful, Katie."
She presses her lips together and sinks into his bare chest, skimming fingers over freckled skin and brushing eyelashes against his collarbone. If only he could see how beautiful he is; she's nothing compared to the glow that surrounds him, nothing compared to his stomach that's not quite flat and his skin that burns at first contact with the sun. He's so, so beautiful, and she doesn't know how to show him that.
He's lying her down ever so gently, his lips pressing against her's.
"Be with me," Ryder breathes against her mouth.
Katie's eyes flutter open and she meets deep blue irises, eyes she finds herself drowning in whenever she looks at them too long. Those eyes - she swears she can see all the way down to his soul that he's guarded with iron gates.
And, as she looks at his eyes, she knows. She knows.
"I wish I could," Katie whispers back, her vision blurring with tears, droplets skimming down her cheeks and racing towards the indentation in his bed they've made. She feels herself breaking apart into sobs, because she knows when she looks at him like this, that he's so innocent and they're so young, and it wouldn't be right to take this moment from him now.
She brushes his cheek, and her lips press against the corner of his.
"You have no idea how much I want to be with you," she admits through streaming tears. "I'm so, so scared, but I know I trust you to take care of me."
"Then why can't you -" Ryder begins.
"Sex is meant for marraige," Katie murmurs, snuggling closer to him and relishing the warmth of his body. "I - I love you, and I could never ruin you like this. I -" she breaks off, unable to find the words.
She knows Ryder is a virgin, has seen it in his eyes, and the fact that he wants to be with her makes her heart swell with joy. But she loves him too much to allow him to do this. If, in the future, they go their separate ways, she doesn't want him to regret this moment. She doesn't want him to regret this choice.
She just wants him to be happy, and she knows that, by stopping now, she can guarentee at least a little piece of happiness in Ryder's life.
"I love you," she whispers, raggedly, once more, like a prayer. It makes something throb in her chest, a long forgotten ache, and she knows that she means those three words with everything in her.
I will always love you.
She's sitting in the back of Food Etc, filling out her Sales Summary, when one of the employees - Daniel - plops beside her.
"You okay?" He eyes her with soft eyes, and she feels a niggling in her gut, something telling her that Daniel has a good heart.
Katie nods slowly, flashes him a sad smile, "Yeah, I've just been going through a hard time."
"Well," Daniel begins, his voice still slow and soothing, "you're the happiest person I know, so, um - is there anything I can do?"
She nearly laughs to herself at his words, but the chuckles are quickly sobered by thoughts of life and missing ginger hair with blue eyes.
"I've had so many people tell me that," Katie says. "You know, about the happy part. Is there something wrong with being happy?"
She eyes him curiously, honestly wondering what his response will be. She hasn't talked to Daniel too much, save to tell him things like 'we need more chips' or 'we're almost out of sour cream.' All she knows is that he seems like a nice guy, he's a white tag - eighteen or older - and he likes to spike his blonde hair subtly.
Daniel clears his throat and shifts his footing, still looking very much at ease.
"Well," he says, "there's nothing wrong with it. It's just, you don't see many people who are this radiant in life."
She feels her cheeks warm at his words - and is it wrong to feel this tingling in her heart, like something is just awakening? It feels like betrayal; then again, even looking at other boys feels like betrayal now.
"Well, there is a reason," Katie tells him.
Daniel crosses his arms and nods his head, silently inviting her to continue.
And thus commences her first evangelical opportunity, and the beginning of a new friendship.
"Can you see us getting married?" Ryder asks, clutching her hand comfortably in his. They're just lounging on her couch and it's like old times, before he went away for college.
Katie smiles into his chest, "Someday." She yawns, stretching up a hand to cover her mouth. "I love you, do you know that?"
"Yeah, thanks." He burrows his head into her hair and sniffs. "You smell nice."
Katie giggles and looks at their joined hands, trying to imagine the weight of a wedding band, and finding that it seems just a little far-fetched.
(after all, she can only dream their happy ending so many times before she realizes they have no foundation anymore.)
She sees him sitting at his drumset one toasty Sunday morning in May, and her fingers itch to close around the drumsticks. She finds herself longing for his embrace, and it's with crashing certainty that she realizes dreams won't be enough anymore.
It's time to face the truth.
He's looking up as she approaches, meeting her gaze for a split second before ducking his head away like he usually does. Katie resists the urge to snap at him, because he's behaving like a stupid five year old with all this avoidance. Love or not, it's still ridiculous.
"Hey," she says tightly.
He looks up again, this time warily, and she notices that his chin is clean shaven (just how she likes it.)
"Hey," he responds just as neutrally.
It's just like the days when they saw each other once a week, and the thought makes Katie bite her lip. Things are so different now, but he treats her as if they're still freshman, still watching life pass by with wide eyes.
"Look, Ryder." She tries not to shift her weight onto one foot, because she read somewhere that guys find it threatening to their 'manliness.' "I - well -"
He cocks an eyebrow, waiting for her to finish, but it's so hard. Why are those three little words so hard?
"I-" Her face is flushing, and she can't do this, but it's now or never. "I love you, okay?"
Ryder flinches back like she's shot him, but Katie is already plodding ahead.
"I love you, and it sucks because you treat me like I'm dirt. I love you, and you don't care one wink about my existance. And sometimes, I wish I could hate you, but I know I never could, because no matter how much of a douchebag you are, I still love you!" She breaks off, breathing heavily, and he's not saying anything.
And then, finally -
"Oh," says Ryder. "Okay."
He gets up, places his drumsticks in her hands, and walks away, out of her life.
"Ryder," Katie whimpers, but she knows it's time to move on. "I am enough, aren't I? I'll always be enough, but you'll never love me."
Her hand closes around one of the doors leading out of the sanctuary and she prepares to exit, looking back for one lingering moment to spot her best friend's familiar head of ginger hair.
"Goodbye," she whispers, a tiny smile etched onto her lips.
Then she's gone, and it's her reality, her world.
(and if this is what sacrifice feels like, she doesn't think the little ache in her heart will ever quite go away.)
- the end -