We ride along on the school bus, as per usual.
Every Friday afternoon, I would escape back to his house, and we'd spend hours together, until the sunset came along, and I had to leave.
This Friday afternoon and it's a warm autumn day. I rest beside him on the leather settee. His shoulders are flanked by his heavy 'seniors' jacket. He's two years older than me, though that's never really been a problem for us. He opens his jacket wide and smiles invitingly at me, as I snuggle into his warm jacket, wrapping my arms around his waist and looking up to those green hazel eyes.
"Break it up you two." Zane leans over the chair and taps me on the head. I screw up my nose but continue to smile up into the beautiful eyes of Jack Sanders. He laughs after a moment and flicks Zane on the nose.
"Why would we do what you have to say?" Jack comments.
Zane stretches his arms across his chair, which he managed to score and sit by himself, most of the trip. He looks at the paint on his nails.
"Because I am king of all that goes on between you." He winks at me, but nudges Jack.
I'm glad to see Jack just rolls his eyes at his best friend.
For the rest of the bus trip, I stayed relatively quiet, listening to my two friends argue which football team was better, in which I had a few comments that I didn't share.
When the bus came to a stop outside a corner, Zane, Jack and I all leap off the bus. I quickly sprinted across the road in a daring manner as an approaching car came toward me. Zane flanked me quickly, but Jack was nowhere near as fast a runner as Zane and I. He was caught in the middle of a traffic stop. He stands on the roundabout hands on hips, shaking his head at Zane and I, as we laugh until our ribs hurt. Jack runs straight up to me and jabs me in the sides with his skinny white fingers.
"OI!" He smirks at me, but kisses me on the cheek in aid.
Zane walks beside us talking animatedly about his weekend plans. As we get nearer to Jack's house, I feel his grip on my hand get tighter. We came around here every week, Jack obviously more often than me. But we'd never had Zane follow us this far. Jack glanced over at me, with a reassuring face.
As I stepped over the threshold to Jack's huge open spaced house, I went straight to the lounge and dumped my bag, kicking my shoes off at the entrance. I stand, hand on hip watching Jack talk through the screen door to his best friend. Jack wanted him to leave. It was clear in the way he stood. In an unwelcoming fashion. Zane looks over at me and smiles.
"No good-bye hugs for your brother in law, Claire?" I tilt my head back and laugh. Zane and Jack were in no way related. And no way were Jack and I engaged. We were far too young. Jack smirks back at me. He often had trouble getting rid of people. Fortunately, I wasn't the same. And Zane handed me an opportunity on a silver platter.
Zane leaned in closer to his best friend, hoping I wouldn't hear. But I definitely did.
"Wear protection." He smiles and winks at Jack, and then at me. I stalked up to the heavy wooden door and slammed it shut. "Dayum!" I hear Zane laugh through the door.
"Go away Zane or nothing for Jack." Jack got the biggest smile, though he knew to play along.
"Dude go! Quick!" Jack hugs me around the waist and pulls me close. He smiles at me, repressing the urge to laugh.
"Talk on Monday!" Zane calls, going back down the drive.
I wiggle my toes, covered in white school socks. I watch them dance at the foot of Jack's bed. Tapping along to the beat of a familiar song. I hum along, quietly and rub my eyes tired from a fay packed full of school work. Jack lays beside me, deep in sleep, his arms holding me tightly, as he silently snores into my collar bone, making my school jersey ruffle under his warm breath. His un-natural red hair seems almost black in the lighting of his room, he often keeps his blinds drawn shut, tightly so no sunlight seeps through. He was the teenage version of a hermit.
I lightly scan my fingers through his hair, and he whimpers in his sleep. I curl my fingers around strand by strand, pushing his hair away from his face, spiking it here and there, tucking it behind his ears and massaging the short waves of locks.
I continue watching my toes dance to the beat of the music coming from another room, and I don't even notice Jack watching me until I look back down at him.
He stares at me intently, and I can't help but smile. His eyes watch mine, and yet he hasn't spoken. I feel a small smile play at my lips, and allowed it to rest there.
I snuggle into him under the blankets, as we rest our faces inches from the others. I feel his cool breath on my face, and although he's just woken, he seems perfect just as usual. I stare at those green eyes that were flecked with hazel and chocolate brown colour. His long eyelashes reach down and brush his cheek as his gaze flicks over my whole face.
He reaches out his hand.
His fingers lightly brush my cheek, my nose, my lips, my jaw. His touch lingers across my neck and trails all the way up to my eyelids. I close my eyes, and he brushes his finger lightly across my eyelashes. I pull myself in tighter to him, and he smells good despite spending a warm day in the one school uniform. He runs his fingers through my hair, and down my neck. I shudder slightly but smile under that touch.
"Claire," He whispers, lips closer to my ear than I expected.
"Jack?" I murmur, opening my eyes to peer through my lashes. I close them again, smiling.
"You have such beautiful, amazing eyes." He whispers, kissing my ear. I open my eyes slowly, tired. I look up at him, cheeks blazing.
"Says you." I whisper, as I fall asleep.
"Clairey Fairy." I'm awoken with a kiss. How cliché.
"Captain Jack?" I ask, rubbing my blurred eyes.
He smiles at me. He managed to pull his socks off while I was asleep, and he now held himself leaning over me, on just one elbow.
"It's six, love." He looks slightly disappointed, as he curls a strand of my hair on his finger.
I sit up mechanically.
"Come with me." I whisper into the darkness, sure he'll disagree.
I attend a Youth Group every Friday night, and tonight, I was late. He disagreed with Christians and hated them all. All except for me.
"Oh bubs, I don't-" I see him frown.
"Jack?" I look down at him, making sure I look like a pleading puppy. "Please?"
I crawl closer to him and gently give him a peck on the lips. As I move away he rolls his eyes and sighs.
"All right. But only because you're beautiful." I spring up instantly, gleeful that he's agreed to tag along. I pull on a hot pink summer dress, and tie my black hair up. He's already dressed when I'm done, standing in a white blazer and black slacks, his hair done and his white 'yin' necklaces dangles on his collar bone. I ask him to put my 'yang' necklace on and he fastens it around my neck. He stand beside me in the mirror and looks solemn. But then he pulls me in close and smiles at what he sees.
"We're so perfect." He mumbles, quietly. I just scarcely hear it. "We're simply meant to be." He kisses my cheek and I feel my heart skip at his words. No doubt laced his words whatsoever. "PROFILE PICTURE!" He declares, pretending to take a photo of us. I laugh, at his ritual.
"Come on my princess." He laughs, skipping out the door. "And away we go!"
When we get to the church he looks around worriedly.
"Don't worry," I smile. "They don't bite." He nods, but watches a bunch of boys play pool.
"Is Michael here?" He asks, looking around, his face screwed up in different places. I recognize that look.
"Jack." I wrap my arm in with his. "Please leave him alone tonight. Just for me?"
Jack looks down at me and slowly nods.
"Alright. But only for you. I still don't like him." I nod. I knew all too well.
We spent hours at the church, and he stuck to his word and stayed the proper gentlemen to all my Christian friends. When the time came to leave, rain had just began to patter on the roof. A wide clock ticked 10pm.
"Are we catching the bus?" I ask, taking Jack's hand as he waves over his shoulder.
"Sure thing, bub." He reassures, leading me down the parking lot.
"Did you enjoy it tonight?" I ask, leaning on his shoulder as the rain patters down slowly.
He bites his lip.
"Oh, come on Jack. Admit you did have some of a good time."
Jack smirks up at the night sky.
"Well, I liked our slow dance." He looks back at me and kisses me gently.
"Did you enjoy your time, Miss?" He pokes my nose and I shy away.
"Yeah," I mutter, smiling as the rain falls a little harder.
We stand at the bus stop, as it now hails down. I clutch Jack in the cold wind. He shakes, and his shirt is soaked with rain, that it has gone clear. Our hair drips, and water flicks off his eyelashes.
"Where is that fucking bus?" He shouts huddling closer to me.
He suddenly pushes me away and approaches the sign. As soon as he lets go, I realise how cold it really is without holding onto him. I run back into his arms, and he's not hesitant as he feels it too.
He slowly settles down as the rain does, but still no bus appears. We'd been in the rain for at least an hour.
I step up on tippy toes, and in the blearing rain splatters, I kiss the glass pendant around his neck, clearing it off tiny clear water drops. He flicks his hair and water splashes my eyes.
"Ergh!" I groan, wiping my eyes. He looks down surprised.
"Oh, I'm sorry Claire!" He kissed my forehead, and lightly brushes the necklace.
He took the pendant in his fingers and kissed me, like he usually did. I lightly touched the back of his own necklace. The other half to mine.
"I'm sorry I was so mad." He says, smiling sadly.
"It's OK." I whisper, wiping my eyes again. We both glance up hoping for a bus.
"Claire?" Jack says my name, and clears his throat. I'm still looking off for the bus.
"Mmm?" I mutter, pointlessly.
"Claire?" He says again, more normally.
I look at him.
"Jack?" He touches my cheek.
"Um, I just-" His mouth twitches and I huddle in closer.
"Yeah?" I ask, hoping to protrude him on.
"Well. I love you."
I stand there in utter shock and amazement.
Jack never told anyone if he loved them. Because he didn't believe in teenage love, and he certainly didn't believe in being an open expresser.
I blink a bit, then smile.
"Well, I love you too."
And I kissed him.
"Claire!" I open my closed eyes to see a bus approaching.
Jack waves it down, but it continues to move.
"Hey!" He calls, letting go of me in hopes of catching the driver. It was hard to see, and we could only just read it's lights.
"Jack?" I ask watching him step onto the road, hand extended.
"Hey!" He calls.
And then he slips.
Jack fell onto the bitumen, and the bus driver slammed on his brakes.
But it wasn't soon enough.
"JACK!" I scream, running onto the road.
The bus driver leaps from the doorway and runs and ducks to see under the bus.
"Holy fuck." He says, reaching under.
"Son, can you hear me? Wiggle something if you can." I run to the drivers side, and duck down to see under.
"Jack!" I squeal. There's blood. Blood and broken limbs.
I repress the urge to throw up.
"Call an ambulance you idiot!" I yell, reaching under the bus for Jack. He stares at me, as water runs down his face.
He continues to stare at me, with a broken expression. My whole body slumps down onto the bitumen.
"Oh Jack." I whisper, as tears run down my cheeks. Those beautiful staring eyes bore down to my soul every day he looked at me. Those eyes had seen so much, and yet not enough. Those eyes that betrayed every emotion, just on his face. Those eyes that no longer held any expression. Those eyes that seemed to be crying, though it was only rain. The staring gaze that would never see again. The staring gaze I would never forget.