by C. S. Raine
She sat across him. It didn't matter that her heart was threatening to burst out of her chest and her head was about to spontaneously combust from how warm her cheeks felt. She tried sneaking glances at him, which he noticed. He'd look up from the sketchpad he was drawing on and at her, his lips forming a smile. If only he knew, she thought, momentarily daydreaming about confessing to him and he'd tell her how he had always loved her and then they'd live happily ever after... But that was stupid, she thought again. As much as she adored him, she didn't really want to jump into things and ruin what could possibly be a naturally blooming romance between them, or at least that's what she hoped it was.
His name was Richard Parker. Oh, yes, much like the rest of those sailors who'd end up in the ocean and get cannibalized or something like that, she thought, her face contorting to a somewhat disgusted expression as her overactive imagination gave her images she probably could never un-see. Or that tiger in that movie with that Indian boy, she thought again, smiling this time as she fondly thought of having a tiger as a pet.
Unbeknownst to her, Richard was watching, at first bemused at the changes in her facial expression, but found himself amused when he figured that she was probably daydreaming again. Daydreaming. That was her thing. They didn't call her Lucy in the Sky or Lucy Skywalker for nothing. He tried to suppress a chuckle as he remembered the time he met Space Cadet Lucy Wong.
Richard always walked home from school, his backpack lazily hanging from his right shoulder. He always took this route because although it was about ten minutes farther than the others, it had the best scenery, and there weren't too many people around. And the best part? There was an open field along the way that led to a cliff that overlooked the sea. It was dangerous to stay by the actual edge, but there was a tree nearby that had just the right kind of view. He loved to sit there and sketch, whether it was the sea, the trees, the waves hitting the jagged rocks or the horizon just before sunset. He'd often stay there an hour or two before finally going home. His father was usually away for business and his mother was always out caring for her dying mother, his grandmother. He wasn't sad being alone at home. He didn't feel lonely. His parents weren't always present, but he knew they cared for him and he didn't take it against them. His older brother was at college, so he barely saw him either, and his 5-year-old little sister mostly stayed at his aunt's because his parents weren't home and he was at school. They'd hang out on weekends, though, simply because he loved spending time with her. She was his precious little jewel.
On this particular day, when Richard went to sit by the tree, he found a girl standing there, one hand on the tree bark. She was looking out into the sea, but seemed to be staring off into space. He wondered who she was. Each and every day that he spent on this cliff, not once did he see her. He felt a bit possessive of his spot, like she was trespassing over private property. His property. His territory. He started walking towards her, his footfalls heavy on the ground. He cleared his throat, about to say something stupid and childish about how she was standing on his spot, the spot that he found and practically owns because he was there every single day and she wasn't, so technically she's stealing it and trespassing.
Well, that was what he planned to do, but just as he opens his mouth, she turns around, her hair blowing in the wind as a cool breeze passes by. At that moment, she was breathtaking, and he was speechless. Forgetting he was supposed to be scolding her, he just stood there, mouth agape, mesmerized by her dark brown eyes and beautifully flowing black hair. As if fate was teasing him, she smiled at him, brushing her hair back with her hand and behind her ear, in an attempt to keep it from the wind. While he stood there, frozen, she decided to break the silence.
"Uhm, the view's great, but you might want to keep the flies out," she said, giggling. This snapped him out of his trance. Suddenly, he felt his throat dry up and blood rush to his cheeks, feeling embarrassed. He nervously scratched the back of his head, chuckling.
"Sorry, I'm such a dork," he said, pausing to chuckle some more.
"I'm Richard. Richard Parker. People call me Rick, Ricky, Rich or Richie. I get 'dork' a lot though. Take your pick," he continued, smiling.
"Lucy Wong. They call me Skywalker or Space Cadet. Take your pick too!" she said, giggling as she extended her hand out, which he took. He felt a jolt. She felt sparks. It was only for a better half of a second. And this was only a handshake. They let go, suddenly feeling awkward.
Richard broke eye contact and looked toward the scenery. His heart was racing, but he wasn't quite sure why. He closed his eyes, inhaled deeply, and when he opened his eyes, he exhaled, taking in the view of the sunset. She remained silent, sharing the view with him.
"I come here everyday. It never disappoints me. It's the same, breathtaking, but different, as it's always a different wave that hits those rocks and different clouds that share the colors on the horizon," he says before turning to her saying, "It's the first time I've seen you, though."
"Yeah, it's my first time here. I came here by accident. What a wonderful mistake it was," she said, smiling at him. He felt his heart skip a beat. He still wasn't sure why. He didn't know it yet, but this was the girl he was about to fall madly in love with. And she didn't know it yet, but this guy, he was going to be the knight-in-shining-armor she had always dreamed about.
The sound of beeping brought Richard back to present time. Even Lucy was brought back to reality. They both looked at his digital watch, which was flashing a blue backlight with every beep. It was six o'clock. 'Time to go,' they both thought, sighing defeatedly. Richard's parents were going to be home in an hour; both of them, which was a rare occasion indeed. They planned to have a nice dinner with Richard and precious little Judy. At the same time, Lucy's grandparents were coming over and staying the weekend, which meant they had dinner plans as well. Lucy had a really big extended family, though she was an only child. She had fifteen cousins from six pairs of aunts and uncles. They were well-bonded, but rarely saw each other because they lived in different states. Her grandparents from both sides of the family made sure they traveled enough to visit all their children equally. As excited as Richard and Lucy were to see their respective families, they felt a little lonely to be apart tonight. They had spent every weekday afternoon together like this since that fateful meeting weeks ago. Had the other been free tonight, he or she would definitely have been invited, but then again, they both knew that it would have been awkward, and it was a family thing. Neither wanted to intrude, after all.
Richard sighed and spoke, "So... I guess, uhm... I'll see you tomorrow?" He looked conflicted, juggling with half-excitement about spending some much needed quality time with family and half-disappointment at having to part from Lucy. Lucy felt as equally bummed, but was able to give him a sad reassuring smile before nodding. The two of them had gotten so used to their daily ritual. After school, they'd always meet up here to hang out and stayed until after sunset. It was an unspoken agreement between them. Since they attended different high schools, they did not see each other elsewhere. Even their respective homes were on opposite directions, so afterwards, they didn't spend any time together either. They've already exchanged cellphone numbers, texting a few times over the weekends, but they have yet to talk on the line. They weren't really fond of it and neither brought it up. It was always much more exciting to see each other and exchange stories when they came here. Richard would show Lucy his new sketches. She'd marvel at them and he would chuckle, blushing a little at her compliments. Lucy, in turn, would tell him about new books she has read and show him some of her own work. He wasn't a fan of reading much, as he preferred visual art, but he'd always listen to her read excerpts from her favorite stories and her poems, often commenting about how she wrote so eloquently. Lucy appreciated how he was so patient with her and how he never once felt disinterested. She knew he didn't really like books, but he always looked so genuinely interested whenever she had some poetry to share.
"Yeah, I'll see you tomorrow, then," she finally said, packing up her things. Richard was already starting to get up, having already returned his sketchpad, charcoal and pencils in his bag. He offered a hand to her when she was done, which she took, smiling at him for his chivalry. There weren't any sparks then, but the heat in both their cheeks every time their skin brushed against each other over the past weeks was enough to make up for the lack of fireworks.
They both looked back towards the horizon. The sun was just starting to set, painting the sky a majestic fiery orange, with splashes of blue and different shades of purple. Richard felt disappointed about not being able to sketch the beautiful hues, but he was more disappointed about not being able to share the whole thing with Lucy. Lucy had the same sentiments. Her hand itched to grab his, longing to intertwine her fingers between his own. She didn't want to come across as too forward, but it would have been nice, she thought. To her surprise, she didn't have to. Richard reached over to hold her hand in his, minus their fingers lacing together. Her breath hitched and blood rushed to her cheeks. She could feel his gaze on her. It took all her courage to turn her head to face him. He, too, was blushing, but he had a nervous smile on his lips, as if hoping she wouldn't pull away. She didn't. She smiled back as she interlaced her fingers with his.
The moment was perfect. The sky was marvelous. Their eyes were locked in each other's gaze. They both knew what came next. They both knew what they wanted to do. Their hearts started to beat louder, a little faster. They breathed a little deeper. Richard made the first move. He leaned a bit closer, as if asking for permission. Lucy felt as though her heart was going to escape her chest. Her eyes fluttered close as he closed in. Richard felt like he could faint, and he honestly thought he would as he shut his eyes. He didn't. They could feel each other's warm breath on their own lips. It was Lucy who closed the gap, surprising him for just a moment, his eyes fluttering open for a second, but the feel of her soft lips took over his senses. He leaned in further. She mirrored the action. This... this was amazing. He felt a jolt. She felt sparks. There were fireworks. This was magic. They wanted this to last forever. It sure felt like it could.
But all things came to an end. The sound of a phone ringing snapped them back to reality. They both pulled away abruptly at the intruding sound. It was Richard's ringtone. He blushed, suddenly feeling shy about what had happened between them. He fumbled to get his phone from his pocket. Lucy was blushing too, as she nervously brushed a few strands of her hair behind her ear. She looked back towards the view as Richard answered the call. The sun was almost gone now. She smiled to herself, feeling giddy as she remembered their kiss. When she looked back to Richard, he was just about done with the phone call.
"Yes, Dad, I'll be home soon. Sorry, I lost track of time. Okay, see you guys in a few," she heard him say before he ended the call. Lucy winced. He was supposed to have dinner with his parents. Then realization struck her. She gasped and grabbed her own phone from her pocket, checking the text messages. Her parents had left some, asking where she was. She had almost forgotten about her grandparents! When Richard finally turned to her, he gave an apologetic smile.
"Uhm... Sorry, I gotta go. Mom, Dad and Judy's waiting up for me. I... Uhh... Don't you have that get-together with your grandparents?" He was obviously fumbling with his words. She giggled. He blushed. He was so cute when he acted so dorky.
"Don't worry. It's okay. I'm sorry you're late for your dinner. I have to go too, anyway. Granny and grandpappy is at home. Mom left me six messages!" she said, laughing. He gave her a goofy grin. They both had to go, but neither of them started walking away.
"Uhm... Yeah. So, I'll... Uhh... See you tomorrow, okay?" he said. She nodded, smiling at him.
"Yes, tomorrow, definitely," she said. She leaned in to give him a peck on his cheek. He turned even redder. She giggled again, adjusting the bag in her shoulder as she started to leave. For a moment, he just stood there, a little surprised, but he, too, felt giddy. He grinned sloppily as he watched her walk away, before turning around to walk home.