Author's Note: The song I used from this challenge was Taylor Swift's "Mine." It's off her Speak Now album. I also used the music video as a storyline and the lyrics. Italics are flashbacks.
So . . . This is a SKoW response challenge. It was rather difficult, but I guess that is the point of a challenge. I am not really that much of a romance writer, so I am afraid that it is rather, um, cliché (I think . . . If not, go me.) So, enjoy.
Oh . . . Here are the challenge guidelines, and all of that fun stuff:
Challenge #23: "So Many Songs, But I'm Feeling So Lonely!"
General Idea: Write a one-shot based on a song, either one from the SKoW playlist or another of your choice - as long as it's even remotely related to love, it'll do.
- the story must follow the plot of the song
- the title of the song must be the title of the story, or at least a part of it (ex: Walking By: Pete's Story, with the song in question being "Walking By" from Something Corporate… you get the gist)
- you must use at least three lines from the song as narration or dialogue. Be sure to bold or underline them.
- give us what song you're using at the beginning of the chapter, along with all the usual skow challenge requirements
- must be at least 6000 words
- this is not a "songfic" so no free-hanging verses in the middle of the story (all song lines added in must make sense and flow with the rest of the story)
Optional: you could turn the one-shot into a chaptered story by using a different song for each chapter; if you're feeling really creative, use the same artist and/or album for the whole story.
The room was filled the sound of her parents arguing over the bills. After too many bad investments and a failing farm, it was just too much for her parents. The family was falling apart.
The little girl put her hands over her ears to block out the screaming. She would never be like her parents; she would never be so careless. She would be careful and never fall in love. At seven years old, she knew that love always ended with someone getting hurt.
She took her hands off her ears. The fighting had grown louder. She gathered her colouring book and doll up. She ran down the stairs and out to the barn. It was the only quite place around. She climbed up the into the hay loft and settled in knowing that it was going to be a very long night.
The first time I pushed open that diner door, I was twenty years old. The little bell rang announcing my presence. I normally did not go out to eat, but since all of my friends had gone home this weekend, I wanted a change. Who said that single girls couldn't go out for a nice meal?
I found a lone table in the corner and sat down.
I looked around at the rest of the people in the dinner. There was a fair number of couples, each one of them looked happy and were not fighting. I could not remember the last time I had been around my parents without them fighting.
I knew that it was none of my business, but my parents really were careless about a number of things. That was why they fought nonstop. I was a careless man's careful daughter. I would finish nursing school and get a good job. Money would never be a problem.
Love wouldn't happen either, because I would never allow myself to fall in love. People thought that not falling in love was a shame, but they didn't know my parents. My parents said that they loved each other, but love drove people apart instead of bringing them together.
I studied the menu. I wasn't sure what I wanted from life, but I knew that I wouldn't find it here. There were some things in life that you couldn't find in this world.
A waiter walked up to me. He had blond hair and was wearing the usual awful waiting clothes. He looked like he hated his job and was only working here because he needed it to survive. His blond bangs fall into his eyes and he had to blow to keep them off his face. Underneath those bangs was the most pretty eyes blue eyes that I had ever seen. They were like the ocean that butted against the south side of town. I had only been there a few time because I didn't have time for foolish things like going to the beach.
Yeah, he was handsome. I felt my heart miss a beat. I could not believe that this was happening to me. Was I falling in love with a waiter? Was I falling in love with you? I knew your type. I knew what you were. You were in college working part time waiting tables and had left a small town, never looked back. I would not fall in love with you.
Besides, who fell in love with someone at first sight? I laughed to myself and shook my head. I needed to get a grip.
He pulled out his pad and put on his best smile. "Hello, welcome Dolly's. My name is Alec and I will be your server for today. Can I start you off with something to drink?"
Crap, he had a Southern drawl. I loved Southern accents. That's one of the many reasons that I decided to go to school in Virginia.
"Um...Can I get an iced tea?" I asked. My voice was doing that weird thing where went up and down and sounded like Donald Duck.
He wrote it down on his pad. "Are you ready to order or do you need a few more minutes?"
"Can I have a few more minutes, please?"
He nodded and left.
Whew, that was over for now. I needed to get it together. I was not going to have a crush on some stupid waiter.
I hide my blushing face behind the menu. I could hear him talking to someone nearby, but I didn't look. I didn't need some stupid waiter; what I needed was to get my act together. I took several deep breaths. I could not let this happen to me.
A few minutes later, he came back. He sat my iced tea down in front of me. "Are you ready to order now?"
I nodded. "I'll have a hamburger with everything on it"
He wrote it down. "I'll put this in and it should be ready soon."
"Okay, thanks," I muttered. I could feel my face reddening again. Why did this have to happen now? I had made it close to twenty-one years without getting all stupid over a guy and in less than fifteen minutes, I had made it happen.
I stared down at my hands. I needed to get a grip. I didn't even know this guy. By tomorrow, I probably wouldn't even remember who he was. It was just a stupid off day for me. I was not going to fall in love.
I repeat: I was not going to fall in love.
Plus, he really sucked at his job. What kind of waiter didn't ask if you wanted fries with your burger? I really couldn't blame him. I couldn't think of one person who liked being a waiter.
About twenty minutes later, he came back. He slide the sandwich in front of me. "Here you go. Can I get you anything else?"
I looked down at by burger and shook my head. "No, I think that's it." Screw the fries.
He nodded and walked away.
As I took that first bite, I watched him walk away. That was the first time I noticed what a great build he had. He wasn't too big, but, yet, not to skinny either. I guess it was just a simple medium build, but there was just something about that build that made my heart skip a beat. He also walked sure footed. So, he was confident, but just not a confident waiter. There was something more to him.
I watched as he walked into the back. At the very last second, he turned and winked at me. Great, he was also cocky. I quickly looked down. He was not going to make a rebel out of a careless man's careful daughter. There was no way that he was ever going to be mine.
I ate my hamburger as fast as I could. I was not going to stick around here any longer than I had too. During those few minutes, he did walk past me quite a few times, but never spoke or came near my table. I kind of thankful that he never approached me, but annoyed at the same time. What kind of waiter was he?
I knew he was waiting on other people, but it felt like he was looking at me the entire time. I did everything in my power to avoid his gaze, but I think he still found me.
About half-an-hour later, he came back to my table. "Are you ready for your check?"
Ah, hell. I couldn't take it anymore. I couldn't keep my mouth shut anymore. He really was that bad at his job.
I nodded. "Aren't you supposed to ask customers if they would like any desert?"
"And aren't you supposed to check up on your customers?"
Again he shrugged. "Maybe I'm new at my job."
I smiled. "Maybe your just really sucky at it."
He laughed. "Does this mean I'm not getting a tip?"
I picked up the check and started toward the front of the dinner. "You got it, Buster."
"My name is Alec!" he called after me.
As I pay, I don't pay any attention to him. He can hear him cleaning my table up behind me and know that he is staring me down. If he wasn't such a sucky waiter, I might, just might, feel sorry for him. He was probably just trying to work off some of his student loans and deserved a little mercy.
Well, he was going to have to look somewhere else for that.
I stepped out onto the street and headed back toward school grateful that I would never have to see that jerk again because I was never coming back here.
I walked with my head down. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see a young couple walking hand and hand. They looked so happy right now, both of them only had eyes for each other. I fought the urge to roll my eyes. Love with nothing. As I watched the couple disappear around the corner, I found myself wondering why we bother with love if it never lasts.
The little girl returned to the house later that night. She figured that her parents had stopped fighting by now. Slowly, she pushed open the front down and listened. There was nothing.
She quickly stepped into the house and gently closed the door behind her. She could faintly here the television in the living room.
She slowly walked to the living room and peered in. Her parents lying on the couch watching some game show. They looked happy and, in that brief moment, it looked like they were going to make it. The little girl knew better. This was just the calm before the storm.
She slowly walked away and went upstairs to her room. Tomorrow would be a new day with new fights over the same old things. She crawled in to bed knowing that there was only one way to prevent herself from living like this.
She fell asleep to what would be a short lasting peace.
I made my way back into my dorm room. I had a large pile of studying that I needed to do and that boy just needed to get out my head.
I opened my biggest nursing book and my biggest notebook and began to study. As I flipped through the pages, I pictured Alec flipping his hair out of his eyes. When I wrote a something down with my blue pen, I could just see his blue eyes staring at me. Sighing, I slammed my book shut and ran my hands over my face. Why was he still in my head?
I picked my sweatshirt off my bed and headed out. I wanted to go down to the water. That would probably help.
I walked off campus and turned right. I never really went down to the water before. The beach closest to my school was more of a party location. The tourist beach was too far to walk and public transportation really didn't run this section.
As I stepped onto the beach a few minutes later, I found myself wondering what it would be like to be loved. Sure, I didn't want to go through the heart ache, but what was it really like. What was it like to have someone put their arm around you and to stare out at the water? What was it like to kiss someone under the stars?
I shook my head. I needed to get a hold of myself. I knew where love ended and I did not want to go there.
The water was wavy and it looked like it would sweep anyone away who dared step into it. I walked along the edge of it letting it lap at my feet. As I looked up and down the beach, I could see that no one was nearby. I sat down on the sand and watched the water.
Love was like the water. It never stayed and was rocky. I really didn't want to live like that and wanted to kill myself for thinking such thoughts. It was not pretty, love. No, it was very ugly.
I stood up and brushed sand off me. I could see a group of guys coming my way and I was not in the mood to put up with stupid guy talk. I headed the opposite direction of them. I couldn't hear what they was saying, but one voice was clear. I didn't want look, but I knew it was him.
I think he went to the same university of me and the school wasn't that big. There was a very high chance that I would run into him again. Great, just great.
I ducked my head, hoping he wouldn't see me. They were getting closer, but nothing happened. Once I was up on the bank, I chanced a look down at him. He and his friends were drinking for several bottles and laughing about something. Even if they did see me, they probably wouldn't remember it the next morning.
I made my way quickly back to my dorm. There was no way I was going back down to the water. I would just stay where I belonged.
For the rest of the weekend, I didn't venture out of my room. I just stayed in there and studied. I was here to get a degree and not to develop a stupid crush on a lousy waiter. I needed to focus and he needed to leave my head.
When my roommate, Stacy, returned early Sunday evening, I was still thinking about him. When a group of girls and I went out for a late Sunday evening taco run, he was still there. Later that night as I was in bed trying to go to sleep, he was still there.
I got up early the next morning, took a cold shower, and left the room before seven o'clock. I walked across campus trying to get him out of my head. I had over an hour before my literature class, surely that was enough time to make him leave.
After forty-five minutes of walking, I was having no such luck.
I climbed slowly up the steps to my class. I passed a bunch of sleepy eyed, silent people. As a universal college understanding, you did not talk to a college student before ten o'clock. It just didn't work.
"Hey!" someone called from behind.
I just kept walking. They probably weren't talking to me anyway. I hated it whenever people made it look like they were talking to you, but they were really talking to the person behind you.
I felt someone brush against my arm. I turned and saw him, standing behind me, smiling. I just kept walking.
He ran up beside me and matched my pace. "Well, if it isn't the girl who doesn't leave tips."
"Maybe you would get more tips if you were better at your job."
He shrugged. "Maybe you were a bad customer."
We were outside my lecture room now. Class was going to be starting any minute.
"Look, I don't have time to talk now. My class is starting."
He looked at the closed lecture room door. "Come now, everyone knows that Huff doesn't start on time."
"How do you know that?"
He smiled and held the door open for me. "After you," he said with a bow.
I glared at him. This was not going how I planned. Why did he have to be in my class?
"What haven't you ever seen a gentleman holding the door open for a young lady?" he inquired.
I tried not to snort. "Whatever you say, Waiter Boy." I stepped into the packed room.
"I already told you, my name is Alec." He followed me to a seat. "What's your name?"
"That is none of you business," I said as I began to unpack my books.
He put his stuff down next to mine. Did he really have to sit here? "Why not?"
I looked around the room for another seat, but there wasn't any. Out of over a hundred seats, why did these two have to be empty?
I stared straight ahead until the professor came in. During the lecture, I only looked at the professor, the Powerpoint, and my notebook. I could still feel him looking at me. Why was he doing this?
As soon as the lecture was over, I gathered my things as quickly as possible and rushed out of the room. I did not want to risk being cornered by him.
"Hey!" he called again. I could hear him rushing after me.
I kept pushing through the mob of people. I ran into the student centre, hoping to lose him there. I looked around at the crowd; I couldn't see him. I sat down on one of the many couches to catch my breath. Who knew that losing a lousy waiter could give you such a work out?
I groaned and looked to my right. He was sitting beside me with a giant smirk on his face. I got up to move. Didn't this guy get the hint?
He reached out, grabbed my arm, and pulled me down beside him. "I'm not letting you get away that easily."
I rolled my eyes and looked at the floor. "What do you want?"
He dropped his smile and looked at me seriously. "I came to ask you on a date."
I didn't look up at him nor did I respond. I could see where this was going. He was going to give me a nice night around town and, then, break up with me the next the day. The moment I could see it coming and it was not going to end well.
"Well?" he pressed.
"Well, what?" I snapped.
"Will you go out with me on Saturday?"
I looked up at him. He was giving me puppy dog eyes. "You're not going to let this go until I say yes, are you?"
"Nope," he answered, smacking his lips on the "p." "I will follow you around and make you love me until you do say yes."
I stared up at the ceiling. I knew what was going to happen, but it was just one night. Besides, it wouldn't be like we were dating or anything. I didn't have to call him the next day or anything.
"Yes, yes I can see it now," he said as he climbed to his feet.
He threw his bag over his shoulder and started to walk away.
I got to my feet and followed him. "See what?" I eyed him. "I didn't say yes to anything!"
He turned smiling. "You will find out on Saturday."
"I didn't say I would go out with you!" I watched as he started to disappear through the crowd. I sighed. "Where should we met?"
"Here will work!" I heard him faintly call.
I stood there for the next several minutes wondering what I had just gotten myself into. I was going on a date with a stranger. I was going on a date with him of all people. The old me would've told him no, but the new me was saying yes. I shook my head. He was making me careless.
I was numb for the rest of the week. Why out of all the boys in the world did it have to be him? For all I knew, this date was going to go like his waitering skills.
On Saturday night, I found myself going through my closet to find something decent for this date. Everything I had was all wrong. It didn't help that I had no idea what a girl was supposed to wear on a date. My roommate, Stacy, kept looking up at me from her magazine. I could've asked her, she had been on plenty dates, but I didn't want her to make fun of me.
After all, I was the girl who didn't fall in love.
Groaning, I rested my hand on the edge of the closet.
"What?" Stacy asked.
"I can't do this," I muttered.
I stared at the floor. "That wasn't supposed to happen."
I could hear Stacy climbing off her bed and padding across the room. "What wasn't supposed to happen?"
"There's a guy!" Stacy exclaimed.
I just shrugged.
Stacy grabbed my shoulder and whipped me around. Her face was glowing. "The girl who doesn't believe in love has a date! I can't believe this!" She ran across the room and picked up her phone. "I have to tell the girls!"
I raced across the room and yanked the phone away from her. "Don't tell anyone."
Stacy smirked at me. "Why not?"
"Because I don't want anyone to know until I know how this is going to go."
"That's a lot of "know" for one sentence," Stacy pointed out.
Stacy reached for her phone. "I wouldn't tell anyone."
I held out my pinkie. "Pinkie promise?"
She nodded and shook her pinkie with mine. "But if it goes good, then I'm telling them."
"I have a feeling he's not going to keep his own mouth shut about this."
Stacy started to look through my closet. "So, who is he?"
I sighed. "Just someone who sucks at being a waiter."
Stacy gave me a look.
Stacy turned her attention back to my closet. If I had something in there that I could wear for a date, Stacy would find it.
She pulled out a lacy top and handed it to me. "You could wear this with jeans and flats. It's dressy, but, yet, not too dressy."
I took the orange, lacy top. The last time I wore this was to some nursing program. I had forgotten that I even had it. "Okay."
She went over to her desk and handed me a matching necklace. "This will make it pop."
I took the necklace. I didn't know anything about "popping," but it was a nice necklace.
"And don't you dare wear your hair in a ponytail. Wear it down to make those curls dance."
"Noted." I didn't see what was so wrong with wearing your hair in a ponytail.
Stacy smiled at me. "My little girl is all grown up and going on her first date."
I snorted as I headed into the bathroom. We would just have to see about that.
An hour later, I found myself sitting on the coach in the student centre. A bunch of drunk looking people were playing the Wii on the oversized TV. They were loud and making me very nervous. I just hoped that he would show up soon.
"There you are," he said as he slid next to me.
I looked at my watch. "You're late."
He looked at his own watch. "Only a minute."
"It still counts."
He just shrugged it off. "Come on." He took my hand and lead me away.
"Where are we going?" I asked as he pulled me into a bent up mid-1990s car.
"Haven't you ever heard of an living?"
"Haven't you heard of being careful?" I fired back.
He closed the passenger door and ran around to the other side of the car. "Haven't you ever heard of trust?"
I didn't answer. Trust was something that had to be earned. It was more difficult to trust than to love.
The next morning, the little girl slowly made her way down to breakfast. She couldn't hear her parents, but she could hear the dishes being slammed about in the kitchen. That was never good. Silence was worse than the fighting. When they were fighting she knew what was going on, but with silence she didn't.
They both looked up when she stepped into the room. They stared at her as she got her cereal and milk. They chewed slowly as she sat down across from them. Once she had her cereal poured, they looked back down at their own food.
"I'm going in to town to get feed for the cattle," her father said.
Her mother eyed the dad. "And how are you going to pay for that?"
"The same way you pay for all that fancy food!" the father snapped.
"It's not fancy food! We have to eat!"
The father stood up and snapped his spoon down on the table. "The cattle have to eat too!" With that he stormed out of the kitchen and slammed the front door shut behind him.
"Good riddance!" the mother snapped as she stormed out of the kitchen and into the living room.
The little girl stared into her cereal. Just once, she wished they could get through one meal without fighting.
We drove through the city toward the touristy part of town. I had only been to this part of town a few times.
"So, you never did tell me your name," he mused as he changed lanes.
I didn't answer.
"Well, I'm Alec," he said.
"Then, what's yours?"
"Like Emma Waston?"
I rested my cheek against the window and watched the city lights pass us. "Yeah."
"Well, Alec's only a nickname. My real name is Alexander."
"Alexander?" I asked as I looked at him. "You don't look like an Alexander."
He laughed. "My mother is the only one who calls me Alexander."
I laughed. "It's probably only when you're in trouble too."
He shot me a look. "How did you know?"
"I just do."
Alec pulled into an empty parking spot on the tourist beach. We climbed out of the car. To be honest, I really didn't see that much difference between this beach and the one by school. Granted the tourist beach didn't have drunk college kids running around.
Alec held out his hand as he led me to the water.
"What are we going here?"I asked.
Alec went around a large rock. "You'll see."
I sighed and allowed him to lead me around. This was just for one night, one little date. On Monday we would go back to our own lives and two months from now we probably wouldn't even remember this night.
"Do you like it?" Alec asked
I gave him a look. "Alec, I haven't even seen it yet."
Then, I saw it. Back a little bit from the water was a blanket laid out on the ground with a basket on top of it. Two unlit candles stood side by side like the proud mountains. Alec walked over and began to unpack the basket. I could see that he had brought all different kinds of food, ranging from salad to Chinese. I went over and joined him.
"I wasn't sure what you liked, so I just brought everything." Alec looked like he was a small child who had just been found with his hand in the cookie jar. The southern accent also added to the cuteness.
Hold up! Why did I just think that?
I took a piece of sweet and sour chicken and popped it into my mouth. "They all look good."
Alec beamed. "Well, I wouldn't be a southern gentleman if I didn't crater to my woman."
"Plus, my great-grandmother is probably turning in her grave this very moment."
I looked at him. "Why? Are you saying that she wouldn't have like me?"
"It's not personal, but she told me that I should never date a Yankee."
I rolled my eyes. Some people just took the Civil War too seriously. "Would you have listened?"
"Well, I am a rebel," Alec replied.
I laughed and looked out at the water. It was a very calm night and there was very few waves. As I looked out, Alec put very casually his arm around me. I looked at him, but did not move away. He wasn't the only rebel here. "You made a rebel of a carless man's careful daughter," I thought.
Alec smiled down at me. "You are the best thing that's ever been mine."
I didn't answer. I just hoped that he understood that this wasn't going to last forever. I knew he thought it was, but I didn't want to get his hopes up. I was going to do everything in my power to avoid being like my parents; in order to do that, he had to go.
Plus, I was never one to buy into the whole male owning the female kind of thing. I believed that women were their own person and nobody owned them but themselves.
Flash forward and we're taking on the world together and there's a drawer of my things at your place. It's been over a year since that first date. After the date, Alec kept asking me to be his girlfriend. Sometime around Valentine's Day, I said yes and we've been stuck like glue since.
"I'm telling you, I'm not painting these walls white," Alec muttered as I held up another sample colour.
"It's off white," I countered.
"White is white, no matter how you put it."
I sighed. The walls in Alec's small cottage had been due for a good painting twenty years ago. He was being very difficult over such a simple matter. I had showed him over a dozen different samples and he hadn't like any of them.
Alec got off the couch and came over to me. He went through the reminding samples. "What about this one?"
I looked at it. It was a pale green. It certainly would light up the darkness of the cottage. "Yes. Are you sure?"
Alec nodded and grabbed his keys off the television. "Let's go."
I followed Alec out to his car. I was still numb. I looked over at Alec, who was focusing on driving. Was he really mine or was this just a magician's illusion?
Alec pulled into Lowe's. We climbed out and went into the store.
"We need that," Alec said pointing to a large lawn mower.
"I can see you running into the house with that."
"I would not," Alec said as he slipped his hand into mine.
I smiled at him. "No, you would drive through it."
Alec frowned as we made our way back toward the paint. "I wouldn't do anything like that."
I pretended that I was studying the paint. "Would," I coughed.
"I heard that," Alec said as he put a gallon on paint in the cart.
"I was just coughing because of the paint fumes," I said.
Alec snorted. "Yeah right."
I put another gallon in the cart. "It was. Would I lie to you?"
Instead of answering, Alec pushed the cart toward the check-out. I followed him. Was it something I said?
Alec pays and we go out to the car.
Once we got back to the car, I looked at him. "Is something wrong?"
Instead of putting the car into drive, Alec sighed. "Why don't you tell me a little about yourself, Emma?"
"You know everything about me," I said.
Alec shook his head. "No, I don't. You're so guarded around me."
I didn't respond. I really didn't want to tell Alec why I was the way I am.
Alec brushed my hair away from my face." Emma, you can tell me what's bothering you. I won't judge."
I shut my eyes. I had heard that line so many times from my parents. They always judged what the other said. "Can we wait until we get home?"
Alec put the car into drive. "Of course."
I watched the traffic pass as we made our way back home. I knew Alec was watching me, but I wasn't in the mood to talk.
The little girl looked up from her colouring book as her father came back home. Neither of them said a word to each other. She couldn't remember the last time she and her father had had a real talk.
The mother came back in wiping her hands on her apron. "I see you decided to show your face."
The father snorted. "I see you haven't changed."
The mother glared at him. "So, how much of our money did you spend today? The last hundred of it?"
"Damn it woman, it's not like that! This farm how our family lives!" The father slammed his hat on the table.
The little girls' markers rolled across the table and onto the floor. She bent down to pick them up.
"This farm is ruining our family!" the mother screamed.
The father rolled his eyes. "And we would be out of the streets if it wasn't for this farm!"
"We are just about there!" the mother snapped.
The little girl slowly closed her colouring book and walked out of the room. Just this once, she wanted her family to be normal. Her best friend's parents didn't fight like this, so why did hers have to?
Alec pulled into the cottage's driveway and parked.
"Emma?" he asked.
I climbed out of the car and went to the back. I grabbed the paint and marched to the door. "We should get started."
Alec followed me slowly. "You can tell me what's going on."
I began to move furniture away from the walls. I handed him some old sheets. "Here, use these to cover up the furniture."
Alec looked at the sheets. Sighing, he did what he was told. "You know, it's okay to let people in."
I moved the small couch into the centre of the room. No, it wasn't okay to let people into your life. People, especially those you loved, ended up hurting you the worst. I just kept waiting for that day when Alec decided he didn't want me anymore.
"Emma." Alec came over to me and put his arm around me. "I just wish you would let me in."
I sighed. "I'm afraid."
"Afraid of what?" Alec asked gently.
Alec gave me a look. "Why are you afraid of me?"
"I know how this works." I pulled away from him.
Alec had a confused look on his face. "How what works?"
I sighed and moved a nightstand out. "Nothing, I shouldn't have brought it up."
Alec gently grabbed my arm. "Emma, what's the matter?"
I really didn't want to give him the rest of my back story. I didn't want people to know why I was so afraid of falling in love.
Alec gave his best puppy dog face. "Come on, you know you can trust me."
There it was again, that word: trust. I really didn't understand how such a small word could be so conflicting and difficult.
Alec put his arm around me. "Emma, it doesn't have to be like this."
I sighed. "I've seen how love works."
Alec took his arm off of me and crossed his arms over his chest. "What do you mean?"
I sighed and threw another sheet over the television. "It's complicated."
Alec came over to me and turned me around to face him. "You can tell me."
"You're not going to let this go are you?" I asked.
Alec shook his head. "I want to know what's going on with you."
"It's my parents," I muttered a few minutes after silence.
Alec sat me down on the coach. "What about them?"
I looked at the floor and my hands. Did I really want to go into my past? Did I want to go into my parents' complicated life? Would that make me look weak?
"Emma," Alec said gently.
"They made some mistakes and they never forgave each other for what they did."
"What kind of mistakes?"
"We had a family farm and there wasn't enough money to go around. They would always fight and one would always leave. I was afraid that one time one of them wouldn't come back." I shook my head. "None of that wouldn't have happened if they had just gone their own ways when they said they were. They tried to make it work, but, in the end, it cost them everything."
Alec just nodded.
I looked straight afraid. "Look, I know it's stupid, but I can't let it go."
"Emma, I understand. We all have things in our lives that we wish we could just erase." He pulled me close. "We have to be on our guard, but we can't shut down."
"I know," I whispered.
Alec pulled my face toward his. "I promise you that we will never make your parents' mistakes."
I looked at his blue eyes. "Are you sure about that?"
"Why do you ask that?"
"But we got bills to pay. We got nothing figured out," I objected.
Alec shrugged and smiled. "That's all part of the fun."
"The fun of what?"
Alec kissed me. "The fun of love." He pulled me to my feet and opened a can of paint. He gave me an evil smile.
"Alexander, don't you even think about it," I said as I stepped back.
Alec's smile widened. "Using my full name isn't going to save you." He dipped his hands into the paint can.
I raised my hand. "Think about how much damage you are going to cause to both the house and your girlfriend."
Alec stepped closer. "Live a little, Emma."
I stepped back. "I don't call this living."
Alec's hands were dipping paint onto the carpet. "I do. Haven't you always heard that relationships aren't a walk in a picnic?"
"That's marriage," I muttered. I was now against the wall and he was getting closer.
Alec raised his hand. "What's marriage?"
I eyed his hand. "The saying."
Alec's hand came closer to me.
I ducked down. "Don't you even think about it." I could feel the paint dripping on my head.
Alec continued to let the paint drip on my head. "You're the one who ducked down there."
"Alec, it's going to stain."
"Oh, your hair will come clean before you die."
Alec wiped his hand across the top of my head. I winced as the sticky slime worked its way from the outer portions of my hair and down into my roots. The slime was slowly inching into my skin. It felt like a mud ball had fell on my head.
I kicked his shins hard enough for him to back away.
Wincing Alec, laughed at me. "You look like a green monster."
I grabbed a sheet and wiped my head off to my best ability. "You know this works two ways, don't you?"
Alec gave me a boyish smile. "Now, you wouldn't do something like that to me."
I grabbed the paint. "Yes, I would."
Alec grabbed the other gallon of paint. "Who says we don't have nothing figured out?"
I laughed. Sure, it was hard to take, but it what things like a paint war that kept us together.
Half-an-hour later, we were both covered in a sticky mess. There was more paint on us than any other part of the house. Laughing, we ran behind the cottage and hosed each other off. The cool water, hit my skin causing goose bumps all over me.
Alec handed me the hose and I turned the water on him.
"Emma, what do you think about moving out of that dorm?" Alec asked as he let the water fall onto his hair.
"What do you mean?" I asked.
"You're here more than you're at school anyway. So, why don't you just move in?"
"Like with you?"
I stared at the back of the cottage. This kind of thing was frowned upon where I came from. No one lived together until they were married.
I hadn't exactly been living like a careful girl either. Why not go all out and be a rebel? "Sure."
Alec smiled. "Great!"
A few hours later, I found myself back at my dorm gathering my things. I was in the middle of stuffing them into a box when Stacy walked in.
"What are you doing?" she asked, leaning against the doorway.
"Alec asked me to move in with him," I muttered.
"And you said yes?" I heard Stacy pad over to me.
"Wow! You were the last person who I would ever expect to move in with a guy!" She threw a few more of my things into a box. "We have to get you out of here before you change your mind."
I eyed her. "So, you're not mad?"
"Mad about what?"
"Me leaving you?"
Stacy waved her hand. "No, I think you should go for it."
I stared into the half packed box. "Maybe this is a mistake."
Stacy threw a pile of clothes on the bed. "Sorry?"
I refolded a pair of jeans and placed into the box. "Maybe me moving in with him is just a big mistake."
Stacy turned me around so I was facing her. "How is it a big mistake?" she demanded. "Alec is a great guy and I can't believe you're going to give up on this."
I sighed and stared at the floor. Why didn't people understand that love was complicated? It wasn't something that just happened. You couldn't through everything into it or you would end up losing yourself completely.
"Emma, don't do this," Stacy pleaded. "You need Alec. He makes you happy."
It was true. Alec did make me happy, but he also scared me. I knew that the two feelings did not go together. I let out a mental groan. Why couldn't I just believe?
Stacy began to pack to pack the rest of my things. "You are going even if I have to drag you down there."
I nodded. "I guess I could give it a try."
Stacy put her arm around me. "That's the spirit, girl!"
I cracked a small smile, but the feelings of insecurity still stuck around. If I didn't like it, I could always move back into the dorm.
I carried a box out into the hallway. It was hard to take, but I needed to think about all of the good that could possibly come out it.
Around five o'clock that night, Alec came by campus and picked me and my stuff up. I watched out the window until Stacy's waving figure was nothing but a little black dot.
"So, have you thought about where you going to put this stuff?" Alec asked as he pulled out onto the highway.
"Well, my living stuff can go in the living room. My bathroom stuff in the bathroom and my bedroom stuff in the bedroom," I rattled off.
Alec gave me a look. "That's not what I meant."
I shrugged. "You asked."
Alec just rolled his eyes.
"I get to control the house temperature, by the way," I said casually.
Alec gave me a look. "Like hell you will."
"Keep your eyes on the road, mister." I smiled over at him. "Why not?"
'We are not keeping the house at ninety degrees."
I laughed as we pulled into the cottage.
Together we unloaded my things and piled them in the centre of the small living room. I never realized how many things I had in my dorm. It just never ceased to amaze me how much you could actually get into such a small space.
Alec opened the first box. "Shall we?"
I opened another box. "Yep."
"The sooner we get this done, the sooner we can go on our date," Alec said as he carried the box into the bedroom.
My head snapped up. "What date?"
Alec just hummed away.
"Alec, what are you up too?" I asked carefully.
Alec just smiled. "That's for me to know and you to find out."
I frowned into the box. Was I really going to like this?
Alec led me out onto the beach. I knew we were nearing the place of our first date. I frowned. Why was he taking me back here?
Alec kept smiling back at me. "I have a surprise for you."
"What?" I gave his hand a squeeze.
"Now, that is not going to get you anything."
I gave him my best puppy dog face.
"It's not going to work," he said as we walked down to the water.
He put his arm around me. I shut my eyes.
One person was changing everything that I believed in. I was becoming a rebel. I really wasn't a careless man's careful daughter. I was becoming me, becoming Emma. I was starting to leave the shadow of my parents' wrath and starting to see the world through my own eyes. It was my world now, mine.
I slowly opened my eyes. Things were changing and I was okay with it.
And he was the best part about this. He was mine.
The city lights shone on the water creating a dome of colour. I watched the as the little stars danced out onto the water. I smiled. It was just magical.
I leaned into Alec, who gave me a surprised look. Normally when he put his arm around me, I pulled away or just stood there like a stone. I never really gave him anything back. He gave me anything and I was cold. Why did he stay with me?
I smiled up at Alec.
"Do you want your surprise?" he asked.
I nodded. "I would like that."
Alec was just smiling as we got closer to the water. He was seeing me starting to believe for the first time in love.
Alec pushed the boat out onto the water. We padded out a little bit before stopping. I stared at the endless ocean.
"Where do you think it stops?" I asked.
Alec inched closer to me. "Where I do think what ends?"
"The ocean," I whispered softy.
Alec pointed behind me. I turned to look. "You see that little piece of brown stuff over that. Yeah, that's called land."
I turned around and gave him a look. "That's not what I meant."
Alec put his arm back around me. "You are the best thing that's ever been mine."
I laughed and splashed water at him. "I was going to say that."
Alec ducked, but the water still hit him. "That's not very nice." He paused. "This means war."
I laughed as the cool water hit my stomach. "Oh, you did it now."
Alec raised his eyebrow. "Oh, yeah."
I nodded as I pushed him out of the boat. He landed in the water with a loud splash.
He came up gasping. "That was evil."
I grabbed the paddle and started paddling away.
"Hey, I can't swim!" Alec yelled.
I looked back at him. "Yes you can. You're on the swim team!"
I could hear Alec slapping the water trying to make it seem like he was drowning. I looked back and saw that he was floating and slapping with ease. "You need to do better than that."
"That's not helping!"
He slapped harder.
I paddled away from him. "Try harder!"
Alec slapped the water again. It wasn't his playful slaps that filled my head, no it was the slaps of a long past.
The little girl could hear her parents fighting. She rolled over and looked at her alarm clock; 2:30 am, it read. Groaning she pulled her blankets back over her head. What could they possibly be fighting about at this hour?
"You ungrateful, little fool! Don't you know what I do for you and Emma!" her father screamed.
"Huh? What about me? It's always about you, you!" her mother screamed back.
The little girl heard a loud bang.
"Hush up, woman, or you'll wake Emma up!" her father bellowed.
"Oh, like the child could sleep through your yelling!" Her mother's voice was followed by a loud slap.
"Damn it, woman!" the little girl's father roared.
"Now, take your sorry self and get out of my house!"
The little girl heard footsteps approaching her room. She ducked back down into bed and shut her eyes. She heard her door open.
"Oh, you lucky, little girl. You got to sleep through this awful thing," her father whispered as he kissed her forehead.
He walked back across the room and was gone.
The little girl opened her eyes to the silence. Was her father really gone?
A few weeks later, I found myself watching late night television. I looked at the clock on the wall. It was two-thirty in the morning. Alec was late again. He had been working extra shifts to help cover some of the bills, but I didn't like him being out this late. He should be home with me.
I heard the front door open. I got to my feet and rushed to the entry way.
Alec was pinching his temples with a tried look on his face.
I smiled and leaned against the doorway. "Hey, you're home."
Alec nodded. "Well, I guess I am." He started toward the living room.
I slowly followed him. "How was work?"
Alec shrugged. "It was work, how good could it be?"
"Do you want something to eat?"
Alec shook his head. "No, you don't have to fix something this late."
I put my arm about him. "It's no big deal."
Alec pulled away. "I just really want to go to bed."
I nodded. "Okay, if you're sure."
Alec looked at me. "I'm sure, Emma," he said slowly.
I watched as he shuffled into the bedroom. There was something off about him. I just hoped that he was tired, but there was something else.
I sighed and followed him. He was sitting on the bed taking his shoes off. He looked up when I stepped into the room.
"So, how was your day?" I asked, sitting down next to him.
"Um, this pay check needs to go toward the rent. The landlord called twice today," I muttered. I knew it wasn't a good time tell him, but it just couldn't be put off.
Alec just stared ahead.
"I told them we would take care of it as soon as possible," I went on.
Alec didn't respond.
I looked down at my hands.
"It's always something," Alec said, running his hands over his face. "How did our parents ever make it look so easy?"
"Mine never did," I muttered under my breath.
Alec stood up. "There you go again!"
"There I go again, what?" I asked.
"It always somehow manages to come back to you and your parents!"
I got to my feet. "You know what, you're the one who asked!"
"Well, maybe, I should just keep my mouth shut!" Alec roared.
"Yes, maybe you should learn to keep your big, fat mouth shut!" I screamed, circling him. "Or better, yet, you shouldn't speak at all!"
Alec rolled his eyes. "Oh, yeah, that's really mature of you."
I glared at him. "Maybe we should just call it quits."
I turned and ran of the room. I was really starting to hate 2:30 am. I shoved my feet into my shoes. Why was everything slipping out of our hands?
I ran onto in the street and fell down crying. It was just like that day, that night all over again. I knew that this was the goodbye. Love always ended with someone getting hurt. Why did history have to keep repeating itself?
The next morning, the little girl went slowly down to breakfast. She wasn't sure what to expect.
She peered slowly into the kitchen and saw her mother making breakfast over the hot stove. She didn't hear any voices and slipped inside.
"Good morning," her mother said in a happy voice.
The little girl frowned. Her mother never said good morning to anyone. What was going on?
"This is the first day of our new life, Emma," her mother said as she placed a pancake onto the little girl's plate. "We never have to see him again." Humming, her mother walked back to the stove.
The little girl frowned into her plate. What did her mother mean?
"That man is never, ever going to darken our doorstep again, Emma," her mother replied. "No, sir, we don't need him."
The little girl didn't look up from her plate. That kiss and late night visit to her bedroom hadn't been random. No, it had been her father's way of saying goodbye.
"Oh, Emma, just think of what we can do now," her mother sang.
The little girl blinked hard. How could her mother be so happy? Didn't people feel sorry when they went their own ways?
I stared down at the blurry pavement. Why did love always end with someone getting hurt? Why, why?
The tears began to fall harder. So, this was where it ended.
"Emma," a voice said gently behind me.
I turned to see Alec approaching me. I braced myself for the "goodbye," cause that's all I've ever known. I shut my eyes. I would be packing to move back into the dorm.
Alec put his arm around me.
"Just go ahead and say it," I muttered.
"Say what?" he asked.
"Go get your things and get out of my life," I said.
Alec stared up at the night sky. "It's not like that."
"Of course it is," I muttered.
Alec grabbed my arms and spun me around so I was facing him. "No, it's not." He had a serious expression on his face. "It never was and never will be like that."
Surprised I stared at him.
"I remember how we felt sitting by the water and every time I look at you, it's like the first time, I fell in love with a careless man's careful daughter. She is the best thing that's ever been mine," Alec said. "Wow, that was quite poetic."
I laughed. "So, you don't want me to leave?"
"Nope." He paused. "Not unless you want to. I mean, it's up to you, but I don't want you to leave." Alec rubbed the back of his neck.
I leaned into him. "No, I don't want to leave."
"Good," he said as he kissed me.
"Hum?" He was leading me back to the house.
"I'm not a Yankee."
He looked down at me.
I shook my head. "No, I'm not. I'm from southern West Virginia."
Alec groaned. "That's even worse."
"Well, you all know what they say about southern West Virginia," Alec said.
I gave him a look. "What do they all say about southern West Virginia?"
"Um, that they are all loving and kind people," Alec muttered quickly.
I nodded. "That's what I thought."
Alec's laughter filled the night air. "I'm just messing with you, Emma."
I smiled. "I know."
I just had to learn to hold, make it last, and never turn back. My parents never learned to do any of this. Love was something you fought for. When you loved someone, you did everything in your power to keep them close. It wasn't always easier, but you needed to dig in and hold on for the long run.
As I laid beside Alec later that night, I could see it. I watched the steady rhythm of his chest.
I leaned over and kissed the top of his forehead. "You made a rebel of a careless man's careful daughter. You are the best thing that's ever been mine," I whispered.
As I drifted off to sleep, a movie appeared in front of my eyes. I watched as it jumped from different scenes about a couple and all the good things in their lives. I could hear the wedding bells, the cries of their child as they took their first breathes, and walking on the water as a family.
I shut my eyes.
Yes, yes I can see it now ,see it now, see it now...
Thanks for reading. Yeah, I know it's long for a one shot. The ending is rushed, but the song's ending is rushed as well. Thanks for reading, again!