A/N: Thanks for stopping by! Please read and let me know what you think! Just as a disclaimer, this story includes some sensitive topics, and I truly have no intention of offending anyone. Anyway, before writing it, the idea had been weighing on my mind for quite some time, so it was a very joyful and healing experience to get it on paper. I hope you enjoy! - woodlander
PS: The title is related to music and is tentative. I have a love/hate relationship with it.
It was a normal day for January. The sun was out, but was occasionally shrouded by shifting clouds. A chill rested in the air, enough so that a coat was more than necessary before emerging into the brisk outdoors. And, it was the beginning of semester, so the usual excitement that filtered in and out of the classrooms was present when Rowena entered into her first class of the day, Poem and Songwriting, a class she had signed up for to fill an elective requirement. Upon deciding between the available electives, she gathered this class to be the easiest route to take.
The room was setup as any other room at Columbia Gorge Community College, with individual desks lined in rows. Many of the seats had already been taken by students, and, as Rowena quickly glanced around the large classroom, she realized she didn't recognize any familiar faces, and decided upon a seat in the very back but close to the door.
Rowena placed her bag next to the newly claimed desk and reached inside to extract a notebook and pen. While her head was bowed, she noticed the seat next to hers had just been filled.
Out of habit, she quickly stole a glance and immediately identified his face. Amidst its curves and shower of freckles, a pair of chocolate brown eyes suddenly locked on hers, causing Rowena to snap back to her initial task. She fixated on the notebook in front of her, but still felt the gaze of Ben Franklyn on her, the resident stoner and under achiever. She briefly felt a notion of surprise at his presence in a college class.
The moment of time allowed for a person to stare had long since had long since past, and Roe decided she had had enough. She turned her attention back to the chestnut haired person next to her, resting her head on the hand she had perched on her desk.
"Surmising some material for your first poem?"
Ben's eyes didn't falter. However, he leaned back a fragment in his chair, and retorted, "Yes, I have a start now: She sits but a few feet away, and the smell of delusion does not stray."
Rowena lifted her head from off her hand, completely dumbfounded by what she had just heard. She took some time to dig her gaze into his, as if the act would extract some further explanation. "And what is that supposed to mean?"
Ben offered her a swift side smile before turning back into his seat, just as their instructor, Ms. Hoult, strode across the front of the classroom and welcomed the class to the new semester.
Although it appeared to be yet another normal day, the feeling of a shift in the air lingered around Rowena like the feeling of being watched in the night.
Rowena, or Roe as she liked to be called, had been planted in the small, rainy grasps of Pine Ridge, a coastal town on the edges of Washington State. She had grown here, and all of the experiences of the last twenty years had caused her roots to spread deep in the same soil. She was reminded of this constantly as she looked to the friends that stood around her car in the campus parking lot. These were the same friends she had maintained since grade school.
"So, this is last semester until we all get ousted from this Podunk town."
Rowena shifted on the side door of her car and crossed her arms. "Finally decided on a university to attend, eh, Liv?"
Liv scoffed, releasing a puff of cigarette smoke, and dropped the bud on the ground, stamping it with her foot. "More like my parents have. They're shipping me off across the country in the fall."
Roe raised a brow. "In your case, there could be worse places to go than three thousand miles away from your parents."
Liv was tall and slender, with brunette hair equally as vibrant as her demeanor. She was outgoing and caustic, a lethal combination that had nearly everyone who crossed her wake remove themselves in submission. She had been this way as long as Roe could remember, first by commanding the playground with the swish of a hand and a few choice words, and later commanding the hallways with a simple turn of her head. Roe had been instantly drawn to her back then, and that same pull existed in their friendship today.
"And it's way better than not even having a university as an option. My parents are recruiting me straight to their boring shipping company," Meg voiced sarcastically beside Roe.
Roe laughed in response and pushed herself off the car. "Got room in your suitcase for two short girls, Liv?"
Liv was about to answer, but was interrupted.
"I've got room in my suitcase for two short girls. Want to come to university with me?"
Scott, lanky and athletic, with short dusty blonde hair, nudged his way between Roe and Meg, and draped his arms around the two of them. Liv, standing opposite of them, rolled her eyes and extracted another cigarette from the purse wrapped around her shoulder.
"Scott, the only thing you'll be bringing with you to university is your right hand," Liv said, and ignited her lighter.
Scott's arm was heavy around Roe's shoulder. And the smell that wafted from him was making her want to vomit. Meg then said something into his ear, which caused the two of them to chuckle, giving Roe the opportunity to break free. Once she had, she readjusted the sleeve on her shirt that had slipped off her shoulder and grounded herself next to Liv.
"I thought you were going to quit this week," Roe stated, motioning to the cigarette between Liv' fingers.
Liv smiled. "I'll quit next week. And then again the week after that."
Roe ran a hand through her auburn hair and lent her attention back to Scott and Meg, who were still laughing at something Roe assumed probably wasn't all that funny. Liv, Meg, and she had been friends since grade school. When the entered junior high, they adopted two other friends, two guys by the names of Callum and Will, who were the exact definition of opposite. Callum was the studios, go-getter type, while Will's life ambition was to relax and crack jokes all day. Despite this, however, the pair added a great dynamic to the group. The five of them spent much of their time together during their early teenage years, going to movies and whatever else sounded like fun at the time. It wasn't until high school that Scott had entered the picture.
He had moved from a neighboring town. And with his crooked smile and charming character, mixed with a little need to rebel, he was absorbed by the group rather quickly. And so it had been the six of them from that point on, each different in their own ways but adding to the overall cohesion of the group. It had worked for them.
"Whose house is that party at Friday?" Liv asked.
Scott was first respondent. "Devin's, the nice place on Manzanita."
"Right, the beach house," Liv clarified.
"Too bad it's fucking January. I'm already having bikini withdrawals."
While Meg giggled at Scott's remark, Roe and Liv exchanged glances, which resulted in an eye roll on both of their parts.
And with the sudden recollecting of the history of their friendship and seeing both Meg and Scott in cahoots with one another, Roe felt the sudden swarming of memories race to the forefront of her mind. She quickly dismissed them, summoning some excuse to rid herself from the group.
"Well, got to take the dog out."
"Your dad is never home, I swear," Meg said, face flushed.
Roe inhaled. "Ah, well, apparently he's a very important person at a very important company."
"Well, come by if you need some company," Liv said, offering Roe a genuine smile.
"I will." And then Roe moved between Meg and Scott, opening the door to her car, and driving off towards her home.
The house was almost silent when Roe arrived. The only sound came the large wall clock keeping time above the mantle. Roe stood still in front of it watching the second hand move rhythmically, and, in response, seeing the minute hand finally move.
The ticking was growing louder with each passing second, and Roe found herself unable to draw her attention away. She was glued to the ground, staring blankly ahead, mesmerized by the systematic hands that moved incrementally.
Hands moved over her arms. And then down to the small of her back. Kisses swarmed over her neck. Each one stung greater than the last. Hand then moved up –
"What are you doing?"
For the first time in what felt like ages, Roe was able to pull herself away from the clock. She turned her head quickly to face her father, standing unsurely and holding his briefcase.
"Nothing," Roe snapped, crossing her arms and walking to her father. "I thought you had a business meeting today."
"I did," Lee, Roe's father, said, still wearing a face of uncertainty. "It's over with now." Lee then set his briefcase carefully on the dining table. "You mind fixing yourself something for dinner tonight? I've got a bunch of work to do."
Roe forced a smile. "Yeah, sure." She then turned a heel and began her ascension up the staircase and into her room.
Roe had been correct in the first place; her father wasn't home. Not really.