I hadn't the slightest idea what to think or what to expect once I would reach my final destination. All that I could think of was my last macabre thought before I left Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport; "I have given much thought as to how I would die of late but will this be the road to my final circle? Will I be like a hollow egg? Cracking easily, only to reveal nothing inside; like I never had wings?" I brushed it off, and filed it away for later reconsideration. Instead, I chose to cherish the last memory of my mother.
"Honey are you sure?" Her small almond shaped, chocolate brown eyes were watery and searching mine. She placed both her arms around my waist, tightly.
I snickered, "It's a bit too late to change my mind now mom. Besides, we've been through this already. You know I have to go and see Charlie. The time is right."
I looked over her head and through a messy bun of chestnut brown hair that adorned it, at Phil. He was a tall and slender man, inches above my mediocre 5'10. His face was solemn with a strong jaw and dark stubble, and bright blue eyes that watched the pair of us protectively. I had already bid my adieu to him with a vigorous handshake and promise that he'd look after her on his travels through the minor Baseball league.
"Phil is going to need to you to cheer him on. Besides you always wanted to travel extensively, and now is your chance." I smiled at her reassuringly, pulling my lips up and revealing a wide grin.
Her small red nose sniveled, her eyes zooming in on me longingly, and her warm hands cupped my face. "I raised a strong boy," she cried.
It seemed she capitulated then so I quickly added, "We can see each other any time over Skype. It won't be forever either, right?" I ducked my head to stare suspiciously into her puffy eyes. The tears that had formed burst, gently, and rolled down her thick cheeks. She nodded quickly and pressed herself to me, leaning her head beneath my chin against my chest.
"Yes, yes, of course. But I want you to go to college in Florida. That way you can be closer to me," she sobbed earnestly.
I took a deep tired breath that escaped through my lips and nodded but said nothing.
"Attention, all boarding flight 8011 nonstop to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, please approach the service desk with your boarding passes. This flight will leave in fifteen minutes."
I turned over as the announcement came through, watching a flight attendant put down the intercom. Several passengers scurried along with bags and jackets making their way through the check-in.
"Time to go," I said as I grasped her by the shoulders and took one last glance at her. Swift as I could I reached down for my brown carryon bag which had also served me during my last tenure at high school and flung the caramel colored side bag over my shoulder.
"Don't forget your parka," Renee, which was my mother's name, added and folded it into my arms. Although I wanted to use my own funds that I had accumulated from a year of tutoring middle school children in English, she had insisted to use her own money to buy a cobalt blue parka as well as a wooly trench coat with big round buttons for me. The weather in Washington State would be marginally different compared to Arizona's clear cloudless azure sky.
"Thanks, and don't worry too much. The wrinkles are already showing. Also, I know you'll be fine since Phil has a minor in child psychology, " I laughed. Renee wacked the side of my shoulder with the back of her hand, half smiling and half scowling. I heard a tenuous bearish laugh from behind her; Phil had heard.
I've had enough then. I rolled up the parka in my arms and made my way to the check-in. The stewardess scanned the barcode on the boarding pass and opened the gate. I took one last glimpse over my shoulder and held up my full hand but didn't wave and saw Phil's arms wrapped around my mother's waist as she mirrored my gesture; I inherited it from her. I strode on through the vibrating narrow gray corridor and onto the plane.
I caressed my forehead with my index finger, letting it cascade down my nose before travelling back up north, and then back down. Almost three hours had passed since the Swan and Dwyer family farewell and I was ready to get off already. An elderly woman of great presence was seated next to me but she was kind, and had elected to tell me parts of her life story even though I was wearing headphones, and reading. I only listened half-heartedly, floundering about in my own thoughts. I don't know something about meeting her husband while attending a Bryan Adams concert.
Finally, Delta (I know, I know but it was a cheap flight), lit up its yellow seat belt sign as our altitude began to lower. Like a foreign invader the plane crashed through the bank of white clouds revealing a city beneath; Seattle, WA. Already I made out an ominous sky expanding its arms far into the distance throwing a gloomy shroud over the Olympic Mountains. I focused my thoughts on my father; Charlie. I had only talked to him over the phone these past years but never visited. I wish I had.
The plane landed smoothly. Impatiently I waited for people to rearrange their disordered line so we could get off. After a while and my observations of copious stretches, yawns, and according to my nose occasional acts of flagalance, "Lovely," I finally jumped ship. The air in the airport was stale; through the glass wall separating the passengers from their loved ones waiting on them I immediately spied Charlie. The man did not change.
I rushed towards him smiling. He stood with his hands tucked away in the pockets of his black dress pants. He wore a simple red button up shirt and what appeared to be his police jacket short off the badge. Shyly smirking, and not expecting my sudden thrust forward and towards him, he stepped into my embrace. I threw an arm around his neck and the other firmly around his shoulders beneath his arm, cradling him firmly.
"Charlie", I exclaimed. "It is so good to finally be here."
He stepped back but still held me. My father was never one to express a momentous deal of emotions openly. I had been a good mixture between him and my mother. My outbursts could be timid or confident.
Charlie was a man taller than I, at least half a head. I had been given his mahogany dark hair which unlike his short cropped, curly style I wore a bit longer, and straight on top but both of our sides matched evenly trimmed. His eyes were round and murky green whereas mine were deeper and more pronounced but mimicked the same prismatic vista.
Charlie was as tall as Phil but broader in the shoulders from years of Police training, exercise, and as I understood over the phone – too much meat, not enough veggies, and playing cards at the Fork's Police Station; somehow that last one was relatable.
His thick dark mustache covered his smirk well but his eyebrows betrayed his expression of glee, and relieve.
"I'm glad you made it save Luca." That was all Charlie would say, I knew. He portrayed his feeling through actions compared to my mother who had never been above public displays of affection.
I smiled up at him and nodded. I moved my eyes about his face, memorizing it, and replacing the last image of him five years ago with this much more up-to-date version.
Surprisingly, Charlie kept his arm around my shoulders, gripping me tight as we made our way to the conveyer belt and watched the steady stream of luggage's swimming by. When my suitcases came he picked them both up and grunted displeased with one of them.
"Hell's bell's Luc, whatcha got in this one? Bricks?" I laughed.
"Well mom and I couldn't fit the whole house so we rearranged and managed half a wall of my room." I still laughed softly as he shook his head, turning away, hiding his own smile. I offered my help but Charlie directed me to carry the parka and side bag. I saw the sternness in his eyes and acquiesced.
As we walked by a small food court I hastily snatched up a side salad, pecans, and bottle of orange juice, and of course this Charlie paid for. When I made for my wallet he ambulated around me and handed the young woman behind the counter a ten dollar bill. I pressed my lips together tightly and swallowed hard – it had been a long time since I had a father.
We marched out into a cool breeze but it was barely noon. The ominous sky I had detected looming over us was still there. I smelt the damp atmosphere and saw my own breath escape me over my quivering lips. I put on the parka that still smelled new and toxic, and had yet to be washed.
From a distance I saw the police cruiser, sticking out like a Great Dane amongst yelping Wieners.
"Police escort huh," I joked, getting his attention. "Where's the helicopter and SWAT team? I know at times I slip, and my crude side gawks out causing unimaginable calamity's but this?" I pointed at the cruiser with both hands, wide open. Charlie rolled his eyes, grinning.
"They all cancelled when they heard I was coming. The chief is more than enough."
I blinked repeatedly pretending to be flustered, "Well I suppose the National Guard and Navy Seals pale in comparison, and the FBI, I shall not start." I bit my tongue between my teeth and chuckled. Charlie groaned as he heaved the 'suitcase of bricks' and stowed it away in the trunk of the car.
"Alright smart aleck, enough. Don't make me ground you during the first twenty minutes," he said while coming around on the driver's side. I glared at him playfully and continued on.
"Wow, a week at home trapped in a silent room reading, yeah, that'll teach me."
We both paused – Charlie's hand on top of the car as well as mine, now having reached the passenger's side. He breathed loudly shaking his head but suddenly his eyes flamed and his brows rose arrogantly.
"I have a gun. And a taser," he said matter-of-factly.
"Fair enough." I could have continued this assault but remembered my humility, and bent down into the car. I put my seatbelt on waiting for Charlie to roar up the engine. My left eyebrow shot up, solitarily, as it always did when mischief struck.
"But seriously it isn't loaded right?"
The road back to my ancestral home was uneventful. Charlie was the silent type which comforted me. Once again I discerned the intriguing cocktail of Charlie and Renee in me. I had never been effusive or silent. I chose to speak whenever I pleased while still enjoying dead air but always chose to ebb away from rambunctious occasions.
Your bluntness and sarcasm thank you Luca, I thought, entertaining myself.
On the drive I sat with my elbow supported by the arm of the door and glanced often over to Charlie, always finding his green eyes tearing from me and shooting back ahead to the road. I smiled weakly but excitedly. The thin sheet of ice forming between us I desired to incinerate immediately.
"So... do I have a stepmother?" I smiled as Charlie's breath caught in his throat making him cough.
Always the tease Luca…
"You know I don't. Forks' a small town, and I don't get away often," he said pressing his lips together, letting them lazily spread across his countenance.
"Dashing young guy like you?" He reflected my earlier playful glare and ended the dialogue with a slow, deliberate shake of his head.
A moment of silence; yet, I felt the parting of the minute tension that had built. I gazed dreamily out the window watching the bristling rain splashing up against the car.
Hm… all of us are like rain drops. We're just descending downwards from the heavens until we find our end at the hand of a window pane, and so many of us never even earn the honor of being forgotten.
I let out one humorless laugh, quietly. I felt my lips pulling up in a morose grin.
"Still like blue?"
I shifted in my seat, taking a deep breath and feeling a bit taken aback by Charlie's sudden inquiry. I didn't want my surprise to show so I nodded rigorously, "Yeah. Blue is cool."
Ahh, the irony in that sentence...
I waited just a few seconds but Charlie did not stir again. He was focused on the road but I still caught him sneaking looks at me.
From a decent distance I spotted the sign straight away; made of wood and painted in green like pine, and sprawled across in big white letters it read, 'THE CITY OF FORKS WELCOMES YOU'. There was a circle off to the right with a pine, bench, and a fish in the water.
Forks… I thought, with a population of roughly four thousand peoples according to a recent census. A town covered in damn near constant overcast due to the wintry chill blown in from the Pacific, and the Salish-Sea. Though by no means the rainiest town in the continental U.S.
I read there were places in Alabama like Mobile and even the great city of New Orleans that was supposed to be wetter but nonetheless, Forks was still wet. However, I welcomed this change of scenery. Phoenix had been torrid and Forks would be mild and bleak. I had never subscribed to either climate. It would be a new experience for me, and these days I sought those like a hyena looking for its next hunt.
We drove down S. Forks Avenue and I sheepishly noticed the Chamber of Commerce and a few gas stations like Shell. Further on I made note of the Pacific Inn Motel with some special called the 'Pacific Pizza', I would want to try that. I scoped and admired the lush and kingly forest – I wondered if in winter all those trees would appear like an ocean of Christmas trees.
Finally Charlie pulled up to the house. I stifled a childish giggle when I saw it because it too, like my dad, had not changed. Right there and then I had a terrible vision, I hope that racecar bed I had when I visited him when I was eleven is gone, and all those dinosaur plush animals of Little Foot and Friends. Nah, he wouldn't!
The house was still white as snow showcasing some Victorian thought behind its architecture. There was no porch except some stone stairs and steel railing leading to the red painted front door. The front yard was modest but if memory served it widened in the back. I smiled when I stepped out of the cruiser and took a moment to take it in. I snapped out of it promptly, unnoticed, and with some dexterity when I heard the trunk close. Charlie was coming around with my suitcases signaling me on.
Again I offered my assistance but he rebuffed me. I trotted behind him to the front door and watched him struggle to open it with the 'suitcase of bricks' slowing his gestures. Once the door was open I stepped inside and the first thing I noticed was how absurdly this place exuded the aroma of Charlie; ironed clothes, pizza, old spice, Root Beer, salmon, and something like sulfur. Perhaps gun powder?
The kitchen was off to the right and the yellow cabinets my erratic mother had sloshed in paint were unchanged. There was a round wooden table with three chairs. It looked clean so Charlie must still eat out a lot. On to the left of me was the living room with a big screen TV, no doubt for all the football matches he devoured. The hardwood floor was covered with smooth maroon throw rugs and outfitted with a long hickory sketched couch and two arm chairs of the same design. A coffee table sat in the center with some old newspapers and a half empty bottle of Root Beer. The walls depicted several photographs, and even from my present stance in front of the ivory drawn stairs I noticed that near all of them were of me; throughout several stages of my life.
I followed Charlie up the stairs. It wasn't a long climb. I counted 14 steps. When we reached the plateau he pointed off to the left where his room was. The old wooden door was closed. "If you need anything, anything at all Luc, just come knocking."
He set the suitcases down in front of what I presumed my door was and slid down the hall to the bathroom? He opened the door, Yep, I was right, I thought; one single bathroom. It wasn't that small though. It was covered in standard white tiles with a sink and simple mirror without a frame which beneath held a thin turquoise bar for toiletries. I saw a toothbrush, some toothpaste and a sports deodorant. I looked over at the shower that pointed straight down in a deep and narrow bath tub. YES! I can take baths, bring on the scented candles and Edgar Allan Poe!
"I hope that's enough room there for ya. I installed this towel rack next to the shower and bought a whole new set for you with backups. They are across from the stall, in the cabinet, that's where. I hope you have enough room in front of the mirror? If not you can stow the rest in the cabinet. Okay?" Charlie was definitely still coy around me. While he explained I noticed his eyes cautiously moving back and forth from me and the décor of the bathroom.
I looked at the shelve beneath the mirror, Well, my own tooth brush and paste, body lotion, deodorant, a bit of perfume mom got me for my birthday which I think I'll hide in my room not to arouse suspicion, and then of course face cream for mornings and nights. Somehow, by God, this will work.
My face radiated a sanguine smile, "Perfect dad," I replied. He smiled then too and caught my gaze for more than just meager five or seven seconds. We shuffled back into the hallway and he opened the last door which I presumed would be my room? If not I guess I could camp out back?
Ahhh… that's why he asked if I still liked blue… I walked in questioningly when Charlie ushered me through the door. He had painted the room with a marine like blue. I sighed, relieved, A regular bed with regular sheets. No more clowns or red and white polka dotted pillows. Charlie had even put some dark blue curtains up on the window through which I captured the front yard and driveway where the police cruiser stood.
"I hope you like it. I got you a new desk here; it's an antique," he said proudly, "It's mahogany. There is a drawer there that needs a key. It's the golden one there lying on top of it next to some school supplies that I got you, just basic stuff."
I closed my eyes for a moment but a moment only, so he wouldn't notice my internal dilemma, I suppose it was divine intervention that gave me that locked drawer. I inhaled, hard, and continued veering my attention to Charlie.
"Got you that bookshelf there, tried to get it in the same color as the desk. The closet over yonder is empty. The bed and mattress are new too. I just got them last week, and so it's not so darn dreary I laid out that baby blue carpet. Okay?"
I laughed, "Baby blue for a baby boy?"
"No, no, that's not wh-", I slammed my hands down on his shoulders simpering, showing teeth.
"Dad, it was a joke so loosen up. All that you've done including agreeing to me being here has been phenomenal. Had I asked for more I would be guilty of gluttony. And one more thing, please stop asking if it's okay. I'm supposed to be the one asking if it's okay to wander about town like a vagabond instilling fear within the community. Okay?"
He listened attentively. When I finished my ramble he shrugged both his shoulders and nodded, guffawing. "Yeah, well, still adjusting," he said blushing after he finished.
I turned back to the room and noticed another amenity over next to the window. It was an old rocking chair, faded with time. I pointed at it prudently, "Is that what I think it is?" I chocked. My wind pipes closed up momentarily and my larynx refused to pump air.
Charlie stepped beside me smiling, sadly, "Yeah. That was grandma Swan's. I thought it would be best here since the two of you were so close."
Grandma Swan and I were very close. She was the one that inaugurated my passion for the written word, taught me a classical dance, and of course, used to rock me to sleep in it. She passed five years ago; after which I seized coming to Forks up until now. Her funeral was… awful for Charlie and I. But I don't want to think about that. I'll sit there here and then and relish her memory.
"I guess I'll leave you to it then. Lots to unpack no doubt and oh, by the way," his face flared up with sudden excitement, "An old friend is coming by later, Billy Black, remember him?"
"No." I really did not.
"Well either or, he's coming by later. Make sure to come downstairs when he does to say hi."
It was my turn to be suspicious. I looked at my father from head to toe and back again.
"Dad, you haven't been going on about me at that old diner have you? Warning the whole town of some great Second Coming?" I raised my left eyebrow intently.
"No," he said faultlessly. I took a deep breath through my nose; by the way my larynx was complying again, and nodded in disbelief. I looked around the empty room and did see there was a bit of work to be done.
"Alright then, we shall see, I'll be asking around town. Police chief or not I have a way about finding the crack in the dark where the light peers through."
Charlie cleared his through and his face flushed scarlet. The suit cases were already in the room and he left me there then, in the silence closing the door behind him. I did a full three sixty and rapidly came to like these new surroundings. I wanted to be done with this chore of moving in so I clumsily clawed for my side bag almost letting it fall, opened it and withdrew a large sandy envelope. It was thick like the manuscript of a possible new bestseller – though this was far from it. I opened the drawer at the mahogany desk and flung it in along with a much smaller standard white case holding all the money I had made tutoring. It wasn't much. I locked it, got some of the tape that was on the desk next to other school utensil Charlie had gotten for me and glued the key to the very left underside of the desk.
Please let no one find you there.
I opened my first suit case and started using the clothe hangers in the closet to put all my shirts, pullovers, and sweaters up. I folded the jeans and dress pants onto a shelf above them and neatly put the socks and my under garments in some timber wooden drawer that stood off to the side in the closet. I owned three pair of shoes, two jackets and that was enough. Anymore I'd need I would purchase in Port Angeles or Seattle. Seattle maybe, I would have to go there sooner or later anyway, thinking again of the sandy envelope just then.
The suitcase that was 'heavy as bricks' and that Phil graciously paid some extra cash for; otherwise it would have been too hefty for the flight, demonstrated a bigger challenge. I opened it and saw all my books staring at me. I had read them all but there were a few newcomers as well. I had just finished Dante's Inferno and aspired to move to one I had already read once. I wanted to go back and forth between new and old.
I started filing them all into the bookshelf. I was glad Charlie remembered that I'd need one. I also took out two snow globes, unraveled them from some protective bubble wrap, and smiled remembering when Renee had gotten them for me. One advertised the Chicago skyline and the other the Lincoln Memorial. Our trips were often unprepared and erratic – just like her. I placed both on one shelf (once I finished with all the bubbles ten minutes later) separated by a river of books between them.
I was pleased when I finished. They all fit, even leaving me the very bottom shelf half exposed. Lastly I took out my laptop, sketch folder filled with new paper, and my case of drawing pens and chalk. I threw all my old drawings out except some that Renee wanted. I needed to sketch and draw new ones.
I took the phone from my back pocket after the shrill of a car horn startled me. 3:36 it read. I hopped over to the window and spotted some old black truck parked alongside the cruiser. Next to it stood Charlie who seemed to speak with some man in a wheelchair, and next to him stood a young boy with long flowing black hair tied up in a ponytail.
Men with long hair never really have been my thing, I thought to myself, grimacing and shrugging. I vigilantly journeyed down the stairs and slipped back into my shoes that I had taken off earlier and allowed my skin to be bitten by the frosty air outside. It was late October so winter was coming. I had to get used to the fact this wasn't Phoenix.
"Luca, come over here." Charlie gestured for me to join them. I approached them with a smile and medal worthy struggle of preventing too much teeth chattering. Charlie placed his hand on my shoulder turning me towards are guest.
"Luca this is Billy Black, and this strapping young lad is his son, Jacob."
Billy Black, immediately I detected the Native American descent in both him and his son. Both their skin tones seemed silky, and golden. Billy's hair was long and black like his name. It hung down over his chest. He wore a blue flannel shirt and white cowboy hat. I stepped forward respectfully, and offered him my hand which he took with a smile.
Ahh… I have got to start working out again. Too tight, too tight, STOP IT!
"Luca, its great seein' you again around here, last time I saw ya you were no taller than me. But look at you now. You could use a few more pounds but living with Charlie'll fix that right up. Remember me? Used to take ya fishing down at the creek?!"
Oh! YOU! It was the villain that used to force me to sit tediously next to him with a pole, hours on hours, from dawn until dusk not catching a single wriggling fish. I recognized Jacob then, as well. I gulped anxiously. I wonder if he remembers me making him eat worms that one time so I could get home already and escape that fishing trek.
"I do remember you Billy, now." I glanced at Charlie covering my tracks, "And you too Jacob."
Jacob smiled fired up and showed me his row of pearly teeth, alabaster and straight. I shook his hand too. CHRIST! I could hear the bone move that time…
"Glad you remember Luca." Jacob was taller than me, naturally, and his hair was like his fathers. His eyes were a bit more squinted but filled with a pool of creamy mocha brown. He had a bright smile but small lips and a button up nose. Jacob seemed handsome but there was something in his boyish face I liked. There was light, kindness, and warmth.
"Maybe some time you could come down to La Push for some wind surfing."
"Oh, Jacob, any and all athletic capacity skipped me. At times walking can be a challenge." It's true, though I had made an art of hiding it. He laughed, showing his teeth again.
"Well then maybe something like whale watching."
He nodded, cunningly looking me over, "You owe me for making me eat worms." I gulped again. My eyes passed between the adults watching our interchange.
"Then again, the actual experience might be lucrative." He winked at me triumphantly. I guess it wouldn't kill me. Perhaps for once I could make a real friend, and… Speaking of YouTube and the source through which to receive it…
"Dad, you do have wireless internet right?"
Billy then spooked us all as he bellowed with laughter, holding on to his western style hat. "Luca, Luca, Luca, no need to worry. Charlie here hasn't shut up about you comin'. Short of putting up flyers and organizing a parade the whole town is glad you're finally here. Maybe now he can shut up about it."
I glanced at my father murderously but also tenderly (how those two combine I have no idea but they did just now). TRAITOR. Charlie pursed his lips and looked away embarrassed.
"He went through the list," Billy continued, "Of all things seventeen year old teenagers need. Right bud?"
Charlie interrupted waving his hand between us. "Enough now, and thanks for that Billy. Anyway, let's get back to what's important." Charlie turned around, no doubt wishing I'd forget, I wouldn't, and smacked the helm of the old truck.
"Whaddya think Luc?" His eyes grew; again there was that flare I couldn't place earlier.
"What?" I asked, scrutinizing back and forth between the truck and the small crowd.
Charlie smiled. "It's your homecoming present this is. A black 1950's Chevy pickup stepside C-10 to be exact, and Billy was nice enough to bring it over for ya. I bought it off of him."
"Come again?" I blinked; my face a mask of hardness for surely he was jesting.
"Yeah, Jake even rebuilt the carburetor, new headlights, fixed the windshield wipers, and gave it a paint job. It was red before but rusty. It'll still go the distance."
I looked from one to the other as they stood there like a triad. "Are you fu… flipping kidding me right now?" I had never been a car owner before. That was one new experience I had not expected. Charlie acknowledged my cry with a wink.
I only hugged him briefly yelling thank you's, remembering his aversion to public affection and grabbed for the door handle. I had an easy enough time climbing in. The interior was gray and the gear shift stuck far from the bottom, black and thin. I felt the leather around the steering wheel and couldn't help the over exaggerated grin spreading across my face. I noticed a smell, it was definitely old and a bit musky but there was a small air freshener in the form of a pine tree which was a nice touch.
The passenger side opened and Jacob climbed into the cab. "I did the best work I could for you. Let me show you how it starts, its a bit old school as those old people out there say." He handed me a large black key. The metal reflected in the dim light and blinded me but I welcomed it; like it was happy to see me too. I turned it in the ignition and with Jacob's guidance cranked it a bit and it jumped to life.
"It used to be loud as a lion," Jacob laughed, "But I tamed it for you. Charlie got some new tires for you too. Now you can get to school by yourself. Forks' one of those typical towns where without a car you'd be lost like a duck amongst pigeons." Jacob laughed innocently.
" don't get the reference. It didn't matter I joined his bemused merriment.
"I got that for you too!" Jacob lightly flicked something that had been dangling from the rearview mirror next to the pine that had eluded me until now. It was small but I recognized the willow hoop instantly. The spider web inside seemed made from simple ashen string and bore a red and yellow bead. The lines intermingled forming an elegant Mandala. At the tip of the bottom hung a feather bestowed with a jade like color.
"Do you think I have bad dreams?" I cocked my head to the side, looking at him thoughtfully.
"Nah, I just thought it was a nice gesture you know," I then noticed the sincerity in his sentiment. I smiled, absentmindedly.
"Thank you. A Dreamcatcher is just what I need. I'll keep it in the truck as a token, a reminder of who revived it and made me a car owner."
Since Jacob and Billy came over with the truck Charlie offered them a lift home, how else would they get there? He asked if we should have Pizza for dinner tonight from that Pacific Inn I noticed on the way into town. Tonight would be the exception and tomorrow I would ask him for a small grocery fund. I used to cook a lot at home too especially during my small fitness craze. I told him, specifically, "NO MEAT, for me."
I waved after them as Charlie pulled out and I stood there another moment marveling at the truck. I suddenly couldn't wait till morning. I made my way back inside, it had begun raining now – as expected. I reached the upstairs and decided to get ready for bed early tonight. It was barely past five o'clock when the Black's left but I wanted to be refreshed for my first day tomorrow.
I decorated the bathroom with my necessities which really were few, though in my mind seemed plentiful. After a nice hot shower I stared at myself in the mirror after wiping away all that condensation. I clapped my own heart-shaped face with both hands and moved my cheeks up and down a bit. My nose wasn't long but well shaped suiting the high risen bones beneath my skin well. My skin seemed bleached, and a bit too pale. But those eyes…
"Why do you do what you do?" I whispered silently. They had been deeper and richer than Charlie's. Unlike his that had some people guessing whether they were green or gray mine definitely shone like flashlights in the dark with their blaze. I had spent years behind books which I noticed intimidated some pupils whenever they chose to dialogue with you. The bullies went away with time.
Instead of physical education, and instead of multiple injuries, I cast conditioning in its stead during my sophomore year. My shoulders broadened a bit and definition appeared but no muscles. The insufficient amount of protein in my diet was the problem but what is a vegetarian with minimal sums of cash to do? Egg whites, assortments of beans, nuts, and other natural sources weren't enough and tofu? Don't get me started, yuck, don't care for it. But disregarding all else I had done enough to get a bit fitter and with time, precision, and strategic fleeing the bullie's eventually fell away one after the other; like leaves on a tree.
But the eyes… I often tried to look tough or brooding. My facial muscles had no quarrel with that and I felt them fall into position whenever situation called, however my eyes exposed me. I might as well be naked every time it happens. Renee used to say so all the time. They were glistening with the same innocence I saw in Jacob but mine traveled deeper. They exposed vulnerability in me, a far too sensible mind, and hesitance.
"Just be yourself, mouth and all; honest, adamant, but don't let them see."
I cleared my throat and turned to head for my new room. I threw on an old white shirt and pajamas. Tomorrow morning I would have to do combat with my old nemesis, Fashion, why art thou my nemesis, and amusing it would be.
I leaned against the window pane waiting patiently for Charlie to come back. The salad and pecans I gobbled down on the drive back and although I didn't feel like some greasy pizza my stomach was making itself noticed. My left temple touched the glass; its temperature decreasing with each descending watery drop that bombarded it.
I watched them race one another. I used to do this when I was younger all the time.
"And the winner is? OH, so close, the unsuspecting straggler at the end caught up just in time."
I watched the clouds parting up ahead, gray giving away to a threatening coal black. Was this a sign then? Tomorrow would be bad? Just like always? A new toy others here will quickly discover broken and out of tune with their own melodies? It seemed palpable.
"I need to stop all this melancholy, and move on to something like pensive." At least that would be one step up.
I turned away from the window and over at the locked drawer. I shivered a bit but not more than the last few days. Like a Boogeyman in a box.
No, I jostled that part of me and moved on to sunnier things like my new truck, Charlie, and how I would at least make an attempt to make tomorrow a superior day than others past.
That doesn't change the coming assault. Are you ready to weather that brute? Are you Luca?
"I need a Virgil."