Wow. I've never written this much in one sitting. It's like.. 4 hours later than when I began writing. Anyway, I decided to write my first piece of first person POV today, mainly because my other project, the 50,000-word K-PAX novella I'm working on was scaring me. It was getting dark and scary and I needed something light and frothy to give me giggly amounts of happiness. Only problem was when I got to the end of the story I realized that somewhere in the middle I had started writing it in third person POV, and I was totally clueless about the shift until I got to the last sentence. Then I had to go up three pages to where I lost my POV and fix everything.
Oh, and also, who here objects to a dark and scary K-PAX story (there are some serious bad guy they have to face down)? I'm trying to tone it down; from an R rating as it is now to a PG-13 rating, but I'm stuck wondering if after I actually finish the extremely long thing will anyone out there actually want to read it. It's bumming me out. *mopes*
Now, without further ado I bring you:
Nature's First Green is Gold
I must be crazy.
I'm sitting here in my philosophy class, a class I used to be very good in. Got A's for the first part of the year, but that's no big surprise. School's my thing; the right answers always seemed so simple. My friends always laughed about that. Now though, in the spring of my junior year, no answers can be found. They've slipping from my grasp. I can't concentrate in class, no matter how hard I try. Not while she's sitting right in front of me.
Each time the teacher calls her name for attendance at the beginning of each class, the beautiful melody contained in those two perfect syllables, I can't help but grin like a fool. Then she raises her willowy little hand and responds with a simple, 'I'm here', and my ears hum as they hear her voice.
Then as class goes on, Sarah keeps notes diligently, trying to capture every bit of knowledge bestowed upon her, because she has big dreams for herself. And she's going to make it in the world. I know it! However I on the other hand, have fallen behind in Philosophy 101. I don't know a damn thing about Plato, Socrates, or Aristotle but I do know that the way her dark hair the color of midnight falls loose across her back. The way her shoulders peek out behind the tiny straps of her tank top, which make me long for her even more. Makes me want to reach out and hold her. Kiss her neck, caress her back – but I must be crazy.
She'd never.. not with me. She comes from a very religious and proper family. And I, on the other hand, come from what they affectionately call 'the wrong side of the tracks'. It would never work between us. We could never have anything as special as I yearn for. Even if she liked me, which is a big 'if', why would she who is so perfect ever want someone as mixed up and messed up as me? So all I can do is watch her in class, smell her perfume, and wish for things that I can't have.
The bell rang abruptly, signaling the end of class. It made me jump a little. Sarah so often makes me forget that the outside world exists that coming back to it is sometimes jarring. And just a little painful.
The class started packing up their book and heading out the door. I followed suit, going to my locker quickly before leaving the school. My thoughts went to my friends, one of which was home sick that day, and the other who had detention for starting a food fight the day before. Apparently, I was going to be alone for my long walk home. Though, stepping out into the warm sun, the Guelph landscape of desert mountains reaching to the heavens greeted me and I was glad to have a few moments to myself.
Besides, prot had promised to stop by today after not visiting for at least a month. He's got things to do, planets to visit, cause you see.. well.. he's an alien. Okay, now I sound incredibly insane, but honestly he is. I've know him since I was six years old when he helped me get over my father's death. Not that I am over it really, no one can ever really get over anything like that.
Since that day, eleven years ago, he had come to with me from time to time. He tells the greatest tales of his home planet, some place called K-PAX. I'd like to visit it someday. Prot isn't allowed to take anyone back with him yet though, because he's still a little new at mirror beaming and the K-PAXians don't want anything wrong to happen during the travel. No use for me getting to K-PAX only to not arrive in one piece.
I waited in front of the school for a few minutes; curious if prot was going to make his grand appearance according to the schedule he had given me a month prior. He was a stickler for a schedule when traveling. He didn't disappoint me, mirror beaming into the empty school parking lot at precisely 3:42.
I looked around cautiously, wondering if anyone else had seen him travel in by a beam of light. In contrast, he couldn't care less if anyone had seen anything weird. "Homo-sapiens will suspend the truth to fit their beliefs," he had told me a few years ago when I was worried someone would catch on to his escapades. For the most part, it was true. All the same I still continued to watch his back, well our back actually, to make sure no one found out about the paranormal-ness of our friendship. Luckily, there weren't that many students around the school, they'd all left for the weekend. A grounds keeper was over by the school's entrance but he was too busy working to bother noticing anything.
"Hey, rob. How've you been kid?" Prot came over and gave me a high-five.
"Prot, I've missed you. Where did you go this time?" That was the standard question when he came to visit. It was always someplace fascinating, some planet far away from this small desert town.
"Oh, the one in the Orion constellation," I had learned a lot about the different planet out there, and H-LOR was a favorite of prot's. He'd visited it in the past a few times, coming back to tell me about their warm yet frozen oceans and the packs of horse-like creatures called fruensas.
"The one and the same." We started walking back to my place, which was about three-fourths of a mile away. As we passed the big Guadalupe High School sign at the end of the property, he turned to me and asked, "How's sarah?"
My face turned red, blushing slightly at the sound of her name. I couldn't believe I had told prot about her on his last visit, but then I could never keep anything from him. Prot had this funny way of bringing out the honesty in people. "I.. well.. she's still, you know.. around."
"Around?" He queried, prying for more yet retaining the perfect look of innocence on his face.
"Yeah, everyday in eight period." I grimaced. That was about all of her that I would ever see. Everyday in eighth period, nothing more. It was a curse and a blessing, like waving a carrot in front of a horse's mouth.
"You're never going to get to know her like that defeatist attitude, robby."
"Like you'd know anything about romance, K-PAXian!" I joked, but we both knew it was at least half-true. K-PAXians didn't care about romance like humans did. They didn't need it, and felt no desire for intimate contact. Lucky them.
"You've got to at least try to make contact. Say 'hello, I'm rob. I like you, maybe you like me. Can I take you to the park to see the stars?' " He mimicked my voice so well, I had no choice but to laugh. He continued jokingly, "Okay and then you can say, 'I promise not to drool on my shoes even though the sight of you makes my little-bitty heart go pitter-pattery every time I see you"
I shook my head at him as the edges of my mouth turned up slightly, "What am I going to do with you?"
"How about take me home and get me some fruit?"
"I stocked the fridge with bananas last night, also bought some cantaloupe," How could I have not prepared for his arrival?
"Ohh.. yay!" If I could have seen his eyes behind those sunglasses he wears they were probably filled with childish delight. "Take me to your fridge, EARTHling."
The rest of the way back to my house we did the basic catching up things that friends do when they haven't seen each other in a while. Still, nothing's ever basic around prot; he makes the most inconsequential stories seem extraordinary. From time to time, when we passed through the busy part of the town someone would look up and notice him, the stranger in a small town. I wondered again if anyone suspected anything about him and his alien origins. Or maybe they were just being nosy like small town folk are bound to do.
Whatever the cause I couldn't help wonder for the first time in my life if I was crazy to buy into his story. Sure he was my best friend, and knew things about the universe no one could possibly know, and I had seen him mirror beam in a few times. But, come on, an alien?! Maybe there were perfectly logical explanations for all the things he said were proof of his story. Maybe I was being deluded into believing this by a con man. Perhaps I was developing some kind of psychosis and talking to thin air without noticing it.
I glanced over to prot, lost in my own thoughts as he began a rant on the treatment of animals on EARTH, and quickly put my fears to rest. This was real; he wasn't just an illusion, not with all the people in the town staring at him today. And he was too much of a humanitarian to be a con man. I felt a little guilty, questioning him, if only in my mind. Still, as a person grows up their bound to question their beliefs. I guess. I just hoped he didn't realize what I had been thinking, doubting him like every other homo-sapien.
Finally we reached my house. My mother wasn't home; as usual she was working a late night at the diner. I unlocked the door while prot retrieved a newspaper that the paperboy had tossed carelessly into a little rock garden by the side of the house. As soon as we were inside, prot dropped the newspaper on the kitchen table and rushed for the refrigerator, bouncing excitedly. Earth food was his favorite thing about this planet.
Biting into a banana, without peeling the skin off, prot sat across from me as I perused the 'want ads' in the paper. I really wanted to help my mother with the bills, but I could never find a job in this town. Usually the only one I was experienced enough for was working at the slaughterhouse, and that just brought back bad memories. I pushed the paper away from me, sliding it across the table. Defeated, I frowned. "prot, when are you going to be able to take visitors with you when you mirror beam?"
"When I learn enough about the process, I'm just an amateur traveler at the moment," Then he noticed something in the way I had phrased the question, "You really want to get out of here don't you?"
I paused, trying to find the right words to express what I was feeling, "I'm just, tired of the chains people shackle themselves with. If I don't get out of here soon I'm going to wind up with the same job that killed my father," My voice broke just a little, embarrassing me. I looked away from him, trying to make no big deal of what I had said, "Eh, forget it. I'll just give in to my fate. If this is all of the world that I'll ever see then so be it."
"You're different than your father, rob. You still have a chance to experience the life that he never did. See the world, travel around, live your dreams." There was a knock at the door, cutting off his energetic speech. Prot jumped up to go see who it was, peering through the blinds at the window. "Speaking of which.. maybe you should answer the door."
Curiously, I went to answer the door. I wasn't expecting anyone today, especially not the person it turned out to be. My voice caught in my throat, "Sarah?"
"Um.. Robert, hi.. I know this is really weird, but could I possibly talk to you?" She brushed a long strand of hair out of her face, placing it behind her ear. In all the time I had known her, I'd never seen her so nervous.
"Er.. sure," I replied, not knowing what to make of it. Looking around my house, the scattered mess and broken furniture, I began to feel a little self-conscious, "Is, um, outside okay?"
She nodded, "Okay. Yeah. Sure."
On the other side of the room, unseen to the young lady, prot surreptitiously gave me a thumbs-up sign. I gave a shy smile, and slipped outside, closing the door behind myself.
We walked over to the small swinging porch bench, sitting down next to each other without saying a word. Awkwardly, I began, "So, you.. wanted to talk to me?"
"I'm sorry I came over unannounced, you must have been so shocked to see me outside of school."
"Well, I was, but it's okay. I'm kind of glad you did," I steadied myself, wondering if the last sentence had been a little excessive. I still didn't know why she had come over, and was probably hoping for too much. Too many dreams had been floating around my head for far too long.
"You know," She looked down at her lap, "and I hope you don't think I'm being forward by saying this, but I've been noticing you at school."
"You have?" I forced back a smile, trying not to give in to his hopes so soon.
"Yeah, you're not like the other boys. I know that must sound cliché, but there's really something different about you. I can't put my finger on it, but what ever it is I know I like it. I like it, and I like you," She paused for a second, and then took a deep breath before bursting into a huge smile, "Wow, I can't believe I said that. I'm sorry, it's just, it's been on my mind for so long and now it's out and it feels great to let it out."
Her smile relaxed me greatly, and I joined her, grinning from ear to ear, "Well, truth is, I kinda like you too, Sarah. You're just so sweet, so.." Wracking my brain for a word to describe her, I could only find one that was suitable, "So perfect."
"I wouldn't go that far," She self-consciously looked away.
I gripped her cheek in my hand and turning her to face me, just inched away from her mouth. I could feel her slowly breathing, the air so warm and inviting. Seriously, I whispered, "No, really, you are. Utterly perfect." Lost in the moment, our mouths made contact with each another for a brief second before we broke away shyly.
"I'm sorry, I'm usually not so forward. Especially since we don't really know each other. I mean, a few passing glances in school, small little conversations when we were in Mr. Simons chemistry class last year and we had to work on that group project, and now this."
I reflected on this, it was a little fast, but it didn't seem awkward at all. At least, not once we had laid our feelings on the line. I shrugged humbly, "Maybe we're soulmates."
"Or star-crossed lovers." She groaned, "I just remembered about my parents, they're not going to like this at all. Probably why I waited so long to say anything."
Placing a hand on her shoulder, I looked into her eyes, "Don't worry, I'm sure we can work something out. I'll get them to like me, win them over. It's not impossible."
"I hope so," Sarah stood up, "But for now I have to go. They like to have dinner exactly at 4:30, and if I'm late it'll just make them suspicious and get them asking questions. I'm not ready to tell them about you. Is that okay?"
Standing up to face her, I nodded, "Whatever you think is best. I'm just happy to be able to be honest with you now."
Abruptly, she jumped up to give me a big hug, "Me too. I really like you, and I'm glad you know now."
Surprised, I couldn't think of a thing to say as a reply. Then, as I looked over Sarah's shoulder, I could see saw prot's sunglasses peeking through a small slit in the blinds. prot had been watching the whole thing! I rolled his eyes at him, not sure if I should be angry or not. Yet it was so typical of my alien friend that I smiled to myself. The blinds instantly shut, as prot backed away from the window. No doubt he was probably highly amused by the whole human scene. I imagine prot got a great laugh about it, tickled to death that I had finally fallen in love and gotten the girl. Then again, so was I.
Extraordinary friends, extraordinary love, extraordinary life. Maybe prot was right, maybe there was still hope for my life to turn out happily and exciting after all.
"Well, I'll see you in school," Sarah kissed me gently and started to walk down the steps of the porch.
"Would you maybe want to go to the park one night? I could show you all the constellations.."
"Sure! That would be great. Is Sunday okay?"
"Sunday is perfect."
"In that case, I'll see you then," With a bounce in her motions, she nodded and then continued on her way home.
The weight of the moment finally caught up with me, as I slowly sat down on the porch steps. Numb, and feeling a slight head rush, I sat there shocked. It had finally happened. It wasn't just a dream anymore.
I heard prot come outside, and close the door behind him. Sitting down next to me, the alien pondered, "Feel any different?"
"Oh yeah. Totally different." Then, coming out of his dreamland, I turned to face my friend, "And if you ever spy on me again, K-PAXian.. I'll.. I'll.. Well, I don't know what I'll do, but it won't be pretty."
"I'm sorry I spied on you, but rest assured that it was all in the name of science."
"Oh, yeah, suuuure."
"Really," The alien nodded enthusiastically.
"Not buying it, prot."
"Aw.. damn. You see through my feeble disguise," Collapsing back on the porch, prot pretended to gasp for breath, "Oh no, whatever will I do, the EARTHling has found me out."
Without a second's hesitation, I turned around and did the only thing he could think of, I started tickling him. That led to then pretended to tackle him, imitating a wrestler I'd seen on tv, "That's it alien foe, you're going down."
"You EARTHlings, so violent," Prot mocked as he gained the upper hand in our roughhousing match. The sound of our horseplay was probably heard houses away, but that didn't stop either of us.
Later when the stars started to peek out through the night sky, we were still sitting out on the porch, albeit exhausted now. I smiled up at the constellation Lyra. Strange that such a good friend could come from so far away. Apparently prot was thinking the same thing as he grinned back at me. Yes, strange indeed, but life's funny that way. It gives you the most special gifts when you're not expecting them.
The title of this piece, depressingly enough, comes from the poem by Robert Frost's "Nothing Gold Can Stay"
first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower,
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.