Melody reached for the alarm clock with heavy arms. 6:15, only two hours sleep. She moaned softly and rolled off the bed. The cold hardwood floor sent shivers up her legs and through her body. And the heating is off. That's just spectacular! Melody struggled into a pair of her best shorts, then looked out the window and decided better of it. "Rain, rain go away, don't come back 'till Christmas day." She chanted the nursery rhyme aloud and took a pair of jeans from the wardrobe. She ate breakfast alone, then bound up the stairs to shower. This took all of ten minutes, leaving an hour and a half to sketch and practice her music.
"I know you
I walked with you once upon a dream...
I know you
The gleam in your eyes is so familiar a gleam
I know it's true
that visions are seldom all they seem
But if I know you, I know what you'll do
You'll love me at once
the way you did once upon a dream
Once upon a time,
I dreamed we'd be together...
In love forever.
Once upon a night,
I was wishing for a never...
A never ending.
Once upon a time, once upon a night,
Once upon a wish, once upon a dream..."
She sang along as she doodled. A couple of birds sat on the nearby trees listening, only singing when she went quiet. Melody only stopped at the sound of her parents getting up. Singing was embarrassing enough in front of the animals outside, but the idea of a person hearing her voice sent butterflies through her stomach.
With around forty minutes left, she decided to pack up her gear and set it on her bike. After, Melody checked her chain, brakes and saddle pack. Most of it was set and ready to go, all she needed to do was see her parents.
They were in the study, As usual, and were packing their own stuff when she came in. "Hey Hun. You ready?" Her mum came over and squeezed Melody for a second, as was customary for her, then returned to gather the last of her gear. Her dad had just finished with his. He walked swiftly to her and gave her a bear hug.
"You up charming the animals with that angel voice of yours again? I still don't see why you won't enter the concert. People would start talking to you…" He trailed off as both girls glared at him. "I don't want to, dad. They would all laugh at me." Melody looked out the window and waited for something to break the silence. She noticed the rain had stopped like she had asked. The horses started to complain from lack of attention and the birds decided that was the perfect time to burst into a cacophony of chirps and whistles. Perfect timing. I owe you all big time.
"I've got to go to school, but don't forget to pick me up for the dentist at two, ok? I hate cycling through the town." She hugged her mum, then her dad, grabbed her stuff and started on her trip to school. On the way out she patted the two horses grazing in their pen beside the house and whispered, "Thanks fire, Thanks ice."
Melody went straight through the forest this morning. The rain from earlier made the trees glitter in the morning sun as it passed between the clouds and the horizon. This made her happy before school started and she almost forgot about the populars. She sped up as she left the forest, the sun shining at her with an intense glare. Damn it! Forgot our sunglasses again. This is what we get for not paying attention! She squinted at the road ahead, trying to focus on getting to the school.
After ten bright minutes of cycling, the school came into view and she was safe beneath it's huge shadow. "It begins again." Melody frowned deeply at the room in which she was to be tortured. Not the gym, no, she enjoyed sports, but at the trig-room. Then she realized the car-park was practically empty around her. Half the school was out sick again today. She smiled slightly and locked her bike to the almost empty bike-rack. She glanced and then focused on a crystal blue bike. Wait a minute… We're the only ones who put their bike here. Most everyone else takes a car, so whose is this?… She shrugged and walked swiftly into the school, going straight for the girl's changing room.
Melody was almost ready for gym class. She only had to cool off before the bell rang. It took only a minute to relax her breathing, then she put her clean clothes in her locker along with her pack, books, jacket and three sketch books. The bell rang while she reviewed her trigonometry homework, all of it correct as usual. Melody hurriedly packed it back into the locker and moved sinuously between the lockers and into the large gym.
This room alone took up half of the lower and second floor. There was very little sunlight in here so the lights were always turned on. And there, in the brightest part of the room, talking to Mister Groves was Alexander. He stood there, talking to the teacher with a bored expression in his eyes. Mister Groves was reading from his clipboard with a smile on his face. Talking sports then. He only enjoys talking about, playing or watching sports. Alexander must be sporty then. Melody allowed herself a moment of pleasure at the similarity between them.
Her small smile turned into a proper grin when he turned and looked at her. Even from this distance, his surprise was noticeable, but it quickly changed to a welcoming smile. Melody felt her stomach flip at the sight of him enjoying her being there. He never moved his eyes from her as she crossed the room.
Mister Groves turned and checked her off the class list. Then he looked over her shoulder and checked off three more names, to Melody's silent horror. She turned her head slightly to see David, Jessica and Tara coming in from the door she had just used. Oh no! The mammoth rugby-team leader and the queen's sidekicks are here! They had noticed Alexander and were moving in fast. The two girl's thoughts were obviously about his looks and his 'dating status' as they called it. Obviously single was written in their eyes.
Then they noticed who he was looking at and they both turned their eyes towards Melody. She looked at the floor and practiced being her inner-self. She was saved by: "Everyone, gather round. Here's this lesson's game plan. Dodge-ball, then tennis and last, gymnastics! Tara and Jessica, you two sit on a bench out of the way. David, help set up with Melody and Alexander. Show him how we work, you two!" Mister Groves slapped David on the shoulder and gave Melody a wink. She gave a small smile in return. He was using his favourite sports to flaunt his two best and to test Alexander all at once.
Setting up took ten minutes and Groves split them up into an uneven team of two-on-one. Melody was the one. "Come on, that's hardly fair, two boys versus one girl!" Alexander's upset voice and protective comment surprised her and made David burst out laughing. He could barely reply to him, "Wait till the game's over before you say what's fair, buddy. You'll be amazed at wh-" The whistle blew three times and groves cut him off, "Be quiet David. And Alexander was it? I make the teams, you play. That's it. No talking after that." He threw a ball to each of them and signalled for the game to start.
David didn't pause to think. He lunged two steps forward and hurled the ball towards her head. A step to the left took her out of the ball's path. She glanced at Alexander. His mouth gaped slightly then twisted into a half smile. He is impressed with us. Watch his arms now. He is going to try. Melody smirked and watched him judge the force and angle his shot would need to hit her. This was the same for every other opponent. The ball came faster than she expected though and Melody barely avoided it by dropping to her back and then rolling to her feet, into a crouch.
He is strong and fast! Finally a worthy opponent. Melody stood and retrieved the balls from behind her. She flung the one in her left hand towards David instantly, who crumbled to the ground neatly holding his newly crushed parts, then calculated how to attack Alexander. He seemed intent on her movements. "Go easy on the new kid Melody!"
Mister Groves interruption caused her to turn her head and she was very aware of the mistake a second later. Alexander smoothly tossed the ball she had thrown at David at her, and it contacted her hip with a loud smack. Surprise spread across her face and she slipped to the ground and sat there, on her knees with one hand on her side. The ball rolled out of her limp right hand.
Everything was silent except for the sound of footsteps moving swiftly towards her. A second later, a hand reached down to her, followed by his cool, soft voice. "Sorry if that hurt. Forgive me. Please?" Melody looked at the hand, then followed it to his face. His sad expression made her want to comfort him, but she couldn't get over the surprise of being hit. She never got hit… Ever.
"Melody?" She ignored him and rose stiffly to her feet. "Mister Groves, I'll be back in a moment. I need to use the changing rooms." Melody turned towards the doors and brushed past Alexander. She didn't dare look in his eyes again. Once in the changing rooms she lifted her skirt and examined her left hip. A purple bruise was slowly growing across her entire left thigh. It was too large for her skirt to cover.
Tara came in to change for tennis and both gaped at the mammoth bruise. "O-M-G, that is so big. Isn't that a big bruise Tara?" Jessica turned to Tara who confirmed her friends statement, "Ya, that is, like the biggest bruise I've ever seen." This continued as Melody changed into her shorts and T-shirt. She grabbed a racket from the rack as she was leaving, the two of them still talking but now about how she reacted to Alexander's offer of help.
Sorrow welled up in Melody as she remembered the look on his face as she had left the gym. It was a deep hurt. She wanted to apologise to him, but pride stopped her. He hurt us, so he can suffer the consequences. We shall not talk to him for a while. The idea of hurting him any more was difficult for Melody, but she decided to try.
The two girls went out to the court. David was nowhere to be seen, as usual after a one-on-one match with Melody. The girls were talking to Mister Groves about teams and appeared annoyed with his reply. She looked to her right and noticed Him watching her from a low branch on the old oak beside the tennis-courts. He appeared hopeful when their eyes met, but that vanished when Melody didn't smile back at him and was replaced with sorrow. She walked towards the far side of the courts and sat on the dry grass. The clouds seemed heavy with rain as they passed over the school. Where had they come from? There hadn't been any when she was cycling to the school…
"Melody, are you hurt? The girls say you have an injury and can't play. Is it true?" Mister Groves again. She looked at him full in the face. "I have a bruise on my hip, but it won't stop me from playing, coach. It is only minor." He didn't look convinced. Instead he reached out for her hand and lifted Melody to her feet. She hissed silently at the stretching of her sore muscles. He glanced at her hip and whistled to himself.
"How big is that bruise Miss Heart?" Oh no, not the Miss Heart treatment! "It's nothing Sir. Only small. I still want to play." He looked her in the eyes and said softly, "If it gets too sore or I think it's been enough, you leave the court. Got it? I don't want my star pupil in pain." He was serious. She could see it in his eyes, and nodded to him in answer.
He turned and called for the other three to come closer. "Right! I want Tara and Jessica on the front lines. Alexander and Melody at the back. We'll have Tara and Melody on my left, Jessica and Alexander on my right. This should be fun, huh?" They broke into their teams and took position. The following game had five matches. Melody's team lost the first two thanks to her bummed out leg, but won the last three after she ignored it and decided to beat Jessica for the look on her face in the end. They all shook hands after and Alexander held on to Melody's for a while longer as they shook, reluctant to let go. She slipped hers out and followed Mister Groves into the gym again.
David had set up a grand course. There was another seventy minutes before the end of class, so Groves went over the safety guidelines and rules for gymnastics, directing his talk mainly towards Alexander. When he finished, Melody walked over to the mats and put chalk dust on her hands and feet. She'd been practicing the same move over for a month now and was certain she could pull it off. The only problem was her injury. She could ignore the pain easily, but the pressure those flips put on a person's legs would make her fall on the first set. Still, she lined up for the run…
"Melody? Please don't. You'll hurt yourself." Alexander was standing right beside her. She didn't need to turn and check exactly where, he was like a wall. You could just tell how close he was and that closeness stopped her from moving. "Will you sit with me?" he sat on the mat she was standing on and she slid to the floor, angling her legs so that she would be facing him. There was silence between them. Neither spoke as they looked at each other. A minute passed before they were disturbed.
Tara came over. "I, like, would like to use the mats so could you, like, get off?" Alexander looked at her with a blank expression and slowly stood. He offered Melody a hand up and this time she took it. I can't even stand up without help. Yup, today is going to be interesting to say the least.
The two of them walked down the hall and went out to the football pitch. Melody led them to the old tree beside the pitch and sat on the big root sticking out of the ground near the base of the trunk. The clouds overhead seemed to be threatening to drop a load of rain. That was bad. Wet and cold meant ice. Ice meant no cycling. No cycling meant walking home or ride with her parents.
"Sorry Melody." Alexander was watching the clouds and didn't seem to see the confusion on her face. Damn it. This was a stupid idea. No talking to him, so we walk outside and now are alone with loads to say! Great idea. Melody sighed, "About what? The bruise? It's nothing. You just surprised me is all." She was being as calm as possible, but the hurt he felt was obvious in his eyes. Something else flashed in his eyes as she spoke. Anger. "That is not nothing." He pointed to her hip and the bruise peeking out under the edge of her shorts. "I should not have been so aggressive towards you. I got carried away and for that I am sorry. Can you forgive me? I don't want you to hate me. Please?"
His anger and sincerity was surprising to say the least. Melody turned fully towards him but something in the distance caught her attention. "We're being watched." She smiled and signalled with her eyes towards the gym door. "I know. They're angry I'm paying you more attention than them." He turned his head and stared at the two girls. They disappeared and didn't peep again.
Melody giggled and he looked at her with a glitter in her eyes. It was only then that she noticed the sun. The clouds had disappeared in less than two minutes. She usually noticed these things instantly. Alexander is distracting us. Now we are stuck out here until a cloud passes over or we can squint and run to the door. Which is less weird? She decided to wait and see if she would get lucky.
Five minutes passed in silence. Neither found it awkward, they were both happy with the bit of space but being there together at the same time. During those five minutes, Melody had climbed onto the tree's lowest branch and sat watching the birds. Alexander never looked up at her. It's a good thing he doesn't too. She thought to herself, If he looks up all he'll see is that bruise and our knickers! We should change position. Melody moved one leg up and over the branch, sitting like she would on a saddle. It was cold but it let her skirt just sit over the bruise. It was only visible when she moved. Another five or six minutes passed before she spoke. "It's really bright out, huh? Maybe we should go in soon…" Alexander turned and looked into her eyes. His voice made her worries disappear for a few seconds. "Won't the sun hurt your eyes? I'd give you my sunglasses but they are probably too big." She wasn't surprised David or the two girls had told him the vampire story. He looked worried even now. Surely he doesn't believe them!
"You really care, don't you. About me. But why? We hardly know each other and you're already trying to help me. Usually,… usually people avoid me." It all slipped out as Melody finally let her questions go. The stories, the facts, everything up to the point where they met the day before, it all went flying out as her curiosity towards him was released. It took a while to get out. In the end, Alexander climbed up to her and answered her questions all at once.
"Something about you seems so fragile to me, all I can think of is keeping you safe. You're… special to me."
Melody's heart fluttered to a halt, then began to race once again. She had nothing to say. He looked at her with honest and clear eyes. He's not lying. Not making this up. He really means it… Those liquid pools of blue were like an open book to her. Then she figured it out. That's what's different! Today his eyes were so solid, especially talking to Groves. Are they only liquid around me? So many questions… What to do?… She noticed worry slipping into those beautiful eyes. "Mel, are you ok? You look tired." Her dad's nickname put her at ease as always. She nodded to him and smiled slightly, "I'm fine. I was up late last night, that's all. Can we go in? It's only getting brighter out here." She scowled at the sun through the tree's leaves and he laughed.
It was the first time she had heard that laugh, and Melody was going to hear it every day if she could. That, she was sure of.
(( Chapter End. ))
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