Hello! This story is a collection of vignettes spanning from several years before the series to many years after. I am not writing these stories in sequence; as such, though I'm inserting them chronologically, new chapters may be hard to find (I'll try to point them out, but you may have to search a little also, sorry!) [If I'm currently posting later years chapters, i.e. Angela and Jordan as adults, don't worry, there are many high school chapters still to come.] Most importantly, THANK YOU SO MUCH for reading, I really appreciate your feedback!
(On that note, this site does not allow users to leave multiple posts on the same chapter, which can be difficult for this story as the chapter numbers are constantly being re-sequenced and revised. If you've run into this problem, you can find another chapter to post to, or post under your username but logged in as a guest. Thanks, and happy reading!)
* Created characters, as well as Tino, are written with actors in mind. PM me if you would like the list :)
Set before the series; this is the first of a couple of small moments that serve as the 'origin story' for the Jordan Catalano we see in the series - at least in terms of his interactions with the opposite sex. The following scenes span almost a year, time passing between each of them.
An eleven-year-old Jordan Catalano is down by the river, messing around on his bike under the shade of the trees. He pops a wheelie, jumps a small mound of dirt, grabs at a low hanging branch as he passes by.
Down a path through the trees and brush comes another cyclist. Also eleven, this rider takes her time down the trail, riding first up one bank then the other. Standing as she pedals, her white sundress flutters behind her, while her long flaxen hair blows loosely about her face. From the corner of his eye Jordan notices her, but keeps riding.
Shelly, slow to smile, and ever watchful with her large green eyes, crosses his course, "Hey."
Pedaling backwards, Jordan takes a longer look at her, then casts his gaze toward the water, "Hi." He pedals backwards then swerves into a wide circle.
"You ignoring me?"
Jordan doesn't answer right away. "No."
She swerves in the opposite direction, never looking away from him for more than a moment at a time. "It's okay if you are."
Coasting for a moment, he looks at her, intently, "I'm not." He resumes pedaling, throwing her a head nod, "What're you doin'?"
She snatches some leaves off a tree as she passes beneath. She looks at him. He looks away. She looks away. She looks back. "Seeing how long I can stay out till anyone comes and looks for me." By this point they're circling round each other in big lazy loops.
Jordan throws in wryly, "Bet I'd beat you."
Interested, Shelly looks back at him over her shoulder, "How come?" Jordan shrugs, and instead of answering he attempts a wheelie.
"That needs practice." Standing on her pedals again, she does a double bounce, lifting herself and her bike an inch or so off the ground. "You smoke?" Jordan shakes his head, unblinking. "I'm down to my last one." She turns away, taking a small trail down closer to the river; as she rides, Jordan's view of her is quickly obstructed by brush and branches. "You coming?"
Jordan, who had stopped riding, kicks hard off the ground then pedals standing to follow. The path breaks through to a tiny pebble beach on the river bank. She stands, still astride her bike, and produces from her cotton halter dress a cigarette and book of matches. She lights the cigarette, inhales, and passes it to Jordan, who takes it, and thus begins his smoking habit; his eyes still watching her.
She watches him inhale a few times. "They say it gives you cancer; but, so does the sun, and cherries — maraschinos — and that doesn't stop people." Jordan coughs, "You'll get better at it; if you try." Jordan laughs. Being told to practice something is nothing new; he heard it all the time at school — 'Worker harder' — but he'd never expected to hear it in the context of vice, and this girl said it so matter-of-factly, the way she said everything. Jordan smiles. She's still watching him, "You don't talk a lot. _ I like that." Jordan looks at her as he hands back the cigarette, taking this in.
Jordan quickly rides his bike to the river bank where Shelly sits with her feet in the water. He sets his bike down on its side, and approaches her, tapping her shoulder with a slightly crumpled half-full pack of cigarettes. She turns her head to him and smiles. She takes the pack and he takes a seat.
"They're my dad's."
"I usually smoke menthols. _ Well, my grandma does." She removes a cigarette and places it gingerly between her lips. Jordan produces a book of matches and strikes one for her; she leans in for him to light it, their eyes meet. "Thanks." She exhales just to the side of his face. The sensation of her breath and the smoke against his cheek excites him.
Jordan finds a few flat stones at his feet and starts to skip them across the water. "I can never get them to hit the water more than once," she observes.
"That's called throwing. _ Here—" he chooses a rock for her, "try this." He hands it over, "You gotta use your wrist."
Shelly and Jordan are swimming in the river; their bikes, shoes, and extraneous clothing items lay on the embankment. Jordan emerges from the water, still laughing a bit, and lies on the warm ground. Shelly swims a bit longer, diving like a porpoise to the river bottom then floating on her back, just barely fluttering her hands to stay afloat, staring at the sun for as long as she can stand it. When the clouds drift across the sun she too comes ashore, and settles beside Jordan on the warm pebbles, disregarding the large black ants moving across her feet. She watches him lying with eyes closed. Leaning over him her long hair drips water on him; she smudges it way from his face, then bends down and kisses him.
Jordan doesn't know quite how to react. But it's over so quickly he doesn't have to react; she's once again lying beside him, eyes closed, enjoying the sunshine on her tanned skin.
Months later ...
Jordan walks down a path towards the river where he finds Shelly sitting on a rock, smoking, her bike on its side in the tall grass.
"Hi." She doesn't answer, she only keeps smoking. "What's up? _ Shell."
Still staring blankly ahead, cigarette perched between her fingers threatening to drop ashes on her knee, she says flatly, "We're moving." She flicks off the ashes just before they drop. Jordan takes a step closer.
Kicking at the dirt Jordan asks, "Where're you going?"
She takes another drag, "No kidding." Jordan casts a glance at her, then when she does not move, he scoops up some pebbles at his feet.
Throwing a few stones, Jordan thinks his way through this, "And, you're not, coming back?" She shakes her head. Not terribly happy to be hearing this, Jordan does what he does, "Hey, no more snow, right?"
"I like the snow."
Jordan pushes her shoulder good naturedly, "You only say that in August." She kind of smiles, in spite of herself. "It could be cool, right?"
"I don't want to feel better about it." Jordan nods, he kicks at the dirt for a bit. Then he pulls her up from where she's been sitting. He kisses her. She carefully puts out her cigarette, balances it on a rock for safe keeping, then kisses him.
Two months after the move he receives a letter, on sky blue stationary with sketches in the margins of this and that. It takes him three weeks to send back a postcard. Eventually it is answered by a letter covertly written at school; included with it is a wallet-sized school picture. Jordan keeps the photo, but never gets around to replying to the letter.