Mini Tales of the Alternate Universe
Childhood Tales IV: With Me
Washed and dressed to finally move on with his life, Finn walked out of his house. He tried to brush his still wet hair with his fingers a little, but a throb of pain stopped him from doing so. The bump was still there, that annoying yet wonderful contusion that managed to calm Flanna's temper down a while ago. The farm boy searched for her in the distance, Hacksworth was sitting on the grass with Jake by her side. The bulldog seemed to be listening attentively to her whispering, and rested his fluffy head on her lap. The girl smiled and continued explaining him her worries, while scratching the back of his ears.
"You know, Jake's a good listener." Finn said, causing her to turn back at him. "But he isn't that good at givin' advice." He took a seat next to her and grinned. "C'mon, I'm here. You can talk to me. Is it about your father?"
Flanna blew a raspberry, chuckling slightly. "Nah, I've already made up my mind… I don't have a father." She picked a small rock and tossed it away. "I don't think I'll ever forgive him… Anyway, it's not like I need anything from him! I don't want anything from him, not even his love…"
Finn gave her a concerned stare. He wished there was something useful he could say, but apparently Jake wasn't the only one bad at giving advice. "I see… Are ya gonna be alright?"
"Of course." Flanna smiled. "I've got everything I need here at Junktown, including you and Jake." As she said this, the red-haired girl placed the bear cap back on Finn's head, covering his chaotic locks of blond hair. "You guys make my life complete."
"Yikes Flanna, I don't know… Are we really—?" Hacksworth tapped the bump on his head all of a sudden, making him flinch. "Auch! That kinda hurts, you know!"
"Duh!" Flanna laughed. "Please don't start feeling self-pity, Finn! Just because you ignore the exceptional person that you truly are, doesn't mean that you aren't one!" she jumped back to her feet and crossed her arms in contempt. "However, you're being quite the moron, right now!"
"Now, what's wrong with you callin' me like that all of a sudden, huh?!" Finn complained as he got up to face her with an annoyed frown.
"Well first of all, yesterday you promised to take me on a date… twice! And yet somehow we're still here, talkin' nonsense!"
"Oh!" It was as if realization had just slapped him on the face. Finn had been so worried about Flanna, and his and her feelings, that he almost forgot about their date. It had been the first thing on his mind when he woke up that morning, but then Flanna switched places with Jake and things got pretty intense for the farm boy.
Of course, how could he have been so inconsiderate to her? Flanna needed a distraction from her painful worries, not a constant reminder that her family had fallen apart and that her father was a criminal. Finn swore he'd do anything to ease the girl from her problems, and that's what he was going to do. Now, what were couples supposed to do when they are on a date? And what's a date exactly? It couldn't be the same as just hanging out, there had to be something special about it. A look of remorse filled the boy's features, he should have asked his parents for advice last night.
"Yeah… How would I forget about that?" Finn mumbled nervously. "I was about to ask you if you still wanted to go, heh…"
Flanna approached him slowly, a naughty look seizing her green eyes. "Well, where are you goin' to take me, huh?" she asked, grasping his hand.
"To… Uh…" Finn gulped. He had no idea of where to take her.
Finn smiled confidently as he swung his fishing rod back and forth, aiming at the still water before him. "Pluck!" His bait sunk in the lake and he sat down to wait. Mertens was satisfied with his brilliant idea of fishing. It was the best outdoor experience, all they had to do was to cast their lines, sit by the shore and wait while enjoying of the peaceful environment and the sound of nature. Things would get exciting as soon as a fish catches the bait and then, they will make a campfire and eat it. There, best day ever!
The farm boy leaned on his arms and turned to the girl next to him. "Hey, are you having fun?"
A sleepy yawn was Flanna's first answer to his question. "I don't know, should I be honest or just try to please you?"
"You're bored!" Finn exclaimed. "How can you be bored? Look you haven't even—Flanna! You gotta hook a worm before tossing your rod! No wonder you haven't caught a thing!"
"So… I'm doing it wrong, fine." Hacksworth shrugged as she sighed. "What's your excuse for not catching that giant bass you were talkin' about two hours ago?"
Finn's face went blank. He pulled his rod out of the sand and reeled it back before tossing it onto the shore. "This was the worst idea ever, wasn't it?" the boy said. "Okay, I'll admit it! I don't know where to take you, this is confusing and I'm just a guy!"
The red-haired girl giggled in amusement at his confession. She left her seat on the wet sand and passed her arm over Finn's shoulders, pulling him closer. He couldn't help to blush; Flanna sure knew how to take him by surprise. She forced him to glance at a certain spot of the landscape behind them, holding his chin and tilting his head to the left. Hacksworth was pointing at a grassy hill, which was slightly hidden from sight by the woods that surrounded the fishing hole.
"Let's explore what's up there!" she suggested in excitement.
Finn let a small grin of agreement grace his lips as he passed his arm over her shoulders as well. "You know what? Next time I'll let you in charge of the good ideas!" he said.
And just like that, never letting go of that friendly embrace that they both held on each other, Finn and Flanna raced to the top of that mysterious hill. Their feet got tangled in several occasions, almost bringing them down a couple of times. The higher they climbed, the more they stumbled. Letting go of each other's shoulders would just ruin the fun, so the strive of reaching the top without rolling downwards was gladly welcomed by the two laughing teenagers.
When they finally got to their goal, both Finn and Flanna were out of breath. Their hearts beat fast, pumping adrenaline through their veins. The sweat running down their foreheads and their reddened cheeks were there to make their bodies look filthy and young, overflowing with energy. Jake caught up with them moments later, carrying a catfish in his maw.
"Huh, look at the angler of the year…" Finn panted, petting the dog's head. "How did ya catch that, buddy?"
"Baff…!" Jake barked, still holding the fish between his teeth. It was a matter of time before he had nibbled the scales and the flesh out of its spines.
Meanwhile Finn and Flanna took advance of their rest to glance at the large plain that lied below the hill. It seemed that no human being had put a foot in there for centuries. Like a secret prairie, full of mysteries yet to be discovered below its long greenish grass, sprinkled with colorful flowers here and there.
"Hey, Flanna!" Finn called, showing her a large piece of plastic that he had found on the ground, a useless scrap that would soon be turned into a sled. "Wanna slide down with me?"
"I just knew there had to be some good ideas inside that silly head of yours, Mertens!"
So at the classic count of three, the farm boy pushed the improvised sled off the edge, launching him and the red-haired girl downwards at the amazing speed of recklessness and mindless adventure lust combined. Soon the boy and the girl found themselves flying out of their vehicle after hitting what appeared to be an old TV screen at the base of the hill, screaming in both fear and excitement as they clung onto each other for protection. Yes, they tasted the flavor of blood and dirt in their mouths after their harsh landing, but everything was worth it in the sacred name of fun.
"Tahe a looh ah theeseh, Mehtens!" said Flanna, who had just spat out the first tooth she'd ever lost since she was nothing but a child.
"Gee, Flann… Ya better heal that with saliva, trust me it works!" the boy suggested, examining the gap in Hacksworth's formerly flawless smile.
"If the guy who bites rocks for fun says so…!" she laughed. "C'mon, let's check this place out!"
The two teenagers dived into the long grass, crawling through the lonely meadow as their knees and elbows got covered with scrapes and more dirt. Treasures, they found many. That field ended up being a forgotten junkyard, swallowed by nature when its former owners left it behind. Broken music boxes, shoes without their pair, rusty trucks, naked mannequins and even a rustic grandfather clock that marked eternity, forever stuck at five o' clock, were part of Finn and Flanna's exciting discoveries. However, there was one item that stood out from the rest, like a gleaming jewel buried beneath tons of junk. It caught Flanna's interest just as she laid her green eyes on it.
"It's a phonograph." The red-haired girl explained as Finn studied the weird object in curiosity. "There was a more modern one at my uncle's place back at the city."
"Cool!" Finn frowned in confusion. "But what does it do?"
Flanna's face depicted disappointment at the boy's question. "If only we had a record disc, I'd show you…"
"Disc? You mean like the one I just tossed at Jake?"
They both saw the bulldog jump in the distance, catching the flying object in midair. The proud canine returned some moments later, with the black plate on his maw. He placed it at Finn's feet and then sat down, waiting patiently for his master to throw the disc again. The boy grabbed it and cleaned Jake's saliva out of its surface with his shirt before handing it to Flanna.
"Is this the thing you were looking for?"
Her eyes were lit with excitement; she quickly placed the disc on the strange object, jerking a small lever on its side as fast as she could. Miraculously, time hadn't been that cruel on the so-called phonograph. The disc began to spin and it started to play music, a sweet gentle tune.
"Dance with me…" asked Flanna, smiling at the now nervous boy before her.
"N-no, no… Flanna, I don't know how to—…!"
But before he knew it, Finn was trapped in her tight embrace. His face shone red as Flanna took his hand on hers and placed his metallic arm on her waist. Finn rolled his eyes to the ground where their bare feet had began to follow the rhythm, guided by the red-haired girl's command.
"Don't look down, Mertens. Look at me!" Flanna chuckled, pushing his chin upwards.
"F-fine, but don't get mad when I step on your feet!"
"No, I won't…" Hacksworth sighed, losing herself on the simple "one, two, three" of the made up waltz that she had dragged Finn into.
The boy had no choice but to swallow his embarrassment and focus on Flanna's lead. Little by little he became less aware of where were his feet heading to as they spun around the junkyard. He was enjoying it, no matter how ridiculous they must be looking at the moment, dancing without direction. Finn no longer cared about the music by the time he realized that Flanna had melted into his arms. Her head had found a place to rest, on his chest right below his neck. He rested his chin on her, accepting the affection she was willing to share with him.
It was almost magical when her whisper reached his ears, claiming: "I love you, Finn…"
"I love you too, Flanna…" he replied.
And she fixed her stare in his deep blue eyes, hypnotizing him with hers. Her hands climbed onto his shoulders, pulling the boy closer as she stood on her toes in an attempt to reach him. How come two years had made Finn so much taller than her? Flanna wondered this and many other things as she leaned into him, seeking his lips.
Finn was tempted to do the same. He knew how much she meant to him, how much he craved to kiss her again, but the doubt remained. Was Flanna truly in love with him? Wasn't she using him as the distraction that she needed so desperately? Whether that was true or not, Finn knew that he shouldn't have cared. He should have given her what she wanted as he had promised. But he couldn't. The farm boy reeled back, pushing Flanna away from him.
"Finn you?" she stammered in both disappointment and confusion. "I-I'm sorry, I thought—I should go…"
Finn managed to catch her arm before she left running, pulling her back to his side. "No wait, I didn't mean to do that! It's just that… I don't know what to think about you Flanna… W-what is it exactly that you feel for me?"
She stared at him, perplexed. "Finn I just told you, I love you… I think I've always felt this way about you, just that—… It took me a while to realize it. I'm sorry if that's what confused you, but I meant it when I said that you make my life complete." Flanna took a step closer. "Maybe it's because you already own my heart and that's why I felt so empty when my father took me away, but…" she stretched her hand, causing him to stare down at it. "If you don't want it, just give it back…"
Those were the words he wanted to hear, that her feelings were real just like his. Finn smiled, excitement, happiness and tenderness seized his features. He grasped Flanna's open hand and pulled her into the kiss they both had longed for. Finn caressed her cheek, breathing her skin in as he mindlessly roamed along her collarbone. It was weird how one thing let to the other, and how they somehow ended down on the grass just as the same passion that fueled their actions drained their energy. Once again their bodies were covered with sweat and dirt, consequence of their new experiences of youth. The boy rolled to Flanna's side, knocking his head against hers in a soft manner. They shared a minute of silence and then a simple smile.
"The only heart I'm willin' to give back it's mine." Finn whispered, "Flanna I want this to be our everyday... I want you stay here, with me." his hand got a hold of hers, entwining their fingers. "I want you to be my girlfriend."
The red-haired girl burst in laughter, making their bodies roll on the tall grass once again. "Foolish Mertens, I thought we already were a couple!"
"Yeah, since you first kissed me. I thought that made it official." she chuckled.
Finn sat up just like Flanna did as she stared at him in amusement. "Well, then..." he shrugged, leaning into her one more time. "Let's make it official now..."
Their lips met once again, just like they had before and how they'll keep doing it for the years to come. Be there bad or good times awaiting for them, nothing would ever tear apart the farm boy from the messy red-haired girl, as they build their life together in that forgotten nook of the world called Junktown, along with a golden bulldog and a climbing mule by their side. A happy family of four. Only the future would tell if there were more members to come.
Onward to Tales of the Alternate Universe: Amaranth, the sequel of this story. Thanks for all your support, hope you keep reading and enjoying!