The Train Ride

I breathed a sigh of relief as I slid into my seat, which was thankfully unoccupied. Plonking my belongings on the plastic table with the typical Monday-morning monotony. The familiar feel of the ridge where the seat had worn with time was a strange comfort. As the train clunked into motion, groggy as the bodies inside, my hand pressed deeper into the cushiony filling with the curiosity of a child.

***

Just in time. I catch my breath as the train pulls up. Fumbling for my ticket, a jangle of keys and coins, and relieved sigh puffs from my lips. I straighten it out, smoothing my fingers over the creases.

***


After sliding my glasses back up for the hundredth time, I dumped them on the table, perhaps a little too carelessly. The fuzzy shapes merged together like I’d dunked a painting in water and the colours had seeped into a blurry brown, vaguely resembling the original shape. I loved playing this game at night, driving through the city, watching all of the lights twinkle against the blackness.

 ***

The air is tangy with the scent of stale coffee. I scoot into the nearest seat. Beside me, behind the pages of a newspaper, is a wrinkled forehead. I wonder whether the wrinkles are from concentration or age, and settle for a bit of both. Still, the guy is oblivious to me. I shift my gaze, scanning the carriage like a bored child in search of amusement. Immediately a pair of dark eyes lock on to mine, peeking from under a thick, black fringe. Before I wonder why, my eyes wander to her mouth. Lips slightly parted, the kind of mouth that speaks without words. Just a creeping smile or tentative twist of the lips movement will tell you everything;. Her eyes are still fixed on me. She’s too far away to tell, but there’s a lost look in her. Is she daydreaming? She looks too resolute for that. Do I stare back? A wave of embarrassment flushes my cheeks. I fiddle with the ticket, smoothing out the creases. When I return my gaze she has gone.

***

My glasses bobbed up and down slightly as I hurried down the stairs. Curly black tendrils flew wildly in the wind. I’d missed my stop. A taxi was my only hope to get to the meeting on time. Why did I let myself lose track of time again? Between heavy breaths I let out curses. I needed to pull myself together. And start running.

The taxi driver asked a second time where I wanted to go. As I stared at the stranger in the car, who waited for my answer, forehead creased, I didn’t tell him the office building. Quietly, the name fell from my lips as I remembered. Jake.

***

I am walking. My legs take me to the space she left. It’s only on reaching it that I realise what I am doing. I stare at the seat, torn and faded, with stuffing poking out of the corners. Scratched into the plastic table is a wonky flower. An empty coffee cup and a newspaper. Peeking in the corner of the first page is a yellow post-it note. “Don’t be late for meeting! Bread. Cheese.” Then underneath, crossed out twice, “Break up with–.” Beside it, crossed out once, “Tell Jake.” Poor guy, I mutter. I slide into the seat, examining the long, cursive letters. My foot meets an object on the floor. A glasses case. The same looping handwriting is inside the empty case. Dorothy Poole.

The Endless Web

In the silver dusk the slender black limbs stretched towards the last glimmers of dwindling light. Winter had stripped leaves and cast a stony silence in the air, only to be cut by the shrill sounds of the wind.

Within the depths of the sinews below – winding ribbons the ashy shade of a thunderous sky – a movement broke the stillness. The weaving strands seemed to cavort, twisting and turning, until a spiral opened up the dry earth. Pale fingers arose. Through the haze delicate arms were revealed.

She clambered upwards, untangling herself from the silvery sinews that had entwined her body like a spider’s web. In the struggle to pull up the great plumes of her skirt, the red ribbon that held her hair neatly was ripped against the black bark of a nearby trunk. As she rose to her feet, sleek, a soft cascade of chestnut hair flowed down her back. Her startled eyes drank the scene.

Before she could step forward, a creature swept towards her with white wings, speckled with gold. The owl plunged not at the girl, but to where the twisting streams of her entrance. Exposed, the red ribbon was laid limp, like the body of a wounded soldier left to die. Rescued by the soft feathered creature, the ribbon was carried to its owner. The sharp talons left only half the ribbon in the hands of the girl. She clutched at the strand, staring first at the frayed end; then, fearfully, she eyed the huge bird before her small frame. A quiet gasp. Dark eyes rimmed with deep blue just like her own. But these had a strength to them – these eyes were wise. She blinked and yet the flutter of her eyelashes did not change what she saw.

It was at this moment, during her realisation, that her mind was cast back to the last time she had visited the forest. Her face had been even more delicate, yet to be carved with the beauty, the raised cheekbones of a princess. While her hands were not built with the strength of a woman, her slight body was able to wind its own way out of the tangled streams.

She remembered those years of stumbling through different worlds, falling into the depths as the spiralling bands pulled her dainty feet. Sinking into darkness and rising up through the next weaving ribbons of grey. Aimlessly wandering through the abandoned places until her next fall.

Those had been long forgotten memories, just bad nightmares, until now. Now there was no escape.

***

The owl had gone when she opened her eyes. She felt the prickles of sweat beading on her temples, but began to run. She was so fast, dashing to dodge the towering trees, that her feet were unharmed by the threatening looms of ashen grey. But soon she became tired. Not because her body was exhausted, but because she was lost. Everywhere was the same: desolate silver air pierced by the shrieking wind; misty grey sky shattered into pieces by the fine branches. She felt a ring of the cold grey vine snag her foot. Like an animal she had been caught. She felt herself lose control of her body, plummeting down. Soon the darkness encased her completely. She closed her eyes, to shut out this strange and haunting world. But this couldn’t stop the dizzying feeling as she tumbled through time, spinning madly. Her hands trembled, still clutching at the ribbon.

When she finally felt stable and the dizziness had died away, she opened her eyes slowly. She could feel the dim light of her next world filtering through the threads above her. This time she didn’t reach up and explore the next place. She couldn’t bear it any longer. Even the weight of the strands pushing down on her shoulders was too much knowing what it was. Knowing that in every fibre was the soul of another of the dead. That was what pulled her down every time – their desperation. She knew that if she stayed she would only join them, she would only be consumed by the darkness and become eternally ensnared in the endless web. The only other hope was to become a guardian. But hers had left her in her thoughtful daze, so how could she hope to become one?

Maybe it’s time, she thought. A last look into the pale light. For the last time, she closed her eyes.

***

Her wings were beautiful and golden.

(748 words)


This is a response to the Grammar Ghoul Press Writing Challenge #14

Word prompt:

Cavort (noun):
Jump or dance around excitedly.
(Definition #1)

Visual prompt:

may-the-reunion

<img src=”http://www.grammarghoulpress.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/gg-wkbadge2.png”>

Rosie in Red

For today’s assignment, write a scene at the park. Up for a twist? Write the scene from three different points of view.

Jessica clasped my hand in hers, the softness of her young skin against the coarseness of mine. She guided me through the park. I leaned on her and shuffled along, too slow and too heavy. My little daughter was still in there, shining through. Twenty six. Two decades had gone in a blink. And now, clutching my hand, was a young woman. No more fits of giggles or games of hopscotch. No more bedtime stories or campfire songs. No more mending of freshly broken hearts or wiping of teenage tears.

The autumn leaves, a scatter of red, brown and gold, were glued to grey pavement with the morning raindrops. A grey haze was hidden behind the thick arching branches of trees. Some leaves fluttered to the ground as we walked past an oak tree. Jessica gave my hand a gentle squeeze and glanced up at me. Our eyes seemed to tell each other more than words would, as they always had. I followed her gaze. She looked towards the bench across the field from us. A small lady was hunched over, her wrinkles deepened in concentration. She was knitting. A flash of red emerged as she lifted the sweater up to examine her work.

The same flash of red appeared before me. But not in the hands of an old lady, but upon the body of a small child, no bigger than four. Rosie. ‘Rosie in red!’ I heard myself shout. But the words didn’t come from my lips. My voice was young and full of joy. She turned towards me and beamed. Her little cheeks were a rosy red, too. Her mother turned too, carrying little Jessica. Little eyelids fluttered slowly up and down, in and out of the world of sleep. From across the road I watched my three beautiful girls, my family. Fidgeting one hand into her pocket, Kate fumbled for the car key. On finding it at the same moment Jessica began to cry, she dropped them on to the damp pavement. Before I could even see them land the flash of red came and was gone in an instant. Before I could move a muscle my wife’s piercing scream ripped through the air. ‘ROSIE!’ The van was gone in a blur. Crumpled on the pavement, she lay, limbs like a broken doll. All I could see was flashes of crimson blood. Not the rosy red of her cheeks, now ghostly white. Not the cheery red of the little sweater, now smeared with her blood. No, not a rosy red anymore. A dark ugly red. The worst red.

I hadn’t noticed Dad’s silent tears until I looked back from the curious old woman. I had been so fixated on the rhythmic movement of the needles up and down…up and down. He didn’t seem to notice my look of concern; he was in some kind of trance. I stared across the park back to the woman. His body was turned towards her, but his eyes were glazed over, brimming with his tears. Staring at nothing at all. ‘Dad?’ I croaked, my voice hoarse. No answer. ‘Dad?’ I repeated. His lips quivered slightly. This made some of the wrinkles in his mouth curve and deepen. Almost a whisper, he spoke not to me, but the woman it seemed. ‘Rosie.’ The name was so far away, tucked into the dark recesses of my mind, that I had almost forgotten. I held my breath. It was so long ago, I was too young to even remember. Rosie, my older sister I had only known through faded pictures and the few descriptions from Mum and Dad before they shut themselves out of the pain again. I used to visit her grave often and talk to her. I imagined her to be beautiful, like my mother, with her flowing blonde hair and soft green eyes. In pictures she was bright and happy with few teeth, but a giant smile.

‘Rosie in red’ he murmured, slightly louder this time. Then, without any warning a cry was released from him. A sound I had never heard from him before. It was so full of pain. I grabbed his shoulders and stared searchingly into his unfocused eyes. ‘Dad. I’m here.’ I spoke as softly as I could, unable to stop myself trembling. ‘It’s Jessica.’

I dropped my knitting needles. The man opposite me, stared.  Not at me-but through me-it seemed. The cry of a wounded animal suddenly filled the air between us. I stood up, but age was not my friend anymore. I grabbed my walking stick and began hobbling towards this man. His poor daughter looked at him, pained and helpless. But as I walked away, clutching the sweater I had been knitting for my grandson, a scarlet red (his favourite colour) I saw that his eyes were fixed upon it. As I moved it towards him, his whole body followed. Like a magnet.

‘I’m sorry.’ his daughter pleaded, ‘ I don’t know what to do.’ Her eyes were brimming with tears. As I reached them, I could see his cheeks were stained with tears. ‘Rosie’ the man whispered so softly, I was surprised to hear it. ‘Rosie?’ I asked, directing my question to the daughter.

‘She…’ she trailed off, worry wrinkling her face. ‘ She died. A long time ago. She was a child, only four.’

Four, I thought. The age my grandson would turn in only a few days time. Without sparing a moment of thought, I held out the sweater to the man and wrapped his fingers around it. Then, I turned and hobbled back to my bench. The words, ‘Thank you’ came from two voices.

A Single Ring

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/greetings-stranger/

You’re sitting at a café when a stranger approaches you. This person asks what your name is, and, for some reason, you reply. The stranger nods, “I’ve been looking for you.” What happens next?

Don’t run, I tell myself. Running would be fatal.Yet, my body disagrees. I have to clench my fists against my legs to stop them from trembling, desperate to carry me away from this woman. At first my throat catches on my words, giving me away. I see a smirk unfold, made more sinister by the shadows cast by her hood. “Sit down,” I tell her, my voice finally clear and strong. Silently, she takes the seat opposite me. As she slowly peels her gloves off, I catch a glimpse of the engagement ring sparkling in the dim light. “What do you want?” Is all I can muster without screaming at her. This stranger wearing my grandmother’s ring. Her eyes finally lock on to my gaze and she peers down at her hand. All of a sudden snatching it away, she shoves the leather gloves back on, taking a moment to fit her fingers into the right sections. “I can’t stay long,” she mutters, shifting in her seat. “My name is–,”she offers her gloved hand to me. “–I know,” I mutter back, reluctantly shaking her hand. It takes all of my energy not to reach across and throttle her. Admittedly, she is prettier than I expected. And I had thought she would come closer to Christmas time, when I would be in a festive mood to accept  her news. The news she didn’t know that I had already found out. 

 

“Mr. Arthur died last Thursday.” That news I was not expecting. The man I hate is dead. The man that made me hate this stranger, gone. And yet, I feel no sense of justice or relief. I don’t feel much of anything at all. “Are you all right?” I realize that I haven’t spoken for a long time when I look up at her concerned face. “Just, shocked, I guess,” I say quietly, still pondering. Then, my eyes focus back to her, remembering why she came. “That’s not all.” I declare. I feel my fingers tighten their grip on the armrests of the chair. She shakes her head sullenly. “I’m afraid not,” she mumbles, “But I am not who you think I am.” 

“Oh I know who you are!” I scoff, unable to hide my anger now. 

“I am Christina, Margaret’s cousin.” My face crumples in confusion. This really is a stranger.

“Why are you here? Where is Margaret?” I shoot the questions at her. At first she is taken aback by the force of my words. Then, she adjusts herself and begins to explain.

“Margaret is very upset about her husband’s death. But she is also upset about what happened, and she wants to try and make it up to you.” I open my mouth- ready to tell this stranger that she doesn’t know half of the things I have been through-when she cuts in:

“I know it isn’t much for me to tell you all this, but I have brought you some things. She will give it all back, eventually. 

“Just giving all the things she stole back doesn’t make everything okay again!” I shout. 

“It’s a start,” she says quietly. Then, she slides her gloves off again and hands me the ring. “It’s very beautiful.” 

I snatch it from her, clutching the only thing I had left from my grandmother, which had been taken from me for decades. Nothing can stop the tears from welling up in my eyes. 

“I have more,” she offers. I nod, getting up from my seat. I secretly agree; having all of your mother’s possessions taken from you by her second husband and his mistress can’t be made up by a single ring. But it’s a start…

Plagued by the Past-a short story

http://todaysauthor.com/category/writing-prompts/write-now/

http://todaysauthor.com/write-now/

She had sat on this beach hundreds of times to watch the sunrise, but todays sunrise was like none she had ever seen.

Maybe she did not feel the awe as the sunbeams broke through and spilled into the sky like she always had done because this time she was not alone. From her position, wrapped in her old blanket on the dry part of the beach, she could not make out the figure in the distance to be a man or woman. Just a dark, mysterious figure walking along the shore. She clutched on to the blanket as the morning breeze whispered a chill into the air. She was not focusing on the streams of pink, purple and blue that painted the sky into a beautiful masterpiece; she as watching the figure lurking by the sea. Almost as if he had heard her thoughts-how one could walk in the sea when it was so cold without letting out a shriek or jumping away- the figure stepped away. Now advancing towards the softer sand. The kind that, when feet are wet, clumps between toes. She wriggled her toes, reminding herself of the familiar comfort. When her gaze returned upwards, she was unnerved by how close the figure was. She could now see that it was not a man or a woman. It was a girl. A fragile creature, tall and skinny, cocooned in an oversized wax jacket. Tendrils of mousy hair flew outwards as the wind picked us, plucking them from where they were tucked into her hood. Even from a few yards away, Sara couldn’t help but gasp at the pallid complexion of this bird-like girl. She couldn’t have been older than twelve.

 

Motherhood had drilled an instinct into Sara that she could not restrain. Without a moment’s hesitation, she raced towards the girl, pulling the blanket with her. But just as quickly, the girl began to step backwards. Slowly at first, so Sara still had a chance of reaching her. “Wait!” Sara shouted desperately, thrusting the blanket forward for the girl to take. The girl stopped. When she was close enough to give the blanket, Sara was paralysed by what she saw. Motionless, her eyes welled with tears as she stared into the pale blue eyes, which she had not seen for over a decade. That small face the same heart shape as hers.

“Joanna?”

She smiled, parting her lips to reply. But all that was beyond her lips was blackness. Sara let out a piercing scream, reaching forward to touch her sister’s face. Though, it was too late. Joanna stepped backwards and was running away, back towards the sea. Too fast for Sara to reach her. Sinking to her knees, Sara watched the figure disappear in the distance. As she grabbed fistfuls of the blanket in front of her, the tears spilled down her cheeks. They were so full of pain that they silenced her. She could not sob; she could not cry out or scream.

And once again she was alone with the sunrise. Alone with the grief that had haunted her since she was twelve. Though, today it was not memories of Joanna that triggered the grief. It was her. She was there! So close, thought Sara. And I pushed her away.

The shrill ring of her mobile phone hit Sara with reality, her present world, not her past.

“Hi honey,” she steadied her voice just in time, “Yeah, I’ll be there in five minutes.”

Gathering up her belongings she walked away from the beach that would forever plague her mind with grief and transitioned back into the present, back to her husband and children, to her house, to her job.

Zack and Whitney – a short story

Walking back towards the pool, nachos in hand, I looked down at my bikini to check nothing was hanging out that shouldn’t have been. I felt drops of perspiration on my forehead from standing in the queue to the cafe bar under the heat of the Mediterranean sun. My eyes clung to the shady spot on the other side of the pool as if trying to pull me there quicker. A stream of people that appeared to have just come from the hotel zipped their way past me, knocking me off balance. Hitting my elbow on something that felt like plastic, I turned to see the top layer of my nachos fall into the puddle of someone’s beer that I must’ve knocked over. “Damn! Sorry,” I muttered. Just as I bent down to wipe the mess, his voice caught me, holding me to the spot. “Don’t worry,” he half chuckled. I looked up at the golden sun-kissed face, dirty blonde hair, and hazel brown eyes looking down at me. Then, he was next to me, taking a napkin and soaking up the drink he had just paid for. I couldn’t help but stare at his bare chest, the slight curve of muscle revealed by his every move. A brush appeared next to me with familiar white trainers-one of the bar staff. “I’ll do the rest,” came a monotone voice from above.

As we stood up, I felt the boy’s eyes on me. Heating my cheeks. Awkwardly, I blurted out, “I’ll buy you another one.” Judging my offer, his mouth twisted in consideration. “Um, okay,” he looked away for a moment, “That seems fair.”

I followed him through the crowd that gradually flocked away, towards the deck chairs. The cafe bar was less busy now, with just one woman in a pink costume being served. The boy abruptly stopped and turned back to me, an inch away from my face. I felt smaller than usual as I looked up at him towering above me. “Wait, how old are you?” he trailed off, realising he didn’t know my name. “It’s Whit. Well, Whitney really, but everybody calls me Whit. I’m sixteen.” He gave me a look. Then I looked at the bottles of wine on display and remembered what my age meant. “Oh.” I put down my nacho remains and delved into my purse for some change. After I dropped a pile of my remaining coins in his hand, he returned a couple and handed me back my nachos. “I’d better let you order it. I guess you’re eighteen?” I smiled half-heartedly; slightly worried about how little I knew about the person I was buying a drink for. He smiled back crookedly, and with his eyes too, leaning in to whisper: “Actually, no. I’m seventeen. But shh!” He placed a finger to his lips. I laughed quietly; secretly relieved he wasn’t that much older than me. A wave of apprehension hit me, but I pushed it away, because, for some reason, I felt like I could trust him. Even if I still didn’t know his name.

He was up at the bar before I could ask, as the woman in pink waddled away with two ice creams. I moved out of the queue and stood at the side, crunching on the nachos as I watched him. He reached into the pocket of his dark blue shorts and got out something. But before I could see what it was, he turned around with two cokes in one hand and a bowl of nachos in the other. “I’m Zack,” he smiled, revealing his almost perfect teeth. One was slightly uneven, though mostly hidden by an overlapping tooth. “I thought since you dropped half of them, you’d want some more nachos. And please tell me you like coke?” his face was almost pleading. I nodded. “You didn’t have to-” I paused, unsure of what question to ask first. “Does this mean you want to sit with-“

“Yes.” He looked at me and handed me the coke. I smiled back nervously.

“I was just over there,” I pointed to my spot, which a family edged their Disney towels towards, my little sanctuary receding. I looked back at Zack, who was squinting in the direction of my dwindling space. “I think it’s being invaded.” He plonked his drink and bowl on the nearest table. “Okay here?” he was already sitting down, but I nodded anyway. “So, how come you didn’t get another beer?” I asked as I shuffled into the plastic chair. “Well, since I’m only seventeen, I can only get away with buying a beer every so often. And it was a different waiter. Didn’t want to risk it, you know.” I nodded, though I didn’t really know. “I’m kind of new to drinking. In case you didn’t already tell.” He explained.

“Well, I’m newer. If that makes sense.” My voice shifted, trying not to mumble. He looked at my coke and realised I still hadn’t drank any.  I looked down at the white plastic. My thighs were starting to stick to the chair. “Hey, are you okay?” he asked softly. I looked up and he was leaning towards me. Embarrassed, I felt my cheeks flush. “I don’t do this very often,” I admitted, “And my family are probably waiting for me.” That was a lie. My family were in the baby pool and probably would be for the rest of the day. And even though I felt the same feeling of trust, it was my parent’s voices inside my head pushing me away from this stranger. As I looked at him now, he was looking down this time, a look of sadness in his face. “I could swim for a little while, though.” He looked up. Swimming couldn’t hurt, could it?

“Sure” he stood up and held out his hand in a mock gesture of gentlemanliness. I took it anyway, laughing, his skin surprisingly cool against mine. 

Then, he pulled me quickly and we were underwater. My hand untangled from his and pushed the water away to find the surface. I blinked through the mop of dark wet hair that stuck to my face like seaweed. He had already begun swimming. Sweeping my hair out of my face, I followed him to the other side of the pool. Under the water, I could see the way his muscles flexed and curved to push himself forward. Tugging every so often at my dark green bikini, I tried to hide my insecurities. But that was pretty difficult as I struggled to find any securities.

Finally we were at the other end of the pool, which looped around with bridges to the cafes and sections for deck chairs and loungers. Zack flew out of the water, flicking his hair back like a wet dog and kneeling back down. We were in a shallow part so his upper body was still above water. “I didn’t say this before,” he said, still slightly out of breath, “because I didn’t want to sound creepy, but I’ve seen you before, Whit.” I frowned at him, urging him to explain. “I saw you with your family at the market the other day. You were wearing a white dress.” he scratched his eyebrow. I felt strange all of a sudden. How didn’t I see him? “You looked really pretty.” He said quickly, looking away from me and the clearing his throat. I felt a flush of excitement, embarrassment and pleasure all at once. “Thanks,” I whispered hoarsely.

“So, how long is a little while?” he asked, with a crooked smile. I smiled, not knowing whether to tell him the truth. I opted for something in between the truth and the lie. “I’ve probably got a couple of hours.” Which was true, as I didn’t have to meet them at the hotel lobby until then to go out for dinner.

“Have you been on any of the slides, yet?” he asked with a glimmer of mischief twinkling in his eyes. I shook my head. And again, he grabbed my arm and dragged me somewhere new. As we stepped out of the pool, I caught sight of my family. My breath quickened, but soon slowed to normal again when I saw my parents splashing my little brother and sister, completely oblivious to the outside world. Turning back to Zack, this time it was my heart going into overdrive. Attempting to hide the redness that was rushing to my cheeks, I squeezed his hand slightly and asked. “Where’s your family?” He gestured towards the slides, showing me where to go. Then, he turned to face me. “My brother’s gone out with some friends he met last night.”

“You’re just here with your brother?” I asked curiously.

“Yeah. He just turned nineteen and he managed to convince my parents to let him take me.” He flicked an unruly strand of hair out of his eyes and looked into mine wild with excitement. We had reached the top of the slide. It was one massive drop into the small patch of blue pool below.

“Are you okay?” he asked. I nodded, hardly processing his words, just fixating on the blue so far below. “You’re shaking!” The concern in his voice broke me from my daze of terror. “I didn’t know it was this high,” I mumbled. “Sorry, I didn’t think to ask,” he looked down, unsure of what to do. “It’s not as scary as it looks, honestly.” I twisted my mouth, trying to find some words, but all I could think about was the fear that took over my body. “I could go first, to show you. And then, I can catch you at the bottom,” he offered. I looked down again. Then, I heard the voices of people behind us, on their way to the slide. “Ok.”

He was gone in seconds. Swallowed by the crystal blue. Then, I saw his head bob back up. I forced myself on to the platform. Gasping for air, the fear choked me. I tried to blink it away, searching for Zack. But I couldn’t see him from the platform. In my head I counted. One…two… three! Blurring into a haze of green blue, the sky whooshed past as I plunged down. My hands were balled up fists, my heart racing faster than ever. As I hit the water, I felt Zack’s arms pulling me up. My muscles relaxed as he picked me up, his face painted with a smile that was shrouded by concern. “That was good,” I whispered, closing my eyes. I heard his laugh, but it felt distant.

When I opened my eyes again, I was lying down on a sun bed. As I lifted my head up, I saw the shadow from the umbrella above me covering all of my body except for my feet. The sound of splashing and laughter from the pool reminded me of where I was. Then, I remembered Zack. Where was he? I sat up, wondering what time it was. How long had I been here? I felt a rustle of paper under my leg. Folded in half was a note. I pulled it open hastily.

Whit,

Thanks for knocking my beer over. Today was fun. I’ll be here again tomorrow if you want to knock another of my drinks over. Sorry I had to leave you.

Zack

P.S. You look very cute when you’re sleeping

Smiling, I folded it back up, and again, until it was tiny enough to fit inside my closed palm. Then, I rested my head, placed my hand over my heart and closed my eyes.