Authors: Hannah; Kay
Tags: #Young Adult Fiction
Krista frowned, looking at Mike. “Mike, what’s going on?” she asked, blonde waves cascading against his shoulder when she turned to him.
“It’s boys’ night, babe.” He smiled, kissing her cheek playfully.
She bit her lip. “Mike—”
He cut her off with a kiss and the Goodmans groaned, turning away. “We’ll meet you in the car.” Then they turned the corner and it was the four of us again.
Mike pulled away from Krista, smiling. “Come on, baby, you and Julie can do something.”
I stopped listening to their argument. I could only hope that this was one of those harmless fights. I hated when they broke up, because they battled over me and that never felt good. Always feeling like you’re letting one down. It’s kind of funny that I have grown to love Krista as much as I have. She really was just Mike’s girlfriend in the beginning, but now I think of her as a best friend, just as I do Mike. They’re kind of a package deal—something that while single is nothing short of depressing. Now with Julie in the picture, it seemed like a perfect situation. Nobody gets left the third wheel… That is until something throws them off balance and into the whirlpool of fighting again.
“Lucas, come on,” Mike urged, jerking me from my thoughts, and I looked up to find that everyone else was standing. Mike had an arm around Krista’s waist and Julie watched me as I slid to join her. She took my hand and the four of us walked out into the parking lot. Mike pulled Krista off to the side, offering up his car keys for her to use his car since he’d driven her in the first place.
I looked up at Julie. “I didn’t know about this,” I told her and she laughed, looking down at the chipping lines of the parking space beneath our feet.
“I could tell. It’s fine. Krista and I are going to go be girly,” she announced, but I couldn’t tell if she was excited or not.
I smiled, leaning down to graze my lips to hers. “Have fun, then.”
She laughed halfheartedly. “I’ll do my best.”
I squeezed her hand, turning to Mike. “You ready?”
Mike nodded, pecking Krista’s cheek. “Yeah, man, let’s go.”
I waved to Krista and gave Julie one fleeting kiss before boarding Hendleson to look at Mike. He was buckling his seatbelt, grinning widely. “What is this, man? You didn’t tell me we were going anywhere.”
He chuckled, patting Hendleson’s dashboard. “We’re initiating you into the dating game.”
I looked at him. Was he joking?
“Just drive, dude,” he answered, laughing, and I watched his eyes follow Krista’s blonde hair from the parking lot. He’d been joking. I knew that much. He wasn’t playing around with that girl.
And I wasn’t going to play around with mine either.
The days grew longer, eclipsing between day and night in a blink of an eye, and yet, at the same time, stretching to reach the ends of the earth. It became a kaleidoscope of nights on the beach, sunlight splattered in the sunset and green grass. The feeling of Lucas’ fingers was burned into my skin, branding me for his own. At the same time, I was at war with myself. The kaleidoscope descended from bright yellow, green, oranges of summer to deep blue, reds, and purples of doubt. Doubt was the monster under my covers, waiting to overtake me at the climax of this…this…this…
“Julie, please, just read it.” He was prodding, letting his fingers run through my hair. We were on the couch in my vacant house—Dad was working late at the paper—and my head was resting in his lap, his hands clutching an old, worn copy of
Romeo and Juliet
. The pages were dog-eared, folded and refolded, highlighted—something he said marked a well-loved copy, only after my slightly cynical question of its state. I’d merely inquired how a man of the word, such as himself, could bear to drag a pencil or highlighter across the
His goal was to show me that the written word could be just as inspiring, just as beautiful as the paintings I’d spent my entire life perusing, studying and creating myself. This was a battle he couldn’t win, though, and I told him so, yet he merely shoved the thin script into my hands, opening it to one of the many wrinkled pages and pointing to a highlighted passage. “Come on, Julie,” he pleaded, brown eyes wide against his pale face—despite our long days in the sun. “Please?”
I groaned, thrusting the book back into his hands. “Okay, Lucas,” I answered, lifting my eyes to meet his. “Read it to me, then. Change my mind,” I answered almost silently. The very thought of the words he’d be uttering set my mind to flame once again, greedy monster bubbling in my stomach.
He chuckled, opening the book to the page he’d held open to me and clearing his throat. “
But soft, what light through yonder window breaks? It is the east and Juliet is the sun! Arise, fair sun, and kill thy envious moon who is already sick and pale with grief.”
He continued reading, Shakespeare’s riddles falling softly from his tongue like an innocent melody of first love. The fingers of his left hand still lingered in my hair, the touch velvet-soft in the penetrating silence. My gaze drifted over his features, slowly evolving before my eyes this summer from their kind, puppyish lines to angular pieces as an exhibit from a museum of perfect pieces of architecture—slowly calculated by worlds of work, years of patience, the ever-growing act of becoming the man he was destined to be, chiseled from his childhood.
She speaks! Oh, speak again, bright angel!”
Conjured in my mind was a lovely image. It was glossed with an other-worldly white sheen and sprang to life with glittering fairy dust, pale in complexion and yet so sweet. Its music was that of the angels, gentle harp, slow strumming of the strings and wonder. This image, so true and vivid in my mind, was served on a silver platter, tied with a silver ribbon and signed by Shakespeare himself. It offered an oasis to the demons in my own soul, the monsters threatening to overtake me at any moment. It was an island in the desert, a Godsend, a beautiful mystery that I didn’t feel the need to decode like some. It was merely poetry, icing and frill atop a cake.
His voice rose in pitch, hitching over his words just a bit at first, before settling into the new character. “
Oh, Romeo, Romeo! Wherefore art thou, Romeo? Deny thy father and refuse thy name. Or if thou will not be but sworn my love and I’ll no longer be a Capulet
!” He took all the appropriate pauses, voice falling into the role of Juliet simply, and I realized just how many times he’d recited the very words he was saying now.
I pried the book from his fingertips, gingerly placing it on the coffee table across from us and sitting up slowly to look at him. He was staring at me now, trying to read my expression, but he wouldn’t be able to decode the slow swell squirming in my stomach. I slipped closer into his arms, pressing my forehead against his. “I see why you love it,” I whispered, tilting my lips to catch his. It was a long, slow kiss. One that took time to process, one that burned. The skin, the blood in my veins, it was all on fire.
His warm hand cupped my face, the other residing against my waist, holding me close to him even when his lips parted from mine. I let out a breath, moving to hug him without another word or allowing him the chance to make another move. The hand he’d used to hold my face fell to rub my back silently. His lips brushed my hair. “Julie, is something wrong?” He could tell something was wrong. He could sense the monster too. I wish I could tell him. I wish I could assure him that he’d been perfect. Tell him it wasn’t him, it was me, but that was the most over-used break-up line ever and that’s not what I wanted anyway. But how could I explain this feeling in the pit of my stomach without those very words?
I pulled my eyes from the crook of his neck and offered him a gentle smile. “I’m good.” It wasn’t very convincing to my own ears and I doubted its convincingness to his well-trained ones, but he didn’t push it as I leaned forward to let my head rest against his shoulder, arms wrapped around his middle, and snuggled close. I flipped on the TV to drown out the grumbling monster.
Time was irrelevant under the summer sun. Ocean spray became a lifestyle, Shakespeare—and other great poets—became language, pizza our every meal. It was an unreasonable time that passed without asking our permission or opinion and July was approaching rapidly.
It was on one of these late June afternoons—for they all began running together—that I was in my room, painting, when the doorbell rang. The canvas before me was colorful, lines and shapes of foreign origin and without precision, but art wasn’t strict. It was lucid and alive and for that, I loved it. No rules, just individualized beauty. So, as I wiped my hands on the thin, gray towel on my work stool, I pondered Lucas’ Shakespeare, his writing and his theory that it was all the same. I guess I could see it somewhat. The lines of literature he insisted on reading to me… They all assured one thing—that life was a mystery. They did so with different styles and words and tactics, thus eliminating my theory of the boring and unfortunate side of writing. That wasn’t Lucas’ territory. That was Dad’s and there was no changing him, yet it was settling to know that all writers weren’t the same.
I padded in my polka-dotted socks down the hallway, arms bent at the elbow to readjust the messy knot atop my head before pulling my thin black T-shirt and lime green short shorts back into place. By then, I’d made it to the front door and slid it open with a smile, expecting it to be Krista coming over as she did every day after cheer practice, but instead when I opened the door, I found Lucas standing in the doorway wearing jeans, a red and white button-down shirt and a broad smile. My eyes darted to the clock on the wall then back at him. “Shouldn’t you be at work?” I asked teasingly and he chuckled.
“Closed up early today.” He leaned over to kiss my cheek. “Grab your coat and let’s go. Krista and Mike are waiting in the car.”
I crossed my arms over my chest theatrically. “Where are we going?” I asked it jokingly, but he simply chuckled.
“Out to the Getaway House. Krista has a few days off of cheer and your dad doesn’t need me at the office, so we thought we’d head up there and spend a couple days,” he answered simply, poking my side. “Come on. It’ll be fun.”
I laughed, nodding. “All right. Give me five minutes?”
“Okay.” He nodded, glancing over his shoulder at Krista’s car in the driveway before smirking. “But first…” He chuckled, stepping over the threshold and placing his hands on my waist. I laughed at him, but he didn’t care. He just leaned down and kissed me for a long moment, holding me steady as I stood on my tiptoes to kiss him back, fingers snaking around to curl into his dark locks.
Laughing, I pulled back, pecked his cheek and turned away. “I’ll be back.”
The radio was playing when I slid into the back of Krista’s car. Static and country music filled my ears and I shook my head, slinging my backpack onto the floorboard of the car. It was tan with blue floral print that unintentionally matched my jacket.
In the driver’s seat, Mike rotated to grin widely at me. The collar of his white button-down shirt was sticking up to one side and his hair was askew like he’d just jumped from bed, but he wore his ever excited smile. “Hey, Jules. What’s shakin’, bacon?”
Beside him, Krista shook her head, blonde hair teeming from under her floppy red hat. “I asked him not to say that,” she told me, smiling over at him anyway. She was wearing a gray tank top and jeans shorts that appeared to fray off around her mid-thigh.
I laughed, shaking my head and smoothing my jacket over my legs. “It’s all right, Kris,” I told her, grinning. I turned to Mike’s eager eyes and shrugged. “Hmm, woke up, painted for a while then was abducted by my boyfriend,” I teased, patting Lucas’ hand.
“Abducted, huh? You want to go back inside?” he asked, lifting an eyebrow and playfully pushing me toward the door.
I rolled my eyes, pecking his cheek. “’Course not.”
Mike chuckled, backing from my driveway and onto the road. As he drove toward the edge of town, I noticed for the first time that the double yellow lines were faded and chipped from the weathering. Even the pavement itself was thinning, pale gray instead of ‘New Road Gray’— a color of my own invention.
The car swerved down a pig trail and Krista shot Mike a look. “Do I need to drive?”
He chuckled in response. “Do you have no faith in me?” he countered, removing one of his hands from the wheel to tweak her nose.
She exhaled sharply, obviously not a fan of Mike’s rather haphazard way of driving. I watched them bicker or generally eye each other disapprovingly back and forth for quite a while before turning to look at Lucas, who I found was hunched over a brand new copy of
. I laughed quietly, swatting the cover with the back of my hand. “
Et tu, Luce?”
I questioned him with a laugh, editing the quote, which was probably against some sort of international Shakespeare law, but he laughed.
“You’ve read it then?” he asked and I just shook my head.
“I know history, Lucas,” I answered, taking the book from his hands and tucking it into my backpack. “No reading.”
He groaned. “Why?”
My laugh was strangled into a bark. “Wouldn’t you much rather talk to me?” It was a playful comment, half joking, but he laughed.
I could tell there was a part of him that still wanted his book. Rolling my eyes, I glanced forward to check on the two arguing in the front then leaned over to kiss him tauntingly, slowly. When I pulled my lips from his, I smirked across the back seat at him. “Still want your Shakespeare?”
He didn’t even think. “Nope.”
I grinned back, taking his hand and squeezing it playfully. “That’s what I thought.”