Hiya peeps, and Happy Midsummer!
I can’t think of a better way of celebrating the arrival of summer than to let something old and dusty out in to the open. It’s my turn for Fragment Friday, and I decided to let the first chapter of my oldest story out of my universe and into yours.
I wrote this scene for a writing assignment about six months ago, but the story idea has been rattling around in my head high-school. Letting something this old out of the confines feels fan-freaking-tastic. I hope someday this story in its entirety is able to come to that fruition.
FYI this is also the very beginning of a fragment that I shared awhile back, Contradictions, a scene that happens much later in this same story. Oh yeah, and there’s a song that goes with this scene. Of course.
It’s largely unedited, but hope you enjoy. Thanks for reading, and have a great summer weekend!
The Lyrics – Chapter One
The fact that she loathed running didn’t stop her from launching into a full-on hurtle the moment she saw the stupid grin on his nauseatingly handsome face.
She’d been walking for just over an hour along the rugged La Jolla shoreline, refreshed by the chill of September air, reassured by the low-hanging mist that everything was as it should be. It was quiet on the beach. Satie darted a few yards ahead of her, trusting her nose to help her scout out squirrel holes. Stacey held her hand above her eyes to block out the morning sunlight. The Golden Retriever had disappeared behind a craggy cliff.
Without the light in her eyes, a figure became clear in the distance. She squinted, focusing in on a dark-haired man walking along the beach. Her heart stopped.
Shit. It was Jake. Wearing a ridiculously white, hooded sweatshirt with a red Nike symbol across the chest – the swooshing check mark symbol a blatant announcement. I’m here. I’m it. I’m the one. Even from far away, she could just make out his radiant smile. It made her stomach roll. He’d seen her. Now he was jogging toward her nimbly… like a total dumbass.
She wanted to call for Satie, but there was no way she was going to give him any more lead time. Whipping around in the opposite direction, she took off, propelling herself toward the beach house, running like she was one behind the Olympian about to win the 100-meter dash.
Her feet hammered against the wet sand in a frantic rhythm. The elastic holding her dark hair began to slip, freeing long strands to whip at her eyes. Her heart pounded; whether it was from running or the absurdity of seeing him again, she wasn’t sure. She heard Satie’s tags jingle behind her, and suddenly the dog was galloping beside her, tongue hanging out and the corners of her mouth upturned and flapping- the canine version of smiling.
“Good girl,” Stacey huffed, increasing her speed. She veered right. A strong headwind pushed into her and sucked the air out of her lungs, and she tucked her head down, darting up the long wooden staircase leading to the back door of the cottage. She reached into her jacket pocket for keys. Empty. Damn. She plunged her hand into the other pocket. Not there either. She tried the doorknob anyway, jiggling it in some false hope that she’d left the house unlocked. No luck. Fate was not on her side today.
Satie stood panting, cocking her head expectantly at the crack of the door. Stacey grimaced at the sound of sneakered feet bouncing up the stairs. No doubt, those shoes were the same irritating white and bore the same check mark- as if to reinforce the shameless decree of the sweatshirt. Even my shoes know how amazing I am.
“I thought you didn’t run,” a low, familiar voice panted from behind her.
“I don’t.” She didn’t turn to face him.
“Seriously…” More panting. Coughing. “Why’d you have to run? You know I could never keep up with you.”
Funny, she thought, I could ask the same of you. But she didn’t. Instead, she laughed sardonically. “Is that what it was?” She scrunched her eyes closed. Maybe this was a bad dream…or maybe she if she tried hard enough she could just wish him away, like the monsters in her closet when she was five…
She could hear his footsteps moving closer, quietly approaching her, the soft rubber of his shoes scraping against the grittiness of sand on wood. Even his footsteps were annoying. She sensed his closeness. The firm weight and warmth of his hand pressed down on her shoulder. Without opening her eyes, she took in a slow breath, her shoulders rising and tightening at his touch. “What do you want, Jake?”
“So… you do remember.” His emphasis on the word do was overdone; too dramatic. His voice was all breathy and tender and assuming. She could hear him smiling. Puke.
Of course I remember, dipshit. A girl isn’t likely to forget being left to the wolves in her wedding dress. Her heart pounded harder now. Rage swelled inside her. She flung around to face him with narrow eyes- in hopes that he’d see how disgusted she was and simply fade away. But then, she knew that wasn’t really Jake’s style. Disappearing altogether, apparently. But not fading.
“What are you doing here?” she said, hating that he’d forced her to acknowledge him. “And…what makes you think you can just show up?” She glared at him, her eyes narrowed so she could just make out his features. She’d backed as far away from him as she could, her back scraping against the faded, white wood of the door frame. Behind her back, her hand still clutched and twisted the doorknob, willing it to burst open in a divine act of mercy.
Disregarding the throbbing circle of fury that surrounded her, Jaked leaned in and rested his hand against the door above her. His face was inches from hers. It was an obvious move, what Jake liked to call “a classic.” She remembered his classics all too well. She held her breath.
“I’m not going to waste time,” he whispered. “I want to make things up to you. For what happened…Tell me what it’s going to take.” She stopped squinting, opened her eyes slowly and brought his face into focus. For a half-second, she let herself reminisce in his features; the soft angle of his jaw, his boyish swirls of chestnut hair, the deep brown of his eyes, and that feeble, soulful look that made her believe his only desire in life was to please her. She was staring at him. He stared back. She slowly lifted her hands and laid them gingerly against his chest.
Then, with all the force that she’d used to propel herself across the beach, and thinking only of the stupid red check mark, she shoved hard at his chest.
He stumbled backward and fell onto the splintered wood and wet sand.