Been a month! But here is one of the last stories/prologues, etc. I have written. Needs more work, but hope you enjoy my YA Valentine's Day Story...of course it starts off as a verse novel! And if I had a playlist it would include "Take on Me"by A-Ha (is that how you spell it?) and "Eternal Flame" by The Bangles.
Sometimes I miss the taste of burnt toast.
The kind served up by my mom's old toaster oven
whenever she left it unattended, thinking
she had a good five minutes to fix her hair
before the timer signaled breakfast was ready.
Sometimes I miss the smell of wet sand, beach.
Corpus Christi seagulls gliding low over sea
wall, surf seeping into skin. In those parts you can't reach,
but those same parts that fuse you to this world.
Figment of self. Someday leading you home.
Sometimes it's the scuff marks, dark like wolf eyes,
on waxed floors at my old school, Caroll High.
Sometimes, the peeling paint, moss green at Grandpa's shed.
Sometimes, that can't-stay-awake-any-longer feeling, knowing
you'll be awake for another half hour.
Sometimes, the picture of Dad,
the one where he’s holding a trophy fish
by the bay. The most recent photo I had
of him before lung cancer took him away.
Sometimes, just cake.
But mostly, it's Jacob.
He used to sit right in front of me in Senior English.
Lizabeth to the left, Luis to the right, me right behind.
Trying to inhale the smell of leather bomber jacket,
trying to imagine how it must feel to have it draped
over my body on a November night. In the back
of his truck, a canopy of ancient suns right above.
Not that this ever happened.
Only one conversation my entire life.
I remember it was a Thursday night and my life threatening problem of the day was a rip in my nude shimmer tights. The shimmer I could fake with make-up and body glitter, but unshaven legs would be disastrous for Dance Team. As would razor burn on my thighs.
“Mom, I need my legs Naired tonight. Can you go buy me some?” If I couldn’t get hairless by 8:20 AM tomorrow, I figured I might as well pretend severe nausea and miss school altogether.
“It's 10:30 at night. That means driving across town to Walmart.”
“Mom, I really need it. If you don’t want to go, fine. Just let me go then.”
“Nope. The parking lot lighting there is horrible.” Just like Mom to always think the worst and come up with some excuse for not venturing out of the house past 7:00 PM. “If you really need it, I'll go in the morning.”
“Mom, it's still going to be across town, and it’s still going to be dark.”
“I said morning or not.”
I needed to change tactics. I needed to appeal to both of our desires, knowing if I spun things around a little differently there would be no way she‘d say no. “What if we both go? Coffee? Donut shop?”
Mom softened her shoulders a bit, so I did what my sensible four year old self would’ve done. I squeezed her tight until she said ok.
She gave a fake surrender and said, “You’re going to owe me big for this.”
“Think of it as quality girl time. With a cinnamon mocha donut. And boy dreaming.”
“Just remember, when I’m 82 and on my death bed—”
“But what about the nursing home I promised you?”
“Sorry, girlie, but you are stuck with me forever.”
“What if you remarry?”
“Won't happen. My shoulders are like the only thing not sagging.”
“Mom! Don’t say that. You are beautiful.”
“Ok, ok. Stop. Now you be daughter and I be mother.” She stopped smiling and just looked at me. She placed both hands on my cheeks and then wrapped herself around me.
Though I was about four inches taller, she seemed so much more, I don’t know. Just so much more. Like a planetary system.
What she whispered next, I’ll never forget. It’s something I still feel, hear, touch, hold on to. “I want you to know you are the best part of me. I see the sun in you. You’re going to melt some young man’s heart. Just make sure he deserves you, ok?”
Mom let go.
She wiped her eyes. Pulled me down to kiss my forehead. “You know what? Just go. The keys are on the kitchen counter.”
I stood there, giving her my What? look, but knowing what she meant.
“Go. I mean it. And, bring me back a cinnamon mocha or maple.”
And that was that. I hugged her, ran down the hall to get my bag, grabbed the keys, and walked out the backdoor to the old Jeep that used to belong to Dad, and drove away from the only home I’ve ever known. Only a wave and a glance back to my Mom as she smiled at me from the kitchen window.
Not knowing this was the last time.
The Jeep sputtered goodbye.
But none of this penetrated my mind. Not by a long shot. Instead, I thought about Jacob and how I knew he worked nights at the donut shop. Maybe this would be the day I’d have the nerve to say something rather than just sit behind him in class and pass my paper up to the front of the row. My name mixed in with everybody else’s. A wink in my dotted i’s meant just for him.
With palms already clammy, I parked, took a deep breath, and forced myself to conquer the donut shop with my best smile.
Well, not my best smile since my mind was going crazy with questions like Who’s going to speak first? I guess me? Since I‘m the one ordering? But he has to take the order first. So, then he has to ask, right?
Then before I knew it, he was there. Behind the counter with the best donuts in the world.
“You’re Sam, right?” He looked at me briefly and then scanned different areas of the shop, probably hyper aware that his ears were turning red. “I mean, sorry. I know you’re Sam. Of course, you’re Sam.”
“Yes, Samantha. I mean, no. Sam. That’s me.” This was nothing like those meant-to-be-together-forever chance meetings you read about. Or, the last scene from Sixteen Candles where Molly Ringwald gets picked up by that hot guy.
“Ok. I guess I should ask what you want and stuff, right?”
“A cinnamon mocha and a chocolate filled.” Wow, my mouth worked.
“What kind of chocolate filled? The regular glazed or chocolate?"
“Just glazed.” All of this while I looked everywhere else but behind the counter, at Jacob's hands grabbing donuts for my mouth. Maybe the closest thing to a kiss I’d ever share with him.
I had two choices. Get my donuts and leave like Jacob was just some boy from class that I never daydreamed about. Or say something. Anything and not sound completely stupid.
So, the most obvious question. “How long have you worked here?”
“Since about September.”
“Yeah, I do the closing every night. It’s not bad, really.”
“My mom would never let me get a job. Especially not a job where I work nights.”
“She’s probably just overprotective and stuff with you being pretty and all.”
I couldn´t speak after that revelation. My stomach was all wrapped up around pretty. He said I was pretty. Actually, pretty and all. And all what? All what? Or was the all just like a suffix?
“Hello? Are you ok?”
Somehow I managed a smile. “You said I was pretty and all.”
“Yeah. Yeah. Sorry I never got to say. Before today.” Now he smiled. He more than smiled. He leaned over into my customer space. “Wow, that came out way better than I intended.”
“You couldn’t help it. I mean, the natural born poet that you are and all.”
“Plus running a cash register at the same time. Takes talent, you know? Should impress a girl.”
Oh. My. God. Jacob. The guy who had a birthmark on the left hand corner of his lower neck was actually flirting with me.
“Are you? Impressed?"
Ok, how do I keep this going? I can't possibly say yes, can I?
“Here.” He grabbed a pen and scribbled on my bag of donut heaven. “Secret to the universe.”
The best poetry ever! His phone number. This meant I was supposed to give him mine, right? I grabbed the pen from his hand, and wrote my own number poem on the palm of his hand.
“Well, then here’s the secret of relativity.”
He really gave me a Wow look then. Grabbed my wrist and brought me to my knees when he kissed between the veins.
Soft, quick. Let go.
I walked out the donut shop with a stupid grin on my face, thinking about what I might buy him for Christmas, if the sun, moon, and earth all aligned themselves together and by chance made him mine. Thinking about prom and lights and--
Never saw it coming.
Just sound of wheels
spiraling out of control.
Right at me. Red. Metal.
Heat. Black. Then a dome
of light, wings calling out
my name, soft, quiet. Unknown
Where I was meant to be.
HERE it’s forever 1992. A figment of Jacob lingering like thousand year old sand.