Never Alone [Spritz]
For once in her lifetime, her parents weren’t hovering over her shoulder, criticizing her work, making a dismissive comment on her ‘unfit’ appearance, or just giving her another huge list of chores to do. And, even though the sky was a dull grey color, promising rain, Leah was going to take advantage of the fact that she had free time for once—time away from her verbally abusive family and their unbelievable amount of household chores they needed done. Pulling her cyan-and-purple hair into a ponytail she picked up her phone and silently tiptoed down the stairs, praying neither her mother nor father, or Liam, would randomly show up and task her with more chores. She was done for the day – whether her parents approved of it or not. But even that was a lie. Come dinnertime, she’d have to clean up dishes, and set the table and…
Sighing, Leah shook her head. Had she seriously become so accustomed to chores that that was all that filled her thoughts anymore? Well… that, and Micah. Two months fresh of his death, she still thought about him constantly, and each time it felt like something was prodding her heart with an iron brand. Leah slipped silently out of the maroon-colored door as soon as she’d reached it, grabbing the spare keys off of the key rack and heading out into the big bad world. A world that she’d once found so beautiful. A world she had used to love, so, so dearly. Micah had made her see the beauty in life. He’d made her unable to see a speck of dirtiness or unhappiness in the world. He’d always made her feel like she could do something, that she could make a difference, and make someone happy like Micah made her happy.
Leah plugged earbuds into her ears, flipping through the songs on her iPhone before landing on her favorite Maroon 5 album and hitting the play button before shoving the phone and her hands into the pockets of her slate grey hoodie, the hood slinging uselessly over her shoulders and back. With the sound blaring into her ears (probably in at an unhealthy volume, she guessed, but she could care less, to be completely honest), Leah dropped her hazel gaze to the sidewalk, watching her tattered grey converse slap against the pavement as her body directed her in the way it directed her. In all honesty, she wasn’t even paying attention. No… her mind was elsewhere. Her mind was drowning slowly in memories of Micah and herself. The times they’d spent at that little playground a few blocks down from her house, that they’d chased each other around and climbed on for countless hours on end. Letting out a content sigh, Leah hadn’t realized where she’d walked to until she’d looked up at the end of the song ‘Better That We Break.’
Before her eyes was the playground that held so many memories. Too many for her to count… too many for her to forget.
“You know something, love?” Micah asked with a smile plastered to his face, his eyes on the road in front of him.
“No, I don’t. What?”
“You’re crazy,” Micah glanced over at Leah with an affectionate gaze that made her heart pound. His bright blue eyes shone brightly underneath bleach-blond tresses over overly-long bangs. But she liked them like that… that way, she got to tease him about him needing a haircut. And when she was being play-angry, threaten that she’d cut his bangs while he slept. Yeah… she liked him like that.
“I know that!” Leah laughed, hitting him playfully on the shoulder. “I let you obsess about Maroon 5, so let me obsess about a band every once and a while, too!”
“But really? Screamo bands? I never would’a thought you’d be into that, love. that’s why I’m saying you’re crazy!”
“Oh, come on. I listen to contemporary, too.” Leah smiled gently at Micah, studying his eyes for a second before turning her head. What she saw terrified her and she immediately tensed up, nearly shooting out of her seat. “Micah!”
Leah jolted back into reality, letting out a breath she hadn’t been aware she’d been holding in, and turning her eyes back to the playground. Micah… Leah thought quietly as her eyes studied the rusting playground things, swing sets, those contraptions that spun ‘round and ‘round, and the climbing tower that they’d spent so much time in. With a sad smile, Leah brought a hand up to her face and quickly wiped away a few tears that had managed to escape. With an unknown reasoning, Leah stepped onto the light brown mulch of the playground, and remembered. Maybe…
Maybe coming on a walk hadn’t been such a brilliant idea, after all.
Eric Foster scuffed the toe of his converse into the dirt, his fingers wrapped around the cool chains of the swing. His ear buds were pressed into his ears and his dark eyes had a distant, unfocused look to them as he stared at the ground, the hood of his black sweatshirt hiding his face from anyone that would pass by.
Fortunately, there wasn't very many people in the park at all, and the rest of the visitors were quickly heading to their vehicles to escape the storm before it hit. Eric glanced up at the stormy grey sky, and he felt calm, finally, like the turmoil around him relieved him of his own. He would much rather be caught in the storm then be back at home. Anything was better then there. It was once a safe haven for him, it had been the one place he was sure he would be loved and accepted for who he was, but not anymore.. not since his mother had died. The teen that swayed solemnly on the rusty swing didn't feel like he belonged... anywhere. If home was the place he feared the most, where else was there to go? He came here as often as he could. For him, it was like an escape from his life, the quiet was extremely soothing and he found that he was able to forget about everything that was happening.
A soft rumble of thunder shook overhead in the clouds, making the boy raise his bruised face and take out an earbud. The wind had picked up in the last few minutes, and it tugged at the edges of his hoodie and ruffled his hair in front of his eyes.
Eric stood up, flexing his fingers and wincing a bit as a sharp pain shot up his arm from his ragged knuckles. His phone buzzed, and the teenager slipped his hand into his pocket and turned it on silent after a quick glance at the screen. |Eric's dark eyes narrowed, tears barely brimming in their depths, before he blinked them away and shoved the device back inside of his pocket. He wasn't concerned with his step father's frantic efforts to find him. That drunken bastard had decided to attack Eric when he had gotten home only a few hours before, for no good reason other then to let off his excess steam. They had both delivered a few good blows but Eric had gotten the brunt of it. He wasn't nearly as strong as Mike and he had been caught completely off guard.
Softly, rain started to fall from the sky. The drops fell gently, splashing in the dirt at Eric's feat and pattering quietly against his hood. He winced as an icy drop hit his swollen and bruised cheek, then glanced up sharply as he heard the distinct sound of footsteps behind him. A red hot lash of anger seemed to shoot through his body, his hands curling into fists, expecting to see Mike walking towards him, a scowling look of anger on his rough face. Instead, it was a girl. Eric was surprised for a minute at the sight of her. With her colorful hair fanning out behind her in the wind, she reminded the teen of a brilliantly colored flower against a grey dismal background. His lips cracked into a smile without meaning to, and he used the back of his hand to wipe away a trickle of blood that ran down his chin, not realizing how terrible he looked.
His mysterious eyes watched her from behind the cover of his shaggy black bangs, and he leaned against the metal pole of the swing set. Something about her fascinated him. He hadn't ever seen her before, not in school, not anywhere. He was sure that he would have remembered if he had. The girl was very beautiful, in her own, exotic style. She seemed completely original and even though he didn't know her, he felt immediately attracted to her. It was only then that he noticed the glimmer of tears in her eyes, and he looked away, feeling rude for studying her so when she was obviously having a rough time with something. Eric felt pulled to help her(which was very rare, since he generally avoided people) and casually slipped into stride a bit behind her, nonchalantly trying to figure out what to do.
Leah smiled glumly as her eyes glazed over everything in the playground, barely noticing the other person within proximity to her. No…in fact, her eyes were so clouded with memories, all she saw was a sunny day, with an empty playground, except for Micah chasing her around the swing-set while she giggling uncontrollably. The memory faded slowly from her vision as she felt raindrops hitting her face, sending a chill down her spine. The water was ice-cold, and succeeded at waking her from her pleasant waking dreams. Why couldn’t all of her memories be pleasant? Why were most of them filled with the doubt of herself, of her worth, that her parents had wedged so far down into her heart? Was she truly that worthless? Did she mean anything to the world, now that Micah was gone? Had…she been born solely to love him? Was it her that gave him purpose? Or was it different? Thankful for the distraction, Leah looked up at the grey sky, the light raindrops—that would undoubtedly become heavier with time—fell on her face, masking tears and erasing the line of discernibility between what were tears and what were raindrops.
Leah smiled gently at Micah, studying his eyes for a second before turning her head. What she saw terrified her and she immediately tensed up, nearly shooting out of her seat. “Micah!”
Apparently he’d seen it coming before she had, for tanned hands had released the wheel and that familiar click of a seatbelt unlatching was heard before Leah saw a flash of bleach-blond hair, and felt a body fall against her heavily, shielding her from whatever was coming. What came next, Leah would never clearly remember. As the collision happened, the sound of crunching metal deafened her, and her head was thrown back against the headrest of her seat. Everything seemed to go by in slow motion. The force of the crash snapped the hairband that kept her hair up in a ponytail, and the seatbelt jerked against her torso painfully, doing its job of trying to keep her safe. It was when the airbag blew that she really grasped the fullness of the situation. It pushed the deadweight of Micah upon her, crushing her between him and her seat.
After a moment of trying to get her bearings, Leah groaned and tried to push whatever was on top of her away, but couldn’t manage it. Leah looked up to see what it was, and was met with bright blue eyes that held a shocked expression in them. But they didn’t blink. They didn’t focus. They didn’t do…anything. Leah’s breath hitched in her throat as she desperately trashed around, trying to get out of her position and try and help her lover.
“Micah! Micah, wake up!” Leah cried, tears blurring her vision, “Micah! Please! I…Micah!” Leah’s voice hitched as she screamed as loud as she could at him, trying, oh, so desperately to get him to respond to her. And even with his face almost touching hers, Leah felt no breath. As the sudden realization of what had just happened hit her, Leah sunk back into the seat, staring at the face of the man she loved the most hovering above her, helpless to do anything but wait for help to arrive.
Leah shook her head vigorously, loose strands of hair whipping around in her face as the wind picked up and brought her out of her thoughts. Leah turned slightly, her ponytail hitting her in the face gently, when a tall figure suddenly came to her attention. It appeared that he was following her. When Leah turned around, her brows furrowed as she examined him, she jumped when she saw his face. He looked as if someone had just beaten him up. Was he one of those weirdos that lived in the alleyways and “picked and chose” girls, so to speak? Leah stumbled back a step, but upon closer inspection, he didn’t seem to have that look on his face that would make her think he wanted any more from her than…well…what did he want from her, exactly?
Leah removed her earbuds, pulling out her phone and wrapping the headphones around them before straightening herself and, in a type of nervous habit, pulled her ponytail tighter before clearing her throat. She’d noticed the raindrops had started to get heavier…but it didn’t matter to her much. She loved the rain. Probably because it seemed to fit her mood a lot. Wiping her eyes quickly she cleared her throat again and looked up at the boy, eyeing him suspiciously, “U-um… c-can I help you?” Leah said it in such a way that it was obvious she wasn’t trying to be a smartass, but was genuinely concerned about whether or not she could help him. Leah also gave off the air of being a bit awkward… it wasn’t as if she talked to people very often!
No…really…she never talked to people. She was ‘homeschooled,’ even if her parents didn’t teach her anything three fourths of the time, and this was one of the first times she’d been out of the house in months. She felt trapped…and suddenly being thrown into a position where she was supposed to have a conversation…? Okay, maybe it wasn’t mandatory. But she was very curious as to why some random teenager, whom appeared to be no older than herself, was following her out of nowhere. Where had he come from, anyways? Had he been here the whole time, and she’d just failed to recognize him, since she’d been so lost in thought? Or had he just arrived here and wasn’t actually following her at all, merely walking in the same direction? How was she supposed to act, anyways? He’d obviously been kicked around by somebody, but who? And… Leah grimaced inwardly. She was so unaccustomed to talking to people, she didn’t even know what questions were right to be thinking and which were just plain loony! Dispersing the other random questions of curiosity out of her mind, she waited for his response.
Eric ducked his head, watching the ground under his dirty, mud caked converse. The wind was chilly and he felt a shiver run through his body as the storm's mildly cold breath penetrated his sweatshirt and the layers underneath. He felt strangely nervous, and almost shy, feeling extremely awkward as he followed the mysteriously beautiful girl, trying to think of a single logical thing to say to her. He couldn't let her get away... what if he never saw her again? Eric wasn't the kind of boy to believe in love at first sight and anyone asked him about it, he was sure to have a strong opinion on the matter. But still... even though it was exactly against what he thought he believed, there was definitely something going on. Not only was there a physical attraction but he sincerely felt like he wanted to help the girl. The way her eyes had looked, so lost, and those tears.. he knew what it felt like. Without realizing it, Eric had forgotten about his troubles for a few minutes, just by seeing this strange girl. He hadn't even spoken to her yet and the physical and emotional pain he had been trying to deal with seemed to have dulled significantly, if not disappeared for the time being.
The boy took a deep breath, wiping the a bright dribble of blood off of his chin again with the his sleeve then shoving his hands into his pockets, trying to appear as if he wasn't actually following her. The girl slowed, then turned around, her face looking somewhat confused and also suspicious as she eyed the tall and lanky boy, who in his surprise, tripped over his own shoe and stumbled forward to catch himself, causing the distance between the two teens to be that much closer. His body stiffened and he straightened, eyeing her from the cover of his dark hair, his eyes glimmering as they met hers. As their gaze locked he felt almost shy, and tried to stumble and find something to say that wouldn't make him sound like a fool. "I wasn't following you- well I was, but-" He winced, and tried another approach, clearing his throat and shifting uneasily on his feet. "What I meant to say was.. I just really wanted to-" Again, he stalled, and he cursed under his breath as anything reasonable to say seemed to disappear out of his vocabulary. "I saw you crying." Eric said the words quietly, raising his eyes to meet hers again. They brightened softly as he took in her features, and again was reminded of a rare and delicate flower- but maybe, he had been wrong about his first thought, this girl looked like she was tough. She probably had thorns too.
Eric gave a shy smile and scratched his head, shrugging gently. "Are you alright?" A sting on his swollen lip reminded him that his face probably looked like it had just been smashed in by the front of a truck. Almost self consciously, he quickly raised his arm and tried to wipe away any remaining blood and hide the swollen bruise that had blossomed on his smooth tan skin. He didn't even mean to speak, but words left his mouth anyway. "I know what its like," He whispered, his voice soft in the rising wind, "You just feel... broken." He shrugged and smiled at her gently, then stuck out his hand. He hoped she wouldn't mind the bloody knuckles. "I'm Eric Foster."
Leah eyed him curiously one more time before he seemingly tripped over himself and fell forward. Leah instinctively put her hands out in front of her, as if to catch him, but he seemed to catch himself before he knocked into her. She stared at him somewhat awkwardly, unaccustomed to the closeness of him. She searched his eyes for a second. His eyes…they held a similar expression to the one she did when she was beaten down by the world sometimes. Leah tilted her head to the side a minute, wondering what in the world he was doing. When he tried to explain himself, she couldn’t help but let the corners of her lips tweak into a smile. He sounded ridiculous. Was he or wasn’t he following her? So…he was. Leah was half tempted to put him out of his misery by saying something like ‘You don’t have to explain yourself,’ before he got the chance to speak again, but 1) that just felt like an unnatural answer and 2) he had already begun trying to explain himself again before she’d gotten the chance to speak.
Biting her lip in attempt to keep herself from giggling at his very uncoordinated behavior, Leah listened to him intently. When he mentioned that he saw her crying, her smile faded slowly and she shrugged, dropping her hazel gaze to the sidewalk that was quickly dampening with increasingly heavy rainfall. “I…yeah.” Leah couldn’t say anything else. What else would she say in the first place? ‘Oh, yeah, I was crying because I was thinking about a dead person.’ Now that is one way to create a super awkward moment and make an everlasting first impression…even if it might not be the right one. But something shifted inside of her as he spoke those words, and she kept quiet for another minute, and before she had the chance to speak, he spoke again. Something behind the words he spoke held a deeper meaning to them… They weren’t empty words, hollow of any true meaning or sympathy, like her parents. And even then, they didn’t even give her the courtesy of pretending to care. They were so incredibly blunt about her failing at everything she did that it wouldn’t be much better even if they did pretend. She’d know it was fake.
Leah nodded, clearing her throat yet again, “Y-yeah. I’m fine. I… I mean, I’ll be fine. I can cope with it. I’m used to it by now.” Leah offered him a halfhearted smile, which again faded slowly as he began to talk again. She narrowed her eyes, the wind whipping cyan-and-purple hair in front of her eyes, and she moved a hand to brush the strands out of her face. He…knew? She looked him up and down once before sighing. She supposed he did know. At least, he looked like he knew. Even in the howling winds, his soft words hit her like an anvil. She chuckled grimly, “Broken, huh…?” She turned and looked at the sky again, remaining quiet for a few moments. “Yes… broken.” She repeated, not bothering to look at him again…not just yet. “Broken is one word for it. It’s not that simple sometimes, though.” She sighed and looked at him, “No, really. It’s not that simple at all.” Shrugging it off, Leah decided, even if she was unfamiliar with human interaction, starting off on the wrong foot like this, with such a dreary conversation, wasn’t what ‘normal people’ did. When he held out his hand and introduced himself, she faltered for a second, not really knowing what he wanted from her.
After shaking off her initial idiocy, she nodded and took his hand, shaking it quickly before taking her hand back. It was…strange. Did it usually feel so…strange…just shaking someone’s hand? It wasn’t a bad kind of strange, either. It was like an unspoken attraction, as if there was something that clicked within the two of them that just linked them together, in a way that they may or may not know. “Leah…” Leah said quietly. “Leah Meyer.” Leah stuffed her hands back in her pockets, opening her mouth to say something when the rain suddenly began to dump on them as if the sky were taking tons upon tons of water and just throwing it onto the world below. Within seconds, Leah was drenched, and she was afraid her phone was going to spaz out. Walking home wasn’t an option – that would take way too long. Squinting her eyes slightly to keep the rain from stinging them, she glanced around at the playground to see if there was somewhere where the two of them could chill while they waited for the storm to pass.
Eric could tell... someone had hurt this girl. Something was bothering her and he wanted to help, but felt that if he asked, he would appear to be nosy and pushy and scare her away from him. He was probably already awful looking enough and that little bit of a push just might make her disappear forever. That was a risk that he couldn't take. She spoke and his heart thumped softly. The boy could detect the familiar feeling of loneliness and defeat in her voice, and immediately wished he could do something that would help her. This was the most interaction he'd had with a stranger in a long time. Eric didn't have many friends, and even the ones he did have mostly just felt sorry for him. It wasn't much but still... it was enough to make him feel much better.
He watched the girl with a somewhat curious and awed look on his face, his crooked, awkward smile growing a bit wider as her slender warm hand slipped into his. The shake was brief and hesitant but none the less, the slight contact, the touch of her smooth skin against his made him feel different. He was definitely not the type to usually get what they would call 'butterflies' in his stomach, but if he could describe what he was feeling Eric would have definitely agreed. This girl made him feel strange and he didn't even know her name yet. That was the exciting part of it. After the handshake, he dropped his hand to his side and slipped a thumb into his pocket, watching her with his dark eyes from under the cover of his shaggy black bangs.
"Leah." The boy repeated her name, nodding and smiling at her. It felt good to smile. "It's pretty. I think it fits you good." Eric complimented her as the name ran through his head. He wouldn't forget it any time soon. He was quiet for a few moments, studying her face politely, trying to think of something to say in the quiet silence that followed. A thick rumble of thunder rolled overhead, and the boy looked quickly up to the sullen grey sky. The storm clouds looked as angry and as heavy as ever, and in only a few seconds, the spattering of cold rain changed drastically, the drops falling from the sky and crashing into the ground as a torrent quickly started to grow.
Instinctively, Eric's dark eyes quickly darted around him, trying to find some place to stay dry. Trying to find his way home in this weather would be impossible, lightning flashed in the sky and the whole park seemed to be a much darker, gloomier place then before. "Come on, we're going to get soaked!" He reached out, softly grabbed Leah's hand, and pulled her to the only crude type of shelter that was close enough to be of any use. His converse slapped into shallow puddles and threw muddy water up onto his jeans, black hoodie soaked from the roaring downpour and his black hair plastered onto his forehead. He ducked under the playset, having to crawl to fit in the space without hitting his head on the top, and gesturing for Leah to come in after him. "It's dry in here, come on, I'll help you in!"
Leah had been having a hard time paying attention, with her mind on everything that had gone wrong in the past two months. It was funny, really. How quickly her parents could forget she was an actual person and just focus on the fact that Micah’s death was “her fault.” Somehow, in the grand scheme of things, Leah knew she was here for a reason. The car accident had been bad enough that she shouldn’t be alive. No…nobody else survived. She was the only one… And ever since her parents had told her so, Leah knew she hadn’t been meant to live. How could one continue to live, knowing that they should be dead? They should be buried six feet under? Maybe that’s what Leah had been searching for a reason…to live. A reason to find out there in the big bad world that would make those feelings go away. But that was hard to do when her parents kept her locked up in her own house, forcing her to do their chores.
Leah shook her head one last time, blowing it off by pretending she’d just gotten too much rain on her face. What a stupid reason. But after Leah had shaken that boy’s hand…Eric’s hand…she felt like she was much more attentive, listening to every word he said. And she smiled gently when he complimented her name. “Thanks…” Leah smiled bashfully, feeling her cheeks turn a light, rosy pink. What the heck was going on with her? She was usually so dismissive and cold, keeping people at arm’s length. So why did he make her stomach flutter, and make her blush with the tiniest of compliments? However, those thoughts disappeared when he grabbed her hand. She couldn’t help but notice the roughness of his hand, but it wasn’t unpleasant. It was a feeling she’d never experienced before. Not even with Micah. Micah’s hands had been so incredibly different than Eric’s…but…Leah couldn’t help but think that, in a way, Eric’s hands were better. She blushed slightly when she realized what she was thinking, and jumped when the lightning flashed. It wasn’t that she was scared of lightning, because she wasn’t, but she was just all jittery suddenly. She didn’t really like it either, but allowed herself to be dragged along behind Eric.
Eric lead Leah to a place she knew very well. Better than she’d care to admit. Leah dropped to her knees and quickly crawled underneath it, turning to look at Eric and smiling shyly. “Well… that kind of came out of nowhere.” Leah chuckled quietly, somewhat startled by the sound of her own laughter. When had she laughed last? She couldn’t even properly remember. But just as quickly as it had come, her laughter left. Leah’s eyes glanced over the playground’s underside with a hidden longing in her eyes, sighing very lightly. Why… had things ever changed?
As the sudden realization of what had just happened hit her, Leah sunk back into the seat, staring at the face of the man she loved the most hovering above her, helpless to do anything but wait for help to arrive. And so Leah stayed there, trapped underneath the body of her lover that was slowly growing colder and colder, shocked into silence, for another ten minutes before the sound of wailing sirens could be heard coming closer to her. And all the while, she couldn’t bring herself to cry. She was so rattled she didn’t even know which way was up, and which was down. Was she dreaming? If she was…why couldn’t she just wake up already!? Leah was snapped back to attention when she heard metal scraping against metal beside her, only to see some men in uniform slowly trying to yank the door away from the car without injuring her or the person on top of her, that still wasn’t moving. It was more than obvious that he wasn’t alive…more than obvious that he was, indeed, as dead as he could possibly be. Slowly, as if they had better things to be doing and didn’t want to be here, they called for backup and two other men arrived, pulling Micah off of her. It was excruciatingly slow, and as she watched Micah being dragged away, she finally began to cry. Just as Micah’s torso passed through the vehicle’s detached door, a little while box fell from his pocket. Leah glanced at it before stretching out her arm, fingers brushing over the top of it before managing to pull it into her grasp. Before she had the chance to open it, however, a man spoke to her.
“Can you get out on your own, miss, or is the front of the car still too far in?”
Leah finally got to look at what the scene in front of her looked like. Now that Micah’s form wasn’t blocking it, she could see everything clearly. More clearly than she’d ever wanted it to be. It appeared that the airbag had been ruptured shortly after being deployed, for a jagged piece of metal, no doubt from the front of the car, was sticking through it, coated in blood. Leah’s eyes widened as she looked down at her legs, which were numb from lack of being moved. On her once-marbled-white-grey jeans were blotches of crimson. Leah froze, her throat catching, making it nearly impossible to breathe. The man must’ve seen the look of pure horror on her face, for he moved away and began talking. His low voice came to Leah’s ears only as undistinguishable mumbles. Before she could even think about moving, a few of the men came back and helped remove the door completely, one of them reaching in as far as he could, managing to undo Leah’s seatbelt and pull her gently out of the car, carrying like she was porcelain and would break at a single touch. When he put her on her feet, he made sure to keep his hands on her firmly enough that she wouldn’t fall.
Leah turned her face away from Eric for a second, mentally squaring herself before deciding it was best not to create awkward situations. Especially not in enclosed spaces, like this. Without really knowing her boundaries, from lack of human interaction, Leah cleared her throat and asked quietly, “Umm…are…you okay? You…look pretty beaten up.” Leah frowned, “I’m sorry. You don’t have to answer that. I…errr…nevermind.” Leah distracted herself by taking her hairband out and running her fingers through her sopping wet, multi-colored hair.
The dark eyed boy watched Leah quietly, grateful that she had taken his hoodie. He felt strangely protective over her, which was very odd since he hardly knew her. Still, he didn't question it and decided to let his feelings take him wherever they went, and to just.. 'go with it' for the time being. It was way too soon to be saying that he liked her, after all, he hardly knew her, but he couldn't deny that there was some sort of unusual spark that he felt every time he looked at her. He couldn't help but admire the way she looked, the way she talked, the way she carried herself. Leah seemed like the kind of girl that had been through a lot. Eric had noticed it the first time he had seen her. She was like a puzzle and he felt like he just had to figure her out. It felt natural talking to her, even though Eric was pretty sure it was awkward and boring to her, but for him, it had always been hard to talk to strangers and this was the best he had ever done.
He stretched, his muscles flexing under his shirt, cocking his head to the side and smiling at her. "That'd be awesome. You're lucky, really. High school is pretty much a place filled with bullshit and lies." He frowned, quiet for a second, then continued. "I'm almost done with it though. A few more months and I'll be gone. I'm planning on leaving... I have no idea where to yet. I guess it'll come to me when the time is right. But anyway I'm not going to stick around for too much longer. What about you? Any big plans?" He smiled, running a hand through his messy black hair, dark eyes twinkling slightly. He tried to stay focused. The more he saw her, the better she looked, and secretly, Eric felt grateful for the storm.
The rain had started to let up, and now, the gentle patter of the drops on top of the play set made Eric glance outside. His face broke into a smile, and crawled closer to the doorway, waving Leah over to come and see. "It's beautiful, isn't it?" Everything outside was wet, the trees, the grass, everything was glistening soothingly. The angry grey thunderclouds had moved on, and hard parted to reveal a stunning sunset. Shades of pink, orange, and yellow were streaked across the sky, and the bright fiery sun was sinking slowly back into the horizon. The birds had come out of their hiding places and now chirped and sang their goodnight songs to eachother, thunder softly rumbled in the back ground, moving on and away, and Eric turned to face Leah. "It's amazing how something like that thunderstorm can create something like this isn't it?" He smiled at her, his dark eyes glimmering, then crawled out.
Leah gladly took Eric’s help getting under the playground equipment. After she asked the question and fiddled with her hair, she pulled out her phone encased in a grey, skull-covered cover, making sure it wasn’t completely destroyed by rain. Thankfully, that oddly-designed case had kept it dry for the most part, protecting the phone from getting water in it and completely destroying it. Leah, instead of putting it back in her pocket, set the phone down beside one of her knees, the headphones still wrapped securely around its width. Leah watched him with interested eyes, frowning when she vaguely saw him wince in the darkness, but she decided if that’s the answer he gave her, when it so obviously wasn’t true, it was a matter she shouldn’t press. If he didn’t want to talk about it, he didn’t want to talk about it. Besides, they were technically strangers. She didn’t have the right to pry into personal parts of his life…at least…not yet. Leah frowned at that thought. What did she mean ‘not yet’? Of course… Leah knew perfectly well what she meant. For some reason, Leah didn’t want this to be a one-time thing, them sitting and talking, even if their conversation as of yet was dull and rather awkward. No…she wanted it to be something more than that. Maybe…just maybe he could be her friend. Or maybe more. Leah didn’t know. But what she did know was that being around him gave her butterflies in her stomach, even if it didn’t make a single sliver of sense.
Trying to distract herself from confusing herself further with her complicated thoughts, Leah looked around. This playground… she sighed, not bothering to mask it. He’d followed her because he’d seen her crying, so hiding it now would just be plain stupid. It didn’t mean she was going to tell him anything if he asked…but…what was the point in hiding it if she’d already decided earlier not to hide it, thinking nobody else was around? Leah looked out at the playground, imaging a time when things were better, when she was happier, when her family life was much better, and she wasn’t treated like an indentured servant. But…even those good memories faded to black when she really stopped to think about it all…the memories that haunted her to this very day.
When he put her on her feet, he made sure to keep his hands on her firmly enough that she wouldn’t fall. Leah was glad he did, because her knees were weak, and she still couldn’t feel her legs from her knees down.
“Can you stand on your own?” He asked gently, intentionally facing her away from the car so she couldn’t look at it anymore. Leah couldn’t do any more than shake her head “no,” and the man simply nodded and lead her over to the edge of an ambulance and hoisting her onto the back of it, letting her sit there. “We’ve contacted your parents, and they should be here shortly.” Leah snapped back to reality, fear replacing the despair in her eyes almost instantly. Her parents!? They had loved Micah…and she’d dare to say they loved him more than they loved her. What would they say when the found out Micah…was…when…
What would they do when they were told he was dead?
But Leah couldn’t say anything in protest. Even if she had been able to speak, what would she say? Looking down, Leah fingered the little white box in her hands before slowly opening it, terrified about what would be inside, even if she knew it was nothing harmful. What she did see, however, killed her. On the inside of the box was written in the most wonderful golden cursive,
To the love of my life, Leah Victoria Meyer, a promise ring. A ring is a circle, and circles never end. Let this ring be a promise to the both of us that one day it’ll be replaced by a ring said along with vows, and with the words, “I do.” – Micah
Leah’s first thought was ‘how expensive was it to have this done?’ but when she saw the little silver ring inside, she forgot about that. Clearly chiseled very carefully onto its surface was the word ‘promises.’ Tears flooded out of Leah’s eyes, falling onto the soft white pillow that the ring rested in, and rolling down the sides of the leather box, collecting in a pool in the palm of her hand.
Leah was brought out of her thoughts by a hoodie as equally wet as her own was handed to her. Leah couldn’t help but smile. It really was just as wet as hers, and probably just as cold, as well. But the gesture was a kind one, so Leah accepted it with a nod of her head, “Thanks.” Leah quickly slipped it on and zipped it up, snuggling down until her mouth was partially covered underneath the collar lining of the jackets. Surprisingly, even though they were both wet, it was a bit warmer having two jackets on as opposed to one. When Eric asked if she went to the local high school, Leah frowned. “No… my… parents… Umm, well they homeschool me. Occasionally.” Leah shrugged. “Do you go there, then?” Leah asked in return, turning her eyes to glance at the mysterious (and not to mention attractive…) boy beside her. Really Leah… how did you get yourself into this situation? Shouldn’t it be awkward sitting underneath playground equipment with a handsome young man that you’ve just met? Leah groaned inwardly. Ugh. Ma and Pa are going to freaking kill me when I get back… I hope the rain stops soon… I can’t stay out too late, or they really will kill me. Deciding not to think about the negative aspect of staying out with this boy, Leah focused on the positive aspect of it all. He was super cute, and his mannerisms were really quite adorable, and that made her smile. She hadn’t smiled in a while, either. So the pros outweighed the cons. At least, in the now, they did.
Crawling out from under the playground Eric stood up, brushing the wood chips from his wet jeans. He stepped back to give Leah the space to crawl out, his heart pounding. Why was he nervous though? There were so many questions today that had gone through his mind. Questions about himself, about Leah, about his life. Things that he hadn't dared to think about in years. Things that had been trapped inside of his head. For the first time in a long time, he felt happy and relieved. The feeling was so... good. It felt great. How could a stranger effect him so much? And just by sitting there and talking with her for a few minutes? Eric beamed, his first genuine smile in a long, long time. His heart felt light and the usual dragging feeling of depression seemed to have vanished, at least for the moment. He needed to know more about this girl, there was something so special about her and he didn't know what it was, but Eric was determined to find out. He found that right now, he felt that he didn't need to be afraid any longer.
"I'd really like to see you again, Leah." Eric could feel his cheeks heating up a bit and hoped she wouldn't notice, but as if she knew what he was thinking, Leah asked him for his number."This is new. I have a pretty girl asking me for my number. Usually, its the other way around." He playfully grinned at her, then reached out and snatched her phone out of her pocket. His fingers brushed her hip slightly as he took it- the second time he had touched her. Eric's heart skipped a beat and started to thump wildly, making him blush furiously. He quickly cleared his throat and softly apologized. This was definitely weird.
Eric quickly entered his number into his contacts and smiled at her. "It was really nice to meet you too." His eyes lingered on hers, a quiet, content look in their unique depths. "And... let me know if you need anything. "He slid the slim phone back into her pocket, avoiding touching her this time but wishing that he could again. "Just text me later... okay?"
With that he turned around and started down the sidewalk, his muddy converse splashing in the puddle's that the storm had created. A smile played on his lips and he had to refrain from turning around and looking behind him, but was content to replay the events of the day. Something had changed, and even though he didn't know what it was, he liked it.