Archive for March, 2012
She could see the top of the rock wall, the swirly blue up far ahead and the sun exposing the surface. She planted her palm and lifted her other hand to push down with everything she had. She felt his hand under her foot, giving her a boost up. She got her knee up, with only a slight scrape, and collapsed once three quarters of her trembling body was safe on top. She did not have the strength to turn and offer him her hand.
He was right behind her and when reaching the top, did not collapse, but instead took several deep breaths. He helped her up to her feet. While his scent made her blush and his hand on her waist made her feel weepy with love, she couldn’t stop the spinning behind her eyes.
“Hey,” she said, short spurts of air coming through her dry mouth, “What’s your name?”
“Your name is Danno?”
She was sure she hadn’t heard right.
“What kind of name is Danno?”
“We’re not playing this game again, are we?”
She laughed too, and quickly felt her knees start to give in.
“I’m going to faint.”
“No, don’t do that. Just breathe. That was a bit of a workout.”
She nodded and sucked in and out. But this was different discomfort from the over exertion that came with strenuous activity. The pain was in her abdomen as well. If she had not had her appendix removed three winters ago, she would have thought it was bursting inside of her.
“I really–I really am going to.”
His grip tightened on her arm and her waist.
“Here, let’s have you rest here.”There was a clearing with some moss strewn across the damp caramel colored dirt. He took off his jacket and lied it smooth before easing her down. “We should have brought water,” he said.
She nodded and turned on her side out of habit. The throbbing intensified. She held on to his hand.
“This isn’t right. Something isn’t right.”
“I shouldn’t have pushed, Ala. I feel like a jerk.”
“I’ll be okay, I just need dome rest.” His face blurred as she closed her eyes. She felt his body curve to fit hers and his hand pushed the sweaty matted hair off of her forehead.
“I can call someone if you’d like.”
“No,” she said, thinking of her parents. She would not ruin this time with him. Her parents would make her go to the hospital. They would make her end the best summer of her life. “I’ll be fine. Just stay.”
She heard his chuckle.
“Where else would I go?”
“I don’t know, Danno” she whispered and then chuckled too. She had to be in and out of sleep. No one’s name was Danno. No one she had met, or even heard of. No one drove Aston Martin’s either though. And no one made her love them in less than one day.
There was a low breeze that brushed across her ankles as she trudged upwards. He had a long stride and a determination toward the direction they were headed. This was a new side to him, who up until now had not seemed rushed to do anything.
She started to feel warm and was sure to take deep breaths. The heat was intensifying and she realized they had not brought any water with them. She never thought about drinking water, but always grew panicky when none was available.
They stopped in a shaded area next to a small stream. She perched on a rock and the icy cold released of some of the pent up heat. He opened the canvas bag and took out the bread. They ate and listened to the birds flap around in the branches. The preserves, though warmed, still tasted refreshing like summer fruit always had to her.
“After we’re finished with this, do you want to see a really great view?”
“Yes,” she said, nodding and tucking some crumbs into her mouth with her tongue.
“We’ll have to climb a little.”
“I don’t mind.” She wiggled her feet around in her shoes. There was no pain, but there was a gritty sweat in some of the creases and she was concerned about blisters forming.
He took her hand and the started in east, up to a small cleft with rock jutting in and out through the middle . She saw what he was thinking. It would be easy to climb up this way instead of going all the way around the base and facing a steep incline.
“You go first and I’ll get behind you in case you slip.”
She nodded and began by stepping her foot into a small crevice for leverage before reaching both hands to grip the brittle stone and hoist herself up. Lifting her body weight was not something she had tried before and proved to be difficult when not being able to stop or rest or lean back for support. She became terrified when it was time to reach for the next rock. She didn’t trust the bottoms of her shoes to grip properly.
She closed her eyes and reached. Her fingers shook, but she was able to pull hard enough for her left foot to find the next step without her looking. She heard his quiet grunting behind her and tried to climb a little bit faster.
“How am I doing?” She said between panting.
“Just fine. We’re almost at the top Ala,” he said.
She smiled when she heard how he said her name with adoration in his voice. Seconds later, her mind flooded when she understood that she was climbing up the side of a mountain with a man he had spent the night with, and had no idea what his name might be.
She settled on some boat shoes she had bought the summer before. They felt a little stretched out and loosely dropped down her heel as she walked, but they would have to do. She couldn’t spend all day getting dressed for a hike.
Ala found him in the kitchen smearing some kind of preserves she didn’t recognize onto the two heels of the bread. There was also cheese wrapped in waxed paper, a cut up apple in a baggie, a bottle of wine and a wedge of pate wrapped in plastic lying on the counter.
She picked up the pate.
“Will this be good in the heat?”
He stopped spreading and looked at her.
“Are you afraid?”
She smiled and went into the pantry to find a bag. She put everything into a canvas satchel and zipped it closed. She carried it to the foyer, where she found her purse, and retrieved her sunglasses. She heard him locking the back door and her heart quivered. They certainly were playing house. He was taking the time to take care of a house that he was not even supposed to step foot in.
The car was sweltering and he immediately turned the dial all the way up so the cool air blasted their faces. She melted against the headrest as he drove past her parent’s house. She didn’t bother looking to see if they were home. She felt very adult and really didn’t need, or care, to know what anyone else was up to today.
He drove along the water for as long as possible, then veered toward the highway that curved toward the hills. She held her breath and inched her hand over to his. He snatched it up instantly.
He parked on the side of a very steep and rocky hill, partially covered with little green sprouts, and made sure to activate the parking brake. She grabbed the bag of food and secured the leather laces, which were more of a decoration than functional part of the shoe, before skipping to catch up to him.
She waited for him to laugh. He didn’t, of course. She had never been hiking in her life. Her parents had always owned property in areas where cars were needed and knew all of the valets very well. He certainly didn’t look like the hiking type either with his suit and watch and perfect hair.
Still though, she was off the line, and being there meant embracing adventure. Just because she hadn’t done it, did not mean it wasn’t worth doing.
“Sure, sounds great. Do you need to borrow some clothes?” She thought about how wrong it was to offer him some of Emmanuel’s clothes while he wasn’t even supposed to be in the house at all.
“I have some things in the trunk. I’ll be right back.”
She waited for the front door to swing shut before bolting upstairs to find something suitable for the day’s agenda. She looked out the window. It seemed warm and mild, but she was terrible at choosing climate appropriate attire. It seemed that every time Ala wore a strappy dress at the season’s first sign of sun, grayness and a monsoon type storm would break out moments after leaving her house.
She would need decent walking shoes, which she didn’t have with her. Or, didn’t own at all in this point in time. She had gotten into the terrible habit of riding her bicycle in flats or worse, flip flops and was lucky she hadn’t broken her ankle. She pulled a netted red sweater out of her suitcase. She had purchased on sale for sailing and thought it may do well on the hike. She found a slightly wrinkled pair of tan shorts that hit just above her knee with a wide brown leather belt. Now for shoes. There was not a solution in sight, or at least, one she could see in her frantic, blinding haste, coupled with the slight nausea she had developed from falling in love.
She rinsed out the coffee cups and put the coffee tin away. She went into the living room and gathered all of the clothes that had fallen out of her suitcase. She folded them into a pile. She got an old paper from the front proch and carried it to the recycling bin.
When she came back inside he was standing in the same spot from when she was on the phone with her mother. This was goodbye. She held her breath.
“My business is done for today,” he said, which sounded just as certain as his statements always were. He did have some hairs out of place, but otherwise looked completely collected.
Ala leaned against the doorframe. It was foolish to keep him in the house, when she had been told not to have guests.
“How about the track?” He said, looking out at the beautiful day she was silhouetted against.
She thought he was joking. She had visited Pikington Park this summer more than she had in her entire life. She knew nothing about horses or racing. She knew nothing about placing bets. It seemed like a waste of time.
He sensed her disappointment.
“All right, some other time. How about something more dangerous? Like a hike?”
She hung up and turned around. He was leaning against the archway.
Heat seemed to seep from her pores out of embarrassment. She tried to think of a way to explain that she was being checked in on by her mother. The look on his face did not seem to have concern for that issue, however.
“Ala, is there somewhere I can make a phone call?”
“Sure,” she said, realizing she had no idea which rooms had phones. She started to lead him down the hallway. There was a small den to the right that had some beige armchairs and an acrylic coffee table in it with a phone resting on top of it.
“Thanks,” he said, “Something just came up.”
She walked back into the kitchen and waited. This was it. His way out. He was surely talking with a dial tone right now, making up some story, just in case she was standing outside of the door listening in.
Of course the whole situation could not have been real. She was the person who followed a line, did not go on either side of it, jump ahead or lag behind, just stayed on the line. And normally it felt satisfactory. She could not get hurt by staying on the line. But nothing like him ever happened on the line either. He would be hard to forget.
Instead, he turned, walked out the front door, and came back inside one second later with the morning paper. He carried it out the back door and had a seat on one of the lawnchairs. She took a deep breath. He was staying, for now.
She heard the phone ringing. She followed the ringing to her purse, which was flung into the corner of the foyer, and found the phone.
“Ala. It’s mom. Whose car is that?”
Ala rushed to the window and tugged the blinds out of the way. The Aston Martin gleamed in the sun, more beautiful than she had remembered it. It sucked all of the attention from the rest of the cars on the block for certain.
“Oh, I don’t know.”
“You don’t know?”
“No.” She hated when her mother did this. This repetitive passive aggressive communication was so juvenile.
“It’s parked directly in front of Emmanuel’s house”
“Why would someone park there if they weren’t actually inside of Emmanuel’s house?”
“You’re asking as if I parked it there.”
“Well, did you?”
“No, I arelady told you I don’t know whose care it is.” She heard the back door closing and lowered her voice. “I’ve never seen that car in my life. I assure you, I’m perfectly fine.”
Silence. Staying calm was the sure way to shut her mother up.
“Alright then. What are your plans for the day?”
She felt him watching her from behind.
“I’m a little busy now explaining things to the gardener. I’ll talk to you later.”
“Don’t forget to call. Dad wants to talk to you.”