So, here is one of my short stories. I know it’s kinda Christmassy for October, but hey. Christmas is only two months away. Less!
I hope you like it.
Eon and I sat in the attic of the huge old apartment building where we both lived. We had been up there for hours. It was Christmas break, and it was bitterly cold outside, and too full of life and people to be in our families apartments.
I looked over at him from where I sat beside a trunk -half empty now – surrounded by haphazard piles of outfits from bygone days. We were in a room that had that elusive scent of memory, if you could only track it down to its roots.
Eon sat on an old rag mattress on a big, old, blackened, cast-iron bed. In front of him, neatly piled, were old letters, pictures, and newspapers from all those people who had left their earthly trappings in this attic. His hair feathered around his face, framing it softly, his crooked nose and crooked smile as he looked down at what was in his lap. He reached out with a pale hand and pushed the coal-black strands out of his eyes. He looked at me.
“Marie,” he said, “come and see this.”
I made my way through the piles of stuff to where he was, and sat down beside him. “Look,” he said, “look, I think this is my great-grandfather!”
I took it from him, and looked at it closely. The man in it was grinning fiercely at the camera in black and white, his hand on the wing of an old fighter plan from what looked like world war two. He had the same crooked nose and smile as Eon, but the hair, under his helmet, was blond.
“It could be,” I said cautiously. I looked at him. “You have the same smile.”
He scoffed. “Same smile! Hah. We could be brothers!”
I smiled. “Your parents would have to be very long-lived.”
He growled at me playfully, and then, carefully, put the picture to one side and resumed sorting through his box. I watched his hands move through the old photographs and newspapers. They were long, slim, and fine-boned. I looked up to his face, watched him look through the past for links to his present. His grey eyes were fixed firmly on the task before him, just as they always were.
I sighed, almost noiselessly, and reached forward to tug a piece of black hair out of his eyes.
He looked up at me.
“What was that about?”
“Oh.” I folded my hands in my lap. “It was in your eyes.”
“Not the hair.” He reached over and grabbed my hand, surprising me. “The sigh. Is something wrong? You don’t have to stay up here with me, you know. You can leave, if you want.”
“And go where?!?” I laughed at him. “It’s nothing, Eon. I like it up here with you. Besides, what would I do out there? I don’t know anybody anymore.” I placed my hand over his, and gently extracted both my hands from between them. “It was just… you looked so engrossed in what you were doing. And I was just thinking, well, one day, I hope I can find someone who looks at me like that. Who thinks I’m that interesting. Most of the world thinks I’m pretty dull, you know.”
“I don’t think you’re dull,” he said.
“Yes, well, Eon, you’re pretty much the only one that thinks that.” I smiled at him. “Even my parents have given up on me.”
“Marie.” He said it reproachfully.
“Well, it’s true.”
“Well, if that’s the case, then I think you need a hug.” He reached for me over his piles of pictures.
“For what? Being my parent’s midlife disappointment?”
“No. For being my best friend.”
“Ok,” I said softly. He smelled like cedar floors, and memories, and his arms felt exactly right around me. I sighed. Then I turned my head and looked into his eyes. They were like soft clouds of mist, and I could feel them pulling me closer. So I kissed him. And for one perfect second, I felt like I was home at last, out of the lonely world. Then he jerked away from me. For another second, I was stuck, staring into his wide grey eyes, but then he looked away.
He reached down between us and gently moved the pile of photos. Then he put his hands on my shoulders and looked into my eyes again.
“Marie,” he said, “What was that?”
I blushed, painfully, and looked down. I said nothing. He slid a finger under my chin and tilted my face up towards his. I snuck a glance upwards. He was smiling. I blushed harder. I wished he was angry, because that, at least, would’ve meant he cared. I jerked away from him. Then I looked straight at him and said, clearly, “I’m sorry, Eon. That was stupid of me.” I looked down. “Really, really, really stupid.” Then I turned to get off the bed.
As my feet touched the cold floor, I felt a warm hand slip gently around mine.
“Marie, stop.” He pulled me back on the bed. “C’mere.”
I tried to pull away, but his grip was characteristically strong. He pulled me closer to the middle of the bed, but I still wouldn’t face him. My eyes were leaking tears, and I didn’t want him to see me showing any more emotions. God knew I had already shown enough. He didn’t try to turn me around, but instead wrapped his arms around me, and pulled me into his chest. I didn’t want him to know that I was crying, so I didn’t say anything, just struggled silently. My eyes were burning, but I felt as if I was drowning in shame. I shook my hair out of my eyes, and suddenly, he let me go. Not prepared, I fell on my face. For a moment I didn’t move, and in that moment, he rolled me over, and brushed the hair out of my eyes. I closed them, so I wouldn’t have to look into his. I felt his thumbs brushing the tears off my cheeks. I took a shaky breath, and rolled myself over. I drew my feet up under me, and opened my eyes. He was right beside me, but I didn’t look at him. I slid my feet off the bed. He didn’t say anything. I walked to the stairs, and tripped on the first step down. I couldn’t see properly through my tears. It was only a short flight down to the top floor of the building, but it hurt, just the same. I lay there, and cried. Within a few seconds, Eon was there.
He pulled me up off the floor, and helped me back up the stairs, and onto the bed. I couldn’t see anything other than a blur of hair and tears. I sat on the edge of the bed and cried. Eon held me.
“Shh, sh, sh.” He rubbed my back. “Don’t cry. Marie, please don’t cry.” He started to sound frantic. “I don’t know what to do with a crying girl. Please, please, don’t cry. Are you alright? C’mon. Marie, don’t do this to me. Please?”
I wiped my face on my sleeve, and tried to say something, but all that came out was a garbled mess. I cleared my throat and tried again.
“What’s wrong with me, Eon?”
I looked at him. “Then why are you the only person who notices me now? Why don’t I have any friends here anymore?”
He rubbed his nose. “I don’t know. People are people, Marie. I can’t control them.”
“I’m not asking you to control people, Eon.” I glared at him. “I just want to know why they don’t like me.”
He hung his head, then kinda squinted up at me through his hair. “Um… Don’t take this the wrong way, Marie, but you aren’t exactly the friendliest person around. You have this habit of… I don’t know… acting smart. Like you know it all. And not in a funny, joking kinda way, more like you think you’ve got something nobody else has. I mean, I’m your best friend, and you rub me the wrong way, sometimes too. Especially after tests. You’re a little uptight.”
I just looked at him for a minute. Then I said. “Uptight? Well, maybe, if some of these deadbeats bothered to even study before an exam, they wouldn’t think I’m uptight. I put a lot of effort into school, and maybe, just maybe, they’re jealous.”
I got up off the floor, and put my hand on the door, but, once again, he surprised me. He stood up and moved between me and the door, but he was laughing. He bent his head down to my level and gently rubbed noses with me. I was confused, and a little bit angry. Eon smiled at me, wide grey eyes staring into mine.
“You know,” he said, “I’ve been planning on giving you your first kiss for a long time, but in my head, I always had it happening somewhere more… …I don’t know, somewhere less dusty. Sometime when the sun was shining, and there was grass under our feet, not old stairs, but somehow, somehow, I always knew I would give it to you. I guess I just didn’t have the fight afterwards in my version.”
I still wasn’t smiling, but he somehow must’ve known that I wasn’t angry anymore, because he reached down and took my hand. He turned me around and half pushed, half carried me back up the stairs.
“Eon, don’t.” I said, halfheartedly, but he didn’t pay any attention to my mouth until we were back on the old cast-iron bed. Then he brushed it over with his thumbs.
“I think,” he said, “that I’ve liked you for a while. But you are a very introverted person, and so, despite the fact that I could see that you liked me–”
“Everyone could see that I liked you, couldn’t they?” I asked.
“–Despite that fact, I was waiting, ever so patiently, for you to make your move.” He smiled. “I didn’t want to scare you.”
I smiled up at him. “You’re a little bit scary, you know that?”
“I know it.”
“Since when have you been so observant?”
“Since the second grade.”
“You mean you’ve been planning this since then?”
“Scratch that. You’re definitely not a little bit scary. I think you’re more like a lot.”
He rubbed my nose with his thumb.
“Your kind of scary?”
“Definitely my kind of scary.” I rubbed my nose against his fingers. “I really like you, you know.”
“And you really like me, you know.”
I wrapped my arms around his waist and pulled myself closer to him, snuggling into his arms. He held my head against his chest with one hand, and held my right hand with the other.
“I think I love you, you know.”
He smiled, gently.
“Eon,” I said, “Do you want to be a couple with me?”
He looked down at me and smiled wider.
“Marie,” he said, “You beautiful, stubborn, impossible girl, I don’t think you realize that we have been a couple since we met in second grade. I don’t think you realize how long I’ve been in love with you. I don’t think you realize what this moment is to me.”
I smiled cheekily.
“Your best Christmas ever?”
“Exactly that, Marie. Exactly that.”
Then he tilted up my chin, leaned down, and kissed me softly on the lips.
“Merry Christmas, Marie. Best Christmas ever.”