Thursday, 23 December 2010
City Lights - Chapter 5 - Home for the Holidays
There was nothing, nothing but her. I floated, adrift in a sea of happiness with only her lips holding me to this earth. As we moved a part the world slowly came back into focus. The cold breeze on my face was a contrast to her warmth and made me holder her a little tighter. The sound of a car door slamming shut brought me crashing back to earth.
The situation came rushing into focus. I was standing locked in embrace with Patina and Citrine was going to walk around the corner any minute. Oh Berry this was bad.
"She has a boyfriend," I yelled at myself. "What on earth do you think you're doing?!" Pulling away from her with a jerk I stumbled over the words trying desperately to extract myself from this mess I had gotten into. "I'm sorry… shouldn't have… really sorry."
"What are you sorry for silly."
"This," I said waving my arms around vaguely trying to encompass the whole situation. "I'm really sorry. I've got to go."
I turned practically knocking Citrine down as I ran towards the curb.
I didn't sleep that night. My mind just wouldn't let go. I drifted, tossing and turning, between the sublime joy of the kiss to the horror of the realisation of the unfaithfulness I can caused. It was stupid to kiss her, stupid, stupid, stupid.
When it had got late enough to be considered early as opposed to insane I packed my things and headed out of town. It was Christmas and I wanted to spend it with the family. Or at least that's what I told myself. I had never been a good liar even to myself and this one was sitting heavily on my conscience. It felt too much like running away.
People think it's never cold in Sunset Valley, they're wrong. It's the near constant sunshine and the beaches that fool them but believe me we have a winter and for those who live here is very easy to see the signs.
It was raining when I got home which suited my mood perfectly. Trudging up the stairs I shook myself trying to get the worst of the rain off before I went inside.
"Well welcome home son. Didn't expect to see you here today."
"Didn't expect to be here either but here I am." I wasn't in the mood to get into it.
"Well I've just made a pot of cinnamon tea to try and get myself in the Christmas spirit. Why don't you get yourself settled and come join me." That's one thing I really love about my parents, they don't push you to know what's going on. Of course that generally means I end up telling them more than I intended, but for now it was what I needed.
When I came downstairs and grabbed a cup of the tea I noticed that dad was standing in the spot the tree normally occupies.
"Um looks like you forgot something dad."
"You think your mum will notice," he said rather sheepishly.
"Pretty sure. It's kind of hard to miss the fact that there's no Christmas tree. Where is mum?"
"She's gone on a business trip, she's due back tonight. I promised her that I'd have the house decorated by the time she came home but I didn't expect them to sell out of trees. Not sure how we're going to get this place ready for her when she gets back."
How we were going to get it ready, how did I get dragged into this? Luckily I knew just the person to call to help sort us out.
While Auntie Nuala started on the house we went out to tackle the tricky task of finding a tree. Dad was right they were sold out all over town. Feeling more than a bit naughty about it we snuck up to a spot on the edge of town.
It wasn't exactly legal but I would rather face the police than my mum when she was angry. We arrived back at home at the same time as Peach and Pear pulled up.
It was a bit chaotic but before long the house was really starting to look like Christmas. The laughter and warmth of the family helped me relax but I couldn't completely get my mind off Patina.
It's amazing how one small thing can so drastically change your views on life. Despite being surrounded by family in the midst of holiday preparations I no longer felt like I was home. I would pull out my phone randomly throughout the day and just stare at it. I was never sure if I was hoping to have a message or working out the courage to send one and in the end I always put it back into my pocket and carried on with what I was doing.
"Who's the girl?"
"Um, what girl?" I fumbled trying to get the phone back in to my pocket.
A wry smiled played at her lips as her eyes followed me trying, and failing, to maintain a cool composure. "You can't fool me honey, I know more about pining after love than you can possibly imagine." She looked sadly over at her daughters and not for the last time I wondered what happened between her and Uncle Plum.
I only intended to tell her I met a girl but something about her made me keep going. Before I knew it the whole story was out and I was as worn out as if I had run a marathon.
"You've got yourself in a bit of a mess there I see." I snorted in agreement. "I know you don't want to hear it, but you've got to tell her. Not just about this Clay, but about everything."
"But what if…."
"There's nothing you can do to prepare for the what if's you just have to go for it. You will never know what is or could be if you don't do this."
"Come on grumpy Gus get off you bum and help is get the garland hung." That was a pretty quick end to my conversation with Nuala.
I couldn't help but laugh at my cousins and their silly antics as we got the finishing touches done to the house but every time I looked at my aunt I would catch her looking back at me with that half smile on her face.
Just as we were getting the last bits hung my phone rang giving me a shock and nearly causing me to drop the bow I was holding. It was Patina. Her name flashed on my caller id as my heart hammered in my chest. I was filled with the same fear and excitement that always hit me with Patina. As usual excitement won out.
"Hey you. You ran off in a bit of a hurry yesterday."
"Yeah, sorry about that."
"Nothing to be sorry about silly. I just wanted to see if everything was ok."
"Well not really." I rushed on trying to get the words out before I lost my nerve. "I'm sorry I kissed you."
"Did you not like kissing me?" I could hear the teasing edge in her voice and blushed glad she couldn't see my face.
"No, I mean yes, I mean I liked it. I liked it a lot. It's just, you have a boyfriend and it wasn't right to kiss you."
"Boyfriend? Oh, you mean Clay. We broke up."
"A couple weeks ago, not long after the funeral actually."
"And you didn't tell me?"
"I didn't realise you wanted to know." She sounded so cool and unconcerned by this as if it was just a trivial bit of news. How could she not know that this was the most important news I had ever heard in my life.
"You didn't realise?!?" My voice was getting a louder and as I looked up I noticed the family trying not to stare at me. I was at a loss for words. After our kiss I had began to think that she felt the same way that I did but if she didn't realise how important it was for me to know she was single maybe I was wrong. "Look now's not a good time."
"Okay….I'll call you later then."
"Um, I'd rather you didn't." Hearing how those words sounded as they left my mouth I raced to cover my tracks. "I want to talk to you, I just would rather wait until I can see you. Sorry." And with that I hung up.
The room was filled with an awkward silence as everyone pretended to be very occupied with what they were doing. I needed space to clear my head, to try find the words to tell Patina I loved her and gather my courage to wait for her response. That was why I couldn't talk any more on the phone. To explain why it mattered that she was no longer with Clay I would have to explain how I felt. I went to the one spot I knew I could find the peace to think.
It was no longer summer here in Sunset Valley and I pulled the bench close to the fire pit in an attempt to ward off the cold air that closed in around me. Memories of the last time I was here on a cold night flitted through my head and with them all my fears about never being good enough to be loved. The what if's spun round me trying to find a way in, to chip at my resolve. Of course she didn't feel the same way I did. She had only been single for a few weeks, I had been falling in love with her for months. But Nuala was right, I had to let her know how I felt. If I didn't then any chance, small as it might be, was never going to happen.
The warm touch of a hand on my shoulder brought me out of my reverie with a start. I glanced at my watch only to discover that it had been nearly four hours since I left the house. Turning I saw the last person I expected.
I jumped to my feet. "Patina! What are you doing here?"
"Peach said I might find you here and she was right."
"Right, ok, but I mean what are you doing in Sunset Valley?"
She smiled shyly. "Well you said you wanted to wait until you could see me before we talked so I thought if I was here you could see me." I opened my mouth to say something but she stopped me.
"I'm sorry I didn't tell you about Clay. I lied on the phone, I did know it was important to you. The day my grandpa died you were so sweet and wonderful and I began to realise you might have feelings for me. It made me think about how I felt about Clay and I realised I hadn't had any feelings for him in a long time. When he came back into town he seemed only mildly concerned that I had lost one of the more important men in my life." She scoffed quietly. "He was more interested in telling me all the great opportunities he was going to get out of his business trip. So I broke up with him."
"But if you knew it mattered to me why didn't you tell me?"
"I didn't know how. I wasn't convinced you did have feelings for me. I was so messed up that day I wondered if maybe you were just being a really nice guy. It wasn't until I caught you looking at me during Berry and the Beast that I knew for sure." She paused and stepped closer to me. "I knew something else then too."
"I knew I had feelings for you."
The moonlight and firelight danced in her eyes and I could feel a passion stir within me. I've never thought of myself as an impulsive guy but I had never had an impulse so strong before. I gathered her into my arms and pressed my lips firmly against mine. She was so tiny in my arms and I could feel her pulse quicken as the kiss deepened.
I could have stayed there for hours but the chill in the air reminded me of how late it was getting. Grabbing her hand I turned. "Come on. There's some people I want you to meet." And with that I took her home.
It may not have been a white Christmas but to me it was perfect