1-The Presence Awakens
In complete darkness only broken by the occasional faint drip reverberating off of empty cave walls, a form sat pinched between two stalagmites, half listening to the echoes. The vacuum of sound only heightened a new, distant sound emerging, too faint to hear precisely what it was. After a few minutes it was loud enough to be easily identified. It was laughter, oddly forced laughter. Then another voice joined the first. It was hard to make out what they were saying, the cave walls muffled the voices to the point where they were incomprehensible. A new sound cut through the vacuum, the creaking of stiff old bones attempting to investigate the intruders.
Outside, two beams of light danced along the side of a rocky hill. A teenage boy was bounding up its side carrying a flashlight. He was trying to encourage the girl following behind him, who was muttering under her breath.
“You know Tyson, I heard that sunsets are actually much prettier than sunrises,” she griped.
“Not when the sunrise comes over the ocean,” he replied climbing over another rock.
“We could just watch the sun set over the bay, it’s really not that different.”
He set down the backpack he was carrying in a small flat area near the top of the hill and went back to offer her a hand up the final rocks. She rejected the help.
“This is the perfect place to watch it. Mom used to take me here when I was a kid to watch dad sail out.”
Breathing hard she sat down on a nearby boulder and dangled her legs over the edge. While she caught her breath, she gazed at the view around her. “Ok, it is beautiful. I’ll give you that.”
A soft breeze picked up, so the boy went over to his backpack and took out the blanket he had packed and wrapped it gently around her shoulders. She thanked him and pulled it tighter. He sat down on the boulder next to hers just as the sun was starting to peak out from the other side of the world. They sat in silence watching it slowly rise. She was enjoying the sounds of nature around her and the experience of her first sunrise. He was nervously wondering when it would be appropriate to start talking again.
When the sun had come up, she turned to thank her guide for bringing her there.
He smiled at her. “That’s not all Tabatha.”
She looked at him with a confused stare while he walked over to large rock near his backpack. Reaching behind it, he pulled out a guitar he had stashed earlier. When he pulled it from the case, she could see that it was old and well-used. He was so focused on getting set up, that he didn’t notice her expression slowly turning uncomfortable.
“With all the time we’ve been spending together working on the song for the festival, I made one for you.”
She sat there uncomfortably, trying to not be rude. The song was very rudimentary, even more than his playing. The rhymes were forced but heartfelt. His nervousness and missed notes were horribly apparent.
When it ended they sat there in awkward silence for a few seconds.
His voice was shaking slightly as he spoke. “Well, um. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’ve had a lot of fun writing music with you, but I wanted to know if you wanted to just hang out… outside of that.”
“Look, Tyson. I told you at the beginning that I just wanted a duet partner for the competition. I’m sorry, but, I would rather just keep it at that.”
“Oh… yeah. I understand.” He tried to play it off, but his disappointment was still obvious.
They marinated in their tension filled silence.
“Hey, uh. My mom needed some help cleaning out our garage today, so I really got to get back.”
“I can walk you. Just let me grab my things.” He started to get up to help but she waved him off.
“No, it’s fine. It’s a straight shot to our bikes.”
“I can walk you to it and come back for this stuff.”
She got up and slowly started walking backwards. “No, I don’t want to make you keep walking back and forth. Thanks for taking me to see my first sunrise. It was really nice.”
“Oh, no problem.”
She quickly took off the blanket and sat it on the boulder. She nodded uncomfortably and climbed down the hill. Tyson sighed, leaning against one of the upright boulders and tried to un-creepily watch to make sure she got to her bike safely. When she rode off he put his guitar back in its case and grabbed the blanket she’d left. He rolled it up and stuck it above the picnic breakfast food for two that he’d also packed. He loaded all his stuff and slowly made his way down the hill towards the path.
A creaking figure watched him go from a dark opening between the rocks. As Tyson rode off on his bike the shadow slowly pulled its way out into the breaking daylight.