Monday 14th August 2006
"I told you I was rubbish at this." I pouted as I pulled up my fishing rod, the line still bare despite there being a large piece of bait on the end of it. Seth chuckled beside me on the small boat which rocked underneath us. He had already caught four small fish and set them free again. "We make no profit from this, you know."
"But its fun, isn't it?" He leaned back, letting out a sigh and closing his eyes. "Just here... in the middle of the lake... the sun above us."
"Hmm." I mumbled, gazing around us to the lake hoppers and dragonflies that skipped over the water. The sun had made an appearance today. It was hot, basking down on us, making my bare arms warm. Grandma had insisted that I was to put some sun cream on though I'd like nothing more than to be tanned. However, that never worked out. I wound up looking like a lobster if I spent too much time out in the sun as a child.
Seth tilted his father's fishing hat over his eyes, a soft smile on his lips. "We've got the whole summer to do crazy, exciting stuff, Eve."
"I know." I said quietly, letting out a breath, closing my eyes briefly. "I don't mind things slowing down." I whispered, my voice carrying on in the warm breeze. "Especially on a day like this."
"Yeah. Damn, I wished we lived in California or something. This is great." He murmured. My eyes slid open and I smiled, lying down next to him. He wrapped an arm around me so I could use it as a cushion. "Why don't we? Why don't we just go to California?"
I peeked at him, frowning a little. "Seth, you can't leave here."
He smiled sadly. "I know. But... I thought that maybe in the future you'd want to go. Fresh start."
"Those are always nice, but..." I gazed up at the sky, squinting at the brightness. "This is home. Whether it's rainy or sunny or stormy. There are too many memories here that I never want to leave."
"When did you get so smart?" He chuckled lightly. The action made the boat rock a little and I grasped him tightly. "Oh, you scared of going in?"
"No, Seth, don't-" I whimpered. He flashed a grin, looking up to me. My heart skipped a beat as he swept some of my hair behind my ear.
"I won't." He said quietly, wrapping both arms around me. I let out a sigh of relief, lying back down, savouring the warmth as I closed my eyes.
We stayed out on the lake for a long time. Just talking... alone, just the sound of bugs and water around us. We laughed at old memories and he made me cringe a few times when he reminded me of my embarrassing moments on the lake or by the sea. Such included the time when we were on a school field trip and I wore a fluffy purple jumper when we were supposed to be wearing wet suits. Another time we were swimming in the sea when a piece of seaweed wrapped around my ankle and made me fall on my face when I tried to get out of the water. Such memories can't be suppressed easily with Seth Clearwater around to remind you.
He then caught a whiff of food in the air and we rowed back to the strip of beach where the old canoes lay. He pulled the boat up as I gathered the hooks and fishing rods. I began to walk back when I slipped on the pebbles and instantly I felt the pain of one of the hooks scraping against my finger.
"Ow." I whispered, gazing down and seeing my index finger had blood welling up on it.
"Oh, shoot." Seth ran forward and before I could do anything he pulled my finger up to his lips, taking the blood away, making it clean. My heart began to hammer hard and he frowned as he looked down at it. "You'll be okay, it isn't too deep." He murmured, looking up to me. "What did I tell you about being careful, Eve?"
"Uh..." I stammered. He shook his head, smiling a little as he grasped the gear from my other hand. I caught up with him as he began to walk back to the house. "Um, so Logan's coming tomorrow." I told him, my mind still racing from the encounter.
"Yeah? Cool." Seth grinned. "We should all go to the beach. Catch some waves."
"He'd like that." I said quietly. He then beamed as brightly as the sun above us, racing me back to the house.
The next day
"You have a girlfriend?" I hissed, eyes wide as my brother bustled into the house. He carried two bags in his hands. One was his usual black and grey one- while the other was pink.
"Yup." He grinned. I peeked around him to catch a glimpse of her. She was shutting the car door behind her. I grimaced when I saw how beautiful she was. I stared back to him, my eyes hard. "What?" He sighed heavily. "Come on Lynnie, I am an adult now." He pushed past me to greet our grandparents with open arms. Sighing a little, I slapped on a brave face, smiling politely at the girl.
She came into the house, all bright green eyes and long, sleek black hair. She was slightly tanned, wearing a white blouse and pale blue jeans. Her eyes sparked when she saw me and she smiled, showing her perfect white teeth.
"Evelyn!" She gasped, reaching forward to hug me softly.
"Er... hi." I mumble.
"I'm Carmen." She said. "Wow, Logan has told me so much about you!"
I smiled. "Yeah, I'm sure." I closed the door behind her and she ran off to hug my grandparents. I crossed my arms and looked at my brother. He just rolled his eyes, wrapping an arm around me as we walked into the living room.
"How's Seth?" He asked.
"Um... fine. Why?"
"Nothing. Grandpa and I were talking about you two." He smiled, sitting on the sofa next to Carmen. She beamed, taking his hand. I sighed, sitting down in an armchair, wishing Seth was here instead of him being on patrol.
They talked about silly, mundane things as I sat back and crossed my legs, gazing out the window, my eyes tracing over the full, plush trees and how the branches rustled in the breeze. My eyes gently drooped. I hadn't been sleeping very well for the past few days and I didn't really know why.
"How about you, Evelyn?" A voice suddenly asked and I looked around, a little dazed, to see everyone's gazes were on me.
Grandma frowned, crossing her arms.
"I mean... pardon?" I corrected myself hurriedly.
Carmen smiled softly. "We were talking about what's been happening over the summer."
"Oh..." I sat up, playing with my red bracelet. "I haven't been doing much... most days it's just me and Seth."
"Is he your boyfriend?"
My eyes whipped up to hers and I scowled, sitting back and crossing my arms. "No. He's my best friend."
"Sensitive subject, that one." My brother said quietly. I shot him a hard look.
"Hey, you know nothing about the relationship between us. You haven't been here." I huffed, standing swiftly. "I'm going to the lake."
"Evelyn-" My grandpa started, but I was already out the front door, my arms crossed over myself as I meandered down the trodden path. It was refreshingly cold, my hair being swept up in the breeze, my heart pumping fast. Tears bit at my eyes as I crossed the long, dewy grass that clung to my jeans. The smell of the ocean and flowers mixed together around me as I stared over the lake. The water reflected the grey sky, rippling slightly. For the most part it was serene.
I crouched down and breathed out the sadness, clutching my stomach. Why did this hurt so much? It was ridiculous to feel this way.
"What's wrong?" Came an abrupt voice and I almost toppled over in surprise. I didn't have to look up since he crouched down beside me. He tilted his head under mine, a small smile on his lips.
I stood and hugged him, squeezing my eyes shut. He carefully wrapped his arms around me.
"It's Logan, isn't it?" Seth sighed.
"Mmm hmm." I whispered, hiding my face in his shoulder. "He has a girlfriend." I mumbled.
"Whoa, really?" He pushed me back to arms length, his eyes excited. "What's she like?"
I narrowed my eyes. "Her name is Carmen."
"And you don't like her because...?"
I huffed, a blush of embarrassment rising on my cheeks. "She... um..."
He rolled his eyes, wrapping an arm around me. "You see the downside to everything."
"I do not!" I exclaimed. He just laughed.
After he calmed down a little he sighed, looking to me. "I'm sure she's really nice."
"You always say that."
"I do, don't I?" He chuckled softly. "So what do you want to do today?"
Gazing to him, I smiled quizzically. "I thought you wanted to surf."
"Whoever said that?" His eyes crinkled and he pressed the side of his head against mine as we walked back to the house.
We decided on baking. I knew my grandparents would appreciate it and the idea of focussing on one thing at a time made me feel a little better about the whole situation.
The windows were open, letting the fresh air in and the steam out. The oven was on and was close to Seth's body temperature. I had my grandma's pink polka dot apron on and Seth wore my grandpa's old painting shirt. It engulfed him, the paint splodges bright on the blue fabric, accompanied by oil and bread dough stains.
"How much of flour?" Seth asked as I tried to temper white chocolate on the stove. I glanced around.
"Oh... erm..." I frowned. "I think it's two cups full."
"You think." He smiled as he began to measure out the flour.
"What're you doing?" Came a sudden voice that made me jump. I glanced around and saw my brother leaning against the doorway to the kitchen, his arms crossed. I then noticed his hair was longer than usual, a five o'clock shadow under his jaw.
"Baking." I mumbled, looking back to the slowly melting chocolate, stirring the spoon with an intense look of concentration on my face.
"What?" He questioned and I could hear him walk forward so he was standing next to me.
"Well there's a pineapple upside down cake in the oven, Seth is measuring flour out to make strawberry tarts and I'm-"
"Can I help?"
Looking to him, I smiled a little. "Okay."
"Great!" He grinned, rolling up his red shirt sleeves and going to the sink to wash his hands.
"You're gonna make us look like total idiots." Seth chuckled. I glanced around as Logan began to crack some eggs in a bowl. He laughed.
"Hey." I said softly, frowning a little. Seth looked to me and gave me a lopsided grin.
"I always look idiotic around you."
Logan smiled. "You both are idiotic. I'm idiotic."
"Is Carmen idiotic?" I asked, a slight frown still on my lips.
"Of course." He chuckled.
I watched him for a moment- to see if he was truly happy. He had a little spring in his step as he danced around the kitchen, utensil in hand, his hair floury. Seth and him chatted and laughed as they poured batter in tins and kneaded pastry and dough. I delicately decorated the tarts with a drizzling of white chocolate and showed Seth how to drape the toffee icing over the sponge cake he had prepared while Logan finished the macaroons. His laugh was much more wholesome than it used to be and it even made me smile a little.
So when it came to our late lunch and we all sat around the table, I sat quietly beside Seth as food was handed around. It was warm and full of happiness, laughs sounded and jokes presented. My heart began to gallop and I felt so safe... so peaceful.
"Are you okay?" Seth murmured to me. I looked to him, remembering his bright smile on the lake yesterday, the feel of his lips on my finger as he took the pain away.
I nodded, smiling a little and leaning against his arm. "I'm fine."
So Carmen wasn't that bad. She was studying at Seattle University to become journalist but she had a love of interior design too. She told me she read at least one book every week and her room mate was an artist. She lived in a flat near the restaurant my brother worked in as a kitchen hand. Logan seemed to relax as Carmen and I talked. I didn't like to think I stressed him out, so I tried, at least.
In the night, as I prepared for bed and waited for Seth to reappear, I tried to listen to Carmen and Logan's conversation next door. They weren't arguing, from what I could tell. Their voices were muffled and soft. I sat on the edge of my bed in my pyjamas- which were pale shorts and a plain t-shirt since it was summer and Seth was super warm. I perhaps needed to invest into a fan.
I faintly heard my brother say "I love you" to her and I flopped down on my bed, breathing out deeply, feeling my lungs deflate. What kind of sadness was this? It was a hollow feeling, like I was trying to understand things I could not. I knew I missed my brother. I missed waking up and there being his home made bacon pancakes cooking on the stove for me. I missed his hugs- his skinny arms wrapped around me, smelling of bread and cinnamon. I missed many things in life, but there was a difference in this. My brother was still alive, just not within reach. It was as if I could see him but there was a thick pane of glass in the way. I could almost touch him but the glass separated us.
The sound of feet softly landing on my carpet made me glance to the window. Seth gently flicked the curtains to the centre of it, leaving just a gap to let the moonlight through. He knew I liked it that way. He looked around and grinned that I-know-you've-been-waiting-for-me grin and I stood up to hug him. He folded me into his arms, lifting me up and turning the light off with his other hand before laying me down on the bed, scooting in beside me. The sheets were crisp and cold, a significant contrast between the warmth of his skin.
His pine smelling skin. The breath of the forest lay on him and shaped his wind-blown hair, giving him a wispy, bedraggled look that I loved. He held my chin between his thumb and forefinger, his dark eyes capturing the moonlight. If I stopped breathing, I was sure I would hear his heart beat.
So perhaps the separation between my brother and me was greater than I thought it was. At least there was a rock I could return to, a serene cloud in this wild storm. Though Seth was not typically 'serene', he kept me safe. He kept me warm. He kept my heart fluttering whenever I saw him and kept my lips turning into a smile. I knew the time for Logan and I to settle things would come. But this time, this precious moment in which I was living in, made me feel like there was no sadness left within me.