The Art of Fields

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Twenty: "Race you to the top."

Ashley

〰▪〰

“Where are we going?”

“It’s a surprise.”

“I can walk just fine,” I say, my tongue rolling over my teeth in distaste. I can’t whack his filthy hand off me though since his gun was pressed to my head.

He finds it funny, which just proves my point when I call him sick. “Nah, sweetie.” He turns to face Jake, whose jaw looked so clenched to a point of breaking but he didn’t act on any of his clouded red anger. The man runs a hand through my hair and I wince in disgust. His hand pulls on it and I grunt, not being able to move. “I think your boyfriend doesn’t mind either.”

We reach a long corridor with three people guarding the door in the far end. It seemed pretty far but we managed to reach it within a few minutes of the man’s incessant urge to piss Jake off. I decided to shut my mind off whenever his hands touched an inch of skin or his gun pressed against the back of my head. I’d just pull myself out of the situation and think about something else, something happier and less nauseous.

The man lets go of me when we reach the door, and shares some words with the three people guarding the door like their life depended on it. I feel large hands fill into the spaces of mine, making my heart skip a beat. I look at Jake and he stretches a half-smile with little sadness in it. “I’m sorry.” He says, after a few moments of examining my facial expressions.

“Wh--” I begin but the sick man turns to us and grins widely. He pulls open the door and motions us to follow, his gun wavering in circles over his fingers.

Without argument, we walk inside into a confined room with black and white walls. “Fuck.” The word escapes my mouth before I can retrieve it. Imagine seeing your best friends, tied down to chairs.

One the men shove me into a seat when I freeze looking around the faces in the room. He was different than the others, the stumble on his chin and his sideburns were turning a hint of grey, so he was older than most of the people I’ve seen here. Yanking my hand behind the chair, he tied it up in a cold and rough rope, securing it tightly. Jake sat opposite me, next to Jack, who’s head was hanging loosely. The door closes as the men leave. without another word.

My eyes were glued on him, worry and slight anguish filling my head. Jake looks at Jack, his head bending forward to get sight of him. When Jake leans back again, I notice the fail attempt. “Jack,” Jake says, biting his lips. He gets no response and tries again, “Jackie?”

Alexie sighs, “He hasn’t been talking for a while, I think he’s just exhausted.” Her eyes linger on him for a while, a divergent kind of a pain in her eyes.

“Jack,” I say, my words forcing through my mouth. “Say something, please.”

“Don’t give up,” Alexie states, with a plea tracing her voice.

His upper arm twitches slightly but his head stays out of sight. “I didn’t. I can’t talk, it hurts.” His tuff of black hair whips up, his dark green eyes glimmering in pain. He stretches a smile, “I didn’t give up.”

I crack a smile on my lips, a relieved sigh leaving my mouth followed by some form Alexie and Jake. Alexie shakes her head, “You should’ve just let me help you.”

Jack narrows his eyes at her, “I care about you too much to see you get hurt.” I prevent the choke from my throat, from escaping and Jake widens his eyes at me. When the hell did those two happen? The look in Jack’s eyes was filled with adoration and sincerity, his small smile tugging in hope. Alexie snickers and shakes her head, her eyes never leaving Jack’s.

Jake tilts his head, “Okay, so I get to be your best man right?”

Jack twists his head weakly to Jake, “Nah, that’s Lucas.”

“You cut me real deep, Jack.” Jake states, a joking grin on his lips, “Cut me real deep.”

I laugh light-heartedly, “That’s a line from Shrek!”

Clik.

The door rustles from the other end, shutting us up within a few seconds. It swings open and Nick is the first face I see from the four that enter. Chase and Diane following behind him, their faces clones each other as they share the same dreaded emotion of failure. They get dragged to chairs that were empty next to my side. Chase occupies with Diane next to him, but I couldn’t see her.

The other man that Nick was with, turns and leaves, holding the door open for Nick from the outside. Nick stays, his eyes lingering on us. I notice his slight regret, “Why?” I ask, grabbing his attention by an invisible rope.

He shoots his head to me, his eyes piercing through mine. Not a word uttered for what felt like minutes of staring. He purses his lips, rubbing the nape of his neck before leaving, not looking back. The door closes shut with a soft thud, echoing in the bijou room.

My eyes droop shut from the hysteria of the day, my head hanging in random directions. I notice everyone’s eyes shutting down, the light conversations ending as we shut our eyes out of this confusing nightmare.

The air grew fierce, but it wasn’t anything we couldn’t handle. The mountain was high above, almost taunting us with it’s height and muscularity. The trees were shifting in the breeze that was slapping against my reddening face. Two layers of clothing still couldn’t die down the boreal temperature of the day. I rub my gloved hands together, igniting some heat in my hands and looking to my sides. A smile tugging on my lips as I stared at the nine people I’ve spent so long with.

“Quit checking us out and climb!” Hunter says with a hearty laugh from everyone else. I roll my eyes as I look back to where I was standing.

Hooking my hand in between the crevices, I pull my body weight up and grunt as the haul takes all the energy in my body. We finally reach a sturdy plain which we were standing on and walking through a short path up. “Race you to the top.” Diane claims with a huge infectious grin.

Jake charges up, “You’re so on!”

“You ain’t fooling anyone with that, child!” Chase retorts from afar, his voice soft by the time it reaches us.

Everyone starts yelling at the top of their lungs, defending a none existent ego challenge of how each one could reach the top first. I reel myself from the reel myself from the fruitless conversation and stride up, my feet hitting hard against the cold rough path. A hand creeps onto my waist, and I giggle. Hunter whispers, but loud enough for me to hear. “I was just kidding, you can check me out.”

I slap his shoulder, “Shut it dork.”

“Sure.” He says, shrugging, “But you love this dork.”

“Maybe.” I state and he presses his soft, warm lips onto mine. His head snaking through my waist as I wrap mine over his shoulder and around his neck.

He grins across my lips, “I love you.”

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