Enter Katie Holm
“The Night is ours
don’t stop, we’ve come this far,
Jump on this crazy ride,
shine bright like shooting stars”′
‘Shooting Stars’, Alpha Centauri
I’d been told on more than one occasion that looking younger then your age was a benefit: slower aging, cheaper movie tickets, and extra trick-or-treating candy every Halloween. But did anyone ever think of adding anything to the Cons side of the list? Like getting kicked out of a rated PG-13 movie when caught without your ID or being escorted home by a police officer patrolling the streets on your way home from school because he mistook you for a lost child wandering about in the area?
Who was the moron that ever said that in the first place?
I wondered this as I stared at my youthful reflection in the mirror;a small, round face framed with a tousled, tangled mop of shoulder-length auburn curls. My features included full and bow-shaped lips, set of large, hazel-green eyes, a non-existent neck, big protruding ears, and a short, button nose. I was fifteen years old with the appearance and the voice of ten year old girl. The fact that I stood at four-eleven on the dot didn’t help matters much.
I sighed and unscrewed the cap of my toothpaste and pinched it gently, releasing a glop of minty white paste onto the bristles of my toothbrush.
Whoever was the genius that decided to go around telling people that looking young was a benefit in life was obviously wrong. Well, at least in my experience. How was I suppose to find a ‘crowd’ to hang out and fit in with if I was constantly mistaken for a naïve, snot-dripping sixth grader with bad hair? I bent over and spat into the sink. This was just one of the many dilemmas that played throughout my life.
“Katie?” my mom called from somewhere downstairs. I wiped the back of my hand over my mouth and stood upright again. “Yeah?”
“We’re leaving in ten minutes!” she called. “Ten! No later!”
I hastily shoved the toothbrush back into my mouth and brushed like there was no tomorrow. Gosh, I really hated Monday mornings.
I ran back into my room across the hall, threw my closet door open and skimmed through the various colorful pieces of clothing I had hung up on coat hangers and rolled into balls on the shelf on top instead of folded like my mother would’ve liked. In a panic, I grabbed the nearest things I could find that smelled decent; a thin dark purple sweater, flowered gray leggings with tiny red roses that dotted it, black ballet flats, and a short denim mini skirt. Not exactly the kind of outfit a girl with any kind of fashion sense would wear, but desperate times called for desperate measures, didn’t they?
I quickly yanked my baggy sweats off my legs and then slipped the leggings on and up they went. “Katie?” mom called again, this time sounding slightly annoyed.
“Cuh-ming!” I called back with a mouthful of toothpaste and rushed into the bathroom to spit. I rinsed my mouth with cold water and sprinted back into my room again. Ten minutes couldn’t possibly be over already, could it? I pulled my shirt up over my head and then reached out for my sweater. Instead, I grabbed at nothing. What the heck? Irritated, I tossed my shirt aside and glanced around my room looking for the missing sweater. What the heck was it? I just had it…
“Almost down!” I interjected and slipped my flats on. I ran back into my closet and grabbed a tight-fitting, turtleneck sweater off the rack above my head. I wrenched it over my head and reached out for my school bag. At least my sweater matched my leggings. Finally, I slipped my mini skirt on and rushed into the bathroom for a comb.
And then I saw it; my dark purple sweater was laying on the floor with a toothpaste stain on the front. I mentally kicked myself. How could I have not noticed the stupid thing in my hand the whole time? I plucked the comb off the counter and stomped down the stairs toward my mom, who was waiting by the door with my coat under her arm and a disapproving frown on her face.
“You’re late,” she said and handed me my coat. “I said ten minutes, you know.”
I rolled my eyes and put my coat on. “You didn’t tell me that we were leaving so early. I didn’t even shower or wash my face.”
Mom sighed and glanced down at her watch. “Let’s go. Mr. Dos Santos will have our heads if we’re late again.”
I sighed and sauntered past my mom to her vehicle of choice; a white 1997 Dodge Caravan. I mentally rolled my eyes at my mom’s drab taste in cars. Why not get something flashy like a black Ferrari Spider or something classy like a dark Mercedes CLS 550? Instead, she decided to settle on a ‘homey’ soccer mom minivan that was lamer then she was.
I climbed into the car and strapped myself in.
Mom rounded the front of the car and pulled the driver’s side door open and then climbed inside, digging into her purse and grumbling under her breath as she did. I drummed my fingers against the dashboard and sighed loud enough to let her know that she was taking too long.
“Kitty-Kat,” she said without looking up, “have you seen my car keys?”
I didn’t know whether to be angry with her for slowing us down and losing the keys or upset that she’d just called me by my most hated nickname.
“Give me one minute…” she set her purse down on the seat and disappeared inside. I mentally groaned and titled my head back against the seat. And she says that I was the one that was always so unprepared and slow? I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. Knowing how my mother could be, we could end up showing up for school around lunch time. Not that I had anything against that, but it would be bad for her since she was an English teacher at the Dixie Community College half a mile away from my school. Sighing, I reached over to unbuckle my seat belt when someone vaguely familiar caught my eye.
What the heck? I blinked and leaned forward to make sure I wasn’t dreaming.
He stood there, one hand tucked into the rear pockets of his ripped, faded jeans and a lopsided grin etched onto his glorious face. His thick, wavy, golden hair was pulled back into a messy ponytail at the nape of his neck and his eyes- oh those seductive moss green eyes- were fixed on the cell phone he was texting on and holding close to his face.
My heart rowdily against my chest, threatening to break through my rib cage and jump into my lap.
Ohmygod, I thought, stunned and speechless. Ohmygod!
Ohmygod! Eden was here! Eden was standing right down the street! With no screaming fan girls or bulky security guards? There was no mistake- I knew my Eden anywhere. I swallowed the growing lump in my throat and reached over to unbuckle my seat belt with trembling, sweaty hands. What were the chances of this ever happening to someone like me? Oh. My. God! The youngest member of Alpha Centauri was here!
Eden looked up from his text conversation and glanced around once before he crossed the street, headed south toward the busiest part of Dixie. He was headed downtown- on foot? I hurriedly slipped away from my seat and forced the door open. It was now or never. How many Alpha Centauri fan girls had the chance of snagging an autograph and a picture? How many of them ran into them in small towns like Dixie alone and totally unprotected?
I stepped out of the car and began to run. It’s now or never, it’s now or never…
“Katie!” mom called, sounding confused and appalled. I stopped short and turned on the ball of my heel. Mom scowled and fisted his hands on her hips.
“And where do you think you’re going?” she demanded.
I glanced over my shoulder at Eden, who was now about to disappear around the corner. I had to squint just to see that walking piece of sexiness. Yum.
“I’ll be right back!” I said and pointed urgently in his direction. “I have to do something!”
I turned and ran for it. To my surprise, mom came after me.
“Katherine Kitten Linda Holm! I demand to know where you’re running off to!” she yelled, her heels click-clacking after me. She was easily falling behind.
“I’ll be back mom!” I shouted back and darted across the street.
I sprinted down the cracked sidewalk, gasping heavily and out of breath. I wasn’t fat or lazy, it was just that I wasn’t use to running so much and so hard. If you were chasing after a mega famous star of the hottest boy band of all time, then you would’ve been doing the same.
I approached the corner and spotted him already a few good yards ahead of me.
I mentally groaned and took a deep breath. Had he panicked and started running? How could he be so ahead in such little time? I wasn’t that slow, was I? With one last breath, I sprinted forward again, running at full speed and trying to ignore the growing pain in my side. A wise man once said that when life handed you a once in a lifetime opportunity, you should take it and grab on to it with both hands like your life depended on it. My heart thudded violently against my chest and my lungs burned for me to stop and provide them with air.
No can do lungs. You’ll just have to wait.
That wise man was definitely right. Wit my last jolt of energy, I reached out and with my hand and grabbed onto the end of his dark blue cardigan. Eden jumped and whipped around fast with his fists up, making me trip over my own feet, and sent me flying into a tall, dark gray, stonewall. My face collided with it hard, sending a spray of sharp needles of throbbing pain to the middle of my forehead and the tip of my nose.
“Arggggggh!” I cried out in pain and my hands flew to grab at my burning injuries. My face! My friggin’ glorious face!
“Oh my god,” Eden said, sounding panicked and baffled, bent down next to me. He turned me around and attempted to pry my hands off my face.
“Let me see,” he grumbled and pulled at my wrists.
I moaned aloud and leaned forward, screaming and moaning in pain. What the heck was I doing? I had one of the hottest teen pop star sensations since like the Backstreet Boys here beside me trying to touch my face and here I was hiding it from him. As painful as my fall had been, I still had to get that sighed autograph and picture.
“Let me see,” he grunted and pulled at my wrists again, this time with more energy and urgency. “Don’t be so stubborn- just move your hands!”
With one last moan, I let him pry my hands off my face and look at me. Ohmygod! I couldn’t believe it! It was Eden! He looked even hotter in person. I let out a shrill squeal of delight.
Ohmygod, ohmygod, ohmygod!
My heart fluttered away in my chest and tears bubbled on the rims of my eyes. Oh my god! It was Eden! It was-
“Katie! Katie- baby, are you hurt?”
I groaned aloud and buried my face in my hands again. Oh God. Of all the rotten luck of the world, why did that rotten luck have to barge in and ruin my moment? Dang it!
“Katie- what did you do to my baby, you bastard?” mom screeched like a housewife on crack. Slowly, a throng of stunned and befuddled pedestrians stopped short and stared at me, eager to know what the big commotion was about.
Eden jumped at her tone and dropped his hands from my face, looking pallid and shaken. “No, I-”
Mom swung at him with her purse, screaming at the top of her lungs and calling out for someone to call the police. She managed to hit him a few times in the chest and face with a few good swings before I intervened.
I jumped to my feet and grabbed hold of my mom’s arms. “Mom! Mom it’s okay! He didn’t hurt me! Mom, stop!”
Mom’s vicious swinging ceased and Eden leaped back again, panting rapidly with his arms up over his face and staring at us like we’d just recited the alphabet backwards in Japanese while juggling eggs on a unicycle. He-llo? How about a thank you? A ‘Thanks Katie for stopping your wacko mother from damaging my super perfect face’ or a ‘thanks Kat for stopping me from beating my future son-in-law to death’?
“Oh my god! Katie, oh baby, you’re bleeding!”
I blinked up at her in confusion. Blood? I touched my forehead and stared down at the tips of my scarlet fingers in surprise. I hadn’t even felt anything. She rummaged through the contents of her purse and pulled out a handkerchief. She began dabbing gingerly at my wound. Ugh!
Eden glanced around nervously and the crowd as they twittered among themselves and occasionally pointed at him. He pulled the hood of his jacket low over his face and offered me his hand.
“You may need stitches,” he said, pointedly ignoring my mom’s death glare. “We should get you to a hospital.”
And then he smiled at me in the most angelic, glorious way I’d ever seen a person smile. Oh baby...
I melted right there; I swayed back and forth and my heart fluttered away in my chest again. Mom reached out for me, looking alarmed and bewildered, shouting something I hadn’t understood. Eden caught my and flung me over his shoulder.
“Let’s go!” he cried and took my mom’s hand.
He pushed his way through the twittering, eager crowd, impatiently elbowing some and demanding they get out of his way and shoving others aside peevishly. I moaned once more before I slipped into a pool of warm, deep darkness that rushed up to greet me.