I’m dreaming. It’s the only way this is happening. Lane and I are sitting on the swing in my backyard, leaning against each other. I have my arm around her shoulders and her hand intertwined with mine on my lap. We sit swinging slowly as we marvel at the rosy sunset ahead. I turn to look down at her profile, and I feel my mind wiped clean of any thoughts. It’s just her. It’ll only ever be her. I lean down for a kiss, but a loud ringing starts humming so loudly that the entire world starts trembling. I turn to look at all the trees shaking and the world going dark.
“ACHOO!” I sneeze loudly, waking myself up, and hear a giggle beside me. I open my eyes and realize that I had stayed in Lane’s room all night. I’m currently resting my back and neck against the side of her bed, my head pulled back on the surface of the mattress with my mouth opened way too wide. In the far corner of my blurry morning vision, I spot a feather. I turn to see Lane laughing her lungs out, holding a feather pen in her hand.
“Oh yeah?!” I yell as I start tickling her sides, leaving her twitching away from my touch. Her laugh is incredibly wonderful to hear.
“Okay! I give! I give!” she pleads with her hands clapped together, the feather sticking out from between them.
I sit back down on the desk chair and look at her. The bun of hair that sat on her head last night had loosened and dragged down near her neck. Loose strands of hair frame her face, which somehow looks flawless, even this early in the morning. She crinkles her nose and scratches the back of head before pulling out her hair tie to release her long locks.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to stay all night. I was just tired from all the…” I trail off as I recall the events of the day before, when I had been closer to her than I could ever have imagined. “Can I use your shower?”
“Not if I use it first,” she responds quickly, as if it were an instinctive reaction.
“Don’t you have two bathrooms?” I stare at the lock of hair that rests along her arm.
“More like one and a half. Do you even have clothes to change into?” She points at my wrinkled shirt with her feather pen.
“I have some in my car. Wait, where’s your mom?”
“Not here. Go get it. I’ll shower first.” She gets off her bed, places the feather pen on her desk, and walks off.
I quickly run out to get my clothes, careful to lock my car on my way back, knowing what I’ve heard about this neighborhood. When I get back, she still isn’t done showering so I sit back in her desk chair, placing my clothes on her bed.
I swivel in the chair, looking at all the little sticky notes on her wall. I spot a pad full of blank ones in the corner. Pursing my lips, I grab the pad and feather pen. With determination burning the space between my eyebrows, I draw a little cartoon for her. I hope she’ll like it. I peel the masterpiece off the pad and stick it above all the other ones, hoping she would see it sooner.
She finally walks in after her shower with a towel wrapped over her head. I stare at her and in what she’s wearing.
“What,” she asks as she tosses a towel onto my pile of clothes on her bed.
“You misbuttoned your shirt.” I watch as she unbuttons her top button to readjust it. For a split second I could see her bra peeking out as she adjusts herself. I freeze, staring at her figure under her outfit. A button down top and a pair of jeans is as conservative as girls can be these days, but on her, it looked like heaven. And she was my angel.
I take a cold shower, almost feeling my toes freeze and break off. I try to stop thinking about her but as I lather her shampoo into my hair, I could smell her all over me.
As I get out of the shower, a rush of panic runs up my face as I realize I have left my clothes, and even the towel she gave me, on her bed. Carefully, I open the bathroom door and peek out.
“Lane?” I yell, hoping she would hear me. There are sounds coming from downstairs, like someone was cooking with pots and pans. Relieved, I quickly tiptoe over to her room and try to push the door without making the click sound when it closes.
I rush over to my clothes to find at least my pair of boxers.
“Oh good you’re done showering,” I hear her muffled voice from behind the closed door, which suddenly isn’t anymore. “How do you like your- OH MY GOD.”
I turn around, which was a mistake on my part, and I watch her, wide eyed, as she freezes and stares back at me, wide eyed. Her eyes are on my abs, but for a moment, I catch her eyes glance a little lower. Coming to our senses, I cover my member with both hands, crouching over, while she turns around quickly, staring at a blank wall.
She clears her throat, “Ho-how do you like your eggs?”
“Um,” I try to collect my thoughts, “Over easy.”
She runs out the door, closing it with a loud slam behind her. I let out a pocket of air that I held in for much too long. I quickly get dressed, glancing over to my little drawing on her wall with a smile.
“Just to get this clear,” I say as I descend from the stairs, “I’m a grower, not a show-er. So please excuse fun size Silas for being medium sized.”
To my surprise, she laughs, which I know should be a compliment on my joke, but makes me feel a bit self conscious about little me.
“Your food is ready,” she points at the plate on the dining table.
“What about yours?” I turn back to see that she has prepared herself a bowl of rice with an omelette on top and a few drops of soy sauce on it. The omelette had a peculiar smell to it. “What’s that?”
“It’s egg and fish sauce. I add soy sauce on top for extra flavor.”
“Can I try it,” I ask shyly.
“I just made you an all American meal over there! Eat your own food.”
“But I want to try this. Just one bite!”
She gives off a frustrated sigh and cuts into the omelette and scoops a bit of rice along with it. She flies the spoon into my mouth and I close my eyes to savor the taste. It’s odd how something that looks so simple can have this much flavor.
I open my eyes wide in excitement as I look at her. “This is amazing.”
She stands still, staring at me with a slight scowl. After a moment of showing her annoyance, she hands me the bowl, saying, “Ugh, fine. You can have it. I’ll take yours.”
I grin at her as we both take our seats across from each other. Before she even got to her bacon, I was already done with my food. With a cup of orange juice that has a straw reaching up to my lips, I sit with my face between my fists, sipping my drink. I catch her looking up at me and then smiling to herself.
“Hey, Lane, how do you like your eggs usually?” I take another sip from my drink.
“Scrambled. And I prefer sausage for this type of meal. Bacon belongs on a burger or a pizza.” She takes a bite out of her toast. I look down at my empty bowl. Why do good things have to end?
“Will you make this for me next time?” I regret it just as I ask it.
She looks at me with surprised eyes, but they ease into warmth. “Sure.”
I could feel my heart leap out of my chest. She’s confirmed there will be a second time.
I just want to see her as much as I can, before I mess something up and never get to see her again.
We decide that I will be her ride to school instead of her original plan to walk the whole way.
When we get to school, I walk off to my locker, but keep an eye on her to make sure she wasn’t getting anything from those stupid minions of Natasha. After the stunt I pulled on her, I can’t imagine she’d have the pull to have mini-bullies around school. I run into multiple people who try to high five me for what I did to Catherine Li at the party. I grimace and shake my head slightly to avoid that certain cheer.
That’s what made me lose my Lane.
In first period, I am startled by a little piece of paper that she throws over her shoulder. I unfold the note, and halfway through doing so, I see a note that says “THIS is college ruled paper. Put it on your shopping list!”
I silently chuckle to myself and continue unfolding.
“What did you do to Natasha? She’s not at school today.”
I smile as I scribble my short response.
Upon reading it, she turns around to give me a scowl. I grin in response and tap my index finger on the tip of her nose.
After school, I drive her to Scarlett’s house to meet up with Scarlett and Vinh. We each had a responsibility. Vinh will be the eyes, Scar will be the bait, Lane will be setting up the ears, and I will be the brawns, if and when necessary. Damon will be the backup and the tattle tail.
We all got into position when we arrived at her place. Scar is to have her phone on voice record in her bag. It’s all going down behind Scar’s house, where a large garden would have perfect hiding places for the rest of us. Scar will be near the back porch, where a couch sits. Scar’s bag will be on the floor under the couch, leaning against the wall. Just in case that won’t be enough, Lane has set up an actual voice recorder and hidden it under a couch cushion. Behind a large bush, Vinh has his camera ready in hand with the record button ready to push.
Scar had said that he usually comes looking for her at around 4 in the afternoon, when he was certain her parents are away at work. I stand next to Lane, a metal bat in hand.
Just as the clock hits 4, I see Lane run out of hiding and toward Scar. I almost yell for her but remember to keep my cover. I look in her direction and realize that voice recorder had fallen from under the cushion and onto the floor.
I feel my mouth go dry as I see Jeff and three other men approach the girls. All three men following him are large and muscular. They look like wrestlers. Villainous wrestlers.
“Oh, look! You brought a friend! Well, I’ve brought a few, too.” I hear Jeff speak to the girls calmly, “Told them I wouldn’t mind sharing some nasty, but hey, the more the merrier.”
I scowl in disgust and turn over to Vinh, whose grip on the camera is making it shake uncontrollably. I grab the camera from his hands and give him my bat. All this will be for naught if we don’t get all the proof we could get.
I record as the men approach both girls and I feel my last ounce of patience burn through until I look up from the screen on the camera to see that Vinh has entered the battlefield with the four monsters with nothing but my lousy bat.
I leave the camera facing the group of people, letting it sit on the thick bush of leaves. Running toward the men who are throwing their fists around on Vinh, I catch Lane’s eyes. She looks terrified.
Don’t worry Lane. I’m here.
I approach the largest guy with the heaviest punch I can give, but another stops my fist. I find myself overpowered by this guy as Vinh swings his bat at another. The largest guy approaches Scar and Jeff is holding down Lane’s wrists, pressing her down with his weight. I try to run to them, but my opponent continuously pulls me back. I dodge his punches left and right, but mine don’t seem to leave any effect on him.
Scar is screaming, as the man on top of her starts kissing her neck and trying to pull down her pants. She holds them up as much as she can, but it doesn’t looks like she’ll keep it up for long.
I keep hitting him, and for a second, as he takes a breath, I catch Lane’s eyes again. They look lifeless, like she’s accepted her fate. Jeff is still pressed on top of her, trying to unbuckle his jeans.
I could feel tears in my eyes as I take a hard punch in my jaw, but it’s hardly the reason for the tears.
I’m sorry, Lane…