Chapter 3: Reality Boy
He is everything she could wish for in a boy. But he’s too real and she’s too detached from reality.
“What are you doing after school today?” Austin walked alongside me, a gentle smile playing at his lips.
The wind kissed my skin as I walked, hood up and hands buried deep in my pockets. My boots dragged beneath me and my rucksack felt heavy on my back.
We were nearing Austin’s car, a run down land rover with half of the wind mirror hanging off, and I couldn’t wait to jump inside and sink down into the leather seats. Warmth hadn’t been a friend lately, and the cold weather was starting to take its toll on me.
“Where do you think?” I raised an eyebrow, yanking out one earphone and leaving it to hang at my side clumsily.
“There are so many places a girl could go, but we’re talking about you, and the only place you ever want to go is-”
“The Library.” We said in unison, the smiles we exchanged like a game of ping pong.
“I couldn’t of said it better myself.” I teased and jogged forwards, letting my hood fall down and my hair unleash like a waterfall behind me.
Austin hastily pulled his car keys out of his pocket, and the clicking sound of the doors unlocking welcomed us in. I jumped into the passenger seat, exhaling in relief, and yanked up the heating in an instant. Austin got in beside me, blonde hair flopping lazily over his forehead and brown eyes tired. He put his hands on the steering wheel before turning towards me, smile not so obvious but still evident on his face.
“I’ll come to the library with you.” His voice was as calm as a summers breeze.
I shook my head slowly and softened my expression, “I wouldn’t be good company.” I pointed out.
“I don’t mind, you’d still be there.”
The car came to life.
It’s engine howled into the hazy grey sky, talking to the trees and sending the woodland creatures scuttling. My seat rumbled beneath me, making my legs turn to jelly.
“But I wouldn’t, not really.” I argued.
My eyes wandered from his plump lips to his hands clasped tightly around the steering wheel, the veins in his wrists popping. His shoulder blade peeked out from beneath his shirt, and his ripped jeans exposed his caramel skin.
Flinching, I looked away and turned to face the window.
Don’t get me wrong, he was gorgeous. Surfer boy blonde and warm brown eyes. Dimples and delicate features, a smile like a morning sun. But at the same time...he was too perfect. Too real.
I wasn’t into bad boys, I wouldn’t take a second glance at them. But I wanted someone who would put me on edge and keep me second guessing. Someone that had a story, and someone who was nowhere near what people call ‘perfect.’
If you were standing in front of a mirror, you would see everything crystal clear. No questions, no complications. What you see is what you get, but you don’t necessarily like what’s in the reflection. It doesn’t tell a story, and you don’t see one.
If you were standing in front of a broken mirror, you’d have to try and see beneath the cracks. When you do that, you begin to learn things that you wouldn’t have seen if the mirror was fixed. You see things you don’t like, things you fear and things that fill you with doubt.
You begin to ask questions and wonder. You learn it’s story. You see a thousand things yet nothing at all. You discover the fractured truth.
Austin Myers was crystal clear. He was simple. He was obvious. I could never fall in love with a boy without a story because the story is what I would fall in love with in the first place.
So, reality boy, you will have to be let down easy. Because reality is the one thing I am going to stay the furthest away from.
“What do you mean you wouldn’t really be there?” Austin questioned, taking a seconds glance in my direction before turning back to face the long road ahead.
“I mean, when I’m reading I’m not really there. I’m in another world. I’d rather give you my full attention than be half hearted company.”
He smirked, “That’s not possible Kris. This is the real world, this is what matters and what counts. I don’t understand how you can immerse yourself in books so much anyway.”
Exactly, I thought, you’re blinded by reality.
“Maybe you’re right,” I lied through gritted teeth, “It’s stupid, really.”
“No worries,” he smiled at nothing in particular, “I find it kind of cute.”
I coughed and leaned forwards, racking my brain for a change of subject.
Relief washed over me in a welcoming wave as my eyes met the pathway I had walked a thousand times before. The slabs of pavement were crooked and broken against each other, and the leaves fell from the trees in constant flurries, settling to the ground before being blown away by the wind.
Street lights lit the way, creating pools of yellow light and making the pathway seem eerily beautiful. You couldn’t see past the corner, and it got darker as the path continued as if it was fading out into nothing. I thought of it as a portal, and when I stepped through, I felt immediate content.
Blinking twice, I took a deep breath and turned back to face Austin, who was fidgeting awkwardly in his seat.
“You want me to drop you off here?”
“See you tomorrow.”
The engine came to a shuddering stop and Austin reached over me to open the door. His hand brushed against my waist and my breath caught in my throat, eyelids flickering shut and body becoming tense.
I gulped and stumbled out, eyes still half closed.
My feet hit the pavement and I stood still for a few seconds, trying to shake off the feeling of his touch. It was as if his hand was still there now, fingertips kissing my skin and making me shiver. That split second of a moment before he’d yanked his hand away, creating blissful unease and making the air still around us.
“Thanks for the ride...” I whispered, lifting my eyes up to meet his.
But he’d already gone.
I was just in time to watch as the car disappeared off into the distance, sinking into the sky like the sun had sunk into the horizon.
Reality boy, driving away from a girl who was lost in fantasy.
The same girl who was going to meet fantasy itself.