Paradise City

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Blake and Leah believed they knew each other well, but when secret feelings start tumbling around them, the two friends are forced to reconsider. "Leah, no one lives life to the fullest. That is a myth. Everyone experiences a downfall, and the unlucky ones experience multiple downfalls. If everything in life were good, then life would be too easy." When painfully envious and brutally self-conscious Blake Maxwell falls in love with his best friend, the carefree and ethereal Leah Simons, he begins to face a multitude of issues. But, when Leah begins to piece her own feelings about her supposedly best friend, the Gordian knot of their friendship constricts them further. Blake Maxwell and Leah Simons have been best friends since Leah moved to San Diego during kindergarten. They are inseparable, and they tell each other everything. Leah is the carefree, loving friend that Blake is in need of, but their feelings become more convoluted after one fateful vacation. Blake has always been attracted to the wonderful and spiritual Leah, but how will he and Leah deal with their complicated emotions and their friendship? Will the two sacrifice their friendship for the perfect match, or will they realize that perfect is not all that attainable? “Very well written and extremely meaningful.”

Romance / Drama
Amanda McGowan
Age Rating:

Prologue - The Beginning

"Go. Please, just leave me."

You wouldn’t know about me before the thing that I’m about to show you. And I mean that. I'm not one to lie about my identity in an attempt to appear more famous than I actually am so that when someone does recognize me, I look more well known. You know, sorta like fishing for compliments but with someone's actual face. Let me give you an example.

"I'm just little Ricky Butler. Nothing special about me. I'm just your average, run of the mill teenager."

Now a random person approaches our Ricky Butler on the street and interjects Ricky's overtly plain description.

"Wait! You're Ricky Butler from Ice Cream Tales! Man, you're a legend!" See? Now, since our "ultra regular" Ricky Butler has ordinary-ized himself just so, his recognition appears that much more amazing.

People who do that are fakes, and I'm no fake. I'm not a Ricky Butler.

I am what they call a third party member. A bystander. An observer. I exist within the story, but I hold no true nor tangible presence. I watch from afar, listen from near, wishing I could change the events that unfold in front of me. However, because of my inexistent importance, I linger in the shadows of doubt, anxiety, and uncertainty. I wait for the moments in which it would be possible to intervene, but I am forever locked in a chest of nothingness and invisibility. I can never escape because I have been designated to live within the space and watch the people I love from inside. I lack a key or anything to pick the lock that cages me inside. Quite simply, I am unimportant. I am just simply someone who is part of the story, but I do not matter. Therefore, I think it is safe to say that I am trustworthy. At least, I hope I am. I supposedly have no biases because I am supposed to remain in my box of social confinement. I cannot affect my surroundings because I simply cannot interact with them.

I want to say that they were a beautiful pairing, those two. I want to have the power to say that they were always searching for methods to display their innate and instinctive love for one another without having to make their "more than just friends" connection obvious. But, because of my insignificance, I can only exist to describe their vices, foes, and faults. I can only listen to their problems, but I am prohibited from fixing them.

They were the idealistic friendship.

He met her in the spring of 2005, during kindergarten. He was a carefree six-year-old riding his bicycle up and down the neighborhood road. A red bicycle, one that turned a dull shade of cherry red when the spokes of the wheels spun. She was an angelic five-year-old sprawled out on her front yard counting the number of clouds in the sky.

This was the regular format; he was always riding, and she was always counting. But the boy grew tired of simply observing the girl, so the boy garnered his childish courage and approached the angel of the front yard.

And there was the girl now, so beautifully and exquisitely real. Her deep blue eyes like two deep ravines that pulled the boy towards her ethereal stance. The boy was standing five feet away from her, but she held some sort of presence that made the distance seem much more minuscule. He could smell the scent of floral on her skin, and her long golden hair illuminated the soft jelly behind his green eyes. The gold of her hair was inside him now, lighting him up with each step he took, carrying him through the life of dreadfulness that he would later face.

She had a crown of daisies around her golden locks, and her mother was singing a soft tune while the girl continued to follow the swirling patterns of the sky above her. The boy found himself in a trance, it was all too beautiful for him to witness. The garden angel, the young angel's mother, the laughter of the sweet girl, it was a powerful combination.

The girl did not wait, she approached her visitor with joy and curiosity, which sparked the young boy's interest. The boy looked around him. The garden, the enormous, white, crystalline structure that was labeled as "the new girl's house" amplified the wonder of the gloriousness of the circumstance. There was the boy and the girl now, shut away in their own world of child-like wonder while they curiously observed each other's faces.

"I'm Leah, and I'm five," she stuck her tiny hand out to shake the boy's hand. The boy took the hand and replied, "I'm Blake, and I'm six." A foreshadowing of what would come, one child would do one thing, and the other child would reciprocate. It was a simple yet profound experience, which encapsulated the enduring friendship that the boy and the girl would soon develop.

The girl giggled, and the boy laughed. Soon, they began riding and counting together.

When the little girl first walked into kindergarten, she immediately noticed her neighbor friend. Every other kindergartener noticed the girl's large glasses and looked confused and taken aback, but the boy immediately smiled and exclaimed to the class, "She's new! Her name is Leah, and she lives next to me."

From then on it was always Leah Simons and Blake Maxwell. Leah and Blake played together during recess, they worked together on group projects, they rode the bus together, they saved each other seats, they did everything together. It was the blossoming of a connection that would last forever. The two became close, and in the summer right before the start of second grade, they built a little hideout in the wilderness behind Leah's backyard. That hideout became The Place. The Place was a location that was supposed to be where the two children went to tell each other secrets, camp out during the summer nights, and simply be with each other while they talked and laughed. The children swore to each other that The Place would remain special and that they would always tell each other everything in The Place. They continued this practice, and soon The Place became their location to strengthen their already magnetic bond.

During the winter of third grade, Leah and Blake were playing make-believe in Leah's bedroom when Leah's mother received a gruesome call.

"Blake, it's your father," Mrs. Simons handed the phone to Blake with trembling hands.

"Hi, Dad," Blake did not talk very long before he broke down into sobs. It was quite a sudden reaction, and without any context, it would seem almost random. Leah did not quite understand the situation, but before she could ask anything, Blake's father was at Leah's front door and Blake was gone.

"What happened to Blake?" Leah asked.

"Blake's mommy passed away, sweetie. You may not be seeing much of Blake for the next few weeks," Mrs. Simons tried to hide her tears through her explanation.

"What? How did Mrs. Maxwell die?" Leah was unsatisfied with Mrs. Simon's answer.

"She died in a car crash, someone hit her. Blake and his father need to plan the funeral now," Mrs. Simons was correct in her prediction; Blake was not at school for the next three weeks, and he did not knock on Leah's door to ask to go to The Place.

"Mommy, I miss him. When is Blake going to come back?"

"Leah, baby, Blake is currently feeling very sad right now about his mommy. It may take a while for him to come back," But Mrs. Simons was incorrect in that prediction because the next day Blake knocked on Leah's front door.

"Can we go to The Place?" Blake asked sheepishly. Leah wasted no time in taking Blake to their haven. But once they arrived at their sanctuary, they found it completely destroyed and vandalized - litter and debris covering the floor of the house.

"Let's go back to my house," Leah said while holding Blake's hand. Blake was crying uncontrollably; he was always the more emotional one of the two. Blake explained everything to Leah, how his mom's killer was intoxicated and rammed into her car when she was driving back from the grocery store, and how it took minutes for the last breath of life to escape from Mrs. Maxwell's mouth. The car was a disgusting shade of yellow, he described. The yellow shade engraining itself within his eyes, but it was overpowered by the hope of the pre-existing gold. He explained the funeral procession, how he would find his father crying in the middle of the night, how he would yell at Heaven for taking away his mother, and how he smashed every one of his toy cars. Blake's father stopped drinking after the accident. After Blake had finished his macabre story, Leah vowed that she would always be there for Blake.

Leah did not break this promise, and she stuck by Blake from that instance to the beginning of freshman year. Blake began to feel more and more strongly about Leah because he began to realize just how wonderful she really was. Not only was she strikingly beautiful, but she had one of the kindest hearts he had ever seen. She really was an angel in Blake's eyes, and this realization began what Blake called "the curse."

The curse began sometime during fifth grade. Blake began to obsess about the possibilities of kissing Leah, and he wished that some of his deepest fantasies would come true. But Blake knew the probability of Leah loving him back was slim, so he kept it to himself. But the curse manifested itself in different ways, and it began to make Blake even more emotional than he already was. Blake attempted to hide the curse around Leah. He attempted to make their bond grow stronger, despite the absence of The Place.

While Leah remained as the Spiritual One, Blake became the Emotional One.

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