Chapter 9 - Time-sensitive
The weeks in North Carolina seemed as if they were flying right by me. I finished re-reading Harry Potter just in time for my birthday and the release of the movie, both were happening this weekend.
My brother was acting extra weird which meant he was planning something and if I had to guess, I’d say it was a surprise birthday party.
I hated surprises.
But I loved my brother.
When I made it to school Thursday morning I was in an exceptionally good mood. Taylor was standing in front of my locker like always, but it looked like he was... what was he doing?
I walked closer and stopped in my tracks when I realized what was going on. He was shoving an envelope inside.
“What’s this about?”
I leaned into him, taking him by surprise.
“River! You’re early today.”
He told me with wide eyes.
“Yes, and you are shoving something into my locker... whatever could it be?”
I jokingly batted my lashes at him.
“Well, it’s your birthday present.”
“But it’s not my birthday yet.”
“You’re right, but it’s time-sensitive.”
I opened my locker and pulled the envelope out, wondering what the heck it could be.
“Can I open it now?”
I ripped through the paper and pulled out two tickets. I squinted down at the paper in my hand, eager to find out what he had given me.
Two tickets to the midnight showing of The Goblet of Fire.
“There’s a midnight showing? I had no idea.”
I looked up at him.
“I can switch them out if you’d rather go tomorrow night, or even on your actual birthday.”
He scratched the back of his head.
“What? No way. We’re going. Thank you, Taylor.”
I told him as I put slipped the tickets into my bag and gave him a hug. Then I remembered Beau telling me he would take me. He even re-read the book and watched the movies.
“Nothing, lets go before we’re late.”
When I got home from school that day Jackson was already home.
Another weird development.
He worked until at least six on weekdays. And even more weird, Beau was nowhere in sight. He made it a habit of being here when he knew Jackson wouldn’t and even when Jackson was here, he usually was too.
He was almost always around.
I’d been keeping myself busy with school work and reading. The school here was no doubt better than my last one but I still found myself bored with most subjects. My teachers took notice and I ended up in the guidance counselors office last week where she shoved early college course options into my hands. Jackson was over the moon about it but I wasn’t so sure.
I was bored but was I, college-level classes, for the heck of it bored?
I told Jackson about Taylor’s present and he repeated how much he liked “that kid” a few times before disappearing into the back yard.
I finished up my homework then decided to take a nap so I would be ready for the movie later.
I wasn’t sure how long I had been out when I woke up to the sound of my door closing. I opened my eyes and tried to make them focus in the dark room. The evening sky was peaking through the blinds but it did little to light up the space.
When my eyes finally adjusted they landed on my nightstand. There was something there that wasn’t before and I looked back at the door, wondering what the heck my brother was up to now.
The second I put my hands on it I knew it was a book, although the wrapping sort of gave it away too. I switched my lamp on and tore the brown paper off.
Then I stared down at my hands in awe. It was a leather-bound copy of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet.
I looked back at the door.
Jackson would never buy this.
I flipped the book open and a note fell out and into my lap, I instantly recognized the perfectly uniform letters.
Not sure if I’ll see you before your birthday so I figured I would give you your gift now.
Hamlet is considered to be Shakespeares’ masterpiece. I couldn’t live with myself if I stood by and allowed you to have a sour taste in your mouth toward William just because you had one of his lesser books thrown at your face.
I got up from my bed, barely containing my laughter. I searched the house but found no sign of him. Jackson came out from the backyard with Beau right behind him.
Jackson asked, pointing to my hand.
I looked down, I hadn’t even realized that I brought the book with me.
I said as I hugged the book to my chest, eyeing Beau.
“Cool. I’m going to take a shower. What time are you leaving?”
He looked at me and asked.
“Oh, probably not until eleven or so.”
He nodded then left Beau and me alone in the kitchen, I waited until he closed the door to speak.
“Thank you, this is... Well, it’s hilarious.” I laughed before continuing. “but its also very nice.”
I rubbed my finger down the spine on the book.
“No problem. What’s at eleven?”
“You said you’re leaving around eleven.”
He raised his brows.
“Oh yeah, Taylor got us tickets to the midnight showing of The Goblet of Fire for my birthday. But I want to go with you too, I mean if you still wanted to do that.”
I looked down at the floor.
“You wanna go twice?”
“I want to go with you. So, yeah.”
I could feel my cheeks turning red as I stood directly under one of the kitchen’s fluorescent lights.
“When do you want to go?”
“That’s what you want to do on your birthday? Sit through a movie you’ve already seen?”
I looked up at him and nodded.
He was so beautiful that it made me mad. It was unfair that I couldn’t do anything about it. I couldn’t do any of the unfamiliar things that were suddenly rushing through my mind.
I couldn’t reach up and stroke the scar that sat on top of his left cheekbone... I couldn’t rest the palm of my hand on his broad chest.
I could only admire him.
For now at least.
“Well, okay if that’s what you want to do. Is Jackson going to come?”
“Um, I’m not sure. I haven’t mentioned it to him.”
He nodded. I could tell he wanted to say something but I knew he wouldn’t.
Was he thinking the same things about me?
That I was outside of his reach?
I just wanted to touch him, to feel his skin underneath my fingertips.
I stepped closer to him and he looked down at me with his brows drawn together.
I wrapped my arms around his waist and he froze instantly, his arms still hanging by his sides. It didn’t matter though, I squeezed tighter enjoying the heat that his body gave off.
Just as I was filing the moment away in my memories and preparing to step back, I felt him sigh again as he brought his arms up around my back. I felt small pressed up against him and it only magnified the obvious gap between our ages.
But I didn’t care.
I knew there would come a time when age didn’t matter, it would become irrelevant.
No toes and no lines.
And I was willing to wait for it.