In the Wake of Night

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Chapter 11

I wake to the sound of bird’s tweeting outside, and the sun beaming through my window. Last night I slept the whole night. I can’t deny how refreshed and restored I feel – coupled with the euphoria of what happened between Sophia and me. Caught up in my emotions, I almost forget the alarming reality. Did my note work? It is Saturday and without the common ground of school, I hope Sophia is available to meet up. I’m sure, by her demeanour alone, I can gather a sense of how things went.

I bolt out of bed and head for the shower. The warm water pours over me, unveiling my sensuality. As I rub my hands over my skin, I imagine they are Sophia’s hands. I’ve never felt more like a teenage boy. Here I am, daydreaming about a girl. The thought of her lips is enough to send me over the edge.

Leaving the confines of the shower cubicle, I notice how the bathroom has filled with foggy steam. The mirror screeches as I wipe away the moisture. I stand naked and dripping with my wet hair pushed back off my face, wondering if Sophia is doing the same thing just meters away. My body no longer feels like my own. I feel part of me is still pressed up against Sophia, parting her lips. As my fingers explore my desires, a knock bangs against the door, bringing me back to Earth.

“Lucas! You’ve been in there ages; I need a shower too.”

I quickly wrap a towel around my waist and head to my room to get ready.

“All yours mum,” I call back.

Inside my room, I marvel at the sight beyond my window. Sophia, walking steadfast towards my house. Clothing flings into the air chaotically as I search for something to wear. I step hurriedly into a pair of jeans and shove on a white tee. The doorbell sings as I fasten the last button.

“Coming!” I shout, bounding down the stairs.

Keenly, I open the front door and bask in all her glory. A smile takes over her face, so wide that new dimples form around her cheeks.

“Hi.”

“Hi,” she speaks happily.

“So… what are you up to today?”

“I was hoping we could hang out if you don’t have any other plans?”

We discuss where we could go and settle on Folsom Lake. It is a bit of a walk unless we can catch a ride. I enquire with my parents and practically jump for joy when my dad offers to give us a lift. We make our way out to the car together, taking in the beauty of the day.

“Looks like the suns coming out. Do you mind if I put down the windows?” my dad asks, and we comply.

The weather plants a seed, and I stop dead in my tracks.

“Hang on, let me just grab something real quick,” I call out before rushing back into the house. My hand grabs the camera on my desk, and I pull the strap over my head, allowing it to dangle with ease.

He sets off with the roar of the engine and we sit idly next to one another. In the rush of air, Sophia’s hair whips around her head, momentarily covering her almond eyes from me. I notice her hand laying against the seat and consider taking it in mine. I flash my eyes at the rear-view mirror assessing my dad’s attention. He remains fixed onto the road, so I act on my instinct. As we both gaze out at the passing scenery, I find her hand and push my fingers between hers. Without looking back, I feel for her acceptance. She squeezes back, and I grin with both delight and embarrassment – not yet used to this otherworldly feeling. The haze of brick finally replaces with forest green trees. As we park up, the expansive, shimmering lake comes into view.

“It’s lovely,” Sophia enthuses.

“Enjoy your day folks. I’ll come back for you both in a couple of hours.”

Pebbles crunch under the car wheels as my dad drives away, leaving us to ponder over the beautiful scenery. The air feels so fresh and inviting. Sophia lets go of my hand and begins to prance around the place, twirling like a ballerina.

“I love it here! I feel so free.”

Crossing my arms, I just watch and take her in. She looks completely at ease. All indications so far point to my note fulfilling my intention. The moment is too irresistible. I take my canon between my fingers and allow the lens to grind into focus. The camera shutters click and churn, capturing Sophia mid-spin, hair floating with rapture. Before she could stop, I zoom in and snap a shot of her perfect face up-close. She subsequently protests, so I let go of the camera and pull her gently onto the path, eager to start our adventure. We glide, hand in hand, around the lake, watching as the light sparkles against the surface. Folsom lies northwest of Sacramento within the hills of El Dorado. The area is synonymous with outdoor sports. Out here, you can do everything from camping to water-skiing. Dotted along the sandy beach, early risers relax and enjoy the boats peppering the reservoir. I search for a spot to soak up the sights. Eventually, we reach a worn bench and rest.

“I don’t want this day to end,” she utters, glancing out across the dam.

“That is how I felt yesterday.”

Sophia turns to me and plants a light kiss against my cheek.

“How did you sleep?” I enquire, searching her expression for any sign of change.

“I had the best sleep. Probably the best I’ve had since moving here.”

Relief floods from my pores. My letter did work. Thank goodness. The conversation switches to how I know about Folsom. I tell her about the many family trips I’ve had out here and the time I pushed my sister into the lake – much to her annoyance. On another occasion, I was almost bitten by a rattlesnake. They aren’t all that uncommon round here.

Sophia unpacks more about her life and explains how she’s always wanted a big brother, someone to look after her and someone to look up to. We search the sky for shapes among the clouds and stop occasionally to make out. Lingering between kisses, our eyes meet.

“Were you ever afraid that you would never find this?” Sophia nods towards our close bodies.

“Yes,” I lie, I never even contemplated about love. I didn’t understand it and wasn’t sure if I was even capable of it. Of course, now I know better, “you?”

Her eyes drop to her fingers, and I see her cuticles are bitten back, red and raw. As her hands move, I catch a glimpse of her arm. A long, deep and angry scar protrudes from her skin. It causes my jaw to drop and a gasp to escape from my throat. Seeing my reaction, she immediately tugs her sleeve down.

“I’ve been afraid of a lot of things. I’m just glad that I met you when I did.”

I do not speak to this, just wrap my arm around her shoulders as worry sets in. As well as her father, Sophia is a threat to herself. I need to know she’s okay, even when I’m not there. What if Fred starts up again? What if Sophia does something stupid?

I’d made a promise to myself after kissing Sophia. I would no longer violate her trust. However, I know now that I must. One more time. A plan morphs into my mind. As night falls and Sophia sleeps, I will find somewhere unsuspecting to place a camera. A camera I can control. A camera where I can always be with Sophia.

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