It was the perfect setting, really. The perfect combination of imagination and reality. I was running hard, but going nowhere. Out of breath from the mere effort of thinking alone.
The pier wasnt far now, and I knew he'd be waiting at the end. Waiting, waiting, but slipping away as surely as I was getting closer. I pushed a little harder, because he was everything. He was the key to this whole goddamn thing.
When the tidal wave came, it swept me away. Even through the waves I reached for him. But I was drowning and he was standing still, uneffected by the rushing waves that had surrounded me. So I did the only thing I could do, the only way to make it out alive. I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and let go.
"Austria, wake up."
I squinted against the California sun into the grinning face of my best friend. Nick reached down to push my tangled hair away from my face. "Dude, you looked like you were tripping hardcore. What the hell goes on in that head of yours?"
Rubbing my eyes in a vain attempt to erase the sleep, I rose to a sitting position and shrugged. Nick plopped down on the edge of my queen sized bed. "Well," he went on, "I'd hate to be trapped in one of your dreams. Come on; we're going to get breakfast."
Days in Santa Monica had all sort of blurred together. I'd been living with Nick since my parents had kicked me out, three years earlier. Now I was nineteen, and I had never been so content. With the sun so bright, it was hard to feel trapped by darkness.
I went through the usual routine of getting ready, showering and brushing out my impossible brown curls, climbing into a teal green sundress. In the mirror, I appeared composed, alluring. Beneath the surface, I was cracked and smudged. All the things I could so easly hide.
"Hey, princess." Nick poked his head through the bathroom door, his sloppily grinning face framed by a mop of shaggy blonde hair. The perfect image of a California boy. The most inviting face I'd ever seen. I held out a hand to summon him, and so he came in and took me into his arms. Nick and I had never really been an item; we didnt want to compromise our friendship. But he was the only person in the world Iknew would always be there. Nothing could take that away.
"You look beautiful, Austria. Really." Nick pulled away, but not before he pressed his lips to my forehead. "But I'm starving."
I rolled my eyes. "Alright, prince charming. Let's go."