Earlier that morning …
“Darn you, Yoshi,” she muttered, a Wii remote and nunchuck in her hands and music blaring through the huge speakers on either side of the family room. Funny it was called a
“family” room, when she couldn’t remember a time when both her and her parents had been in the room together. Mario Kart was on the screen in front of her, as it had been since three that morning ... it was currently twelve o'clock in the afternoon. She’d had another dream last night, a different one, but no less painful than the one that been haunting her for the longest amount of time. She’d woken up gasping. A thin sheen of sweat covering her body. With no Derek to turn to, no anyone to turn to for that matter, sleep had eluded her the whole night.
Leaving her alone with her thoughts and dreams. A state she was quickly learning to fear. It had been two week since the party, since the night she’d let go. The night that Jared had coaxed her out from behind the wall she had built in attempts at self preservation. Leaving behind the fort with little to no protection, and even though she had torn herself away from him the second she realized this, something was still there, something new.
Something she didn’t have a name for exactly. But she knew what it could be compared to, and that scared her. That section of what she thought, at the time, was a light in the midst of all of the darkness of a dreadful year. She couldn’t be tricked again, wouldn’t be tricked again, because she knew that all this newfound “light” would bring, was a boat load of heartache.
Mario slammed into her kart, causing her character to spin out, and crash into a colorful block wall nearby. Allison blinked back from the unseeing daze she’d been in, and focused on the television until it was clear again.
“Now you’re gonna get it, for sure.” She was just pulling back onto the paved track, when her cell phone went off. Speeding ahead of the characters that had been in front of her, Ally reached over to the end table next to the couch, and somehow managed to unlock her phone, and to put the caller on speaker, without pausing the game.
“Hey, D,” she said, gaining on Mario and slamming into him as she passed. “I was just thinking about you.” Mario boosted ahead of her, sufficiently bumping her out of the way. “Ahh!” She yelled, “I’m really not liking you right now!”
“Well then, that’s a new record for how fast it’s taken you to get mad at me.” Derek huffed.
“Oh, sorry. I wasn’t talking to you.” Gritting her teeth as two other racers passed her, winning a race in Mario Kart had never been this important to her before.
Derek laughed into the phone, “Should I even ask what you’re doing over there, Bunny?”
“Mario Kart. They’re killing me.” She said back, shaking her head as Bowser passed her as well.
“Mario Kart? I thought you were over that game.” Derek said, and she could tell he was smiling over the phone.
“Yeah, well things change. So either you get over here and play with me, or get off the phone, because I know you’re what’s making me lose.”
“Whatever helps you sleep at night, sweetheart.”
“Hanging up …” She said, not moving to do what she had just promised. Not seeing the point, as she knew what his response would be.
Derek sighed, “I’ll be over in five.” The call ended and Ally shifted her full attention to the game in front of her.
She laid on Derek’s chest, his arm looped snugly around her waist, watching Marvel’s Thor on Netflix., having grown bored of Mario Kart an hour ago. But her love for this Asgardian, was never-ending.
“I still don’t see why you like this guy so much.” Derek said, his third remark about the matter.
Allison looked up at him blandly, “I’m not going to explain the why’s of it again. It’s pretty obvious and I know I’m not the only one who feels the same.” She rested her head on his chest again, “If you want to watch something else we can.”
His arm squeezed her tight, “It’s alright. I know why you like him, it would be stange if you didn’t. He’s like, “every girl’s dream” as you said, right?” He was laughing as he said this and she pushed away from him, smiling.
“Jerk.” She said, his arms keeping her from getting any farther, and drawing her back to him.
“Sorry, sorry. I won’t mess with you about it anymore.” He smiled down at her as she looked up at him. Into his green eyes ... suddenly, those eyes became a shade of darkest gray. She flinched, shaking her head. You’re fine, you’re fine, she said to herself.
“Ally?” Derek asked, his smile changing to concern in a second, “You okay?” She lifted a hand, tracing her finger over the fabric of his shirt, noticing his breath hitch as she did.
“What if I told you something … would you keep it to yourself?” She asked, hand tracing down his arm, over his wrist, his own hand.
“Of course,” he said, his voice husky, his breath ragged. She pondered over his reaction to what could only be what she was doing for a second, but then, his hand closed over hers and he smiled in an almost pained way. “Could you stop that?”
Her eyebrows rose in surprise, “Sorry …” She said confused, she was about to say something else, when his phone went off. He looked away from her, reaching into his pocket, answering the phone.
“Hey Dad,” he said into it. “Ally’s. Yeah. Wait, today? Now?” Derek looked confused but he nodded and exchanged a few other words with his father before they hung up.
“What’s going on?” Ally asked as Derek stood up from the couch.
“My dad wants to go fishing,” Derek said, running a hand through his hair, “and he wants me to go with him.”
Ally stood up and stretched, laughing to herself. Derek’s father had always been the sort of man to do things on the spur of the moment, he obviously hadn’t changed, “Okay then. Have fun, and tell him I said hi. I still have to get over there to do it myself.”
Derek stepped toward her, and kissed her forehead, “Thanks,” he said. “And will do. I’ll see you later, kay?”
“Kay,” she said quietly. “Do you think you might come back later?” She asked him, not too fond of the prospect of spending another night alone.
He looked surprised, “Oh ... yeah. Sure, I’ll come back.” He smiled at her again, before he headed out the door and was gone.
The park was beautiful that day. With cherry blossoms spinning through the air, to eventually rest on the ground amongst others who had done the same previously. She ran hard, the only thing that mattered at the moment. She had found a few years ago that running gave her the same escape that playing did. When she ran, the only thing of importance was the rhythmic pounding of her feet against asphalt, nothing else. Not her present, not her future and certainly not her past. No matter how much she knew that in the end, she was running away from that too. But Allison refused to relive it. If running away was what she had to do to be happy, or at least, to live day by day, then that’s what she would do.
As she closed in on the hill, that marked the point where she turned around, a dog came bounding over the hill and straight towards her. She was alarmed at first, but she didn’t run. The husky came to a stop at her feet, panting up at her. She stared down at the dog for a minute, wondering where he’d come from. That was when the dog came nearer, rubbing against her leg in an obvious, “I want you to pet me gesture”, and she gave in. Crouching down next to the dog, she rubbed over his thick coat, awed at how beautiful and how well cared for, he was. With his shining, black and white fur, and lively, ice blue eyes.
“Hi there,” she said to the dog smiling. “Where’d you come from, huh?” She scratched him behind the ears, envious of the owner of this dog. Speaking of which, where was his owner, she thought. She noticed the dogs trailing leash and came to the conclusion that he’d gotten away from whoever he belonged to. She then noticed two Nike’d feet come to a running stop, almost tripping over her as they did. She assumed this was the owner, not looking up.
“Nice dog you have here, I just love huskies.” She said, still stroking the dog, knowing this was the end of their short lived relationship. She smiled at him, not wanting to say goodbye to the amazing animal. She’d always wanted a dog …
“He just came running at me –,” Ally explained, finally looking up at the mysterious owner, and felt her facial expression freeze. Her heart beginning to thunder wildly in her chest. What the …
“Yeah … he must like you.” Jared said, that British accent she realized that she had … missed, teasing her. No, you have not missed it Allison, her self-conscious berated her, he’s the enemy, a mere temptation that you do not need. That “mere temptation”, and what a temptation he still was, his cheeks flushed and hair windblown from what she guessed was a hard run like her own, at that moment was looking at her warily, as if he was expecting her to explode.
Meanwhile, Allison just sat there, crouched on the ground and arm around Jared’s dog. Of course the dog of her dreams was Jared’s, she thought and even then, she knew that she was stalling. But stalling what? What was she going to do? She knew this was going to happen, if not before then at school.
You need to get away from him, that consciousness of hers, that which she wasn’t quite sure was friend or foe, told her. Now, before you do something crazy. When she didn’t move and Jared continued to stare at her the killer blow hit, gray eyes … Allison stood up so quickly that the dog flinched. She refused to face this then, not yet. Summer wasn’t over just yet. She turned and ran in the other direction, toward the tree line. Her fight or flight instinct on overdrive. She thought she heard some choice and colorful, English curses, that she knew had come from Jared, but she didn’t look back.
She’d keep on running. That was all she had left. She had to keep on running. She heard twigs and branches snapping behind her and looked back to see Jared chasing after her. She turned back around, arms pumping harder and feet driving her forward with newfound purpose. You wanna play, lover boy? You’re going to have to catch me first, she knew he couldn’t hear her thoughts, but with the steady growth of the distance between them, he would get the picture.
She knew that if he caught her … she actually didn’t know what would happen. But one thing she did know, was that he would conflict her even more. Confuse her more … and in the process, pick off some of the stones from her wall. She needed to stay away, he needed to stay away, because this wasn’t happening, ever.
More cursing was incited, as she heard a burst of speed behind her. Fingers, fingers she knew were ringed with silver, brushed her elbow. But she sped ahead, veering to the left sharply and onto another wooded trail. Relying only on the fact that he didn’t know where he was going. Well … she hoped he didn’t know where he was going. If only she could make him understand, she couldn’t trust him.Trust was dangerous and needed to be earned. He hadn’t earned hers yet, and if she had it her way, he never would.
In the distance ahead of her, she noticed Jared’s dog sitting in the middle of the trail, and she frowned in confusion. That was when she noticed there weren’t any sounds of Jared’s approach behind her any longer. She dared to glance back … and saw nothing. Nothing but trees, grass and the trail she had been sprinting on as if her life was hanging in the balance. She came to a halt slowly, turned to face forward again and jumped about twenty feet in the air. Jared was in front of her, next to his dog. Proving that he knew the trail better than she did. Damn it … She took a step backward, preparing to run again.
“Please …” He breathed, panting slightly. “Don’t try to run again, luv.”
“Why not?” She said taking another step back. "Afraid you won't catch me this time?"
“I only want to talk ... can't you give me that?"
"I told you, you really don't want the trouble, Jared, and I really can't afford to be around you." She said, taking yet another step back.
"Give me five minutes, five minutes to change your mind." He implored her, a frown wrinkling his forehead.
"You'll be wasting your breath, because you won't."
"Five minutes." He said.
She sighed, this was getting nowhere, "Four minutes, no more." She reset the timer on her forearm, serious about his time limit. "I'm listening."