Thursday, July 15, 2010

Nostalgicmiss Week 10 Entry: The Light in the Trees


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Nostalgicmiss' Choice: Both

The Light in the Trees

What we need is a persuasion
What you give is retaliation
I hope one day we meet again
I hope one day we love one another

Top Ranking by Blonde Redhead

"Come on! You know I would never let you get hurt."

"Oh that's very reassuring. Especially if both of us end up plummeting to our deaths."

"You're such a drama queen," Haden sighed, bending at the waist to pick up a stone. He tossed it straight up and caught it a couple of times before sending it out into the middle of the ravine with one of his well known speed pitches. It careened into the water, the splash muted from the distance. "Megan, I promise the reward will be worth it."

My stomach fluttered, but I wasn't sure if it was his "promise" or the way my eyes moved to the large red bridge that covered the huge drop beside us. I liked Haden, I always had. We'd been best friends since I stuck my gum in his hair in third grade. His mom still likes to bring up that story, which he always manages to steer us away from. Thank God.

I didn't know when these new, unfamiliar feelings started settling in, but I knew I could never act on them. We were best friends and that was it. He was one of the best looking guys in our university, of course he was dating Ava Driscoll, the most popular airhead who - I swear - believed gum chewing was a major she could take. Unfortunately, she also looked like a supermodel, I had no chance.

I was five foot five, had raven black hair, my body was that of a stick insects which Haden consistently teased me about by shoving burgers - with more grease than I could ever possibly stomach - under my nose. Thankfully, the fire engine red highlights had done something to break up the monotony of my plain Jane appearance, not enough to capture the one set of eyes I truly wanted.

So, after twenty one years, I was resigned to move on. Not think about him in that way and just pretend my body wasn't a huge traitor.

"And what, will make risking my life worth it?"

"How do you have the ability to do that, Meg?"

"Do what?"

"Make a suspension bridge sound like a fucking precariously placed log."

"It's a talent."

Haden laughed and picked up my hand, tugging me towards the bridge that hung over the gorge. I dug my feet into the earth below me and shook my head fervently. I'd been afraid of heights my entire life, he knew that. It wasn't going to change because he wanted to show me this mysterious, yet exciting, discovery.

The only questions I had were, did it really have to include this bridge? And why was it so late in the day? Sunset was literally like an hour away.

"You're going to love this. Just close your eyes and let me guide you over here. I can't believe after three years here I only just found this."

"Haden, I can't. You know I caaaa . . ."

Before I could even finish speaking, I was over his shoulder and he stepped closer to the red suspension bridge.

I wanted to scream, I wanted to thump my fists against his back in hopes he would put me down, but before my brain could even process the thoughts; he was stepping onto the bridge and I was paralyzed by my fear. My eyes scrunched closed as I fisted the cotton of his shirt to keep me secure.

I was going to hurt him when he put me down. He knew better than to force me into something I was uncomfortable with. My muscles screamed with the tension in them. I could feel every bone in his shoulder, every breath he took seemed to push the joint deeper into my ribs.

I knew the moment we were further on the bridge. Even with my eyes closed I could feel the air around us opening up. The breeze was stronger and seemed to come from everywhere. My hair, that had been hanging limp down Haden's back, now danced around us both tangling in his arms as he moved. Lastly, but certainly not least, came the movement. The bridge seemed to waiver and rock in the wind; I could feel Haden compensating for the lack of balance and it made my heart hammer against his body in vengeance.

I had to stop over thinking this.

Concentrating on anything but where and what we were doing, I let my mind focus on my revenge. It didn't last long, his familiar musk seemed to permeate my brain dragging the thoughts away from what I wanted to do in anger to what I wanted to do in lust. My brain concentrated on the hands gripping the exposed flesh of my thighs. I was happy and pissed I'd worn shorts.

All too soon, I was being dropped to my feet. I tried to force breaths out of my lungs to get rid of that all encompassing smell.

Of course then he opened his mouth.

"See, that wasn't too bad was it?"

My eyes flickered open as my chuck clad feet came into contact with his shins.

"Not so fucking bad? Have you lost your goddamn mind?" I screamed, watching him hop on one leg as his hands ran up and down the area I had just impaled with my toes.

"Was that NECESSARY?" he bellowed, tentatively placing his foot back on the ground and turning those hazel eyes on me.

Ha! He was angry. I could tell with the darkness in his eyes, they always tended to move toward brown when he was mad or upset. I preferred the mossy green most days, but the results seemed to satisfy me this time.

"Yes. It was. Maybe now you will comprehend no when you hear it screamed at you!"

Haden mumbled under his breath and gave me a look over before marching into the tall trees that littered this side of the valley. I snorted in response, but followed him regardless, the more space I put between my body and that bridge the better.

"I can't believe you kicked me."

"It's not the first time, and it certainly won't be the last. Especially if you pull shit like that."

"I was trying to help you out."

I rolled my eyes and marched past him along the worn path that weaved through the trees. He and I seemed to have a very different opinion on what 'helping' entailed.

"It wasn't even that high, Meg. And if you'd have opened your eyes for a second. You would have seen how beautiful it was."

I stopped and turned to face him.

The bastard grinned and winked.

"The river kicked up quite a breeze though, huh? I felt you shudder a couple times."

Don't blush. Don't you dare blush. I coached myself. I could probably play it off as anger, but I hated lying to him. I turned around and marched off to save myself the embarrassment and he slapped my ass hard for lack of response.


"Yet, you still love me."

"I'm starting to wonder why," I retaliated, stepping over a fallen tree trunk. "What the hell is so important that you had to scare me half to death anyway?"

"You'll see," he answered, taking the lead again with his long strides.

I followed him deeper into the woods holding my silence. I trusted him implicitly, but that didn't make me any less curious. I knew nothing we were going to do would hurt me, but it had the distinct possibility of being completely odd or just plain ridiculous. I'd known him long enough to realize that. He had a brilliant mind but refused to use it when it came to his common sense. Hence Ava.

"Do you remember our obsession with the X-Files growing up?"

"Are you serious?"

"No, not at all," he quipped sarcastically. Even looking at the back of his head I could tell I was getting a huge eyeroll. "It was a yes or no question, Meg."


"Do you remember your favorite episode?"

"You want me to elaborate or stick to the yes and no?"



"What?" he shouted, stopping and turning to face me. "All I heard about was that one episode for weeks. You made me re-watch that episode until the DVD gave up working."

I shook my head.

"What is the matter with you?"

"Hayd, you know I barely remember yesterday. What did you expect?"

"Just stop being so damn pedantic and think about it."

I did. I moved forward when he started walking again and tried to search my memory of all those years ago. I remembered having a huge crush on Mulder, while Haden had a thing for Scully. The undertone of will they won't they kept us in full suspension and fully attentive on the screen ahead of us. I just couldn't remember the show that I constantly played. There was one that . . . No.


"Ha! Knew you could get there eventually."

"You found one?"

"Yep, but they don't travel."

I jumped up and down and clapped my hands in excitement. My hands slapping Haden's arms as I did. "You should have told me."

"You say that now."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"It would never have got you across that bridge."

I bit my bottom lip, letting the teeth impale the flesh there. He was right, in hindsight I could see that nothing would have made me cross that bridge on my own volition. Nothing.

"Your right, so I formally apologize for kicking you."

Haden held out his hand with a smile and I knew I was forgiven. Of all the adventures we'd had as children, only two of them had started out without an argument of some kind. I loved our expeditions, but I had to be coerced into it, so we would always start with a fight . . . more to the point, me fighting the inevitable. Haden tricking me into it so I would finally realize he was right. Then we made up and made another memory together.

We trekked for what felt like hours, but they were easy. We talked about everything we'd missed in the others life over the last couple of weeks. He'd been spending more and more time with Ava, and even though I couldn't stand her, I knew it was important to Haden, so I carried on spending all my time with my roommate Christa and pining over the one guy I could never have.

I could never tell him that though.

Night fell through the forest like a blanket. One moment the jade greens and dancing light bounced from the dark bark of the trees, the next, we could barely see five inches in front of our faces.

"Almost there."

"Yeah, well if I break my leg you're paying the hospital bills."

"Stop being such a baby and grab my hand then. It's like five minutes away." He scooped my hand up in his and pulled me close to his body. His head was bowed so he could see the ground below him. How he was able to see anything in this suffocating darkness was beyond me, but somehow he managed it.

We climbed an incline that seemed to glow the further we traveled up it. The inky darkness of night once again gave away to this illusion of day with each step we took.

"What is that?"


"Your a genius."

"So are you apparently. Think about it."

"Oh . . . Oh! Come on."

I took the lead and tugged him behind me now I could see again. My excitement was palpable. I knew what we were doing would be somewhat taboo in civilized society; but considering neither of us were particularly good with etiquette, I figured I was safe.

The beams of light were bright through the trees, highlighting the dust motes and humidity that hung in the late summer air. It was an eerie look, one that often emulated ghosts in the horror movies Haden loved so much, but was a completely different meaning to me here and now.

As I came around the last bend I stopped dead in my tracks. Haden slammed into me with force and mumbled an apology as he stepped around me. Not that I was listening. I was mesmerized by the scene in front of me.

Black canvas was hung from the trees, dipping in between the places it was roped. It fell to the floor kissing the bracken gently and hiding what it could of the small community of shacks and tents that were spread out in the forest. It looked like a little village. I could hear the thrum of the generators filling the forest. The light came from a banner that hung between trees, and sure enough, it read: FREAK SHOW.

People were gathered around the entrance of the tent waiting patiently for entry to the show that was sure to be interesting. The memories I had been searching for earlier came flooding back into the forefront of my mind making my stomach churn with excitement.

"Told you."

"You did. Where did all these people come from?"

"You don't want to know. I took the route of least resistance up here, but we're going to have to go back the hard way. I figured you wouldn't want to know about it."

"Please tell me it has nothing to do with heights or . . ."

"It's a zip line."

No. No, no, no. I would camp out in the woods and take the damn bridge back before I ever agreed to do that.

"Breathe, Megan."

I couldn't remember how to, until Haden slapped me on the back roughly. The panic was making me dizzy enough to the point that the oxygen burned as I dragged it in.

"Look we'll figure something out. Just wait here while I go get us some tickets."

I nodded. My jellied legs wouldn't carry me anywhere anyway. There was absolutely no risk of me wandering off somewhere. It was probably a good thing he'd waited until now to tell me about the trip home.

I watched him walk away before crouching closer to the ground and gripping my knees to my chest. A zip line meant a greater height, a bigger drop, a longer fall. Why did that have to be the only course of travel?

"Miss? Miss, are you okay?"

I looked up to the voice that was inquiring to my well being and tried not to react. The face that greeted me was streaked with mud, the outfit was torn pants and a hole riddled t-shirt, and he wore no shoes. Still, it wasn't the first thing I noticed about him. His eyes were a translucent blue, with dots of amber lining them. Even in the diffused light they were obvious and hypnotic.

The face that framed them was ruggedly handsome, the jaw square and cutting, the nose long and regal looking. His black hair hung about his cheeks, mixing with his unshaven beard, that did nothing but make him look more handsome.

"Are you alright?" he asked, the flecks of amber almost rippling through the blue with his emotion.

"Yes, just not good with heights. I've just been informed of my mode of transport home."

"Oh that," he chuckled, offering his hand to me. I took it and enjoyed the warmth of his skin against mine. Standing straight he must have been at least a head taller than me, and I found myself looking up to find his eyes again. "I'm Tate."

"Megan, but you can call me Meg."

"Meg. I like it. What brings you here?"

"My friend, he found this place by accident one day."


I felt myself blush. Knowing that he wanted an explanation for my companion made my stomach curl in excitement.

"My best friend. His girlfriend doesn't like nature very much."

The amber in his eyes seemed to swirl with the very obvious confirmation of my relationship status. Christa and I had talked boys a lot over the past couple years. I had been sadly lacking in the dating department. Most guys on campus seemed to think Haden and I had something on the side, so they avoided me at all costs. I wasn't exactly memorable either.

"I have to get ready for the show. My dad's the wolf man, hence the obviously ripped clothes, but maybe I could give you a ride home later? So you don't have to endure the zip line?"

"You wouldn't mind?"

His grin grew at my weak acceptance. He hands moved deep into his pockets as he backed away.

"No, I definitely wouldn't mind. I'll meet you at the entrance after the show. Your friend will have to sit in the back I have a truck and it's not exactly big."

"That's perfect, thank you."

He smiled and nodded, and before I could say anything else, he disappeared into the black forest where the glow of light ended. Maybe this was the best idea Haden had ever had. Maybe the endurance of that bridge and the walk from hell was all for a reason.

Knowing Haden and I could never be together had always made things difficult for me. I had never even looked past him to see anyone else. I was locked in a trap with blinders on. I preferred my self imposed torture to the unknown that seemed to linger just beyond it's boundaries. Tate was the first person I had actually seen outside of my own little world of Haden, and it gave me an odd sense of hope.

Maybe I could move on after all.

To Be Continued . . .