Monday, October 25, 2010

AJ Silent Voice Week 23: Just One Day

AJ Silent Voice

Picture 1

Picture 2

AJ Silent Voice’s Choice: Picture 1

Just One Day

Sara meticulously picked the labels off each bottle. In her head, she sang the song about the bottles on the wall. You know the one where they come off the wall or something? At this point in the day, coherent thought was difficult. She chose this beach because the kids on the rez didn’t care how old she was. And she needed that. Most of her meager wages went to necessities, but it was her birthday, damn it, and she had a right to celebrate. She leaned heavily on the bottle in her hand, well aware that she’d have to leave soon. She was always leaving someone...something.

“Hey, Sara.” a voice called from behind her. She knew that voice.

Without turning around, she nodded. “Jake.”

He sat down next to her, stretching his legs and planting his arms behind him as he reclined into the sun’s rays. Evening was coming and a slight breeze was picking up off the water. She dug her toes deeper into the sand and let moisture seep between them before flicking the dirt off. The waves crashed against the shoreline in a steady rhythm, and she revelled in the comfort. Things came and went...came and went, and eventually came again.

Story of my life, she thought.

“What’s the occasion?” Jake finally asked. His perfect, olive skin picked up the light so perfectly that it seemed to absorb right into him. The Earth drank up his form as if they were united. And he couldn’t lie, it felt amazing on his skin. Jake never knew a time when sunlight couldn’t cure all his ails. He hoped that Sara was finding as much comfort in it as he was; God knows she could use it.

Jake hadn’t known Sara for long, nor did he know her well, but he could tell that something was off.
They'd met at the diner. Jake was coming off night patrols and had a hankering for a big burger. He walked in and took a table. The redheaded waitress recognized him and knew his usual order, so she put the ticket in and gave him a purposeful wink. He cringed and grinned back.

A girl was at the register talking to the cashier. From what Jake could gather, she'd come up a little short. Being the gentleman that he was, he walked up and offered what she didn't have. She thanked him profusely and told him to swing by her work so she could pay him back. He could tell she was embarrassed, so he told her he would. He was in the neighborhood a few days later and stopped into the convenience store where she worked and they struck up a conversation. She was new in town, so Jake invited her to a party. The rest, as they say, was history.

But today was different. Sure, she’d come to the parties on the rez a few time and indulged, but never to this extent. He took in her face as she tried to find the best way to phrase her answer. The breeze caught her long locks and feathered them lightly against her cheek, and with her sandy hand, she wiped them away leaving a bit of sand. Jake dusted off his own hands and, without thought, brushed the grains of sand off her skin. Her eyes closed slightly as if she were savoring something so exquisite, and she could hardly contain it. The smile that crept across her lips made Jake blush.

“Nothing important,” she said. She accidentally let out a small burp and they both had a hearty laugh. “Just the day I was born.”

Jake’s heart dropped at the nonchalant way she spoke of her birthday. “Just your birthday? It’s just your birthday?” he said jokingly.

Sara laughed to keep from crying...she didn’t come out here to cry. “Yup, just my birthday.”

Sara, never one for heart to heart conversations, decided it was about time to go. Shuffling around, she finally heaved herself up and clumsily began to dust off her damp clothes. Taking two wobbly steps, she tried to turn back to face Jake and landed smack on her ass. She laughed again, but Jake didn’t. He walked up to her and extended his hand. She graciously took it and he lifted her with ease. Standing felt good, but her rear end was sore. She’d probably have a bruise tomorrow.

This time, she took it slower and began picking up the glass bottles she’d shamelessly consumed. Again, slowly, she turned around and walked to towards the road and chucked the empties into the big, black trash barrell marked “TRASH.” She giggled at its obviousness, wondering what else it could possibly be mistaken for. That thought got away from her and her giggles turned to real laughter.

Clearing her throat, and gaining her bearings, she picked up the messenger back beside her and slung it over her shoulder. Jake had yet to speak, but she knew he was watching her closely.

Just let it go, buddy, she begged.

No chance. “Where are you going?” Jake asked. The tone of his voice was laden with sarcasm and reproach. He still kept his distance, but never let her out of his sight.

“I’m going to the ball!” Sara said, trying to twirl, but ending up stumbling into the trashcan. Jake moved quickly, keeping her from falling again. He wasn’t angry at her, but then again he was. Here she was, three sheets to the wind, alone, on her birthday, and she had no one in the world to share it with. No one except him, and he figured he was just an uninvited guest.

“Let me go, Jake. I’m walking home.” she slurred. He released her and watched her try to earn her footing again, and before long, she was walking up the embankment maintaining her upright status. He jogged to catch up with her. Before laying a hand on her shoulder, he caught her attention.

He and his boys had learned that lesson early. One night at a party, she stumbled and Paul tried to catch her. When his hand came into contact with her skin unexpectedly, she reared back and punched him square in the nose. Paul had to fake the pain from the punch and immediately covered his nose up while Sara shook her sore hand out. Luckily nothing was broken, but her knuckle looked pretty ugly the rest of the night. She switched drinking hands and said nothing.

“Hey,” Jake called, pulling her shoulder to him. She shrugged him off and tried to keep walking.

“What, Jake? I gotta get home. I have to work tomorrow.” Her voice was tired now, and he feared the worst.

“I need to run into town and pick up some spaghetti noodles. Why don’t I drop you at your place on the way?” he asked.

She stopped and turned too fast, and again she found herself in Jake’s arms. He was smooth and warm, and his body was strong and firm. Had she had the strength, she might have moved away, but she honestly didn’t want to. She looked at his face, his eyes, his hair, and, as if her hands had a mind of their own, she reached up and ghosted her fingertips across his lips.

“Sara....” But before he could finish his thought, she kissed him.

His lips were soft and warm; he tasted like cinnamon, and the taste sent her reeling. His arms stayed locked around her, and for a moment, she thought he would pull away. But, when he pulled her against him, she couldn't help the sigh that escaped from her into his open mouth. He deepened the kiss, tasting and savoring her, before pulling away and ducking his head. She wanted to protest, to demand of him what he'd freely given only seconds ago. Instead, she placed her hand on his chest, right above his heart, and leaned her forehead into his.

“Not like this, Sara,” he pleaded, his voice low and deep. She nodded once and he pulled her to her feet. She stood completely still, touching her fingertips to her still tingling lips. Jake rubbed his short hair and instead of walking ahead of her, he reached out and clutched her hand. They walked to his car together.

The ride was quiet; neither knew what to say. With the windows down, the smell of evergreens blew through the car. Nights in Forks held that magical smell, and Sara leaned her head back against the seat and let the breeze blow through her hair.

Jake's head was spinning with the memory of her body against his, the taste of her lips, and the sound she made when he pulled her close. He'd gotten lost in her...swallowed up in a moment he'd never forget. He tried not to over analyze it or dwell on it too much, but that was an impossible feat. His mind wanted to think on nothing else. He let go and imagined her smiling and laughing as they ran down the beach. He could see her lying next to him softly sleeping. He wanted nothing more than to wake up to her body every morning. He needed to touch her.

It took all his courage, but he reached over and ran his hand down her forearm and twined his fingers through hers. Her thumb caressed his, and he could have sworn it was the most soothing thing he'd ever experienced. But, all too soon, their ride came to an end.

“Sara...” he said. But before he could say more, he saw she'd fallen asleep with her hand in his. Careful not to wake her, he let go and fished her keys out of her bag. He was familiar with her things, having put her to bed a few times after a late night at the rez, so he knew where to go. Walking around to the passenger side, he opened the door slowly, pulled her bag over his shoulder and scooped Sara into his arms.

After getting her tucked in bed, he let himself out and locked the door behind him. He took out his cell phone and set an alarm so that he'd remember to call her and wake her up for work tomorrow. As he turned the key to start the car, he caught a glimpse of himself in the rear view mirror.

For the first time in a long time, he was really smiling.