Chapter 14> continued…

Still not done with this chapter. My computer is acting rather glitchy with the mouse and keeps highlighting and deleting things… So in leu of not deleting everything I’ve decided to give it a rest and reboot tomorrow. Here is what I got down before I got to anxious to continue…

Unfortunately her parent’s wouldn’t hear of it. Her mother an father were both dead set against it, as they were both homeschooled themselves.

“I don’t understand the problem,” she had griped. “You both seem to have turned out very well. Both went to college and are highly educated well functioning adults so far as I can tell.”

“Indeed,” her mother had replied. “I consider myself very intelligent, and your father more so. That is not the issue at hand though, is it?”

“I don’t know, obviously. As I just stated I don’t understand the problem.”

Exasperated her mother sighed, “Rydell, do you enjoy being around people?”

“Aside from when I don’t understand you and Dad, I very much enjoy being around you, yes.”

Her mother chuckled faintly, “No. Not us. New people. Do you feel energized or drained when you meet new people?”

Rydell could feel her brows arch and scrunch together in confusion, “Most often drained, I guess. Why? What does that have to do with you not wanting me to be homeschooled?”

“If you had said with definite assurance you had felt energized, I’d be more willing to say yes to it. Homeschooling is a very solitary sort of growing up experience. Most who do it stay in one place. We travel. A lot. As it is though you said no. And for someone like you who doesn’t feel the drawing urge to meet new people, you’d likely not venture out to do so very often. You’d be fine cooped up in the house only getting out when you had to.”

Rydell unmentionably blew a raspberry through her clenched lips, “It’s not like I’m a hermit and have absolutely no social skills. I can hold a conversation, know my manners, and whatever else it is your scared I wont acquire if I don’t go to public school.”

Her mother laughed full out. “I’m not concerned with your manners or social skills. Those come just fine by your dad and my company. It’s more about being around people. Talking or not, or slurping your soup with your elbows on the table. There is something to be said for human interaction outside one’s on family. While I’d be honored if you wanted to turn out just like me or your father I’d never feel comfortable with it if we were your primary source of companionship. I more than anything, want you to be independent. Not to be a replica of me or your dad but to be your own person. And that only really happens with experiences outside of just us.”

Rydell hadn’t left the conversation on good terms. She still huffed and puffed and debated with her mother for another thirty minutes until, finally at the end of her rope, her patients snapped. “I’ve said my peace about it Rydell. While I’ll listen to your side, in the end I’m your mother and my word and your fathers casts the final vote. Though I sincerely hope you know we don’t do it to cause you pain in any way, we do in fact love you, but out of the fact that it’s best for you. Something that we both believe in because of our own personal experience and the wisdom of 30 something years behind us.” She sighed in deep resignation, “Now, go to bed, I’m done talking about it.”

She hadn’t understood and spent the night tossing and turning in agitation. She’d had lots of friends. She’d managed to make at least a few friends at each new school.

To be continued….

Advertisements

Chapter 14> April 2011: The Class

In all honesty I was terribly lazy today and didn’t write much. I spend a luxurious day of reading and chatting with a fresh returned roommate. Only to realize, I’d not given myself much time to write. I shall have to give this chapter a bit more effort tomorrow to get it done! 

It was somewhere around their third move, when Rydell was eight or so, that she begged her mother and father to home school her. Even at a young age it made little since to her to constantly stop and start her education with each move. She thought she held up a few very strong cases.

First and foremost was the ill effect on her schooling. Because they tended to hop across the country there was no solid base for instruction. That is to say that what California, Texas, and Massachusetts (yes she had lived in all of those states) taught was in many ways similar but also wildly different. Each state seemed to stress one part of education over the other. The west coast valued their arts classes, diving deep (even in elementary years) to the culture that sprung forth from music, art, and etcetera. The east coast was all about history and understanding it’s value so as to mold our current practice. While the south seemed to also favor history but rather as something sacred to be preserved in it’s authenticity but also had a certain high regard towards its physical and agricultural education programs.

To be honest Rydell had enjoyed all of these differences, as it gave her a new outlook and experience each time. However, she’d often enter a new school over educated or undereducated on any given subject. Often she’d find that her classes from one state to another would have already covered a topic she’d done before or have grasped a concept she’d yet to discover in another school. It was very irksome to find her bearings and reorient herself to the current of a new school only to be uprooted in the future to do it all over again.

On a less pressing note Rydell was an introvert. Being a new kid in school at the beginning of the year draws enough attention (even in a large school) but when you came in at odd points during the year, people took even more notice of you. She’d spend days, weeks even fielding question after question from teachers and peers. She’d spend months trying to find a group to that she could semi-comfortably fit into. All the while, exhausted from the pursuit of trying to blend in and not stand out too much. Of having enough friends so as not to cause her parents or school personnel alarm that she wasn’t “fitting in” but not so many as to cause exhaustion from the consistency of constant socialization. It was a hard row to hoe.

To be continued…

 

Chapter 13> November 1994: Dani

 

1. I started this chapter a few days ago with a rough outline. Today I nixed how I’d originally planned to end it. I still don’t think it’s done… it leaves off a little odd for me.

2. I realized a little belatedly that I switched perspectives toward the end…I’ve got a lot of Orson’s head going on instead of Dani’s. I’ll have to go back and rework this later, I think. 

Now what? She knew she wanted to say something; the problem was she hadn’t formulated the words. She knew she had to speak up or he’d leave right here, right now. The fear of that thought had given her enough motivation to call out for him to stop.

Unfortunately for as much motivation as it gave her it provided no clarity of thought. Now what? Her mind and heart still fought so furiously with each other. She still knew very little of her own intentions. Should she say she loved him when she wasn’t sure if what she felt was love? She’d never been in love and wasn’t sure what it was supposed to feel like.

She did know she’d never felt about someone the way she did about Orson. Never before had she met anyone who simply melded into her life, so entirely. His presence in her life felt natural, so unassuming that she had never really considered whether it would be love.

What were the words! The fact that she could only stand here staring at him infuriated her. Her heart felt like it was about to pound out of her chest. Obviously, it had something to say and her brain refused to interpret it.

Slowly Orson’s foot dropped from the stare where it had sat frozen. Finally, breaking the agonizing silence he spoke in a fragile voice, “I don’t know. It depends on what it is you have to say. To be honest, I’m not sure I could survive much right now…” His throat caught at the last sentence. It seemed to end before he was done. He still hadn’t turned to face here. He put out his hand and braced himself on the stairwell banister.

Something that felt outside of her will took her body over. She took a step. Then she took another. She needed to look into his face. Really look into it, the way she knew he did when he thought she wasn’t aware. Methodically she inched her way in his direction.

Orson still stood at the foot of the stairs facing the exit. Dani slowly came closer to him, his back tensing as she squeezed between his body the stairwell wall. She walked onto the first step and cautiously turned to face him.

Orson’s face was turned down toward the ground. It may have been only seconds but it seemed to her like an eternity before he allowed his eyes to rise and meet hers. Dani felt shock ripple down her spine as she felt again what she felt the first time she saw his eyes, a shade between green and blue, they were piercing and fathomless at the same time. The eyes of an observer, one who sees the world not only for what it is but also what it could be. One who sees beneath the surface and into the potential something holds.

His brow creased. She could tell he was questioning her intentions, her motivation to stand so close. His lips were tensed. His whole frame hovered in a sort of limbo, cautious to make any sort of move.

Finally she couldn’t hold her thoughts back anymore, “The truth is…” She paused and did her best to shake the foggy sensation that washed over her brain now that they were so close to each other. She tried to reiterate, “The truth is, I don’t know what I have to say because I’m just not sure what it is I feel. If you don’t mind though, I’d like to find out.”

The wrinkles on his brow burrowed even deeper. His gaze deepened as he fell into a sea of percolating questions. He managed suppress all but one. “And how do you propose you discover how you feel?”

Dani’s palm pressed against the space where his neck met the corner of his jaw. Her fingers slid back and coiled into the hair at the nape of his neck. Dani looked up and trained her eyes on Orson’s and swam. She swam through two pools a shade between green and blue.

She saw it, not through periphery sight this time but laid before her as brilliant as fresh snow in sunshine. She saw it, the look he always tried so hard to conceal, exposed and unfettered. Dani would never be able to explain how it was that just a look could mean so much more to her than words ever could. She knew he saw her free of any other notion of who she or anyone else purported her to be. He saw… her. That’s it.

Dani took one slow breath. She took a final look before lowering her lids, leaning a closer, and allowed her lips to hover near his. She could feel when his lips parted ever so slightly and allowed a warm breath to escape and rush over her bottom lip. She waited there patiently, not daring to allow herself to open her eyes.

It was and should be his choice. She knew it must be left up to him; it was his declaration that got them to this point after all. He should at least be given the option to risk it, to kiss her.

And wait she did. What must have been only a minute lasted for hours until finally, the tips of Orson’s fingers tentatively captured the curve of her face. His other rose and pinned a fallen curl back away from her face. He slowly drew her into him, urging her to bridge what little gap was left between them.

She tilted her chin forward in anticipation only to feel him gently restrain the action with the palm now laid across the expanse of chin, ear, and nape. Instead he tilted his own head near until his forehead rested on hers. His chest laboriously rose and fell as he looked down into her eyes.

“I was wondering if you’d let me take you to dinner? Not to study or to hang out, but as a date. The kind of experience two people engage in to foster a deep relationship. A date, the kind of experience where a guy hopes to convince a girl to fall for him.”

She quirked an eyebrow and smiled, “If I say yes, will you finally kiss me?”

Dani was close enough to his face she could feel the air shift as a lopsided smile took up residence on his face.

“No.”

Orson could feel the sink of her forehead wrinkle in confusion against his own. He lifted his head away and brought up his hand to press his thumb across her brow to smooth out the ridges.

“No.” He said again with a wider smile. “That’s something I’ll only do once you know for sure what you feel.”

Dani began to open her mouth to argue only to have Orson interrupt her. “We’ve spent the last few months as friends. And that friendship has gotten stronger with each new experience and conversation we’ve shared. I’m not one that believes a kiss will tell you everything you need to know. It’s biology, of corse it’s going to be an igniting experience, it’s something we’re programmed to enjoy. No. As a scientist I believe that we fine tune hypothesis through experiments, which test their validity until a truth is found or lost. Which is why I’m asking you to dinner, its an experiment of sorts. I’ve a hypothesis; we’ll be an excellent couple. I intend to prove the truth of it to you through the testing of its validity through dating, an experience outside of that which only friends participate.”

Throughout his ramble Dani’s face had broken into her own lopsided grin, her eyes filling with affection and a tinge of humor.

“So,” he continued. “What do you say to a little scientific exploration? Will you go out on a date with me?”

Orson had reasonable assurance that she would say yes, and still he held his breath. Inexperienced as he may be he was also too intelligent to believe there was anything near certainty when dealing with women.

“Yes. I’d love to,” she beamed up at him. Orson’s breath whooshed out of him. Dani wrapped her arms around Orson’s neck and pressed her face deep in the space between her arm and his collarbone. A smile spread across her face wider than she thought possible. She hugged him as forcefully as her arms could manage, unwilling to let go.

 

Chapter 12> Finished

In what seemed like no time they had reached the bank of the creek. Elam released her hand before they made their way too close to the gathered crowed. Standing with the edge of their feet in the lip of the creek three heads turned around at the sound of their arrival.

Tommy lifted her right index finger to her lips gesturing to remain silent. She held up her left hand waving her flip flops back and forth then pointed with her opposite hand to Elam and Rydell’s own shoes then down to the creek at her own feet, softly splashing the water back and forth.

Elam and Rydell bent to remove their shoes and slowly stepped into the creek. Tommy curled her finger in an invitation to follow her. Wading out across the expanse of water that was rushing across the land they walked in companionable silence. Once on the other side they made there way into a thin tree line of oak and walnut.

Near the edge of where the tree line met the next field Tommy paused and turned back to them, once again raising her index finger to her lips reestablishing silence among their group. They passed through and stopped abruptly.

The field was primarily a flat and meandering pasture, the grass beneath their feat just starting to come out of it’s winter hibernation and sprout green again, small pockets of weed-like flowers littered across its expanse. By now the moon hung heavy in the sky, full enough to provide a shimmer of light across the land. It was beautiful in its own right.

That wasn’t however what froze Rydell where she stood, a tight gasp escaping her in surprise. The field was a blaze with a light all it’s own. Thousands? No, millions would be more likely. Floating in a misty haze all around them was a shimmering wave and flux of jeweled lights. Flashing haphazardly through the landscape were millions of firefly’s. It was the most incredible thing Rydell had ever seen; all she could find clarity enough to do was to stand as witness. After all, how often did one get to lay eyes on what was undeniably a miracle of the natural world.

Transfixed Rydell barely noticed that Elam had drawn closer to her side. In the faintest of whispers he began to recite in his usual slow and lulling voice; “Here come real stars to fill the upper skies, And here on earth come emulating flies, That though they never equal stars in size,(And they were never really stars at heart), achieve at times a very star-like start. Only, of course, they can’t sustain the part.”

Struggling to pull her eyes from the beauty of the field she looked up into his face with a question in her eyes. He shrugged modestly looking down at her and whispered, “Robert Frost.”

Turning her head back to the scene she reverently whispered back, “Sounds about right to me, they do seem to ‘achieve a star-like start.’ It’s like the night sky fell down around us.”

Elam hummed his agreement. His hand snaked out to grasp hers once more, squeezing tight, acknowledging they both shared the awe of the moment.

“Don’t worry none chicken little, I got you’re back.” He looked down then, his bright wide smile glowing against the moons pale light. Tugging lightly at her palm he strode forward towing her along to swim with him through a milky way of emulating flies here on earth. Rydell hoped they could in fact sustain the part… at least for a bit longer.

Chapter 12> Continued

“ELAM!” she yelped and slapped him across the bicep as hard as she could muster. “You scared the living daylights out of me!”

Elam’s dark figure now crouched in a barely distinguishable dark mass across from her, vibrating with unsuppressed laughter. His breath was rasping out of him, turning into a sort of wheeze as he tried to gain his composure. Straightening up he pulled a knuckle under each of his eyes to collect the gathered moisture that had sprung free in his joy.

“Ah.” He breathed deeply, righting himself again. “What a scare’d cat ya are!”

The warm heat around Rydell’s ankle had now begun lapping along the length of her skin. What she now recognized as Hawkeye was burrowing his forehead against her knee, presumably looking for a firm scratch between his ears.

“Of course I’m scared. I’m in the middle of a field of swaying grass in the pitch black, I might as well be one of the extras in Deliverance!”

“Why one’a the extras?”

“Their the first ones to get killed…”

This set off Elam’s humor button as he vibrated once again with laughter.

“Aint much out here that’ll get ya. You’re too close to the house for coyotes’ to come round. That and I’ve been keepin’ an eye on ya since ya left the house. Tommy got a little caught up in the competition and set ya out on yer own, not thinkin’ bout how ya just moved here and didn’t know yer way around yet. So I followed ya.”

“Then decided that no good deed goes unpunished so you snuck up on me and scared the tar out of me?”

Elam chuckled, “Nah. I had no intention of sneakin’ up on ya. In fact I thought my boots were petty heavy on the grass. You were faced in my direction standin’ so still, I thought maybe you could make me out against the dyin’ light.”

“Well… obviously, I couldn’t.” Rydell sulked.

“Obviously not.” Elam chuckled once more under his breath. “I’m sorry I scared you.”

“That’s it?”

He took a deep breath, “And… I’m sorry I laughed at you being scared.”

Rydell felt that she could still see the glimmer of a cheek raised in a sly smile, but decided it best to ignore it. “Thank you for apologizing.”

“That’s it?” Elam parroted her earlier words.

“And… thank you for keeping an eye on me so I didn’t get lost.”

“Not a problem.” He took a deep breath to speak again but was interrupted by a whistle that sounded much like the call he used with Hawkeye but higher in pitch. He turned his head in the direction of the sound. “I think we’re bein’ summoned. Come on, watch your feet as ya go, it’s a bit rocky in that direction.” He nodded his head in the direction he was heading, and held out his and behind him.

The instinct to avoid collision or sprained ankles in the unfamiliar terrain over came her embarrassment and Rydell took hold of his offering. His palm was warm, steady, and reassuring but didn’t seem anything more than a friendly gesture. She let out an internal sigh. Weather it was of relief or resignation she wasn’t sure.

In what seemed like no time they had reached the bank of the creek. Elam released her hand before they made their way too close to the gathered crowed. Standing with the edge of their feet in the lip of the creek three heads turned around at the sound of their arrival.

I’m still not done with the chapter but my brain kind of burnt out on me today….

Chapter 13> April 2011: The Fireflies

Fun Fact: If you’re going to commit to doing a blog for the whole month of March, it’s incumbent upon you to remember to load your computers power chord on the last day of spring break as you leave school. Especially if you, as I, have committed to writing a single story…which is actually stored on a word document first and foremost (not on the blog). AND your roommates, who all use the same computer, are gone. There goes four days. But I’m back again. Let’s keep this going…

Muggy. Rydell hadn’t thought she’d ever used the word before. But, that’s what it was, muggy. Walking through the tall grass of the field turned out to be more of a chore than she had anticipated. The muggy air coalesced on her skin and seemed to make it sticky. The nearly waist high grass clung to the condensation along her body as she waded through it.

“You go that’a way and I’ll go ‘round the bend over yonder and we’ll meet up next to the creek.” Rydell had nodded along, clearly seeing the said creek in the fading light of sunset. Now however, the sun was below the hills and only a faint glow silhouetted the small rise and indentation of the land beyond her.

She was pretty sure it was diagonal, the direction Tommy had sent her, from one corner fence post to the other on the opposite side of the field. However, now that the light had all but died she was unsure if she was still heading the right way. Her hand was constantly in front of her, groping in a blind effort to make contact with the post, a circular contraption of what looked like wire filled with river rocks larger than her head stacked nearly as tall as her five foot frame.

The plan was simple, split up. Tommy had thought this would be the most beneficial idea. The cold glass of the mason jar was gripped tight in Rydell’s palm, faintly glowing with intermittent pulses of light. She’d found a fair number of fireflies within ten feet of stepping into the field.

Tommy thought their best strategy was to each take a container and head in different directions. Fewer bodies was less likely to startle the glowing insects and more than one catcher at a time would mean double the amount they could harvest in the 30 minutes they had to gather them. Violet Stills had agreed to sound a large triangle chime (she called a dinner bell) hanging from her front porch when the time had elapsed, effectively calling all teams back to the house to count and compare their catch.

Each team had set off in different directions, with their own scheme for how to win. Rydell had been delighted when Elam’s younger sister had declared they were to be teammates. To say she had been nervous about meeting his family was an understatement. But much like meeting Hawkeye and then Elam, she seemed to fall into them like she was meant to be there. Their warm embrace of her and her family was comforting and peaceful, like sitting at home in her most comfortable pair of pajamas sipping hot-coco on a chilled night. The awkwardness she had always expected in meeting new people wasn’t there. She was free to be herself, and be accepted in return.

Rydell stopped to catch her breath, what breath she could catch in the thick soupy air, and reassess her direction through the field. That’s when a small flutter caught in her peripheral vision. The grass was swaying, and not just with the wind. Stalks of grass seemed to be pressed aside as something made its way through them, something low to the ground that couldn’t be seen above their feathered tops.

She froze, insensitively holding her breath and shrinking in on herself trying to hide among the foliage. She could hear it now. Soft padded footsteps loping through the field, heavy panting following the movement in a staccato beat. She bit her lip and closed her eyes. If some wild animal was about to make a meal out of her she didn’t want to look into it’s glowing eyes as it did. Closer and closer, the sound grew louder with it’s approach until she could feel it’s hot breath around her ankle sniffing her, presumably savoring the meal before the first bite. Sweat began in earnest now, trailing down from her temples and the nape of her hairline into the collar of her shirt.

She gulped reflexively and then promptly screamed full blast as a heavy weight reached out and landed squarely on shoulder accompanied by a whispered voice as slow as molasses, “why in heavens name are your eyes shut.”

“ELAM!” she yelped and slapped him across the bicep as hard as she could muster. “You scared the living daylights out of me!”

Elam’s dark figure now crouched in a barely distinguishable dark mass across from her was vibrating with unsuppressed laughter.

…The chapter is to be continued tomorrow.

Chapter 12> November 1994: Orson

Chapter 12 Continued…

So here they were, both of them were once again nestled into their special corner of the library, hidden away from the rest of the world. Something had changed. The atmosphere around them seemed thicker, more difficult to breath in.

Just being near her was a strange sensation. It was as though several opposing forces were battling inside of him. When her brow furrowed, eyes narrowing as she did her best to follow his celestial rants he felt embarrassment for his nerdiness as well as elation that she cared enough to listen. When she smiled he felt light as air that she shared it with him as well as heavy like a rock thinking it would be shared with anyone else. When her hair swiped his cheek as she read over his shoulder, or her hand grazed his when they reached for the same pen he felt both euphoria that she was so close and misery that it was only for a moment.

Orson sat hunched staring at his Astronomy textbook poring over his assigned chapter. “Ancient civilizations such as Mesopotamia, China, Egypt, Greece, India, and central America were among the first to assemble astronomical observatories.” His eyes were beginning to ache and loose focus. Pulling off his glasses he lifted his head and rubbed. When his vision came back into focus Dani, sitting across the table from him, puffed out her cheeks and crossed her eyes. Orson let out a chuckle.

He leaned back over his textbook and picked up where he left off. “…were among the first to assemble astronomical observatories. Early observations concluded that the Earth was surely the center of the universe with the Sun, the Moon and the stars rotating around it.”

The AC units kicked in with a loud bang. A stream of cool air rushed over them. Dani instinctively shivered, swiveled in her chair and retrieved her hoodie from a large teal backpack. A small noise that sounded like she was blowing out a candle sounded over and over from her side of the table. He looked up from his book again only to see that pulling the sweater over her head had disheveled her usually perfect coif. As Dani searched for her hair tie in the depths of its hood, he couldn’t help but stare as her ringlets kept falling around the frame of her face in untidy bouncing strands.

He had finally managed to re-focus on his reading, “… the Moon and the stars rotating around it. Later this idea became known as the geocentric model of the universe, or the Ptolemaic system.”

Fifteen minutes later Dani got up from her chair, book in hand and walked around the table. Standing at Orson’s side she gingerly slid her book on top of his. Slightly reaching her arm over his shoulder she pointed to a paragraph in her book and asked, “You’re the Physics minor, can you explain what they’re talking about in terms I might actually comprehend?”

She was close enough to him that he could feel the heat her body was radiating and smell a hint of coconut wafting from her pores. Forcing himself to focus he did his best to answer her question.

He settled back in to read… he could still smell the coconut drifting across the table. His eyes saw letters but his mind couldn’t form words from them. His mind and heart was a million miles way. A taught string somewhere inside him snapped! He slammed the book shut!

Back at her seat, Dani shot her head up in surprise “Is everything ok?”

Maybe he should have felt a myriad of different motions at this moment but all he could truly discern were frustration and a sort of anger. “NO! Everything is not okay I’ve been reading the same stupid paragraph for nearly an hour! I’ve got an above average IQ and I can’t seem to wrap my brain around one silly paragraph about the origins of Astronomy!”

His voice kept rising as he spoke. Dani, befuddled by a yelling Orson sat frozen in her seat as he continued. “Would you like to know why? It’s because apparently, my brain can’t seem to spare a single synapse because they’re all firing ‘Dani! Dani! Dani!’ 24-7. Instead of solving the riddles of the universe, what I’m paying thousands of dollars to study, I’m visualizing your smile. I’m wondering what your thinking. I’m dazed by how good you smell or the way your forehead tenses when you’re trying to hide your worry!”

He couldn’t believe all of this was pouring out of him. He couldn’t believe it was literally screaming out of him. He couldn’t seem to alter the level or timber of his voice. He couldn’t lookup from the carpet, either. But he could and would make himself finish.

“I can’t do it anymore! I can’t lead two different lives, the one in my head where I might have a shot at being something more to you than a friend, and the one in reality where I’m further away from that shot than the sun is from Pluto. I’m going to force myself, through emotional catalyst, into some warped form of human mitosis and split right down the middle if I keep it up!”

He took a deep breath and focused every cell in his body on convincing his eyes to look at he as he said his final peace, “I love you! I knew I’d fall in love with you the day I met you. I knew it and was too weak to deal with the fact that there was no way in any equation that involved you and me as variables, that we’d ever be equivalent to something more than friends. I knew that day I should have cut and run not become attached. But, you just had to show up in the basement. You just had to be too interesting to not at least be friends with. Well, I can’t do it!”

His volume finally lowered but became shaky with the alteration. Almost in a whisper now he finished, “Your not the most amazing woman I’ve ever met. You’re the most amazing human being who has ever been a part of my life. Thank you for defying probability and allowing me to be your friend. I’m sorry, I let you down, I just can’t put myself through it anymore.” His adams apple bobbed as he swallowed deeply. Shaking his head in defeat he muttered again, “I’m sorry.”

Dani was still frozen; her eyes trained on him like a laser. Orson flung his book bag haphazardly over his shoulder and grabbed his textbook and papers as he got up from his chair. A numb sensation filtered through him now that every pent up emotion he’d had over the last few months was freed into the world. He quickly retreated toward the stairs.

Just as his foot hit the first step he heard Dani shout, “Hey! Hang on! Don’t I get to say anything about it!” Orson stopped.

Sometimes they equate joy and pain with the phrase about erratic heart palpitations, “skipped a beat.” Much like “butterflies in the stomach” it’s a bit to genial for what you feel in real life. His heart didn’t just skip a beat it froze, suspended in animation waiting for the only electric current that could bring it back to life or char it beyond recognition, what ever it was she had to say .