Title: twilight is bruised;,
Sara Aldridge - October 25, 2010 05:59 AM (GMT)
There were many separate factors that made up a single existence. Experiences built upon experiences; physical and psychological characteristics blended together; people and places joined the mix before breezing past by with astounding speed. Each factor was compiled of then smaller factors, each comprising separate facets of this one existence. It was by this that one could know that, for instance, Sara was quite separate from her Abnormal Psychology professor. There was first the DNA, the clearly defined characteristics that separated them. Man versus woman, balding versus blonde, gruff versus soft spoken. Beyond, this however, were the experiences. Sara’s own experiences had formed her into someone whose opinions and beliefs did not always clearly align with those of others. She had learned to be an independent thinker, had been trained in the arts of horseback riding and proper etiquette, and she had learned, particularly in those early years of vulnerability, to protect herself. She had not had a typical childhood, certainly. If she had ever wondered at this, silently determining that she had been the participant in entirely normal experiences, all she need do was speak her peers. A few well-placed questions would determine something that Sara had learned long ago. She was lacking in proper childhood experiences as society had determined them. Sand castle building, mud patty making, junk food eating. She had done it all wrong, even in those later years as she lived under the care of her grandparents. She had not watched enough movies, she was told. She had not played enough games or gotten her hands dirty often enough. And, on this particular day, as snow covered the ground beneath her feet, Sara was inextricably aware of one single missed experience, one that, she had been told not an hour before, she must experience now, not later, before the chance was gone.
It was a sad fact, or so she was told. It was the sort of thing that children ought to do. However, she never had. Carefree could not be the term to describe the first eight years of her life. And, though the years following this had been measurably better for her, they could hardly be classified as such either. Thus, the opportunity to build a snowman had passed her by unnoticed, carrying on into her young adult years. She had paid the inexperience no mind. She was happy. She was satisfied. But, if the reaction of her dear friend was any indication, perhaps she should not be so satisfied after all.
Thus, here she stood, feet clad in fur-lined boots, hands stuffed into gloves, and her feminine figure wrapped round about with layer after layer of warm clothing. She was ready to tackle this adventure—and whatever other fun, childish exploits Finn might have up his sleeve—and quite hoped that she wouldn’t freeze half to death in the process. Ample preparation considered, she thought that she would be fine. If nothing else, she was a mere few hundred feet from Finn’s front doorstep. If it became unbearably cold for either of them, surely they could take cover inside.
“I told you that Isa taught me how to make a sand castle last fall, didn’t I?” She asked Finn as she adjusted her gloves so that they better covered her shirtsleeves. “To be honest, this reminds me a bit of that. It’s like being a child all over again, only many years later.” She paused to think for a moment before adding, tone lightly curious, “Does it feel that way for you as well?” She smiled, wrapping her arms about herself as she stared at the world around her, covered as it was in a blanket of white. Thick flakes fell from the sky and dotted not only the landscape, but also the thick, brown wool of her coat. It was beautiful, certainly, the kind of day that made her think of Christmas, though the holiday had already passed without mentionable event. The joy of it was there, nevertheless. Good cheer and warm seasonal blessings floated in on the cold breeze, carried along with the flakes of white that swirled in said currents of air. It was a perfect day, regardless of the frigidity of the air outside that nipped at her exposed nose, cheeks, and earlobes. She pulled her knit cap further down over her ears and grinned at her friend. What now?
It was a good question, one that she mulled over for a few long moments before thinking to ask the very same thing aloud. “What now?” Her voice was gently inquisitive, curious as to what this afternoon might hold for them. She understood the basic concept of building a snowman. Clearly, three balls of snow were rolled and stacked—though how, exactly, remained a mystery—before being adorned with various decorations. She shot him a playful grin, asking softly, “There must be a method to this madness, correct?” She scooped a handful of snow into her gloved hand and began to smooth it into a round-ish lump. A snowball. She had never had a snowball fight before either, and the thought if it made her lips spread wide once more in an even larger grin. “Finn?” She asked innocently, one hand behind her back. She felt the cold snow seeping through her glove as she waited for the proper moment.
A laugh broke from her lips. Proper. Hah! This was far from proper, far from anything that she, as a respectable young lady, should ever do. Regardless, she let the ball fly when he turned his head, not stopping to see if it found its mark before running to the other side of his parked truck and ducking to watch him from the other side of the window. “I just wanted to see what it felt like,” she called out innocently, the grin still teasing at her lips. “Finn? Are you alright?”
Finn Donnelly - November 17, 2010 06:04 AM (GMT)
It was a part of childhood – a natural progression came from things like this. It took creativity, imagination and a bit of will to force the cold from your bones. Yes, building a snowman was a monumental milestone in life, and Finn was both shocked and distressed that it was a milestone his beautiful, 20-year-old friend had yet to achieve. It was his job, as a friend, to show Sara what she was missing. Perhaps it seemed silly now, two twenty-somethings building a snowman on the front lawn of his modest home, but it didn’t matter. Anyone that had ever built a snowman once upon a time would understand the sheer joy it brought out. Silly, frivolous fun that always made him think of happy things. Christmas was one of these many things – the season had come and gone now, playing outside like this always reminded him of his boyhood – building forts and snowmen in the front garden with Jenny and his dad. These very same thoughts used to make him sad now filled him from the inside out with a kind of warmth that only ever came from thinking about his sister, despite the inevitable loss he’d feel at some point in his reverie.
But this was no time for thoughts of anyone but his guest. Sara was here to build a snowman, and build a snowman they would. A very selfish part of him was absolutely tickled pink that the first time she built a snowman would be with him. He liked to be able to experience that kind of first with someone – the fun, innocent kind of first experience – even if it was a first for him too. Though he had done this many times before, Finn couldn’t remember the last time he had come outside specifically to make a snow man. In the years since Jenny had died, the only playing he’d done out in the snow had involved copious amounts of alcohol and a war of sorts with weapons of snowballs. (Evil things, they could be. Especially if you were shot in the back of the neck. That cold sensation never did go away when it was dripping down your back.)
“I told you that Isa taught me how to make a sand castle last fall, didn’t I? To be honest, this reminds me a bit of that. It’s like being a child all over again, only many years later. Does it feel that way for you as well?” The sweet sound of her voice carried its way over to him through the cold winter air, and he smiled at the mental image in his head. Two of his dearest friends, playing in the sand. One of which had a carefree, childish nature at the best of times, the other taking part in such an act as building a sandcastle for the first time with their shared childish friend. Isa had a way of bringing out the child in many people though. She had a seemingly endless source of energy and an overwhelming amount of love for the people around her. Finn respected her. He cherished her for simply being her and now especially for encouraging their quieter friend to spend the time it took to build a sandcastle to try being a child once again. “I didn’t know that,” he said with a chuckle before he looked over to Sara. “Yeah, this stuff always makes me feel like a kid again.” His face split into something of the boyish grin that had been his own since boyhood. “It’s fantastic.” Wasn’t that just an understatement? Finn Donnelly wasn’t the kind of guy that had to be doing something all the time. He was content to sit in his living room with a book and a cup of coffee, or perhaps a beer if it was later on in the day. He was used to the bachelor lifestyle now – quiet when he wanted it to be, full of hustle and bustle if he so chose this instead. The best part of this bachelor lifestyle? That he could take advantage of opportunities like this. To spend time with a friend like this on a lazy, snowy day.
What now? There must be a method to this madness, correct? Finn laughed this time, tugging his hat down farther over his stretched earlobes and nodded firmly. “Yeah. The way my dad and I did it, we always started with a snowball, and then we’d roll it around the yard until it picked up enough snow and got big enough for the bottom ball…” Though his front garden wasn’t much to write about, Finn was sure he had enough snow here that they could build themselves an army of snowmen. He bent over to pick up a handful of snow, rolling it into a ball between his gloved hands before he heard Sara call his name in her sweet, innocent way.
Sweet and innocent his lily white arse. He heard his name, but what he turned to face was not the face of his beautiful friend, but something infinitely colder and significantly less welcome came flying at his face. The girl had perfect aim, and like a seasoned professional she had tossed the snowball at him and called him in enough time for him to turn around and receive a blow straight to the face. I say blow, and Finn says I exaggerate – the ball of snow exploded on impact with his forehead. It didn’t hurt, not in the slightest. In fact, had Finn not been so shocked, he would have laughed. Of course the laugh did follow as he watched her dart for the other side of his parked truck. The laugh continued as he wiped the excess snow off his face and lasted through to the slow walk he took to his truck, stepping up onto the tire to hoist himself into the bed of the truck. This too was filled almost to the top with snow, so he trudged through, stopping when he stood looking down at her and crouched instead to pick up a small handful of the white flakes that had still not stopped falling from the sky.
“Oh, I’m fine.” He replied to her genuine inquiry with a grin and lifted his gloved hands over her head, dumping the contents onto the top of her hat. “Was it everything you wanted, sweetheart?”
Sara Aldridge - December 14, 2010 04:41 PM (GMT)
The rules of propriety had, for the majority of Sara’s quiet existence, decided for her which paths she ought to take in her life. The questions of whom she might associate with or how she ought to carry herself in public had been answered before she had thought to ask them. She was a lady, a woman of dignity despite her unglamorous upbringing in those early years. Her grandparents had taught her since the earliest possible moment what a mistake her mother had made, marrying below her class. It had never been spoken so overtly—no, such words would be shamefully rude—but the implications had been there. Had Laurel Aldridge married someone of her own standing, she would have been now happily married with two—perhaps three!—children. She would have remained in London, attended charity balls, and done everything that a woman of prominence should have. Sara had believed this for many years. However, as she grew, she had decided for herself what the truth was. Her mother may have chosen the wrong man, but it had nothing to do with his financial standing. And, most importantly, if Laurel had not married Dávid, Sara would never have been born. How could she reasonably believe in a truth that negated her own existence? The answer? She could not.
She could not determine the precise moment that her own views had developed past the grasp of her grandmother’s disapproving gaze. Perhaps she had never been fully theirs in mind. She had been born into near-poverty, after all. Her grandparents could dress her in fine clothes and teach her etiquette, but a half of her would always be that uncouth child who climbed trees and played in the mud. She could never truly be the perfect lady.
Perhaps it was for this reason that she had never once considered Finn as anything but a fine Irishman, a friend from nearly the beginning. Surely, it would only take one look for her grandmother to disapprove the boy, but Sara had quickly taken a liking to him. Anyone who smiled so often could surely not be harmful in any way. He fascinated her to no end and contained a unique ability to coax a laugh from her lips no matter her current state of mind. If anyone was a lower being, it was surely her. She was grateful that Finn had never learned of her past, and never would, as far as her own control remained. If he knew what a child she had been, to invoke such wrath from her own father, she could not imagine how his opinion of her might change. One thing was certain, however. Any such change could not be a good thing.
As she darted to the other side of his truck, hiding as a small child might, she could hear her grandmother’s voice scolding her as it often did, even when the woman was nowhere to be seen. She was behaving improperly. She would get filthy. How could she be so positively uncivil? Sara ignored the voice, focusing instead on trying to determine where, exactly, her friend had disappeared to. She could not see him through the windows of the truck, and her heart beat rapidly as she considered the possibility that he might be sneaking up on her.
”Finn?” she spoke again, cautiously, as her hands shook a little by her side. Surely he was not angry was he? No indeed, she had heard him laugh. That must be a good sign… she hoped.
From above and directly to the side of her, the soft, Irish lull of her friend sounded. “Oh, I’m fine.” Just as she began to lift her head to peer up at him, a shower of snow fell atop her knit cap, spilling down her shoulders. She bit back a laugh and allowed the snow to sit there until it began to melt and a shiver ran down her spine. She quickly brushed off the shoulders of her coat and removed the cap, brushing it off as she heard him ask, “Was it everything you wanted, sweetheart?”
What a question! She struggled to find an answer, her lips still upturned as she puzzled over his words. When she finally spoke, she found that she sounded far more confident in herself than she truly felt. “I don’t know,” she told him softly, smiling up at him where he stood in the bed of the truck. “I’m still learning.” With that, she disappeared once more behind the truck as she headed back to the snowy yard that beckoned from where it lay in white splendour. She was too eager, perhaps, too ready to continue with this new adventure alongside her friend. “Are you coming, Mister Donnelly?” Sara asked, voice gently teasing, daring him to hurry a bit so they could get on with it.
Whether distraction or carelessness, she found herself suddenly at the mercy of her own lack of experience. Her boot met a patch of ice, then leading to the rather obvious conclusion, her backside meeting the snowy ground. Too stunned at first to do anything, she merely half-lay, half-sat in the pile of snow that partially encased her form. It was not long, however, before laughter burst forth from her mouth. She laughed so hard that tears began to form in her eyes as her hands clutched her sides. Laying fully back in the snow now, laughter beginning to die from her lips, Sara wondered silently, if this was impropriety, then why did it feel so perfect?
Finn Donnelly - December 17, 2010 04:50 AM (GMT)
Finn couldn’t remember being much else but rough and tumble. In fact, the most refined thing he’d ever done was probably wash his hands before dinner, and that was a must when the majority of his day was spent outside playing with his sister. Gavin hadn’t exactly raised a high-society boy, but he had raised a boy with manners, and that was what counted, right? Though per haps those manners didn’t quite show through as the snow slipped through his gloved fingers to the top of his friend’s cap. And again with the chuckle that broke through his smiling lips when she removed said cap to brush the snow off of it. It amazed him how she made even the simplest of actions seem so fluid and effortless. Of course, brushing snow off one’s hat was hardly a complicated process, but that was beside the fact. He couldn’t rationalize it in his head in a way he could make someone understand, but there was just something different about the way Sara did just about everything. Perhaps it was something that didn’t need to be rationalized at all – it was just her, in her infinite grace and beauty with everything she said and every way she moved.
I don’t know. I’m still learning. Finn couldn’t quite detect what it was in her voice he could hear. A sadness, perhaps? Or perhaps it was a sadness within himself that these were the kinds of things she was just beginning to learn. What kid didn’t know the joy in hitting a friend in the face with a snowball when it didn’t cause injury? He had been on the receiving end of a frozen ball once, and the broken nose that had followed hadn’t been something he was overly joyful about but when it was innocent fun that lead to nothing but a laugh, how could it feel anything but good all the way down to your stomach? He smiled softly in response, a smile that suddenly disappeared as she did, venturing around his truck again and heading back towards the sparkling lawn, so far left undisturbed by the footprints and tracks they’d create in the creation of their snow man. They’d have to think of a name for him – Finn made a mental note of this for himself and adjusted the toque on his head accordingly, pushing it down farther over his ears. The end of loose, careless curls still poked out from under the hat, flakes of snow still clinging closely to the hair that was cold enough to welcome and inhabit it. “You’ve so far proven to be a most agreeable student, Miss. Aldridge.” He replied with a smile, half directed at his own formality (anyone that knew Finn knew he couldn’t take himself seriously when he was being serious in a situation such as this) and half directed at the beautiful creature standing in front of him.
Are you coming, Mr. Donnelly? He laughed and shook his head, adjusting his hat once more before he leant down to jump out of the truck. He had set his hand down on the edge of the truck’s bed, ready to brace himself and hop over the edge and back on to the ground when Sara lost her footing, promptly falling ass-over-tea-kettle into the snow. He froze himself, crouching down with one hand gripping the side of the truck as he waited for her reaction as well as his own. “Oh Jesus, Sara, are you alright?” The idea of her being in pain made him physically sick, but she proved that there was no need for such sickness. A blissful sound escaped her lips; warmer than a summer breeze, more musical than church bells, more welcoming than an pair of open arms waiting for a loving embrace. He was sure, in that moment, that her laugh was the most beautiful sound he had ever heard. Finn followed through with the action he had been in the middle of when she had happened upon her bottom and launched himself easily over the side of the cab, landing with a soft thud on the snowy ground below him. Lucky, perhaps or maybe the grips on the bottom of his boots were better than hers, but he managed to stay upright as he walked towards her now tearfully laughing form.
With that same smile growing on his face, Finn crouched down beside her, his knees cracking their usual crack (one that went ultimately unnoticed by him now) on his way down to her level. He chuckled a chuckle that soon turned into a laugh. He took it that the answer to his previous question was a definite yes. She was absolutely fine, and it felt good in his heart to see her this joyful. Finn had always been the kind of guy, be it in his childhood or his teen years, to feed off of the energy of the people around him. Her laughter radiated an incredibly happy feeling for him, one that warmed his chest from the inside out. Soon enough, he gave up and let himself drop to kneel in the snow beside her, leaving his hands on his thighs for now. But as she laughed harder, he couldn’t help himself. He too had to double over, shaking his head in the process while the deep laughter rumbled from his stomach. “Lord woman, you scared the piss out of me. Are you alright?”
Sara Aldridge - December 17, 2010 05:50 PM (GMT)
There was that one bit of childhood that every person remembered. Sara firmly believed that, even in one’s latest years, there remained at least one shred of happiness, that childish playfulness, that could not be eradicated. For her, it was a summer day when she was only six years old. Her home life may have been volatile and confusing, but the outside world was bright and vibrant. She had learned slowly, carefully, treating life itself with the same wariness that life in her father’s home demanded. To lead her ever so gently was Brina, the spirited, wavy-haired girl who had empowered Sara with something quite foreign, yet altogether welcome in her world of instability. Courage had come so easily to her dear friend that Sara had donned it with little effort simply by association. Brina had made her brave.
She vividly remembered traipsing through her friend’s yard, armed with a glass jar and lid, searching for a prize. Patience, accompanied by abounding giggles, had earned them a beautiful blue and orange Pseudophilotes baton butterfly. “You keep it,” Brina had insisted. Against her better judgement, Sara had done so. When the glass jar had met the tiled floor later that evening, a result of what had somehow been disobedience on her part, she had rushed to open the kitchen window. Be free, she had urged the creature, pressing upon it the one fate that she could surely never earn herself.
If memories could be reborn, Finn was her very own Brina, gentle and courageous even in the midst of a new and exciting adventure. She was certain that the girl lived on without her, perhaps remembering once in a while her childhood friend. She could not truly be reborn while she still lived. Yet, in Finn, Sara found that same feeling of empowerment. In his presence, she could be whoever she wished to be. She did not have to be anyone particular in his presence, simply herself. Like Brina, she thought, Finn seemed to see past whatever secrets she may have had. He did not question her, did not demand from her. In his own contentedness, he saved her from the truth of her past. For, she knew, if he were ever to demand from her the details, she would have no other choice but to leave.
“You’ve so far proven to be a most agreeable student, Miss Aldridge.” His smile infected her, warming her from the inside out. It was beyond her comprehension why someone like Finn would choose to befriend a quiet, altogether unexciting girl such as herself. He had not told her a great amount of his past—though he was hardly secretive—so it was certainly not as though she was helping him in any way. If she were being entirely honest, Sara was not one who had many friends at all who did not expect something from her. She did enjoy these friendships. The feeling of helping someone else was one of a kind. However, the friendship that she shared with Finn was fulfilling in its own way. Was it too terribly selfish, she wondered, to enjoy having the focus on herself, at least once in a while?
As she slipped on the slick concrete, surely bruising herself a bit but hardly bad off at all, all thoughts fled her mind. Over her own laughter, she could hear the slight panic in Finn’s voice as he asked something. However, she remained both unable to make out the words and unable to stop laughing long enough to answer him regardless. As he jumped from the bed of the truck and walked over to kneel beside her, she focused more energy on calming herself. It would not do to laugh so long that he found himself unable to speak at all for how loud she was. It would not do to be loud at all, though she had surely broken that rule already. She remained in her place as he spoke again, this time so that she could hear.
“Lord woman, you scared the piss out of me. Are you alright?” The words themselves nearly made her laugh anew. Even as unladylike as she had been these last few minutes, Finn certainly topped the list. She did not mind her friend’s imperfections, if they could even be called that. The way that she had been raised deemed him uncouth and improper, but she found his mismatched mannerisms endearing.
"I'm just fine," she assured him softly. The smile still teased at her lips; tears lingered at the edges of her eyes. She looked up at him now from her position on the ground. Snowflakes stuck to the edges of his hair and cap. Stretched earlobes aside, he looked almost cherubic with that little halo of half-obscured light about his head. "It's karma. I'm certain of it." Seemingly of its own accord, her hand reached up to touch a small curl at the side of his head before coming to rest against his cheek. Again, she smiled. “I’ll know better next time, won’t I?”
Finn Donnelly - December 28, 2010 09:37 AM (GMT)
The young boy that had spent years playing in the mud and romping around in fields had never really left him. He still had a certain adoration for the harmless kind of trouble that came with a childish, inquisitive mind. Perhaps he wasn’t so childish anymore – these days it was more inquisition, wondering as to how things worked and what would ACTUALLY happen if he pushed the red button. He was sure that warning signs saying ‘do not press’ and ‘do not enter’ had never really applied to him. Why on earth would someone put a sign on something like that? Surely, if they had left well enough alone, that particular doorway wouldn’t be nearly as interesting if one should certainly not go through it. The fence wouldn’t look nearly as jumpable if it were free to be jumped without threat of impending doom.
Certain memories stuck out to him more than others. He had played in the mud a million times at the least, but there were a handful of memories he could relive with such clear imagery that it was like he was living the moment again when he thought about it. Though the substance they played in now was significantly lighter and less messy, he was sure that this could make the top of the list of his favourite snowy memories. I’m just fine. Finn smiled down at her and pulled off his gloves one by one, setting them aside in the snow and folding them together on knees. “I’m glad, love.” Wasn’t that much the truth? Of course it wouldn’t have been her fault had she been injured – ice could be sneaky, and he was sure she wouldn’t damage herself on purpose. It’s karma, I’m certain. Finn laughed a hearty laugh and shook his head. In what possible world would karma do his beautiful friend any harm? “Nah. Karma would have sprouted a bed of flowers for you to fall into. This was just bad luck.”
And then, something changed. Maybe it was a change in the light – in the way the sun shone on her face or the snowflakes clung to her delicate eyelashes. Maybe it was the sweet way her petit fingers would into his hair before coming to a rest on his cheek. Maybe it was the way she made him smile with no effort whatsoever on her part. Whatever it was, in that moment he realized it. She wasn’t just Sara, his beautiful friend. Mind you, she had never been ‘just’ Sara to him. She had always been a certain kind of special to him. She was her own flower in a garden full of them, growing far above and far more beautiful than any kind of flower he’d ever seen before. But all of a sudden, she wasn’t just a beautiful flower in the garden he got to spend time in. She was a flower in his front garden, and one he suddenly felt very protective of. He reached out to touch a strand of her golden locks and found himself mirroring her position.
Her hair was like silk in his fingertips, but it had nothing on the smooth complexion of her soft cheek. He had kissed that cheek before – he knew how soft it was. He knew the many shades of pink it turned when heat flooded her face. But he wasn’t just taking in her rosy cheeks now. It was impossible to focus his gaze on just one part of her face. When there was so much of a beautiful thing, it was hard to focus on anything at all. Gently, his hand slid down her cheek so he was cupping it while his thumb brushed gently along her bottom lip. He couldn’t remember now if it was usually this pink, or if they too were cold.
There was a line here. A very thin line that Finn was very close to crossing. Should one mix the boundary between friends and something more? It troubled him, and for a moment his eyebrows stitched together with the thought. He had come to the realization that yes: he wanted to kiss Sara. Very badly. He had wanted to kiss Sara badly for a while now. But the boundaries of friendship had always been clear. Now? Perhaps it was only for him, but they had faded. The snow had covered his warning lights as well as everything else below it, and he wanted to kiss her. He debated for another moment before a soft smile stretched across his lips. For a second, boundaries didn’t exist in Finn’s world, and then he didn’t hesitate. Slowly, Finn moved his thumb from her lip to her chin and bent down to press his lips ever so softly against her own.
The electric shock that flowed from her lips to his and all the way through his chest next told Finn that, certainly, boundaries could be damned. He pulled back for a brief moment, the eyes he didn’t realize had been closed opening once more to look down at her. He was wordless, surprised at himself for what he had just surprised them both with. Or perhaps she had seen it coming? He didn’t know, he could never be sure. All he knew was that he wanted to taste her lips again. “Sara…” But what words could be spoken? It would be silly of him to ask if he could kiss her again. He was sure a smack would come his way in a matter of moments had she not wanted this in the first place and he could only hope…well…he could only hope that she wouldn’t mind as he bent down to kiss her once more, lingering this time on the soft pillows of her beautiful lips.
Sara Aldridge - December 28, 2010 02:39 PM (GMT)
Time has such a curious way of easing by. It had always seemed, in Sara’s boundary-filled, caution-measured world that some moments took far too long to end, while others sped by too quickly for her liking. An hour studying in the library was considerably longer than an hour out with friends. A minute of shallow conversation was a year in comparison to hours of deep, meaningful stories that she so loved to hear. It was certain, in her mind, that time passed quickly only when she wished that it would not, and slowed at the most inopportune times. But what else could one expect, she wondered? If the most precious of moments did not pass in a flurry of activity, seconds rolling seamlessly into minutes and hours, then it would be far too easy to take such a thing for granted. The most sacred things in life were surely the ones that passed in a mere blink of an eye. Idle wishes and wonderings aside, she would truly have it no other way.
She had believed, as a child, in a certain kind of karma. Each person, she thought, possessed his or her own little universe, one that either sped by quickly or sluggishly slipped past the hands of time. Her father had been of the latter group, certainly. She could still remember the seemingly endless hours of his yelling, the sound of his hands on her mother, the feel of his hands on her. Moments with Brina had fled by in comparison, gently carrying away, for a time, the never-ending, drawn-out struggle to hold on to life itself. However, it had always come back. The memories still held her in their tight, unyielding grasp, though they had been confined, in the last few years, only to her sleeping hours. Even in his death, her father’s universe was inescapable. Sara thought that, perhaps, the most evil of people never really died, because so many people carried them with them. Even after her own death, his name would remain in those newspapers, never to be erased. He would live on while the good were forgotten. It tired her to think of such evil, to even consider attempting to fight it. What was she doing with her life if evil could not be eradicated? Was everything she had dreamed of simply a waste of time?
There was, however, another side of the equation, which manifested itself in people like Brina, Isa, and Finn. These were the people that were made purely of good. These were the people whose chests, if opened up, would reveal something quite extraordinary. These few, special people were not made entirely of flesh and bone, but rather something far more valuable. If one could see inside, surely that very vital organ would be shining, gleaming, speaking silently of its incomparable worth. She could not believe that heart of gold was a mere figure of speech. She could imagine, if she could simply rest her head against Finn’s chest, she would hear something quite akin to chiming bells rather than the low, pounding drum of a regular heartbeat. Finn was exceptional, to be certain. He was one of the few people who could combat the sluggish ease of time, instead carrying others off with a speed that might otherwise be quite unheard of. If everyone was so good, thought Sara, perhaps the world might see a chance of healing after all. She hoped that it would be so, someday.
The sound of his voice broke her reverie and she smiled broadly. The gentle, slightly gravelly sound relaxed her further and took away the slight sting of cold that was beginning to press against her frame from below. This, followed by his laugh, was enough to carry away any thought of her past, of the horrible child that she must have been…
“Nah. Karma would have sprouted a bed of flowers for you to fall into. This was just bad luck.” Could she possibly believe such a thing? She knew the answer without even having to consider it. Finn may have been among the most extraordinary people she had ever met, but he could not, with his solid-gold, warmth-bringing heart, change who she was. Karma, if it existed, may not have been concerned with a mere snowball to the face of her friend. But, in the grander scheme of life itself, she could be certain that she had plenty to be sorry for. God, wherever He was (and certainly, He was in control of this thing known as karma), must have had it in for her. No matter how she tried, she would never be entirely good. She prayed that her friends would never have to see the truth of what a horrid person she was. She had always believed that just the slightest bit of good could outweigh evil. She only hoped that she possessed enough of this elusive concept to make some sort of impact during her lifetime.
“I suppose,” said Sara as she turned her attention back to him, “that may be correct. Perhaps we’ll never know.” She smiled again, ever so gently, and let the sight of her friend sitting there, just beside her, take her away from the truth of what she was and had been. If only just for a moment, she could use a bit of pretending.
Through her gloved hand, she could imagine the feel of his face on her fingertips, with the slight stubble that rose on his cheek and the smoothness hiding beneath these tiny pinpricks of hair. She saw his own hand, minus the glove that had been previously covering it, reach for her face. She did not flinch when his skin touched hers, did not blush at the physical contact. Instead, she simply watched his face as his thumb trailed along her lips, then slid to make room as his face drew nearer.
She froze. Unmoving and unmovable, she could not to anything save allow him to cross the distance between their faces. Her breath fought to escape her rather confused lungs as she held it, too afraid that this moment would pass while simultaneously wishing that it would end. This was certainly not right. This was not the way that things were supposed to happen. In her mind, she was screaming at him to stop, insisting that he did not actually want to do this. She was not the sort of woman that Finn deserved. Even if this was another mere friendly show of affection, he had crossed an invisible barrier with that kiss. He deserved more. Even so, she could not fight him, nor did she wish to. Instead, she allowed the kiss to go on, then end when he chose to pull away. Selfishly, her hand slipped to his collar and held on. It was too soon. She couldn’t bear for him to walk away just yet.
“Sara…” She could feel his breath on her cheek and swallowed back the feelings that began to rise in her throat. Guilt, certainly, but even more, desire. She wanted this. She may not have deserved this, but she did want it. As if to read her mind, he leaned forward once more, and she welcomed him closer, despite the loud caution alarms and flashing lights that were going off in her brain. Finn was not another random man who she could forget once this moment was over. He was her friend, one that she saw far too often to merely avoid him. This was too far, but she made no move to stop it. Instead, she allowed her eyelids to flutter closed and gave herself permission to kiss him back.
Like all good moments, this one sped by far too quickly. She felt their lips break contact and let out a very quiet sound of protest. Her mind had taken to wondering during that kiss. She wondered how it might feel to take off that glove and really touch his face. She wondered, in addition, if it might be better to remove a few other layers as well… Now, after the fact, she found herself blushing profusely and turning her head away instinctively to hide the shame in her eyes. This was Finn sitting above her, not a nameless man. She could not do this to him, for it would be wrong.
“Finn,” she whispered, still not meeting his gaze. She was staring at the snow a few feet off, imagining his face and wondering what he was thinking. Above all, she hoped that he had not been disappointed.
Her hand had slipped from his neck some moments ago and now rested neatly beside her the rest of her body. She so wished to press it back against that finely sculpted cheek. Instead, she kept her gaze away from him and considered what she might do now to divert his attention to safer ground. The excuse came of its own volition, a shiver that slowly worked its way up her spine. She was cold, she realised suddenly as her teeth began to chatter. Perhaps it was the heat of him, so near, but she had only just noticed the freezing snow soaking through her clothing, easing into her pores. She looked back at her friend, the shame nearly gone but still lingering at the edges of her eyes and apparent in the pink hues of her cheeks. “It’s… rather cold, isn’t it?” A soft laugh slipped from her lips, a combination of nerves and the realisation of how perfectly ridiculous she was. She could not help wondering what he thought of her, whether he was ashamed of her now. She meant to ask if he thought they should get up, but lacked the motivation. Instead, she closed her eyes once more and shivered yet again, wondering what it might feel like if he pulled her into his arms. She bet that he was warm, that he could keep her warm. Another blush lit her cheeks as she opened her eyes again.
“Should we…” She could not finish the statement. Instead, she left it open and hoped that he might, somehow, come to finish it for her.
||I may have gotten a bit carried away. Forgive me? <3||
Finn Donnelly - March 24, 2011 03:11 AM (GMT)
Time had stopped, but the second hand still ticked. How long had they been out here? How long had they been lying in the snow together? Finn didn’t know, and he didn’t particularly care, except that in no time she’d be cold. It didn’t matter that he was thinking of multiple ways to warm her up, ways he shouldn’t even be thinking about. He wanted her, a hunger he hadn’t realized until the sweet taste of her had floated through his lips and sunk deep into the most encapsulated part of his memory – the place where all the really special things went. He would not forget. Not would he forget how the sun shone through the bare tree in his front lawn, casting glimmers and shadows across her face, turning it into a puzzle. She had always been a puzzle to him, and now he could reach forward and brush at the pieces, evading him in a way that he didn’t want to dispute right now. Instead, his gloved hand grazed gently over her forehead. He was bitter for the barrier. He wanted to touch her, know how she felt.
It wasn’t like he hadn’t felt her skin under his before. He was sure there had been times when their hands had brushed, or he had pulled her into a hug that had warranted a soft touch to her arm. But he couldn’t remember wanting to feel it like this. He couldn’t remember imagining that she would feel like angels would if they existed. He couldn’t remember wondering if in turn, his rough hands would becoming smooth with just a touch of her. It was a silly notion, but the man couldn’t help but wonder now. He almost plucked his glove off of his hand to register the experiment, but as he saw her shiver he became more aware of the cold air blanketing the peaceful bubble they’d created for themselves at the touch of wanting lips.
Everything about her had always been beautiful, that much was obvious. The way she moved, the gracious way she carried herself in…She was so blissfully opposite to him that he had always been somewhat baffled by their friendship. Where she was gracious and beautiful, he was fumbling and scruffy. Where she was eloquent, he was gruff and unversed. He had known all of these things about her from the start, but suddenly now they were so very obvious and so much more so than they were before. Her chest rose and fell with each intake of breath like it was meant to be savored, cherished. He found himself trying to match her breath, catch up or slow down to her pace. He wasn’t quite sure what it was, but he was trying.
It’s rather cold, isn’t it? Her sweet voice lulled him out of his own head and back to earth. She was cold. It was his job to fix it. Should we… Finn waited for a moment, hesitant and interested to see if she would finish her sentence. When she didn’t, he smiled softly and brushed a gloved finger over her cheek. She didn’t have to say any more than she already had. Finn better than knew what he wanted. As intent as he had been on building a snow man with her today, things had gone in this direction more quickly than he could have ever imagined. So instead of picking her up and brushing her off, as Finn so often did with his friends, he took a hold of her hands and stood slowly, coaxing her up while he helped in the process. He let go of one of her hands to reach up and brush the snow off the top of her cap and the small edge of her shoulders. He squeezed gently, offering her a small smile before he took a step forward. “Come on.” He let go of her shoulder but kept a firm hold of her hand as he led her towards the front door of the small town home.
The place was a bachelor pad to its very definition, but he had made an effort to tidy before she had come over. The coffee table in the living room was cleared off, whereas usually it was adorned with a few newspapers or a few sheets with his doodles on them. The dishes in the kitchen were washed and put away accordingly. The place was still blissfully Finn though. His guitar sat in the corner of the living room and his mug beside the kettle on the counter in the kitchen. Little things out of place in a way that he had organized and understood. Sara had never mentioned these things if she had noticed them before, and he didn’t think about it as he tugged her gently through the front door, closing it quietly behind her. He let go of her hand to pull off his hat, shaking it out and hanging it on the mantle before he unzipped his coat and hung it on the rack. He was unaware of the movements she made, thinking through every thought as thoroughly as he could while he removed the rest of his outdoor clothing. Would she stay?
Would she think this was a mistake? He wasn’t sure what was going through her mind, and he found it driving him to the brink. Finn turned to look at her, knowing full well beforehand that he didn’t want her to leave. He only hoped he wasn’t pressing his luck as he stepped closer to her; one foot on front of the other, one heart beat after the next until he was in front of her, close enough to smell the mix of her perfume. So perfectly Sara, beautiful in everything. Finn wanted to kiss her again. In that moment, Finn wanted to pick her up and make her his own. Feelings from nowhere, brought to the surface in a rush what he could only call a moment of judgment he failed to regret in the slightest. He reached forward for her, taking a gently hold of her hips as he pulled her forward, pressing his forehead to hers. “I’m going to kiss you again. I hope that’s okay.”
Sara Aldridge - May 31, 2011 03:13 AM (GMT)
Her breath escaped her lips in cloudy bursts, unsteady and uncertain as Finn pulled her to her feet, his hands brushing over the top of her hat and shoulders. Even through layer upon layer of clothing, she could feel heat spread throughout the spots that he touched, as though his hands were fire and her skin made only of wood. She was heating under his touches, however brief they may be, threatening to burst into flames any second.
It was a ridiculous notion, of course, for she was neither made of wood, nor was she about to burst into flames. But her skin was warm nonetheless, and she found herself wishing that he would warm the rest of her in the same way, that he would wrap her in his arms and hold her until she was as warm as if she’d been sitting by a fire all afternoon. She wanted to feel his body against hers, to taste him on her lips again. She wanted everything that she should not want, and more. And still, as he lead her into the house, she fought the impulse to run, to turn away and never look back, for she knew that travelling this path meant forsaking whatever they had now for whatever could be. And, whenever she was concerned, nothing good could come of situations such as these. Why, then, was she still there?
They stepped as one into his home, the door clicking softly shut behind them. The place smelled as it always had, earthy and manly, tinted at the edges with something softer, richer, such as cinnamon or honey. She could not place the exact scent, could not give a name to it, but it was Finn, certainly and inextricably so. And today, more than any other day, she found that it was a pleasant scent indeed. Her eyes briefly took in the subtle intricacies of his front room, from the neatly stashed books and magazines to the quietly crackling fire in his fireplace and his well-loved guitar in the corner. Sara could tell, based upon previous, unannounced visits, that he had cleaned up in preparation for this visit. The thought of it made her lips turn up in a fond smile. He was a good man, Finn Donnelly. This was something that she had never once doubted.
She watched him silently as he removed his jacket, momentarily too overwhelmed to even think of doing the same. But then, as before, she felt the cold steadily seeping into her bones and awoke from her stupor for long enough to begin removing the outer layers of her clothing. It felt wrong somehow, forbidden in a way, to be undressing in any way while entertaining such thoughts. It was only her outermost clothing, of course—her hat, her gloves, her scarf, and finally her jacket. Many layers remained beneath those, but even so…
Her face flaming scarlet again, she dropped her gaze as her hands pulled at the hem of her grey, cable-knit sweater. Though she felt certain that this was just a game—no man in his right mind would ever truly want her, and she knew Finn to be a stable, reliable person—she could not quell the thoughts that now raced through her mind, insisting that this time, of them all, was something more than lust-driven affection. Perhaps it was that she wanted to believe better of Finn, or perhaps it was her own affection for him that had developed along with their friendship. If she were to be honest, she did not have many friends of the male gender. Of good friends, she had even fewer. Yes, then, she thought, she must have simply mistaken affection for something more. After all, who was she to attempt to know love? Love was for people of great standing, with hearts spread wide as oceans and intentions as pure as those of small children. Finn was one of these, surely, but she? Love had not been made for people like her.
Nevertheless, when he stepped forward and gently grasped her hips to pull her in to him, she could not help but follow his lead. She wanted to be where he was guiding her, though her every nerve was screaming for her to run, to leave this behind before she undid him with her poison. She was a hurricane, and he was a cosy island hut, vulnerable to the devastation that came with her very presence. He pressed his forehead ever so gently against hers, and she closed her eyes. She could not bear to look at him when each second she remained brought her closer to the end of this, of them. Even if it was all in her imagination, it was better to pretend that she could not see what was happening, could not see how she was hurting him, even without his knowledge. Her very existence was destruction itself.
“I’m going to kiss you again. I hope that’s okay.” Her head, suddenly disconnected from her brain’s commands, nodded of its own accord. Her lips parted to allow him entrance. She returned his kiss with more intensity this time, her wordless motions speaking loudly of the need she felt deep within herself. She pressed herself closer to him in the interaction, betraying the image of a perfect, submissive lady in that very moment, giving in to something considerably less refined. Just a kiss, yet it could easily lead to something more. Concern flooded her mind, despite her greatest attempts to shove it back. She turned her head away, instantly ending whatever interaction had been continuing on between them. It was over—had she really ended it? It was for the better—but did she not want this? The thoughts spun in her mind. Her hands pressed against his chest. She backed up a step.
“I… think I’ll make tea. Would you like tea, Finn? I’ll make tea.” She was walking suddenly, one foot in front of the other, escaping what she simultaneously most wanted and most dreaded. She could never be enough for him. How could she even desire to try?
Finn Donnelly - November 19, 2011 04:24 AM (GMT)
Finn’s head was wrapped in a world where anything was possible. His delusional mind had convinced itself that she was here, in his arms and that she wanted him too. But how could such a thing be true? How could a woman like her bare the thought of being with someone like him? He had always been grateful of their friendship, as he was with all of his friendships but hers had been most surprising. Sara was unlike any woman he had ever known before. He thought highly of all of his female friends, but there had always been something different about Sara. She was quiet – so quiet sometimes that he wondered what she was thinking when he opened his mouth. Whereas most of the time he was the listener, in their exchanges she did most of the listening. She seemed more comfortable that way. He had never questioned it until now, when he so desperately wanted to know what thoughts were running through her head, and if she thought that this was what was supposed to be happening.
But this time when they kissed it was more than it had been before – a mutual hunger for each other that neither was interested in fighting. His hand came up to wind in her hair, holding the back of her head to him as he kissed her more passionately then he could remember kissing any woman. His other hand slid around to the small of her back to hold her closer, pressing his body against hers while he dipped his neck, searching for any way to get closer to her. He didn’t understand where this had come from. He had always thought her beautiful – it was a natural fact of life. But something had lit a fire in him tonight. A look, a whisper; he wasn’t sure what it was but it was growing inside and the flames were beginning to lick at his skin, setting him on the edge of an inferno he couldn’t quite perceive. He knew he was going to get close, but would she let him fall? He didn’t care but if they could stay in this moment forever he would have nothing to fear.
And then as quickly as it had begun again, it was over. She was pulling away, the heat from her body leaving his in the most devastating way he could ever imagine. He didn’t realize he’d had to near-gasp for air, and when she pulled away he was left gaping, surprised that it had ended and more surprised that it had even begun. Somewhere in the back of his mind he was vaguely aware that she was saying something. That she wasn’t leaving, but she wasn’t in his arms anymore. Tea. She was making tea. Finn reached out to grasp her wrist gently, looking to her with wide brown eyes that spoke the most sincere honesty he had ever spoken without once opening his mouth.
“Sara,” He spoke her name gently, almost in a whisper. He didn’t dare move – didn’t want to scare her away. “I don’t want tea.” His soft Irish lilt was hitched by the sound of his breathing – shallow with wanting. He wanted to touch her again. He wanted to feel her hair between his fingers again. He wanted to feel the small of her back, the delicate structure that made her her. He wanted to feel her soft lips on his again and he wanted to feel what he’d felt just moments before – incapacitated in the hold of her arms and the taste of her breath.
“I want you.”
Sara Aldridge - November 26, 2011 01:31 AM (GMT)
His hand encircled her wrist, tethering her to him like a wayward balloon secured in the grip of its owner. She could not walk away, not with him holding her there with both his strength and his will. She did not want to leave and, consequently, could not deny the eyes that sought her face as a scholar seeks an answer to his questions. She felt vulnerable and exposed as she stood there, cool air seeping into the spaces that had been previously pressed against Finn’s warm body. She longed to step back to him, to resume their activities where they had left off, but she could not. To do so would be unfair to him. As it was, she was afraid that they would never be mere friends again.
His words came as a gentle breeze; so close were they still that she imagined she could feel his breath on her cheek as he uttered her name softly before declaring, “I don’t want tea.”
She nodded, eyes downcast like a scolded child. Of course he did not want tea. That would just be too easy, wouldn’t it? If she could have stepped away for a moment, if she could have taken the time to get her bearings, then they might have slipped easily back into the joviality that had enveloped them not long before. Now, everything was too real, too serious. She needed to escape into the shallowness of snowmen and sandcastles. For the first time in her twenty years, Sara truly longed to stake claim to the childhood that she had lost, to laugh and love with abandon and worry for nothing. Instead, she lifted her eyes to look at him for the first time since she’d pulled away, shocked to hear the next words that came from his mouth.
”I want you.” The words sent a shiver through her bones. She drew her free arm around herself in search of warmth and cover. She was suddenly self-conscious, aware of the flaws in her figure and, most importantly, her inner being. Again, she reminded herself that if he only knew, he would not want her, would not even find her attractive. She was not a good person. And, as much as she knew that he needed to see it, a large part of her hoped that he never would.
“Finn,” she murmured as she finally tore her gaze away from his face, with his perfectly sculpted lips and nose and cheekbones that she longed to touch and explore with gentle scrutiny until she knew him better than she knew herself. She could almost convince herself, as her mind wandered with desire, that she could lose herself in him, so much that he might be able to forgive her past once it came to light.
She took a cautious step toward him, her eyes roaming around the room in search of something else that might distract her from what she so desperately wanted. She could no longer be sure that the fire that licked at her bones was simply the heat of the moment. No, there was something much deeper here, something that she had failed to notice until she had seen his face above hers, his features etched with concern and affection as she lay near helpless in the snow. Every response she might have sought to explain herself with swirled in her mind like a buffet of pre-made sentences, ready for the taking. You’re making a mistake. You don’t really want this. I’m not who you think I am. Don’t you want someone better? You don’t understand.
She did not say these words, however. Instead, she took one more hesitant step toward him, nearly but not quite closing the gap she had made, and shakily uttered what may very well have been the deepest truth that she had offered anyone to-date. “I’m so afraid.”