“Ok, jeez. I’m Ryan McNight. I’m on Dereck’s lacrosse team. I just came to get fresh air and came down here. Sorry, I didn’t think anyone would be down here.” the shadow, now confirmed as Ryan, replied.
“Oh, sorry Ryan. You scared the bejeebers out of me.” I stuttered and moved the light away from his eyes.
“It’s fine. I would be a little on edge if someone appeared out of nowhere and started climbing up an abandon swing set.” he chuckled lowly.
I felt my face burn with embarrassment at the stupidity of the whole thing and shook my head.
“I’m sorry for flashing my light in your eyes. I’m going to head back up.” I said, rubbing my arms, suddenly cold.
“Wait, you don’t have to leave! Plus, I don’t know who you are.” he protested, stepping in the light of phone his blue eyes glittering.
“It’s fine, there’s not a lot of room up here anyway,” I said moving to go down the slide.
“What are you talking about? There’s plenty of room. Please, don’t leave.” his voice cracked.
“Fine, if you insist.” I laughed, sitting back on the floor.
“I do. I don’t want to kick you out of your spot,” he said
“You weren’t really kicking me out. I was leaving.” I argued.
“You were leaving because I came, therefore, I impromptu kicked you out.” Ryan countered, sitting beside me.
“Whatever floats your boat,” I replied, leaning against the wooden beam in the corner.
“You’re stubborn, yet you sound familiar. Who are you?”
“Well, I did go to the same high school as well as college. I should be a little familiar.” I said.
“Oh, really same high school and college. Then you can only be one of like twenty people,” he said, leaning back against the other beam.
“I know you’re a girl because your voice is soft and feminine.” he mused, stroking the tiny black stubble on his chin.
“You would be correct,” I answered, studying him. He is quite attractive like I said before, but even more up close, where you could see the exact structure of his face and the way his forehead crinkles when he thinks. I would say God-like, but no human is god-like so maybe, angelic or just beautiful, at least in human understanding. God and his angels are beyond our understanding of beauty.
“So, you are one of five people.” he continued and I nodded but realized that he couldn’t see that and responded;
“Can you give me a hint?”
“Sure, I guess but I am not sure if you much about me. I love to write.” I replied, pulling my knees to my chest.
“You love to write. What do you write?”
“Fantasy, Romance, Fantasy-Romance, Realistic-Fiction, Historical Fiction, Poetry.” I listed.
“That’s neat. I can’t write to save my life,” he said.
“It’s not for everyone. My brother doesn’t like to write either.” I said.
“You have a brother?” Ryan questioned, raising an eyebrow.
“Ok. Then that eliminates two people. Would you consider us friends?” he asked.
“Well, would be playing this game if we were friends?” I asked, crossing my arms.
He frowned and shook his head; “Guess not. That eliminates one. Two left.”
“Which two people?”
“Delilah Letters and Mary-Rose Cork” he answered.
“Need another hint?” I asked.
“What color are your eyes?” Ryan inquired looking in my direction.
“Brown,” I replied.
“Damn… they both have brown eyes.” he cursed.
“Well, brown is a popular eye color.”
“Are you short or tall?” he asked.
“Short,” I answered.
**********. Hair color?”
I laughed, “Golden-brown.”
“Finally!” he proclaimed.
“Do you know who I am?” I questioned, surprised, was my hair that noticeable?
“Yup, your Delilah,” he said.
“Most call me Lia.” I corrected, even though secretly, it sounded lovely on his lips.
“Oh, sorry. Do you not like Delilah?” Ryan inquired.
“Not really. In the bible, she was kind of scum.” I answered.
“Oh, well, I think it’s a great name.”
I blushed and stuttered, “Thanks.”
He smiled a perfect row of teeth but said nothing. For a few minutes, we just sat there, beneath the toenail moon lined with stars. It was a beautiful night, I could even make out Polaris, sitting atop a cloud that drifted across the sky. A breeze passed by and I shivered involuntarily.
“Are you cold?” Ryan suddenly blurts.
“A tad bit,” I said, rubbing my arms.
“Here,” he says and offered me a ball of black fabric.
“You don’t need to give me your jacket,” I protested.
“I want to, please, take it.” He replied.
I reluctantly took the sweatshirt accidentally brushing my hand against his and threw it over myself.
“Thank you,” I whispered, inhaling the faint smell of ax and cinnamon.
“No problem,” he replied.
“I’ll give it back after we go inside,” I stuttered, still feeling a bit of guilt in my stomach.
“Don’t worry about it Delilah,” he answered.
“You can call me Lia if you want.”
“Lia.” Ryan murmured, studying me.
“Yes?” I inquired, gazing up at him.
“You said we aren’t friends so I was wondering, Can we be friends?” he asked
“Sure, if you want.”
“Why wouldn’t I want to be friends?”
“I dunno, maybe because we are different,” I answered, looking away.
Why is he asking to be friends with me? He’s got all the friends and popularity he could need. What would my friendship weight against that? We also had nothing in common, at least in what we do in our free time. He is a lacrosse player after all, and I, am a writer. They don’t usually mix.
“What do you mean by different?” he interrupted my raging thoughts.
“Well, isn’t obvious?” I snapped, crossing my arms.
“Ah, no,” he stated.
I inhaled and exhaled, then spoke;
“You are a well-known lacrosse player who was Homecoming King and I am a, well, not so well-known concert band member who was president of the Literary Club. Do I need to go on?”
“I don’t know why that would keep us from being friends.” Ryan huffed, crossing his muscular arms across his chest.
“We don’t have anything in common. You need common interests to be friends!” I argued, my voice rising.
“Well, how do you know we have nothing in common!” he protested.
“How could we possibly have anything in common! You are a lacrosse player and star athlete and I am a flute player and a wallflower.”
“Wow, what is this, High School Musical or something, where we are only defined by one thing?” he shouted, throwing his hands up in the air.
I said nothing and bit my lip, unsure of what to say. Ryan shook his head, his black hair moving in the wind.
“You have a very bad perspective then if you think so.” He added and I sighed.
“I can’t help it. I have to categorize people. I’m a writer, it’s in my nature.”
“But, people are so complex. They don’t just fit in one box or category or whatever,” he argued.
“But, that’s how I understand people,” I mumbled, taking a whiff of his sweatshirt.
Man, it smelled good. How could boys smell good yet smell awful at the same time? Especially when they don’t shower, cough * cough * my brother.
“Really? Then you don’t understand people at all,” He whispered, reaching a hand out to push a strand out of my face.
My breathing hitched in surprise and I backed away.
“I don’t think I don’t understand people.”
“Well, then why can’t we be friends?” Ryan asked.
“I never said we couldn’t.” I countered, furrowing my brows.
“But you just said we couldn’t be friends because we have nothing in common!”
“I wondered why you wanted to be friends because we had nothing in common! Not that I don’t want to be.” I answered, forming a fist.
“And I ask again, how do know?” he demanded, inching closer to me.
“Based on what I know,” I replied, stumbling back.
“Which is what? I play lacrosse and was Homecoming King?” Ryan inquired, inching closer.
“Based on your behavior as well,” I added.
He tilted his head and said, “Behavior? How would you know how I behave?”
“I had a class with you once.” I snapped. Surprise, Surprise, you don’t remember, I thought to myself, glaring at him.
“Right, Chemistry, eight period,” Ryan stated, a half-smile on his face.
I opened my mouth but only air came out. He remembered? How?
“By the way, it’s not really fair to base who I am in a forty-five-minute class that we had two years ago,” he mentioned.
“But, that is the only experience I have of you, really. What else can I base who you are unless you want me to listen to rumors?” I rasped after my voice came back.
He chuckled lowly and exclaimed, “That’s why we should become friends!”
I sighed but finally complied, falling into silence.
Being friends with him wasn’t exactly life or death for me, therefore, why not? Maybe he’s different? Maybe, he will just forget and all will be well? Or maybe, it would give me an opportunity to study him, as a character. To portray someone of the popular race? And, it’s not like I hung out with many of my guy friends anyway, so I didn’t see the problem.
The wind rustled through the playset and I shivered again.
“Maybe we should go back inside. Your shivering.” Ryan said and I nodded.
He rose to his feet and offered me his hand which I carefully took. That’s when I noticed the height difference. Ryan had to be at least 6ft, towering over my meager 5.2ft, something that surprised me, something that bothered me.
“You are really tall.” I blurted, straining to look into his face.
“You are really short.” he shot back and I scowled.
“No need to rub it in.”
He laughed his body vibrating with the motion and I narrowed my eyes but shook my head. I should’ve noticed this before. I hardly knew him and he was three times my size and strength. Great going, I would be “****” out of luck if he decided to have his “way” with me.
“Your hand is freezing.” Ryan murmured, clutching it tightly with both hands and attempting to warm it.
“Cold hands, Cold Heart,” I said, blushing.
“I think the saying is Cold hands, Warm heart,” he corrected, grabbing my other hand.
I quirked an eyebrow, “What about you then? Your hands are warm.”
“I guess I have a cold heart then.” He chuckled and I shook my head.
“I don’t think you have a cold heart. It takes a lot to make a cold heart.” I disagreed and he gazed directly into my eyes and I swear, I could see the deepest part of his soul through the light’s reflection.
Ryan looked away first and tugged me to the slide.
“C’mon, we better get inside,” he whispered and I nodded, removing my hands and sliding down the side.