tidbits and flavors
It was a dog hot day. To an inth degree Samuel Rogers was satisfied, a hot yet sticky satisfied. He looked around the lake, looking at not one but two tempting, very able bodied females who lay, skin dripping with tanning lotion and sweat. Then she popped into his vision, that girl who everyone desired to talk to; to be able to touch just once, if only to make sure she was real. She was the second daughter to the Grays. Eliza had eyes of blue fire burning in the night; they stood out against her tan skin even on a bright sunny day. And there she stood, looking at him. He swore those eyes were barreling deep into his chest from across the beach. Burning hot sand forced him into the shade, but she walked, a strap of her white terrycloth dress dangling down her left shoulder. Her swimsuit was hot pink; the dark hair on her head was like a bushel of curls, bouncing on her head as she walked, weaving through people on the beach. She moved closer and closer to him, walking with her head bent away from the scorching sun.
Eliza lived across the street. He saw her often, watching as she made her way to and fro. They were in seventh grade when she moved into the Tudor house across the street. He relished in this, especially when fellow classmates commented about her, how pretty she was. Eliza was and will remain that pretty little thing everyone thought about, but never had the guts to talk to. She was the girl elected to homecoming court every year since they entered into high school. She was the girl who could stare into space or right at you with a smile, mocking and beckoning you at the same time. He loved it, wasn't in love, but something welled in his chest every time he saw her.
She talked to no one and no one talked to her as she made her way out of the hot sun. He saw a bead of sweat drip down her skin as she got close to him. He counted the seconds until one drop disappeared into the terrycloth...one...two...three...four...five, rolling down from the nape of her neck to the line of clothe above her chest, disappearing into the crease between her breast.
Then she was gone.
He scanned the beach again, forgetting the reason he was even there. A hot day for swimming, a perfect day for a dip in the water, but he felt inclined to go back home. He felt the need to bask in the glow of the sun through his bedroom window where he could recline in air conditioning.
The town seemed vast as he walked home, but truth be told, it was really very small, moreover, it was intimate. The separation of six degrees could have been cut in half; everyone was connected in some way or the other. Somehow everyone knew everyone else’s story, about his uncles' cousins drinking problem, which of course lead to the conception of someone’s little sister. Yet for some reason, Samuel was the last to learn anything. It had been the way since he could remember. No one made a move to change this, not his best friends nor his mother or his father, who decided that he was going to leave after fourteen years marriage.
I thought you knew things weren't going well, said his father.
Nope, guess you hid things pretty well, he’d answer.
Sam, I'm sorry, but I have to go. I can't stay here anymore. Your mother and I just...well, we're just not compatible.
Yep, could have fooled him. Apparently not his little sister or his older brother, who stood in his bedroom, telling him all the signs that he missed. Perhaps it was him and not the lack of others ability to fill him in on the latest news. So he may suppose, he was just not very good at perceiving things.
This he dwelled on as he walked down the none-to-shaded sidewalk to his house a few blocks away from the local, little watering hole. There she was, coming towards him. Eliza Gray. There was a glow about her; she was walking again with her head down. It was like that, she was getting closer and he was breathing heavy, partly from the sun, but mostly from the very sight of her.
"Hello Eliza," he said.
She stopped, looked right at him. Truthfully, she looked so deep into his eyes that a chill washed over his body. It seemed as if she wanted to ask, are you talking to me? However, she didn't say anything, not at first. She did smile though, sweetly and calmly although it seemed to mask something.
"Heading back to the beach?" he asked. Didn’t he just see her?
"I forgot something," she answered, looking rather surprised that he would utter anything to her in the first place. "Couldn’t find it."
Odd, the tone of her voice as she said that last part. She turned her body as to walk beside him; her shoulders were turned out, pronouncing her collar bone. Again she smiled, sweetly and oddly. Not odd as in he didn't recognize the type of smile it was, seductive with a hint of ah ha. Whatever that meant, he wasn't so sure.
"Can I walk with you?" she asked.
She pushed a brown, fallen curl behind her ear. "Going home?"
"Yeah to bask in the air conditioning."
She laughed. "Can I come?"
"Ah," he paused though he wasn't sure why. "Yeah, you can come. It's just going to be me though."
"Okay, I don't mind."
They walked together, and for a second it felt as if he should take her hand. He felt an insatiable need to keep her within his reach, to hold her like he had never held another human being before. There was electricity floating between them as they were silent, idling conversations to be had.
Her house sat silent in the summer sun, buzzing in the distance was the cicadas. The hot summer sun made his face beat, pulsing once then twice, and it only got worse once he was in the air conditioning. The home was silent. His mother was working late that evening, a second summer job that took most of her time, but he didn't really mind. His little sister was away with friends, a camping trip up north. His older brother had gone off to college nearly two years ago and was rarely around for anything let alone for his younger siblings. The house was cold, bitter cold and it took a while for his skin to adjust to the new temperature.
She walked close behind him, waiting to be taken anywhere or so it seemed. Although having her in his house was foreign, it felt normal as they made their way to his bedroom, seemingly squeezing down the narrow hallway.
"I like it," she said as she entered his bedroom, a gray blue on the walls, and sports memorabilia on the shelves beside and above his bed. "It's you, very much you."
She complimented him once more, something about reading and books. He wasn't much for reading, but did have a few treasured favorites. The Catcher and the Rye caught her attention, striking his mind as odd that she would find him fascinating at all. She sat down on his bed, her tan legs outstretched before her, and she moved like she knew his eyes were on her skin, looking her over. If this was her assumption, she was right. He was looking at her, stealing glimpses of her as he kicked a few things around the floor, clothing that he had thrown there the night before.
"I don't care about the clothes," she said.
He took that into full consideration and sat down beside her. This was the first time they had ever been together, ever. Something clicked in his brain as they talked about everything and then nothing, talking about plans for after high school. They were close to graduating and yet so far from anything important at all. She kept moving in her way, saying this and that. He touched her and she touched him on the arm with her elbow, in his side as she teased him.
"Have you thought about me very much?" She asked.
He didn't understand at first.
"You have, haven't you?" She prodded.
He felt sick, a lump in his throat, keeping him from nearly vomiting. Had he done this before? That was a lie; this was the first time he had felt this way about a girl. Looking at her there, in his room, he wasn't so sure any woman had ever existed before. Her skin barely touched his and he smelled her sweet scent between them. This was the first time. It was the first time he had kissed her, touched her or made any attempt to care about anything but her.
"Show me," she said in the pause between breaths, in the time she should have gone for air. "I want to see it. I want to see everything you've ever dreamed of with me."
He felt such a heavy feeling in his chest as she sat beside him. "Eliza," he said.
“Yes?" she answered, her voice sounding tired, like she was about to doze off. She sat beside him, her head resting on the wall.
"What did you leave at the beach?"
"To get my book,” she answered, her eyes looked heavy. “That’s all...nothing important,”
He followed suit and rested his head against the wall, closing his eyes. He took solace in hearing her breath. She sat beside him, the cold air wafting into his room.
Suddenly he woke in a cold sweat, feeling sick, terribly sick. Quickly he ran to the bathroom. It was morning, already? His body ached and he felt chills all over. He began to cry, falling in front of the toilet, hugging it with both arms. Why was this feeling coming over him, such sickness? He thought of Eliza, feeling sad and sick all over again. He thought of her in his arms like it had happened just a few seconds ago.
There was a sound above him, his brother was there. What the hell was Patrick doing home, he was rarely ever home? He said something, asking about something though he wasn't so sure exactly what his brother had said. He felt sick again and lunged into the toilet, but nothing came out, it was only a dry heave.
"Jesus Sammy, you should get back to bed,” his brother said then leaned on the door jam.
Why? He couldn't sleep, not with such pains in his stomach, a thumping pain right where his heart was. It was just the other day when he had felt Eliza beside him, sleeping as she sat beside him. She was in his arms, right? This feeling in his stomach was real, and the memory of her beside him was gone almost made up.
"You should get back to bed Sammy. I mean really, this is affecting you bad. You should get back to bed and sleep it off."
"Sleep...sleep what off?"
He felt his brother's gaze on his back, burning into the middle of his spine. If it had been any stronger he might never have moved again, becoming paralyzed by his brother's intense look of question. He felt a bead of sweat roll down his forehead as he turned just slightly, struggling to see his brother. There was a look in his brown eyes, eyes of their father. The contrast, he had the look of their mother, sympathetic to a degree and dreadful to another. News, there was something that needed to be said. Patrick looked like his mother before she had told that their father wouldn't be coming around nearly as much anymore. It was a look of regret. I'm regretful in informing you that- Ah huh, that's the look just before he was told what everyone else had already known.
"I came down when I heard about Eliza,” Patrick said, grabbing the hand towel and handing it to him, the rolled cuffs of his shirt sliding down from the crease of his elbows. “I thought you might need a big brother to lean on. God knows dad won't be coming by. He's in Vegas with Laura. You remember Laura don’t you, dad's latest girlfriend?
He nodded. Yeah, he knew. But Eliza, what the hell?
"Mom said you've been like this since Monday when you found out.” His brother ran a hand through his neatly quiff hair. “I didn't see it coming that's for sure. She said you two were "cute and happy" whatever that's supposed to mean. Really, I don't know what mom means half of the time."
His brother was rambling. Just shut up for a second or two, at least a second. He felt his brother's hand on his shoulder and he felt sick again, lunging forward in another dry heave. His face must have been beat red, most of the blood felt like it had rushed to his cheeks.
"What about Eliza?" he asked. "What about her?"
He felt that burn again. It stared in the middle of his back as his brother answered. "She's dead, has been since Monday."
"I was just with her."
"Yeah, mom said you two went to the beach on Saturday and that afternoon she saw you two sleeping in your bed. You've been with her all summer. Don't you remember anything? Don't you remember-she committed suicide that her mother found her Monday morning before school."
Ah that was it wasn't it? She was a dead girl, his dead girl. His head hit something hard, the toilet perhaps. He felt his brother lunge forward, grabbing him by the shoulders so he could lift him back up. He apologized for something, probably for seeming insensitive. Now he remembered the truth about Eliza. He had remembered learning from Mrs. Gray that she had found her daughter dead in the bathtub with both her wrist slit, bleeding into the water around her. That memory, the first time they had been together and that last time they were together melted and merged in his brain. He felt like crying or vomiting or maybe screaming. He was angry or maybe that was the insatiable need to see her again, it was taking over his body. What had he missed, some tears or extra bouts of sadness. He saw none of it.
It was hot. He stood; he was sure of that, feeling his brother hands on his forearms.
"Yes," she answered, her voice sounding tired, like she was about to doze off.
"Why did you leave at the beach?"
"To get my book...that's all...nothing important."
He went to his room to find that book, to hold on to something that belonged to her. It wasn't love, but if it wasn't then why did he hurt so much? The first time with her and the last time with her seemed distant yet so close that he was sure it had happened not at the beginning of the summer, but yesterday.
On his bed he gripped the thin stock of paper, a little novel by Steinbeck, a little memory of how she was his for a brief moment. He gripped it tight, feeling the book bend in his hands. A million minutes away Eliza had been there, she had looked at him like it was some surprise that he dare speak to her.
"Show me." This was what she had said in his ear the very first day as she paused between breaths, in the time she should have gone for air. "I need to see. I need to see everything you've ever dreamed of with me."
And so it was done. He gave her everything, in vain.