Fallen Rock Zone This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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She’s asleep, so I can’t see her green eyes. Not that I want to see them. I mean, if they were in front of me, open and all, I wouldn’t be repulsed by them … Allie is asleep on my shoulder. Again. I tried to move her so she’d lean her head against the window, so she could wake up and see the scenery flying past her outside the bus, instead of my neck and all the tired, drooling travelers around us. Allie is a poet, and everyone says that poets like scenery.

But she wouldn’t move. I think she knows what she’s doing. She rests her head on my shoulder as though it’s a sleepy accident, but she wants to be near me and she wants me to know what it’s like to be near her. Or maybe it always is an accident. Maybe Allie’s not as complicated as we all think she is.

No, that can’t be true. She is unbelievably complicated – I don’t think she can even figure herself out. I’ve read her poetry. I found her password-protected journal on her laptop computer when we were designing the website that got us here in the first place. You can always get around passwords. I’ve read all the poems she never wanted me to read. Not necessarily never … I’m sure, in that strange little mind of hers, she imagined that I’d find them someday. And she probably wrote a poem about that, too.

I can read Allie like a book, but that doesn’t mean I understand her. I don’t think she understands me either; she just likes to pretend that she does. She finds some sort of great poetic romance in thinking that she knows everything there is to know about me. I wish she’d stick to bits and bytes here.

“Morning, Tom,” she jokes, opening her eyes as the sun begins to set over the eight-hundredth fallen rock zone on the New York State Thruway. Her eyes are so green that they pierce through me. I wish they weren’t so green. Then I wouldn’t have to wonder what she’s thinking.

“It’s four-thirty in the afternoon, Lyric,” I remind her. She finally lifts her head and smacks me on the arm.

“Don’t call me that,” she says. Allie pretends to hate her real name. But she doesn’t, because all her poems are signed Lyric Allegra Sorenson. In fact, she entered the website design contest under that name. Lyric Allegra. Kind of interesting, if you think about it.

“Fallen Rock Zone,” I read, looking past her. “Such a change in scen-ery.” I roll my eyes. She loves sarcasm.

“There’s another road sign,” she says. “Montreal – 180 miles.” “That’s another three hours,” I say. “You think any of those rocks ever fall?” “What?”

“I mean, I wouldn’t want a rock to fall down and crush you the day before our presentation.” “You’re a moron, you know?” She pinches my cheek in a very grandmotherly way. “It says fallen rock zone, not falling rock zone. The rocks have already fallen.”

“Thank you, Miss Young Grammarian.”

“Oh … don’t bother me. Remember that I corrected all your grammatical errors on the site.” She finally lets go of my cheek.

It starts to get a bit awkward. All silence, no sarcasm. I wonder if I should tell her that Josie and I broke up last week. She knows, I’m sure Josie has already told her, and I’ll bet that her heart is jumping, waiting for me to make the first move. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. Who does this guy think he is? Well, here’s your answer – I don’t know.

I think I might still want to be with Josie. She’s safe and she’s warm – but Allie chases after dreams and shadows and all these crazy things that can’t be ex-pressed in terms of bits and bytes or HTML code. I don’t even completely know what she thinks of me. But Josie broke up with me because she said she didn’t want to be tied down. Strange how Allie’s sitting next to me, gazing out the window with her huge green eyes, and she’s not tied down to anything.

We pull into a rest stop. “Twenty minutes, then the bus leaves,” the driver announces. Allie runs for the ladies’ room. I buy us each a cup of coffee; I know she’s going to reprimand me for buying her anything.

“Here you go, Lyric,” I tell her, handing her the coffee when she’s next to me again. We’re near the odd mixture of cement and nature that is a New York Thruway; it’s a March sunset and it’s so cold that our noses are running.

“Mmm … thanks, Tom.” She takes a sip, then looks at me. “Okay, here we go. A, don’t call me Lyric. B, don’t ever buy anything for me again.” She grins and, in the middle of a laugh, puts her free arm around my waist. I don’t feel her arm, though; I only feel her pillowy coat. I put my free arm around her shoulders.

“All right, I get the point,” I say.

She grins again. “It’s now or never,” she mutters.

“What?”

“Oh … did I just say that out loud?” Allie says. She’s a real sneak … always pretending to be dizzy and misty and confused. “Hey … hey, Tom?”

“Yes?”

“I … I talked to Josie, you know. And … it’s not … it doesn’t have anything to do with … I … what would you think about us? Going out, you know? Just something we could … try for a while?”

“Yeah,” I tell her. “I think we could try it for a while.”

I keep my arm around her and I pull her a little closer. We walk back to the bus like two friends carrying the world between them.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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Charlotte G. said...
Jul. 10, 2012 at 10:40 am
This is cute, I really enjoyed reading this! Congratulations on getting published. :)
 
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