Out of the Blue (Eyes) This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

May 20, 2010
The autumnal air hung indecisively humid as Adeline started for her hand-me-down car waiting at the top of the driveway. Always viewing her glass as half full, she liked to think of the car as “vintage,” not a “clunker” or “downright piece of s**t” like many other kids in town would. As a matter of fact, she’d actually grown to like the car. It was her solitary means of escaping to sanity, although today it was her way of getting to her 9 a.m. English seminar. Adeline didn’t mind the lengthy drive to Bradbury College, especially as the seasons were turning and the leaves changed from a mediocre green to vivid hues of crimson. Perhaps it was due to her artistic eye that she marveled in the changing seasons, but whatever the reason, she wished she could relish Virginia’s bountiful autumn eternally.

Thirty minutes into her drive, as Adeline sang along to an 80’s song she never knew the title of but could recite every word to, her cell phone rang. Mom. God, not now, please not now, she thought. Knowing that it was potentially distracting to answer her phone while driving, Adeline hit the answer button. Hah! Feels good to be a rebel, she thought before taking the call. “Mom? You know I’m on the road right now. If this isn’t an emergency you know it could’ve waited,” Adeline said upon answering.

“Since when have you been getting mail from New York City, hm? Since when?” her mom asked. “You can tell me right now because we don’t keep secrets in this household, Adeline.” S**t, she thought, as it hit her that she’d forgotten to weed through this morning’s mail to pluck her personal business out of the heap of grocery ads and credit card statements. Over the past six months it had become her 7 a.m. ritual six days out of the week. How in the world did she forget that today? No, she wasn’t writing to a secret 27 year old Italian lover named Giovanni who spent his nights as a male stripper, nor was she secretly plotting to make a quick getaway to the city (although at moments like these, that option sounds entirely too appealing). The truth was that Adeline had been mailing samples of her latest writing to small publications in Manhattan, half-hoping to get some miniscule amount of feedback, half doing it because…well, why the hell not? She wasn’t taking a heavy load of creative writing and advanced English courses just for s**ts and giggles, although her uppity mother, Kathy, believed so.

“Why don’t you major in something practical, like nursing?” her mother had once asked her. “Is it because you’re too selfish and wrapped up in your own head? Are you too good to help others, Adeline?” Being much too preoccupied with her mid-day soap operas while Adeline was a kid, Kathy failed to recognize that rather than playing doctor and trying to mend plastic dolls’ boo-boos, her precious little Adeline loved writing stories about the adventures of Flopsy the rabbit and his woodland friends. Instead of horsing around with the idiotic kids throwing mud on each other at recess, Adeline took pleasure in composing her 3-paged “Girls Only Magazine,” and publishing it for her friends via the forbidden copy machine in the teacher’s lounge. Her love for writing had only snowballed, and now at 19, her literary avalanche was ready to release.

“Are you there? Adeline? Talk to me, don’t make me open this envelope,” Kathy said, as Adeline snapped back to attention.

“First of all, mother, to be quiet honest with you, you really don’t need to worry yourself with my mail. As a matter of fact, I’ve heard it’s illegal to open a sealed envelope that isn’t addressed to you, so I wouldn’t recommend doing that,” Adeline replied, with a satisfied smirk.

“That rule doesn’t apply to me,” her mom said. A typical Kathy answer, Adeline thought.

“So constitutional law doesn’t apply to you, mom? Hah! I’ve never heard that one before. I’m hanging up now, unless you want me to lose my focus and plow into a tree, alright? I’ll talk to you when I get home…I love you.” But of course, as nearly always, her mother had already hung up, her silent, controlling way of getting the last word in. Tears welled in Adeline’s eyes as she fought to keep them in and push them down until they were small, insignificant beads of glass that should could smash and destroy. She hated letting her mother win, despised that no matter how hard she tried to put up a tough façade, her mother always ripped it down, leaving her fragile and naked.

Adeline’s relationship with her mother had been on a consistent decline since high school, but had reached its breaking point recently. After 19 years of dwelling under the same roof, Adeline was ready for the all-American college experience, the “best four years of your life, man,” but instead was still living at home, her all too familiar room serving as some sort of make-believe “dorm.” Her mother had decided for her that she wasn’t ready to move away, wasn’t ready to thrive on her own at college. Every excuse in the book was flung at Adeline until she finally surrendered, white flag waving at half staff, and agreed to live at home for one more year and study at a local college. Bradbury College wasn’t half bad, heck, she even liked it most days, but the sense of having her wings clipped left a bad taste in Adeline’s mouth day after day.

“I’ve just got to keep pushing on,” Adeline said aloud as she pulled into the nearly full parking lot on the west side of campus. The unexpected sound of her voiced startled her after the almost-silent car ride. “Why the hell am I talking to myself? I better not be going off my rocker like she is,” and that’s for sure, Adeline thought. (2)

She let the car idle in its parking spot as she clamped her eyes shut in a futile attempt to wipe her memory clean, if only temporarily, of the bitter phone conversation. Adeline’s nails dug instinctively into her left wrist as she sat, trying to gain some ounce of composure before heading to class. Some habits die hard, she thought. I wonder who’s watching me now, thinking I’m the most pitiful girl on the planet. Upon opening her eyes, however, the parking lot was completely desolate, stripped of any last minute stragglers. “God, I’m late!” Adeline said, and darted to class through the brick-laden corridor to the English complex.

Trying to make her entrance as inconspicuous as possible, Adeline made a beeline for London, who had graciously saved her a spot in class. London and Adeline had been best friends since their first day of high school, when London’s effervescent friendliness and Adeline’s keen ability to listen collided and morphed into a match of epic proportions.

London seemed to be everything that was just shy of Adeline’s grasp. Her playful, take-charge attitude oozed confidence and reeled the boys in by the boat load, while her overall appearance was anything but average or boring. London’s slim figure was always dressed in the most unique clothing, her hair styled in a choppy, modern bob (“liberal rock ‘n’ roll hair,” as Adeline’s mother called it), and she even had her nose pierced. In a sense, she was the polar opposite of Adeline, who felt she dwelled in Averageland and would reside there for quite some time. Adeline’s wardrobe consisted of jeans, a few dresses that rarely saw daylight, and a mediocre slew of t-shirts. Her one pride and joy, however, was the impressive collection of band shirts she had collected from concert-going with London over the years. Death Cab for Cutie, Sufjan Stephens, Bon Iver-- you name it, Adeline had it. Going to shows had been Adeline’s one escape from reality, the one place where she could fully let loose and live without inhibitions, if only for a few hours. It didn’t hurt that her concert-going habit completely irked Kathy, either.

“So what are we working on in here today? By the way, I cannot believe I’m late. I must’ve blanked out in the parking lot or something,” Adeline said, “but here’s your five bucks anyway, as promised,” she said, rolling her ocean eyes. Adeline and London had a long-running bet that if Adeline was ever late to class, she’d pay up. Although she didn’t view herself as a compulsive perfectionist (who’d honestly want that label, anyway?), nearly everybody else did, including London, who decided to test the limits of her conscientiousness by throwing money into the equation.

London snatched the bill from Adeline‘s hand and replied, “Well, little miss badass, I believe we’re analyzing the works of Wordsworth today. Maybe if you’d been here on time as usual, you would be the one telling me what we’re doing!” she quipped, with a smirk. “By the way, there’s a show tonight at The Lodge,” she said. “A few local bands, nothing new, but I’ve gone a week without a drink and after all this pressure from school, I deserve a little party-hearty session. You in, Addie-O?”

One thing that Adeline did not like about going to concerts was the fact that London--a bonafide lightweight who, despite a weak stomach and incapacity to hold her alcohol, always attempted to out drink the band mates-- repeatedly forced them to go home early due to her dire need to worship at the altar of The Almighty Porcelain One.

“Sure, why not,” Adeline replied. “What else do I have to do tonight anyway? Watching you get embarrassingly drunk makes my Friday nights, Lon. You know that.” What in the world am I getting myself into… Adeline wondered as she trekked back to her car after a long day of English lectures, writing, and bad yams in the cafeteria.

The sprawling countryside was quaint and enchanting as Adeline drove home, going exactly the speed limit just so she could savor the beautiful day outside while it lasted. The extensive farm land in Virginia had such a homey feeling to Adeline, although she’d never actually set foot on one.

“Ah! Watch out!” Adeline screamed as an overwhelming mass plodded out in front of her car. She slammed on the brakes as her car fishtailed side to side on the aged asphalt of the road. She’d gotten so caught up in the scenery that her eyes must’ve averted from the road, a split second if only. The rancid smell of tar and smoke rose from the road as Adeline tried to sort out in her mind what just had just happened.

Oh my god, she thought, I’ve hit a kid. A little kid ran out in the road, my life is over, now I’m going to go on trial and become a convict, their parents are going to hate me, and I’ll be sharing a cell with a murder named Lawanda…a COW? Sure enough, a cow, lazily chewing its cud as though nothing life-threatening had just transpired, was standing in front of Adeline’s car. Not a kid (thank goodness), not even a sweet little puppy, but a dim-witted cow.

“Alright, that’s it. Enough with this loony tunes,” Adeline said as she began to lay on the horn. After a minute of her wasted honking efforts, the cow had yet to move, but was calmly standing, smack-dab in the middle of the lane, where it then proceeded to produce an impressive-sized cow patty. Adeline threw her hands up in the air, “Great, great! Go ahead and crap all over the road you, you…animal!” It was the best insult she could think of at the moment, although lame.

“Daffy, Daffy? Why are you in the road?” a voice called from beyond the fence of the pasture. Adeline glanced around and saw him, a guy about her age, running across the field to his beloved cow. He was built, with a slight farmer’s tan and a small scattering of freckles across his nose. His shaggy, dark auburn hair fell across his eyes in a casual way, and he wore a practical flannel shirt and jeans. Grabbing the cow with a rope and tugging it in towards the direction of the pasture, he held up one finger to Adeline as if to signal “hold on, just a minute” and vanished with the un-phased cow in tow.

As soon as Adeline was certain that he was out of sight, she abruptly entered panic mode. With her purse flung open in record time, she wielded a hairbrush and lip balm in each sweaty, nervous hand. Why on Earth am I so anxious all of a sudden? she began to wonder. Usually calm and collected, Adeline wasn’t used to feeling flustered, nor did she enjoy the overwhelming jolt of adrenaline that was now coursing through her veins, sending her thoughts in ten directions at once. But there was something about him, she thought, I just can’t put my finger on it.

She tried in vain to steady her shaking hands by placing them on the steering wheel, when she saw him casually ambling back towards her car, with a warm smile upon his face. She took her time manually rolling down the driver’s side window, and was greeted by the refreshing autumnal air, smelling faintly of hickory. In two solid steps he reached her car, and Adeline’s heart began hammering in her chest.

“Hi, I’m so sorry about that happening back there, Daffy’s old and she gets disoriented oft’n. I saw how frightened you looked and thought I’d come back to make sure you were okay to drive… anyway,” he said, extending his broad, strong hand, “I’m Seth.”

As if being snatched out of some wondrous, captivating fog, Adeline quickly cleared her head and shook his hand. It was calloused and strong, yet smooth and cool to the touch at the same time. He must be a good worker, Adeline thought to herself in the spilt second their hands touched.

“Nice to meet you Seth, I’m Adeline. Some people call me Ady, Addie-O, Adeles…it’s quite funny actually!” Stop it you babbling fool, you’re making no sense! she thought, and stopped herself just short of continuing on with her list of nicknames.

“Well, now that I know all of your other names I feel like we’re not such strangers anymore,” Seth said, “but I think Adeline suits you just fine. It’s a very pretty name.” A smile once again enveloped his face and the hint of a wink tugged at the corner of his eyes. And oh, those eyes. Adeline knew something about him had grasped her attention during the cow fiasco, but now that Seth was in close proximity to her, she knew exactly why. His eyes stood out like crisp sapphires, accented by flecks of green and hazel. Although Adeline had always been complimented for her bright blue eyes, they had nothing on Seth’s hypnotizing gaze.

“I suppose I’ll stop holding your day up and let you go on your way now,” Seth said, breaking Adeline’s trance. “It was nice meeting you though, and I’m glad you’re alright! A fatal accident concerning an ‘ole cow would be no fun. Maybe I’ll see you ‘round sometime soon if Daffy decides to make a jailbreak again, Adeline” he said with a hearty laugh, and turned on his heel to head toward the covered barn beyond the pasture.

All Adeline could muster was a measly “uh-huh,“ a pathetic excuse for a wave, and with that he was gone. For the remainder of the car ride home, her thoughts were infested with thoughts of Seth’s casual canter, his easy-going way of conversation, and his eyes. Oh, sweet Lord in Heaven, those eyes…

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