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Not a glimpse of late afternoon light was streaming through the rain-laden sky. His dark, misty blue eyes caught sight of the gravel-like boardwalk below, used by a couple of passersby every now and then. He sighed heavily and slid his athletic arms closer to the open, second-story window as he leaned forward to get a more promising view of the outside. The queen-sized bed underneath his form creaked in the process. From a short distance, he spotted a white Ford Anglia blocked a bit by a grove of willows, swaying in the consistent breeze. Its driver’s seat on the right side was vacant. The vehicle was parked on the edge of the stunning, silvery-white sand that formed part of the most precious spot in town:
He moved his head in a quick motion to move his moist, chestnut-colored bangs out of his eyes. He then proceeded to squint at what seemed to appear out of nothingness: a woman. Long, silvery hair rested on her back with ease. She was wearing a light gray set of trousers and a white fleece jacket. Unexpectedly, a ray of brilliant light hit his gazing eyes. As he had begun focus again, the peculiar woman could be seen much clearer as the source of light had come from the section of sky just above her.
Wow, he thought. I have to-
“Sorry, Daniel! I need to kick you out for a few. I just can’t bear walking in my own sweat longer than fifteen…” her voice faded into an undertone.
Daniel looked up at his finest friend from his relaxed sitting position on her bed. She was still wearing her running shorts and spandex top from earlier in the day, as was he. Their high school cross country race resulted in a victory for girls and guys alike, which, from the glint in her warm, hazelnut eyes before, was pleasantly satisfying.
“What is it, Emma?” he questioned skeptically, standing up gradually and edging his way toward her a bit. Her light, honey-colored hair had turned wavy from the downpour at the invitational, but he didn’t mind. It looked quite natural to him.
“You were staring at her again, weren’t you?” A few lines formed on her forehead. “And don’t lie to me, either.” He tried leveling his eyes with hers, but this proved to be far more difficult than he wanted it to be.
To Daniel, Emma was a prized possession. Her sweet personality was the main thing that cured his unsure one. Also, to him, there was no denying her physical attributes were a plus. She was tall, but he could still look down at her when he needed to. Her skin tone matched his: tan but in a conservative sense. Now that he thought about it, she was, by far, the most stunning girl his age that he knew. Why, with the confidence and grace she demonstrated in her walk, she could pass as an ang-
“Dan?” A manicured hand waved in front of his face.
“Oh, yeah. Yeah. You’re right. I was looking at her, but can you blame me, though? She’s the one who gave me the courage to leave my dad.”
His father was a rigid man with rough, midnight-black hair. As he was aging, the top of his head became more and more visible. With that in mind, he was probably more malicious than he ever was.
He drove his fingers through his tangle-free tresses. “You know she helped me realize what a horrible bloke Rupert was too, right?”
“Also indirectly,” Emma muttered knowingly.
Rupert was Daniel’s former best guy friend. They met at the end of their years in primary school during a hectic game of dodgeball.
As Daniel lent a helping hand to a very flushed Emma, a red object hit his left cheek, knocking his prescription glasses to the worn concrete.
“D*mn.” Daniel winced, gripping the side of his face, still clutching Emma’s right hand.
“Sorry about that.”
Daniel unwillingly stared at the mischievous smile he had not known before. It was the new kid.
“No. That’s cool.”
The short redhead quickly became his best friend (next to Emma of course), but just as soon as he developed a bond with him, it broke. Rupert believed sticking up for your best pal was a waste of time.
Emma saw Daniel’s frown spreading toward his distant gaze.
“Aw, Dan,” she sighed, “all of that nonsense is a thing of the past.” She grabbed both of his soft hands and squeezed. “I’ll tell you what. Why don’t we go ahead and see her? She’s still over there, right?”
“Right now?!” he exclaimed, ignoring her last question, dimples appearing on both cheeks.
“I have to take a shower and change first, remember?” She let go of his hands and pointed her spotless fingers at her slightly soiled uniform.
“Oh. I forgot how horrid your odor was.” He grinned, showing off his vibrant teeth.
Emma glanced at him, trying her best not to demonstrate the smile hiding behind her flawless complexion.
“But what if I want to see your gorgeous-“
He laughed, stepping into the bright upper floor hallway and shutting his friend’s white, wooden door.
As he turned toward his own bedroom, he heard a distant noise from the lower floor.
What is that? he thought.
Emma opened her door, a sky blue towel in hand. “Are you not going to see who that is?”
Daniel turned back around, stopping at the topmost section of the half-furnished flight of stairs, the upper half clean and carpeted and the bottom half bitter and bare. Emma’s parents never got around to finishing their project since they were always away on business.
Knock, knock, knock.
He grabbed the railing on his right, but before he proceeded with the second step down, two hands thrust his broad shoulders backward.
“Wait!” Emma sprinted back into her room. Daniel spotted a slender, glistening object tied across her forehead a couple of minutes later. It was a golden hippie headband.
“You never know who’s at the other side of the door.”
He rolled his eyes and continued to saunter down the rest of the flight. Upon reaching the landing, he strolled over to the wooden entry. He grabbed the icy doorknob, turned it, and pulled. A burst of hot, gusty air moved his hair every which way. His eyes widened and his mouth opened slightly.
A very skinny, towering form covered with a fierce scarlet hoodie and black, cotton-made sweatpants faced him.
“Rupert?” He stared at his ex-buddy’s sharp green eyes, hoping to find words in them. “Uh-“
“I’m sorry, alright.” He pushed back some of the choppy, flaming red hair that obstructed his view. Daniel gestured for him to come inside. He then shut the front door. He hadn’t realized how dark the first floor was, so he had to let his eyes adjust.
“I feel sort of, you know, bad for what I did.”
Daniel could sense Emma’s doubtful leaning position on the topmost step.
“I may sound like a bit of a nutter, but since then, I’ve felt my soul burn in half…or something like that,” he stated. He slapped his forehead. “Oh, bloody h*ll…”
“Come again?” Daniel asked while sporting a lopsided grin, his voice somewhat cracking.
Rupert sighed. “I’ve kind of felt like rubbish you see, and, well, I know I can’t change the past.”
Daniel grew motionless. He stared at Rupert’s stature. His shoulders were held higher than he’d witnessed in the past, but something about them seemed threatening.
“And, well, I saw your dad at the Beach the other day. A woman summoned me over for some help, but your dad got a hold of me before I could do anything. He wanted me to ask you if you could, you know, forgive him.”
Daniel’s lungs became tight. He thought about his father and the hurt he’d caused him. He also imagined Rupert’s non-existent attempts at stopping the verbal mistreatment.
“You’re a worthless twit.”
“This hog right here isn’t my son!”
“Why did I deserve such ugly offspring like you?”
Daniel thought of the last insult and his own response to it.
“Did you forget who I received half of my genes from?!”
Before his father could lay a hand on him, he made a run for it.
“God! I love cross country!”
He sprinted until he reached the safest haven he knew of: his best friend’s home. From that point on, he never turned back.
“I’ll think about it.” Daniel searched for a solution at his shoeless feet. A strange silence followed.
“So... I see you two still run,” Rupert assumed, pointing at the translucent white outfits they were wearing.
“Yeah. Running gives you time to reflect.” He stared at his best friend’s top. The golden wings that were attached to their school’s lettering seemed more visible.
“Want to forgive and forget?” Rupert suggested, shrugging his shoulders.
Daniel turned around rather quickly and caught a glimpse of Rupert’s eyes. Sparks seemed to dance in them. He ascended up the stairs, but stopped halfway. His right foot was placed on the soft, light carpet while the other was leaning on the cold, scratched hardwood. He glanced over his left shoulder and down at the teenager.
“Huh! Why not?” Daniel sighed a bit sarcastically, throwing his arms up in the air.
“Brilliant! Want to hang out with me?”
Daniel made another upward glance at Emma. Her breathtaking stare and affectionate smile took over his thoughts. Her outfit resembled that of a virtuous attitude. She was floating, almost flying, in her magnificence.
“Sorry, but I already made plans.” He grinned up at Emma, and she returned it with an even greater one.
“Oh, well, that’s alright. I’ll see you later, then?”
“See you around, mate.”
“Later… mate.” He left. Daniel walked up the rest of the welcoming steps.
“Aw, Dan! You are the sweetest guy I know.” Emma embraced his tight form. “And the most fit, too.” She slapped him in the abs playfully then turned around in a silky manner.
“Wait! Aren’t we going to the Beach?”
“Again. I already told you. Shower.” She pointed toward the washroom. “Come to think of it, I think you should shower as well. You want to look presentable to your mum, don’t you?”
“Okay!” He grabbed Emma’s arm and thrust her forward.
“Not with me! Honestly!” She flashed him a shy smile, one which he gave back.
After she left, he stared at the luminous Top Floor of his best friend’s, and technically his, home. “I guess I was wrong. The Beach is the second most precious spot in town,” Daniel muttered to himself confidently, striding back to his own bedroom.