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Leap of Faith - Excerpt 2
Or that he knows my name.
“Whatcha doing down here?” I ask curiously. I wonder if it’s an invasion of his privacy. I wonder if I’m annoying…
“My parents went out for today. I’ve got the whole day to myself and figured I’d do some exploring. Would you care to join me?” Justin smiles. I feel a little faint, even though I’ve caught my breath.
“Yeah! Yeah, sure.” I find myself saying, even though I should be thinking it over and processing the choices I have. I’ve never been impulsive like this.
“Think you might need shoes?” Justin points to my feet. They’re bare. I feel like an idiot.
“Maybe. Shoes might be nice. We can go back to my house and then head out for a little adventure if you’d like? I can show you around the beach, I know it like the back of my hand.” I say. It feels so… natural when I’m talking with him. He doesn’t know who I am. I feel like I can be whoever I want and he won’t judge me…
We head back up to my house, back through the weeds and up the sand hills up to my opened gate leading up to my back door. My house blocks the sun and Justin’s hand hits mine. I feel electricity. But that’s ridiculous. I’ve known him for a night and ten minutes. It must just be my imagination.
“Wow. Your house is beautiful, Elise…” Justin’s eyes travel the glass windows.
“Oh. Thanks. I guess. It’s my parent’s pride and joy. They care more about this house then they do us kids.”
“You have siblings?” He seems genuinely interested. Shock.
“Yeah. I have two brothers. Robert and Blake. They’re usually -” As I open the door, my sentence stops abruptly. Blake is sitting in the kitchen.
“…Not here.” I finish.
Blake stands up off the kitchen stool and looks at me. “Where were you?”
I allow Justin into the kitchen and Blake looks from me to Justin. He’s got the “who-the-hell-are-you” look on his face. Blake tries to be tough. But he’s not.
“The beach.” I answer.
“Who’s this?” Blake counters, eyes narrowing.
Justin smiles at Blake, despite his hostility. “Hey, man, it’s cool, my name’s Justin. I met Elise yesterday. On the beach. She was just going to show me around the beach.”
Blake’s an ---. Robert may be an ---, too, but at least he doesn’t treat me like Blake does. Blake treats me like a baby, when in reality, he’s only a year and a half older than I am.
He mutters something under his breath, turns and leaves the kitchen. Good.
“I’m sorry, Justin. He’s… moody.” I apologize as I slip on sandals.
He laughs, I wish he knew how beautiful his laugh was, if it’s even possible for a laugh to be beautiful.
‘it’s alright. I guess I understand, oddly.”
I push my hair back behind my ears and look up at him. “How?”
“You’re his… younger sister? He’s protective.”
I bite my lip. I wish. He just thinks I’m a loser. He’s surprised anyone would want to be my friend.
“I guess you could put it that way. If you must.” I reply. I turn around and open the door and step outside into the heat. Justin follows me and closes the door behind him. Once again, we walk down the path and down the sand hills, through the weeds and to the beach. We make our way down to the water, and walk alongside it, water lapping against our feet. I can feel them watching me. I know they are.
“So, Elise, how old are you, anyways?” Justin cuts into my thoughts and the silence.
I never once had contemplated age. “I’m sixteen.”
Justin grins. “I’m seventeen.”
I stick my tongue out at him. “Whatever, man… whatever.” It feels good to act so free. I feel like my chains that hold me back are becoming looser.
“Where do you go to school? Maybe we’ll be going to the same one in the fall.” Justin asks me, hands in his pockets, staring down at his feet in the sand.
“Oceanview Secondary.” I reply. “Eleventh grade in the fall.”
“Yeah! That’s where I’m going! Looks like we’re going to be seeing a lot of each other…” Justin looks in my direction and smiles sincerely. Or what I hope is sincere.
I learned a lot about Justin today. Like how he’s seventeen and plans on going to Oceanview in the fall. Also how he’s an only child and can be kind of reckless, and not to mention how he’s looking for a new start here. Part of me knows I shouldn’t, and tells me I can’t, and the other part tells me I’d be a fool not to act on impulse. But I’m not impulsive. And I’m not that girl. He shouldn’t be talking to me if he wants a good reputation. But somehow I find I can’t let him know that I’m just the laughingstock of the school. I want him to know and I want him to be capable of being who he wants to be without me holding him back, like I hold myself back.
But somehow I can’t let him become one of them. The others will snatch someone like him up so fast. And for him to become one of them would probably crush me. Not because I’m weak. But because I know he’s not really like them… he’s good hearted. Unlike them.
It’s nights like these. Nights after the sun’s been set. Nights when I feel like I’m the only being in the whole world. The sound of the waves lapping. The salty scent of the beach. The cool air. The stars in the sky. Nights like these make me feel like I’m really alive. Especially now that I’ve found someone who appreciates nights like these as much as I do, just lying in the sand and having nothing to do but gaze into the starry night sky.
Justin and I have been here since sunset, talking all about our lives, who we want to be, and what we want to accomplish. I never thought I’d meet someone who was so like me. We have the same interests, thoughts, taste in music…
He cuts into my thoughts. “Elise.”
His voice is like an angel’s. “Yes?” I reply, unsure of what he will ask me. He’s so unpredictable, really. I wonder if he’s thinking of me right now like I’m thinking of him. I think I’m taking this too far…
“Thanks. You know. For making moving here easier. For giving me a good day, rather than just another bad day in the new… home.”
I smile and open my eyes. “It’s fine.” I’m being completely honest. I’m speaking exactly what’s on my mind. I feel… free. Again. It’s not something I’m used to.
He sits up. “No, seriously. Elise.” He has urgency in his voice.
I sit up too. “Seriously? Okay. It’s been a good day.”
He laughs softly and looks at me. “I’ve got to be crazy. I’ve got to be.” He looks down at his feet. I’m confused.
“Crazy? You’re crazy? You don’t know my mind, Justin.” I say to him. Honestly. He doesn’t know what’s been running through my mind all night. He doesn’t know…
He sighs. “I was just… thinking about you. But it’s stupid. I’ve only known you a day…”
“…and it’s impossible to feel this way about someone in such a short time span.” I say, cutting him off. I close my eyes. How did this happen? How does this work?
Justin looks at me. I can feel his eyes on my skin. “So you…”
“…feel the same?”
We’re silent for a moment. Maybe it’s a second we’re silent for. Maybe a minute. Maybe a year. I can’t be sure. It feels so surreal. I feel so… calm. Serenity. What’s happened to me? It’s been awhile since I felt this way. Last time I felt this way… it was a mistake. Is this too far? Is it too fast?
I stand up abruptly. So does Justin. I gaze at him for a second. Is it real? Or am I dreaming?
“How?” I whisper.
“I don’t know.” He answers.
We’re young and stupid. This doesn’t happen to me. Things like this just do not happen to me.
“I should go home.” Justin says.
He stares me directly in the eye, like he‘s searching my soul. It’s like an electric shock that whips through me and sends chills down my spine. His face looks confused. Very confused. Like mine.
“I’ll see you tomorrow, Elise…”
“Yeah. See you tomorrow, Justin.”
And just like that, I’m alone again. But this time I don’t feel so alone. I don’t know how many minutes I stood there for, just gazing out into the ocean. It’s amazing how things can change. Things always change. Even for me, I guess.
*End of Chapter 1*