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The Storm That Changed Me

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There’s no place like home. Right. Actually, there are many places that are better than home. For example, here in my treehouse. It may sound like something boring or childish, but it’s practically my home. I sleep out here too, since I don’t want to be at home. My treehouse is in my backyard, granted, but at least it’s far away from my mom and Hall. Hall’s my mom’s boyfriend, and he’s the sweetest guy ever. It’s mom who’s never around, and I don’t want to face Hall, when I know he has a deadbeat girlfriend. I feel bad for the guy. Really, I do. But I can’t stay in that house. I had a lock on my door and on my windows, and I felt safe most nights, except for during storms. And right now, there was a massive storm.

I pulled out my cell-phone, fingers shaking. I scrolled quickly through my contacts and then hit the green call button.
“Hello?” Said a masculine voice on the other end. He sounded out of breath, which meant he’d probably been doing pull-ups on his door, lacking an adequate gym.
“Clark?” I asked, bringing my fingers to my mouth then forcing them down. I’d stopped biting my nails months ago, I wasn’t about to get into that habit again.
“Ameryn.” Clark said, as if by saying his name I’d explained everything. “I’ll be right over.”
I smiled as we hung up. Clark Aubrey had been my friend since the seventh grade. Since I was 17, that was four years. It may not seem like much time, but we were so close to each other, it was like we could read each other’s minds, which was pretty useful at times, and annoying at others.
I curled up in my bed (yup, even my bed was in my treehouse. I had a shelf of food too, but none that could go bad. I only ever went inside the house to go to the bathroom, eat, or get more supplies) and tried not to feel the wind pushing my puny treehouse around. It was playing with it like a cat and a ball of yarn. My bookshelf tilted a bit and some of my books tumbled to the floor with a loud bang. My battery-powered lamp shifted on my nightstand, and afraid my only source of light would topple to the ground, I picked it up, preparing to move it.
A loud knock sounded on my trap door, startling me. I dropped my lamp and the batteries popped out, rolling across the floor and impossible to recover in the inky darkness.
“S***!” I swore, feeling panic rise in my chest. The knocking came again, and I realized it was Clark and I’s secret knock. Relief flooded through me and I got up and stumbled over to the trapdoor. I bent down and put my ear on it. “Clark?”
“Yes! It’s freezing cold and I’m soaked! Ameryn, let me in!” It was definitely him. I pulled open the door and he heaved himself up onto my floor. I brought in the rope, which I left out most nights, but I didn’t want the storm to snap it and strand us up here.
“That climb is brutal.” Clark said, and I heard his teeth chattering. “Why is it so dark in here anyways?”
“Dropped my lamp and the batteries fell out.” I explained.
“Don’t you have spare?”
I made a face he couldn’t see. “Those were the spare.”
Clark gave a dry chuckle. “Nice work. So, if I’m spending the night here like usual, I can’t stay in these dripping wet clothes. Got the usual?”
“Yeah.” I blundered my way over to my ottoman, which I kept stuffed with clothe since my mom sold my dresser and most of my clothes in one of her drunken garage sales six months back. I kept a small stash for Clark when he came over-a t-shirt, baggy sweatpants, an oversized sweatshirt, boxers and socks. He’d brought them over after the first stormy night he’d spent here. I picked them up and brought them back over to him. “Here you go.”
“Thanks.” He said, then pulled off his shirt. I felt my breath catch in my throat. I’d never really noticed how well defined abs Clark had before. I stood frozen as he took the shirt from me and threw it over his head, then took off his pants and put on the sweats. He disregarded the socks and boxers I was holding. “Don’t need them, but thanks.” After a second, he said, “Are you okay? You’re staring at me.”
I shook my muddled head. Where had those thoughts come from? Clark and I were like brother and sister, we were so close. For once in a male-female friendship, there was no underlying sexual tension, and neither one of us was secretly in love with the other. We laughed at people like that! So why was I finding it so hard to breathe right now? “Uh, yeah! I’m fine.”
To give myself a distraction, I put his boxers and socks back into the ottoman, then stood and faced him.
“You gonna get your pajamas on?” Clark asked, walking over to the bed and crawling under the covers.
“Um...right.” I was acting like such an airhead. I fished out my orange sweatpants and a baggy gray t-shirt and hesitated. I’d changed in front of Clark before, and besides, it was dark. I shouldn’t feel embarrassed all of a sudden. I stripped off my tank-top and stood there in my bra for a few seconds while I turned my pajama top right-side-in, then slipped it on. I pulled off my jeans and stepped into my cotton sweatpants, then unhooked my bra and put it back in the ottoman along with my other clothes. I took the hairband off my wrist and pulled my chestnut colored curls back into a sloppy ponytail. When I turned to face my bed, Clark was watching me.
“What?” I asked, feeling suddenly self-conscious.
He blinked a few times then said. “Uh...nothing.”
“Okay...” I replied, walking over to my side of the bed and climbing in after him.
“Don’t you have a book-light or something?” He asked after a minute.
“Oh that’s right!” I opened my nightstand and pulled out my very bright book-light, and when I turned it on it illuminated the entire treehouse. “Good idea.”
I turned to smile at Clark but froze. He looked so good, lounging in my bed, his head resting on his arms. I’d always known he was attractive, but I never felt it before right now. This was so wrong, especially for the two of us.
“I’m full of good ideas.” He said, flashing me that cocky grin I never got tired of seeing.
In that split second, I decided. I leaned forward and planted my lips firmly on his for the briefest of seconds. I heard him gasp and immediately pulled back.
“What was that for?” Clark asked, looking shocked.
“I don’t-I’m not-” I felt close to tears as humiliation washed over me. Had I just ruined the best friendship I’d ever had? “I’m sorry.”
“Hey, never be sorry for a kiss.” He said kindly. “Especially not one like that.”
I laughed hoarsely. “That was barely a kiss.”
“Well, we could try again.” He suggested, a mischievous glint in his eyes.
I hesitated. “I don’t know if that’s such a good idea.”
“What’re you talking about? You kissed me first, Ameryn.” Clark said, sounding a little hurt.
“I just don’t want us to...you know, kiss, then find out it’s not going to work, and things get awkward.” I stammered.
“Come on, Ameryn. Do you think if things don’t work, I’ll let you get away? No, I need you in my life, whether you’re a friend or...something more. But we’ll never know unless we try.” Clark said, in a very reasonable way.
I laughed, and hated how nervous it sounded. “You have a point. But what if something happens and you end up hating me and-” I was cut off, and that would’ve made me mad, but Clark was kissing me and all I could think was,

OH MY GOD!!!

It was so surprising, it took me a few seconds to get into the kiss, myself. I wrapped my hands in his golden hair and he put his on my waist. The kiss lasted until I thought I was going to pass out, and pulled back, dragging in lungfuls of air. Only then did I realize I was kneeling on my bed, and so was he. Somehow we’d manage to go from sitting to kneeling without even noticing. Oh boy.
After a moment Clark said, “Now that was a kiss.”
“Hah! Yeah.” I sat back down, not feeling awkward at all. You’d think it would, but it really didn’t.
“What are we going to do about this?” He asked, and it seemed a bit too casual to be convincing.
“Well. I liked kissing you. You liked kissing me, I think. We’re best friends. Who like to kiss each other.” I frowned. “I don’t think we have the whole ‘I’ve been secretly and eternally in love with you’ thing going on.”
“No, we don’t.” Clark said. “But that doesn’t mean our feelings could change. Maybe I could take you out on a date sometime. I mean, we get to skip the awkward getting-to-know-you part, because I already know everything about you, and you know almost everything about me.”
A clap of thunder sounded and I jumped, scared, and found that I’d jumped into Clark, who’d wrapped his arms instinctively around me. My heartbeat didn’t slow down after the initial shock of adrenaline.
“Almost everything?” I breathed.
Clark looked down at me with those heartbreakingly beautiful crystal-lake blue eyes of his. “I didn’t like kissing you.”
“Oh.” I felt rejection heat up my face.
“I loved, kissing you.” He said, and he smiled at me falling for his trap.
I laughed, and swatted his arm. “Jerk.” I replied, but couldn’t help a fierce grin from spreading across my face.

Clark and I never got married, or even dated for longer than a few months. Our personalities were too similar to be united for that long. We decided it was easier on both of us just to be friends, and when we were in between partners, sometimes we’d hook up for a night or two. But we always went back to be friends after, and I’m glad I kissed Clark Aubrey that night. It taught me that things can always be more than they seem, and feelings change and develop. Also, it taught me that taking risks can really pay off. I met my current husband through a double date Clark and I had gone on with his friend Greg and (now ex-) girlfriend Lauren, something that would have never happened if Clark and I hadn’t been dating. And I assure you, that on my wedding day (which is this August 12th), I’m going to Clark Aubrey will be my maid, er, knight of honor. I wouldn’t want anyone but him, my best friend, to be there for me.



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This article has 2 comments. Post your own!

BriarRose This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jul. 26, 2011 at 9:25 pm:
I like this, it's not a sappy love story....somehow, it has a ring of truth to it. it's very alive-vivid emotions, believable people, and i just adore the end. Knight of honor, oh i love that!
 
bluebunny replied...
Aug. 10, 2011 at 5:05 pm :
Thanks!! I tried to make it realistic love-the romanticized version just isn't cutting it all the time anymore.
 
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