Californians and Coloradans Part 3

In my room I stood on front of my dresser, looking in the mirror as I tied my hair into a ponytail. My mom used to tell me all the time how many of my features resembled my dad. I had his “button nose” and long toes and fingers, and my eyes were the exact same mix of green and blue. There was a light smattering of freckles along the bridge of my nose, which my mom told me were angel kisses. My face was not very angular or defined and I refused to wear any make-up. All in all, I was your average Plain Jane.

I had never really cared much about my outward appearance. It’s not like totally neglected my body and never showered or anything, but I just didn’t spend too much time on making myself look perfect. It only took me about thirty minutes to get ready for school and I wore my hair naturally or in a ponytail almost every day. My mom was always trying to get me to “doll up” a little bit more but I just never really cared about people’s opinions on my appearance. Until now…

Tucker had me in a total fluster. Even the thought of him made me feel the urge to reach up and smooth down my hair or adjust my t-shirt to make sure it was falling just right on my frame. I felt this subconscious desire to impress him and wanted to feel like he thought I was just as attractive as all the other girls. I tried to shake off these feelings as best as I could, telling myself I hadn’t even known him for 12 hours. But there was just a plethora of emotions welling up inside me telling me he seemed different from everyone else.
He had told me to meet him outside at 4 o’clock and it was already 3:45. I quickly threw on my favorite hat (camouflage patterned), pulled my ponytail through it, and went downstairs. I had to sift through some still-packed boxes to find my favorite water bottle and then filled up at the fridge. I thanked my lucky stars my mom wasn’t home yet. I really didn’t’ want to answer all her pestering questions. I could already hear them in my head.
“Who are you going with?” she would demand immediately.
“The boy next door,” I would say with an exasperated sigh. “His name is Tucker.”
“Oh, Allison!” she would squeal, immediately launching toward me in an attempt to improve my appearance. “Is he cute? How old is he?”
“He’s my age, Mom,” I would said shortly, backing away from her fingers fussing with my ponytail and t-shirt. “And I don’t like him. We just met at school today and he offered to show me his favorite hiking trail.”
“Allison Elizabeth Brown,” she would say in her “naggy” voice, hands on her hips. “You need to start looking for potential boyfriends before it’s too late. You’re not going to be young forever!”
I snapped out of this imaginary conversation with my mom as a felt a trickle of water on my hand. I looked down and saw that my water bottle was overflowing. Quickly pulling it away, I grabbed a toll of paper towels sitting on the counter and soaked up the excess water on the floor. Keep it together, Allison, I thought to myself. He’s just showing you a hiking trail, not taking you on a date. Glancing at the clock, I saw it was two minutes until four o’clock and I dashed to the hallway closet to find my tennis shoes. I slung my backpack over my shoulder, went out the front door, and then plopped down on my front porch steps to tie my shoes. A red Jeep Liberty turned onto the street at that time going ridiculously fast and screeched to a halt in front of Tucker’s house. A saw a guy who looked to be about my age hop out of the driver’s seat and strut around to the Tucker’s driveway. He glanced at me and gave me a nod and a slightly amused grin.
“You must be Allison,” he said, walking a little closer to me. He had short dark brown hair and was tall and really built. Almost like a more muscular version of Taylor Lautner… just not quite as good-looking.
“And you are…” I asked, standing up.
“Andy Fink,” he said. “Pleasure to make your acquaintance.” I felt a hint of sarcasm in his tone so I didn’t say anything and instead just leaned over to pick up my bag and slung it over my shoulder. “So you’re coming hiking with us?” he asked. His eyebrows rose at my obvious dislike of him.
I felt my face fall. “You’re going hiking?”
“Um, yeah. Tucker and I have gone hiking after school together at least once a week since we were in second grade,” he bragged.
“And what happens if one of you goes vacation?”
“We don’t.”
I was a little surprised by this short answer and just simply nodded and rocked back on my heels in the silence between him and me.
“Don’t you guys have football practice today?” I asked, remembering how Tucker introduced himself as “varsity quarterback”.
Andy shook his head. “We got the day off since we don’t have a game this week.”
I nodded and felt a rush of relief course through me as Tucker stepped out of his front door finally.
“Took you long enough!” Andy yelled at him, sprinting right for him as if he was going to ram him right into the ground. Tucker stared at him and side-stepped just in time, avoiding a huge and painful tackle onto the cement.
“You guys ready?” he asked, rolling his eyes at Andy who disappeared around the side of the house.
“Yeah,” I said, already feeling self-conscious around these two good-looking, athletic football boys with my awkward and not-so-good-looking physique. Good thing I’m coordinated, I thought to myself.
Tucker unlocked his truck and I got ready to climb in the back when he put his hand out to stop me, our fingers brushing for just a millisecond, but enough to make me blush scarlet red. He must have noticed because I could see a smile tugging at the corners of his mouth.
“You can sit up front. Andy likes to ride in the bed with my dog.”
Right on a cue, Andy came running around the corner of Tucker’s house with a big, yellow Labrador bounding close behind him. The dog came to a halt in front of me and immediately began sniffing me up and down. I put my hand out, a smile spreading across my face as it nuzzled up to me right away.
“She likes you,” Tucker said with a smile. “Her name’s Molly,” he added, walking around to the driver’s side.
I clambered up into the passenger seat as Andy leapt up into the bed of the truck and called Molly up with him.
“He really likes your dog,” I commented once Tucker had gotten in and closed his door. He started the truck and nodded.
“He’s never gotten the chance to have one of his own so he loves any chance he gets to be around anybody else’s dog.”
I smiled as I watched him playfully shove Molly around in the back, her tail wagging as fast as a hummingbird’s wings.
Tucker backed out of his driveway and began driving towards the mountains. He fiddled with the radio, a soft country song playing on a station I wasn’t yet familiar with.
“So do you always take girls hiking the very first day you meet them?” I asked, breaking the silence.
“Southern hospitality,” he said with a warm smile.
“I hate to break it to you, but we’re not in the South.”
“Southern roots,” he corrected.
“You’re from the South?” I asked.
He nodded, another crooked smile spreading across his face. “I was born in Mississippi. My family moved up here the summer before my freshman year. At first I was beyond angry at them, but now it’s grown on me. I like it here more than I thought I would.”
“Almost all my relatives are from Mississippi,” I said, excited that we had something in common. “I love it there.”
He glanced at me and grinned. “Well, well, California. Looks like you’re not as bad as I thought you were.”
I blushed and looked out the back window at Andy who was sitting on the ground against the tailgate, petting Molly. The foothills were getting closer to us now, the yellow and red leaves of fall just starting to show in the trees. I had to admit, it was gorgeous.
“You’re drooling,” Tucker whispered into the silence, making me jump.
My hand reflexively shot up to my mouth, looking for any salvia that may have slipped out of me, but I didn’t feel anything.
He chuckled at me and shook his head. “It was a joke, Allison. You just looked totally in love with the mountains.”
“I think I might be,” I mumbled. He grinned.
We pulled off onto a dirt shoulder on the side of the road and climbed out. I could see the beginning of a hiking trail. Andy hopped out of the bed with Molly and started walking up to the trail. “Let’s go, slow pokes.”
Tucker motioned for me to walk in front of him. “After you, pretty lady,” he said in a fake Southern accent and deep voice.
I almost screamed.





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__avid__ said...
Jan. 6, 2013 at 9:11 pm
up_and_coming,  I really enjoyed this collection! I would love to read more, see how the story pans out.
 
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