January 17, 2009
By Amy Kathryn Clarke BRONZE, Woodbine, Maryland
Amy Kathryn Clarke BRONZE, Woodbine, Maryland
2 articles 1 photo 6 comments

I lay still hoping that my alarm clock was only part of my dream, and with my luck of course it wasn’t. I still didn’t want to get up though. My cocoon of sheets was the perfect temperature of comfortable warmth and the air smelled like sleep, thick warm and sweet just like newborn babies after a bath. I crawled out of bed and stumbled to my dresser. My annoyance at being awakened so early increasing as soon as my feet hit the stiff cold carpet. I looked at my alarm clock, puzzled for a second, why it was going off a full hour before normal. Oh, I soon remembered and my annoyance changed into nervous anticipation and hope as I hit the shrieking annoying alarm clock to shut it up. Blurrily, I stepped into my bathroom and turned my faucet on to heat up before going to make my bed while the water slowly lost its frigid edge. I made my bed quickly trying to avoid touching the still body-temperature-perfect sheets and breathing the sleep filled air too much. I knew how easy it would be to slip back into dreamland and ignore what I had to face at 7:15 am. I went through the motions of getting ready for school, face-washing, teeth-brushing, make-up -- applying, hair -- straightening and finally putting on my bland school uniform. The ironed pants still smelled vaguely like the spray starch I used for fun, although it never did anything and their khaki color reminded me of oatmeal, disgusting. My selection of school polo’s wasn’t very different than the lotions at The Body Shop, all the exact same but in a rainbow variety of colors. Grabbing my lacrosse stick, backpack, purse and lacrosse bag I felt like an awkward bellhop at a hotel walking down the stairs trying to keep my balance with my collection of bags. I took the steps slowly, my heart speeding up every step I took, filling with nervous anticipation. It felt like walking into a pool when the water is freezing, every step you go down the water rises shocking more of your exposed skin till it covers you entirely. As my foot made a dull thud on the wooden floor I heard my basement door crack open. I looked at my watch, 7:15, just as I had hoped. Turning the corner I forgot how to breathe and half choked this was not helped by the lacrosse bag strap digging into my neck. I looked at the basement door now being softly shut. Connor. I felt my mouth bend into a nervous relieved half smile. Connor walked to the couch and I followed. Putting my bags down, I sat on the end of the couch Indian style facing Connor. My back stiff as I clasped my hands together in my lap only furthering my resemblance to a reprimanded preschooler. I looked at Connor. He had slouched onto my couch, across from the fireplace and facing perpendicular to me. He had one leg up on our coffee table and the other on the floor. He glanced at me through his glasses showing how tired he was by choosing not to put in his contacts. Connor was patient in his tiredness waiting for me to speak. I felt nervous, I knew I had to apologize but I didn’t know where to start and I was still half shocked he had woken up so early just to talk to me. When I had asked him to the night before, he didn’t seem willing. We sat for a minute not looking at each other, breathing the slightly cinnamon tinged air that makes the house I live in my home. My eyes traced his profile upward till I reached his hair. I would have known he was tired just by his hair. It was shaggy with pieces out of place. I smiled to myself. His hair had been the first thing I’d noticed about Connor when we had met about four months ago.

We were on a cruise. On the first night of the cruise there was a teen club meet-and-greet party. I had gone with my sister and our friend Lauren Miles. We walked into the room, self conscious, nervous and feigning an aloof air of uncaring as most teenagers do when we try to make a good impression and become one of the elite “popular”. The club was set up to reek of the teen definition of cool. Bright almost gaudy colors were splashed across the room like a toddler’s finger-painting. Patterns managed not to clash as they wound around the room and the ever-shiny gleam of chrome tiles plastered to the wall was dulled by the dim lighting that gave the teens a sense of security and the imitation of being able to hide in the half light .The room was full of nervous electric tension that matched the upbeat rhythm of the borderline too loud dance music as people judged one another by appearance and possibly a five minute long conversation. One of the activities was a game called two truths and a lie. We sat down facing the dance floor where the club organizer stood. He was having people volunteer to go up in front of the twenty or so teenagers and say two true things about themselves and one lie. As the organizer asked for another volunteer Connor’s hand went up. He sauntered up in front of the group and started talking with a confident ease. As he stood in front of me I judged him right away just as every teenager does. His hair had a perfect swish to the right and came down to just above his eyebrows. Long hair was going out of style but Connor pulled it off well. Slouching as he spoke he made himself into a question mark, hips pushed forward and back slightly arched out. It was comical and as he continued his speech with a pronounced southern accent I promptly turned to my sister and hissed, “Hick!”. As Connor spoke I continued my scoffing to Lauryn, especially every time he managed to fit, “y’all” into his speech. He was cute but honestly? I was laughing by the end of his dialogue, judging him before I even knew him. When we were free to mingle, my sister and Lauren assigned me to go and talk to one of the cute boys we had scoped out while they went to talk to Connor; who also made our list of cute guys we would be willing to hang out with on the week long cruise. After a few minutes of talking to the cute guy I was assigned to, whose name I found out was Mike, I got bored. I found an excuse to end the insipid conversation that had my cheeks hurting from a forced smile and walked away. When I saw Lauryn and Lauren laughing with Connor I walked over interested in how he had become so amusing. Within about five minutes of talking to him, I couldn’t and didn’t want to stop. His accent became addicting and I would have listened to him talk for hours. He was sweet and funny as well as friendly and we had a lot in common. We hung out a lot on the cruise talking easily about everything, even in-depth personal things. His Christianity was apparent and one of the first things I learned about him because it was such a prominent thing in his life. Even after the cruise had ended we stayed in touch and it didn’t take long for me to consider him my best friend.

As I focused back on Connor sitting on my couch I couldn’t believe how much things were exactly the same and how much I had messed up his surprise visit for my birthday. I took a sharp breath drawing Connor’s attention and apologized. As soon as I had finished rambling an apology while staring at anything but Connor’s face I finally chanced a glance at his reaction. His face however was unfortunately void of any emotion so I looked down at my lap waiting for a response. After a nervous-making minute I looked up to see Connor looking at me placidly. I raised my eyebrows pleading for a response from Connor’s now almost exasperated expression. Stretching his lanky frame he told me it was ok and that he understood. I wasn’t completely satisfied but I knew there was nothing I could do. I had apologized for ruining his visit but that’s all I could do. I let my back relax a little bit and exhaled the breath I hadn’t known I was holding. Connor slumped farther on the couch and I could tell he was fighting sleep and losing rapidly. I half smiled to myself unsure of what to expect of our friendship after he left but it was time for me to leave for school. I tapped Connor who’s eyes were barely open and said thanks before telling him to go back to sleep before he had to leave for his plane. He stood up slowly unfolding himself from our couch and began to trudge toward the basement door. Turning to say goodbye he gave me a hug briefly and opened the basement door. I watched for a few seconds after the door closed waiting for the sleepy warm smell he left behind to dissipate and wondering if the next time I saw him our friendship would be the same or if even the next time I talked to him anything would be different. Slowly I picked up my bags feeling exhausted but a little better and walked to the car to start a day at school knowing I wouldn’t be thinking of my work all day, but of Connor’s flight back to Alabama and waiting for his text telling me he had landed.

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This article has 6 comments.

thefirstday said...
on Jan. 26 2009 at 9:56 am
This is brilliant, Amy! When i first saw this i was a little unsure because it was so long, but by the middle of the first paragraph i was loving it!

I think you're somehow very brave for writing this, and i love how Connor actually was able to read this. I loved the story and how you told it and i'm still curious as to what happened but i'll never know and that's the best part i suppose.

And a week long cruise? Lucky!, the both of you : D


Connor said...
on Jan. 25 2009 at 7:19 am
Hey. its me, THE Connor. haha. i kinda feel like a celebrity now. but you are the real star! this is so great. you are really gifted and i cant believe you can remember how i was sitting. WOW. and i do not have a lanky frame. haha. Congratulations on this! im proud and honored to be the subject

Tiffany said...
on Jan. 24 2009 at 9:29 pm
That story was sooo goood! You are so gifted to be able to write like that. I hope you will write other stories so I can read them! :)

Kara Shipe said...
on Jan. 24 2009 at 7:01 pm

All I can say is you are very talented. You captured the thoughts of most teenage girls very well. I would love to read more from you.

on Jan. 24 2009 at 6:22 pm

I am not, and have never been a teenage girl... but, I do feel like I know more about the inner thoughts and insecurities of the adolescent female psyche! What a great story! I really think keeping the fault of the protagonist a mystery was a good choice. We all have made relational mistakes. That isn't the point.

We move from one awkward situation to the next... hoping to find some understanding, some acceptance, some forgiveness. This story made me feel that longing from the perspective of a teen girl; but, it is a desire of everyone.

Well done!!!

Jordan Smith said...
on Jan. 24 2009 at 6:20 pm
That was an amazing story. I feel like I was really there, and I could read it over and over again. You're very talented.

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