The creek is my comfort zone. It’s the place where I know I can be all alone because right now those bricks are coming back, and I need to be able to breathe without feeling like I’m suffocating.
It only takes a few strides before I can see it – and him.
I slow my pace, debating whether to keep going. I need to be alone, but something keeps my feet moving. I don’t think it’s my brain. Well, maybe it is. I think it’s more curiosity. In all of these years of coming to my grandparent’s house, there have never been other kids here. Definitely not guys that look to be my age.
I think part of me is relieved to see a stranger. Someone who doesn’t know me – for a person to look at me like I’m normal. Not with the look of pity and regret.
When I get to the creek I just reach down and start throwing rocks into it as fast and hard as I can. I don’t even look at him because I’m not sure I care about anyone else right now. I’m not sure anything else is worth it.
“Grr!” I grunt as I continue throwing the stones, my pace getting faster. I see out of the side of my eyes that he’s completely stopped and his arms are crossed, I think. I think he might actually be laughing at me. What an asshole.
I turn a quarter. “What the hell is so funny?”
“Oh nothing.” He points down to the pile that I’ve been pulling from. “Just help yourself,” he says amused.
“Oh.” Ordinarily I’d apologize profusely, but not today. “Screw you.”
I start to run away because I feel tears coming to the backs of my eyes. The bricks are coming back. As I start to sprint down the road road perpendicular to the creek I hear him.
“Wait. Stop. I didn’t mean it like that.”
I can’t stop. It’s like I’m treading water in the open sea. If I stop, I’m going to sink. I’m going to drown.
I hear footsteps pattering behind me. “Hey! I said to stop. I’m sorry.”
I know I can’t outrun him if he’s already caught up to me this fast. I can’t speak a word. Just trying to open my mouth causes my chest to burn. I shake my head no.
“I’m Drew,” he says as he reaches my side. “I didn’t mean to get off on the wrong...” he looks down and chuckles. “The wrong foot.”
He’s just making my heart hurt even worse. Because any other time I think I might would have been excited to meet him. He’s gorgeous; the definition of “tall, dark, and sexy.” Dark hair, sun kissed skin, his eyes are the color of milk chocolate. He must play sports. I can see his muscles through his white tank top. I’m not used to seeing bodies like that except for in magazines. Perfection. Not too buff, just right. There’s something about those sculpted shoulders. My eyes don’t spend much time on them because they are drawn back to his magnetizing eyes.
I can’t speak. I wish I could. My mouth opens, and it’s like I’m sucking in salt water. I feel my lungs filling. All I want to do is cough it out. Except, instead of the water coming from my mouth, it gushes out of my eyes.
I stop suddenly, placing my hands on my knees, and then walk to the side of the street and sit down. I wrap my arms around my sweaty legs. The humidity has already started, and it only contributes more to the feelings of suffocation.
I bury my head into my lap and release the gates as my body starts to heave up and down. I’ve cried so much that my sides ache. My throat hurts. My eyes burn.
I feel him sit beside me, but he doesn’t touch me. I’m not sure how I’d feel for him to touch me. I already feel guilty for the feeling he just gave me by his mere proximity.