I watch intently as she undoes her shoelaces, her short, wavy, brunette hair cascading down around her face like a chocolate fountain. Her nimble fingers move slowly until she frees he foot from her converse. I gradually sit up, catching the attention of Raine. She eyes me through long lashes and a minuscule smile tugs at her lips, the corners of her mouth raising up as she gazes towards me fondly.
Without my eyes leaving hers, I lean back and place my palms down either side of me. The warmth of the setting sun lands on my face ad it seems as though my worries are gone, anxiety vanished as I sit here with her. Raine Holland, the girl who was willing to put up with my stoic behaviour. The only girl that was able to see through my uncaring eyes and see that I wasn’t who I acted as and I was damaged and in need of someone. She makes me feel more alive, at peace with myself. I couldn’t thank her enough for helping me find myself once again.
“You know, I always thought that living here would be a big mistake. Turns out, it was probably the best thing that me and my family could do,” she breathes. Now with bare feet emerging from her black, ripped jeans, she leans back and lays down on the dry grass beneath us. I follow her actions until my head is next to hers and her eyes travel from the beautifully painted sky to mine.
“What makes you say that?” I ask genuinely.
Another smile reaches her hazel eyes and a glint of amusement glimmers deep within them. There is a pause. The rumble of a truck is all that can be heard as it casually drives past. Raine inhales deeply.
“This place, you, the woods, meadows, lakes, sunsets, it’s all so beautiful. It’s just a shame that some of the people living here don’t appreciate what is surrounding them. They tear it all down just to feel better about their lame, average, unadventurous lives,” she says with a chuckle and shake of the head.
A pang of my heartstrings, a flush of colour to my usually pale cheeks; this girl knows how to make me feel things I’ve never felt before in my life.
“Agreed,” I chuckle, “for sixteen years I’ve been wasting my life focusing on the negatives and dismissing the positives of living in such a gorgeous place.”
“You’re crazy.” Her eyes meet mine as a grin graces her face.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
We relax in a comfortable silence, cheesy grins plastered on our faces. The low sun casts an orange glow on the land, the reflection of the forest glittering in the lake. Everything in this moment is perfect, the memory will surely be kept and cherished by the both of us.
Raine suddenly lifts herself from her place on the floor. She cautiously makes her way towards the lake and dangles both feet over the edge of the bank.
“Is it cold?” I ask, also lifting up and sitting upright. She shrugs a single shoulder.
“Not too bad.” She thinks for a second. “I might get in.”
My eyebrows crease together in confusion. “But we don’t have swimming stuff.”
“So?” she hands me a knowing look before standing up to full height, carelessly taking off her top so she is only in her bra and jeans. After recovering from my initial shock, I catch my bottom lip between my teeth and pick myself up, only to be standing a few inches away from Raine.
“You don’t give a damn about anything, do you?” I laugh. I internally curse myself for blatantly having a small quiver in my voice as I realise what may happen in only a matter of time. My heartbeat picks up the slight amount however I manage to stay composed. Raine shakes her head and bites on her bottom lip. Her eyes travel down to her bare stomach. Light olive skin, a tiny stretch-mark below her outie belly button, an insignificant amount of belly due to the chocolate and cranberry juice that we had both just devoured-- I can’t seem to comprehend how it all looks so goddamn perfect. Every inch of her; flawless. I’m fully aware that these thoughts and feelings I have for my best friend are a little extraordinary but I can’t seem to fight it. Raine is just beyond perfect in every way. She exceeds the limits of normality. She is everything good in my life. She is everything.
My breath catches in my throat as I notice her hands advance to the flier of her ripped jeans. She pops the button undone and drags the zip down until her purple underwear are making an appearance. With a small glance over to me, her jeans fall down to her ankles with a quick tug. The first thing I notice is that her legs are the same golden colour as her stomach. Bruises litter her shins and knees, minor hairs dot her thighs. I guess she misses them when shaving. She’s not the only one to do that.
“Are you just gonna stand and watch like a perv or will you get your kit off too?”
I put her words into consideration. Apart from subtly changing for PE lessons, no-one has ever seen me in only my underwear. Raine pulls a face.
“Come on, we’ve known each-other for a while now. It’s OK. I won’t judge. Plus, there’s probably nothing to judge you on.”
I look away awkwardly. I’m bloated, I have moles in awkward places and I have scars. Those scars from the accident that little my skin. She knows about that accident. She knows about my sisters awful death, yet she doesn’t know about my ugly flaws that cover my pale skin.
She notices my shift in mood. She notices everything. Her arms outstretch and I feel the warmth of her hands enclose around my own like a pair of cosy, comforting gloves. Her feet edge closer to me and her eyes gaze deeply into mine. Soft hazel eyes.
“It’s OK. Nothing will ever change my mind about you. Nothing. Ever. You know everything about me. I know the majority of things about you… I think,” she allows a breath of laughter to escape from her rosy lips, “and I trust you with everything. You are loyal, beautiful, stubborn at times but you always soften up and I know that you trust me too, right?”
I nod. “I trust you with everything.”
I feel her soft fingertips brush my hair away from my face and tuck it behind my ear.
“Then trust me now.”
My eyes close, a breath escapes my lips. She won’t judge me. I’m almost positive that she won’t. It’s Raine Holland. My hands trails around my hips and I clutch the hem of my shirt. I glance at Raine for reassurance. Her nod and smile gives me all the reassurance I need. I lift it up slowly and pull it over my head, waiting in anticipation for the gasp-- however there is none. I crease my forehead in uncertainty. She shrugs, her eyes grazing the white scars that cover my stomach as I awkwardly toe the ground, unsure of what this reaction might mean.
“So? They’re gorgeous. Car accident?”
I nod, correcting her theory.
“Why haven’t you shown me before?”
I shrug, turning away bashfully and becoming suddenly intrigued by the remnants of a crumpled, autumnal leaf.
“I guess I wasn’t ready,” I admit.
“That’s OK. You didn’t have to rush anything. But, they’re beautiful. Unique. Every single scar makes you… you. They’re amazing.”
A small, timid smile replaces my saddened, embarrassed expression. Her words turn my brain to mush. The knot in my throat descends down my gullet and settles in the pit of my stomach before exploding into butterflies. Her tone is like a sweet melody, a tranquil and restful poem. I love it. I lover her… possibly more as a friend but I can’t be sure. I can’t concentrate properly when I explore her features and she marvels at my flaws.
“No one’s ever said that to you, huh?”
My eyes meet hers as I shake my head and she returns with a sympathetic smile. I un-clip my jeans and drag them off, feeling vulnerable and exposed to the cool breeze.
“Well, someone should’ve said it to you a long time ago. Now, we should get in before it gets dark.”
One hand leaves mine however one is still clasped around one of my own. She quickly but firmly pulls me to the edge of the lake.
“You’ll warm up if you keep moving,” she grins. With a count of three we both jump in from the bank. I disappear under the luke-warm water and my nostrils fill with water however I emerge from the surface to be greeted by Raine. “Not too bad, right?”
I chuckle. “No. It’s actually kind of perfect.”
I don’t think I’m talking about the water…
We both run our fingers through our dripping hair and wipe our faces while treading water. Even with flakes of mascara smudged around her eyes and soaking hair, Raine still manages to look stunning. She gradually makes her way over to me and stops a few inches away, a mischievous glint now shimmering deep in her bright eyes. With a push of the water courtesy of Raine, I splutter as my face is attacked by a tidal wave of water. You know, in a very attractive manner.
“You are such an idiot!” I squeal, returning the splash into her face. She gasps and whips her sopping wet hair away over her shoulder, letting our a laugh as she gives me a sarcastic glare.
“I’m definitely not the only one!”
“Shut up, you started it!”
“You started it,” she mimics, raising her voice. She receives another splash and screams delightfully again as she is hit by another tidal wave of water. And after a while of laughing and splashing each-other to our heart’s content, we end up in each-others arms, sharing the towel that Raine has been hiding away in her bad. We sit on the dry grass, arms winded contently around shoulders and waists and my head leaving against her shoulder.
“Thank you for an incredible day, Alaska. I love it when we spend time together.”
“Me too. I don’t ever want this day to end.”
She gazes at me, alluring hazel eyes boring deep into mine, a smile painted on her pink lips. As we sit here, bodies intertwined encasing each-other in warmth, eyes connected and faces only inches apart, we both understand what the other wants. We reach forwards our foreheads rest against each-others. We close out eyes. And our lips connect.
For the first time I my life, I feel loved. For the first time ever, my skin tingles, my heart melts. For the first time ever… I’ve come home.
But Raine pulls away all too soon. There is now a frown etched onto her face as she turns her face away. “I- I can’t do this,” she mutters, standing to her feet.
My heart pounds against my chest. What does she mean?
“I’m sorry, Alaska, but I can’t do this,” she says, picking up her stuff and shoving them into her bag. “I’m never going out with you again.”