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A cool, salty breeze caressed her cheeks. With the waves lapping at her feet and the warm sand beneath her toes, Rizpah Van Winslow hadn't a care in the world. The clouds swept along with the breeze, creating lazy pictures that Rizpah's closed eyes never saw. Still, somehow the girl knew that the sky couldn't help but reflect her do-nothing mentality. If only her parents shared this mindset, then life would truly be bliss.

The thought of her parent's disapproval of her life choices, or better-stated lack of, disrupted the serenity before surrounding her. Honestly, Rizpah had attempted to fill her life with purpose. Oh-so-many fruitless endeavors only led to more failures. While unsuccessful in economically rewarding activities, it cannot be said that Rizpah hadn't many other victories in perhaps less beneficial ways. Having lived through seven years of college at UC, Rizpah had numerous aced tests and a master's degree in psychology to attest to her impressive IQ and respectable work ethic. Although she now possessed all she could need to succeed in life along with a few surmounting student loans, success continued to elude the twenty-six year old. Exactly why baffled all.

Right now Rizpah felt fulfilled with her dead-end job at the local coffee shop and the volunteer work she did teaching kids how to play guitar, piano, ukulele, bass, or even the drums. Music was her passion. All of her time was sent writing, producing, and recording music with her best friend since preschool, Michael Queue. The boy never really stood out. With his thick, wavy, brown hair and matching dark eyes, his better-than-most looks remained unnoticed without a second glance. As you can imagine, second looks weren't often spared on your best friend of twenty-two years. Very seldom having been apart, Rizpah rarely felt the need to review her six-foot-two, baggy jean and plain t-shirt wearing neighbor. They'd experienced life together. They knew everything about each other. They had no secrets. At least that's what they thought.

For now, though, they remained blissfully ignorant. The Smashing Pumpkins and Pearl Jam filled her little grunge head until suddenly her boom box turned silent. Sliding her round, 90s sunglasses down her nose, the pampered lady rose up to look for the culprit. Her eyes caught on Michael's slim form.

“What gives?” Rizpah spouted off in aggravation.

“Figured you'd wanna know the party starts in thirty minutes,” Michael responds without any recognition to Rizpah's temper. It was an ordinary occurrence. Michael always knew how to handle it. When he answered with kindness and patience, Rizpah always checked herself. Today proved no different.

Jumping up, Rizpah started rushing to pack up her strewn about things. “Man, you're a lifesaver, Micky.” Perhaps one-day Rizpah would also remember not to call Michael by his detested childhood nickname, but today was not that day.

With that, the two scrambled through the burning sand to Michael's partially renovated, 69' Bronco. Partially meant only work accomplished by Rizpah. Expensive cars, country-club memberships, and designer shoes were coveted by most, but not Michael. Instead of living like the pampered pooch he could be, Michael side-stepped all the extra his former NFL playing dad and high-end clothing designer mom brought in. Possibly his independent mindset had been ingrained in him by his parents' self-built livelihoods. Whereas, Rizpah's family had inherited their money. Or maybe living life with entitled, rich kids evading on all sides exemplified the exact opposite of who he wanted to be. Either way, Michael's determination to be something posed the yin to Rizpah's uncaring, come-what-may yang.

Openly, Rizpah's parents expressed their appreciation of Michael, particularly as a suitor. Without question, their judgment was sound. Rizpah truly loved her ever-present neighbor even if she didn't realize it yet. Still, who wants their parents choosing their husband? Certainly, the aspect did not appeal to Rizpah. She wanted to decide her own path. If only her parents hadn't pushed so hard, maybe the following depiction would be of Rizpah and Michael living loving, harmonious lives together.

Throwing her stuff into the back of Michael's rusty, open-top Bronco, Rizpah turned to its owner with her head cocked. “Really, Micky? When are you gonna get rid of this piece of junk?” she showered the poor boy in sarcasm.

“Never!” he answered, jumping into the driver's seat. “This beauty and I are going places.”

While Michael steered his beloved ride off of the beach, Rizpah just rolled her eyes. Then, the engine stalled. Rizpah laughed in response. Michael's admiration of the picturesque sight was tarnished by the fact that her laughter was directed at him. So, of course, when he jumped out of the car to check under the hood, Rizpah hopped out, too.

“Micky...” she started.

Michael turned toward Rizpah furious and scary intense. “Do not call me that.”

“Oookay,” she attempted again at calming him. “Mick, you know I love this piece of junk as much as you do.”

His eyes remained trained on the hoses and valves he didn't understand and attempted to fix. Then, oil spewed out everywhere.

Rushing to fix what Michael had wrecked, Rizpah slammed the oil cap back on while shouting, “Seriously, Micky! Never take the oil cap off when the engine is still warm!”

When Rizpah rotated toward him, Michael burst out laughing. “You – ” laughter, “look – ” more laughter, “great,” he finished, collapsing on the car in laughter.

“Ha. Ha. Ha. Maybe next time I won't save your butt when you do stupid stuff,” she threatened, which didn't come across as frightening as she intended with oil splattered across her face and dripping off her arms.

“Here,” Michael offered as he threw her a ragged beach towel while continuing to laugh.

Eventually, a smile pulled at the corners of Rizpah's lips until she realized the state of her clothes.

“Lucky for you, you have an amazing friend, who brought you a change of clothes,” Michael interrupted her worries with an oversized shirt and a tight, denim skirt.

“Oh, yes,” Rizpah starts sarcastically as she snatches-up the clothes. “The one who spilled oil all over me and held my clothes hostage for weeks. Thank-you oh-so-much.”

As they climbed back into the car, Michael attempted valiantly to defend himself, “Well, you are the one who left them in my car.”

“Hmph,” her answer came out somewhat muffled as she pulled her swimsuit cover-up over her head and donned her wrinkled clothes.

Third Eye Blind came blaring from Michael's amped-up speakers, another addition attributed to Rizpah. As the two friends drove, their voices rang out against the wind whipping around their hair.

Then, a fellow “cultured” kid's house appeared. The perfectly manicured grounds, the wide metal gates opening with a code, the grand trees flanking the driveway all screamed to Rizpah everything she wanted to escape. Position, expectations, everything she'd ever known felt suffocating. Still, when her fellow unaffected endurers called her name, she never hesitated to jump out of the car and join them.

Music boomed out. Drinks passed around. Smoke filled the air. Not thinking had never come so easy. Typically, Rizpah stuck with Michael at these parties. Guys were easier to dodge with a “date” by her side. Tonight, though, the calls of “Winslow! Winslow!” had dragged her away. Even without Michael's sound judgment protecting her from trouble, Rizpah was doing alright. Liquor, cigarettes, and men had left her alone. It was Michael's sudden, apprehensive appearance at her side that triggered her fall.

“Riz, there you are! I've been looking everywhere for you,” Michael huffed out as he caught Rizpah's arm.

“Ooooh,” the girls Rizpah had elected her new influencers murmured.

“Is this your keeper, Riz,” the leader asked tauntingly, drawing out Riz like the word was tainted.

Nothing could hit harder. Rizpah knew Michael expected her to tell them off as she'd been doing since the day they'd met all those years before, but her pride stood in the way. Hating the thought of anyone having control over her, Rizpah only defended herself. Something broke then. In her fear of being controlled, Rizpah had confiscated it from someone who had never controlled her in the first place and handed it to someone who intentionally abused the power.

“Prove it,” the girl taunted while offering a needle.

Panic filled Rizpah's eyes. Never before had she any trouble refusing, but tonight...

“Riz,” Michael's pleading voice floated over to her.

Life changed in that split-second.

Rizpah extended her honey- colored arm, looked over to Michael, and announced in a clear, strong voice, “Get a life, Micky.” Then, she took a hit.

Lazily, Rizpah opened her eyes to the same sight she'd seen since her childhood. Swinging her legs over the side of her bed as she stretched her extremely stiff limbs, she felt a weird tug on her arm. When she looked down at her arm to examine it, she found an IV hookup attached to her abnormally pale and severely atrophied arm. Something was wrong. Adrenaline spiked through her veins as fear gripped her heart.

Hopping out of bed, Rizpah attempted to detach the IV plug from her arm. Instead, she was forced to bring the whole machine with her to her vanity. The person staring back at her through the mirror showed the lines of age and gray-streaked through her hair, yet that person – that was Rizpah.

“Ahhggg!” her screech rang throughout the house.

Her parents came sprinting, or at least as fast as late sixty-year-olds could run up a flight of stairs. The sight of them only scared Rizpah all the more. When they came closer, trying to comfort their not so young daughter, she ran behind the protection of her bed.

“Get away from me!” Rizpah screamed over their words of comfort. “You aren't my parents! You can't be! You can't be.” Then, she burst into tears, and her mother was there to dry them.

Nothing made sense. At least Rizpah didn't want it to. Last night to her actually happened thirty years ago for the rest of the world. “It wasn't my fault,” she kept thinking. Of course, it was, though. She didn't know the marijuana had been laced, but why had she ever trusted those girls? In one seemingly harmless decision, Rizpah was left in a coma that had stolen her youth, her future, and her...

“Where's Michael?”

Her mother's wrinkled hand smoothed down her hair while the battered, old woman hugged her close. Because of the tears falling down her mother's withered cheeks, it was her father that answered.

“He is gone.”

Apparently, the two best friends couldn't function without the other. After the doctor's hopeless prognosis for Rizpah ever waking up, Michael lost hope in life and ended his. Now, it was Rizpah's turn to break into a million pieces.

“He left you something, Rizzy,” whispered her mother.

Pulling out her i-phone, Rizphah's mother opened U-tube in-front of a bewildered 90s girl.

“What?” she asked in a high voice that cracked from crying.

“We'll explain later. Listen,” commanded her father gently.

It was the first command Rizpah could remember willingly following. Then, words came spilling out of the little box. Words she recognized. Words she'd written all those years ago. Words Michael and her had sung together to the beat he'd created. Tears flowed more forcefully as Rizpah realized she could never have that again. When the chorus came with its fast tempo, she couldn't help but smile at everything they had been.

No, no, no, no

Not today, not today

They say there's more that I should be livin' for

That my sad life isn't quite right

That I need to play the game their way

But I’m not them so I'm make – make – believing

That I get their me – me – meaning

That I listen to their scre – scre – screaming

While I'm just day – day – daydreaming

Maybe life's already began but I didn't get a good hand

So I’ll keep waitin' for the day some luck comes my way

And all this makes sense when all the crap ends

'Till then I'm make – make – believing

That I get their me – me – meaning

That I listen to their scre – scre – screaming

While I'm just day – day – daydreaming

Maybe there's more that I should be looking for

Maybe I should be striving for something

Maybe I should begin looking for a better thing

'Till then I'm make – make – believing

That I get their me – me – meaning

That I listen to their scre – scre – screaming

While I'm just day – day – daydreaming, daydreaming

For now, I’ll just watch you run around

Not gonna say I'm wrong I'll just keep playing this song

And just say, say, say

Not today

The teens loved it. “Daydreaming” ushered in a new era. Somehow everyone can relate to daydreaming, but nobody understands where it leads.

July 17, 2020 21:05

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13 comments

נιмму 🤎
19:47 Jul 28, 2020

That must be terrifying, being in Rizpahs shoes. One day your at a party the next in a hospital bed, your youth stolen and your friend dead. There is so much to this short story.

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Geneva Savage
17:18 Jul 29, 2020

:) thank you so much!!

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Nandan Prasad
08:32 Jul 29, 2020

Beautiful story! The emotions are very, very well-brought out and it flows smoothly till the end. The ending was unexpected but you nailed it. Very well-done! Also, please do check out my story if you have the time. Thanks and good luck!

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Geneva Savage
17:20 Jul 29, 2020

thank-you <3 <3 and totally :)

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Lata B
03:01 Jul 28, 2020

There are such strong emotions in this! I loved reading it! Great work :)

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Geneva Savage
16:33 Jul 28, 2020

Thank you :) That was definitely my goal!

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Geneva Savage
16:33 Jul 28, 2020

Thank you :) That was definitely my goal!

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Jade Young
23:03 Jul 25, 2020

Your descriptions are amazing🙌🏽 This was a really beautiful story!

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Geneva Savage
00:36 Jul 26, 2020

Thank you so much :)

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Elaina Goodnough
04:42 Jul 25, 2020

Wow, this was hard and sad. Good job creating emotion!

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Geneva Savage
00:37 Jul 26, 2020

Awww thanks that means the world :) <3

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Elaina Goodnough
00:03 Jul 28, 2020

Of course! I think its a key element for authors to encourage other authors. Spread the love if you know what I mean! :)

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נιмму 🤎
19:47 Jul 28, 2020

totally agree with that :)

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