It's that time of the week again. The time where I procrastinate writing my Odyssey articles until they're way overdue, and I'm pushing up against time, and I question if this-- if being a writer-- is what I really want to do with my life.
But being a writer has its perks.
When you're a writer, you have short stories and poems and chapters of books that you save for times like these because it's easier to copy and paste than write out something new in such a short amount of time.
So, without further ado, here's a short story called "Fun and Games."
MISSING: Nicole Henley
HEIGHT: 5 feet-5 inches
HAIR COLOR: Brown
EYE COLOR: Green
LAST SEEN: Saturday, November 24th
Seventeen year old Nicole Henley went missing last Saturday. She was last seen in her house, wearing a Disneyland sweatshirt and jeans. Her parents believe that she may have snuck out to meet her boyfriend. If anyone knows anything about Nicole’s whereabouts, please go to find-nicole-dot-com, or call the tip line at 763-555-4949.
“Are you coming?” Nicole asked, turning around to make sure I was following her. A cascade of brown curls swayed as she turned her head. Her delicate lips spread into a smile as she held a branch back so it wouldn’t hit my face.
I bit my lip, “Are you sure we’re allowed back here, Nic?” My eyes struggled to adjust in the darkness. They found Nicole’s emerald green ones immediately-- they always did. I pressed my nail into my palm until the pain was unbearable, “Isn’t this trespassing? Won’t we get in trouble?” I asked as I followed her deeper into the woods. Tightly packed snow crunched under the weight of our feet, and I shivered, goosebumps prickling my skin. I instinctively reached for Nicole’s hand, and her fingers closed over mine, squeezing lightly.
We reached a tall fence, about six and a half feet, that separated the woods from an open pasture, and Nicole threw her backpack over and began climbing. I gulped, averting my eyes to avoid looking at her perfect body. Even under layers of clothing, Nicole’s curvy figure stood out.
She dropped down and wiggled her eyebrows at me, daring me to follow her, “C’mon, Hannah. I want to show you my secret hideout.”
I inhaled, exhaled, and counted to ten, following the steps that my therapist had given me to use whenever I was worried. Times like now. Especially since I was around my best friend.
“OK.” I whispered as I began to climb. The chain-links hurt my hands as they gripped hard, the knuckles turning white. Don’t look down, Hannah. When I reached the top, I threw my leg over, immediately losing my balance and crashing down next to Nicole. She grabbed my wrist to steady me, our eyes meeting as she caught me.
I was reminded of our many sleepovers in middle school when we would practice our kissing on each other because we wanted to be ready when we eventually got boyfriends. I was nervous, but Nicole put her hand on my wrist and slowly moved closer. Our innocent lips lightly pressed against each other’s and then quickly pulled away, both of us erupting into a fit of giggles.
Nicole was the first one to perform what we had practiced in my room. She went to camp for the whole summer before high school, the longest we had ever been apart. Where I had spent my days watching reruns of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and eating ramen noodles, Nicole had spent her summer making out with Johnny Parker and getting boobs. Her braces came off, too, and she had a pearly white set of teeth that she showed off to everyone. Boys flocked to her our freshman year because of her perky boobs and newly developed curves, but I had always found Nicole beautiful.
Nicole held me for a second, and just as quickly as she caught me, she let me go. She laughed, a hint of nervousness lacing her giggles, “We’re close,” She croaked.
“Nic, this is the beginning of a bad horror movie.” I whispered as we trudged through the snowy field.
“Stop being such a scaredy cat, Hannah.” She insisted, “And stop talking. Someone’s going to catch us if they hear you.”
We reached the edge of the field in silence, climbed over another fence, and continued through the woods. Finally, Nicole slammed her palm against a tall tree, “Look up.”
A large tree house loomed above us. It had dark walls, two windows, one door, and a porch platform that the tree rested upon. Nicole shimmied her way up the ladder, and I trailed closely behind. She set her backpack down on the floor and pulled out a large blanket and pillow. She placed her phone in the corner, the flashlight illuminating the night.
“Come here.” She whispered, gesturing for me to join her in the nest that she had made. I slid in next to her, the warmth from her body warming up mine.
“I like to come here whenever Johnny is being a dick,” She exhaled, laying her body down and taking me with her.
We didn’t talk about Johnny too much. When they first started dating, I had told her I didn’t want to hear stories because it grossed me out, but I was just pissed she was with someone that wasn’t me.
“What do you mean?” I whispered, staring at the ceiling.
She shook her head, “I don’t know. Like whenever he gets mad at me for not wanting to have sex.”
“Does that happen often?”
She laughed, “No more than a regular couple.”
I crinkled my eyebrows but didn’t say anything. Nic wasn’t one for advice, and I wasn’t good at giving it. We lay there for a few minutes, our bodies pressed together for warmth.
“Hannah, you know I love you, right?” She turned towards me, our faces inches apart.
I nodded slowly, “Yeah.”
“And you love me, too, right?” She asked, wrapping an arm around my middle. Electricity passed through my stomach and to the rest of my body.
“More than you know.” I said softly.
Nicole pushed a stray hair out of my face, her eyes darting between my eyes and my lips, “You’re so beautiful, Hannah.” She exhaled.
I gulped, looking down to avoid her eyes. She didn’t mean it the way I wanted her to, “Thank you, Nicole.”
“Do you remember when we used to practice our kissing?”
I nodded, still looking away, “Yes.” I said meekly.
I felt my whole body tingle as she gently placed her cool palm on my warm cheek, “We should try it again.”
I shook my head, “I don’t think that’s a good idea.”
She met my eyes, “But I want to.”
I bit my tongue, “OK.” I said, slowly moving my lips to hers. The kiss started off slow as we refamiliarized ourselves with our older lips. I swept my tongue across her bottom lip, and she tangled her fingertips through my hair, the feeling unfamiliar, but strangely comfortable, as if we had been kissing for years. It sped up, Nicole pressing her body into mine, exploring my mouth with her tongue.
“Hannah,” She moaned softly as she pulled away, sending a jolt through my lower abdomen.
“You have no idea how long I’ve wanted to do that,” I whispered, my forehead pressed against hers, our breath coming in slow and ragged.
Nicole pulled away, avoiding my eyes, the space between filled with unsaid words, “I can’t, Hannah.”
My body temperature dropped ten degrees when she pulled away, aching for her warm touch on my skin, “What?”
“We can’t kiss, Hannah.” Her eyes finally met mine, the emerald green shifting into a lighter, glassier color, “I’m dating Johnny.”
“So break up with him.” I shrugged. This is what I wanted for years, but Nicole was ruining it by bringing up her boyfriend.
She got up from the floor, wrapping the blanket tightly around her, “It’s not that simple.”
I stood up, wrapping my arms around my body, trying to get warm, “Yes, it is. Just call him tomorrow and tell him the truth.”
“Hannah,” She whispered.
"No, Nic. I’m not going to leave it alone. I want to be with you. Call him and tell him you don’t love him. Tell him you love me,” I moved closer to her, reaching out for her hand, but she recoiled closer to the door, “Nicole, tell him that you--.”
“I don’t love you!” She yelled over me.
I paused, feeling like the wind had been knocked out of me.
“You’re a liar.” I whispered, tears beginning to fall.
“No. I’m not. I just wanted to see what it would be like to kiss you again. It was just fun and games.” She ran a hand through her curls, tears falling from her eyes, too.
“You’re a bitch,” I muttered, coming closer to her, “You can’t kiss me just because you want to make it a game, Nicole. Do you know how sick that is? Do you know fucking insane that is? I’m not a piece in your goddamn game, Nicole. I’m your best friend.”
“My best friend who has a twisted crush on me!” She yelled, stepping back even further. She was outside now, and I followed her, my eyes stinging from the tears.
“Nicole, I--.” I reached out for her, but she quickly pulled back her arm.
“I hate you,” she whispered.
“No, you don’t,” I said softly, coming closer to her, “You’re afraid that you have a crush on me,” I blurted.
She shook her head, “That’s not true.”
“Yes, it is.” I took a step closer to her, and she took a step back, as if we were doing a twisted tango.
“Stay away from me, dyke,” she slurred.
That was it. In one swift moment of anger, I pushed Nicole, her body falling quickly before it landed with a soft thud in the snow. Crimson blood oozed out from the back of her head, staining the white snow. Her body contorted in a weird, twisting way. Her green eyes stared back up at me, sending shivers through my body.
I always thought our eyes closed when we died, but I guess I was wrong.