Out of Reach

This is a story of a teenage romance which blossoms into something beyond beautiful. It has twists and turns, where a young couple fall in and out of love with each other and other people. How do their lives pan out in the end though?


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22. And just when everything was going alright...

 

“Now come on Daisy, you don’t want to be late for school do you?” Megan says, wrestling with her very small pair of grey tights.    

   “I don’t want to go!” She wails, tears streaming down her cheeks.    

   “Daisy, don’t raise your voice to me.” Megan scolds. She’s very good with her, always has been. Daisy cries some more.    “Dyl, come lend a hand?” She shouts from upstairs. I put my folder into my rucksack and jog up the stairs to see Daisy kicking and screaming in the landing, and Megan sat on our bed holding some tights.     

   I pick up Daisy, who wriggles and yells under my tight grip, but I don’t put down the fight.    

   “Right then Daisy, who would you like to put your tights on for you, mummy or daddy?” I ask.     

   She doesn’t reply, other than continue her tireless wining. Megan hands me the tights and rubs the faint lines of stress on her forehead, then walks into the bathroom. I’m much stronger than both Megan and Daisy, and manage to wiggle the tights on. She continues to throw a tantrum, but I put on her little shirt and pinafore, and then buckle up her black patent shoes. Megan kisses my cheek.    

   “Thank you darling.” She says, stroking the place she just kissed on my face as she walks past me with a hair brush, “Let me do your hair then Daisy.” She picks her up and sits her on her knee, brushing he silky blond hair until the waves flow like Megan’s did when she was four. She then scrapes it all back into a plat that trails down her spine. I look down at her hands, working away, styling her curls, and they look bonier than I remember, matured, yet still young and nimble. I look down at my own, which are much bigger than hers, and the backs of them are dusted in dark hairs. My veins stick out much more prominently nowadays, flashing colour through my tanned skin, a green that isn’t very appealing.     

   I set off, waving to my Daughter and girlfriend. Megan smiles, and the skin around her eyes creases up, making her look distorted and unattractive. I wave and blow kisses, but she laughs at me and then gets in her car.     

   I pull into a parking space and grab a ticket, then make my way through the halls that are so much bigger than my old secondary school. A flash of colour blurs in front of me before I’m knocked off my feet, my books clattering against the linoleum floor. I look up whilst rummaging to pick up my files and papers, and stop. I’m startled by a pair of green eyes staring out at me, surrounded my tanned skin covering thin perfect features.     

   “I’m sorry.” I stammer over the words, standing up and dusting myself down. She’s tall, probably five foot nine.    

   “No, it’s my fault.” She tugs on the hem of her top, stretching it over her slim figure. I pick her folder up for her. Her voice is smooth and warms me up, standing in the cool corridor, “Thanks.” She says, and gives me a tight smile with thick lips, glossy and smooth – like her.    

   “It’s fine.” She walks down the corridor, her flip flops slapping against the floor and echoing through my ears.     

   “Urm-“I blurt. She spins around, sending her straight brown hair whizzing round after her.    

   “Yes?” She coughs her throat clear, her voice singing over the single word.    

   “Did I take your name?” I ask her. Pathetic, just a few years ago I could talk to any girl.    

   “Sophie.” She says, her voice like butter, “Sophie Calling.” She smiles again, lighting me up.    

   “Okay, nice to meet you. Sophie Calling.” I say, holding out my hand for her to shake. She does.    

   “And you... Urm-“She pauses, and after a beat I realise, I never told her my name.    

   “Dylan Alden.” I say, and smile back.    

   “And you, Dylan Alden.” I get one more glance at her smile, before she flicks her thin silky hair, and runs up the stairs; her feet making the sound of gentle tapping as she goes, like rain.     

   Throughout my lectures I think about Sophie Calling. The girl with perfect tight smile and hair that would feel like silk to touch. Sophie, Sophie Calling. I shouldn’t, I’m committed to somebody else, but... thinking can’t hurt anybody, can it?   

 

And just when you think you know somebody, they flash a smile and walk on by, without saying hello, or even goodbye. They trample over anything to move on, to something bigger and better. But, the truth is, nobody is better than you; they’re just different.   

 

The way her voice floated over my name like a ray of light catching you at a night club right before you hit the high note of a song everybody loves. How her eyes just caught the light from the tall windows, eliminating them into big pools of colour, almost like they’ve been painted by Lichtenstein. And how her mouth shaped when she spoke, perfectly round.     

   Although perfect isn’t everything and I don’t even know the girl for god’s sake? And I’m committed to somebody else. Dylan, you have a child, I tell myself firmly.     

   “Hey, Dylan!” My name’s shouted across the cafeteria. It’s Marco.    

   “You alright mate?” I say to him as I walk over to his table. He’s sat on his own with his art book and rucksack. There are five free chairs. I pick the one opposite him, dumping my tray of food on the round table.     

   “Yeah, I’m good thanks.” He looks away, pausing, before looking back into my eyes and saying, “Are you?”    

   “I’m a bit thrown to be honest.” I say.    

   “Yeah?” He acknowledges. Marco’s always there for everybody.     

   “I bumped into this girl, she was really hot, and I can’t stop thinking about her.”    

   “That’s tough.” He says sympathetically.     

   “I know. And now I feel guilty because I’m committed to my family back home.”    

   “I get you. It’s hard falling for someone younger than you, especially when there’s a big age gap, but just go with your heart. Is it your head feeling guilty, or your heart? Think about it, yeah?” He smiles, before a pretty brown haired girl called Sophie comes to sit on our table. Sophie Calling. She sits beside Marco, and he puts his arm round her small shoulders.    “This is Sophie.” Marco says, introducing me to a girl I just said was hot. Sophie reaches her hand across the table, with a knowing look on her face.    

   “Dylan, right?” She winks.     

   “Yeah, right.” I say. I grab her hand and shake it, “So you two are together then?”    

   “No, I’m taken.” Marco smiles fondly. I know who he’s talking about. He’s in love with a 17 year old. Yet he’s 20. They get lots of stick for it, but Marco doesn’t seem to care.    

   “So what about you Sophie. Are you single?” Marco smiles at her as I wait for a reply.    

   “Yeah.” She says. I breathe easy for the first time since she sat down.     

   “How come?” I ask. She looks down, and then back to me.    

   “Just haven’t found anybody yet.” She says sadly, “What about you?” She asks. My heart races. What do I say? Marco’s sat right there, and...    

   “I have a girlfriend.” I say.    

   “Does she come here?” She asks.    

   “No, she’s a year younger than me and...” She looks at me, waiting eagerly with broad eyes.    

   “And...?”    

   “Nothing, we’ve been together for a while. She’s a writer.” I say. It’s all true.    

   “Aww, she sounds lovely.” Sophie laughs.     

   “She is.” I say quietly. I’m such a bad person. I hate myself for thinking about Sophie like that. I look at her, and resent her, even though she’s done nothing wrong.     

   “You sure you’re alright Dylan?” Marco asks me.     

   “I’m fine thank you.” I push through my throat.    

   “Are you sure? Do you want to chat?” He smiles comfortingly.    

   “No, I’m good.”     

   “Okay.”    

   “What’s your girlfriend called Dylan?” Sophie asks me.    

   “Megan. Megan Strouler.” I say. Marco smiles again. He’s a smiley person.    

   “That’s a nice name.” She says, as if she’s talking about a five year old, or my daughter. I have a daughter.    

   “What’s your girl called?” I ask Marco, swivelling round the conversation. He smiles more, and lowers his eyes. There’s a picture of the two of them together on the screensaver of his phone. Her hair is curly, and she’s sat in her pyjamas. She’s laughing, with straight white teeth sparkling beneath pink lips. Marco is looking at her but laughing too, and I can see the love in his eyes purely through the photograph. She looks young, her face has no make-up on it, and her hair is blond and wispy. She reminds me of Daisy. Her eyes are almost closed through her smile, but I can see they’re a pale blue, nearly gray.     

   “She’s called Lisa.” He says his voice breathless.    

   “How did you meet?” I push. I’m intrigued about why he loves her so much.    

   “At school. I was in my first year of sixth form when we got to know each other, but she was only in year 9. The damage was done to both of us before I realise she was too young for me.”    

   “So what did you do?”    

   “When she turned 15, we were still close, so we decided to ignore the age gap, and followed our hearts. We’ve been together 2 years now.”    

   “That’s a lovely story.” Sophie says.    

   “She feels stupid when I tell people my girlfriend still goes to school, but I tell her not to, because it doesn’t matter to me. Some people’s parents have an eight year age gap and they’re perfectly happy.”     

   “I can’t imagine being a parent, can you?” Sophie asks. Oh dear.    

   “Not really, but Dyl-“Marco starts.    

   “I have a daughter.” I say. Sophie’s eyes widen, and she sits silently, I can tell she’s judging me.    

   “With... Megan?” She wonders out loud.    

   “Yeah.”    

   “How old is she?”    

   “Four.” I grimace. This must sound awful. The expression on her face says it all: complete shock.    

   “Oh god. Was it planned?” I laugh at this.    

   “No. Megan and I were just in love, and it happened. Stuff happens.”     

   “Oh bless you. So she’s at home looking after her then?” I hate the way her voice pauses over “she” and “her”.    

   “No, Daisy’s at school, and Megan’s working from home. She already has two books published.” I say, boasting about how amazing my two girls are.    

   “Oh, what’re they called?” She asks, narrowing her eyes in awe.     

   “Fairytale or Reality, and The first part.” I say.     

   “What’re they about?”    

   “Well, they’re really good. I’ve read them both. Fairytale or Reality is about some teenagers that go on a camping trip, when world war 3 starts and they have to survive on their own, just 5 of them, travelling round the world and going through different obstacles.”    

   “Oh, that sounds great.” She looks impressed.    

   “It is. And The First Part is about a man who dies in his early eighties, and he watches what he did with his life. Basically, it’s a story of a man’s life, but he’s dead. If you know what I mean?”    

   “Yeah, I get you.” She “gets” me. I doubt that.  

 

I stand in the cool air of late October, with goose bumps covering my arms. To the left of me comes a strong yet feathery voice that takes me by surprise.     

   “What’re you doing out here on your own?” It’s Sophie.    

   “Just getting some air.” I say truthfully.    

   “I don’t know you very well, but you seem distracted, what’s wrong?” She strokes my arm for a split second, making the hairs on the back of my neck stand on edge.    

   “Got things on my mind.” I say shortly, a growl.    

   “Do you want to talk about it.”    

   “I’m fine. Thank you.” I say. She stands in front of me, only a few inches away from my own body.    

   “You don’t look very fine to me.” Her hand makes its way to the side of my face, stroking my cheek, the same cheek my girlfriend stroked this morning. I brush her hand off me, but when our hands make contact for the first time, I feel an electric buzz spinning a thin sliver thread, that pulls us together in the moment. My eyes fuzz and then I feel her cool lips pressed up against mine. I don’t refuse or back away. Her tongue strokes my bottom lip. If I part my lips just a fraction more, I could return the favour. Then I do. The feel of the ridge of her lip excites me, and I know she senses this. She presses into me further, her small body draped against mine like a curtain against a window. I run my fingers through her hair, feeling the silk that you can feel through the eye. I get lost.     

   I have a daughter.     

   I fall backwards into the wall stood behind me, and realise I’ve just kissed another girl in a car park where at least half a dozen people must have seen us.     

   “I’m sorry, I can’t do this.” I put my hands up, like surrender.     

   “You don’t have to do anything.” She whispers, and kisses me again, but it’s too hard to pull away. She is my weakness.  

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