Frozen Sea

Sixteen-year-old Alaska's whole world is slowly but surely starting to crumble. Her boyfriend is charged with the rape of her best friend, and she is staring at a long, lonely summer of secrets and unimaginable pain. Losing herself in surfing and her night shift at the local pub seems like the only way to pretend none of it is actually happening for real. Until she meets Connor, a mysterious musician on a holiday of inspiration, Alaska finally realises that sometimes the only way to move on is to face up to reality.

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8. VII

My job at the Bush was beginning to get slightly more bearable as the days went by. I was busy, and that was good; being busy stopped me thinking about all the things I didn't want to think about right now. It was getting late, approaching half ten. I had just come back from clearing the tables in the dining room from the late diners, and all of a sudden, he was there.

Connor was seated casually at the bar, his long legs folded over each other in a cross-over position; his tattooed arms holding a guitar. His skinny fingers picked out a tune steadily, his brow furrowed in deep concentration. A part of me believed that he was waiting for someone, possibly me. It seemed wrong to disturb him, a sin. But magically, without me even having to interrupt his peace, he looked up at me.

"Alaska."

Connor's voice was neither happy, surprised, or even startled. I couldn't pick out the emotion, and that frustrated. All the boys I had ever known were so easy to read, and that was good, because that way I always knew what to expect.

"Connor."

His thin lips pulled back into a brief, fleeting smile, exposing his pearly teeth. "You remembered."

"So did you."

For a moment I busied myself with cleaning the already pristine glasses, but soon enough I felt dark, penetrating eyes boring into me. "Why are you called Alaska?"

My head shot up at his voice. It was such a straightforward question, so simple. But even so I stumbled over my words like an octopus on ice. "I... I don't know. I guess my Mum thought that it would make me sound cool."

"And are you?"

I looked at him, feeling my cheeks burning, hating how he made me feel yet loving him all at the same time. "Am I what?"

He grinned. "Cool?"

 I laughed, and it sounded weird and eerie in my ears. "About as cool as a radiator on full blast."

"Fair enough."

Suddenly there was a loud, booming laugh coming from the kitchen, and we both looked around. But there was nothing. Nothing, or no one, was between us. On the way back our eyes met and I quickly diverted my eyes to the instrument he was clutching like a newborn baby. "So what's with the guitar?"

Now it was Connor's turn to look embarrassed. "Oh.. I'm..." He looked down for a moment and his soft curls gently brushed against his eyes, for a fleeting moment. "I'm part of a band."

I put the glass down and leant forward on my elbows, genuinely interested now. "A band?"

"Yeah." He strummed a chord quietly as if to show me proof. "But I think I want to do some solo stuff now. Just take a break, you know?"

"Not really," I sighed. "Actually, I'm trying to prove to my Dad that I can make something out of my summer. That's why I'm here."

"Nice." He raised a perfect eyebrow, the narrowed his eyes again as if he was trying to work something out. "But you're not happy."

Again, it wasn't a question. I took an inward breath, daring myself to look at him straight into his face. Connor stared back. It was me who finally looked away first. "Yeah. I am." I heard his fingers delicately picking out a melody again. He spoke over the tune, his musical voice corresponding perfectly with the tune. 

"I get it. It's been a rough couple of weeks."

I picked up another glass, figuring that if Thomas caught me now at least I'd be doing some work. "What happened?"

"Bad break up. Messy." Connor fiddled with his shark tooth necklace awkwardly. I looked down at my shoes, who just stared helplessly back at me.

"I'm sorry."

"Oh, don't be. She was a bitch. Sleeping around with other guys for months. Caught an STD, and I knew for a fact she didn't get it from me." He paused for breath. I found myself staring at his face again, and he smiled sadly, apologetically. "I'm sorry. I don't know why I'm telling you all this."

There was a silence. Then I spoke. "Don't worry. You're not the only one who's had it bad."

There must have been something in my expression that warned him not to ask what happened, as anyone else would have done. Surprisingly enough, Connor didn't. But then his arm was at my elbow, and he was frowning down at me again. "I don't suppose..." He coughed. The voice that came after was slightly husky. "I don't suppose you'd like to talk some more?"

I lowered my gaze. Carter and I had done a lot of talking. That was precisely the problem. We had talked so much that we had hardly made any time to listen. 

Connor slid a napkin over the counter. On it, was his mobile number. "Are you free, tomorrow night?"

The voice that came out of my mouth was so quiet, so mouse-like, that I wasn't even sure that he had heard. "I don't date."

"I didn't ask you on one. I simply wondered if you wanted to talk somewhere that wasn't your workplace."

And then he was gone, out of the door, across the sea where the wind must have carried him. 

 

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