How To Live Without Dying

Tinsley was always loped in with the popular crowd in one way or another. It was just what her mother wanted. But, Tinsley couldn't stand it.

Ian was an indie skater kid with an undeserved bad reputation.

Sparks fly when they meet, but things quickly turn dangerous.

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Sort of happened by chance, and I just kept on with it, but all of the chapter titles are taken from songs by Land of Talk.

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5. Summer Special

"Will you walk me back to the guest house?" I asked.

"Of course," he smiled and we stood together.

He held my hand as we walked, then stopped me as we reached the door to say, "Not only do I think that you're very pretty, but, I also think that you are very gentle and very kind. I think you're a better and more caring friend than you realize. I think all of this, and I like you. And, I was wondering if you would like to go out on a date with me."

"What would we do about Jack?" I asked.

"We will respectfully ask for his blessing," Ian said.

"What if he says no?"

"I'll leave that answer up to you because he's your brother," Ian answered. "But, I should hope that you would decide for yourself who you can and cannot see."

I nodded my head, then yawned. He chuckled, then shook his head and said goodnight.

Mandy was sitting on the sofa bed when I came back into the house.

"A-hah!" she squealed and jumped up to hug me. "I knew you were up to something! I had no idea you were into my brother. I mean, I'm not an idiot. I saw a little something between you two. I didn't know you would actually act on it."

I blushed furiously and pulled my blanket up over my head as I sat down next to her.

"Come on, Tins," she begged as she tugged at the blanket. "Girl talk with me. I've been dating your brother for ages and Krystin and Kendall are boring! I haven't gotten to gossip in forever."

"Fine," I dropped the blanket.

I had a reason to stay, at least for a little bit, so I might as well let her in.

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I eventually fell asleep while talking with Mandy. It was the first time I'd ever done anything like that since my mom was alive.

We went outside to discover that Brad had decided to make breakfast for everyone. Pancakes were his specialty, apparently.

Ian and Jack were nowhere to be found. Pancakes were served before either of them showed up.

"Can I talk to you, Tinsley?" Jack whispered as he stood next to me.

I nodded and we stepped to the side of the house for some privacy.

"Ian talked we me a little while ago," Jack said and my face flushed I was so nervous, but then he continued, "I don't have anything against him. We used to be really good friends, but I spent nine months wrestling with who I thought I knew and what everyone was telling me to believe. I fought with myself, and with Mandy over whether or not he was an awful human being. It's still hard to reconcile the facts when I see him and my instinct is to protect you. That being said, I do believe he is a good person. One of the best, actually. And I want you to be happy. I'm thrilled, really, that you're finally behaving like a girl."

I smacked his arm and he laughed.

"You can't tell dad about this, though," Jack said more seriously. "He hates Ian."

"Why?" I asked.

"Ian took a hit for me a few years ago, not long after you and mom left," Brad said. "Didn't tell a soul because I begged him. I think Ian makes dad hate himself."

"Jack, why do you protect him?" I asked, getting frustrated and angry just thinking about it. "You and mom are so much alike, never wanting to get him in any trouble when he deserves it."

"And you're just like her, always wanting to run," he frowned, then warned me. "Look, be happy. But, be inconspicuous  I'll cover for you where I can."

"Thank you!" I exclaimed and threw my arms around his neck in a hug.

"You're welcome," he smiled. "Go on, sit with your date."

We regrouped with everyone else and I quietly made my way over to Ian's side, failing to contain my smile.

"Hi," he smiled back at me as I sat down.

"Hi," I said nervously. I'd never dated anyone before.

"What should we do now?" I asked.

"This," he said and took my hand in his.

"I knew it!" Krystin exclaimed. "I. Knew. It. I knew it when I saw you stitching up his arm!"

Everyone's eyes turned to look at us and I blushed uncontrollably. Brad frowned and looked away as everyone else clapped or poked fun at us.

A pinch of guilt hit my chest. I hated that I never had given Brad a proper no.

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At lunch, we lounged in the pool. Ian sat at the edge with just his feet in, trying to keep his arm out. I looked it over for any signs of infection, happy I'd done a good job.

We talked about all kinds of things, like the fact that he had already enrolled in college and was planning to become an English teacher to support himself as a writer. I told him about how, when Jack is stuck at football practice, I walk around campus and take photographs with my mom's old Polaroid camera. Then, I told him about how we spent so long hunting down every last pack of film we could find on the internet and bought up what we could afford. Then, we talked about music, surprised to find that we shared a favorite band, but not a favorite album or song by that band. His favorite movie was an old western titled Unforgiven with Clint Eastwood and Audrey Hepburn. I was too embarrassed to tell him what mine was.

"You're kidding me," he laughed. "You won't tell me what your favorite movie is! That's, like, one of the most basic questions anyone could ask."

"It's because she thinks you'll think she's a nerd," Jack chimed in.

"Isn't it Roman Holiday?" asked Brad.

"I thought it was Clueless," Mandy added.

"Great, now I have to tell everyone," I glared at my brother. "Thanks a lot."

"Go on, then," Mandy said. "Out with it."

"It's called Summer Wars," I sighed.

Everyone was quiet, until Kendall said, "I've never heard of that."

"It's an anime movie about a close-knit family in Japan battles an AI that's wreaking havoc on an internet based world civilization," I explained, covering my face.

"Oh my god, you are a nerd!" Ian exclaimed. "But that's awesome! I watch anime all the time, but I've never seen that one. You'll have to show it to me."

"You guys are almost disgustingly made for each other," Mandy said and pretended to gag. "It's stupid."

I was still blushing by the time three more conversation topics had come to pass.

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I went down to the dock again that night. Not because I couldn't sleep, but because I knew he'd be down there. Waiting for me.

When I got there, candles were lit and he held a cup of something pale and fizzy out to me. I took a sip to find that it was cream soda.

"What is all this for?" I asked.

"We didn't acutally get to go on a date," he explained. "So, I figured we could have one here."

My smile spread across my face, but I felt lost after that, having never been on a date before.

"What do people do on dates?" I asked.

"Usually," he said, "they just sit and talk about themselves and what's on their minds."

"We've been doing that all day," I sighed. "Can we talk about other stuff? Maybe make something up? I'm not that interesting."

"You are," he laughed, "but, yeah. How about I start?"

"Okay."

"Hi, my name is Henry, and I'm a balloon animal."

"Hello, Henry. It's nice to meet you," I smiled. "I'm Phyllis the safety-pin."

"Ah!" he pretended to scream. "Don't touch me! Don't touch me!"

We both laughed, and eventually our fake, made up conversation turned into us sharing real details about ourselves.

"Do you want to go out in the boat with me tomorrow?" he asked. "There's a tiny little island out in the lake. I thought we could have a picnic there. Make it our second date."

"I would love that," I answered, feeling exhilarated.

"I'll pick you up at four, then," he smiled. "Gives us enough time to row over there before dinner time."

"Okay," I smiled and yawned.

"Are you sleepy?" he asked. "Ready for me to walk you back?"

I nodded.

We said goodnight at the door and I went in and went to sleep.

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At four o'clock the next day, we met at the dock and he helped me into the boat. It was a small, wooden boat with no motor. Just a couple of oars. We laughed and made jokes and lightly picked on each other the entire way to the island. I made sure to let him know I couldn't swim and that he'd have to save me if I fell over board.

He dress in a button-down shirt and slacks. I felt awkward in one of Mandy's dresses.

It was a simple, navy blue, strapless dress. The skirt met my knees. Krystin helped me with my makeup while Mandy had pulled my hair back into a loose braid.

"You look beautiful," he said as he laid out the picnic blanket, averting his eyes from mine with a hint of blush in his cheeks.

It was the first time I'd ever seen him act shy.

"Thank you," I smiled. "You look very handsome."

"Thank you," he smiled.

I helped him set out plates and cups, then he served the food: PB and J and more cream soda. We had Ding Dongs for dessert. After we finished eating, he set up a little portable stereo to play covers of Frank Sinatra from his iPod.

"Would you like to dance?" he asked and extended his hand to me.

I nodded and he helped me to my feet. We danced near the edge of the water and the sun began to set behind us.

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