Front Porch Steps

Do you ever wonder what it's like to live in a small town where everyone knows everything about you? They find out everything, no secrets kept.

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1. One

"Finn!" I shout from the front porch steps. I'm in usual torn up jeans ( I don't believe I own a pair that don't have a least one tear in them), and my dad's old t-shirt that I cut the sleeves off of to look more "in style" and look like a muscle tee. I motion my hand towards me. "Come on! It's getting dark already!" 

A boy with light brown hair and crystal clear blue eyes, that given in the right sunlight, could probably blind you, comes running and jumps up on my porch. It's kind of scary because he's over a half a foot taller than me. I'm 5'5 and he's 6'3. He smiles, his teeth are so white I don't understand how. "Let's go! I'll race you." He smirks. 

I laugh and jump off the porch without his notice and scream back at him. "1, 2, 3..."

"Daisy, you're a cheat!" He comes running behind me. I run straight to the docks and slide down on the sand. He slides right down on top on me and tackles me. I can't stop laughing. Finn, my neighbor from across the street that I've known since forever. He's 2 years older than me, and I don't think he has any idea that I've been in love with him my whole life, just because we've been best friends ever since I can remember and when I'm "flirting" I guess it seems like normal behavior to him. We live in a coastal town. It shouldn't even be called a town. It should be called a community. There is only 156 people living in Candle View. The thing about Candle View is, you're born here, you live here, you grow up here, you get married here, you have kids here, you grow old here, and you die here. It's a vicious cycle. We live right on the water. We are a fishing, crabbing, somewhat if you hear about us, tourist spot. There's about 25 blocks with about 5 or 6 houses on each side, a little motel (resort, if you can call it that), and that pretty much makes up the residence. We have 6 restaurants. Obviously all based around seafood, but there's other things. Just not made as well because we have no idea what the hell to do with it. We have 5 stores and 1 grocery market. We have one school that goes from kindergarten to a four year college which I think is it pretty good... There's a lot of good teachers in that school. Most of them don't even live here which is a good thing because I couldn't imagine seeing Ms. England down here by the pier right now with Finn and me. I'm 16, Finn's turning 18 in the beginning of the school year. It's sad to say but, no one ever really leaves this town after school. We basically repopulate. I have 5 older brothers. I'm the baby, and the girl. Funny how that works out. My older brothers are, Daniel, David, Darrell, Darwin, And Darko. And I'm Daisy. 

I nuzzle myself into the sand and roll my eyes to myself. "How's Tracey?"

He laughs. "Oh the tramp? Yeah she's fine, I'm guessing. Glad that didn't happen. I mean, it's not a big deal, having sex, you know? It's kind of overrated if you ask me. And that's coming from a guy."

"Why were you even supposed to fuck her in the first place?"

"It was part of this bet, but like it was a chase and I kind of started to like her," He shrugs his shoulders and puts his hands to rest behind his neck. "She's a slut. It's a proven fact, and it's done and over with."

I shake my head and laugh. "You're so stupid."

He turns to me. "What is that?"

"You don't understand. You're a guy, you won't understand," I stand up. "I'm going to go to the shack and ask Betty for a sweat shirt, I'm cold."

He looks up. "You better explain when you get back."

I nod and walk away. I grab my phone from my back pocket. I read my messages. There's one from Bailey, Finn's best friend. Bailey and I started talking due to Finn becoming more and more reckless, and we've become really close friends now. Finn seems to getting back on track again.

I walk up to a coral pink shack with a crab dressed in gaudy eyelashes on it and smile. "Hey, Ms. Betty."

A bright eyed woman turns around. "Well hello, my darling! How are you?"

"I'm good, love. I was just wondering, could I borrow a sweat shirt and give it back to you tomorrow. I'm freezing."

"Of course, sweetie," She rummages through a box. "Here take this one, its pretty. Tie-dye."

"Thank you, Ms. Betty."

"You're welcome, Hun. Have a good night."

I walk back towards to Finn slowly so I can read Bailey's message.

"Bailey:

-finn's been talking a lot about u lately.-"

I reply with: "About what?"

I put the sweat shirt on and walk back to Finn and slide down in the sand. 

He looks at me. "Now tell me what I don't understand."

"What you don't understand is that there's other people in this world besides you. Especially the ones around you that love you and care about you and you don't give a shit about what happens to them. You don't understand that your actions have consequences, you don't understand that you're ruining things with people that actually matter and not 'sluts.' You don't understand that you're hurting people," I look down at him and shrug. "You're hurting me." I walk away down to the path back to our street. I look down at the concrete underneath my feet the whole way home until I get to my house. I walk up the steps to my room, go inside and sit on my bed and kick my shoes off. I take my phone out of my pocket and read a text message from Bailey.

"Bailey:

-i think finn has a thing for you-"

A tear rolls down my cheek. I reply: "He doesn't, trust me." 

I put my phone on it's charger and pull the covers over my body. I'm shivering. I close my heavy eyes and then my phone starts buzzing. I start up. It's Finn calling me.

"What?" I answer quietly and tiredly, holding my head."

"Did I wake you up?"

"Kind of."

"Okay, well I'm outside."

"And?"

"Come outside."

"Bye, Finn."

"Wa- Wait Daisy, wait. Please I want to make this right please?"

"No, I want to go to sleep."

"You can sleep with me, just come with me please."

"Finn.. I really don't want to."

"Then let me in."

"Darko'll let you in, just knock on the door," I sigh. "Just do it." I hang up my phone and lay back down on bed. I hear footsteps coming up my stairs and my door squeaks open. Finn sits on the edge near my feet. He puts his hand on my calve. 

"Finn, what are you doing?" I mumble into my pillow.

"I just want to be with you."

"Yeah, fucking right. If you think you're going to fuck me right now, you can leave."

"I don't want to have sex with you, Daisy."

"Well, than what do you want?"

"Can I lay down with you?"

"I don't understand you Finn Jameson."

He smiles and jumps over me. "Nobody does."

He picks up the covers and lays behind me. He faces the opposite direction. I hold my pillow and rest my eyes. I pretend to be sleep and after a while I feel him turn and just wrap his arms around me. No sexual touching, just cuddling. Nice genuine cuddling. I move my body closer to his and then gently fall into a deep sleep. 

I woke up this morning cold, with no warm body next to me that I felt all last night. But on my night table, there was a shriveling, drying daisy. And a note. Yawn out, turn over and pick up the note delicately. 

"Roses are red.

Violets are blue.

Daisies are cute." 

I fold it back up smiling, I grab a towel and walk into the shower. I massage shampoo into my hair and wash it out. I slide conditioner through my light blonde hair, and rinse again. I step out and look in the mirror to see a girl with green eyes and dimples staring back at me. I look out through the bathroom. It's pouring rain outside and there's lighting. I love lightning, it's like nature's light house going back and forth through the CandleView sea. I brush through my hair, which takes forever because it's almost past my ass. I blow dry it with my brush when its supposed to come out straight, but it still comes out wavy like it naturally does. I walk back into my room and drop my towel on the floor and open my closet doors. I pick through my closet and find a very, very ripped pair of jeans and an ivory cashmere sweater. I slip on moccasins and sit on my bedroom floor. I lay my head back on my bed. Listening to the patter of the rain on the roof. My phone starts buzzing again. I pick it up, Finn again. 

"Hey." His voice is groggy.

"Are you okay?" 

"Yeah, I just woke up. Want to go dancing in the rain?"

"That's cute." I laugh sarcastically. 

"No, I'm completely serious. Let's put on rain coats and boots and dance in the rain like in those shitty romance movies. It'll be fun."

"You have to be joking. This definitely isn't Finn."

"Yes, this is Finn Jameson Anthony Lancaster, Ms. Daisy Mae Anna Jace. Now please, come outside I will be there in five minutes, Pollen." And he hangs up the phone. One of the best and worst things about having your name after a flower is that you get called Pollen by the oh-so lovely, Finn Lancaster. But he really is lovely. The thing about Finn, is that you never really know what you'll get. I put on a light blue jacket and my black polka dot boots and run down stairs.

"Where in the hell are you going?" He peers from around the steps and walks from the living room. It's Darko. Long black hair and dark blue eyes. He's always home and he never goes out. He's anti-social and he rarely talks to anyone except me. Darko and I were really close when we were younger but, he changed. Life changed. 

"I'm going for a walk with Finn." I say hesitantly. 

"Mom's gonna beat your ass soon. She keeps making you food and you're never here to eat it. She's spending money we don't have. Dai, seriously just, just like try to be home more instead of going out with that douchebag."

"Darko, he's not a douchebag."

"Yes he is. I really question why you still hang around him. It really bothers me actually. But no one can control you. Cause you're the fucking princess Daisy." He rolls his eyes. "Whatever. Just go before Mom freaks out again."

"Bye, Darko." I feel Darko's eyes stalk me as I walk out of the house. Outside of my door is the one and only Finn Lancaster.

"Ready to run?" He says.

"Yeah."

"Lets go!" He grabs my hand and we start sprinting. We splash into huge puddles and fly through the streets. 

We finally get to the farthest street in the whole town. I don't think anyone even knows this exists besides Finn and me. When we finally reach it, it feels like forever since we've been here. It's like a picture out of a museum. Like our own Terebithia. He's Jesse and I'm Leslie and we're on an adventure to wherever our minds want to take us. Here there's huge rocks and the waves brush up against them and it's calm and serene. This is where me and Finn had our first kiss. We were each other's first kisses. I was 11 and he was still 12 at the time. His birthday hadn't passed yet. Most romantic thing that's ever happened to me. I have such a depressing love life. 

I sit back on a rock. And the rain is starting to let up.

"Well get up!" He says.

"Someone's bosy." I laugh, getting to my feet.

He comes over and grabs me, twirls me around I can't stop laughing. A constant smile on his face. The rain is splashing around our feet and making little currents that turn from what seem to be little infinities back into nothing at all. Just a steady puddle into a mirror of what ever reflects from it. I look up from my feet and I see him staring at me. My laughs stop, but he still smiles, and stops twirling me.

"Whats wrong?"

I try to play off my blushing. "Nothing I felt cold water go down my back."

"Oh, okay. Are you sure? You okay?"

"Yeah, I'm fine." Pretending to shiver to make it more believable.

"Do you want my jacket?" 

"No, I'm fine. Thanks." Smiling at this point would make it even more obvious that I was lying, but I did it anyway. 

He nods. He sits on one of the rocks. I look out to the sea and try to comprehend what just happened. Taking in a deep breath. As I turn around and sit next to him.

I laugh and smile at him. "So what was the point of bringing me out here?"

He smirks. "I just wanted to talk to you and spend time with my best friend." 

Rolling my eyes. "Okay, and the actual reason?"

He looks at me with big, excited eyes. "No! I'm serious!" He laughs. "I understand now. I do." He smiles at my lips.

Oh dear God, Finn. Do not look at my lips. I nod. "Good." 

"The rain's letting up," He leans up and and stands, looking up and a clear, light blue sky shines above him. "Do you wanna go somewhere else? Maybe out of town?"

I look at him hesitantly. "I've never been more than 2 miles out of Candle View."

"Why are you scared? I'm with you." He tries to reassure me. 

"How are we getting there?" 

"How do I get places?"

I step back. "I'm not going on that fucking motorcycle, Finn. You almost got killed last time. You haven't been on it in almost a year. No."

He sighs. "Then let's just ride there."

"Bare back? Is that what you mean?" 

"Sure. I'll go get Curt and Caspar." He turns and jogs off into a distance too far for me to see him. Another thing we do in Candle View is ride horses. Well, at least a good 60% of us do. We don't really have cars. Actually, we don't have cars at all. Either horses, walking, bikes, or anyway you can get around. If you need a car you can call a taxi driver who will spend 2 hours extra trying to find his way here and make you pay every cent for it. 

I hear a clatter of feet and hooves marching towards me and see my horse, Caspar. He's a sweet, tall, brown and black horse. I stick the bit through his mouth and Finn helps me on to him. Finn rides his older brother's horse, Curt. Curt is an old, grumpy horse. But he rides well and he listens, sometimes. He's white and grey. He's pretty even though he's a complete asshole. I grab the reins on Caspar's bit and wait for Finn to get settled. 

I look at Finn, holding tight to my reins. "Ready?"

"Yeah. Let's get a good trot going."

I nod and push into Caspar sides. He's sensitive, but in a good way. He's responsive, and he listens unlike Sapphire, my older brother's horse. The one I had to ride last year to get to grocery store to get something that I will keep nameless. I feel the mist of the ocean against my face, and the smell of the salt drizzle on my nose. The wind refuses to stop blowing, and it's raining again. We're at a steady trot and Finn's by my side, just talking about the utmost stupid shit you could ever think of. Like the way sand crabs tickle when they cross your skin. Or how itchy you get when you think about bugs. Even how hummingbirds have such long slender noses or mouthes or whatever it is that they drink the nectar of the flower's from. I think the best part about these pointless, thought-provking conversations is that you have no idea which topic it's going to lead to next. You can go from how languages became languages and words became words, to how colors mix to make other colors, to how we formed from little flagella's. Interesting, isn't it?  

"So, what do you think about the Bible?" Finn asks.

"Personally," I look at him, down at Caspar, and then back at him. "I think it's just tall tales."

"So do I. I mean, I respect the Bible, 100%. Whatever you believe in is perfectly fine, you know? I hate when people get so defensive over that. It's so fucking pathetic. Everyone has a right to do what they want. You can't judge people on natural born rights. You can't judge people on who they are," He sighs and looks at me. "They have no idea who we are."

I nod. I see the sign: "Thank you for visiting, Candle View! Come back soon!"

"We're officially out, I guess." Looking at the woods around us. It's all trees. It's still coastal, just tall, skinny trees surrounding the perimeter. 

"Yeah," He nods. "It's pretty, I think."

"It is." I say. But truthfully, I'm scared shitless. I've never been outside of that tiny little shitty town. The houses are all exactly the same. White, two story, dark red windows, dark blue wrap around porches, gravel roads. 

We go out a little farther and stop at a tiny stream. We tie the horses to some trees near by. 

"Do you like it?" He asks, looking down at me.

I look around and nod. "It's beautiful."

"Daisy," He looks in my eyes. "I don't know how to keep this in any longer."

I look at him. He looks confused, and scared. And that just makes me more concerned and more anxious. I feel my muscles tense and my legs and arms wrap around each other. I feel my face turn to stone, my eyes lock into place, straight looking into his.

I swallow what little I have in my dry mouth. "What is it, Finn? What happen-"

He looks in my eyes, cups my cheek, and kisses me. His lips are so soft, and sweet. They taste like strawberries. I feel my body instantly turn to mush, I wrap my palms around his neck. In those 17 seconds, it felt like an infinity had passed. 

I look up at him. My breath was literally taken away. 

He looks at me. "Daisy. I've wanted to do that for the longest time."

I look down and walk away. He looks across the water, obviously frustrated and upset. I pick up stones and skim them on the stream.

He walks up behind me. "Daisy, I know-"

I turn to him. "If you knew Finn, you wouldn't have done all of this. I'm tired of being the one you turn to when you have no one else. I'm tired of being the last resort. The back up plan. I don't want to be the one who always has to clean up your mess, and that's what I've been doing. I don't want to be the second choice. Hell, I'm not even the second choice. I'm the last choice. The other girls make you happy, Finn. You're more interested in them. And I'm fine with that. I'm not going to sit around and wait for you forever. It's time I got on. It's time you did too. I think we should stop all this." I untie Caspar from the tree. I jump up on a rock and mount him. 

"What do you mean all of this?" He says, looking teary eyed.

"You don't always have the same friends, Finn." I grab Caspar's reins and trot him off back into town. 

I hear Finn screaming my name, but I'm not looking back at him. It hurt enough to do that. I knew that if I looked back at him it would be like getting trampled by my horse. 

I finally get back to my house, and up the front porch steps. I walk up the steps to my bedroom and change into sweat pants and a t shirt. I look around my room and I see the tie dye sweat shirt I never gave back to Betty.

"Shit, Betty." I slide on my warn in converse, grab it, and step out to bring it back to her. The gravel in the road feels like shards of glass. The soles of the converse are so thin. My feet reach the sand and walking becomes bearable again. 

"Hey honey," She smiles, seeing the sweat shirt. "Thank you, darling." Turning around and throwing the sweater in a laundry bag. "So what's been going on? How's Finny?"

I roll my eyes. "I don't want to talk about it." 

"Oh, Daisy, dear. You can't let boys get to you. Especially Finn. You know he's going through a rough patch right now."

"Yeah," I say, "air quoting" my next words. "But we're 'best friends and we always have been' and he says all these things he doesn't mean. He says them so sincerely, and that's how he used to be. So I believe it," Running my fingers through my ocean misted hair. "I don't know. He's just really annoying me, Babe."

"I know how you feel, love. That's how Mr. Jackson was before we got married. I'm not saying you two are gonna get married, but just as a reference as to how big of assholes guys can be. It's okay, buttercup. You'll be okay. Just give it a bit. Okay?"

"Okay, Ms. Betty. Thank you." We kiss each other's cheeks and I walk back to my house. The gravel is another ride back to hell. My phone vibrates and I take it phone out of my back pocket. Reading through my messages and see one from Bailey and one from Finn. I look around to see if Finn's somewhere outside looking for me like he usually does after a fight like this. But, he isn't. I walk up the front porch steps and into the house. Darko is sitting on the couch inside watching TV. Daniel and David have jobs outside of CandleView and come back around midnight with my dad. My mom works at the diner. Darko stays home. He only ever went to one year of college, and then he stopped. Darrell and Darwin are in college and live on the small little campus we have. My shoes come off at the door and I walk into the living room where Darko is. 

"Hi." I say in a hushed tone.

"Hey." He says in his usual low raspy voice.

"What're you watching?" 

"Full House," He adjusts himself in the couch putting his feet up on the on the foot rest. "You can sit and watch with me if you want."

"Okay." I sit on the on the end of the end of the couch putting my feet up on the couch, laying my head back on a pillow on the arm of the couch. 

I watch the screen and I can feel my eyes slowly shutting. But I remember that Bailey and Finn texted me. I slid my hand in my pocket and grabbed my phone. I read Bailey's message.

Bailey:

"finn said that u said u dont wanna b friends w/ him anymore"

I reply:

"I don't think Finn should be my friend anymore. He seems to want more than I can give him."

Finn:

"Daisy, I need to talk to you. I can't stop being friends with you, I can't stop seeing you, or talking to you. Daisy Mae Anna Jace, I swear I'm in love with you."

My heart sinks to my stomach. He said he's in love with me. Tomorrow's the last day of summer. Then school starts. I don't know what to do. I can't see Finn tomorrow and I can't talk to him at school. I'm more than mad at him. He's destroying himself. I can't deal with more saddening things in my life. Things I've never told anyone about. 

~

August 2nd. This morning I woke up at 5:32 A.M. I added the extra two minutes because I couldn't get my ass out of bed. Into the shower, dried my hair. It's abnormally curly and wavy today. We actually do have the latest fashion in our small town stores. And I do shop it. I just don't wear it. But today's the first day of junior year, so I figure I should look nice. I've laid out a very ironic high waisted skater skirt with daisies on it, a white crop top, and black ballet flats. I put on my usual light makeup that I wear to school which is just beige eyeshadow, light eyeliner (sometimes I'll make it more dramatic and make a wing), and mascara. I painted my nails a nude beige this morning, and put on the must valuable possession I own. My great grandmother, Daisy, whom I was named after's wedding ring. It's a heart shaped diamond. It shines more than anything I've ever seen, and it's the most beautiful thing I've ever laid eyes on. I slide it passed it past my knuckle and down my finger. Looking at myself in the mirror, twirling around and laughing at myself. 'Wow, loser.' I grab my black back pack from my room and unplug my phone from the charger. I see a text message from Bailey, and wow. 12 from Finn, and then 2 from my other friend Hannah. I slide across the message from Hannah. I'm walking with her to school today. I've been walking with Finn to school for the past 11 years of my life. So this is completely new territory. 

Hannah:

"hey dai, im gonna b @ ur house @ bout 7:30 so we can hang around with ppl b4 school starts and get used to our classes."

"im walking up 2 ur house now."

I walk downstairs. My mom's waiting at the bottom of the stairs. My mama is beautiful. She has beautiful blue eyes and dark brown hair, she's a tiny little nothing with a big attitude, but she's the most caring, loving person you'll ever meet.  

"Daisy Mae Anna Jace! You have Ms. Hannah waiting down here for you and you have no food in your stomach! You never eat it amazes me." She shakes her head.

"I do eat," I walk into the kitchen and grab a cinnamon roll. "I'm going to my first day as a junior mama," I bite into my roll and kiss her. "I love you."

"I love you too, sweetheart. Be good! Good bye, Ms. Hannah! Ya'll have a good day at school!"

"Thank you, Mrs. Jace!" Hannah has such a squeaky, cute, little voice. "So has he texted you anymore since Monday?"

I chew my roll, unlock my phone, click open my messages and show her that he had sent me 12.

"Daisy! You haven't even read them! Damn it, Daisy you're supposed to be filling me in on this shit," She scrolls through the messages. "Daisy, they're fucking paragraphs, Finn, one of the two hottest guys, you're best friend-"

I clear my throat dramatically. "Not my best friend anymore."

"Whatever, he's sending you paragraphs explaining about things he did when he was younger that he thought would get your attention and make you like him. Fucking Daisy, are you listening to me? This is Finn Lancaster. You only see him as Finn, but every other girl in this town thinks he is the Zac Efron of Candle View. And he's saying he's in love with you."

I roll my eyes and finish my roll. "He's only Finn. He's just another boy making poor decisions in his life to please the social ladder and the absolute cancer that is teenager's."

"Daisy," She turns and stops straight in front of me. "Can you stop being that smart ass bitch for two seconds of your life and just try to understand the potential you have here?"

"Potential to do what? To date a guy that I've been in love with since I was 5 and apparently has been in love with me too? To win some popularity contest? No, Hannah. That's not me. And if that's why people are going to try to be friends with me now, then I don't want friends." I walk around her with my bag slung over my shoulder. I can still see her face, jaw dropped open. Her look of dullness and stupidity and just want to be at the top of an imaginary yet, so real, food chain that is not forgiving. I walk back and snatch my phone out of her hands. Walking  up to school doors, I push them and walk into the cafeteria straight away. It's 7:57, school starts in 3 minutes and Hannah, Finn, or Bailey haven't approached me and I'm in the back corner all by myself. I look through my phone and read my messages and then I see one from Bailey pop up.

Bailey:

"i see u finns really worried about u everything he said about u was tru daisy"

I ignore it. The bell rings, check the schedule that came in the mail last week. My first class is one of the three electives that you have no choice in choosing. And all grades are included. So it's guaranteed I'll see Hannah, Bailey, and Finn all in one room. Great. I decide that I should stay with some of the younger kids because they won't be looking for me there. I walk in with a group of 8th graders and line myself in the back corners of the REC room. Sitting on the back of the wall with my phone in my hands texting Darko. Because I feel like right now he's the only one I can talk to. We've barely talked for the past 2 years. But now, I think for once, I can understand him. I love my brother, I love Darko. He's the best big brother you could ask for. Well, all my brother's are. But they aren't here for me all the time like Darko is. 

Daisy:

"Darko, I'm really anxious and scared right now."

He replies almost instantly

"Are you okay? Do you need me to come get you?"

I feel my fingers numbly tracing over the screen. I feel like I can't breathe now.

"I don't know. But I want to stay in school."

"Okay, just keep texting me. I'm here."

With knowing that I take in some breaths and sit with my head in my knees. There's only 102 kids in this building right now, 17 teachers, 2 guidance counselors, 1 vice principal, and 1 principal. And all of us, all 123 of us. I look up and see our principal. Mr. Hodges, adjusting a microphone that I can't hear because I've blocked out all sound. I can feel my fingers enclose my ears. I see the opening to the hallway and crawl out into it. Rising to my feet and start running towards the doors out to the court yard, push open the door. I fall and my knee skids on the concrete outside. I'm bleeding and crying. Not because of my knee, because of me and the skintight lies I've been living and putting myself through. I see a tall boy with dark caramel hair put up in a quiff look in both directions before crossing the hallway and coming to my rescue. He picked me up like I was a pebble, scooped me up in his arms, and sat me down on a bench. And he knelt down to the ground and looked at my knee and then up at me. And that's when I saw how perfect he was. His eyes were like no other color I've ever hazel or grey I've ever seen before. His skin had the lightest touch of tan. His lips were so delicate, pink and pretty. And his nose was so sloped and tiny. I don't understand how I was seeing such a boy in front of me. I kept blinking to make sure I was seeing what I thought I was seeing.

"Are you okay?" He looked at my eyes questioning the blinking most likely.

I snap out of my delusion. "Yeah, sorry. I'm fine, thank you." I straighten my leg out and cringe. Jesus Christ, hot guy, act like you're in pain, it'll be like the movies.

He brings my leg back down and hushes me. "Don't do that. It's gonna hurt like a bitch," He looks at me and eyes me up and down. "What's your name?"

"I'm Daisy." I smile with that one corner of my mouth just to make it seem a little less desperate. Good job, make yourself look a pedophile. 

He smirks. "I'm Becks. I'm gonna carry you to the nurse's office. You okay?"

I nod. "Are you sure?"

He picks me up and laughs. "No turning back now." He brings me down the hallway to the nurse's office and she puts peroxide on my cut with hurts like a mother fucker. And she bandages it. There was many questions of why I was in the courtyard with Becks but we made up a story about how I felt sick. 

He holds my arm helping my limp back to the REC room with him. "So what grade are you in?" He asks.

"Junior."

"Senior."

"So how have I not heard of you before? Everyone knows everyone and their mother's mother here."

"My parents have been living here since like the beginning of time. So you would think we would be the most known, but we're really the most forgotten. So, does Daisy have a last name?"

"Daisy does," I smiles. "It's Jace. And Becks?"

"Becks Kinsley." 

"I like that."

He chuckles. "Well, I'm stuck with it. So, I would hope that people would like it." He guides my arm back into the REC room and we sit in the back. All we do in the REC room is Art, Free Reading, Free Writing, and Nature Walk. Which basically is everything we do in our classes anyway so now we're just doing another class for it. Becks and I decide to sit with the little kids because it's time for art and this is the best time to be with little kids because it's when they're the funniest. I grab tracing square with different shapes in it. I grab a pink market and trace out a huge circle and put small circles inside of it. 

I feel his eyes on my hands and my paper, I look up at him and laugh. "Yeah?"

He blushes and quickly laughs to cover it. That's so fucking cute. "No, I was just looking at your's for some sort of inspiration," He cups his hand and whispers into my right ear. "Johnny's giraffe isn't too mind capturing."

I fold my hands together and lay my head on top of them and laugh. He's so funny. He's smart and he's witty, and he's sweet and he's kind, and dear God is he cute. I look up from my hands to see his eyes on mine and our smiles synchronized. 

He nudges me. "I wanna introduce you to my friends," He picks my arm up and helps me limp along. He brings me to a group of older 2 boys and a girl. "Hey guys, Daisy, this is Lucy," He points to a extremely tall girl, almost as tall as Becks, with short jet black hair and dark brown eyes. Her skin is tan and smooth and everything I wish my skin looked like. "This is, TJ," A boy in front of me with long blonde hair and brown eyes. Becks holds and presses in my waist to let other people walk by. I don't even know how to react to feel of his skin close to mine in the slightest. "And this is Andy," A tall black boy stands in front of me, he has such a bright smile, and it's so contagious. 

I smile back and wave shyly. "Hi." Nice Dai, you look like the girl next door. The one that everyone eventually hates and wishes gets ran over by a bus like Regina.

They all seem to have a perfect choir and symphony. "Hey."

Lucy walks to me and picks up a piece of my hair. "Your hair is so pretty, oh my God. It's so soft. And it's so healthy," She laughs. Her voice is so cute and high and squeaky. "Sorry, I want to go into cosmetology. I love hair. And your makeup is so sweet and simple, and you're just so beautiful," She laughs again. "I'm not trying to  be creepy, I'm a lesbian, but I have a girlfriend. A committed girlfriend you know, Alissa," She clears her throat and smiles. "I'm just going to shut up now." 

Everyone's chuckling and smiling, and I'm just kind of sitting here smiling wondering why I'm being called beautiful. I look at myself in the mirror and there's just a girl with long blonde hair and green eyes staring back at me. Nothing more, nothing less. And sitting with them in the back of the REC room chairs in between Becks and Andy, the black boy. He smells of cigarettes and cologne. 

He turns to me. "So you're a junior right?"

"Yeah." I answer back.

"Do you know Rachelle Lundy?" 

"Yeah, we used to be friends, why?"

"She's my girlfriend. But why aren't you friends anymore?"

"There was argument over a boy like any other girl friendship."

"Do you mind telling me which guy?"

"Are you going to bring it up to her?"

"No, I'm just interested."

"It was over Finn Lancaster." 

"Finn? Why is everyone so obsessed with him? Do you know that girl he's friends that he's apparently been in love with since the beginning of time? And they've been friends since they were like able to talk? Like honestly, if you're going to try that douchey romcom movie crap why not just have started it back in like middle school to make all the girls jealous. Spice up the town's life."

I look at him and shake my head. "I have no idea." I'm not giving into Finn anymore. He's on his own, and I'm with my new set of friends. How can you even say they're your friends? You literally just met them.

I look in my back pocket and take my phone out. I have 7 messages from Finn, 2 from Hannah, and 3 from Bailey.

I decide to read Griffin's first since I'm the least disappointed in him.

Bailey:

Bailey sent a video:

The video Bailey sent me was a video of Finn crying and telling Bailey to 'fuck off' and 'stop recording him.' And it sounded like Finn was about to beat the shit out of him. I've never heard or seen Finn cry since we were 14.

"finn hasn't stopped talking bout u and he wont stop he needs u and he cant stop thinking bout u. dai u cant keep ignoring him."

"dai seriosly like u need 2 txt or call finn."

Hannah:

"Finn is crying and u dont seem 2 give a dam."

"Ur such a bitch."

Finn:

"Daisy, please answer me. You have no idea how much you mean to me, I love you, Daisy. I am absolutely in love with you."

"Daisy please call me."

"Daisy come outside."

"Hello?"

"Daisy?"

"Answer me please?"

"Daisy please I'm begging."

I lock my phone and put it back in my pocket. The bell finally rings and the first day of school's over. Becks offers to walk me home, I decline. And then he doesn't give me a choice. I hold onto his arm walking on a muddy path to the gravel leading up to my block, 24th Street. All of our streets are streets. 1st through 25th. 

"So which block do you live on?" I look up at him.

He looks down and into my eyes. My fucking God he's beautiful. "I live on 2nd." 

"That's so far from here. I should've just let you go home."

"No," He pulls me closer. "I want to bring you home. You're kind of crippled."

I look down at the mud and laugh. Trying to look sweet and innocent like in the movies and then back up into his eyes. So stupid. Oh my God, what am I doing? "Well, I'm very happy you are." It's so cold and rainy outside. I start to get so cold and goose bumps start to raise.

He feels me tense and looks at me. "Are you cold? Here," He stops and takes off his dark blue flannel. Underneath he's wearing a grey wife beater and his arms are so muscular and sculpted and I can't help but wish they were wrapped around me. He slides my arms through the sleeves and smiles. "You look cute." 

I smile. "Thanks."

He walks me up the front porch steps. I let go of my back pack and set it on the porch and take off the flannel.

He stops my arm.

"No," He smirks. "Keep it, it looks better on you."

"Are you sure?"

He kisses my cheek. I feel every butterfly in my stomach turn to brick. "More than sure." He waves and walks off down the block. 

If I could stop buzzing I could go inside, but I can't. I sit on the steps and go through messages between me and Finn, pictures, and all my thoughts are happy. But, I know that if I keep holding on to those feelings and wishing they were the same it's only going to hurt more.

I see him walking up from around the corner with Hannah. I look across at him, and he looks back with his blue eyes in a daze. Hannah hits his arm and he looks straight forward again.

I decide to text him

Me: "Being controlled isn't an attractive quality it's actually a sign that you're a pussy who can't fight his own battles nor make his own decisions. Man up and do something. If you want something fight for it, don't hide behind because you're scared. Only makes you look more like a coward."

I walk inside the house to see Darko sitting on the couch with a girl.

I drop my bag hesitantly. "Hi, Darko."

"Oh hey, Dai." He looks back at the TV. The girl stares at him intently.

"Aren't you going to introduce me to your friend here?"  

The girl get's up and walks over. "I'm Alyssa." Her stilettos click against the hardwood floor, she puts out her hand.

I keep my hand to myself and pretend not to notice hers. "I'm Daisy, Darko's little sister. If you'll excuse me, I'm going upstairs." 

I run up to my room before anything else can be said. I step out of my shoes and put on sweat pants. Leaving my crop top and Becks' flannel on. Finn texted me back.

Finn: 

"Come outside and talk to me. Hannah went home."

I put on my converse and go back down stairs and sit on the porch waiting for him to come and join me. I see him jog across the street. He sits beside me. 

I look down at the ground. "Hi, Finn."

"Hi, Daisy Mae." He looks down at his shoes and crosses his feet over each other.

"What's up?"

"I don't know really. I'm trying to get over the fact that I'm never going to be as close to you again as we were because I've fucked up too many times. What did you do today?"

"I fell running out into the courtyard after I couldn't manage being in the REC room."

He looks concerned. "What happened?"

"I just felt like I was getting sick so I wanted to get out of there."

He looks at my flannel. "That's a guy's flannel. It's got guy's cologne on it. Who's is it?"

"It's my brother's." 

He looks relieved. "Oh, Darko?" 

"Yeah. He has a girl in there with him. I think it's really fucking stupid that they started school on a Friday."

"Yeah, I know. But, at least we have a weekend to re-group." 

I stand up and jump down to the ground. "Come on, let's go for a walk." 

He stands up and I grab his hand. We walk down to our usual spot on the sand. We go down and sit on the docks and watch the final tourists take in the last bits of sun. The sun starts to set and the sky is bright orange, pink and cloudy. That's all you can see when you look straight ahead. Looking down at the water, it's black. 

"Daisy," He puts his hand on top of mine. "I really do care about you."

"Finn-" I start, but he's quick to shut me up.

"Daisy, just listen to me. Please," He sighs. "I know I've fucked up too many times to count, and I can't keep my head on straight. I drink, I get high, I have sex, I party, I ride my motorcycle intoxicated like a fucking idiot. I do all this stupid shit. I've always thought my whole life that if I acted like everyone else, not how we act, that one day we could get out of here and leave. But I realized, no one ever leaves this shit hole," He looks in my eyes, and I can see a tear starting to build up in his eye. "Daisy, please don't throw our friendship aside. It's been 11 years, and you've been my best friend. My BEST friend. No one has every given even any fucks about me my entire life. Not even my family. And I know you do, I know you still do. No matter how much you deny it. And I always will. No matter how much I deny it. Daisy, if there's one thing I could change in my life it would be any pain I could have ever caused you," His voice has been raspy and breaking, and I know he wants to cry so much. "And I've been messing up more than any other point in my entire life, and I just want to start it over, start fresh now and make it good now. Daisy Mae Anna Jace, I'm in love with you. Just let me-"

I lean in and kiss him. And still tastes of sweet strawberries. This time I feel his body relax and it lets off a feeling of being connected. That's what you do when you kiss, you connect. You're filling their body with your spirit, with your love. You're creating that soothing, calming sensation and it's filling their whole mind and body. And I just gave that to Finn. We kissed for probably 3 minutes and then he finally put his forehead on mine and smiled at me. He cups my cheeks and chuckles and whispers.

"You're so beautiful, Daisy Mae." 

I smile, and laugh. "Thank you, Finnegan." 

He feels down my figure, and I don't stop him. I love the way he feels. 

He smirks. "I hate when you call me by my full name," He looks at my chest. "You are REALLY curvy and you're so small. What size bra are you?"

I laugh and pull away from him. "Finn, shut up. No."

"Seriously," He chuckles. "Tell me." He lays back on the dock and looks up at the dock pulling me down with him.

"I'm a 32 D, Finn." 

He looks and me and laughs. "Jesus Christ. Like wow, you're 5'2. I can understand why everyone wants you for your body, but God they don't know who you are."

"Who wants me? No one does. Apparently, except you." New information that makes my eyes bulge out of my head.

"There's all these guys in my grade who are looking to get with you. They know I'm friends with you and they've been trying to get me to bring you to parties for the past year. They want you."

"Wow," I look down at the water to the sand. "It's like I can't have friends because they're all going to use me to get in some way or another."

"Daisy-"

"No, no Finn, not you. I'm talking about Hannah, Izzy, Kaylynn, Maria, all those girls who've been trying to be friends with me. They have a reason and a purpose now."

"Daisy, fuck them. They don't know you. I'm not trying to sound all corny and cliché but, I know you. I have for the past 11 years. And you're not them, you're not a stereotype whore, wannabe trying to get out of this town. You live by your own rules, and I love that," He pulls me closer to him. "You're a badass, and you're super smart and you can speak and you're not a complete and utter idiot like every other girl in this town who's just trying to climb up every guy's tree. They're just trying to gain popularity but, for the wrong reasons.  But, it's how all the girl's get popular around here. Who's the easiest is who's the most liked," He kisses my cheek. "But you're not like them. And that makes you even more perfect then you already are."

"Perfect is a broken word, Finn." Looking into his eyes, it seems like what I said is a lie. But it's true. Perfection is a lie. 

"People are broken too." And then he makes all the sense in the world. And then he makes up the defintion of perfect again.

I don't think there is any other person in this entire world who understands me more than Finn Lancaster. He always knows what to say to me when my words get deep. His eyes dim down like mine do when the mind goes cold. 

I look at him. "Finn, I lied to you."

He looks at me and buries his head in my shoulder. "About what?"

"I ran out of the REC room because I was having anxiety, and this is Becks Kinsley's flannel." 

He picks his head up and sits up. "Becks? Why were you with Becks?"

"He ran out after me when I fell in the courtyard. He took me to the nurse. He brought me to the REC room after, I was hanging out with him and his friends. He brought me home, gave me his flannel because I was cold, kissed my cheek, and went home."

"Daisy, what the fuck? Why Becks? Kinsley? Really? He's such a dick. And then what about me? Were you not even thinking about me? Am I not even relevant?" He looks off onto the water. He turns back to me and looks in my eyes. "Daisy. What do you think of me?" 

"Finn, you're you. You're the guy I've loved since I was 5. You're the love of my life. I don't know what other love feels like except yours, Finn. I don't want Becks, I want you. But I want to know why other people want you, and why people want Becks."

"People find us attractive, Daisy. A lot of girls do. 'We're charming' apparently. Becks isn't what everyone thinks he is. Every girl I've ever known has in one way or another known that you were a part of my life. They knew before you did."

"Finnegan, I love you and that's awfully sweet but, I wanna pick his brain."

"Daisy, don't."

"Finn, I want to. I think it would be interesting. And I'll learn the real truth about Becks Kinsley."

"Daisy, I don't want you to."

"Finn, just let me try."

"I don't want you to get hurt."

"I won't. Don't you trust me?" I know that one hit him hard. He always says that to me. He thinks that I don't trust his judgement which a couple months ago I would say I didn't.

"Fine. Try it."

I look into his eyes and kiss him again.

"I like the way you taste." He smiles.

"Me too." 

I got my Finn back.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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