T W E L V E
Slowly but surely Harry was starting to see it. Or rather, he wasn't seeing it anymore. The world he had created, the one he had been crafting in his novel, it suddenly became his reality. Everyday he spent with Mia felt as if it were one he had written in that perfect universe. No...it was better. It was something he could never have put into words, and it astounded him. It astounded him to think that this was his reality, that he was able to spend his long and lazy summer days beside her. It was his reality. And no novel could ever do it justice.
Yet, for some reason, he continued writing. He wasn't quite sure why, when there was no point in journaling. He was far too old for such childish things. But he did it anyway, never admitting to himself that the reason was that he did not want to forget a single thing he and his strawberry girl had done. Even if it was just something as trivial as going to the market or watering the plants, he didn't want to miss a thing.
He looks up to see Mia looking at him curiously from the top of her paperback, dogeared, and quite frankly decrepit, copy of Wuthering Heights.
It had been a few days since Mia had brought him to the field, and now they were seemingly inseparable. It was as if this field called out to them.
Mia had never felt the urge to bring someone here. She had never brought someone to her sacred place. But she felt she needed to. She felt something telling her to share that beautiful place with him, and she had not regretted her decision yet.
"I was just wondering..."
"What?" He says, putting down his pen and closing his leather bound journal. He places it on the porch floor and looks straight at Mia, who is comfortably sitting in a hammock he had managed to put up the day before. They were of course, on the cabin porch in the vicinity of the field. They hadn't gone anywhere other than this magical space in which Harry felt his world expanding. It was in the confines of this field, far away from the outside world and the depressing reality of his life, that he realized that he loved Mia. He loved her. He didn't care about the logistics, that he had only known her for a short time, and that she didn't exactly seem to reciprocate his feelings, but in this world that she had created for him, he couldn't help but wonder if he could write in a scene in which he confesses his love to her and she admits she's loved him all along as well.He looked at his journal and for the first time was tempted to write this story faster, to forget about taking his time and simply live in the moment. Take her in his arms and tell her he loved her.
All, of course, in the story. He could never do that in real life.
"Harry?" She calls again.
"I said, what, Mia."
She smiles warmly, "Are you hungry yet?"
"A bit peckish." She admits.
Harry nods and begins getting up from his spot on the porch, leaving his journal, and putting on his shoes. He heads inside to grab them some lunch.
Mia looks curiously towards the leather bound book, her interest eating away at her. She had at the very minimum five minutes before Harry came back. Could she possibly?
She put her book down and struggled to get out of the hammock, not the least bit concerned that she was attempting to read Harry's innermost private thoughts.
Mia crept upon the wooden floor and finally snatched up the book in her hands. She felt the leather of the journal, her hands shaking a bit. She wasn't quite sure why she was nervous, it was just a book after all. How could a book possibly change anything?
She opens the cover to find a quote by Bukowski, something that puts a smile on her face. It was a respectable quote, something she herself would use if need be.
Mia flips past pages of dates and hours and locations. Not quite sure what to make of them. And finally when she hits the first page of solid writing, she can't help but notice that the character is name 'Strawberry Girl'. She smiled to herself, a bit in awe of the fact that she was the starring character in his mind. She was strawberry girl, and all the dates, the hours, the locations. They made sense.
"Tomato on your sandwich?" Harry yells from inside the cabin.
Mia jumps, closes the journal and places it back where it was. She walks over to the house and peeks her head in the door, "Yes, please."
Harry furrows his brow at how incredibly nicely Mia had said that. There was something in the tone of her voice that screamed 'I did something bad.' But then, he thought 'What could she have possibly done in five minutes?'
"What are you up to?"
"Nothing." She says a bit too quickly.
"Really?" He turns to look at her and she tries her best to smile innocently. "Mia."
"You're scaring me. What did you do?" He places her food before her and stares, quite worried that she had really done something rather terrible.
"Harry, I thought you trusted me." She says lifting her sandwich and taking a bite.
She chews, swallowing before answering, "Then drop it."
He says no more and sits before her with his own full plate. Mia, being Mia, couldn't wipe the smile off her face the entire time. He fancied her. He fancied her enough to write about her under an incredibly endearing nickname. Strawberry girl. She was his strawberry girl.
She was a muse. She was a bloody muse. The very reason he wrote and stuttered and got all worked up. This was all because of her. And she couldn't quite wrap her head around the idea, other than the fact that someone thought of her enough to have to write about her.
She was the heroine in a bloody novel. 'A heroine? How much like a Jane Austen affair. How much like a Bronte novel.' She thought. And she couldn't help but wonder if should would she be like Jane Eyre or Emma. Then again, it did not matter. The heroine always ended up with the brooding and surprisingly charismatic male lead.
Amelia. Amelia, she believed, sounded like a perfectly acceptable Victorian era name. It would make a great name for a book, much better than Emma. Much better than Jane Eyre. Mia didn't sound as appealing. But then...
She smiled as she thought it,'Strawberry Girl would make a beautiful title'.
"I found this today." Harry says, pulling out a strawberry that seemed as if it had fused with another.
"A double strawberry." She says smiling whilst holding it in her palm.
"Yeah. Cute isn't it?"
"Yeah." She says smiling at him. "You should take it home, I bet Niall would get a kick out of it." She gets up and places the fruit in a small container and hands it to Harry. She was sure that once her mother had told her something about double strawberries, but at the moment she couldn't remember because her mind was too preoccupied. After all, she was the lead in a story that the boy she fancied was writing...she wasn't quite sure how much better this day could possibly get.
Well before sundown Harry thought it wise to head back into the woods and out into reality once more. Though the summer was passing fleetingly, it felt as if this world, past the woods and into the field, stood still. It was not until the sun was about to set that the enchantment broke and he realized he must trudge back into the woods, down the road, and back to his home once more.
Not even the bakery was a comfort anymore to our bakery boy. He yearned to be at the field at all hours of the day, even when he was at the hearth, pulling out the warm loaves he once loved so much. His bread could no longer compete with the ever ripening strawberries the field offered.
It was Mia who noticed how begrudgingly Harry started into the woods that particular summer evening. With their stomachs full, and a lingering tinge of excitement in the air, she decided to prod him into revealing some details about his book.
"What is it you carry everywhere? A journal?"
"Of sorts." Harry replies, ignoring her stare and looking straight ahead at the full and lush trees.
"Are you penning the next great American novel?"
"You mean English?"
She smirks, "You know bloody well what I mean."
He chuckles, "I just like to write random thoughts."
"Never thought of putting them together and making a book?"
"About?" She tries.
"I don't know yet."
"I always see you writing in that thing. You must have an idea..."
"What's with the fifth degree, Mia. Calm down." He says stopping and looking at her.
She reaches for the journal and he snatches it away, "If it's nothing then why can't I see it?"
"Journals are private."
"You said it's not a journal." She states, attempting to lunge for it once more.
"Mia, what's gotten into you!?" He says stepping back.
Mia, unfortunately, did not calculate Harry stepping back at that precise moment and lunged at him with all her might. Harry, caught off guard, does not have the correct footing to catch Mia and himself from falling and instead they both fall to the mossy forest floor.
It takes a second for the pair to realize that they had fallen, Mia on top of Harry. The journal, laying upon a patch of wild grass, forgotten. The small container with the double strawberry beside them, surprisingly unharmed.
Harry is not quick to get up, still a bit shocked at suddenly having Mia so close to him. He had not felt her skin, her hair, her anything for that matter other than when they would accidentally bump into each other. This was a whole new world for him, having the girl of his dreams so up close and personal.
Mia of course, did not get up either. She simply stared at Harry with her large dreamy eyes and couldn't help but think that this should be the moment they kissed. If not now, then in that book he's writing. 'Hopefully' She thinks, 'If he chickens out now, he'll write it in his book.'
But as soon as she finished that thought, she suddenly found Harry's arms wrapping around her and hugging her small frame to him tightly.
It was no kiss, but at the very least, it was a step in the right direction.
She smiled into his chest, not making a sound. Too scared that if she even moved he would change his mind. Surely his back would be a mural of greens and browns, earthy tones that would stain his shirt inevitably. But somehow, the smell of the Earth, the protection of the trees, the sun's setting glow upon them, they all painted a very romantic picture. It was perfect.
Mia lifted her head slightly, trying to meet Harry's gaze.
"Sorry." He mumbled, obviously embaressed, attempting to get up.
But Mia stops him, putting all of her weight on him and placing his hands back where they were.
He furrows his brow, not quite understanding.
She reaches for the container holding the strawberry and mumbles, "You know what my mother once told me?"
"What?" he asks, not quite sure what's happening.
"If you break a double strawberry in half and share it with someone, you will fall in love with each other and never leave each other's side. At least, that's the trick she used on my dad."
"Yeah." She says.
"Want to share it?" She says, finishing his thought.
He nods and she proceeds to get off of him and sits cross legged in front him, the strawberry in her palm. The ground was moist beneath her bare legs, and somehow she felt as if she were five again and in the lazy sun with her mother. But she wasn't. She was twenty and sitting in front of a boy whom she wouldn't mind falling in love with and spending the rest of her days by his side. Funny how things change.
Harry looks at her nervously, not quite sure what to think. He wasn't sure if this was Mia, being her usual quirky self, or if this was Mia attempting to say something to him.
He watches as her small fingers break the strawberry in half and hand it to him. He reaches over for it, mere inches away from her, and takes it. She smiles as she pops it into her own mouth, and he can't help but notice how incredibly sweet the fruit was, but so incredibly tart and bitter towards the end. It was strange, how such a treat could have such a strange after taste.
But the smile on Mia's face, the atmosphere around them, and the silent promise they had just made...they all seemed to have urged Harry to do something he believed he would only get to write about.
Mia's eyes widened in surprise as she felt his lips against hers, his soft, plump lips pressing up against her own. It all seemed so very unreal and so very perfect.
Harry couldn't help but think how she tasted like a summer day, and he pulled back, looking at her with a smirk upon his face. He wondered if she would leave a stain upon his lips like the sweet fruit she tasted of.
"You can't break a strawberry promise." She says, holding up the stem of her end.
"Never." He says, holding up his own.
The stem felt sturdy, strong his grip. He wondered if he should press it in a book when he got home. And if he did, he should press it in a book he wasn't going to open for a time, since he wanted the stem to dry. He smiled to himself when he thought of what book to press it in.
You Get So Alone at Time it Just Makes Sense
He had a feeling he wouldn't be opening that one for a while.