Borders and Barriers

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"He made her into a crashlander who was seeing reality for the first time, and she was happy to plummet."
When someone hears the name Emelia Archer they think of the Instagram famous trendsetter, the daughter of Archer Enterprises, and the one who crashed herself into a scandal.
When someone hears the name Jackson Andrews they go...huh? Then they think of the art-loving boy, the one who stayed in the shadows for the fun of it.
Push those two opposites together and you've got a story, maybe not a love story, but a story nonetheless.

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9. To be loved is to evolve,

 

Chapter Nine

 

To be loved is to evolve,

To not be made extinct

By humans worst enemy,

a vampire named hate.

To be liked is to survive,

To stay who you are

But to not evolve,

To stay standing still

where the monsters were.

 

Jackson

He was finally a human. He could walk into town without being crippled by social anxiety and hold a conversation with a stranger. He knew that it would change when he got back to Brigadier but for now, he could enjoy the feeling.

He also had to say that the final month of the contract was the most satisfying. They had both found themselves; Jackson in his art and Emelia in her baking and they were happy.

They had gained a presence within the town, the lovebirds in Cabin 231, and they didn’t deny it. If anything, they reinforced it with small touches, a hand on the small of Emelia’s back, a trailing hand down Jackson’s arm, a kiss to the cheek to shake off the cold. Jackson found that they were more comfortable with one another and many nights were spent on the sofa, a sketchbook and a baking magazine held in hands while their legs tangled with one another underneath the blanket.

Jackson didn’t question it. It was all part of the act, right? It was just part of the story they had created.

He didn’t have to worry since the nice feelings disappeared for the two weeks that they held their prank war. It all started that one-time Emelia put salt in her cupcakes instead of sugar and when she realised she gave them to Jackson instead of chucking them out. Jackson had spluttered and frowned down at the pretty delicacy and then chased after Emelia when she stood laughing in the corner. He retaliated by buying a remote-controlled mouse because he knew that Emelia feared rodents. He watched in glee as Emelia jumped onto the table and squealed, and Jackson had to stop because of how hard he was laughing.

Through the two weeks, Jackson was hit with food colouring in his ink bottles instead of actual ink, temporary green hair dye in his shampoo and finding messages written on his body when he woke, not realising until he ran into town and got laughed at.

Emelia had to contend with stickers all over her room of Justin Bieber, mayonnaise in her toothpaste and a bath bomb that stained her hands bright blue for several days.

They finally called a truce when the Croft’s called them children and begged them to mature. There was nothing more chilling then the I’m not angry just disappointed expression on Mary Croft’s face. She was almost like a grandmother to them and so they stopped and enjoyed their final weeks with one another.

Eventually, it was their final night and Jackson had received a text from his brother;

Well done for surviving three months in the outdoors! A car will be outside to pick you both up at 10 tomorrow morning – Ethan.

When he told Emelia about it she only had one suggestion; “Let’s go out with a bang then.” Her logic was that she wanted to go back to the bar, Josie’s, to have a few drinks and a dance. She felt like she was safe, and she wouldn’t overdo it.

“One more for the road,” she proposed, “and we can keep one another in check.”

Jackson didn’t want their last night to be like the rest and he understood the need to let go a little, so he agreed. That night he searched through his wardrobe, while packing his remaining belongings, and agreed on the only ripped pair of black skinny jeans he owned.

When he was packing his sketchbooks away he noticed something. There were many, many pages dedicated to Emelia alone. The first one was from an old photograph, a skimpy dress hugging her frame and a glass in her hand, the wine sloshing dangerously to the side. But the rest of them were subtler, the curve of her hands when she held a book, her on the dock, the way her eyes crinkled in the corner when her smile reached more than her lips, and her feet tangled with Jackson’s. Colour and monochrome and quick sketch lines that interwove with one another.

With a deep intake of breath, he shut the sketchbook and packed it up. He didn’t want to face what it was because he knew what it should have meant.

“You ready?” he heard Emelia call and he exited his bedroom, with a long last look at where his walls lay bare from packing away the sketches.

Emelia took his breath away and he had to hide it. A red skirt over a cream camisole, boots encasing her feet with a heel that would have normally broken ankles, and modest earrings hanging in between curled strands of hair. At some time during the night he would have to have a photograph, so he could draw her later.

 

Emelia

She was undoubtedly nervous. She was going to go back to Josie’s, the one place which had caused the argument between her and Jackson. But she could do this. She wanted to have fun and let go of her past self for good.

She also ignored the stirring in her stomach as she caught the way Jackson looked at her when he exited his room. “Let’s go,” she breathed out and she took his arm as she led him to the bar.

Her boots clacked a familiar sound on the dark wood floors and she cringed for a second and a half before she got her bearings again.

Jackson noticed her discomfort and gently led her to the bar. They ordered a round of drinks before going to the dartboard in the corner and then the pool tables. This felt easier, a game between friends.

Then the drinks kept flowing, the hour got later, and the music cranked from classical to clubland.

“It will be alright, I’ll catch you if you fall,” Jackson murmured in her ear, a sudden confidence on his breath. This wasn’t like the first night in Trinity when she let the guys words take her over and sweep her away without believing them. No, she knew that Jackson would be there with her, even though he had had a few drinks.

He took the lead and led her to the dancefloor. They were cautious at first, getting to grips with one another’s bodies being so close. But then the beat changed, and something flickered in their chests. She could pinpoint the exact moment that Jackson started swimming instead of drowning in the music.  

The drink was a warm buzz in her chest, like a firefly trapped in her ribcage and she let Jackson’s hands stray to her hips, and their bodies came together in sync.

It was then that she realised something vital. She and Jackson had been each other’s anchors, but they had done something different for one another. He made her into a crash lander who was seeing reality for the first time, and she was happy to plummet. She made him into a human, who allowed his dreams to escape into the real world, and he was happy to run.

She allowed the night to capsize because she knew that she was fine, and the music took over where alcohol should have been.

Through the night they danced and drunk some more until Emelia called it quits because she knew her limits. Jackson got his wish, which he had verbalised, and they made their way to the photo booth to snap several polaroids of one another. In one of them Emelia kissed Jackson on the cheek and in another Jackson kissed Emelia on her cheek. It felt right, and champagne couldn’t replicate any other feeling.

When the night slipped into the early hours of the morning, they walked back through the trees, giggling and satisfied. Emelia wasn’t drunk, barely tipsy, but she was happy. Jackson, on the other hand, was drunk and Emelia had to support him all the way back to the cabin.

“I’ll be sad to leave this place,” Jackson murmured as Emelia unlocked the door.

“I know, we’ve had fun here haven’t we?” she replied and led them both into the main room.

“Can I show you something?” Jackson suddenly asked, toeing off his shoes and hopping towards his bedroom. She nodded and followed him. Beside his bed was his suitcase, closed but not zipped up and he pulled out a sketchbook from the top of the pile. “I’ve been drawing you for months,” he laughed and handed it to her.

Within were how drawings of how Jackson saw her; beautiful and logical, points and curves and unlimited potential held in a comfortable body. She couldn’t believe it and she couldn’t muster up the words. She wanted to kiss him. She knew that it wasn’t right to do so when he was drunk.

“These are beautiful,” she muttered, cursing because they weren’t the right descriptors, “Thank you.”

Then she put him to bed, made sure that he had drunk some water and went to bed herself. She didn’t comment on the way the clock blinked at her for a while before sleep found her, or the way her legs felt like jelly even when she got into bed. 

 

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