Welcome again to YAFF Muse: blog rounds. The ladies of YA Fiction Fanatics have come together for YAFF Muse. To have a little fun, explore different styles of writing and to give you some kick-butt shorts to read. Enjoy!
Photo Credit:keithcr at MorgueFile.com
Such a Thing as Perfect
“Welcome to Dairy Cone, what can I get you?” I asked Darcy Flick, knowing full well what she wanted.
“Don’t screw with me, you know I’m here to see Ryan,” she said. The redhead chomped her gum like a cow and leaned over the counter. “Ryan Bradley!”
“He’s in the cooler.” I scowled.
“Don’t tell me you’re keeping tabs on my boyfriend?”
“No,” I said, but if I was honest I would have said yes and been done with it. Of course, I secretly adored Ryan. What girl wouldn’t? Heck, I’d bet my life that some of the guys at school crushed on him too.
Ryan was that guy. The one who’s nice to everyone: geeks, stoners, jocks, rich, poor, it didn’t matter. And never—not even once—had I heard a single person say a bad word about him. Considering I have lived in Vanilla Beach since birth, that was saying something. Yep, Ryan Bradley was the greatest guy I knew.
“Hey, Brainfart.” Darcy waved her hand in front of my face. “I asked for an orange float.”
Darcy, on the other hand was a high class bitch. And the daughter of a Senator who bought a summer home on the beach this past year. It seemed to me, she thought it was her God given right to trample on those she deemed ‘beneath her’. Which was pretty much everyone.
Moving to make her float, I spotted Ryan knelt down in the back, helping Mrs. Dairy Cone herself pick up a stack of napkins off the floor. The old woman must have knocked them from the shelf again. That made three times this week.
I grabbed a foam cup and scooped ice cream into it, thinking maybe her eyes were getting worse. Her current glasses magnified her pupils to the size of Ping-Pong balls, and I wondered if there was prescription strong enough to help. I shook my head, sad that I couldn’t do anything more for her, and finished filling the cup with ice cream, then moved toward the soda fountain.
“Justice,” Ryan said, coming from the back.
“Yeah?” I tried to focus on the pop machine and ignore the fact that he smelled like ocean salt. But he stood so close it was impossible to do anything but look at him.
“Mrs. Moore wants to meet with us after our shift today.” He smiled, and as it always did it reflected in his eyes.
My breath caught in my throat for a second before I nodded and handed him Darcy’s order. “Your girlfriend’s here.”
His and my hands roped around the orange float, sending a sensation of tingles surging over me like the waters wake and I trembled. His gaze locked on mine, the corners of his mouth faltered to uphold his smile.
“So-sorry.” I released the cup and stepped back.
Something changed in his eyes as he moved past. Leaving me to wonder if in this one instant I gave myself away? For the longest time I had managed to hide how I felt. Since the second grade, it had been my greatest secret and now…
A customer stepped to the counter and rang the service bell. I cleared the knot from my throat, apologized for being distracted, and asked for his order. The entire time my attention divided between the man’s indecision and Ryan and Darcy’s conversation.
“But you said you’d go,” Darcy whined. “We’re leaving for Washington tomorrow. It’s my last night at the beach.”
“I can’t, Mrs. Moore asked to meet with me after we close,” Ryan explained.
“Can’t Justine fill in for you, for just a little while?”
As sure as I was standing there, Ryan’s eyes burned into me, but I stared straight ahead. He didn’t need to know I was eavesdropping.
“Her name is Justice,” he muttered. “And I’m not going to ask her to cover for me on the busiest night of the season. Everyone’s getting in ‘one last night’ before they leave, Darcy.”
“Fine.” She pouted some more, but then her voice turned sweet. “Meet me later? At Daddy’s. A bunch of us are throwing together a bonfire on the beach after the sun sets. You’ll be done by then, won’t you?”
After encouraging Ryan to bring his friends as well, Darcy flounced off.
Heavy on my chest were the feelings I fought to ignore, and I held back my foolish tears. What else had I expected? This was Ryan Bradley.
By the time our shift ended and clean up finished, Mrs. Moore had called twice to remind us of our meeting.
“You want to ride over together?” Ryan asked, nearing his car.
“If you don’t mind,” I said. “Otherwise I’ll have to walk and I don’t want you to have to wait for me.”
Ryan didn’t say anything, he rounded the side of the car to open the passenger door.
“Thanks.” I slid into the seat. For a second, it sounded as though he’d said, “my pleasure”, but I was confident my ears played tricks on me.
Riding in silence, I watched Vanilla Beach stretch out beside us. The water glistened under the last moments of sun as though it wanted to suck up as much of its beauty as possible before nightfall. And the fragrant scent of ocean spilled through the car windows. I closed my eyes to enjoy every second of its aroma.
“We’re here.” Ryan slowed the car to a stop in front of a modest beach house. Smaller than those surrounding it, but still well kept.
Not giving him a second chance to prove his chivalry, I pushed out of the vehicle.
“Come in, come in, come in,” Mrs. Moore prompted us inside. Then, with the door closed behind her, she turned to Ryan. “Have you asked her yet?”
“Not yet.” He smiled, taking the older woman by the hands and leading her to sit down.
“Asked me what?”
“She wants you and me to take over the Dairy Cone.” Ryan said.
“Because you belong there, together,” said a straight faced Mrs. Moore.
One glance at Ryan and I knew I couldn’t survive another summer with him. Thoughts of him consumed me and if I wanted to maintain my sanity I’d have to keep my distance as much as possible.
I folded my hands and kept my voice soft. “I can’t Mrs. Moore. I’m sorry.”
“And why not, my dear?” She reached for me with one hand and Ryan with another. “This is a union I’ve been planning since you both came to work with me years ago.”
If only there was such a union to be made.
“I appreciate that, truly I do, but—” Tears pressed against the rim of my eyes and I squeezed her hand, wishing with all my heart she could read my mind and know what she asked for was impossible.
“Oh, you poor girl,” Mrs. Moore tugged my hand closer and placed it in Ryan’s. “You two are more alike than you know.”
The warmth of him spread throughout my body. No matter how much I told myself to pull away, I drew closer.
“I’ll say what should have been said years ago,” Mrs. Moore spoke quietly, “You’re perfect.”
“He is.” “She is.” We whispered simultaneously.
“What?” I asked, looking at him confused.
All the color floods from his face as we stepped nearer to each other. “I’ve always thought you were perfect Justice, ever since I met you in the second grade.”
He leaned in and at moment his mouth lingered over mine, I knew Ryan Bradley was the greatest guy, and he was mine.
© 2010, September 28, rmg.
This weeks muse was inspired by a number of things: first loves, mean girls, boys who don’t disappoint. But really it’s about love and how sometimes we don’t realize when someone right under our noses loves us so deeply, it hurts. This was probably my favorite YAFF Muse to write, I hope you enjoyed it.
Thanks for coming by. Please be sure to drop by my fellow YAFFers blogs and don’t forget to leave a comment.
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