Believe What You Want
There' s a few things I don't believe in and I'm sticking to them. I've thought about them countless times and weighed the results in my head. No one, and I do mean no one can sway me or make me think otherwise. For instance, I don't believe that you can fully tame a beast. Underneath all the cute and fluffiness, it's still what it is: a beast. It doesn't matter how close you grow with it, doesn't matter that your hand is the one that feeds it. It will always have a natural instinct to kill and in the end it's just another unreliable animal. I don't believe that you can go a day without feeling a hint of sadness, no matter if it's even just a slight pang of guilt or hurt; it's still sadness. The world today is full of disappointments, meaning, it's inevitable. You're going to be sad even if it's just for a second. And most of all, I don't believe in coincidences. It doesn't matter if you look me dead in the eyes and swear up and down till you're black and blue in the face. You can swear to whatever God you believe in even, I'll still tell you what I think. Coincidences don't happen, fate happens.
Henderson, Nevada. It's as bland as it sounds, make no mistake.
I live in a boringly plain subdivision, where every house manages to look the same. Same creme colored siding with brown, reddish colored shingles. Only a few houses have the luxury of a porch swing, ours being one of them.The idea of making every house the same is barbaric, and more than a little lazy. What happened to beautiful houses with steeply pitched roofs and balconies to die for! There's nothing "homey" about living in a box with no character. It's a lame excuse for a home. After my first day of Kindergarten, I nearly cried I was so frustrated, I couldn't remember which house was mine. To make my life harder, the bus driver forced us (every kid who lived in the subdivision) to walk ourselves to our houses. Lazy brute. The only reason I found my house was due to the fact that Mom was outside watering flowers. Slightly traumatized, I made Mom swear to put my favorite stuffed toy out on the front porch so I wouldn't have to panic anymore. Okay so I was more then a little traumatized. For months after that I clung to my Mother like a baby clings to it's pacifier. My Mother was now my lifeline.
After awhile I began to distinguish some differences thankfully. Not exactly a memory I'd like to remember, but it's definitely stuck in my head.
I've stubbornly given in and agreed to meet my Dad, Mark, in town at the new restaurant tonight. I've driven past it a few times. It's a standard size building, nothing really significant about it. I never paid much attention to see what it was actually called. It didn't seem relevant to know.
Dad says it's time for some normality, but I don't know where to begin. The idea of anything being normal again seems ridiculous. My Mother is gone. Disappeared! How could I possibly go back to a normal life? How can he? She disappeared for shits sake! He should be out looking for her and worrying, not accepting it. Maybe he knows something I don't, but I'm not ready to forget her so casually as he is. How can it be normal to have grown up in a house with a Mother and Father and to one day have one of them gone, no longer seeing their face; only in pictures? I still tread down the stairs in the mornings expecting to see her at the kitchen table, sipping on half a glass of Coca-Cola, reading a book and see her smile as I come around the staircase, her saying a simple "good morning." I don't get those anymore. Not from her. It hurts more then I ever imagined.
I'm doing the best I can now. The first month was the hardest, She went missing after school got out. Needless to say my summer vacation wasn't enjoyable. I shut myself up in my room and stared at the amethyst colored walls, hollow-eyed for the first few weeks. Every day blurring together in a swirl of lifeless color. Dad did the same. I'd lay on my bed at night hearing him cry. I wanted to go to him so bad, but he didn't need me, he needed Mom. In July things got better. We both got out of our funk and started acting like a family again. We may have lost a teammate but we still needed to keep fighting. So that's what we did, and are still doing even though I'm not happy about it. I couldn't grasp the reality that she's gone. Still can't. It's still too fresh.
The restaurant is located on the outskirts of town just a few miles away from the closest fast food joint and shopping mall. The only thing remotely close to it are a few gas stations, liquor stores, and a somewhat large casino. Dad loves casinos. He went there a lot when mom passed, but now he's slowed down. If it were up to him, every town would have one. I think it's senseless. The only thing that comes out of casinos are usually the regular bunch of addicts getting farther into debt and drinking away their lives. As reckless as I want to be, I'd never have the audacity to be so stupid. Drinking can't repair a broken heart or solve every problem. You have to do that for yourself. It seems like that'd be plainly obvious.
I rummage through my medium sized closet looking for a dress. Most of my wardrobe consists of blacks, greys, and blues. They're easy colors to work with, which is good. I've never been the type to spend an hour choosing an outfit, unlike most teenage girls I know. I don't see the point. Of course I've never been self confident enough to wear elaborate outfits either, so that's part of my reason. I stick to non-tight fitting clothes. If they cling they're gonna make me go nuts. The I-can't-breathe-what the hell-was-I-thinking crazy. Yeah, nope. Definitely not having that. I search through the array of clothes until I get to the back where I hang all my dresses. I never wear them often. Never go anywhere where I'd need them. I find the dress I'm looking for. It's a plain black shiny material that comes up just an inch above my knees, with a slit in the shape of a V at the top that splits down the middle, stopping just under the boobs. Black lace fabric is sewn between, so it doesn't look inappropriate and doesn't let wandering eyes in. Sorry boys. You'll have to try harder then that.
Next I look under my bed for some black flats. Wearing high heels is ludicrous for someone who has the balance of a newborn infant. I've fully convinced myself that I have a better chance of actually walking two feet without twisting an ankle or falling over to break my nose, if I stick with flats. At the end of the day it's alwayss flats. They never let me down. So far. . .
On my way out the bedroom, I stop in front of the long rectangular mirror that hangs behind my door. I've never felt comfortable in my own skin, especially when I wear dresses. I don't know why. Sure, I'm not unattractive, but there's nothing I see in the reflection that makes me smile. The one feature I care for is my eyes. Whenever I wear blue they make my eyes pop to where they almost look like an icy blue, but with any other color they're usually a grayish hue. I never know what to do with my hair. It never does what I want it to, but then again I don't have an experts touch. It's an unusual shade of blond and gets even weirder when my roots keep changing colors with every season. In summer they'll be their normal blond, but when winter comes back around they go to a light brown. My hair can't make up it's mind. It's more then a little ridiculous.
I stare at myself in the rippling reflection only seeing the features I wish I could change. My hair and eyebrows, weird shaped head, broad manly football shoulders, lack of a neck. . . It's like God forgot that I'm a girl. Overall I'm not all that bad looking, actually was pretty cute as a kid. Now I'm just alright. You know, the alright that's not as good as great but not as bad as horrible. I'm an in-betweener. That's what I like to call myself. Someday I'll be pretty, just like the ugly duckling. Good things take time. At least that's what I tell myself. Deep down I don't know if I really believe that.
I grab my Mother's heart shaped locket along with my black-and-white stripped clutch purse, containing my Ford Focus car keys, and also my cell phone where it lays undisturbed on the dresser. My hand stops when I see the picture of my Mom and I, taken when I was one year old. Gosh I was so chubby. Roll after roll it seemed. Now there's not one roll on me. I kiss the tips of my right hand fingers and bring them down to touch my Mother's face. Goodbye.
I drive fast down the city streets, hearing a slight hum of the engine and flashes of the yellow warning lights above as I quickly pass them by. I drive my foot down farther and farther onto the gas pedal, loving how my heart accelerates along with the engine. I love driving. It's as close to a high as I'll ever get. I love having the wind blow through my hair and speeding down roads. It makes me feel indestructible and helps me forget things for a while. Things that usually haunt me in my dreams and even after I wake up. I keep my eyes open for as long as I can, even if it means chocking down energy drinks.
I get in the left lane and blow past an old couple. It's not that they were slow exactly, breaking just isn't an option.
All too soon, after passing multiple cars, I reach the Restaurant and pull into the entrance. In big neon yellow letters is spelled, Infinita. Hmm must be a Latin restaurant. I coast up to the entrance and turn a slight left, stopping in front of the stairs leading up to the building. Noticing there's a valet attendant waiting for me, I calm down. Thank God. I hate parking in crowded areas. I alwayss get claustrophobic and feel like I'm gonna hit another car in my search for a reasonable slot.
The assigned valet of the day comes around the side of the car, not making eye contact. His face is covered by shadows but somehow I can tell he must be around my age. I'm seventeen, but something about the way he holds himself makes him seem somewhat older. He walks with a meaningful sureness. Like he knows exactly how to catch my eye.
He makes his way around the car and stands in front of me, grabbing the door handle and opens it extending his hand. I reach out to grab it, looking from his hand back to his face. My eyes sweep over him unable to stay in one place for too long. I've heard of eye candy before, but dayum, no way would I share this deliciously rare piece of candy. Not even for a Klondike Bar. No sir.
Chestnut hair lays flat against his slightly tanned forehead in a side-sweep style cut, just skimming his eyebrows. His face and jaw chiseled to male perfection. I instantly want to run my hands over his smooth, tanned face and feel the slight stubble. To top it all off, his eyes are incredibly gorgeous. They radiate an unmeasurable intenseness, an intenseness that would make a girl rip her clothes off without so much as a word. But I'm not that kind of girl. I'm the type that stares with her mouth open, just as I'm doing so now.
Big, bright ocean-blue eyes rimmed with specks of yellow bore into me, watching my reaction. My head spins with his closeness, making me girlishly dizzy. Do I smell tea tree oil? Yes, yes I do. I swoon even further in my coma.
Creases of humor appear at the corners of his eyes making his cheeks bulge upwards. Being the idiot I am, smile dreamily back, lost in my head. His lips move forming words but I can't hear what he's saying. I'm lost at sea with this gorgeous, mysterious man, letting the waves propel us forward. But then a massive wave comes crashing down, rocking our boat, sending us overboard, and it's back to reality.
An overwhelming sense of vertigo seizes me forcing me to grab onto the nearest grounded object.
I grab onto his hand, nearly missing it. My ears pop loudly as we make contact, the sound echoing inside my head.
"Huh?" I say, putting a finger to my ear trying to clear out the fuzziness.
"Welcome to Infinita, Miss. . ." he drawls in a light seductive tone, waiting for a name.
"I'm sorry, it's Kaylee," I fumble, blushing. My face is getting hot, I can feel it. Crap.
"Well, Miss Kaylee, are you going to give me your keys so I can park this thing, or do you want me to hold your hand all night?" He winks devilishly.
Well that would be nice. . . "Uhh. . ." Damn. What is up with me!
I pull my hand out of his quickly, not making eye contact. If I look I'm a goner again. I grab my keys from the ignition, hands slightly shaky. Hoping he doesn't see any underwear, I clamber out of the tight car. My dress is long enough that you shouldn't be able to see up it, but you never know. I straighten my dress out as I stand, then shove the keys towards him.
I'm still embarrassed and my face is still beat-red, but I hope my voice seems cool and collected despite my obvious lobster face, as he looks at me with interest and says with an edge of humor, "Thank you."
He looks me up and down intently, making me shiver, and mouth instantly go dry. He walks slowly around me taking his time to scan over my body and whistles getting into the car. Just when I thought my cheeks couldn't possibly betray me more, I feel them get the highest level of red, uberly-megared. Great, just great. My cheeks are seconds away from exploding along with my nerves.
But wait, did he really just whistle? At me?
As if noticing my discomfort he laughs again. Oh the nerve!
"Calm down, Red." I hear him say through the pounding of my heart as it thumps away noisily in my ears. Maybe I could if you'd stop looking at me! This is soo embarrassing! Get control Kaylee, come on.
I steady myself with a deep breath and exhale slowly, intending not to let him know how much he unnerves me. How much I find myself enjoying the way his deep eyes stare at me from just a few feet away. My hands clench and unclench as I force myself to leave them by my thighs and not let them fling out and touch him. It's then I notice I don't have my clutch. I look around on the ground frantically, spinning in a tight circle until I hear the valet attendant clear his voice. "Looking for this?" He dangles my purse out of the open window, a sly smile across his lips. Must have forgotten it in the car. I laugh nervously and walk towards him. My hand is on my purse and I go to pull it out from his, but his fingers have it firmly grasped in a dangerous tug of war. I look up to see his eyes still on me. "See you around, Kaylee," he says, smiling that devil smile, the smile that will never leave my mind. It's dangerous, meant to play with a girls heart and leave her hoping for more.
The engine starts and he drives away behind the building, leaving a small flurry of dirt and dust in his wake. Much to my discredit, I find myself picturing him holding me up against him, his hot breath rolling over me. Boy do I want him.
The late night Nevada air is crisp and cool. I shiver and rub my hands over fresh goose bumps as they break out across me. I wish I would have brought a sweater. Cars zoom by racing to get to parties and God knows what, being the last few days before school and being the weekend for drunkenness. I walk slowly to the stairs trying to dispel the heat from my cheeks and get it to move to my arms. Well, here's to trying to be normal. I laugh bitterly inside my head.
"Kaylee," my Father scolds, remembering that today he cares where I am. "What took you so long, it's been nearly an hour." He checks his watch to prove himself correct and snaps his hawk eyes back to me, waiting.
"An hour?" I say evenly, slight hint of disbelief clouding my otherwise innocent voice. "Didn't seem that long to me. I was having a difficult time finding something suitable to wear, this being a fancy diner and all. I got here as fast as I could though, promise." My answer is bland, but that's all he needs to know, and that's the truth.
I walk the remaining two feet to our table and sit across from my overprotective Father. In a way he's alwayss been like that, but now it's worse. Sometimes it's like he forgets that he should be worried about where I am and why I don't come home for hours after he gets there. Other days he remembers. He remembers to care and to give me a hard time, preaches that I shouldn't leave without leaving note somewhere. I don't have a cell phone. It's not really necessary. The only person I'd call is him. I have no friends. Don't need them. They've shown me how much a person is able to not care.
Sometimes Dad even forgets to worry about himself. We're each a terrible mess, tearing apart at the seams.
"Have you already ordered?" I ask, picking up the menu in front of me, flipping through the colorful in-depth pages.
"No, in fact you're just in time, here's our waiter." On cue, an older gentleman strides up. His posture is unbelievably straight for his obvious old age. Must be around sixty I'd say. He's got his head held high but not too high, like someone who would believe themselves superior to others, it's apart of his job.
"Hello, welcome to Infinita, what can I get you, Miss?" he asks. His voice is rough but not from cigarettes, you can tell it's naturally scruffy around the edges.
"I'll have a glass of water, thank you." I smile up at him, folding my hands in my lap under the table. Too bad the valet attendant wasn't the waiter too, I'd love to stare at that face some more, I think giddily.
"Very well, and you sir," he says, collecting my menu, looking to Dad. "Would you like another glass of wine?"
He mulls it over and says, "Please."
Dad's the type of person who drinks wine over beer. I think he only drinks it because it makes him look less out of control. You know, if you see a man drinking beer you either end up thinking he's an alcoholic or inappropriate. No one ever really orders beer at a high end restaurant. If they do there's alwayss a stereotype close by silently judging.
As the waiter walks off I look around to get a better look at the place. The inside is bigger then I would have imagined and is painted a bold red. Strange color choice but it fits nicely enough. It's a standard rectangle shaped building divided in half by horizontally layered wooden planks of different sizes and width, giving off a brick effect. Altogether the planks come to about four feet high. Two stone archways, one on each opposite wall are placed at the end of the planks, allowing people to be seated inside. This side is for couples, it has dim lighting. My side is brighter, made for family and friends. Elaborate chandeliers hang from the ceiling, brightly shining like a million diamonds. It's somewhat painful to look at. The floor is white marble with smoky swirls of grey. A black grand piano rests alone in the far corner to my left, no one playing it. I wish I could play, it sounds beautiful with the right song. I used to fall asleep to its sound. Just before the piano is a sliding door leading out to an L-shaped balcony. To the right of the piano is a hallway, the left side is the bathrooms, the right is the kitchen entrance.
Overall I smell a deep mixed aroma of basil and clover, with a hint of garlic.
Dad stares at the wine glass in his hands as it rests on the table. Nothing else.
All around us are people from town that I recognize. I see a few of them look towards Dad and I, but look quickly away before I have the chance to stick my tongue out at them. Drats. Everyone that knows us, knows that we don't like to mingle, but you'd think they'd be kind enough to accept it and not whip their heads away like avoiding a plague. A smile and nod would suffice.
"How was work?" I try, hoping to break his silence.
"Work," he says gruffly. My Dad's into business and stocks when he can manage. I never cared to know what it is he does at work, I just know he doesn't care for it much either and usually comes home grumpy. Especially lately. . .
"Well that's something," I say. I fumble with my hands under the table, twisting and pinching the stiff fabric napkin, feeling the material rub against my soft hands like steel wool.
"School's nearly here." He says taking a generous sip of his deep burgundy wine. "You have everything ready?"
My voice turns hollow as I reply, "No, I haven't even considered how close school is."
This will be the first year of school with no Mother. Will people look at me in the hallways differently? Of course they will, I think stupidly. But after a while they'll realize it's not a new topic anymore. They'll go back to being snobs and find something different to discuss amongst themselves. I'll be a Junior. Just one more year of Henderson High, then I'll be out of here, away from so many memories, fully able to forget. But then again, can one ever truly forget? I know the answer is no. It's never really that simple.
Time passes by quickly. We make small talk, but after a while there's nothing left to say. We order food and eat slowly so we both have the excuse not to waist our breathes. When we're finished we say our goodbyes and tell one another a simple, "see you at home," which for him translates to mean, "don't wait up for me."
My feet walk me robotically out of the Restaurant and before I know it I'm waiting nervously for my car, biting my nails absently, waiting for the valet. After a couple minutes it rolls up, and the valet gets out. My heart beats faster and faster, unable to maintain steady beats. My hands grow clammy and I walk slowly around the front of my car, taking care not to trip. My eyes never leave the man's shadowed face, as he slowly steps out of my car, hoping its him.
Green aged eyes look at me with a visibly worn face. My heart drops.
I drive home in a blur of noise and colors, go to my room and close the door.