Author's Note:And I'm back with Ch.3. This one is a short chapter. I apologize for the long lengths between posting these chapters, I'm trying to find time to edit and get them up but its been hectic. My aunt passed away last week and I'm trying to decide what I want to do. My life is being pushed in one direction and I have people trying to make my decisions for me. Its frustrating. I'm finding it hard to concentrate on that and writing and everything else. To say its complicated would be an understatement. Today I finally got some time to edit this story and decided to put it up. I'll try to get Ch.4 up in the next week or so but no promises.
I knew it was all too good to be true.
Sure Dad was happy to let me go but as soon as he said, “As long as you”, I knew there had to be strings attached. There was too. He wanted to make sure that I was home as soon as the event was over and that I had a responsible adult with me at all times. When I told him Mr. B would be there he didn’t seem convinced. He wanted an adult he could trust. Knowing it was probably pretty awkward to have my parents present and Hunter had some plans tonight, he did the next best thing.
Her name was Ashley Morse.
Well, Lieutenant Morse if I was to be formal.
She was Dad’s secretary.
Tonight she was my official, unofficial bodyguard. Though she was there for my father, she showed up looking like any normal twenty-something. I’d met her once before, shortly after we moved here. She was waiting for us at the airport in a car. Though she’d been pretty formal at the time, wearing her fancy uniform, her hair pulled tight, an expressionless, military face. The Lieutenant Morse who showed up tonight was anything but. For one thing, she was driving a normal car. For another, she was dressed like a civvie---jeans, t-shirt, stylish bomber jacket. Her hair was even down. She was actually kinda pretty now that she wasn’t scowling. Not that she wasn’t pretty before but you could really tell now.
It was kinda funny though because when she got to the house, she still called my Dad “sir” and saluted him.
Now the two of us were driving in her car on the way to the observatory.
I’m sure my father briefed her on the way but that didn’t stop her from asking questions.
“So this is a school thing?”
I shrugged. “Sorta.”
“Person of a few words, huh?”
I shrugged again. “Depends.”
She laughed. She had a nice laugh.
In the last few minutes of being in a car with her, I had to admit my first impression of her was far from the truth. When I met her all those months ago, I actually thought she had a stick up her butt. Of course, Hunter whispered to me that she was “cute” but I couldn’t see it. I guess I wasn’t into that whole soldier thing. Girls in uniform never did it for me, like it apparently did for Hunter. I wasn’t going to grow up and marry G.I. Jane, I hope my father wasn’t going to be too upset.
Lieutenant Morse was different now though.
It was amazing what a smile and some lip gloss could do to a person.
The car ride never fell quiet. I found myself staring as she talked. She did most of the talking. She liked to do it and I let her. When people liked to talk, I found out the easy way just to let them. She told me all about herself---how she was ROTC in high school then college. How she just got out of basic about six months ago then landing a job with my Dad. She even told me about life back home in Nebraska. She was pretty thorough. It was almost as if she didn’t get to talk much. Maybe she didn’t. Dad was a pretty stern guy. I’d seen the way he treated his subordinates. Not that he was nasty to them but he didn’t go out of his way to know them either. He gave them orders and they followed through with them. Probably like tonight.
A half an hour passed before I knew it. It never occurred to me that the observatory was that far out of town.
It also never occurred to me that she was much prettier than I thought. I felt really bad thinking she was a bit of dud too.
“Do I have something on my face?”
She peered into the rearview, looking carefully.
I shook my head. “No, its just well...”
I wasn’t sure how to come out and say it but I didn’t have too.
“You thought I was a stick in the mud?”
“You wouldn’t believe how many dates thought that too. It's the uniform. It intimidates them. Men don’t understand it.”
“I’m sorry then.”
“Don’t be. I get plenty of dates because of it too.”
She was surprisingly open.
“So what about you?”
“What about me?”
“I bet if you let your hair down too, you’d be beating the boys off with a stick.”
She laughed again. I flushed in embarrassment. Here we go again.
“Well, I’m not actually...”
She interrupted me though.
“Hold that thought, kiddo, I think we’re here.”
We were too.
Johnson Cross Observatory. It was amazing how many things in this town were named after the man. Not only the observatory and my school. There were like six or seven other places named after him too. I once asked Mom about it and she told me he was some influential landowner who built half the town. The townsfolk wanted to name the town after him too but he wouldn’t let them. Instead, he convinced them to name it after his son, Connor.
Ashley---she told me to call her that---turned the car into a nearby parking lot.
I checked my watch, it was going on quarter past eleven now. I was actually shaking with excitement. I jumped out of the car as soon as it came to a stop. The frigid November air hit me pretty hard. Even with the hoodie, it was still pretty chilly. Thankfully there was no snow on the ground yet. According to the weatherman though, it was coming soon. I’d only seen snow once before. Most of the places Dad was assigned too were in warmer climates. The snow I saw was when I was ten. We were in a layover in Colorado for a few days. We were staying at the base there and it was snowing. Hunter and I tried to beg Dad to let us build a snowman but he wouldn’t let us. So instead we sat in one of the barracks and watched the snow fall outside from one of the windows.
I was really looking forward to my first official snowfall.
Maybe I could even get to build that snowman.
“Burr” Ashley pulled her jacket shut. “I guess I should have dressed warmer.”
I was about to respond but stopped when I saw Mr. B. approaching. He waved as he got closer. He was dressed right for the weather---heavy coat and winter hat.
“Hi,” he said, holding out his hand for Ashley to shake. “You must be Lieutenant Morse?”
“Ashley, please,” she said, shaking it. “I’m not in uniform right now, no need to be so formal.”
She flushed when they touched hands I noticed.
Like every other girl, she had the hots for teacher.
I smirked. She must have noticed because she gave me a playful nudge.
We started walking. Mr. B. tried to chat her up, telling her how exciting everything was. Most of the stuff he was telling her was all educational though. I’d heard it all before so I tuned it out. Instead, I found myself staring at the little building we were walking toward. I’d never been to an observatory before so I was a bit curious. I half expected the place to be on a mountaintop or something, like in the movies. Instead, it was a fairly simple square concrete building with a very familiar copper-topped dome. I also had seen enough things to know what that dome was for.
I was staring with great interest. So much interest that I didn’t realize that I was no longer staring at it alone.
It took me a few seconds to realize she was there.
I turned and saw a smiling Debbie.
“Hey Shiloh, great night!”
I smiled back. “I’ve been waiting for this all day!”
Debbie was looking particularly cute tonight. She was wearing a pink puffer coat with a matching pink hat and gloves. I felt a bit like an idiot, to be honest. I hadn’t thought about it being cold and I stupidly didn’t dress for it. Not that I was shivering or anything. It's just that everyone else around me had been smarter than me. I hated it when people were smarter than me. Well, common sense wise anyway.
I was also pretty embarrassed because I almost let slip that I thought she looked cute.
I started racking my brain to find something cool to say when someone shouted my name.
Looking around, I was surprised to find the source.
He wasn’t alone either. There were half a dozen other teenagers with him. All about his age, all dressed for the weather. They were milling about in front of the building, talking. I was a bit confused at first until Mr. B. walked forward and took charge.
“Now that everyone is here, we can go inside.”
“Hey, Little Dude,” said Jax as I approached.
“Really?” I asked with a groan.
He laughed. “I couldn’t resist.”
Jax knew how much I hated being called that.
“This your girlfriend?”
“I’m Debbie,” said my companion, seconds before slipping her arm through mine. “And that’s yet to be seen.”
“Hey Moore” shouted one of the other boys. “Stop hogging all the Jailbait for yourself!”
Jax looked like he wanted to punch the guy.
“This isn’t Jail Bait you ass, its Hunter’s kid...”
He never got a chance to say brother but Mr. B. interrupted again.
“Ok, everyone inside. The show is about to start.”
Mr. B. stepped through our group, Ashley in tow. They went in first and were quickly greeted by an older gentleman who introduced himself as Dr. Greene. I think he was a professor at the university. Mr. B. quickly introduced the high schoolers as his Astronomy class, which explained why Jax was here. Then he introduced me and Debbie and finally Ashley. He fumbled over what to call her and finally settled on “chaperone”. I was glad for that. I really didn’t want the older kids to know that my father sent me along with a “babysitter”
When we got inside, I was surprised how small everything was.
The interior was pretty cramped, most of the room taken up by the telescope. There was barely any standing room at all.
“Ok we’ll do this in an orderly fashion then,” said Dr. Greene, taking charge. “Why not let the youngins go first then the older kids.”
Great, he thought I was a preschooler or something.
I was kinda annoyed that I wouldn’t actually get to see the solar storm first hand through the telescope, well at least not at pique time.
We also couldn’t direct the telescope directly at the sun.
It was still a pretty cool sight though.
I went first, followed by Debbie. Both of us felt a little awkward having to stand on a stool to see. Dr. Greene did promise us that if there was time, he’d let us go again closer to midnight. When Debbie was finished, I found her slipping her hand in mine. I was a bit surprised. Here was a girl who didn’t even look my way yesterday and now today she was holding my hand. To say I was confused was a pretty big understatement. Even more confusing was the fact that she was pulling me away from the group. I looked back, wondering if anyone would notice but they were all pretty busy.
Debbie dragged me outside.
Still holding her hand, we found a solitary tree to sit under.
“That was cool, right?”
I nodded like a dumb idiot.
“I’m sorry about before,” she said nervously.
“You know, with that guy, and taking your arm and stuff.”
“Don’t worry about it, I liked it.”
She smiled. She was still holding my hand I noticed.
I was about to say something more when she surprised me again. She leaned over and kissed me. It was the most amazing thing in the world. Her lips were so soft and I felt this tingle. I’d heard people talking about kissing. I’d seen it a million times in movies and on television. I’d even read my fair share of books where people have done it. But until you’ve actually experienced it for yourself, you don’t really know what its like. I will say it's the most amazing thing in the world, even if this kiss took me by surprise.
She pulled away, Debbie looked embarrassed.
"Oh shit, I shouldn’t have done that. I wasn’t going to do that.”
She started to get up but I stopped her.
“It's ok. I liked it. It's fine.”
She sighed. “Wow. I was really scared. I mean I’ve seen you around school. We have some classes together but you’re so shy and quiet. You also try to hide from other people. At first, I thought it was because you thought you were better than everyone then I thought maybe you were like me.”
I was confused.
“What do you mean?”
She bit her lip.
“That you like girls of course.”
I laughed. “Of course I like girls.”
She giggled. “I know that now. It's just, well you’re not like the others. You wear baggy clothes and when you’re not in class, you’re always wearing your hood up. I thought maybe you didn’t want to be bothered. I was there when Robby approached you on your first day of class. I thought for sure you’d go swooning over him like everyone else but you didn’t. You were so cool with him. I thought, No it can’t be. So I watched and waited. I’ve been secretly watching you for days. The cafeteria was a test, for me. Then after class today, I made up my mind. I had to try.”
Ok, now I’m confused.
What the heck was she talking about?
“I’m glad you did but I’m not sure what you’re talking about?”
She giggled again then looked scared. “Wait, you’re not a lesbian, are you?”
Wait, oh shit.
Please God, not her.
I felt like crying. Here I was finally finding the girl that I liked. One that liked me too. Fate was a cruel son of a bitch. She liked me. I liked her. Except because of the way I looked, she thought I was a girl. It all made perfect sense. How could I have been so stupid? Ok, so I wasn’t stupid. I just wasn’t paying attention. Of course, she thought I was a girl. I mean I was short, I wore my brother’s oversized hand-me-downs and I had long hair. I’m extremely feminine looking too. Walking around school like that, I was a stereotypical tomboy. I knew there were a lot of people who thought I was a girl. Mostly boys though and mostly only after meeting me for the first time. Usually, all of it was cleared up and they forgot about me.
I never thought there were would be girls out there that made the mistake too.
Not only that but lesbians out there who might be in love with me.
I cursed inwardly.
I had to tell her.
I couldn’t lead her on.
I took a deep breath.
“Debbie, I’m not...”
“Oh god,” she said, tearing up. “I’m so stupid. I just thought and assumed. I mean you’re so boyish and you. I kissed you, Oh God I’m sorry.”
She jumped to her feet and started to rush away.
It was only a fast walk so I jumped to my feet too and quickly caught her.
“No it's not that,” I said, gently grabbing her arm. “I’m not a lesbian yes but only because I can’t be.”
She gave me a confused look.
I took a deep breath and continued. “I can’t be because I’m a boy.”
She gave me a weird look. She stared for a long time. She shook her head but stopped. Then she gasped. A hand went to her mouth. She was still crying but now she looked really scared too.
“Oh my God, I’m such a fucking idiot” she moaned, pulling her arm from my hand.
“Hey no, you’re not.”
“You’re a boy and I’m an idiot and Oh God, I told you I’m a lesbian!”
“I won’t tell anyone, I swear!”
She stopped, wiping her tears. “You won’t?”
“I promise,” I said and quickly added. “Besides, you’re the only other person in the school who has ever talked to me.”
She seemed confused than sad.
“I’m so sorry,” she said gently, putting a pitying hand on my shoulder.
I brushed it off.
“Its fine,” I said with a little ice.
Ok, that was uncalled for.
She nodded. “It's fine. I see now we’re both our own kind of loser.”
“I’m not a loser.”
“Well you’re not a winner either” she snorted. “Neither of us are!”
Wow, that was a bit bitchy.
She cut me off. “I’ll return your notes tomorrow. I didn’t even need them actually. It was just an excuse.”
I nodded. “Sure, thanks.”
“I promise I won’t say anything.”
She nodded. “Thanks.”
“You want to head back, its almost midnight.”
She shook her head. “I think I’m gonna head over to the lake, watch it from there.”
I didn’t really want to leave her but she was already walking away.
I sighed. What a perfect night this turned out to be.
Here I thought I might actually have a girlfriend. It turns out she thought the same damn thing. I snorted then laughed. What are the odds of something like that happening? Two people expecting one thing and finding something else instead. A small part of me felt sad for her. Another small part of me wished I could give her what she wanted. I mean of course I didn’t really want to be a girl but if by some chance I had been one, maybe I could have pretended. Not that I knew for sure that if I was a girl I wouldn’t be a lesbian too. It's just that it hurt to see her so upset like that. I barely knew her and she didn’t know me at all but she took a chance like that. It was brave and it fell apart for her but it was awesome too.
Better than awesome.
I was almost back to the observatory when I cursed.
What the hell was I doing?
I couldn’t leave her out here alone like this.
I smacked myself in the forehead and turned around.
The lake and tree we’d been sitting at were behind the building. The observatory was on a little hill. It wasn’t exactly the mountain I was imagining but it was pretty damn close. I started down the hill, toward the lake. It was a lot farther away than I thought. It was dark too but I could just see Debbie silhouetted in the moonlight. I was about to call out to her when it happened.
I was nearly to the bottom of the hill.
The storm erupted above me.
I looked up in awe.
A brilliant array of color streaked across the sky.
It was beautiful.
I stopped and stared.
Then it happened.
A brilliant, bright blue light filled the sky.
It was so bright it was blinding.
I raised my hands to shield my face and…
Author’s note: As I’m sure all of you know, comments are life blood to an author. I’m not begging or demanding, but I certainly would appreciate anything you have to say (or ask). It doesn’t have to be long and involved, just give me your reaction to the story. Thanks in advance...EOF
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