#BlogBattle “Ride” Week 29, Genre: Contemporary?
Ruth knew better than to stand in the front yard. Every time she did, the neighbor across the way would stare at her with those piercing eyes. She couldn’t really see his face, but she could feel him watching her.
As unnerving as it was, she fought the urge to run back inside and waited there, her bare feet sinking into the dewy grass, the sun nearing the horizon.
Any time now she would see it. It was almost always visible in that time between twilight and dawn.
Ruth jumped, her skin prickling with goosebumps when the neighbor’s wooden screen door slammed against the frame. She pulled her gaze away from the sky for a brief second to ascertain the whereabouts of the neighbor.
He stood on his porch, looking at her. She wrested her gaze from his and stared back at the sky, unwilling to miss the passing of the space station where her father now lived, doing his best to prove man could travel the stars, explore the cosmos, rule the universe.
“Let me take you for a ride.”
“Ack! Tristan, you can’t sneak up on me like that.”
There were those bewildering eyes, still staring in to her, but up close now. He’d crossed on silent feet and left her breathless.
Ruth had known Tristan her whole life. They’d lived across the street from each other and as kids had been great friends, exploring the woods which backed her yard and playing in the stream just beyond the big hill.
But something had changed when they’d entered junior high. She still had no idea what had caused the rift between them, but the look in his eyes now always gave her a wariness she couldn’t place. It seemed ages since he’d actually said a word to her.
“Come on. Ride with me.”
He tilted his head toward his motorcycle parked to the side of his parent’s driveway, a bike he’d spent three summers working construction with his uncle to earn enough to buy. Even in the diffuse morning glow, the chrome had an eye-catching shimmer.
Ruth’s eyebrows scrunched up as she considered his offer or command or whatever it was, but that old familiar longing to be with the friend of her youth bullied her better sense into submission.
He didn’t smile as he turned away to lead her toward his bike, but Ruth sensed Tristan was pleased.
She jogged over to the porch to slip on her shoes. A lightheartedness seeped in, and she flitted across the street where she took the helmet he handed her and climbed on the seat behind him. Ruth buckled the strap of the red helmet under her chin then wrapped her arms around Tristan’s waist, gripping the fabric of his lightweight windbreaker.
It almost felt as though he placed his hand over the top of hers, but the wisp of a feeling was gone as soon as it arrived. She must have imagined it. The breeze was playing tricks on her.
The rumble of the engine filled her ears and the faint flickering of the headlight shown out into the street.
“Hold tight, Rue. This might be a bumpy ride. Just lean with me, okay?”
Rue. How long had it been since anyone had called her that? She smiled without even realizing why.
With that, he took off, the motorcycle zipping out of the driveway, down the street, around the corner, and on to a dirt road winding up the tallest hill behind her house. It was a short ride, only a few minutes, but it left her breathless with exhilaration.
Ruth relaxed her grip on Tristan’s jacket and shivered in the cool morning air as she climbed off the back of the bike and away from the warmth of his body.
He removed his helmet, then engaged the kickstand, and stepped off the motorcycle. Ruth handed him the one he’d loaned her, and he set them both on the seat before he took off his jacket and wrapped it around her shoulders.
Ruth accepted the jacket without protest. They’d barely said a word to each other in years, and now the silence was deafening. She didn’t have a clue what to say as her mind reeled with curious confusion. Why had he brought her here?
She held the jacket closed with one hand and trailed after Tristan. He climbed the last bit of hill to the summit. It was open and grassy at the top. Large boulders were scattered over the ground, and Tristan made his way to one of the largest where he climbed up on it with dexterous ease then reached his hand down to offer Ruth help up.
She looked at his hand for a second then moved around it to climb up herself. Tristan didn’t act offended, but Ruth was beginning to feel resentful.
“Why are we here?”
He pointed into the pink and blue mingling in the morning sky. There, as plain as the dawn was the space station, a blinking light in the great distance. It rode an invisible line in the sky, carrying the hopes and dreams of a world filled with wonder and her dad, the man who’d taught her to pursue what mattered most to her.
“Wow. I had no idea the view was so good from up here. How did you know?”
“I just guessed.”
She looked over at him sitting next to her on the boulder.
“What happened? Between us. Why did you stop being my friend?”
The whole time Tristan stared up in to the sky.
“I never stopped being your friend.”
“Yes you did. In seventh grade you stopped talking to me, you ignored my knocks on your door. You told your mom to tell me you weren’t home. I finally got the point, but it hurt. You were my best friend.”
“I was afraid.”
“Afraid of what?”
“You’d find out I wanted to kiss you.”