Ahh, this is one of those stories I wrote for a class. I think its super cliche and silly, but it was fun to write. Perhaps not my finest work, but worth a glance at least.
Eloise tapped the foot of her silver shoe on the ground as she stood in the only spot in the community rec center’s gymnasium that wasn’t occupied by a couple making out or a kid trying to get high on the white powder some older student handed them. If anyone had been paying attention to her, they would have noticed that she was standing stiffly, with her arms held in ninety degree angles across her chest. Her entire body was screaming, “get me out of here”. The blue dress she was wearing felt like it was cutting off circulation to her lower body and Eloise just wanted to rip it off and put on something that covered more skin. As her eyes passed over the pulsing dance floor yet again, she thought she spotted one of the people she came with in the center. Kelsey was dancing with a group of guys, grinding and grooving in a way that turned her friend’s cheeks a dark crimson. Eloise sighed, leaning up against the crepe paper lined wall of the room and internally cursed herself for getting dragged into this situation. She didn’t even like dances.
The gym was decorated to look like a rave mixed with the stereotypical crepe paper prom decorations. Since the general population of the neighborhood was slightly more than well off, the decorations were somewhat well done and the dance floor was a bit more elaborate than the average community dance. The rich parents who had volunteered to ‘chaperone’ the event were all off in the adjoining room, feasting on horderves and the champagne that someone subversively brought to the dance.
In front of her, she saw one of the boys getting a bit too friendly with Kelsey, grabbing her hand and pulling her off of the dance floor. Kelsey pushed his hand away and, laughing, returned to the gaggle of high school age boys who catcalled her and cheered as she ran back to dance. Eloise grimaced. The rejected boy was walking her way now, joined by the other boys in his clique. As he passed by her, his feet stopped, turned and faced her.
“Well hey there Loise-ie! Looks like you got left behind again!”
The guys with him laughed, alcohol staining their breath. Eloise winced as the sour smell reached her face.
“Awww, look at that! The little prude doesn’t seem to appreciate that we took the time to talk to her.” He took a step closer to her. “Ya know, I find that offensive. I think you need to make it up to me.”
Eloise stiffened as she felt his arms reach over her shoulder and hit the wall. She was pinned. His face started to creep closer and the friends who clung to his shadow started their jeering.
“Rick, stop.” Her voice cracked. She was terrified.
Rick laughed in her face again and reached forward with his face, pressing his lips on hers. In her panic, Eloise drew up her knee and caught him in the groin with surprising force. Rick crumpled, the effects of the alcohol compounding with the drugs and the knee to the groin. The guys around them erupted in drunken laughter. Eloise tried to step away but was blocked by the hulking quarterback of the local high school football team. She didn’t flinch although it took every ounce of self-control she had. Her blue eyes glared defiantly at the inebriated teenager and for a moment she saw confusion pass through his pink tinted eyes. Behind her, Rick rose up in anger, cursing and muttering under his breath as he nursed his wound. He grabbed her wrist and pulled her to him.
As his foul breath tickled her ear, a shudder passed through her slight body and Rick leered. In that moment of terror, Rick fell over. Behind his unconscious frame stood another young man, dressed in darkly colored jeans and a loosely fitting dark t-shirt. He looked at Eloise with concern.
Something in his tone demanded attention and Eloise found herself floundering for words in the silence that followed.
“Um- I- Eh- Yes.”
The bunch of smashed idiots had scattered when the newcomer had effectively knocked out Rick. The young man held out his hand to Eloise.
“Come on, let’s go. No reason to wait for that worthless piece of filth to wake up.”
Eloise took his hand. As they walked past the dance floor, she saw Kelsey looking at her with awe. Eloise was confused for a moment and then realized that she was holding some guy’s hand. They had barely walked out the door when she twisted her hand out of his grip.
“Ah-hh, um, thanks for helping me and all, but I need to wait for my friends.” Eloise backed away as the boy looked at her with amusement.
“Don’t worry, I’m not taking you anywhere. I thought you might appreciate an exit that would keep those goons away.”
She was still suspicious.
“Who are you exactly?”
The boy held out his hand.
“The name is Kyle, Kyle Conway. I live across from you in the old colonial house. We moved in about six months ago. I’ve been at your school nearly that whole time. You are Eloise Vander, the daughter of the prosecutor James Vander and his wife, the legal mediator, Margret Vander. You don’t know me. You are always by yourself or with those girl friends of yours, so I’ve never had the pleasure of making your acquaintance.”
Eloise raised an eyebrow as he spoke. Then she thought back. It was true; someone had moved into the house across the street from her and she had noticed a boy over there occasionally. Not the social butterfly type, Eloise hadn’t introduced herself and wasn’t planning to.
She was standing by the door, pondering this twist, when the group of guys from earlier walked past, somehow drunker than before. One of them lurched towards Eloise and spilled some kind of alcohol on her. They laughed and staggered off. Kyle looked as though he wanted to go after them but instead led Eloise to the bathroom where he told her to dry off her dress. When she walked into the bathroom, the smell of cigarette smoke and pot filled her nostrils. Trying not to gag, she grabbed paper towels and patted down the blue silk. It was probably ruined. Just like her night. Ruined. Not like she expected it to go well in the first place, but was it too unreasonable to ask for tolerable? She felt a hot tear trail down her face. Then came the headache. A piercing pain shot through her temple and Eloise winced. All of a sudden, there was a knocking on the door and Kyle called through the door to her.
Eloise sniffed her nose, wiped her eyes and steeled herself. Her hands pressed on the greasy door and Kyle appeared before her eyes. He said nothing, simply held out his hand. She just looked at him.
Kyle sighed. “Look, I know where you live and I can take you home.”
With slight trepidation, Eloise took his hand. He held it gently, as though it were something special. They walked through the halls and to a black, two door car. Kyle opened the door for her and helped her into the car. The ride was quiet. Her house was only a few minutes from the school so the silence lasted exactly 687 seconds, each of which Eloise counted in her head. Kyle glanced at her exactly 5 times during those 687 seconds. Her foot tapped approximately 2061 times. She resisted turning her head 541 times. By the time the car pulled up to the driveway in front of her house, she was wound up like a spring.
He walked over to her door and let her out. The house was a two story brownstone with white windows and an elaborate white oak door. The bushes outside were manicured as was the rest of the lawn. It spoke of wealthy families inside but didn’t scream “I’m rich!” Eloise stepped out and nearly ran to her front door, only to find that it was locked. The lights were off. She pulled out her phone and discovered a text message from her mother.
“Elle, your father and I are tied up in some legal work. Since you are at that dance of yours with Kelsey, we thought we’d stay in the city tonight. We will be back tomorrow evening after the trial. Don’t forget to take the garbage out in the morning. Love you!”
The blue light lit up her dumbfounded face. The one night she really wanted them home, they just had to be gone. It wasn’t that unusual for one or the other of her parents to be tied up in legal mumbo-jumbo. Normally, she was already home, in her sweatpants, watching TV or reading. However, the moment Eloise reached into her purse to find her key and was completely unsuccessful, she had a flashback to earlier that night.
Kelsey had pressured her into attending one of the community dances, saying that she needed someone to play wingman. When Eloise had refused the first time, Kelsey had insisted that they needed to go together. After continued refusals, Kelsey had finally guilted her into it. When Kelsey had been over at her house earlier, she had dumped out Eloise’s purse and filled it herself with ‘necessary things’. And had left the key to her house on the desk.
Eloise smacked her head on the door and breathed. Kyle looked at her with some concern.
She swiveled around.
“What’s wrong? I was at a dance I never wanted to go to. I was kissed by the most disgusting guy in school. I had booze poured over my dress. I had to drive with you to get to my house. And the coup de gras, my parents are gone and I don’t have my key.”
Her eyes shined defiantly into his amused ones.
“Are you sure all the doors are locked?”
She was furious. How dare he look so entertained on what may possibly be the worst night of her life thus far? As the irritation reached new levels, he reached up to her hair. Eloise reacted strongly. She grabbed his wrist as it passed her face, turning her body and positioning her hips so that she could perform a one armed shoulder throw. As both of her parents worked in the legal system and often saw the worst in humanity, Eloise had been enrolled in martial arts classes from a young age. She was constantly yelled at by her teachers for being too passive and not reactive enough. It wasn’t that she didn’t know what to do; in fact, she was working her way up to a black belt in judo. It was that she didn’t like to cause pain to others, although she would have been happy to beat Rick and his gang of idiots at the dance had she been less paralyzed by fear and not wearing a dress.
Kyle looked up at her with a painful look on his face.
“Wh-what wh-as that?” He asked, gasping for breath.
“Um……. Judo.” She didn’t move to help him up, a fact which was not ignored. He stood up, dusted himself off and then moved to the door. He had a hairpin in his hand. A few seconds later, the door was open and Eloise was looking at Kyle with suspicion again. He held his hand out to the doorway.
Eloise gave him a steely glare while she walked past him into her house. Once she was safely on the inner part of the threshold, she looked back at him.
“Did you pick the lock?”
“Studies show a strong correlation between deviant behavior as a child and adolescent, and criminal behavior as an adult.”
“Not always. In this case, it may lead to a job as an analyst for the CIA or the NSA.”
Her eyebrow raised.
“You want to be a spy?”
Kyle shrugged and winked at her.
“Be safe. Lock the doors. See ya.”
He spun around on one heel and sauntered off. Eloise closed the door and locked the deadbolt. Looking at her phone she saw messages from Kelsey telling her to be safe and use protection. With a roll of her eyes, Eloise walked upstairs to change. Once the gritty feeling, alcohol soaked dress was off, she changed into baggy sweats and a t-shirt. Out of curiosity, she looked out her window at the colonial house across the street. She could see Kyle through the window of his living room. He was typing something on a laptop. As bad as she felt about the night, meeting Kyle hadn’t been all bad. Sure he was overbearing, strange, oddly good at picking locks and suspicious, but she got a good feeling from being around him. Maybe she should try to get to know him. Just to figure out the new mystery that was Kyle Conway.
The next morning arrived far too soon for her tastes. She had left the curtains in her room open when she went to bed, definitely not because she was looking at Kyle or anything. Certainly not because his bedroom window was the one directly across from hers. In any case, she had left the shade cracked and of course the sun had risen just so that the beam of light fell directly across her face. With a grimace, she rose to shut the offending curtains and prepare for the upcoming Monday morning. Kelsey hadn’t contacted her since that final warning last night and Eloise wasn’t too worried about it. Kelsey was what some may call a ‘free spirit’, a little wild and a bit too intense for Eloise sometimes, but she wasn’t stupid. Kelsey had street smarts like Eloise had book smarts. No need to worry about her.
Eloise walked into her personal bathroom and looked in the mirror. A bleary eyed, red faced brunette looked back at her. She turned around and hopped into the shower. As she lathered her hair with sweet smelling shampoo, her thoughts turned to the boy next door. Kyle. Not a bad name, as names go. She frowned as soap stung her eyes and turned her face directly into the stream of hot water. He was an odd one; that was for sure. It surprised her that she hadn’t remembered him at all. She left the warmth of the steamy shower and walked into her room again with a towel wrapped around herself. She chose a particularly flattering pair of tan shorts that came to her knees and her favorite dark blue blouse that tied at her waist and flowed down past her hips. She wasn’t changing because of Kyle, nope. Not at all.
She grabbed a cup of coffee from the machine and an apple from the counter as she blew through the kitchen on her way out the door. She grabbed her black backpack and locked the door, with her key, just in time to see Kyle walk down his driveway to the sidewalk. He looked over at her house and stopped walking. When she joined him, he said nothing, just walked forward. She did the same. The quiet wasn’t uncomfortable, it was just, well, quiet. The pressure to speak wore on Eloise but she didn’t want to ‘lose’ to Kyle. He was the reason they were quiet, not she. In the bright of the morning sun, she got a good look at Kyle. Last night had been full of darkened rooms and night sky lights. Everything looks different in the morning.
He was good looking, but not handsome. His face was the kind of face you could look at, think was attractive, and then forget you saw. It was attractive, but somehow still average. He had grey eyes and honey brown hair that fell to his ears. It was styled but not gelled or overly shiny. It looked as though he shook his head and finger combed it. He was slender but not thin. He was tall but not giant. Overall, he was slightly more than averagely good looking but somehow, still average. The clothes he wore were dark and comfortable, perfect for blending in. She could feel her nose crinkle as she analyzed him. When her eyes traversed his form and met his eyes, he was wearing a smirk.
“Like what you see?” His tone wasn’t quite mocking but it certainly held a bit of a jab at her.
Eloise harrumphed and folded her arms across her body again.
“Come on, don’t be like that. Were you able to sleep well last night? After you were done peeping at me, I mean.”
Eloise’s eyes shot open and she turned to him almost violently. “I did no such thing!”
Kyle chuckled, a deep throaty chuckle that turned Eloise’s cheeks pink with embarrassment.
“Then what were you doing when you left your curtains open last night? In the six months I’ve been here, I’ve never noticed them open at night before.”
At this, her eyebrow shot up. “So you made a habit of looking into my room? Who’s the peeping tom now?”
Kyle flushed. “Touché.”
Silence ruled again. They were now approaching the school building and Eloise could feel the whispers. Her eyes narrowed as she felt eyes all around her. Then Rick appeared from the side of the road and made an angry beeline in her direction. He looked surprisingly alert for someone who was absolutely stoned the night before. The angry steps walked up in front of her and stopped a mere ten inches from her own sandals. Eloise looked up. Her eyes were calm, hiding the fear that had sprung up in her heart.
“Can I help you Rick?” She barely noticed that Kyle was now suspiciously missing. She was too busy trying to not freak out.
“Ha! Can I help you Rick? Aww, is the little prude trying to forget last night? Well too bad for you, I didn’t. How could I forget such a perfect moment, our kiss?” His leering face came close to her again. Eloise shivered and tried to back away again but was stopped by the quarterback again.
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you, Rick.” Kyle spoke up from behind the rest of Rick’s posse. He stepped up to the offending adolescent. “She will take you down man, lay you out. And if she doesn’t, I will.”
Rick scoffed. “And who are you? Some ‘white knight’, come to rescue the prudey little princess? Right, cause you are some hero or something like that. Bullshit. I bet this is all a ploy to get in her pants.”
Kyle’s eyebrow raised. “And yours isn’t?”
Rick’s face turned dark.
Kyle looked over at Eloise with a gleam in his eye. “Besides, I don’t need to plot. I’m already her boyfriend. So stay away from my girl.”
The shock stopped Eloise from doing anything. Rick looked furious but backed away. Even that idiot realized that Kyle was easily capable of taking him out. Perhaps the events of the previous night actually stuck in the drug and alcohol infused brain. The crowd that had accumulated started murmuring. Kyle approached her and gently took her hand.
“Come on, let’s get to class.” She allowed him to lead her to the building and walk her in. Somewhere deep in her mind, she was mad. However, closer to the surface, she could see the good parts of this. It wasn’t like Rick would leave her alone, not unless she had someone there to protect her. As much as Eloise hated to admit it, she was small and the guys Rick hung out with were far more than she could easily handle on her own. Maybe telling everyone that Kyle was her boyfriend would help. Plus, what better reason to get to know him than a pretend relationship. If he wanted to continue the charade, that is.
Once they were in an empty classroom, Kyle let go of her hand and faced her.
They spoke at the same time. Kyle motioned for her to start. Eloise motioned for him to start. Finally, Kyle sighed.
“Fine. Look, I’m sorry if that bothered you. To be honest, I thought it would be the most effective way to get rid of him so I just went with it. You can tell everyone I was lying or something if you want.”
Eloise looked at him. “Um, if, well… ah, if you are ok with it… um… maybe we don’t have to… well, tell them the truth.” By the end of her rather mangled sentence, her cheeks were as red as pomegranates.
Kyle looked at her with his mouth open in astonishment.
“You know what, never mind. I’ll just go tell them all that it was wrong and-“
She turned to leave but Kyle grabbed her arm.
“No, its fine. I don’t mind.”
She noticed that his ears were turning red.
“Um… well, ok then. But just to be clear, I’m not actually dating you. I’m fake dating you so that Rick will leave me alone. Alright?”
Kyle laughed. “Deal. But this means we have to act like we are dating. You can’t just say we are going out and then ignore me. It would be very suspicious. Alright?”
Eloise flushed. “Deal.”
They shook hands.
“Now, let’s go out there and introduce the world to this school’s new power couple,” Kyle said with a grin.
Eloise snorted. “Power couple? More like a ‘She’s All That’ couple. A ‘Pygmalion’ couple. Certainly not a power couple.”
Kyle grinned back at her. “Literary and movie reference cataloged and understood. But I think you aren’t giving yourself enough credit. You are quite the topic of conversation when the mood strikes.”
Eloise rolled her eyes. “Whatever.”
The bell chose that moment to chime, signaling the beginning of the school day. Students began to file into the classroom. Kyle was in a different homeroom so he had to leave. But just before he did and right before Kelsey walked over to Eloise, he leaned over the desk that separated them and gave her a gentle kiss on her cheek. Then he winked and walked away.
Kelsey freaked out and rushed Eloise, but her friend was gazing off into space with a hand pressed where his lips had landed.
It was all just pretend. Right?