Monday, August 17, 2009

If There Wasn't Something Missing

"Joshua, get off the computer."

The flashing images on the screen continued unabated as Joshua blocked out his fathers voice. It wasn't necessarily that Bio-Menace was an entrancing game, simply that he found it easier to patiently hope his father would go away than to acknowledge his existence.

"Joshua, I told you at dinner that your mother and I were going to go welcome the new neighbors and that we expected you to come with us. You can either save your game now and come back to it when we get back or I can turn it off at the surge protector and you can be grounded for the rest of the night."

Although he attempted to maintain his air of indifference Joshua knew better than to risk calling his father's bluff, he pressed the F5 key to quick save his game just in case.

"1... 2..."

"I am! I just saved! Jeez dad, why do you need me to go with you anyway? I don't give a hoot who the new neighbors are."

Trying to keep a lid on his frustration his father mentally counted backward from 10 before responding with some bait to catch his sons attention. "They have a pretty cute daughter about your age, isn't that reason enough to come along?"

Although his 13 year old hormones reacted unconsciously at the thought of a new girl in the vicinity Joshua knew better than to let his excitement show. Counting backward from 10 before responding he took a low blow "Dad, it's creepy for you to think a girl my age is cute."

Rolling his eyes Joseph turned away, leaving his son in the computer room as he walked down the hall to get get his shoes on. Pulling his lanky body up out of the swivel computer chair Joshua padded down the hall after his father. Meeting up with his parents in the kitchen his dad handed him a hefty watermelon. "For me?" he asked in mock surprise.

"Very funny" his father replied as he held his wife's hand to help her down the stairs. Following along behind the embarrassingly affectionate couple Joshua skipped putting on his shoes in favor of the slippers he was already wearing, he figured he'd be able to break away back to the comforts of home once the grown-ups got lost in their superficial chit-chat. Crossing the street diagonally to the north west it was only 50 or so paces before Joshua found himself standing in front of the new neighbors porch. His parents were already at the door making their introductions so he hung back a few feet closer to their ghetto van waiting impatiently for his chance to pass the giant fruit off on someone and make his escape.

Since he was the closest to the driveway he was the first to see the noisy gaggle of children come around from the back of the house to ride on their bikes in the drive. Quickly noting that these three girls were all quite a bit younger than him he turned his attention back to the adults who were coming off the step and onto the front lawn.

His father politely introduced him to these strangers, Sue and Jay by name, and it was to Jay that Joshua was able to hand off his burden. They seemed like nice enough people, although Jays simple T-shirt and jeans were a stark contrast to Joseph's Sunday best. The strong odor of cigarette smoke clung to Sue like a second skin, a fact that make Joshua smile because he knew it would make his parents far more uncomfortable than it aught to. Laughing quietly to himself at his parents awkward attempts at conversation with these obvious 'non-members' Joshua turned himself about to head for home.

In the fading light of the setting sun he was stopped dead in his tracks by what he saw behind him. Not a dozen feet away, riding a bike that was clearly too small for her, was the most exquisite beauty he had ever seen. Her long legs were tanned a perfect gold and were gloriously displayed by the tiny shorts she wore... in fact on closer inspection she wasn't wearing shorts at all but a skimpy pair of checkered boxers. Her golden hair was pulled back into a ponytail and her eyes sparkled in the failing light like a pair of flawlessly cut sapphires.

As she rode in figure eights on the driveway her sisters darted about on all sides, their giggles filling the air. Their merriment must have been infectious because Joshua found himself laughing out loud at their squeals as each took turns standing in front of their sister and jumping out of the way moments before they were struck. Perhaps it was his laughter that caught her attention causing her eyes to glance up at his own for the first time.

In the years that followed, even for the rest of his life, Joshua never forgot that moment. The way that he felt when his eyes met hers shattered any preconceived notions he had held on life. For him the entire world dropped away, existence winking out like a light, leaving no trace beyond this young woman in whose presence Joshua had been completely reduced to a thoughtless lump of jelly. In all of his years he had never imagined that such perfection could exist in this world.

While the young nerdy kid stood staring at her Ann wondered to herself why these three had come to introduce themselves without the gorgeous blond boy she had seen washing his truck in their driveway while she had unpacked that afternoon. It wasn't that this kid was unattractive, he had a goofy sort of charm and adorable puppy-dog eyes, as much as it was the fact that she had spent most of the evening wondering how she could introduce herself to the mysterious hunk who must have been this boys older brother. Although Joshua wasn't anything to rave about her naturally flirtatious nature kicked in and she found herself smiling and laughing just to see his reaction.

It was the laugh that broke into his trance, if someone had asked him right then what her laugh sounded like he would have confidently stated that it was what it sounded like when angels sang. He gaped at her, astonished by her glory, for a few moments more before he was able to bring himself back down to earth enough to shut his mouth and smile back at her. Her smile widened as she stopped her bike, both legs long enough to touch the ground on either side, and unnecessarily readjusted her ponytail.

He wanted more than anything to introduce himself, in fact the only thing he wanted more was to be able to impress her... something he didn't begin to trust himself to do under the full bore of her enchantment. The gears in his mind spun at a break neck speed to find something interesting or witty to say to her but his thoughts were so jumbled together that he wasn't at all sure he could even remember his own name.

Collecting himself enough to realize that he would quickly look goofy standing there gawking, he spun on his heel and made what he hoped didn't look like a mad dash for his front door. Once inside he leaned back against the closed door, his mind and his emotions spinning about inside of him as though caught in a tornado. Who was this amazing beauty, this perfect angel? How could he be so stupid as to wear slippers instead of shoes like a civilized person? What excuse could he come up with to be able to see her again? Why hadn't he been able to come up with a single thing to say to her instead of running away like a scared puppy? Would she ever be interested in him or would she see right past him like most of the girls his age? These and a thousand other questions played volleyball with his brain as his heart alternated between racing and nearly stopping altogether. Stumbling downstairs to his room, any thoughts of computer games obliterated from his mind, he attempted to focus on a single thought... what could he possibly do to make her fall in love with him?