December 23, 2009

When the Autumn Leaves Blush - Part III

As dictated by Faranza Syns

A lot of people seem to have forgotten that this story is actually a continuation. If you guys don't remember, click on the link named "Prologue" on top and it'll bring you to the beginning. No worries, I keep all of them in the archive, so it's not going anywhere. Oh, thank you on the feedbacks. It helps a lot since there are some parts that seem vague and people don't understand. By asking me these seemingly irritating questions, I get to modify them accordingly for ... better consumption. Thank you. And thanks to Google search too. Over the years, you have become my best compadre (it began when I became friends with Tarrant). Without you, I am - most of the time - a lost lamb.

When The Autumn Leaves Blush
Faranza Syns

Chapter 2

When you read a book authored by a sixteen year old girl twice a day, everyday, it was either she wrote really good fiction, or you were pathetically obsessed. For the sake of his dignity, Sean decided to let himself believe the former.

Exhaling on a breath laden with reminiscence, Sean closed the book in his hand. Arms draped over the back of a garden bench, his ankles on his knees, Sean closed his eyes and dropped his head back, savouring the crisp, cold autumn air.


The fall.

He remembered. She had once said she loved autumn, loved the colour of the leaves - loved the fall. Opening his eyes, he looked around. Being here, at the compound of Harlow's Bayou Elementary School made him feel tamed, nonvolatile - safe. It had a calming effect on his nerves.

And his nerves had been pretty wracked since 6 A.M.

Rubbing his free hand on his thigh - a habit he had picked up since he was thirteen, and battered beyond his own body's limit - Sean stared at the scrawl of the title on the handmade cover of a book he had grown to know so well over the past four months.

N.O.T. in Words

Danielle D.O.

He smiled. Danielle. He never knew that. The one time he had tried to ask anyone what her name was, he had unthinkingly asked the wrong sort of people, and came away empty handed, with only a few girls snickering amongst themselves at his retreating back. The girls he had questioned still had not changed - they still bitched regularly, loudly and shamelessly.

But, he was thankful for one thing.

Sophia Dorwood.

He jumped onto his feet at the shrill sound that pieced the air. After a few seconds, he finally recognized the sound for what it was - Sophia's self-appointed ringtone. Fumbling around in his jeans pocket, he took out his cellphone. "`Lo?"

"Sean Hayes, get your arse down here, imme-jitly."

Snorting at her snotty, uppercrust accent - the one she unknowingly affects whenever she had a point to nag about - Sean brushed the book against his thigh. "Quit biting my ear. What's the rush?"

"It's three-thirty and you know it. You have to get here - now. Or god help you, I will grab Uncle Lewis' baseball bat, hold you down, and bring that bat down right in between your pretty little -"

"Okay, okay! I get it!" Sean brought the book to his chest and brushed it there. "But I don't... this is a bit..." He halted, not knowing how to explain to her that what he was about to do - what she was about to force him to do - was a daunting move for him. Not that it was not something he did not want to do. Heck, he wanted to do it. But after three years of merely relegating her to his thoughts only, and never seeing her, having to face Danielle now was scary.

Heck, he read her books everyday. Meeting Danielle was not only scary - it was tearing his sanity apart bit by bit. What if she had changed? There was a definitely high possibility that she would not even like him. Heck, the last time they had communicated was when he had his head in a toilet bowl - a mortifying thought, that. She'd remember him as Toilet-head Dude.

Worse yet - what if she did not even remember him? He had seen her three years ago. She had seen him seven years ago, if you did not count the last time he saw her. No one could recognise him then - he had been too messed up to even be identifiable.

"Look, Hayes, if you don't get your ass down here by three-forty one, I will -"

Before he lost his nerve to go against Sophia, he blurted, "Latest by six."

Sophia was silent. In his three years worth of experience that usually meant two things. It was either she was stupefied, or she was contemplating mass-murder. "What?" she asked.

It was definitely mass-murder.

"Look, I really - I need some time to, you know, take some fresh air-"

"You've had fresh air since 6 A.M. when you desperately called me to make sure that I've set everything up to perfection and when I tell you to get back to sleep, no, you just couldn't, you had to stay awake and pester me every few seconds, asking me the stupidest of the most stupid questions, acting like an ee-jiet - "

"Soph," he called out softly over her tirade. He took in a deep breath. "Please?"

Miraculously, for the first time, he heard her growl. "God, I hate you sometimes, Hayes," she gritted out.

"You say that, but we really know you love me a lot."

"Yes, I love you. Fine." She harrumphed. "By six, you got me?"

"Aye, aye, Capn'!" he gave a mock-salute just for fun, standing ramrod straight, hand to his forehead, adding to the air of camaraderie in their on-the-line dialogue.

Sophia could not quite contain her snuffle of laughter. "Six, Sean, remember."


"Who was that?"

Sophia turned around quick enough to twist her ankle. "Sean." Her answer was automatic as she looked at her cousin lounging comfortably on her bed.

"Oh?" Danielle perked up. A naughty grin spread over her lips. "Your boyfriend?"

Sophia's eyes widened. "No!" she said, sounding mightily insulted.

"You can tell me, you know."

A frown marred the perfect arched wings of Sophia's eyebrows. "He is not."

"Hmm..." Danielle, nodded, smiling indulgently from where she lounged, as if knowing Sophia did not mean what she said, but pretending to believe it, just to placate her.

Sophia stood akimbo, eyes narrowed. "You know, that's rather annoying."

Grinning, Danielle sat up. "You think so?" Merriment in her eyes, Danielle sat cross-legged on the bed, barefoot. "If you guys aren't a couple, I don't know what you are. 'Oh, Sean, I hath loved you since the day I hit puberty'," Danielle teased breathily. "'Say, say you love me, or I shall perish in ashes and flame,'" Danielle shrunk herself into a tight ball, depicting Sophia's supposed misery. She added mewling sounds for great measure.

With a bland face, Sophia grabbed a small plushie from on top of her computer and tossed it at Danielle who broke into laughter, rolling onto her side, on the bed.

"Har, har. Funny, Danny."

"Well," Danielle sat up. "You did say 'I love you' to him."

"I was just -"

Her cousin held up a hand . "Save it, Soph. You are so in love with him. I know. You talk about him a lot." Pushing back strands of wavy brown hair, she sat forward. "What is it that makes you so scared to admit it? Embrace the feeling, Soph - the truth shall set you free." She said it with a cheesy enough face that Sophia laughed. She knew Danielle was not serious.

For one minute there, she was scared it would all backfire. The only reason she mentioned Sean multiple times a day on their daily phone call was because she wanted Danielle to get used to him. Tell her a lot about him in hopes that she would get irresistibly interested in him, hence making Sophia's job all the more easy.

And now that Danielle was back for good, she could definitely start introducing them to each other. At that thought, she smiled. She had never known a guy more hell-bent on holding on to the memory of a girl who had so enthralled him when he was but eight years old.

But of course, that could also be because Sophia had never met many guys. The number of candidates who have tried out to participate in her love-life was as sparse as the number of tall, green, fruit bearing trees in Siberia. The last time she checked, the number was abysmally low.

"So, what do you think?"

At the question, Sophia focused at the topic at hand. She stared at Danielle, then at the shoes Danielle was modelling. Danielle did a pas de bourrée, her hands arching up in a funky move, her smile beautiful. "So? Is it hot?"

Sophia made a thoughtful moue with her lips. "Definitely. But on you..." she made a so-so gesture.

Danielle laughed. "You're catching up on insult, aren't you?" She sat down and took the shoe off again.

"Where'd you get them?"

"Isn't it the weirdest thing - Uncle Lewis gave them to me," she smiled with a bewildered expression.

"Wow. What're they for?"

"The prom tonight."

Sophia's eyes widened. "You are going?"


A brilliant idea formed in her head.

"Hey, cousin, I need to go get a dress. Very last minute, I know, but do you think you could -"

"Of course! Let's go!"

Danielle laughed as Sophia dragged her out, and right to stairs. "You go first," Sophia urged.


As soon as Danielle was halfway down the stairs, Sophia took out her phone.

"Change of plans," she texted. "Buy a ticket, and rent a suit. We're goin to prom."

"Soph!" Danielle called out, whining in impatience. "Hurry up! Papa's waiting!"

"In a second!" And Soph nearly tripped out the door.


Ryan stared with his hands in his pocket as his daughter waved goodbye at him. She slid into the car, still smiling and happy as Sophia's father started the engine.

He stirred from his immobile silence when he felt his wife's presence behind him. "I worry about Danny," he said as his wife wrapped an arm around his waist and leaned her head against his shoulder.

"We both worry, sweetheart."

Ryan finally had to wave back when Danielle blew him a flying kiss from the backseat window. "I'll see you tonight Papa. No later than 12, I swear!" She waved again, and Ryan took in a deep breath of unease.

"This is different - you don't know boys like I do, Sara."

Sara shook her head. "Our daughter will be fine. Besides, she has her Virtue Protection Programme on," she said, chortling.

"Well, sure, go ahead and make fun of me, but it was a good programme. But lately I think it's a bit faulty. Sophia has a boyfriend - some boy named Shane?"

"All the more reason for you to relax. If Sophia's fine the way she is, our daughter will be, too. She won't be as silly as some other girls who would fall for a silver tongue, you know that, don't you?"

Ryan was slow to answer, and his answer was one that was non-committal and unsure. For just a second, Sara felt her heart quicken in panic. But quickly she reined the feelings in. Nodding to herself, she said, "Our girl will be safe. What could happen? It's only prom night."


The air was bitingly cold, and it was definitely not a night for short skirts, bare arms and deep decolletages. But being the strong, mighty, sometimes aggravatingly obtuse creatures they were, the teenage girls of HB High persisted, and wore what made them look their best.

In other words, clothes that made the guys notice - and if they were lucky, clothes that made the guys drool.

Sean, being a guy, was supposed to be majorly affected by this. But -

Really, could a collar get any tighter? Sean pulled at his tie, and fidgeted with the collar. He swore that a few days ago, the shirt was a perfect fit for him. He brushed his feet against the carpet lavishly spread out on the foyer floor. These shoes - was there a scuff mark on the tip? Crap. He bent to look but let out a frustrated sigh when he realised how out of sorts he was. He let out a nervous laughter, then cleared his throat and tried to look like he felt normal.

Unable to stop himself, he thought of her. What would she wear? What would she say when they met? Heck, what would he say? Hey, remember me? Ummm, I was the guy you saved from dying in the toilet.

God, no.


"Come on," Sophia tugged on Danielle's hand. "I want you meet someone."

Danielle cast a furtive glance around the foyer. "Okay."

"You will be super glad to meet this person - I just know it," Sophia grinned, eager beyond her own comprehension. This was the moment she had waited for all her teenage years and she would savour it - despite the fact that it was a depressing thought that she had to focus on other people's love-life instead of her own dismally non-existent one.

Then, Danielle paused, jerking her and her thoughts to a jarring stop. "Danny?" Sophia turned to look at Danielle's frowning face. There was horror - like she had just realised something important that she should have noticed moments before.

"Ummm... Why don't you go first? I'll call your cell - I'll be back soon." Danielle pulled away and began dissolving into the crowd.

"Wait - Danny! Where are you going?"

Danielle reappeared. "Here, I can't get this on yet. Keep this, will you? I'll be back for it."

Sophia stared at the beautiful corsage within her hands, then looked up.

Danny was gone.


"Hello. We've met before. I'm not surprised that you don't remember - I don't entirely want to remember that moment, too." Sean had to force himself not to grimace when he said it. "But I've been wanting to say thanks to you since that moment - and I really... appreciate? No, treasure. Umm, well I really appreciate your help that one time. And I'm honoured you'd spare some time to amuse your silly cousin, here." Cue: self-deprecating grin.

There. That was a good speech, considering the circumstances. He had recited it more than thrice under his breath as he stared at his shoes. Now, all he had to do was muster some gumption and present it to Danielle with his best, debonair charm and in five seconds flat, hold her spellbound to his irresistible, seductive personality.

Holy crud, he was hyperventilating.

Trying to calm his jumping nerves, he leaned against a marble pillar and tried to look as suave as he could be. He hoped he could pull it off. Then, his eyes caught sight of Sophia. His breath seemed to be slammed into his gut as he realised what the sight of Sophia meant. She was here. She was close-by, he amended, as he did not see her. He frowned as Sophia came to stand beside him, her expression as sour as grapefruits.

"She said she'll be right back." Sophia slapped something soft and prickly into his hand. He stared at the corsage. "That's hers. She's going to come back for it - and so help me god, when she comes back the first she's going to beg for forgiveness from would be you."


"I left her a message to look for you here when she's done."

"What?" Sean was on the verge of exploding. "Are you crazy? You shouldn't have done it! What did she say?"

"No idea," she shrugged. "She hasn't replied. But I figure she's going to be here soon."

Sean grinned. Maybe this was better. He wouldn't have to say anything about their past memories - alright, his past memories of her. He could just easily start a normal conversation and see where their chemistry would lead them. Smiling to himself, pleased, he felt more relaxed. He looked at Sophia who was lounging against the pillar with him, shoulder-to-shoulder. Eager to get rid of Sophia, he asked, "Aren't you supposed to be elsewhere?"

"Boy, you practice no subtlety, do you?"

"I'm a desperate guy," he fiddled with the corsage, feeling it as connection to the girl of his past.

Sophia pushed herself off the pillar. "I'll be around if you need me, okay?"

"Hah, not likely."

After four hours of waiting, Sean Hayes finally had to eat his words.

After four hours of being an idiot, Sean Hayes finally gave in, and corsage in hand, he told Sophia he was about to go home, and this whole thing was a stupid idea, anyway.

When he got into his car, he thumbed the corsage and a sharp pain of disappointment pierced through his chest. "I guess we're just not meant to be."

He stayed there for an hour more, wallowing in the feeling of being the jilted one.


Sophia stomped up the stairs, ready to rain hell on Danielle's hide. But as she neared her door, she passed the room that Danny's parents used. And she heard Danny from inside. Alarmed, she paused, not moving a muscle.

"But it was him - I swear it!" Danielle sobbed. Sophia had never heard that sort of pain, anguish and desolate hopelessness come from Danielle.

"Danny, sweetheart, you're tired and cranky. Maybe - "

"I won't get this wrong even if I'm dead! It happened to me! Don't you care what happened to me?"

"But, sweetheart, it's impossible. He's your ... uncle and - "

"He did, Papa! He ..." Danielle's voice dropped into a whisper.

Sophia frowned as she tried to overhear.

"It's one of those boys, isn't it?" came Uncle Ryan's stern, unforgiving voice, harsh and accusing. "They did it, but you're blaming someone else from the family. Danielle, tell me the goddamn truth!"

"I am!" Danielle screamed.

Unable to bear it anymore, Sophia escaped from the hallway. It was okay, she told herself. She would ask Danny what happened tomorrow.

If she had known that Danielle would be gone from her life come tomorrow, she would not have put it off,

Had she only known.

-end of chapter 2-

Note, I did this in a rush, so if there're typos, etc. ignore them as I'll go through this once more. Chapter 3 will be up when I get back from Lumut. Muahx.


Lady Vonessa said...

i love your new blogskin =) seriously nice =D