I haven’t been able to post or write very much this last week, much to my own disdain and chagrin. So in the meantime, as I get back to writing and editing, I decided to post part of a short story I wrote for one of my classes. It is my first serious attempt at writing my own story and a very rough draft so please be a little easy on me. But let me know what you think, I would appreciate any support or criticism. Thank you.
A Noble Jewel
The sun shone bright, beaming at the world. Crisp, like fresh cut grass, the breeze playfully ran through the young man’s hair. Annoyed, he combed it down with his fingers. Dew peppered the blades of grass, clinging to him as he walked by—not that he cared though; there were more important things on his mind than wet jeans. He paused for a moment to consider his path through the creek, before balancing his way across boulder to boulder and continued his way downstream. Around him, the crowd of trees was busy with activity: a robin feeding her chicks, sparrow chasing each other playfully, and a pair of doves, cooing softly to each other. Darting in and out behind the leaves, the sparrows rustled the branches as the robin trilled furiously in rebuke. Similarly disturbed, the two doves took wing landing in opposite trees. The sparrows paused amidst the flurry of wings in shame. Apologetic tweets sounded out through the leaves as one of the doves angrily cooed back. With the dignity of a bird of prey, he alighted on the branch next to his mate and the couple continued their happy cooing. The scene went unnoticed by the young man, preoccupied as he was with his thoughts. Head down, he barely noticed the dark shadows cast by the clouds above. Nature seemed to be waving beauty in his face but his mind was focused elsewhere.
For the youth, “elsewhere” was with Aristotle and Archimedes, with Darwin and Descartes. Logic ruled his mind as questions argued themselves into answers on his furrowed brow. Clutching books to his side, safe from abduction, the worn edges pressed dully into his arm. Earlier that day, his professor had allowed him to borrow from his own private book shelf, to which the young man vowed life and limb in protection of the pages. As the young eyes hungrily rifled over the titles, the professor suggested a smaller tome to take home. It was a smaller book wrapped in black leather and it had, the professor claimed, helped him get through one of the most challenging times in his life and was very dear to him. The old scholar left the volume on the table, chuckling to himself, leaving the youth to his devices. An hour or so passed before a healthy pile walked out the door, leaving the small novel ignored. Anticipation of the coming information rose steadily within him as he walked hurriedly along the bank of the creek on his way home.
A shout followed by laughter interrupted his thoughts and he knew immediately what it was. As usual, there was a couple behind one of the larger weeping willows that lined the embankment. The willow tree was large enough to block the eyesight of any third party from viewing from the outside but was not soundproof by any means. The young man furrowed his brow deeper as he tried to ignore the laughter and conversation emanating from within the folds of the willows skinny branches. A voice yelled out as he walked by, “Oi! Who goes there?”
“Me, just on my way home,” he replied calmly, looking past the willow to where he was headed. He pressed on.
“What? Who? A second there…” said more laughter and giggling as a couple emerged from behind the hanging branches. He recognized the boy’s voice as the source of the constant chattering that came from the back of his arithmetic class.
“Hiya Jon! Fancy seeing you out here,” Lance replied, brushing twigs and dirt from his clothes.
Jon shifted the books from one hand to the other. “Actually, I usually walk this way from home.”
“Oh, well I suppose I am a little… preoccupied most of the time—” Lance smiled. He shoved his counterpart playfully. “This is Miranda, by the way— from class?” She pushed back, still picking leaves from her tousled hair.
“We’ve met before I think, from before—“Almost dropping his books, Jon took her outstretched hand. He righted himself, noticing her flushed cheeks. Her golden hair accentuated the blue in her eyes, a pleasing compliment to the rest of her features. He let her hand drop, trying to focus on a particular leaf hidden within her curls, wondering how she was not shivering in the brisk air.
She smiled coyly, obviously unmoved by the examination or her exposure. Nearby, Jon heard a frog croak, looking for a partner.
“Well, then— see you in class—c’mon baby,” Lance said, pushing Miranda, who squealed in response before turning to give chase back into the enfolds of the tree.
Breathing a sigh of relief, Jon turned back to the direction his house lay, the tension slowing releasing itself from his shoulders. Attempting to return to his original train of thought, he mentally shook himself. He knew many people of course, being involved with a school as large as his was, but his pursuits ran opposite the ones his peers shared. He enjoyed the company of a few friends in school but life outside those doors ran parallel, never crossing paths—especially in the female department. Of course, Jon was attracted to them, sometimes even to girls that were his friends but, they had always remained just that: them. At first, Jon’s innate curiosity was instantly sparked and he could not help but observe. This led to much more confusion, largely due to his inability to gain deeper confidence or seek insight from the subjects themselves. He had eventually decided to leave the area unexplored; a singular exception in his life, though it was an exception he was satisfied with. It would happen when it would happen, he thought, no need to rush. After all, it had taken him a month to read the Organon and an indefinite amount of time to understand it, a process that was in fact, still ongoing. So what could he expect to learn and understand about a subject that was living, changing and different in every case? Much less how to love one of them? Rather than spend time in this beautiful mystery, Jon turned his attention to more graspable, mundane concepts, like calculus and biology. Content with his books, Jon continued on his way, contemplating once again a particular theorem concerning tangent circles.
The sun was halfway hidden when a splash caused him to glance up. He saw first a horse, white, with light brown spots, a curious sight. His stare continued on until it reached the sight of a long haired girl in tan breeches crouched barefoot, examining a crevice she had created in between two of the large rocks that the stream ran through. Jon noticed her wrinkled forehead and pursed lips in concentration as he walked by. He continued staring as he walked by, watching her brush a stray lock of hair behind her ear. Startled, the girl looked up to see his heels and books fly up over his head.
“The log is in great shape by any chance—it would be a shame to see something that had been lying there for over one hundred years damaged in anyway,” a laughing voice remarked. “You, on the other hand, I’m not too sure.”
Jon rolled over onto his back, trying to target the source of the voice and sat up with a groan. “Gee, I appreciate the concern,” he retorted, the world coming into focus. Another laugh.
“It’s understandable I guess, falling over log—especially one as large and obviously exposed as this one. Here—” A hand appeared and he took it, easing himself up. “—and there we go. No harm done right? It wasn’t trying to hurt you was it?”
Speechless, Jon shook his head as he rose to meet a smile that brightened the twilight. Deep, brown eyes blinked at him, laughing with concern.
“I’m Adi.” A goofy smile found its way to Jon’s face. There was a quiet strength in her hands, a smoothness that was also resilient. She shook his hand gently, waiting politely for a response.
“Oh—Jon,” he stumbled, “and I just forgot about the log. This is the first time I’ve tripped on it—or tripped in general. I usually don’t trip. I got distracted. And it’s getting dark, I—” He let go of her hand. She laughed in amusement, a wonderful sound that interrupted his speech and thoughts. He looked around, scratching the back of his head, mumbling something about bad eyesight. Bending his knees, Jon proceeded to pick up his books, dusting the dirt off.
“So…these are all yours?” said Adi, dusting off a cover to reveal the title On the Origin of Species.
“Yeah, I got them from my professor at school. He lent them to me.”
“You like this stuff?”
“Stuff? Well, yeah, I suppose… I read it in my spare time…”
“Hm—strange.” Jon glanced over at Adi, who was examining the inside of the book, with that same, focused look on her face, and was distracted all over again. He swiftly turned to look at a book behind her before she noticed.
“But cool, I guess—” she trailed off into silence.
“It really is interesting, like once you get to know it; just learning about it is fun. Like I don’t believe it all, but I like learning about it.” The words were out of his mouth before he knew it. He mentally slammed a hot iron onto his head. He stood up with his books under his arm. “Do you—come here often?” The imagined hot iron slammed on his head again. The punishment, however, went unnoticed.
“Um, no, actually, this is the farthest I’ve been downriver. But it was a nice day today so I rode a little farther than usual. There’s a willow tree upstream a ways, I don’t usually ride past, but today I did…” She looked away. Adi shielded her eyes from the rays of the disappearing sun. “I should probably get going.”
“Oh yeah—of course, no problem, me too,” Jon blurted out. Adi ran her fingers through her straight bronzed hair, turning to go. He watched her hair swing back and forth as she crossed back over the stream with ease, firm legs leaping from rock to rock. Water splashed up onto clothes, near her hips. Jon struggled to get words out again. “Wait—what school do you go to?”
“I don’t,” she called out. “I have a private tutor. There’s like ten of us that he teaches though, but it’s not a school or anything.”
“I see—well then, see you around…” Jon took a lifeless step forward, trying to move on home.
“I like this part of the creek though. I’ll probably be back here.” Adi took the reins, shoes in one hand, barefoot in the stirrups.
“Oh sweet! See you later—”
Hoof beats drowned out his words and Jon imagined her hair waving, returning his farewell to her. He reached home after nightfall, read a couple of books and returned to the touch of that silky hand again, drifting off to sleep.