I force my eyes to stay open as Mr. Eckhart discusses a recent issue that he read about in an article online. The article follows a group of teenagers in countries all over the world who are joining together to fight against child labor. I’d normally find this class conversation very intriguing, but with the little amount of sleep I got last night, my mind is not able to focus on the words flowing from Mr. Eckhart’s mouth. I actually had spent most of my night drawing a image in my journal of the lake that I was telling Laiken about.
Mr. Eckhart’s voice grows faint as my head sags towards the desk. Finally, my head drops on the desk and everything around me grows dim. Although, I’m not entirely asleep, and I can still pick out my teacher’s pale voice in the background.
I eventually hear the sound of desks shifting and bodies moving, but I don't lift my head until I feel someone lightly brush against my arm.
“Come on, sleepy head.”
Laiken stares down at me, waiting for me to join him. I groan in response and let my head fall down against the desk again, causing him to lightly chuckle. I eventually drag myself from my desk and stand besides the astonishing, Laiken Kerrivan, whom still waits uncomplainingly for me.
I follow behind him as he exits the classroom and walks down the long hallway towards the stairs. I rub my weary eyes, trying to make myself feel more energetic, but my body still feels greatly drained. I carry on following behind Laiken without even realizing the direction that he is leading me in. Finally, I come to my senses when we’re heading towards the front entrance.
“Where are we going?” I ask.
“You’ll see,” Laiken replies as he pushes open the glass door.
“Why is it that we always end up leaving?” I question as I follow him through the doors.
“Stop worrying, Liberty. Take some risks, do something spontaneous, live a little.” Laiken leaps over the small set of stairs and begins to stroll towards his vehicle.
I approach his vehicle and rip open the front door, entering into the passenger seat. Laiken is already in the seat alongside me, his hands resting on the steering wheel as he patiently waits. Without seconds to spare, Laiken throws the car into reverse and speeds away from the school.
As we drive, my head rests against the window where my eyes strive to remain open. I notice Laiken speedily glance towards me in the corner of his eye.
“Not much sleep last night?”
I shake my head. “Too much on my mind, I guess.”
Laiken has no response, but he continues to keep his eyes glued to the road. I stare at the road, trying to figure out our destination, but I have no recognition of the streets we travel down. We eventually end up on a dirt road that cuts through the middle of a forest. I force myself to stay awake as I curiously wait for our arrival. I assume that he’s bringing me to the place we had talked about at his house yesterday; his favourite place that he said he may show me someday.
As the road opens up, I decide this can’t be his favourite place. I look over at him with a surprised expression, waiting for him to explain our reason for being here. All that I’m able to observe through the window is a rocky opening which I assume is a small parking lot, but other than that, there is nothing admirable. But as the car speeds by the trees and enters into the opening, I spot a beautiful lake with a large forest lining the edge of the waters. I also notice an old, wooden wharf that begins at the edge of the rocks and extends into the deeper water. I stare beyond the trees, finding myself mesmerized by the beautiful mountains with little white tips that peek above the trees in the distance.
“Whoa,” I say, staring at the beauty before me.
I’m so distracted by the scenery in front of me that I don’t even notice that Laiken had exited the car and is now opening my door, waiting for me to exit the vehicle.
“It’s a nicer view from out here.” I glance up and finally notice Laiken standing there, still gripping onto the door.
I leave the car and stand beside him, both of us continuing to stare at the lake. I suddenly feel his hand gently on the middle of my back, guiding me towards the wharf. Once he removes his band, I notice my back tingling from his touch.
Laiken steps onto the aged wharf which creaks with every step he takes. I look at his calm face and then back to the wharf, feeling uneasy about moving onto it. Laiken moves his fingers back and forth, motioning for me to join him on the wharf. I sigh and take a cautious step onto the wharf.
“How did you find this place?” I ask as I continue taking careful steps.
“My mom showed it to me. It was a really popular place when she was a teenager, but I guess everybody forgot about it,” Laiken explains.
“That’s a shame,” I say. “It sure is beautiful.”
Laiken nods in agreement. We both stop as we reach the end of the wharf. I watch as Laiken kicks off his shoes and sits on the edge, letting his feet hang off to lightly touch the water. I walk over and lower myself into a sitting position beside him. I grab my sneakers and throw them behind me before also letting my feet hang off the wharf. My feet brush over the edge of the water, sending a cold shiver through my body.
“After you went home last night, I was thinking about the lake you were telling me about,” Laiken informs me. “And then I remembered this place.”
I dip my feet into the water, allowing the chilly water to brush against my skin. After a few seconds, my legs adjust to the frostiness, and the water against my body becomes soothing.
“I know this doesn’t compare to the special place you shared with your brother,” Laiken says, “But I was thinking that you can come here on days when you’re really missing him, and you can sit here and close your eyes and listen to the sound of the water beneath you and the waves splashing against the wharf, and you can imagine that you’re back there with him. I know it’s hard, and I know you’re struggling, but maybe you can sit here in the stillness and remember all the great memories you both shared, and how no matter where or how far he is, he’s always with you.”
I stare at him for a while without saying a word, for I can feel the tears striving to form in my eyes. I take a large gulp, trying to rid of the lump in my throat. I open my mouth to speak, but nothing is able to come out. I hang my head in attempt to hide my gloomy face, but the touch of Laiken’s hand on my shoulder forces my eyes to look up at him.
“It’s okay,” Laiken says, granting me permission to fall apart.
Finally, all the emotions I’ve bottled up for so long escape. I hand my head as tears fall from my eyes and continuously stream down my face. It feels as if a large whole reforms in my heart.
I feel Laiken’s arms wrap around my body, pulling me towards him. I dig my face into his chest, silently sobbing into his grey long-sleeve shirt. His arms tightly grip around my back, and his head rests on top of mine as he comforts me.
“It’s okay,” Laiken repeats as he continues to hold me.
If I wasn't in such a state, I’d be so astounded by the feeling of being in his strong arms, but all I can focus on now is the endless ache in my heart, and the feelings that I’ve been trying to push behind me for so long, but are now finally catching up with me.
After what seems like forever, I pull my face back from Laiken’s chest, noticing a large wet circle on his shirt from my tears. I bring my hand to my face and wipe away the wet trail on my cheeks. I glance towards Laiken who gapes at me with a cheerless expression, waiting for me to say something.
“Thank you,” is all I’m able to whisper.
Laiken nods his head which is followed by a large sigh escaping from his mouth.
"Liberty, you can't do this to yourself," Laiken says, quietly.
I raise my head to look at him with a baffled expression on my face.
"You hold all your feelings within you because you believe that nobody cares. People do care, Liberty. I care."
I watch Laiken run his hands through his hair, causing it to messily spike at the top of his head. To be honest, I quite enjoy the look of it. He twists his body so his feet is no longer dangling in the water, but he's turned to face me.
"You need to stop hiding the pain you're feeling, and you need to stop convincing yourself that you're okay. You want to give everyone the impression that you're fine because you don't want anyone to worry about you, but behind that fake smile you show off, you're struggling, but that too is okay."
I lower my head to stare at the calm water beneath my feet, for I know that every word that leaves his mouth is the truth.
“How are you so great?” I ask him, genuinely curious at his immense amount of kindness.
“I know what it’s like to struggle,” he responds. “And I also know that it will get better, but you can't hold everything in hopes to get rid of the pain. You have to let yourself be happy. Alex would want that."
I nod, understanding him and everything he’s saying. I haven’t been trying to deal with my brother’s death, but I’ve been ignoring it in attempt to get rid of the pain it brings me. I never wanted to talk to anyone about it because nobody could understand the hurt I was feeling, but things are different now. I don’t want to be that extremely miserable girl I once was, and even though I still do struggle a great amount with myself and my past, I’m going to find that happy, cheerful girl that I was once upon a time.
“You’ll get through this,” Laiken assures me. “One day at a time.”
Laiken jumps up to his feet. He holds his hand out for me, helping me to stand up in front of him. I look up at his face, and find myself giggling when a goofy smile appears on his face.
“Is that a smile?” Laiken asks, pointing to my face.
“You’re a dork,” I say through a grin.
I lift my hand to playfully smack Laiken on the arm, but his reflexes are too fast, for he grips onto my hand just as it is about to smack him. Instead of freeing my hand, he holds onto it, interlacing his fingers through mine.
I stare up at him, gazing into his big, brown eyes. He holds the eye contact as he too stares at me. I notice he takes a step towards me, continuing to grip onto my hand. My heart starts to accelerate as his face begins to slowly move towards me. Is he about to kiss me? I feel my body tense in nervousness, unable to move. I start to panic as his face inches closer. This eye-catching boy has probably kissed plenty of girls, whereas I’ve never once been kissed.
Just as his lips are about to brush mine, I react in panic. Without a moment of thought, I push my hands against his chest, sending him soaring backwards, falling from the wharf and landing in the chilly water. I watch his body sink in the water before floating back towards the surface. His head pops up, revealing a startled Laiken.
“What the hell?” Laiken asks, throwing his hands into the air.
“I’m sorry,” I apologize. “It was the perfect moment.”
I grin as I nervously wait for his response. An amused smile eventually forms on his face before he starts to chuckle. Laiken swims to the wharf and grabs onto it with one hand while holding the other hand towards me.
“Help me out of here. This water is freezing.”
Due to my guilty conscience, I hold my hand out and feel Laiken’s wet hand as he grabs onto me. I try to yank him onto the wharf, but he doesn't budge. Then all of a sudden, Laiken grabs onto my arm with both of his hands and draws me toward him, dragging me off the wharf and landing in the water beside him. I feel the icy water drench my body, but as my head pops out of the water, I feel more refreshed than frozen.
“You jerk,” I yell over at him.
“It was the perfect moment,” Laiken says, mocking me with a high-pitch voice.
I push my hands toward him, splashing him with a large wave of water.
“Come here,” Laiken jumps towards me.
Laiken places his hands underneath my body, draping me across his arms. He then lifts his arms and launches me from them, throwing me into the air and then landing back into the water.
We continue to horse around in the water for a while before Laiken suggests we get back on the road. I apologize for getting his car damp as we both hop into his vehicle. As we drive back towards town, the sky grows dark and rain starts to pour from the clouds.
Laiken ends up bringing us both back to his house instead of dropping me home. We rush into the house to avoid getting any damper from the rain as well as the possibility of catching the flu.
Once inside the house, I wait in the porch as Laiken disappears down the hall. Within seconds, he returns with two towels in his hands. He throws one over his shoulder. He takes the other. opens it. and pulls it tightly around my body. He holds me close to him, rubbing my shoulders in attempt to both dry me off and warm me up.
Laiken and I then both notice someone at the top of the stairs, watching our every move. We both jump back in fright at the person who we both realize is his older brother, Camden. Laiken takes a few steps back, distancing himself from me.
“Adventurous day, I see,” Camden says, sounding unimpressed.
I feel my phone vibrate in my book bag, knowing that it’s my mother. I decide that my welcome has worn-out, so instead of sticking around for the awkwardness, I decide to get out of there.
I motion towards the door. “Well, my mom’s here,” I announce.
I turn towards Laiken and give him a soft smile. “I’ll see you later. Thanks for everything.”
Laiken’s Point Of View
I watch as Liberty turns around and pulls open the front door. Her damp, dirty-blonde hair bounces on her back as she races towards a vehicle that has pulled into the driveway. I notice a little smile form on her face as she sees her mother in the front seat of the car, and I feel a grin automatically break across my face as well.
Liberty’s has a smile that is irresistible, but she doesn't realize it. It’s a smile that completely lights up the room, and you can’t help but feel the need to return the smile. To see Liberty in pain is such a horrible sight because all you desire is to see the glorious smile of hers, and to hear her adorable laugh in your ears.
She’s such a passionate girl; you can see it in her eyes when she talks about something she deeply cares about. When she speaks of her brother, I can hint the love and admiration she had for him, and it kills me that he's unable to be in her life anymore. Despite her past and pain, I know that she still loves life, including all people in it.
She’s a special girl, I can guarantee that.
“Laiken,” my brother’s voice interrupts me from my thoughts.
I abruptly turn around to look up at my big brother who still stands on the stairs. His eyes are filled with concern, and I already know what the topic of conversation is going to be about.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” He asks with a harsh tone. “She’s just going to get hurt. Don’t you think she’s already been through enough?”
I turn my eyes away from him and stare down at my feet. I think back to Liberty, the girl who deserves all the happiness in the world. Dammit.
“I know,” I whisper. Thanks for reading everyone :)
I love you all even if you don’t like it!
Have a glorious day and keep smiling <3