Authors: Marion Studer
I change into fresh clothes, pull up my wet hair and look at myself in the mirror. Do I look so much different after all this years? I know my body changed quite a bit and my hair got a darker blond than before, but I'm still the same person in the inside. Does Tucker really see me as something special? Could he see more then the little girl I was or does his mind play a trick at him, letting him think he still needs to protect me?
He certainly didn't change in the inside that much. He still can make me feel safe, let me want to be his friend, but oh god, his appearance is quite a different matter. He changed so much; I can hardly take my eyes off of him and his well build body does funny things with my mind and my heart. Like when he dropped his clothes and stood in just his briefs before me with these broad shoulders and well toned muscles. The butterflies in my belly began to flutter and I was afraid my knees where about to buckle. I was still trembling when he let me glide through the water.
I take a last look into the mirror then leave to join Tucker at his backyard.
As I walk closer to his porch, I can see his craftsmanship and I'm pretty proud of him. I let my fingers glide over the fresh wood and when I lift my eyes I see he is leaning against the door frame with his legs crossed at the ankles. The smouldering look he is giving me is almost combustible, igniting, letting the heat rise in my chest. Feeling the heat rush to my face lets me want to crawl into the little space between two boards on the floor beneath my feet. Why do I suddenly blush all the time?
How can he look at me like this? Like I'm all he wants.
“Hungry?” he ask in a husky voice and I slightly nod, incapable to look away.
Hungry for you
I think, blushing even more as I take his outreached hand. He pulls me close and tilts his head, bringing his lips to my skin, softly lingering on my neck as he places a silent tender kiss on the area right under my ear. And my knees once more threaten to give, letting me reach out to hold onto his waist.
“We need to eat,” he softly tells me while he leads me into his kitchen.
Rufus' head lifts up as we enter the room and he thump’s his stubby tail, happy to see me. I sit onto the chair close to the dog and watch Tucker fixing our plates while I take in the kitchen. Setting one plate in front of me, Tucker takes the place beside me and pours us some wine. The time flies while Tucker tells me about work and plans he has. Fascinated I watch his every movement, every little detail of his face, his hand slipping through his hair when searching for explanations. He loves to work with wood and his knowledge about shows in his voice.
After we finish our meal, we share to clean up and Tucker asks me if I'm up for watching a movie. I'm so worn out from everything that happened today that I have to decline. I write onto my blackboard that I'm very tiered and I'm very much in need of some sleep. Tucker wraps both his arms around my waist and asks, “Can you stay the night? I just want to hold you and feel you close to me.”
It's like a dare to stay and brazen I make up my mind, feeling the crimson colour to return to my cheeks.
“Chloe,” Tucker says, almost whispering, “Look at me.” He lifts my chin up to his face, wiping his thumb slowly over my blushed cheek and looks deeply into my eyes. Then he kisses me. Tenderly. Passionately. He is telling me what he wants to say with his kiss and I understand - I'm safe with him. I exhale a breath of air in an attempt to slow the pace of my increasing heartbeat.
Inhaling slowly I follow Tucker up to his bedroom. He lifts me off the floor and onto his bed, sliding me up until we reach the pillows. Rolling onto his back he scoops me up in his arms and settles my head onto his shoulder. His fingers dance lightly over my back while he holds me so close; I can hear his steady heartbeat.
“This is where you belong,” he whispers and like this we lay until I can feel myself slowly drifting into sleep.
Days go by and Chloe still hasn't ask me about the situation with Mike McAllister or what brought on the fall out. And I'm not going to tell her. I can't, I'm to much of a coward. I'm glad for each day we can enjoy to learn each other anew again.
Our daily swim lessons are an absolute bliss and at the same time pure torture for me. I'm getting to hold Chloe, getting to feel her skin on my hands without really touching her. I can see her losing the fear of water and beginning to actually enjoy cooling off in the unfamiliar element.
Like today, we are just splashing water and Chloe's eyes sparkle out of pure joy. Pressing my hand onto her stomach, she let herself fall horizontal without thinking and starts to move, when I let go of her and she swims. When her smiling face turns to give me the ‘see’ look, I wink at her from a distance and her face abruptly changes in one of shock. Realizing at that moment she was on her own and just like that she sinks under water and I hurry to bring her back up.
I laugh at seeing her comical expression and take her into my arms. Spitting out water she gets angry at me and brusquely walks out of the lake, what makes me laugh even more.
“Chloe come back. You did your first swim on your own before you went under. We will try again,” I call after her, but she keeps on walking and I hurry still chuckling after her.
When I reach the girl, I hold on to her arm and she stops, turns around with a pissed look in her face. Laughing I take a step closer and exclaim, “Oh shit!”
We both look at my foot, stuck in a brownish sticky substance, a little something Rufus left behind in the grass. Both our faces dip up to look at each other and I see various stages of emotions going over her face, from a -Eww- to a big toothy smile, before she turns around and runs back into the water, silently laughing hilariously.
Me, I just hobble back, forgotten the humour I just felt and silently curse. A little way to the side of where Chloe and Rufus are splashing water, I try to wash off the unpleasant nastiness, when I sense a sudden silence and alarmed my head jerks up and my eyes land on Chloe, swimming on her own in silent relaxed strokes.
And just like that my smile returns.
Today school begins and annoyed I watch the rain crashing rootless against my window. For a moment I just stare at the raindrops leaving streaks on the glass while I absentmindedly bite at the pieces of skin around my thumb, treading the bike ride to school.
With a quick glance at my watch I take a big breath and slip into my shoes, pick up my school map and close the door.
Just as I'm about to turn around I hear, “Wait, you can come with me.”
Tucker starts his truck and drives right over the small piece of grass that separates our drive ways. Not needing a second invitation I jolt towards the open door that Tucker is holding out for me.
In the last few days we were almost inseparably. Much of the old confidence into each other is back and sometimes it feels like we never separated at all. And then there is this other feeling, something entirely new; exciting and intriguing.
I'm on a roller coaster with my feelings. Right now I'm on an upward swing, seeing only the blue endless sky, content in the momentary state of bliss, only to know there will be a downfall without knowing the extend of it.
Every evening we eat together, go for a swim and watch a movie or go for a walk before we go to his bedroom. Tucker always wraps me into his arms, where I lay and listen to his quiet voice and steady heartbeat, telling me about work, plans and himself. Lots of times I catch myself not really hearing what he is telling, just caught in the feeling of the moment his chest makes against my cheek and his strong steady heartbeat while his fingers glide over my skin, drawing lazy little circles.
Tucker stops in front of the school, leans over and kisses me softly, wishing me a good start, before I bolt out into the rain and run up the few steps to the buildings entrance. I'm early so there is nobody there yet and I have a little time to organize my desktop and ready myself for the first school day. When my gaze wanders to the window I see the rain morphing into a lighter mist and a smile appears on my lips, the day will get better and with that the first kids start to dribble in.
The day goes by fast and before I know it the school day is over and I take a glance at my watch. I still have a few moments before I can expect Tucker to pick me up. I go through some of the papers on my desk, make some notes when I feel someone standing at the open door.
My eyes sweep up to see Tucker leaning against the door frame, arms crossed, his dark brown eyes hot on mine. I shuffle my papers and get up, watching Tucker push himself off the frame and slowly walking towards me.
I can't look away; it's as if he has some strange spell on me.
Every time I look at him now it seems almost impossible that this is the same guy who smeared cold wet dirt into my face and his own so we could be like this soldiers on TV or who challenged me to see which one of us could sit longer on the big ant nests a few feet behind the tree house. Or the one testing me on eating an array of bugs and sliding down the slushy part of a small hillside on a rainy day until our knees where all banged up and red. The one who held on to the bicycle so I could learn to ride and the one to hold me when I was crying and all messed up. And the one who gave me my first kiss, awkward and breathless I just stared at him, asking myself what was going on with him, before I cleaned my mouth with the back of my hand and then wrestled him to the ground, tickling his side, until we both where laughing again.
He pulls me into his arms and I lean heavy into him. He is still the one person to make me feel safe and weak all at the same time.
Today it will be my turn to make dinner and after a quick shower, I'm busy preparing the meal in the kitchen, when my eyes fall onto an envelop sitting on top of my mail I set carelessly onto the table at the time I came home. It's not the envelop that draws my attention, but the familiar little shaky handwritten letters. I pick it up and study the unexpected mail but other than my address there is nothing written on it.
I turn the heat down on my stove, dry my hands and with apprehension sit down to open the letter. There is one piece of paper telling me in my mother's handwriting, she is doing good at the place she is staying for her alcohol addiction and that she would like to see me. It is just a short note, but it feels like a heavy message to me. She wants to see me. What does it mean? Other than visiting times there isn't much more except the small written
I stare at this for the longest time. Love? Love mum? I'm amazed my hands are not shaking because my heart rate went up and my thoughts are racing.
I get up stir the pot and walk back to the table, look at the two small words and try to swallow the growing lump in my throat. Automatically I continue to cook, set the table and do all the necessary moves to finish dinner.
“Is it okay if I bring Rufus?” I hear Tucker as he enters the kitchen and I absently nod and wave my hand at the empty chair on the table. Placing the food on a plate I turn to set Tucker's meal onto his place, when I see his brows crunched up almost to his hairline and a confused look in his face. Did I miss something?
Bewildered I glance from Tucker to the table and see I have set the table for three, fork and knife and all. With a huff I remove the third setting when I feel Tucker's hand on my arm.
“Are you okay?” he watches me intensely with a half smile on his lips.
I take the letter and hand it over then turn and put some food onto my plate. Taking the seat across Tucker, I slowly shove some food into my mouth without really tasting it.
I can see Tucker reading the short note a second time then laying the paper onto the table. For a second he is quiet before he asks me, “Are you going?” I lift my shoulder and chew on some food, my gaze on nothing particular.
“You should,” I hear him say; “I mean you should at least listen to what she has to say to you, right? Damn, Chloe, you need to let people close to you. You never know, maybe some will amaze you. You need to listen what they try to say. Don't just assume. You have to deal with yourself and let others care for you. Maybe they don't want to hurt you even more then you have been hurt already and maybe they are trying to avoid dealing with their own shame in not being able to help you.”
Oh god, there is so much, so much to reconsider. The fact that everyone left me to myself, even when it was me who isolated myself from the world. Thinking they where just uncomfortable to talk to me. It is probably my own fault. Just like my silence. I shut everybody out.
Vehemently I shake my head. Why should I? It's not like I'm a very social person. The really only time I'm socializing is when I'm teaching. But it's different with children anyway. They don't expect to much from me and I don't have to see their pity like in people who knew me and don't know how to react around me. I don't like interacting to people so much.
Tucker is different. Tucker does talk to me. He talks to me like I'm a normal person. Like a normal person with a shitty past. And he knows me. He knows all about me and still he treats me like a regular person and not just a charity case. I forgot what it feels like to have a life outside of hiding myself from others. I force myself to put one foot in front of the other and try to be more then my past. I forgot that there can be anything else.
But Tucker, he makes me feel. He makes me feel things I have not felt in a long time, maybe ever.
Maybe he is right. I need to let people in. At least give them a chance to get to know me. Give me a chance to show them who I am. Maybe, just maybe I have to start with my mum.
Slowly I nod, my eyes meeting his. My hand reaches for my blackboard and I write;
will you come with me?
His eyes drop to his plate and I think I can see him flinch a little. I can understand that he isn't too fond of my mother and I quickly write,
I mean, will you come with me and wait for me? I'm kind of afraid to visit her.
He mumbles something and I can hear a “sure Chloe” in it, but don't dwell on it.
I spit the piece of meat I'm chewing on for the last five minutes into my hand and quickly reach towards Rufus and like magic it disappears from my palm. One more smile earned from a happy dog.