She Has Your Eyes (1/1) Aug 24, 2006 19:54:06 GMT -5
Post by kris1907 on Aug 24, 2006 19:54:06 GMT -5
She Has Your Eyes
She Has Your Eyes
A handkerchief moves from a pocket. The soft fabric slides across a tired forehead. Looking up, tired eyes squint at the unrelenting sun. The fabric runs over his nose and mouth before finding its hiding place back within the jacket pocket of his navy suit. Too hot to be this covered. Too hot to be standing outside on the pavement. Too hot to be standing at all.
Eyes move from the ghastly sun to the pavement. They can’t help but follow the light as it dances off of the tiny pebbles. A diagonal step barely puts him underneath the overhang of the outdoor theatre. A quick glance at his back confirms what he could feel, that half of his body is shaded, while the other half is lit by the sun.
A breath in through the nose. Hold. A gentle release. He closes his eyes and attempts to concentrate on a single thought as he continues to breathe in and let it out. Slowly. Evenly. Over and over.
The concentration is broken as another guest bumps into him. As soon as he looks up to make contact with the person, a harsh cough takes over his system. A hand immediately flies up to his mouth. He steps back into the powering sun and attempts another deep breath. Cough. A shake of his head as the coughing refuses to leave his system. Another deep breath and finally, it ceases.
The handkerchief comes out again, as he moves back to his stop. He blinks to readjust his eyes to the darkness of the theatre and attempts to focus on the speech being given by a tall, thin boy. The message is of hope, of accomplishment, of the future. Students cheer and raise their hands, as the young gentlemen takes his seat again and a lady comes to the podium. Yet another speech of accomplish, this one shorter than the rest, and she begins to pronounce the names from her list, slowly, carefully. His eyes watch as her lips move, a student stands up and moves across the stage, and returns to their seat. Over and over again this occurs.
Over and over.
Girl. Then boy.
Finally, the moment arrives. The reason he is sweating his ass off. Her nerves are getting the best of her, he can tell. He can see, even from his spot in the back, that her butt is nearly off the chair in anticipation. That her eyes are moving from the announcer, to her principal, to the student walking, back to the floor in a constant circle. And that her right fingers are twisting her left a bit harder – a habit her mother always possessed.
Letting out a nervous breath that he didn’t realize he was holding, he smiles as he sees her begin to stand up. The speakers echo, “Isabella B- -“
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Moving through the crowd of students, parents, family members, and siblings, he finds himself naturally smiling and letting out a soft “Congratulations” to the kids in blue robes.
“Oh, I’m sorry. Excuse me” is said to one adult as he accidentally steps into their path, causing a quick halt in both of their journeys. Sidestepping him, he continues on his way. His hand reaches up to cover a cough. Where he is going in this mess is unknown.
As soon as the last name was called, the last speech was completed and everybody was thanked for coming out and dealing with them for the long hours in the obscene weather, the hundreds of people immediately stood up and flowed out of the open theatre. A sea of people and he knew where he needed to be. He easily stepped into the flow and worked his way through the small circles of excited friends and overwhelmed family members.
After a few dozen quick stops and redrawing of his planned path, he has arrived to the dirt path and turns around to get a look at all the chaos. He knows they are making their way through all the people and will find a nice, quiet place to meet after the kids have had a moment to chat with their friends and make arrangements for later plans.
Shrugging his jacket off of his shoulders, he slightly adjusts his tie, before folding his jacket and laying it over his left arm. His left hand slides into his pocket, the jacket slides down, and he begins to move along the dirt road.
Blue eyes wander around the field, looking for something, yet not truly wanting to find anything. He should just leave, but his car is in the other direction and he cannot seem to convince himself to move in the opposite direction.
“Shawn stop!” The voice catches him off guard and he stops immediately, turning towards the sound. He spots them a few feet away and simply watches her as a young man picks her up and spins her around happily.
A smile tugs at his lips. A pain tightens at his heart.
“We made it! Belle, it’s all over. I don’t have to take another test, sit in another classroom, nothing. I’m done!”
Laughing with him, Belle giggles out, “College Shawn. Colleges have classroom.”
“Oh shut up. Give me my moment of glory here.”
“So sorry.” Her body turns and her eyes scan the crowd. As she turns his way, he looks down at the ground and turns ever so slightly away from her. Peeking back up, he sees her smile at somebody in the distance, “Mimi! Hey Mimi, get your ass over here! Girl, we have decisions to make.” Another young blonde girl, followed close by two other young males step in close to the couple. The five teens make a circle and he can hear Isabella’s voice, “Gary is having a party, but James’ has the pool and it’s hot as hell out here. So thinking we may want to hit up James’ party first and then swing back. Because then we can – “ He tunes out the actual words, but concentrates on her voice. The party planner.
Lost within his own world, he jumps and his heart skips a beat when he hears a loud squeal, “Mom!” He looks up just in time to see the young blonde run forward, arms open, and lunge towards an older blonde.
“Doc…” slips from his lips. He doesn’t know how long he has been staring but the sun finally forces his stinging eyes to blink. When his eyes reopen, his heart stops as he swears that her eyes are focused on his own. Quickly, he closes his eyes, drops his chin and turns away.
He begins to move. Time to leave.
Fumbling for his handkerchief, he coughs as the dust from the path filters around his face. He wipes off the sides of his forehead before returning the fabric to his pocket. People move around him and for a moment, he loses his sense of direction. His car is which way exactly?
“South… I need south parking lot.”
He turns around and moves through a family, “Sorry.” Finding a shaded tree, he leans against it and tries to keep in a calming breath. The hot, humid air causes him to cough again. This time the cough hangs in his lungs and refuses to budge. A quick breath. In. Out. In between the coughs. He growls in annoyance at it.
“Water?” The sudden word and close body proximity causes him to jump, knocking his knuckle on the tree. His forehead creases in both pain and shock as she steps closer to him, “John.”
Another chocked cough allows him to push out, “Marlena.”
“Oh my god…” is all that is said before she is in his arms and squeezing him tight. A breath is sucked in and held. Arms tighten around her small frame. Two noses bury into two separate shoulders. “Oh my… I.. I just can’t believe it.”
She steps back. But doesn’t let go of him.
He stays put.
“I was just heading out.”
“Out?” Her nose scrunches up, “Leaving?”
“I didn’t mean to be seen.”
“Well, I’ve seen you. I’ve got to get Roman! And Carrie and the kids… they’ve all missed you so. And Caroline and Shawn are here. Well, just about everybody is here and you have to see them. They’ve missed you so. You just can’t – “
A finger touches her lips to quiet her.
A bittersweet smile spread across his own. “It’s good to see you Doc. And I’ve missed you too, but I would rather… I’d rather not… not see everybody.” Looking almost like a shy child, “If that’s okay with you.”
“Well it most certainly is not okay with me! What will everybody think if you just disappear without even a hello? Besides, we need to catch up. Where have you been?”
“Doc… doc…” Attempting to get her attention, “Marlena. Please, I just don’t want to start anything. I don’t have the time or the energy-“
Marlena hears little of his plea.
Her hand goes into the air. A name leaves her lips.
His hand rubs the back of his neck. Blue eyes search the ground for an escape. Whispering, “Please… don’t do this. I’m sorry-“
Again, his words go unheard.
Footsteps move towards them.
Marlena moves toward her husband, “Roman, look… look who’s here!” She points towards John’s back, “Isn’t it great?” Words spill from her mouth so quickly. Her body keeps moving from John’s half turned body to her husband. Senses on overload.
Finally he turns to face the small mob of people. Caroline moves quickly to hug him. Carrie’s excited eyes meet his own. Sami moves forward to join her grandmother. Shawn pats his shoulder. Chaos ensues.
John smiles and goes to speak but quickly turns away and buries his face into the crook of his arm. The harsh cough returns. His eyes close as he sucks in a breath through his nose. Holds. Lets it go. Trying to swallow it down, John gives an apologetic look to the crowd, “Doc, is that offer of water still good?”
Taking it from her, he breathes evenly as he swallows a bit of the water before returning it. “Thank you. It’s great to see you all. Carrie, Sami, Eric… you’ve just grown so much. Not ankle-biters anymore it seems.”
Laughs filter through, as Sami speaks for the group, “No, we’re all grown up. I’m just about to graduate from Salem U with a degree in psychology. Eric goes to Colorado State.” Her brother pipes in, “For business” before Sami finishes, “And Carrie is a model. She’s got this new… well Car you tell’em.”
John’s eyes move from one blonde to the other. “Yeah, I just got an offer from Elle magazine, not only to do a photo shoot but to do some runway shows for them for the upcoming season.”
“Wow… wow…” Scanning all the faces, “That’s amazing. All of you, just incredible. Carrie congratulations. It’s all so great.” His words fall off, as he looks away. Uncomfortable. Shy. All emotions that control his body language. Unsure, but finally he lifts his head and makes eye contact with the final blonde that he has yet to address, “Isabella, congratulations on your graduation. You were just a little baby the last time I saw you…” Putting a hand out to her, “John Black.”
“A pleasure to meet you.” She eyes him suspiciously, “And thank you.”
Roman steps up and hugs Belle tightly to him, kissing the top of her head, “Yeah, we are proud of our little one.” John’s eyes grow dark as a shadow of a time long gone shifts across them. “I can’t believe all my little girls are all grown up and out of High School.”
It settles in his gut. Quickly moves up. His lungs tighten. He breathes in slowly through his nose. Holds. Breathes slowly back out.
John attempts to smile, but it’s hollow. He knows it is and therefore, he concentrates on the ground before him while starting, “Man, I felt old a few years ago when Brady made that famous walk but now, remember Bel- remembering how little Isabella was and seeing these gals all grown up…” Shaking his head with a chuckle, “Man.”
Marlena’s hand touches his shoulder, “How is Brady?”
“A grown man. Has a fiancée – gorgeous girl. Met her on a trip to Ireland, honestly never expected it to last beyond a phone call.”
Its Roman’s voice that invades the conversation, “Wow… talk about long distance.”
“Well, we live in London, so it’s not incredibly far. Kind of like a state to state relationship.” His eyes move from Roman to Marlena, watching how she takes in all the information. “Was hard- think harder on me than him. Now it’s figuring out where they will settle.”
“I understand. It’s always hard to let Eric go back to school or Carrie to go off on a job. And now Belle. Empty nest syndrome is definitely not just a female thing.”
Belle’s eyes lock onto John’s again. He holds his breath, for a moment it looks like she is going to speak. Then someone catches her attention.
He uses the moment to his advantage. “I won’t keep you all. I’m sure Isabella has a million places to be right now and tons of people to see and doesn’t need to be wasting time with a man she doesn’t even know. So congratulations again. And it was great seeing you all.”
Escape is not an answer.
Handkerchief comes out of his pocket. Wipes his forehead. He curses himself.
Giving in, “Okay. Okay. I’ll meet you there then.”
Nodding. Agreeing. Anything to make them all go away.
Footsteps on the gravel. He moves back to the tree. Leaning against it, he looks down at his hand. Wipes the small dried spots of blood.
“Doc, I can’t go.”
“She really is beautiful. Looks just like you.”
“She has your eyes. She noticed that today.”
Turning towards her, “No she didn’t.” At her objection, “Don’t make anything out of this Doc.”
She begins to reply. She won’t let this conversation end here, but she is interrupted by her daughter.
Both adults watch as Belle returns to the tree, “Thank you for coming. It means a lot.” Again, blue meet blue. John can’t look away. He can’t help but memorize her features.
She turns, but turns back, “Also, thanks for saving me that day at the park. And… and for everything.”
A moment. A recognition.
He watches her go, stifles a cough.
“Yeah, she fell off the slide, I caught her before she hit the ground.”
“You are the one… the school musical, I did see you. You ignored me.”
“I never wanted any of this to happen.”
“To be seen you mean? You never wanted to be seen.”
Looking at her, truly looking at her for the first time, “I meant what I said that day.”
“But you were there. You didn’t even say hello. Not even to me!”
“Christ! She’s my daughter. I had to see something – hold on to something.”
“You could have said hello, for Christ sakes! Not be some man of mystery hiding in the shadows.”
He can’t continue to look at her. He just isn’t that strong, “No, I couldn’t. I meant what I said that day. And I have done it. But I cannot, I will not stand around like some ass and watch it all happen.”
She watches him cough. Holds out her water bottle to him.
“I know that cough. How long?”
Too tired to lie, “Found out in April.”
“When do you start?”
“As soon as I get back. I had to see this.”
Sadness takes over her. Uncertainty.
He answers her unspoken question, “Smoking. Did a little too much, a little too fast.”
“You don’t smoke.”
“You better believe I do.”
“When did you start?”
“The night I told you that you’d won.”
Pain. Regret. He doesn’t try to make her feel better.
“Do you have somebody to take care of you? You could move back here, Mike Horton is incredible and the new treatments the hospital has- -“ His sad look cuts her off and she nods.
A tear slips down.
“Brady takes excellent care of his old man.”
“How does he look? I always imagined he would look just like you. Does he?” John pulls out his wallet, flips it open and hands it over. A hand quickly moves up to cover her mouth, “Oh my.” More tears. “Just like you. Same face.” Laughing, “Same stance. Isabella’s hair.”
“And her personality.” Pulling the picture out, he hands it to her, “Keep it. He would want you to have it.”
“He remembers me?”
A simple nod. A simple statement.
“He still has Brown Bear.”
And more tears.
Pulling her close, John breathes in her scent and kisses her lightly on the cheek. “You do know that I can’t go.”
“You have a beautiful family Marlena. I’m glad you are happy.”
“Are you happy, John?”
“Yeah, I am.”
Nodding, she kisses him lightly on the lips. Looks directly into his eyes and says two simple words that mean so much, “Thank you.”
And it’s over.
Footsteps on gravel going in opposite directions.
“Oh and John.” He stops, “She noticed she has your eyes.”
The pain in his chest lifts. If only a bit. It’s enough.