**Below, the story from earlier this week continues. Elesa realizes she and Casey have a lot in common.** PLEASE SHARE AND SUBSCRIBE 🙂
The feet are still large, those eyes are large too but no longer hiding behind glasses. His lips are full and not because there’s food behind it.
“Uh, hi,” I flip over my words. “I didn’t recognize you.” Now it is my turn to feel self conscious. Funny how that works.
This can’t be Casey! No Way!
Casey moves closer to me, slower. Oh God he is like one of the movie stars, or dancers I see on television.
“Hi Elesa, how’s it goin’?”
“Um, good I guess.”
“Elesa, help me with the table,” Grandma winks at Casey. I look down at my paisley top with the large, swirling design and my tights which make it appear as if I have some kind of shape.
Why am I worried over these things?
I take the red basket full of golden rolls and set it neatly in the center of the long table. Casey and his dad are in the living room watching whatever sport is on television.
I push back my hair.
He is not fat.
He is not gross looking. This is Casey Pullim. Never have I felt drawn to him before.
I am such a loser. Such an idiot. So shallow.
I go back into the kitchen and help Grandma set the napkins and utensils on the table. The chill from the screen door, sweeps the house along with the scent of cinnamon from Grandma’s scented pine cones.
I think of mom and dad.
We were just here last year watching a family movie. A Christmas Story to be exact. Just last year.
Before they got taken away from me.
Grandma said God took them. They were great parents, good angels, and the Lord needed them.
I need them.
I hug myself and close my eyes just as I feel warm air by my ear. “Need help?”
“N-no,” I slowly face Casey and his startling eyes. His chest fills out his shirt, I can see the indentation of muscle in his shoulders.
“You sure? You were standing here for a minute and- well, it looked like you were lost or something.”
How sweet. He didn’t mention how my eyes are probably shining from unshed tears.
If he would have said I looked about to cry, I would have bawled right then and there all over his shirt.
“How are you and your dad?”
He stuffs his hands in his front pockets. “Good actually.” His Southern accent is beautiful. Why haven’t I noticed before?
I am such a darned loser.
“He found a job at a plant nearby, said it has benefits, good pay and we can finally give mom the beautiful headstone she deserves.”
I forgot. He lost someone too.
“Ready everyone?” Grandma announces.
Casey watches me. I can feel his gaze as I lower myself in my chair. I am next to grandma, he is next to his father, but we are across from one another.
After grandma’s really long grace over the food, we all dig in. I am ravenous for the rolls, but suddenly I am not so hungry for grandma’s lovely cooking…
I watch Casey and of course, he is not affected by anything. He digs in with gusto, chomps down on the brisket, slops the rolls in the sauce made for the brisket and shoves it on down.
Soft music plays from grandma’s radio. They are starting Christmas songs in late October already. But the mood is perfect. The sky is the color of jean blue with a stitch of pink and I can hear the crickets.
“God has blessed you, Anthony.” Grandma begins, passing the ice tea in a large glass pitcher to everyone. I pour a small amount in my glass.
“He certainly has. I got this job because of hard work, but also a little divine intervention. You’ve been prayin’ on my behalf little lady?”
Grandma laughs and waves her hand, banishing the thought. “Why? I have to. You’re our friend now. Even if you weren’t I’d still give God a request.” Grandma Olsa then turns to Casey, a twinkle in her eye.
“This handsome devil could stop traffic though. What happened to ya?”
Casey shrugged, his eyes slammed into mine again before back to grandma. “I met some dudes at the camp who loved martial arts. I always liked seeing it on television but could never really do it. I began going to the dojo with them.”
“That’s cool,” I say and sip my tea to prevent further talk.
“Well I see Princess Elesa is still radiant as ever. How are you doin?” His father asks me.
I tell him I am doing well. I left out the part about me mostly staying home, crying myself to sleep thinking of mom and dad, throwing up food after I eat so I can stay small and pretty and petite…
Casey eyes me curiously. I can’t believe I hated them. I saw them as slum rats who ate our food every Sunday. Lazy, slovenly folks who couldn’t get jobs.
Now, I am sitting before a hard working man and his handsome son.
“Hey, Elesa wanna come outside with me?” Casey stand with his plate in his hand. “Is it alright, Mrs. Night?”
“Please, you call me Grandma honey,” Grandma remains seated, her hands in a steeple position. “Go on you two.”
I breathe in a shaky breath. Casey takes my plate for me and instead of just sitting them on the side of the sink, he washes each one and dries each one. I stand next to him and place them in the cabinet where they belong before we begin our silent march outside.
I feel the moment of truth coming on.
His hand reaches for mine. I gasp as we walk out into the early evening together. Some kids are riding their bikes while others are simply outside with friends laughing and talking about whatever.
Casey’s hand is warm.
We sit in the long swing, the one swing in the front yard. He still clasps my hand.
“Why’d you change?” I interrupt him. I didn’t mean to sound hard and scathing, but I don’t know whether to hate him or…
He pulls his hand from mine. I really do feel the coldness seep into my bone then. I need his hand.
“I was just kind of hoping that you’d y’know…fall in love with me.”*
My face is heated and now I see why he pulled away from me. He is twisting his hands nervously, they are white as milk.
“Casey, you know I have a boy-”
“I know. He is everything I am not. He is a few years older, more handsome, has more money. But,” he turns to me and takes my hand gently, I feel butterflies. He takes my whole hand, wrist and all.
“Casey I am so very sorry for ignoring you all this time,” I slap a palm to my forehead. “Geez! Listen to me. I am only apologizing because now you’re hot.”
I popped the same hand over my mouth. My stupid mouth!
A smile curls at the edge of Casey’s lips. “You think I’m hot?”
“You mean, you don’t know?” I say astonished he doesn’t recognize he is cuter than my pothead boyfriend Sam.
“Well, towards the end of summer, my buddies kept inviting me to places and a few girls even asked me out. I thought it was just so they could hang with the other guys.”
“No way. They wanted you, Casey. But for real you look good. I am happy for you.”
“Are you happy though?”
“Yes.” I bite my bottom lip. I also realize his eyes have always been deep and mossy, seaweedy, intelligent. His hair has always been thick and raven black. He was still the same, shy, caring Casey.
“I know you miss them. I miss mom a lot too. Drunk drivers are stupid. Deserve to be tortured in hell, really.”
“Yeah. I lived and the drunk driver gets to live in some fancy prison.” I said angrily.
“My mom died of cancer but it hurts a lot to know she kept it from us for so long. I thought we had years to go with her. I wanted her to take pictures of my prom, for her and dad to finally go to Hawaii…then she just…died.”
“Do you think she is in heaven, with God?”
Casey shrugs. “She ain’t here with me and that’s all I know.”
“Ditto. I’d rather them be here. I don’t know why good people always die.”
Casey takes my hand and boldly places it on his lap. “In that case, there better be a heaven.”
“Come closer, Elesa. I don’t bite,” he chuckles. I smile and scoot next to him, lie my head back on the white swing. He begins to gently rock us back and forth.
I see grandma and his dad in the window. Grandma has taken out her large sized bible and they were looking into it, smiling and talking. She was probably teaching him more of the bible. My grandma, the teacher. Just like her daughter, my mom.
“So did ya?” Casey whispers, flicking back a strand of my blond tresses.
“Did I what?”
“Did you…fall for me?”
I give him the only answer I could. The one could seal the hole in my chest, the one that opens new possibilities.
I turn his face to mine and for the first time, with a boy, I am nervous.
He lets me run my hands up and down his face.
I am about to bring him closer when he pulls me to him roughly and before I can even blink, he is kissing me.
I kiss back wholeheartedly, falling into his lips, his scent of cinnamon and soap, of twin sorrows…
Copyright 2016 by Erica Jean Smith
*Inspired by Dialogue Prompt