I’ve missed a couple of week’s Write on Wednesday posts, but something spurred me to complete this week’s assignment…though I’m afraid to say I wandered very far off topic. I was supposed to take myself off for a walk and then write about the walk, focusing on illustrative sentences that drew the reader in and described the mood, scenery etc.
Well, that didn’t happen.
I did however, start the exercise by asking Jason for a boy’s name and a girl’s name. Not sure why, but he gave me Johnathan and Tilly. Before I knew it, they had me sitting in from of Open Office, writing their story.
Which is what you’re going to get instead of the walking prompt. Sorry about that. They do go on a walk though… so we’re halfway there.
Johnathan & Tilly.
Johnathan stole a glance over at Tilly, silently wishing she would slip her pale, freckled hand into his own; would wrap her elegant, peach painted fingers around his, interlocking them in that sweet, defiant way that screamed to all around that this couple meant business.
But, as always, Tilly just sat there, humming away to herself, staring up into the canopy of golden autumnal leaves, lost in a world of her own.
“I love the way the light trickles through here” she murmered, snapping away with the little red camera that seldom left her hands. “Doesn’t it make you feel alive?”
Johnathan nodded, but his answer was in reply to the light dancing its way across her auburn locks, caressing the ringlets that fell upon her shoulders, catching the odd speck of glittery blush dusted ever so gently upon her plump cheeks.
“Hmm?” She prompted.
“Erm..yes, it’s very pretty” he replied quietly.
“I could spend all day out her just staring at the beauty of the world” She continued, lying back onto their well worn picnic blanket.
“Me too” he smiled shyly. He couldn’t actually look at her the same way when she was talking to him face to face. No… that would give too much away. He didn’t want to risk ruining anything. After all, he was, as she told him many, many times “Not at all like the other boys” and her best friend in the world. They’d kissed, once, so many moons ago when they were much, much smaller. Nothing serious, just silly kids stuff. She fobbed it off later and said it was just the heat of the moment and they’d never mentioned it again.
But they weren’t silly kids forever, and here she was now, nineteen, tall, curvy and the prettiest she’d ever been. He was a boy… a young man really, having just had his 21st birthday. He’d been expected to go away to sea or pick up one of the many more manly trades people of his generation did. Instead, he found himself like so many other disenchanted souls, making his way as an artist and a writer. You didn’t need money if it starved you of your creativity. And there was nothing that drove his creativity, quite like Tilly did.
She had her shoes off now, her long, straight toes catching blades of soft green grass between them as she rubbed her feet across the lawn. She had always loved the smell of freshly cut grass. She said that was her favourite scent in the entire world. That and the smell after it first rained…oh and chocolate. He’d be in big trouble if he ever forgot chocolate!
Her toenails were painted with the same delicate shade of peach and they, like the rest of her, sparkled in the sunlight.
The Leica was on the grass beside her now. Johnathan reached over and picked it up.
“What’re you doing?” She asked with borderline annoyance. He was touching her camera. Nobody touched the camera, not even her best friend in the entire world.
“May I take your picture?” He asked timidly. “Only….you, know, the light” He gestured loosely up at the canopy.
She cocked her head to one side and considered it a moment, screwing up her face. “Oh all right then”. She put on a cheesy smile.
“No, go back to how you were…just lying back…ignoring me.”
“I wasn’t ignoring you!” Tilly protested.
“You know what I mean!”
She lay back down onto the grass and put her feet up in the air, stretching to the sky -crossing them over in the way she always did when she was furiously scribbling away in her journal.
Johnathan took the little red camera, her pride and joy and went about recording her in just the way he’d always seen her. The light on her skin, the glow of her hair. Those long, delicate, freckled fingers.
After a few minutes, Tilly sighed and rolled over onto one side, propping her chin up on her hand. “Are you quite done yet?”.
“Sorry.” He quickly snapped one more and handed the camera back over. “I can buy you another roll of film if you like.”
“With what? Buttons?”
She stuck her tongue out at him. “I’m just teasing you know. I know you’ll come good. Someone will pick up your book any day now, I just know it!” She smiled happily and continued on. “And I’ll open a little gallery in one of the old terrace houses on Pattison street…next to the patisserie of course!”
“You’ll have a desk in the back of the gallery where you can write away at your novels, gazing out over the park”. She looked quite pleased with herself now.
“You have it all worked out, don’t you Tilly?”
“Yep. It’ll be perfect.”
“Perfect until you marry a heavily tattooed football player the size of an outhouse and he tells me to get lost… only probably not as politely.”
They fell silent for a while. Perhaps she was thinking about the football player.
“Take your shoes off Johnathan.” she said, pointing to his scuffed suede Docs. “And your socks.”
“Because we’re going to go for a walk through all those pretty trees.”
“Why do I have to take my shoes off?”
She sighed heavily. “Just do it.”
He slowly unlaced his shoes and removed his socks, revealing pasty white hairy toes. he was embarrassed a little. He’d be mortified if they smelt bad.
“Leave them here with the picnic stuff”.
“But someone might-”
“Someone might what?!” Her hands were on her hips now. “Nobody’s here. Nobody ever comes here, except us.”
“I suppose you’re right” He said, nervously putting his favourite shoes down beside the blanket.
“I’m always right.”
Tilly gestured towards the grove of chestnut trees, golden and red leaves falling softly to the ground. damp grass and a slightly overgrown track meandering through them.
And so they wandered down the path a little way, stopping every few minutes as they always did, so that she could snap away with the little red camera. Halfway along the path was a big old oak tree. It’d been their secret place as children, once housing their cubby. Of course these days there wasn’t much left, bar for the odd rusty nail and a few splinters of rotten wood.
Tilly leant against the tree. “Remember this?”
“Every afternoon at four o’clock” he smiled.
She pointed a couple of feet above her head, the trunk scarred a little from the ladder that’d rubbed against it for so many years. There, above a knot, were their initials. Johnathan had carved them out with his pocket knife back when they were thirteen – sitting in the tree with their walkmans and various illicit treats snuck from the pantry when her mother’s back was turned.
“I wonder why we drew a heart?” Johnathan pondered out loud.
“It was just the done thing” She replied.
She stuck her tongue out again. He wished she wouldn’t do that. It only drew attention to her mouth. And he was trying very, very hard not to think about that.
Tilly stared determinedly at the tree for a few minutes. Then at Johnathan, and then back at the tree.
“We should climb it!” She exclaimed with a broad grin.
“What? Now? I just took off my shoes!”
“So? Wuss, you’ll be able to grip better.” She looked around the base of the tree. “Give me a leg up will you?”
Johnathan looked at the oak tree and back down the path towards his stuff. “Look I really… it’s getting dark”
“Oh come ON Johnny, when did you get so boring!” She put her foot against the tree and sprung up a little, reaching up above her to grab a branch and try to swing her way up.
“I’m fine!” she scrambled a little higher. Johnathan still watching from the ground, trying not to look straight up, in case he caught a glimpse of her underwear as her frilly skirt whipped around in the breeze.
She was fine, until her foot unexpectedly hit a slippery bit of moss and she lost her footing. She swore loudly (a curious thing to hear from a mouth as pretty as hers) as her hands were shredded by the tree bark. Worried, he lifted his arms and tried to stall her slide a little. As she got near the bottom she slipped again and damn near bowled him over.
“That was a stupid thing to do!” He chastised, helping her steady herself again on the ground.
“Who are you calling stupid?”
“I didn’t, I said IT was a stupid thing to do”.
Tilly dusted herself off, wincing due to the scrapes on her hands. “Damnit! broke a nail!”.
“Here, sit down a minute” he instructed her, leading her to a mossy rock. “Hold your hands out.”
Over her hands he emptied his bottle of drinking water. Then hesitantly, removed his t-shirt and dabbed at her hands to dry them.
As he stood there, shivering and getting goosebumps, Tilly couldn’t help but notice the focused and determined way her ‘doctor’ was tending to her scrapes. Couldn’t help but notice the light glinting off his hair…or those arms that were slowly starting to show evidence of his time spent rowing. It wasn’t the first time she’d looked at Johnathan and wished things were different between them… but he’d made it pretty clear they were nothing more than friends.
“Done” He shoved the edge of his damp, dirty, bloodied t-shirt into the pocket of his jeans.
He folded his arms across his chest. It was getting chilly and the light was fading. He was sure he could hear the determined hum of mosquitos.
“If you don’t mind, Tilly, I’d like to head back now.”
“Uh… sure” Tilly replied, hoping he hadn’t noticed her staring at his abdomen. She reached out her hand. “Can you help me up?”
He did so gallantly and waited for her to straighten herself up.
“You go first!’ She urged him. She didn’t mention it was because she quite liked the idea of glancing at his backside as he walked back down the path.
Johnathan shrugged and headed off up the path. The light was in front of him so he was beautifully backlit with all the branches bowing lightly over his head. He could hear her, snapping away.
After a few metres he could hear he footsteps had stopped.
“Oh hurry up Tilly!”
“No! Don’t move, stay there!’ She cried.
He was getting restless now. “I don’t want any more photos Tilly, I’m cold, I’m getting eaten alive by mosquitos and you better hope to God my bike’s where I left it!”
“It’ll only take a sec!”
He’d lost count of how many times he’d heard that in his life. “Come on!”
“Close your eyes!”
He turned his head back towards her, exasperated. “Close my eyes, why?”
“Just do it!”
Johnathan stood there, hands by his side, head bowed slightly, shivering, but as directed, eyes shut. Tilly surveyed him for a couple of minutes, drinking in the way he slowly breathed in and out. Taking a deep breath she steadied her nerves and crept up in front of him.
And kissed him.
Johnathan was taken aback and opened his eyes. She smelt of honey…sweet flowers…alyssum…and she tasted like sherbet lipgloss. He decided he better kiss her back, before she changed her mind again.
After what felt like a small eternity, Tilly pulled away, biting her lip and blushing. She slipped her not-so-perfectly delicate hand into his.
“Come on Johnny, we still have a long way to walk”.