'Have you ever even spoken to her?' Elliott asked, tipping a bag of corn chips into his mouth. His study partner, Tripp Matthews, sat on the opposite end of the couch flipping through a biology book. He peered up from the pages with a sigh.
'I'm telling you, bro. If I were you, I'd have hit that already.'
'Don't do that.'
'Do what?' 'Don't talk about girls that way.'
Elliott froze for a moment and considered his reply, before shrugging and sucking the crumbs from his fingers.
'Right, I gotta bounce,' Tripp said, slamming the book shut and climbing to his feet.
'Where ya goin' bro?'
'What the hell man, who's gonna do my assignment for me!?'
'It's done,' said Tripp, sliding a sheet of paper onto the kitchen counter.
Out in the street, a bitter chill rolled along the sidewalk and a heavy mist clung to the air. As he hoisted up his bicycle from the grass in the front yard, there was a familiar rumble in his pocket. He reached inside and pulled out his cell phone. One new text: Anna Matthews. Sighing, he swiped open the message.
Mom says you have to pick me up
from Kate's tonight. Don't shoot the messenger :) Also, she said to remind you to collect flowers for the vigil.
Great. Not only had he wasted an entire morning dealing with Elliott 'The Meat Head' Carter, he now had to spend the rest of the day running around after everybody else. He wheeled his bicycle to the end of the driveway and hopped onto the seat, rolling down the hill towards town. Elliott's words echoed in his brain, as he gripped his fist tighter around the handlebars.
A few weeks ago, a mysterious girl had arrived in Denver Falls. Mysterious, and according to Tripp Matthews, beautiful. Nobody really seemed to know exactly why she was there, but one thing was for sure... she had certainly captured a lot of attention. In his head, the face of the outsider flooded his mind. It wasn't just the fact he found her attractive, he'd also noticed how she never went anywhere without her camera. Not one of those new, hip, $900 ones either, but an actual vintage polaroid. Tripp was impressed. He had always been fascinated with photography and was yet to meet another person who enjoyed framing images as much as he did. Who is this girl? he wondered as he peddled through the streets. What is her name? Where has she come from? And what is she doing here in Denver Falls?
Along Main Street, the traffic was, as always, pretty non-existent. Not many people drove in town. If they did, they'd most certainly leave and never turn back. Tripp grumbled under his breath as he rode past the steps of the Plaza movie theatre, which were swamped with kids from his school. Some pointed and waved, others flipped the bird. For the most part, Tripp was a quiet guy. He went to school, he went home, and on weekends he worked for his father. That was his life. At least it was until a year ago when he became the lead singer of local band, Rogue Adrenaline. Suddenly the entire school knew his name, and although it felt great to be noticed, it also made him a little uneasy.
Passing The Cannery, his stomach rumbled as the sweet scent of French fries and steak filled the air. A flash of yellow in the window caused him to do a double-take. It was her. The mysterious stranger, right there in the window with a drink and that same old yellow beanie pulled down over her bangs. But who was that sat with her?... No way! Was it--
'Sorry!' Tripp called, narrowly missing an elderly woman.
His handlebars wobbled as he struggled to gain control, before skidding to a halt outside the flower store. He locked his bicycle to the railing on the front steps and disappeared inside.
'Ah, Tripp,' the florist beamed.
'Hey, Aunt Maggie.'
'Your mom send you?' she asked, gathering a handful of flowers with one hand and trimming their stems with the other.
'The boxes are over there. You on your bike? I'll go grab some string, see if we can tie them on somehow,' she smiled, disappearing into the back of the store.
Tripp walked over the window whilst he waited and admired the new display. His eyes immediately drawn to and arrangement of vibrant red roses. They were so bright that he wished he'd brought his camera. Reaching out a hand he ran his finger against them, catching his skin on a stray thorn. 'Ouch!' he said as he sucked the blood from his finger.
'What happened?' Maggie asked, appearing from the back room with a ball of brown string.
'Nothing. Just the flowers.' Tripp explained, shaking away the sting.
'Ah, that's the deal with beautiful things,' said Maggie as she walked over and clipped the offending thorn from the bouquet. 'They are wonderful to look at but can often never be touched.'
To be continued...
Photo credit to Andrew Neel, Unsplash.
This story is copyright 2020 by Sim Alec Sansford. All rights belong to the author and material may not be copied without the author’s express consent.