|Read Author's Analysis|
I rushed to my locker and tried the combination. I pulled on the lock. It stuck.
“Oh, God,” I said, smoothing back my hair from my forehead. “This has not been my day!”
I put my books on the floor and tried it again. It still stuck. If I didn’t hurry, I’d be late for science yet again. I tried it one more time. Stuck. I kicked my locker and yelled obsenities into the empty hall.
Someone pulled my hair from behind.
“Aaaah!” I yelled and jumped.
“Sorry,” said a male voice behind me. “I didn’t mean to startle you.”
I turned around. Some guy I’d never seen before was standing behind me. The first thing I noticed about him was his eyes. They were a breathtaking clear green.
The guy appeared embarrassed and his eyes flicked sideways away from me. He pushed his wavy brown hair out of his face with one hand.
I stared at the guy. He looked at me and blinked his eyes. It suddenly struck me that he was incredibly cute.
“Umm. . . . ” his eyes jumped all over the place. “You . . . uh . . . look like you’re having a little trouble. With your locker, I mean.”
“Yeah,” I said.
“Could I help? I’m good at getting things open.” He smiled nervously.
“Sure, be my guest,” I replied, yanking on the lock a last time. “The combination is 36-0-26.”
He fiddled with the lock and yanked it open. Then he grinned and took a bow.
“Thanks,” I said, smiling at him. I yanked the locker open. Out spilled a bunch of junk and a calculus book.
It wasn’t mine. It was a calculus book, I was in Algebra II. This wasn’t my locker.
I checked the door. A-28. My locker was A-29! No wonder the locker wouldn’t open, I’d been trying my combination on a lock that wasn’t mine. But the guy had tried my combination on this lock, too.
The guy bent down and picked up the calculus book.
“So,” he said conversationally. “You’re an advanced mathematician, huh?”
I shook my head.
“That’s not my book. This isn’t my locker!” I slammed it and put the lock back on. “I’ve been trying to open the wrong locker!”
“Oh,” said the guy. I got my stuff for science out of my locker as the bell rang.
“Can I walk you to class?” the guy asked. He looked at me and blinked strangely.
“Sure,” I agreed. We started walking. “So, how did you open the locker?”
“I gave you my combo and you opened the wrong lock with it.”
“What do you mean?”
“How did you do it?”
“Oh, just a knack, I guess.”
“What’s your name?” he asked me, changing the subject abruptly.
“I’m Allen Andrew Adams.”
I looked at him, wide-eyed.
“What’s that look for?” he asked.
“Your name’s almost the same as mine! I’m Alecia Andrea Addamson!”
“We’re both Al Andies,” he joked, chuckling. We arrived at my science classroom.
“See you before last period?”
“Okay, bye,” he said as he grinned at me. I grinned back and opened the door. The teacher gave me a tardy mark. Boo-hoo.
Science was my next-to-last class. I had English next. When I came out of the science classroom, Al was outside the door.
“Hi, Alecia,” he said, looking at me and blinking twice.
“Hi.” I headed toward my locker. Al followed.
I made sure I was opening the right locker. I opened the lock with no problems and took out my things for English class.
“Um . . . ” Al mumbled as he pushed his hair from his forehead and flicked his eyes around. “Can I carry your books for you?” he asked, finally looking me in the eye.
“Sure,” I replied, smiling and handing them to him. It was obvious that he was interested in me, but he really didn’t know how to show it.
I looked sideways at him as we walked toward my English class.
“So,” I said conversationally, “what class do you have now?”
“World Culture,” he replied. “I like to study about people from faraway places.” He looked back at me.
Suddenly I felt weird looking at him. There was something wrong with his eyes. I couldn’t put my finger on it.
“Hey,” yelled someone, close to my ear. It was Ann, my best friend.
“Hey,” I answered. Ann gave me a look like, “who’s he?”. Then she looked him up and down and grinned. She gave me the thumbs-up sign. I grinned back.
I looked back at Al. There was still something wrong with his eyes. He blinked too often and his eyes jumped around a lot, but something else was bothering me. But I couldn’t figure it out, so I tried to forget about it.
I shook my head back and forth to clear it, then remembered what Al last said about World Culture and people from other lands.
I cleared my throat. “So, um, where are you from?”
He sort of jumped, like I gave him an electric shock or something.
“Huh?” he asked, looking startled.
“I said, where are you from?” He looked at me. I noticed his eyes matched the color of his shirt.
“I’m from out of the country, actually,” he replied, looking away.
“Where, exactly?” I questioned, wondering why he was being so weird about where he was from.
“Um, a little tiny country that you probably never heard of,” he said, dismissing my question. I let it drop. We were almost at the English class, which was close to World Culture and all the Social Studies classes.
“See ya after this period?” he asked me.
“Sure.” He started to walk away.
“Al?” I yelled after him.
“Are you a junior?”
“Strange, me too!”
“Hmm,” he mumbled.
“I guess our names aren’t the only things that are similar about us,” I declared. He smiled at me.
“I’m sure there are a lot of things that are similar about us that we don’t know about yet,” he remarked. “Maybe after we get to know each other better we’ll discover them.”
Al winked at me and turned toward his classroom. He was definitely interested!
It wasn’t until I entered my class and sat down in my seat that I realized what it was about Al’s eyes that had been bothering me.
His eyes matched his shirt. His shirt was blue. And his eyes had been green when I’d seen him before.
Al met me after English. I was in a hurry to get to my bus, so I ran fast to my locker and got out of breath.
“What bus do you ride?” I asked Al.
“362,” he answered. That was my bus.
“Where do you live?” I asked as I got my stuff.
“I live in the Evergreen subdivision.”
“Me too!” I answered. “Coincidence that we ride the same bus!”
Al flicked his eyes around.
We ran to the bus and he sat with me. We talked about teachers and other stuff all the way home. I asked him if he knew Ann, my best friend. He said he’d met her.
We had the same stop, too. This was too weird for words.
“Um . . . ” Al said nervously. “Um, can I, um, call you sometime?” He looked at me hopefully.
“Sure,” I answered. That would be cool if he called me. But he didn’t ask me for my phone number.
He waved good-bye as he and I went seperate directions.
As I was struggling over my algebra homework that night, I got a call from Al.
“Hi, is Alecia there?”
“Um, yeah, this is me.”
“Hi, um, this is—Al.”
“Hi, Al. What’s up?”
“Um, do you, um, want to see a movie withmesometime?” The last words came out in a jumble.
“Oh, uh, I suppose so. When?”
“What?” He seemed to expect me to say no.
“When do you want to go?”
“Well, um, I’ve got to go, okay?”
“Sure,” I answered.
The next day, Al walked me to my classes and carried my books. Al’s eyes looked strange again. They looked brown. I knew it wasn’t my imagination. Plus, they were jumping around all over the place. I asked him what was wrong with his eyes.
“Well, the air irritates them. See, where I come from, the air has more moisture than here, so my eyes have to adjust.”
“Hey,” yelled Ann, my best friend.
“Hi, Ann,” I answered. She had her friends Emily and Kelly with her.
“Come here, I want to talk to you—in private!” She gave Al a look. Al grinned.
“What is it?” I asked Ann when she pulled me aside.
“Well—” Emily cut her off.
“So, do you guys have something going on or what?” She cracked her gum. She gestured at Al, who now looked lonely.
“Well, we have a date set for tonight.”
“Oh, is it all serious?”
“Not yet. Sorry to disappoint you.”
“Hey . . . ” I remembered something. “Ann, Al says he knows you. Did you by any chance give him my number?”
Ann shook her head. I wondered where Al got my number. It’s not in the phone book.
Just then John, Ann’s boyfriend came up to her and started kissing Ann in the middle of the hall.
I shook my head. She was hopeless. A paperball hit them from above. We shouldn’t have been standing in the freshmen’s hall, because if you stand there the seniors pelt you with their trash.
Al came up to us.
“Are you done?”
“Yeah. By the way, this is Emily and that’s Kelly, and that guy kissing Ann is Johnnie.”
“Pleased to make their acquaintance.”
We started off toward fourth period. I looked at Al, about to ask him something, but all of a sudden I forgot what I was going to say. For once, Al’s eyes stopped jumping around and we looked into each other’s eyes.
We didn’t say anything after that, we just walked to class in silence.
That night I finished Algebra early so I could get ready for my date with Al. I wore black jeans, a tank purple shirt, and an oversized blue button-down tee shirt that I left unbuttoned. I got my little black purse and put on a fat black headband. Just as I was sliding my silver-studded black high-tops on over purple socks, I heard the doorbell ring.
It was Al, looking fabulous in blue jeans shorts and a short-sleeved pale blue tee-shirt.
He came in to meet my parents. For once they weren’t embarrassing. My dad just said, “Hi, how are ya,” and my mom smiled and offered Al a drink. He said, “Yes, please.” Stiff and polite, but safe.
As we finally left, my mom grinned and gave me the thumbs-up sign. Yea, she liked him! Unusual.
The mall was about four blocks away from our house. Al kept opening and closing his mouth like he was trying to say something but was afraid to.
“Al?” I asked. “Is there something wrong?”
“No,” he answered, staring at the sky. I wanted to tell him that he was going to bump into something if he didn’t look where he was going; but I didn’t.
“Hey, do you like astronomy?” Al asked me.
“Well . . . I never really thought about it,” I answered. “I guess it’s okay.”
“I think it’s great,” he replied. He pointed at the sky. “See? There’s Orion. And there’s Polaris, the North Star. And see, if you look really close at Orion’s sword, right there, the middle star, that’s the Orion Nebula.”
“Wow, you really know a lot about the stars,” I remarked.
“Well, I think there’s a whole universe out there, one that doesn’t end or begin at any certain place. It’s filled with weird things that you can only dream about.”
“Like what?” I asked, interested.
“Quarks, black holes, pulsars, supergiants, nebulae, alien civilizations, you never know!”
I laughed. “You sound like you’ve been there,” I commented.
“Oh, I have!” he laughed. He turned away from me and mumbled, “You’d never believe it, but, I have.” Then he turned back and grinned. He quickly turned back to the sky and pointed at Orion.
“I can name some of the stars in Orion, too. His right foot is called Saiph, and the red star in his armpit is Betelgeuse. Did you know that the word ‘Betelgeuse’ actually does mean ‘armpit of the central one’?”
I laughed. It was hard to believe that they would actually name a star after someone’s armpit!
We arrived at the mall. We checked out the movie posters to decide what to see.
“So . . . what do you want to see?” Al asked.
“Oh, doesn’t matter to me,” I answered as I stared at the posters. One of them had a picture of a man and a woman kissing by a large pond.
“I kind of like romance movies,” I told Al. He came over to stand beside me and looked at the poster.
“I’ve already seen this one,” Al remarked. “It’s really dumb.”
“Oh,” I said.
“But here’s another romance movie that I’ve heard was pretty good.”
“What is it?” I asked.
“Return to the Blue Lagoon,” he said.
“Oh, they’re playing it again! I didn’t see it the first time it came out, but I have seen The Blue Lagoon.” I remembered the prequel to this movie was pretty good and very romantic.
“All right, let’s see that one,” he said.
We went to the ticket window and Al bought two tickets for Return to the Blue Lagoon.
“Thanks, Al,” I said, “but I have money of my own.”
“Yeah, well, I’d rather take you to a movie then just go with you. Otherwise it’s not a real date.”
“That’s really sweet, Al,” I told him, smiling. He smiled back.
Al bought some M + M’s, a Jumbo popcorn, and two large Cokes. Then we went into the movie theater.
The screen was glowing with a boring red light.
“Wow, Al, I just love these adventure scenes!” I joked.
“Yeah, me too! Looks like we came in at the best part.”
We laughed and looked at each other. Al’s eyes were weird again. It could have been the screen’s red light or my imagination, but I could have sworn that Al’s eyes were pink!
“Al, do you wear contacts or something?” I asked. “I could swear your eyes are turning different colors.”
Al looked away for a second, and when he looked back his eyes were the same clear green color they’d been when I met him.
“Well,” Al said, looking down, “I think the reason my eyes change color is my moods. I guess it’s a little strange, but I don’t really think about it much.” He shrugged. “Just something that happens, I guess.”
I smiled. “Okay, so to tell what kind of mood you’re in, I can just look at your eyes, right?”
“I suppose so,” Al said. His eyes were kind of a dark brown color at the moment. He smiled.
“Okay, so what mood are you in now?” I asked him.
“I’m generally happy, I guess,” he said, looking at the ceiling.
“So from now on, when your eyes are brown, I’ll know you’re happy, right?”
“Well, a mintue ago, your eyes were kind of a clear green. What mood were you in then?”
“Um . . . I think I must’ve been sort of scared. I thought you might think I’m weird and walk away,” he confessed. “I’m glad you didn’t.”
“I don’t do things like that,” I assured him. If his eyes were green when I first met him, did that mean he had been scared of talking to me? I didn’t know.
The previews came on as the theater darkened.
“What does it mean when your eyes look pink? Or was that just the light?” I asked.
“No, that was for real. Usually pink means I’m in a silly mood.”
The theater darkened more and the feature presentation came on. It opened with some people on a boat. I took a sip of my Coke and scarfed down some popcorn.
We hadn’t been watching the movie for ten minutes when Al put his arm around me. I was a little surprised, because we’d only met recently and I hardly knew him. But I wasn’t uncomfortable with it, because it just felt right. I scooted closer to him in my chair.
He reached over with his other hand and took some popcorn from the bucket on my lap.
“This is a really good movie,” Al whispered to me.
“Yeah,” I answered. It wasn’t long before he’d finished off the whole bucket of popcorn. He started on the M + M’s, and let me have some. Then he finished his whole Coke. He must’ve been really hungry.
For a while I forgot I was there with Al, because the movie was good. It was about half over when something cold touched my hand on the armrest. It was Al’s hand, and it was still cold from the Coke he’d been drinking. It sure beat holding hands with someone with sweaty hands, though!
Shortly after we started holding hands, Al leaned over and kissed me. I kissed him back. He was a great kisser and it was very sweet.
We had a few long kisses and lots of short ones before the movie was over. It seemed a little bit cheap to be making out in a movie theater, but it didn’t seem that way at the time. It didn’t seem cheap to me at all.
The movie ended with the woman and the man alone on the island. We got up and left, holding hands.
Al just stared at the sky the whole way home. I tried to look where he was looking, but only succeeded in almost walking into a pole.
When we reached my house, we stood in the driveway with the porch light shining on us.
“I had a great time tonight, Al,” I told him. “Thank you.”
“Your welcome,” he said, smiling. He gave me a nice long goodnight kiss. When he pulled away, I looked up, and our eyes met and locked. His eyes were a dark, shining violet color. But I didn’t have to ask him what that color meant.
It was unmistakably love.
I don’t know if there is such a thing as love at first sight, but if there is, it happened with me and Al. And if there isn’t, then whatever I had with Al was the closest thing to it.
He asked me to be his girlfriend the very next day, and of course I agreed instantly. I felt like I’d known Al for a long time before I’d actually met him. Sure, I’d liked some of my previous boyfriends, but none of our relationships were at all like mine and Al’s was turning out to be.
I told Ann’s friend Emily that Al and I were going out. Unfortunately, Emily turned out to be the biggest gossip in the whole school, maybe even in the state. So after the next week, everyone in the school knew who Al and Alecia were and that we were a couple. Not that it was a secret, though.
Al and I rarely had a formal date. We only went to the mall or the movies occasionally. Most of our dates were homework things, or going to the community playground, taking a swim together, or generally just hanging out. What we did didn’t matter much, all that mattered was that we were together.
Al liked my parents, and my parents liked him. This was amazing, because usually my parents hated whoever I liked. They didn’t approve of Ann, Emily, or Kelly. But they loved Al and they treated him as one of the family. We often had him over for dinner. Everyone loved Al. He was just that kind of person.
I wished I knew if Al’s family liked me. But he didn’t have a family. He lived in this old barn in a field that was owned by the McMillan family. The McMillans were really charitable people Al said he’d been friends with for years. But all they did was let him stay in their barn. They didn’t give him money or anything, he earned his own money by working part-time at the mall Monday, Wednesday and Thursday after school. That left weekends open for him to spend with me.
And spend his time with me he did! We were together almost always.
One particular Saturday evening, Al and I had a date for a concert. Al didn’t have his drivers’ liscense, and although I had mine I didn’t have a car. My mother was nice enough to let me use hers.
It was a Bon Jovi concert. I was wearing my silver-studded high-tops as usual, and a black vest over a green shirt. My black beret matched my vest.
Al, in the passenger seat beside me, was wearing his black jacket over a paint-splattered tee shirt with jeans. His wavy brown hair was getting messed up from the wind that was whipping through the open windows of the car, and his eyes were neon green.
“You must be pretty excited about this concert, huh, Al?” I asked him.
“Yeah,” he answered, grinning. I’d known him long enough now to be able to recognize what colors each mood was. That neon green meant he was excited or pretty happy.
When we got to the concert, the guy there took our tickets and we found our seats. We were pretty far back, but we were in the center, so we were sure to have a good view of the stage.
The show took forever to start. I’d been to the bathroom twice, drinken two Cokes, and gotten lost once before the warm-up band came on. They were okay, but not loud and cool like the real show was going to be.
Finally the show came on and everyone stood up, put their hands in the air, and started screaming.
Although the concert was good, we had to leave after ten minutes because Al said he couldn’t handle the noise level anymore. He’d always been a little sensitive to bright light and loud noises.
So we left and sat in my mom’s car. It definitely wasn’t as loud outside.
Al looked relieved. We sat in the car and listened to the bass booming out of the concert dome. Every once in a while there would be some guy screaming into the mike and the audience answering.
Then a soft song came on. Al looked at me and I looked at him. He grinned and pulled out his lighter. He opened the top and swayed it around in the air. Probably that’s what people were doing inside, too. It was a “lighter song.”
“I have a headache,” Al complained, climbing out of the passenger seat and into the back. “I have to lie down.” He stared out of the little skylight in the car’s window at the stars. His eyes slowly faded to a dark blue, which meant he was remembering something.
“I used to do this where I used to live,” he explained. “I mean, I used to stare at the stars for hours at a time.”
I looked up out of the skylight. The night was clear and moonless, and the stars were twinkling.
Al smiled as the blue color in his eyes deepened.
“Where I used to live, the stars were a lot different, because I lived pretty far from here. Some I recognize, some I don’t. But it’s still the same in a way.”
“How do you mean?” I asked.
“Well . . . even though they’re different stars, they act the same. They’re wonderful and mysterious, because someone could never visit all of them even if they could travel at the speed of light. They’re sort of winking at us, proving that . . . no matter how much we know and how sophisticated we become, we’ll never learn all their secrets.” He turned and looked at me. “We’ll never know their secrets.” He gazed wistfully at them. “I want to know. Don’t you?”
All of a sudden I did want to know. What was going on out there? Were we here on Earth for any particular reason? Or are we just born to live and die? There was so much that would be a mystery forever!
“I know exactly what you mean!” I told Al, suddenly feeling the need to be closer to him. I jumped out of the driver’s seat and sat beside him in the back. He put his arm around me. We stared at the stars for a while, actually a couple seconds, but it felt like forever.
I looked at Al and he had that look in his eyes that I was beginning to know quite well. His eyes slowly faded from the dark blue and into the violet color of love. We kissed for a long time.
Then we both lay back in the seat together, and we started going a little farther than we ever have before.
“I really don’t think we should do this, Al,” I said. “It’s not the time or place.”
Al agreed. “I guess I’m not really ready either,” he told me.
But we both knew that as soon as it was the right time and place, we wouldn’t wait. I don’t think either of us wanted our first time to be in a back seat, though.
The “lighter song” was over and another screaming headbanger song came on inside the concert dome. We decided that there was no point in staying if we weren’t inside, so we left. Both of us had a lot of thinking to do.
When I got home the first thing I decided was that I’d have to get some birth control.
Sunday I went to Al’s house (actually, his barn) to visit him. The McMillans’ dog, Genius, was in the barn having his ears scratched by Al.
“Hi,” he said when he saw me. Genius jumped up on me.
“Hi,” I answered. I scratched Genius behind the ears like he liked.
“Look what I have,” Al said, showing me his new camera. “Can I take your picture?”
“In a minute,” I answered. I sat down on a bale of hay that served as a chair. Al had lots of “chairs” on the first level of the barn. That was his “living room.” He also had a loft, where there was his “bed.” It was just a mattress with hay all around it. It was a neat place to hang out.
There was also a rope hanging from the ceiling and rope ladders on either side of the loft.
Al brought two plastic glasses full of water to the “table,” another bale of hay. Handing me one, he and I toasted over absolutely nothing. Then Al gave me a present. It was a hat he’d bought for me at the mall with his employee’s discount. It was red with little white polka-dots.
“Thanks, Al,” I told him. “It’s cute!” I put it on.
Then he whipped out his camera. I struck a funny pose and he took the picture. He took a picture of me swinging on the rope and a picture of when I was looking for a lost high-top in the straw and Genius, the dog, ran by and took my new hat with him.
He ran over to try to take the hat out of Genius’s mouth, and Genius thought it was tug-of-war. We took a few other pictures and he gave them to me. He also had a few pictures of his thumb mixed in, by the way!
We then played a game of tag and he finally caught me up in the loft and began kissing me. We had lots of fun that day!
We didn’t do anything out of the ordinary on that particular day, but his “house” was the place that we eventually did go all the way. It happened while we were (guess what) watching the stars.
Al really liked some strange places for things like that. He liked the hay best, but close seconds were the playground and the water! We always made sure we had protection, though. I didn’t like using the Pill, because it messes with your hormones and could give you cancer, I’ve heard.
Some people think seventeen is too young for sex, but I think it has more to do with your emotional stability then your physical age. And I think it’s okay if you’re in love. And I was sure in love with Al.
One day Al came to school looking extremely upset. His eyes were a crystal blue color that I’d only seen once before, when Genius had died last month. And it meant that something extremely sad had happened.
“Al, what’s wrong?” I asked.
“Umm . . . well . . . ” he didn’t say anything. “I’m . . . I’m going away! I’m moving back to where I used to live!” All of a sudden everything came out in a rush. “I’m leaving, Alecia, and there’s nothing I can do about it, and you can’t come with me!”
“Oh, no!” was all I could say. I gave him a hug to try to comfort him, but it didn’t work.
I was holding a strip of photo booth pictures that I’d been showing to Ann and Emily. They were of me and Al in the mall. Al noticed them and looked at them with me.
“I won’t be back for a long time,” he told me. “Maybe even like three years!” He sniffed. “We won’t be able to have any more fun times like these,” he said, gesturing at the photos of our happy, laughing faces.
“When are you going?” I asked.
“Tonight.” Tonight! I couldn’t handle that. I started crying in the middle of the hall.
“It’s all right, Alecia,” he whispered, giving me another hug. Then he started crying himself, so I knew it wasn’t all right.
The five-minute bell rang, meaning we had to get to class.
I couldn’t concentrate in my classes. I took a test that I knew I failed. He was leaving and nothing mattered but my Al.
I watched Al closely in the only class we had together, Spanish. He was sitting there staring at the teacher with amber eyes, meaning he was bored out of his mind. Who wouldn’t be?
Somehow I got through the day. On the bus ride home Al asked me to meet him in the playground at nine-thirty. I said okay.
I told my mom Al was leaving and she was very sympathetic. She said he was probably not going to come back. I told her of course he was, we were in love. My mother didn’t believe a word of it.
I didn’t do any homework. I hadn’t bothered to bring any books home anyway. I wouldn’t do my chores. I didn’t even call Ann. I was very depressed. All I did was eat, eat, eat until nine-thirty came around.
Then I left for the playground.
Al was standing by the ball shed, waiting, his eyes crystal blue. I ran to him and he put his arms around me in a big bear hug.
“What am I going to do when you’re gone?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” he answered. “I was too busy thinking about what I was going to do after I leave. I don’t know how I’ll manage!”
I held his hand as we walked toward the swings. We sat for a while, staring at the stars. After a while we stopped looking at the sky and looked at each other, his crystal blue eyes staring into my brown ones. We stopped swinging and started kissing.
He picked me up off of the swing and carried me like a newlywed groom carries his bride. He laid me down on the slide and we made love in one of his favorite strange places.
It was our last night together for who knew how long. We went back to the swings and he began to talk to me.
“I’m going to give you a letter. It will explain what’s going on, because you won’t understand, but I thought it was about time I told you the truth.”
“Wha. . . . ” was all I could think of to say. He handed me an envelope. Then he gave me a big kiss and walked off toward the ball shed, leaving me stunned.
Something strange was happening all of a sudden. There was a lot of static electricity in the air, and it made my hair stand out. There was a humming sound coming from up in the sky. I looked up.
It took me a second, but I noticed that there was something there. It was a transparent bubble with people inside. I also noticed that it had some black parts that made it blend into the night.
The strange flying thing suddenly let out a small transparent egg-shaped object. It drifted down to the ground behind the ball shed. Then it rose again. Al was inside!
“Al, wait!” I yelled as loud as I could. Al turned around in the bubble to look at me. The bubble drifted back down to the grund and I ran to it. I watched Al get out.
“Who. . . . What’s . . . ” I stuttered, pointing at the thing in the sky.
“I told you, the letter explains it,” Al said.
“Oh, Al, I don’t want you to go!” I cried, tears coming out of my eyes. Al gave me a big hug and a long kiss.
“I will be back, Alecia.” He looked at me sadly. “Bye. I love you,” he said. He stepped back into the clear egg. It floated up to the bigger clear object. Then it disappeared.
“Bye,” I whispered.
* * *
It wasn’t until I got home that I remembered the letter Al had given me, still clutched in my hand. I opened it up.
I’m sorry I had to leave. It seems a little chicken to be writing you a letter to explain myself, but I didn’t know how to say what I wanted to say and this way I can plan it so it comes out right and I don’t end up looking like a jerk.
As you’ve probably guessed by now, I’m not from around here. I was born in a spaceship, but my parents were from a small Earthlike planet that orbits one of the stars in the constellation of Auriga. Things are pretty different there. But not too different, which is why I could live on Earth.
We’re on some kind of mission that I don’t understand myself, so I can’t explain it to you. I have to go with them to help. I just do what they say to do.
After about three years we are returning to my parents’ home planet. I’ve been there about four times, and I think you’d like it there. What I’m trying to say is, when I come back for you, will you come with us? I’d like to have you for my wife. I love you, Alecia, and I wish I didn’t have to be apart from you, but when I come back we’ll never be separated again. Unless you’ve found someone else by the time I return. I don’t think you’re like that, though.
If you decide to marry into our family, I’ll give you a diamond ankle bracelet. It is one of our marriage customs similar to your diamond engagement rings. I advise you to think this over while I’m away. I hope you decide to be my wife.
I miss you so much already! I’ll be thinking of you constantly until I get back. I love you.
As soon as I finished reading it I fell onto my bed and cried my eyes out. He was really gone! My parents couldn’t get me to come down for supper. My mother understood why. Every time I thought of Al I started to cry again. This went on until I cried myself to sleep.
I didn’t go to school all the next week. I just sat around and did nothing. I slept a lot, too.
The next week my parents made me go to school. I didn’t care what I wore or how my hair looked, and my quality of life was really bad. I didn’t care about my grades or my friends. I didn’t even speak to any of them. Ann was not very sympathetic. She told me to just “get over him” and get on with my life. I couldn’t do it, though.
I was constantly reminded of Al. His conspicuous absence from my life made me depressed out of my mind. It was just so obvious how empty my life was without him.
The strange emptiness next to me on the bus. The silence of walking home alone with no one to talk to. No one to be bored with in Spanish class. Nobody to walk to class with. No one to remind me to open the right locker! I was constantly noticing how he wasn’t there. I couldn’t handle it. So I dropped out of school. I just refused to go back to the place where I was surrounded by familiar people but still lonely.
My parents tried to make me come to my senses, but I was in a rut. I ate junk food and stayed bored all day.
I caught a virus that made me throw up. After it had showed no signs of going away for a week, my mother decided that I was making myself sick on all that junk food and lack of excersise, and that my body had no resourses to fight the virus. I didn’t care. So Mom took me to a doctor.
The doctor decided that it was not a virus that was making me throw up. I was pregnant. I had missed my usual menstrual period and hadn’t noticed. Somehow, knowing that I was going to have a baby turned my life around.
I was told that there could be complications in the pregnancy because I was only a junior in high school and still quite young physically to be having a baby. And even more so mentally and emotionally.
I went into home schooling with my mother as the teacher. I got out of touch with Ann and Emily. I didn’t care, though, I just completely forgot about them because I had a new center of attention.
Mom took me to the doctor very regularly. The pregnancy was coming along just fine. I studied a lot and when I wasn’t studying, I thought about Al and my baby. I read books on child development and parenting, which was strange because my baby probably wouldn’t be anything like what all the books I read said. I had no idea what the standards were for people like Al.
The books said that generally children hold their bottles at three to five months, cut their first tooth around six months, say their first word around one year, and walk at around ten to fifteen months. My baby probably wouldn’t go by those standards, though. I really didn’t know what to expect.
My mother helped me a lot. She reassured me and answered all my questions. She knitted outfits for the baby and helped pick out a crib and some other baby equipment. And despite all the nice things she did for me, I didn’t tell her any of the things I’d learned from Al’s letter. I knew all that it would accomplish was to freak her out.
My father also helped me. He believed Al had just left and that he was never going to come back. He thought that he’d probably end up raising my kid. He did his part, though, by paying for my visits to the doctor and all of my other necessities. I would have gone to work for money, too, except that I had to take it easy in my last few months. The doctors said that I would probably have a difficult labor, but not to worry because the baby would be fine.
Mom and I discussed names for the baby. I wanted to name it an Al Andy name like mine and Al’s. Mom liked cute names like Sarah, Stephanie, Timmy, and Cory. I decided none of those were good enough for my baby.
There were three more days left until the due date when the baby started to come. Mom took me to the hospital and took care of everything for me. I wished Al was there to see his child be born.
After only eight hours of labor, I gave birth to a healthy baby girl, five pounds, one ounce. As soon as I saw her I knew what to name her. She would be Alison Andrienne. Al would love her!
Other than her slightly low birth weight, Alison was fine. After they’d cleaned her up and done the routine medical tests, they let me hold her. I thought that usually the mother got to hold the baby as soon as it came out, but not in my case, for some reason.
Alison looked very sleepy as they handed her to me. Her eyelids were drooping, but they were open enough for me to see that her eyes were brown like mine and her hair was a mixture between my hair color and Al’s.
“Hi there, Allie,” I said softly to her. She opened her eyes wider and made a cute sound, halfway between a hiccup and a yawn. She gripped my finger. She drooled and made another sound. Soon my mother came in.
“Hi, Mom!” I said cheerfully.
“Oh, isn’t she adorable!” she cried. I handed her over and let Mom exclaim over her tiny fingers and toes.
“And her eyes are such a pretty color!” said Mom. Allie chose that moment to start crying. Mom handed her back to me. I noticed that her eyes had changed to a clear green color, meaning she had inherited Al’s eyes and was a little scared at the moment. Her eyes faded back to a brown shade when she was handed back to me.
It only made sense that if Al’s eyes changed, so would Allie’s. I realized that there might be more surprises in store for me. I hoped that if there were any other surprises that they’d be pleasant ones!
It turned out that I had nothing to worry about. Allie was full of surprises, but they were good ones. Allie’s physical developments were generally on the early side of being average, but her intellectual development was extremely precocious.
She got her first teeth at six months. At seven months she began to talk. It was a little hard for her to say “f” and “s” sounds with only her front bottom teeth, but we managed to understand her anyway. Her first word was “phone” with a very strange-sounding “ph” sound. She said it when the phone rang. She was talking with ease at nine months, and she walked at about ten months.
Soon after she learned to walk, I took her to the playground to play in the sandbox. There was another kid in there already, playing with a dump truck. The kid’s daddy was with him.
Allie attempted to talk to the boy, but he had absolutely no idea what she was talking about. He just stared at her and went about his playing. Allie waddled unsteadily over to me.
“Who is the man?” asked Allie.
“That’s his daddy,” I answered.
“What’s a daddy?” she asked. I explained as best I could. Then she asked where her daddy was. Then I had to tell her all about how her daddy was in outer space and that I didn’t know when he would be back.
“Oh,” she said. “He’s up there.” She pointed at the sky.
“That’s right,” I agreed.
“That cloud looks like a person,” she said, pointing. It really did. “Maybe he’s in that cloud!” she put her finger up to her mouth and sucked on it.
“Tell me about Daddy,” she ordered, her finger still in her mouth. I picked her up and took her home, and I told her everything I could think of about Al.
We went to the playground a lot after that. Allie loved to sit on the edge of the slide with me. I guess that place had a lot of meaning for her, since that was the place her father had taken me to create her. Since she really didn’t know that most people are not conceived on playground slides, I guess she really didn’t see anything wrong with it.
I loved to talk to her about Al while she sat in my lap and looked up at me, daydreaming and sucking her thumb. It was handy to know when it was time to go by looking at Allie’s eyes and seeing that she was bored.
Sometimes we sang songs or told stories, and sometimes I would push Allie on the swings. But little by little, I became increasingly afraid that Al would never come back. He’d been gone for a year and seven months now, and I didn’t think I’d be able to raise Allie without him much longer.
We celebrated Allie’s first birthday without Al. My parents and I got her so many gifts all together that the pile was taller than she was! Of course, she was born small, so that didn’t say much. She got lots of new books to read, and she read them all to us while we listened. We’d also gotten her a special birthday cake, and she only ate the icing. I wished Al were there to help us celebrate.
One day while I was going through Allie’s old baby clothes that she’d grown too big for, I came across a shoebox. It was in the back of the closet where I hadn’t looked in over a year.
I opened it up. Inside was the letter Al had given me on the night he left. There was also a ticket stub reading LAGOON from when we went on our first date. I stopped what I was doing to look through the box. I sat on the floor and dumped it out.
I found the Bon Jovi ticket stubs and, for some reason, the black beret that I’d worn that night. I put it on. I also found Al’s lighter that he’d played with during the Bon Jovi “lighter song.”
I found the pictures from the barn and some of the photo booth pictures. Underneath all the movie ticket stubs, love notes, and other odds and ends, was the red and white polka-dot hat he’d given to me. For some reason, seeing that again really set me off. I started to cry and suddenly I was really depressed.
Allie walked in and saw me crying.
“Why are you crying, Mommy?” she asked.
“Oh, I’m just really sad right now,” I told her. “I miss your daddy.” I began scooping all of my memoirs into the shoebox again. Allie put her fingers in her mouth and watched me. I put the shoebox back in the closet and walked over to Allie.
“Here,” I said, placing my red and white polka-dotted hat on Allie’s head. Allie put her hands on top of it and grinned. “Your daddy gave that to me,” I told her. Allie looked like she appreciated it.
“Mommy, there’s someone on the phone for you,” she told me.
“Did you ask who it was?” I asked her.
“No,” she said, shaking her head. “but it wasn’t anyone I know.” I went to pick up in my room, taking Allie with me.
“Hello?” I said.
“Hi, Alecia,” said a vaguely familiar voice on the other end. Then I realized who it was.
“Oh, I haven’t heard from you in ages!” I couldn’t believe it had been almost two years since I’d last spoke with her.
“I’m sad,” Ann said.
“Because Johnnie broke up with me.”
“Really?” I said after a pause. It had taken me a second to remember who Johnnie was.
“Yeah! He’s such a sleazeball!”
“I’m really sorry for you.”
“Yeah. See, what happened was, Emily told Kelly a rumor about me, and we both know how she can be, we’re not friends anymore, by the way, and see, Johnnie heard it and told her that Brian said that his friend saw him looking at another girl, so he gets all pissed off and . . . . ” She went on and on. I didn’t know half the people she was talking about and mostly, I didn’t care why or how it happened.
“And so, when he heard that, which wasn’t true in the first place, and I really don’t know who told him that, he just walks up like a stuck-up pig and says, ‘Baby, we’re through’, and then just took off, and now I have no boyfriend and absolutely no life!”
“I have no life!”
“Well, I’m really sorry he said that. I mean, did that.” I didn’t really want to tell her that she’d mistaken me for someone who cared.
“Huh?” said Ann. “’Lecia, are you on drugs?”
I sighed. “No, Ann. I just. . . . Hey!” Allie was climbing on my desk, trying to see out the window. I ran over to make sure she didn’t hurt herself.
“What?” yelled Ann. “What happened?”
“Oh, Allie just . . . . ” I didn’t know what to say next. “Listen, why don’t you drop over to my house? We can talk here.”
“Okay. And hey . . . . ’Lecia, switch to decaf!”
“Ha, ha. So funny I think I’m going to retch.”
“Uh-huh. Well, see ya in a few minutes.”
When Ann arrived, Allie answered the door, still wearing the polka-dotted hat.
“Hi,” said Allie softly.
“Oh, hi sweetheart,” Ann said to her. I ran down the stairs as fast as I could and almost tripped over the bottom stair.
“Hi!” I called.
“Hey, I didn’t know your mom had another kid,” Ann said, looking surprised.
“She didn’t,” I replied.
“This is Allie, my little girl,” I said proudly. Allie stuck her finger in her mouth and grinned around it. She waved shyly with her other hand.
“Ohmigod!” screeched Ann. “I suppose she’s Al’s kid, right?”
“So, what’s that jerk up to?”
“Dunno,” I replied. “I think maybe he’s on a real long trip at the moment.” I looked at Allie. She looked at me. Allie covered her mouth with her hand and giggled.
“Is it out of the country?”
“You could say that.” That made Allie laugh harder.
I invited Ann in and gave her a Coke. We caught up on everything. She told me all about school, which she said was more fun than it had ever been before, now that she was a senior.
“It’s cool being on top of the hill again,” she said, smiling and remembering. “Haven’t been there since middle school.”
“Yeah, I can imagine,” I said. I never knew what it was like to be a senior, so I didn’t understand.
“It’s fun to confuse the freshman! We tell ’em the wrong directions and pour water on them from the second floor!”
“Okay. Want more Coke?”
“Well, you’re sure talkative!”
“Well, come on, catch me up!”
“Sure.” I told her everything about Allie while we watched her play.
“She’s only a year old,” I bragged. “She can even talk in long sentences and read and everything!” I was so proud of her.
Ann made a face. I got the idea that she didn’t care when Allie did what. She cared about that about as much as I cared about who played what pranks on what freshman and who dumped whom.
Ann played with Allie for a while. Ann asked Allie if she was ticklish. Allie asked, “what’s ticklish?” and Ann began to tickle her to answer her question. She tickled her until her eyes turned pink. Then Allie went after Ann and tried to tickle her.
Then Ann went home. Any time she tried to talk to me, I couldn’t keep my end of the conversation away from Allie. The reason being this: she was the center of my life, plain and simple.
After Ann left, Allie said she wanted to play. I got her play blocks out and started to build something with her when she knocked it down.
“I don’t want to play like this,” she said. “I want to go to the playground.”
She smoothed her hair back from her forehead and sucked her finger. She thought.
“I want to look for Daddy,” she said confidently.
“All right,” I said and took her hand. We went to the playground. Allie put her fingers in her mouth and pulled me over to the slide. I sat down on the edge and pulled her up on my lap.
She sucked her fingers and threw her head back to look up at the sky.
After a few minutes, Allie pointed at the sky and said, “Look, Mommy.” I looked.
“Oh, Allie, that’s just an airplane.”
“Oh,” she said. “Then what’s that?” I thought it was another airplane and was about to say so when I realized it was transparent and that it reminded me of something familliar.
I stared in wonder at it.
“Is that Daddy?” asked Allie.
“Yes!” I cried, leaping off the slide and holding Allie on my hip. “Oh, yes!”
I put Allie down and I waved my arms at the bubble. Then I took my beret off and waved it like a flag. Allie did the same with the hat Al had given me.
The bubble centered over the ball shed and let out a bubble with Al inside it.
I picked Allie up and dashed over to where it was descending. Al stepped out and I threw my arms around him as best I could while still holding Allie. We both cried.
“I missed you so much!” Al exclaimed, giving me a big kiss. “I thought I would die before I got here! We’ll never be separated again!” With that he pulled a ring of diamonds out of his pocket and presented it to me.
“It goes around your ankle,” he told me. I took it.
“Al,” I said, “this is your daughter.” I handed Allie to him. He looked bewildered. I bent down and fastened the diamond ankle bracelet around my right ankle, and it promptly slid its way down into my sock.
Al was still speechless from the shock of finding out he had a child.
“Um . . . . what’s her name?” he managed with a small grin.
“Alison Andrienne Addamson,” replied Allie, offering him her hand. “Pleased to make your acquaintance,” she said, smiling and pumping his hand up and down like a businesswoman.
“You can call me Allie,” said Allie, shrugging. “Everyone does.” Al noticed that she was wearing the hat he’d given me.
“Cute hat, Allie,” he told her. She grinned.
Al gestured toward the bubble.
“Coming?” he asked.
“Of course!” I answered. “But won’t my parents miss us?”
“Hmm. We’ll, we’ll visit on holidays!”
I followed him toward the bubble. It reflected our faces like a mirror.
When we were inside, Al kissed me, and a warm glow spread all through my body. I was really excited about what was happening.
Al smiled at me.
“You’ve been hanging around me too long,” he said. That puzzled me.
“What do you mean?” I asked, feeling worried.
“Well, for starters, your eyes just changed from bright green to clear green,” he told me. “When you marry into the family, you really become a part of the family!”
“What? By marrying you I turned into an alien?” I asked, joking with him but at the same time being semi-serious.
“Well,” he said, “you could think of it as being different from your parents and your friends, but you could also think of it as being the same as my family,” he said. “And me and Allie.”
“That’s right!” I exclaimed. “I’ll finally get to meet your parents!”
As the egg drifted up toward the ship, we talked and laughed. I saw in the eyes of my new husband and my child that they were having a good time. And they could tell the same about me.
As we drifted up, talking and laughing, I realized it: We were now a family.
If you were amused by this and want to see more old bad writing, be sure and check out the "ancient history" section of my writing page.
If you're curious about my current skills in the long fiction department, check out the novels in my "current projects" section.
LONG FICTION PAGE
AL'S STORY PAGE