I wrote ‘Sparks‘ for one of my Creative Writing assignments at university in second year. I don’t upload a lot of excerpts of fiction because a great deal of my time is spent article writing – not that that’s a bad thing! But I feel like I should include more of my stories in my Rachael Rites portfolio.
I hope you enjoy this!
He is beautiful. Perfect in fact. In his presence I am bound by notions of wonder and invincibility; his eyes talk of a lust I’ve never known but am old enough to know exists. Those baby blue irises pull me in and frighten me, even if only momentarily – and I like it. His features – which have been illuminating this earth two years longer than my own – are compelling and yet they are youthful, despite overuse. An upward glance makes me feel like he could tear my heart apart and I’d still talk to him like he was just the sweet boy who lived next door. Sheer sorcery, it is- but I hope he ceases to compel me over and over and over.
We are on a track road which is revealed subtly between two separate forests; a cut so clean you’d be forgiven for expecting Moses to make an appearance. On one side his Ford Anglia is parked, purple in the haze of the evening sky and dotted with the reflection of stars above. Its perky, burnt-orange tones are unrecognisable in the dark. On the other is a gate leading to the town’s largest reservoir. It’s a particularly popular hotspot for turned-on adolescents, as you can imagine. Though, the trees know nothing of me here but unsuccessful associations with hopeful suitors, and bright flashes of light. All the fairy tales fail to mention the bad kind of sparks you can get in love, too.
Mama always told me: ‘There is only one, Sarah.’ And so far in my eighteen years there have been six ‘only-ones’. With each person I encounter romantically, I am sure they are it – the one great love of my existence I’ve been unconditionally sired to from birth.
I’ve heard the stories. Grandma met Granddad and the pain stopped. Mum met Dad and the relief of the moment led to my inevitable – how do I say this politely… Existence? And I have truly believed each time that me and ‘the contender of the moment’ were going have a relationship created by Gods for the rest of our lives – right up until those precise moments where we’ve engaged in physical contact.
Because touching is the deal-breaker in my family’s curse.
On top of the bonnet of his car he takes my hand and sends electricity through my bloodstream with antagonizing nonchalance. Carefully placing a thumb and forefinger around the ball of my chin, he edges his face closer to mine like this is going to be the most perfectly placed encounter in the history of life. His lips are a similar size to mine, though, rounder in the middle and a deeper shade of pink. I put this down to lack of kissing experience on my part. Perhaps that magenta tone emerges with practice. I can feel the heat trilling over the edge of his mouth like dry ice, right down to the point of his tricky tongue.
Love me. And God, please, let me love him back.
He’s looking at me, eyes wide like pansies in spring and I wonder what he’s thinking. Do I seem uptight? Because I can’t afford to not be fun. I adjust my fringe so that it conceals my eyes and large forehead. God. What is this- am I sweating? Shit. Oh shit. He’s not sweating, therefore, I should not be sweating.
I think about snatching his hand and just taking him while he’s here. I conjure memories of the last batch of pancakes in the 9pm reduced section of the supermarket; I don’t know how long he’s been here and I don’t want to think about where he might go if I turn my back for a single second too long. Some other girl might snatch him; and I bet she’ll do it a hundred times after that. But I won’t. I won’t. Love is not a mass produced grocery – but don’t ask me how many times I’ve wished it was.
He’s still staring intently at my face. He doesn’t like sweaty girls with damp haircuts that stick to their scalps; I can feel the vibe. Mark my words: he’ll be the one, and I’ll be the only person in the family history whose soul mate deserted them due to ‘perspiration differences’.
He leans forward, as if he just heard that entire thought-process.
‘Sarah Cohen,’ he whispers wetly, and I let our mouths meet for the first time.
‘Whoa! What was that?’ he shouts, snapping his face from mine and leaving me to drop forward into a void.
I hold my face in my hands. ‘Fireworks,’ I say. I hope for the opposite.
‘Literal fireworks,’ he scoffs. ‘I’m pretty sure something sparked there!’
His laugh was feeding the butterflies in my stomach.
‘Good, though?’ I ask.
‘I dunno,’ he said, shrugging his left shoulder and scratching his scalp as a slanted grin stretched across his face like elastic. ‘But I do kind of like your fire.’
I jump off the car giggling, a mere flurry of emotion hidden behind a veil of false laughter. Time and time again encounters have happened like this with others, but with him I feel alive. Still, I cannot bring my head to surpass the kink in my gut which grumbles more intensely if our eyes meet for more than a second. The blue depths of his irises are starting to make me sea-sick.
I take his hand and guide him into the depths of the blackened trees, like this is all part of some “mega-flirty” plan I’ve been working on to make tonight the best he’s ever had. Little does he know I’m a duck treading water in desperate search of land.
I feel safest here in the trees and I always have done. I love the small details of their build, like the ridges of their trunk that look like my dad’s chord trousers, and the natural dents on the spine of their branches that are perfect for climbing. In the forest here, all of the trees are big, grand pillars of society, sheltering a mass of life beneath their leaves on the woodland floor and all of the secrets that harvest there. I trust the trees. But the deeper I drag him into the wood the more it dawns on me that his expectations of this evening will be heightening. And how am I supposed to pretend not to hurt him when the Gods are telling me he’s ‘not the one’ with sparks flying from my gums?
‘Where are you taking me?’ he asks, and even though I have my back to him I can imagine how high his eyebrow rose when he said that.
‘It’s a surprise,’ I say, twisting round to flash him a grin.
I have no fucking idea where this path leads.
‘Well, the reservoir is down this way,’ he says with a hint of hope.
‘Gah, you ruined it!’ I say, folding my arms and throwing his hand back at him in jest.
‘What you got planned for us tonight?’ He asks.
‘Nothing now,’ I say storming back in the direction we just came from.
Maybe if he follows me he can drive me home and I’ll call it off in a few days via letter. I’ll tell him my cat’s sick or something and I can’t focus on a relationship right now.
Hey, that could work.
He glides towards me with two big strides of his rugby-player legs, his face inches in front of mine; heat is pouring out between his teeth. I feel him touch my hips with all ten of his hard finger tips. Oh god, I hope he’s a guitar player, too.
‘C’mon, Sarah. I wanna go to the reservoir with you.’
Surely he must know my secret. It’s practically common knowledge in this town. If there was a Town Guide with a page called ‘Messed-Up Family Curses’ the Cohen family would be listed at the top under the ‘Unlucky in Love’ section. Everyone knows it’s impossible for any female in this family to be a slut because nature simply wouldn’t let us if we tried.
Wait. Maybe he’s a transfer student. Maybe he could transfer back next week.
I look him right in the eye counting his eyelashes. I’m surprised at suddenly how much I really want to want him.
I nestle myself into him amongst a flurry of unsure limbs. Maybe I can try again. I rise up onto my tip toes and ground the balls of my feet into the earth for balance. I cove his face in the palms of my hands and hold him there, still, for precision.
Even I felt that one.
‘OW!’ he yells. ‘What the fuck is wrong with you when we kiss?’
His lip is bleeding from one corner and trickling down his chin, along with my hope.
‘There is only one, Sarah’ – Mama said. And unfortunately, world;
I’m still looking.