Arizona Skies
Author: Isabella Darcy

Chapter 37
Beautiful Lines

The rest of my classes pass by in a whirl; at lunch I sit with Emma and crew. Things are thawing, and by the time the bell rings for sixth period, Jimmy and Taylor are as they always were, and the ice between us is dissolved. Leanne disappears giving Frank a teary look, and clenching his jaw he goes after her wearily, carefully avoiding my eyes all the while.

I wonder how long this can last. I want to run up to him and force him to look at me, force him to listen. He made a big deal over me wanting Aubrey over him- but it seems the minute I reject him he's hanging on Leanne's lips, evidently all feelings for me extinguished.

From his behavior towards her, I'm pretty sure Frank is not over the moon about their relationship. But now that we've both got people, can't we make up?

All of these thoughts evaporate as I reach the door of the dance studio- where I know Aubrey will be. Eagerly but at the same time tentative, I shed my shoes and stuff my bag into a cubbyhole, looking around for him. He's slouched over by the wall, avoiding my eyes. I start towards him, but Mrs. Kudrow calls for the class to settle down in our seats. Reluctantly I shuffle to my place on the floor, picking at a stray thread on my sock.

"So, class," She says, beaming at us, her bright orange afghan shocking to the eyes, "today is day three of performances. Today, Ashley and Sebastian will be dancing, and...." she squints at the clipboard held in her pudgy, beringed hand, "Kristina and Lee. Ready?"

The dancers squirm nervously.

"Alrighty then, everyone else against the mirrors, and no talking."

We sit against the mirrors, and I realize with a sinking feeling that I won't be able to talk to Aubrey about what happened, to say what needs to be said. He's seperated from me by a group of giggling girls, and as the music starts I look over to him, but his eyes are resolutely fixed ahead. The next hour drags by slowly and painfully, my brain in a whirl.

He doesn't look at me once.

 

 

People laugh as we stream out of the room, bodies pushing me out of the door. It's friday, and I tuck my books tighter to my chest as I walk in the direction of the parking lot, determined.

Aubrey is about five minutes late; I'm guessing he's been stalling. But when he finally appears, I'm leaning against the truck, my arms crossed.

"We need to talk."

He bites his lip, still avoiding my eyes. Then, throwing me the keys he starts to walk away, averting his face. "You can take the truck."

"Aubrey!"
I fly after him, catching him by the sleeve, spinning him around. "Look at me," I command.

Slowly and unwillingly, his eyes meet mine.

"We have to talk about this."

"We don't!" He explodes, wrenching free of my grasp. "I get it!"

I pull him back to me, angry. "You can't just walk away like that!" I keep my hand on his arm, taking no chances. "You're going to listen to what I have to say."

"Don't!" His eyes are spitting fire, fanatical in their flame- frightening. "I understand. You don't have to say it. I was- I was-" he tears through his hair, making it wildly mussed- only adding to his crazed appearance. "I was a moron, a fucking moron."

"Aubrey, would you stop it!" I can't help yelling, but it gets his attention. "You weren't- you're not. This whole thing is just a big misunderstanding. You're not pressuring me into anything, no matter how much you've persuaded yourself that that's what's happening."

He rolls his eyes, and I grab his face, holding it between my hands, forcing him to look at me. "No, listen. Aubrey, you call me clueless." The corner of his mouth turns up at that. "I love you. And, whether you want to hear this or not, I want you every bit as much as you want me."

His smile breaks loose at that. "You sure?" He jokes. "Cause that's an awful lot."

"I'm sure," I smile, smoothing out the frown in his forehead. His eyes still dart over my face, searching my expression. Then finally, he breaks out in a laugh, and clasping his arms around me lets me kiss him hard, his lips curving up in a smile. Finally he lets me go.

"Aurora, you know we don't have to do anything- I mean, it doesn't matter to me whether we- I just thought you didn't-"

I press a hand to his mouth, shushing him, but my eyes are dancing. "Just shut up, please."

He nods, laughing behind my hand. "Goo' i'eea."

"As in, no talking at all," I tease, starting to walk back to the truck, pulling him as if magnetized with my hand over his mouth.

I stoop down to pick up the keys that are lying on the hot, sparkling asphalt, the sun pulsing down on my neck.

"Aubrey, you-"

With a shriek I'm slammed against the scratched red metal of the truck's door, his shadow over my face, squinting up into his halo of hair. Aubrey's eyes are laughing, that crooked smile with his head tilted to one side, considering me. My heart is pounding like crazy as I try to regain my breath, my back curving into the door.

"You're crazy," I gasp, half laughing, half-serious.

His eyes flicker with a little glimmer of sun reflected off of the car's window. As he leans close I smell charcoal and honey and that smokey sweet smell I never can catagorize- like a mix of just-lit cigarettes and burning mesquite wood and the fragrant, almost sickly sweet scent of jasmine...?

But he's so close, that crooked smile, that daring gleam in his eyes. I can see his pupil dilating, blackness growing and shrinking in the center of the glowing copper plate. He whispers, warm breath on my lips, the tips of our noses touching,

"Why so surprised?"

 

 

"We," dragging me by the hand, the heavy truck door slamming closed, "are going to draw."

I stumble along as Aubrey pulls me with eager strides, in the wrong direction- that would be, the one leading away from the house.

"But- I didn't even bring my supplies- I have homework-" I wrench free my hand and pause to glare at him, hand on hip.

"Unlike you, I actually do my homework. Its part of that thing, I don't know if you've heard of it, um, going to college?"

He humors me with a slight grin. "No, I haven't. What is this ...college... thing you're talking about?"

I roll my eyes, spinning around to head back to the house.

And am spun around again to face Aubrey.

"Come on," he says, persuasively silky, that tone I never can resist, "It'll be fun."

I waver, stuck between the desire to follow that irresistable voice and...wait, what was my other option?

"Please?" He whispers, icing on the cake.

With a growl, I roughly push past him. "Fine."

He runs to catch up with a happy grin.

"But that's what you said last time, remember? When you dragged me off on that "field trip" to the gallery."

"And wasn't it fun?" He retorts, raising an eyebrow.

"Well...yes," I admit, "but that's not the point. The point is,"

"Hmm?"

"The point," I flouder, distracted, "the point..."
"I don't have my supplies!" I say trimuphantly, glad for a reason. Aubrey shrugs it off.

"Doesn't matter."

"How can it not matter? How am I supposed to draw without them?"

He stops, spinning to face me with a mischevious smile. "You're not going to draw, silly," he says, "I am."

 

 

"Wait, I'm lost."

He starts to circle a rock, frowning at it like it's the Rosetta Stone or something.

"Um, hello? Anyone in there?"

"Watch the master at work," is all he says, still inspecting the rock. Then, satisfied, he nods, and promptly plops down next to it, causing a huge cloud of dust to rise up around him, choking him in it and settling on top of his hair, a thin sheen of brown.

"Impressive."

He shakes his head at me, waving away the dust floating in front of him with an indulgent smile. "Sit."

"Excuse me?" But I sit.

For a couple moments, I just stare at him as he starts to rummage through his backpack, pulling out a short, stubby pencil devoid of erasing capability and a ragged old sketchbook.

"Professional equipment," he says, waving the latter at me.

"Mhmm."

Then, he opens the sketchbook and tilts it up towards him, away from me, and sets the pencil on the paper. Scratch scratch scratch. Scratch.

"Um, Aubrey?"

He raises an eyebrow over the sketchbook to peer at me.

"What exactly is my purpose here?"

Dipping his head back behind the paper, "Decoration."

"Decora- Wait, you're drawing me?"

Scratch, scratch, scratch. I guess that's a yes. I stare at him a couple moments, but Aubrey seems to have vanished, replaced by this studious artist who diligently sketches, seemingly unaware of my prescence.

Gradually other things in the landscape attract my attention. The air is still and silent, the sweeping mass of the purple-tinged blue sky like someone was painting and left their brush on the paper too long. The rocks are glowing, sending off visible heat waves, casting shadows on the orange sand. A lizard scurries a couple feet away, pausing to blink its glassy black eyes to the sun above us.

By now I've become afraid to move, lest I disturb "the master" at work, and cautiously I part my lips to let out a breath, in awe of the beauty surrounding us. Sky, ground, rock- so simple, yet so magnificent. My eyes sweep around the landscape, coming to rest once again on Aubrey. Who is staring at me with a strange expression in his eyes, the traces of laughter gone.

"You're done?" I ask.

"I've been done for a while," he says, not moving his eyes off of mine, suddenly serious.

We sit like that, facing each other, barely moving for a while, the sky hugging the earth all around.

"It's beautiful," I finally say, my voice hushed, scared that a single movement will disturb the awing tranquility that envelopes us.

His eyes burning into mine, impossible to look away, those perfect lips curving up into a slight smile, causing the heat to rise into my cheeks, "It is."

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

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