"If I knew how to do it, I’d paint the moon, the stars around you,
paint the perfect sunset, but I couldn’t make it more beautiful than you…”
The sound of my alarm wakes me from my peaceful slumber, and I reluctantly untangle myself from my dreams of Scotty.
Immediately, I sense the smell of something fishy.
Actually, it smells of pancakes. Which is exactly why I know something is up. My everyday breakfast usually consists of a piece of toast, cereal, or a granola bar. My father and Jessica have always left me to fend for myself when it came to meals other than dinner.
A good morning text from Scotty provides a temporary distraction, but I know I can’t avoid the inevitable any longer.
I quietly dress myself in my favorite jeans, a flannel, and sandals. Usually I don’t feel compelled to wear makeup in the morning, but since I’ll be seeing Scotty, I think I can make an exception. And I should probably do something with my hair, too.
After applying a light coat of mascara, blush, and a sweet layer of lip gloss, I curl my hair into loose waves. I organize my books and place them neatly into my backpack, wash my hands, find a novel to slip in my bag, and brush my teeth for the second time. I’m stalling.
Finally, I realize I can’t put it off much longer. Grabbing my backpack, I flip off my light switch, retrieve my phone, and head downstairs. The front window reveals a peachy pink sky, stretching from one end of the horizon to the other. There are no clouds in sight, and a splash of sunlight reflects off the fresh spring flowers. Today will be beautiful, no doubt.
I take a deep breath and walk into the kitchen, where the aroma of pancakes and maple syrup is strong enough to make my stomach cry with longing. Jessica is standing by the stove, where she slides a fresh batch of pancakes onto a plate. My dad is reading his newspaper at the table.
Jessica spots me first, smiling her catty, toothpaste-commercial smile. “Good morning, Alexa. I thought I’d make you a nice breakfast to start the day off with.”
"Thanks," I mumble, taking my seat across from my dad. My eyes stay glued to the sunny placemats as Jessica pours orange juice in the glass in front of me.
"You’re welcome," she purrs, laying her hand on my father’s shoulder as she walks back, a signal.
My father folds his newspaper and sets it aside, eyeing me from across the table. “So, Alexa…”
I glance up briefly.
"That boyfriend of yours that we…stumbled upon yesterday. How is it that this is the first time we’re hearing about him?" he asks, coating his anger with mock curiosity.
"Well…" I begin, only stopping soon after. I have no idea what to say. If I tell my dad I just met Scotty, and didn’t have time to tell him, he’d flip out at me for jumping into a relationship with some random guy. If I explain that I was trying to hide it, he’d flip out at me even more. I’m completely and utterly trapped.
"I wanted to tell you guys, but you haven’t been around much," is what I finally tell them, which is partly the truth. "And whenever you were around, I didn’t want to bother you."
There, that sounded okay, right?
Jessica jumps in. “You wouldn’t have bothered us, dear. We want you to be honest with us about things like this. Your father and I didn’t appreciate walking in on the two of you.”
There she goes again. Your father and I. God, I can’t stand her.
"I’m sorry, I know it’s sudden and I know I didn’t go about handling it in the right way, but I promise I’ll be completely honest with the both of you from now on," I say as sincerely as possible.
"Good," my father replies with a stiff nod. "Now, I’d like to meet this young man again…properly. And apologize for my outburst."
"Well, see…Scotty lives in North Carolina, and he’s here on spring break, so we don’t have many more days left for you two to…meet again," I tell him. "He leaves tomorrow."
Saying the words out loud shock me briefly, as I realize today is my last full day to be with Scotty.
"That’s unfortunate," Jessica says, hiding a smile behind her painted lips. "Long distance relationships never work out. I say we don’t even bother making the effort. Besides, honey, we have that meeting tonight." She comes up behind my father and kisses the top of my head. I feel like vomiting all over her designer shoes.
"You’re right," my dad agrees, placing his hand over hers. "Well, we should get going."
They rise, grabbing their briefcases before leaving the house, not even a single “goodbye” or “have a nice day at school” uttered. Tears well up in my eyes as I carry my plate of soggy, untouched pancakes to the sink. I notice the blurry, green numbers on the clock above the stove. Scotty will be here any minute. He can’t see me like this.
I hurriedly dry my eyes with a paper towel and gather my things, just as Scotty’s truck pulls up at my house.
The sight of him getting out and walking to the door makes me smile, ever so slightly. He rings the doorbell and I swing my backpack over my shoulder, stepping out into the morning with him. His arms find their way around me, bringing me a sense of comfort and relief. Finally, someone who actually cares about me.
"Good morning, sweetheart," Scotty mumbles against my neck, before pressing a gentle kiss to my skin. He pulls back, smiling tenderly.
"Good morning," I mimic, threading my fingers with his. "You didn’t have to get out of the car. I know how tired you must be."
"Well, what kinda daggum boyfriend would I be if I didn’t greet you at the door?" he teases, pecking my cheek. We walk to his truck together, and drive the short miles to my school.
Scotty pulls up at the back entrance, shutting his engine off. I haven’t said an entire word the whole ride here, so he must know something is wrong.
"You’re awful quiet today," he observes softly.
I feed him the typical excuse. “I’m just tired.”
"Did your..I mean..did they..say anything to you?" Scotty asks, and I can’t help but notice the way he’s nibbling on his bottom lip.
My thoughts scatter in all different directions as I reply. “Yes.”
"They’re not mad," I tell him. It isn’t exactly the full truth, but it’s better than the whole truth.
They don’t care.
* * *
Sitting through my blur of classes is extra difficult today. I can’t manage to concentrate on anything, and even Erica’s bubbly conversation can’t keep me from wanting to burst into tears at the drop of a hat.
Scotty is leaving. Tomorrow. Hundreds of miles away, for God knows how long.
I’m grateful when the bell finally rings, signaling the end of another school day.
I exit the building, head straight for Scotty’s car and hop in eagerly.
"Hey, how was your-"
My lips cut him off, moving gently against his mouth, longingly. The warmth of his hand finds it way to my lower back, cradling me closer. Scotty’s unshaved jaw scratches against mine as we make up for lost time, and my head is swimming in a pool of color.
Breathless, Scotty pulls back, licking his lips slowly. “Well, hello to you too.”
I blush deeply, sliding my hand into his. “Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.”
"Don’t apologize, baby. I’m not complaining." He winks.
"So…I thought since…today’s our last day together before I leave…I could take you somewhere special," Scotty murmurs softly, tucking a stray piece of hair behind my ear. "If that’s all right."
"A surprise sounds wonderful," I tell him.
* * *
About fifteen minutes later, I find myself in the middle of a dream.
Scotty, in his perfect way, leads me to the middle of the park where we first met.
"Wait right here, I just have to grab a few things from my truck," he orders sweetly, tipping his head down to kiss my forehead. He walks back to his truck, pulling out a large blanket and basket. He carries them back over to the tree, and together, we spread the blanket on the soft grass.
I take my seat close to Scotty, and he captures my lips between his own, gifting me with a gentle kiss.
Smiling, he opens the flap of the basket, pulling out a small bouquet of daisies, handing them to me.
My heart is overflowing as I take the flowers, lifting them to my nose to smell. “My favorite,” I express happily, in a daze.
Scotty reaches out and takes one of the daisies, sliding it through the hair next to my ear. “Beautiful,” he says.
I watch as he sticks his hand into the basket once more, slowly pulling out a black velvet box. My pulse quickens as he reveals a sparkling silver promise ring.
"I thought I’d…leave you something to remember me by," he says, a lump visible along his throat.
"You didn’t have to leave me anything," I whisper. "I would’ve remembered you anyway."
"Well…I figured it’d be nice for you to…look at it and think of me. I really love you, Alexa. I hope you know that." Scotty holds the ring gently between his fingers, biting his lip.
"I love you, too."
Gently, he takes my hand and slides the ring onto my finger, placing a gently kiss upon it as he does so. “We’re going to make it through this. We’ll be together, no matter what.”
I believe him, despite what Jessica said earlier about long distance relationships.
"I’m just so glad I have you, Scotty."
"You never have to worry about being alone or scared, not with me. I’m always going to be here," he says softly, gathering my face in his hands. He brings me towards him and our lips fall into a slow, passionate kiss. The adrenaline that runs through my veins is overwhelming, and my body feels like it’s floating six feet off the ground. Scotty slides the basket aside and guides me onto the blanket, settling on top of my trembling body. His chest is heavy against mine, and his belt buckle digs into my thigh.
Scotty’s hand slides underneath my neck, supporting my head as he deepens the kiss. My arms helplessly move against his back, rubbing aimless patterns.
In the middle of our kiss, Scotty pulls back just slightly and mumbles, “I have another surprise.”
I whisper back, “What would that be?”
His arms squeeze tightly around my body, and his lips find shelter at my collarbone.
"You’re coming with me."
"Oh, nothing compares to you,
you know it’s true…”