I quickly change into a pair of clean clothes, a t-shirt and basketball shorts, and skulk to the cabinets to find some of my Spider-Man band-aides.
While sitting on the bathroom counter, I stare at all my injuries from today’s wipeout. Most are all neatly bandaged (thanks to Peter Parker) and lathered in Neosporin.
Every detail of the day was replaying in my mind like the annoying music of a movie’s menu when one forgets to hit the “PLAY” button.
Skateboarding. Falling (ouch). Autumn screaming for help, then falling into my embrace. Running like hell. Bursting through the door. Being happy for one nanosecond to see Uncle Patrick. Being sent away while Dad and Uncle Patrick figure out what’s wrong with the mystery girl I brought in from the street. Now.
For a fraction of a moment, I allow my thoughts to break away from the constant rerun.
Think, Shayne. What did Dad say to do?
Sit down. Get cleaned up. Stay out of the way.
Check, check, and a slight check. I don’t care what Dad says, I need to know what is going on or I’m going to explode.
Suddenly, I wonder why I even care this much. This girl could be anyone: hooker, master-mind criminal, drug dealer. Anyone.
Almost as quickly as that thought came, it disappears. I made a promise to help her and gosh darn it, I’m going to help her.
I slide down to my feet, bones and muscles popping and aching. Slyly, I attempt to sneak into the living room, where my father and his best friend are muttering about Autumn. Their backs are to me, which gives me the best possible advantage in this situation.
“Your girl has a good heart and a semi-sensible head on her shoulders, Travis.” Uncle Patrick nods.
I crouch behind the sofa, silent as a mouse. Or a ninja. Silent as a ninja-mouse.
My heart beat slows to a low thud when I see Autumn. She’s still asleep, curled in the fetal position, cute as a button.
Dad grunts in reply, “Yeah. Shayne’s a wild child, but I love her anyway.”
Smiling warmly to myself, I mentally thank my dad, but immediately curse him for not letting me help Autumn.
Uncle Patrick looks over Autumn again, as if to make sure he didn’t miss anything. Glancing upward, he reports, “Just exhausted and dehydrated, boss. Probably just a runaway.”
It feels like a weight has just been lifted off me. Thank God, she’s alright.
Colonel Sevon gives a terse nod. Then, without missing a beat, he strolls over behind the couch.
Cuss words flow in my mind. I try scrambling backward, a horrible decision on my part because I make eye-contact with Dad.
Uh oh. Busted.
Dad picks me up by the collar of my shirt, and I know I’ve been defeated.
“I-I-I’m sorry, Dad, I hadta see what was wrong with her.” I spurt. Uncle Patrick is chuckling softly behind Dad. Doesn’t he know I’m about to be disintegrated by my father for disobeying orders?
My father’s face isn’t livid, as I imagined it would be; instead it’s calm and understanding. He sets me down on my feet after making sure I had cleaned up and dressed my wounds.
“All the girl needs is a good rest, food, and Gatorade, Shayne. In fact, soldier,” He addresses me. “I’m putting you in charge of alerting your superior officers when she wakes up.”
I smile wide and proud, “Sir, yes, sir.”
Uncle Patrick and Dad exit into the kitchen, leaving me on my knees at Autumn’s side.
Holy crap. Does this count as like, stalking her? I hope not. I don’t wanna be a creeper! She’s probably straight anyway… That’d be just my luck. Oh, well. I guess I’ll be able to ask sooner or later.
Her fragile bird’s body moves up and down slowly. Her curls of blond hair cascade around her face. To an onlooker, she could be a sleeping angel.
An angel named Autumn that tumbled from heaven, straight into my life.
I awake to an unfamiliar living room on an unfamiliar couch, not having the slightest clue about the past day. Sitting up, I glance around the darkness til I find a clock on the cable box below the T.V.
My head throbs and my stomach growls fiercely, reminding me I haven’t eaten for at least two days.
Light streams from a hallway, and I suddenly realize I may be in danger… Again.
Before I can even begin to think of an action plan, a dark-haired girl in a white shirt and shorts strides into the living room soundlessly, jumping around and dancing wildly. She’s utterly lost in the music, which I can hear is something rock/alt-ish. Oblivious to me, she keeps lip-synquing, and occasionally playing the air guitar or air drums.
Though I feel as if I’m intruding on this girl, I can’t help but let a laugh escape. Seeing this girl so open and free gives me hope. Hope for the future.
Thirty seconds passes, filled with head-banging and passionately silent singing. Finally, the song ends, and the lean, yet muscular girl (whom I recognize as the one I rudely ran into) opens her eyes.
“You’re awake!” She shrieks.
I feel my skin heat up in embarrassment. My stomach cramps up and twists in rebellion.
Right. Time to beg from another stranger.
“Do you- do you have any food I could eat? I’m so sorry- I just… I’m real hungry. My name’s Autumn.”
The girl yanks her ear buds out, and sprints away. She returns within a few seconds, brandishing an assortment of Poptarts and Gatorade. I’m nearly drooling over the thought of multiple packets of Poptarts.
Embarrassed, the girl- my rescuer- hands me a pack of strawberry Poptarts and a grape Gatorade. Her eyes, a periwinkle, baby blanket blue sparked with concern, relax my fears. Something about this girl makes me feel safe, though I haven’t a clue who she is.
“Sorry,” She apologizes. “We uh… didn’t go to the store yet this week so um- I hope you like Poptarts and mac-n-cheese, Autumn. I’m Shayne by the way. Shayne Sevon.”
I rip into the Poptart packet and devour them with joy. After glugging down some Gatorade, I pause. “I can’t thank you enough for helping me,”
Shayne’s eyes light up like fireworks in the dead of night. The fuzzy warmth in my chest seems to grow, despite my pressing problems that are most likely hot on my trail. Those problems could be ignored for now.
“Oh, and also, seeing you dance and lip-synque… This may sound strange, but it lifted me up from the trench I was caught in. So, thank you.”