Chapter 3: Weekend at the Aquarium

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic

Reads: 5

Chapter 1 | Part 3

 

Weekend at the Aquarium

 

How long has it been since Lori came to this aquarium? An aquarium well known around the world for being submerged in the ocean. She looks across the pier towards the crowd of parents and children purchasing their tickets and making their way past the man at the makeshift booth. A glorified stand with a wooden cutout of an octopus bordering the window frame.  All those happy children talking amongst themselves about which creature they want to see the most. Lori can only smile at the childhood innocence. A feeling of longing fills Lori’s chest. Is this perhaps the longing to return to a time long ago? Or a feeling of longing to redo the events from her past?

“Lori! Sorry I’m late!” Monaca yells from down the boardwalk.

Lori turns and looks towards Monaca. Her eyes widen at the sight of the cute girl running towards her. Monaca, the ace of the volleyball team, and surprisingly a gorgeous looking tomboy outside of school. Her designer jeans with the fabric purposefully torn over her knees; her black and grey sneakers; that hot pink shirt hidden beneath the unbuttoned black coat; and her wonderful brunette hair wrapped neatly into a bun on the back of her head.

On the other hand, Monaca finds herself slowing down as she looks upon Lori. Her beautiful black hair fanned out down her back and accenting her light blue shirt; her black skirt barely going past her knees; and her short black heels that add a slight maturity to her overall look. If Monaca is a gorgeous tomboy, then Lori is a beautiful princess. Monaca stops in front of Lori and takes a moment to catch her breath.

“Sorry, the bus I was on ran behind because someone got sick,” Monaca explains. “I ran here as fast as I could.”

“Silly girl,” Lori softly replies. Without care for her actions, Lori extends out her hand and gently strokes her fingertips over Monaca’s soft cheek. Monaca’s face immediately brightens. Lori turns and hold out her hand before asking, “Shall we go in?”

Monaca eagerly nods her head, but she hesitantly takes Lori’s hand into her own. They walk down the pier holding hands. One tomboy who clearly fits the image of a sportswoman. Her body is slim and yet tone at the same time. Her gaze has a sharpness of competition as if she is on the lookout for anyone who may try and encroach on her date. Date? She did win the bet and asked Lori to go on a date with her to the aquarium. The thought of being here right now feels more like a dream than anything else. To say that Monaca is happy is mere understatement. For the first time in years Monaca spent time thinking about what she was going to wear instead of just throwing something on. Though this is a secret she will not share with Lori.

They reach the man selling the tickets and Lori fumbles for her purse.

“No, it’s on me today,” Monaca quickly interrupts.

“Are you sure? I’m older, you know,” Lori tries to justify letting herself pay.

Monaca releases Lori’s hand and reaches into her back right pocket to retrieve her leather wallet. Even Lori takes a moment to observe how, well, masculine a woman having a wallet looks to outsiders. Monaca opens her wallet and surprisingly takes out a crisp hundred dollar bill. Lori’s eyes widen with fright at seeing a high schooler with this kind of money. She remains quiet as Monaca buys the ticket and returns the wallet into her back pocket. The two proceed through the gate and towards the end of the pier where the glass staircase leads down into the water.

Lori and Monaca look out the see-through walls on both the left and right sides as they head down the corridor made of class. The ceiling is made of metal, though only down the center where recessed lights hang. The passage is unique. This may not be their first time at the aquarium, but that does not mean the experience does not feel exceptional. They are under the ocean in a glass passageway. As the floor evens out and they walk through the hallway, the fish and sea life outside the glass becomes more apparent. The lights inside the hallway are very dimly lit. Lori stops for a moment and looks to Monaca. She smiles and stretches out her hand once more, and just like last time Monaca hesitantly reciprocates.

“I haven’t been here since my grandmother was alive,” Lori says.

“Huh? Oh, was this a bad place? I’m sorry,” Monaca replies.

Lori smiles and answers, “No, I think this place is just right…for a date, that is.” Lori’s teasing makes Monaca’s face turn bright red and her gaze falls to the floor. Lori giggles and says, “Your appearance and your attitude don’t match, do you know that? You look more like a cute boy, and yet you act like a shy girl. You’re very interesting, Monaca.”

“Cute? Interesting?” Monaca repeats under her breath.

“So, are you rich or something?” Lori bluntly asks. “Not that that’s wrong, but that was my first time seeing someone our age casually taking out a hundred-dollar bill like that.”

“Huh? Oh. No, I’m not rich. Sorry if that disappoints you,” Monaca mutters softly.

Lori laughs at the comment and replies, “Why would I be disappointed? Do you think I’m a gold digger or something? What? Were you just thinking that I wanted to ask you for money? Please, I’m not that shallow.”

“Ah! No! I didn’t mean it like that,” Monaca replies. “It’s just, I don’t want you to ever misunderstand me. I’ve told you before, you know, that I like you and all. I’d hate myself if I ever lied to you. About the money, that was my new year’s money.”

Lori remains silent for a moment. She stops in the middle of the hallway. There are a group of people many feet behind them down the passageway, and those people ahead are many more feet away. In the dim light of the glass corridor Lori gets the overwhelming desire to hug Monaca. Perhaps due to this girl’s straightforwardness, or just the fact that she is a pure hearted girl. Not once during their time together has Lori felt that Monaca was trying to cheat her, nor has she felt that Monaca was simply using her. Facing this impulse head on Lori turns, releases Monaca’s hand, and then wraps both her arms around her date.

“What? Huh? Lo—Lori?” Monaca stutters.

“Just let me hold you for a moment,” Lori whispers. This is the first time she realizes that Monaca’s slightly taller than her. Her nose is nestled into Monaca’s shoulder. Lori without thinking mumbles, “Mmm. You smell nice. Almost like freshly burned cedar.”

Monaca does not know how to reply with words, but her hands know to reciprocate by wrapping her arms around Lori. The two step off to the side and remain motionless for who knows how long. The group that was directly behind them has since passed. When Lori finally gets her fill and steps away from Monaca she cannot help but stare deeply into Monaca’s eyes. Lori smiles, but with a slightly different smile than she intended. Monaca notices this change. That usual forced smile has more life and warmth than ever before. In this moment Monaca realizes the difference. Not only is Lori’s lips curled into a smile, but her eyes also bear a happiness. Those crinkles around her eyes that can only come about from a true heart felt smile. For this reason alone Monaca leans forward to hug Lori of her own volition. A quick hug, much quicker than Lori’s, but much deeper too. A hug that holds the feelings of a current one-sided love for a person who can bear such a smile for a girl so uneasy.

“Monaca,” Lori softly says. “I think we should get going. Didn’t you say there was a great place you wanted to show me after the aquarium?”

“Mm,” Monaca hums in response. She pushes away from Lori with a bright smile and says, “You know, I really do love you.”

Lori stares at Monaca and simply replies, “Thank you. I’m still, figuring stuff out.”

“That’s okay,” Monaca says. “I don’t mind waiting. Come, let’s go. The next place is an ice cream place. Their ice cream is great. None of that frozen water. Just nice smooth frozen milk.”

Lori looks into Monaca’s eyes. There is no sense of lying, deceit, or any underhanded meaning. Lori takes Monaca’s outstretched hand and can feel the strength given off by the other party. A strength that is too foreign from the girl who she arrived at the aquarium with. In just this short amount of time there has already been such an indescribable amount of change. What caused this change? Well, Lori understands that Monaca’s love for her is more than what she currently feels for Monaca. However, building quickly inside her heart as she walks down the passageway with Monaca is a feeling of security and warmth. For the rest of the aquarium tour she does not look once out of the windows. Her eyes remain fixed on the precious beauty walking at her side.

When they loop back around and come back up the patch adjacent to the stairs where they entered the underground aquarium, Lori can feel the change in pace. Earlier she was the cool upperclassman playing around with the girl who chose to love her. Now she is a curious girl with an oddly hard thumping sensation in her chest and eyes that are glued to the girl holding her hand. Before she realizes where she is Monaca ques in line at an ice cream stall.

“Do you know what you want? I really like the mint chocolate chip,” Monaca says.

“Oh. Ice cream. Well, I guess I’ll try the mint chocolate chip too. You did try the burger I liked the other day,” Lori replies.

Monaca holds her stomach and says, “I can’t believe I finished the whole thing.”

“That’s what happens when I take you out to eat after you get out of practice, I guess,” Lori laughs.

Monaca looks at Lori’s smiling face and simply stares. Her eyes fixated on the girl that she fell in love with. Her love bloomed initially from her attraction to Lori’s outward beauty, but now a deeper and much more rooted affection has blossomed. Love for both the appearance and the soul of the girl standing at her side. So badly she wants to hold her. So badly she wants to kiss her. So badly she wants to, well, do other things with her. Is this wrong? Is loving another girl bad? No. This feeling cannot be bad because Lori is willing to go along with such actions. Are they friends now? How long must they be friends before they can truly go out? This is Lori’s last year. Her last month. A month is too short.

“The lines moving,” Lori says.

Monaca snaps out of her somber thoughts and looks ahead.

“Oh, I’m sorry. Kinda got lost in thought for a moment,” Monaca laughs.

Lori looks at Monaca’s expression as she tags along and they order their ice cream. Those eyes and that mouth formed into an expression of worry. Why does Lori’s heart hurt at seeing Monaca like this? At this moment she finds it impossible to smile. When they get their ice cream and find a bench to sit at Lori takes a moment and looks at the grass.

“Hey Monaca,” Lori begins. Monaca licks the ice cream scooped onto the cone as she looks over to Lori. Lori asks, “Why did you fall in love with me? I’m not that great of a person, you know? I mean, I don’t really talk that much at school. I doubt there’s even a person I can actually call a friend. I’m pretty pathetic if you actually know me. I’ll be graduating in less than a month and I have no one to celebrate with besides my family.”

“Lori,” Monaca softly mutters. Her chest feels heavy as she turns towards Lori. Though older and about to graduate from school Lori looks completely lost. Monaca quickly says, “You say you don’t have friends to celebrate with, but, you have me, don’t you!? I mean, we’re friends now, aren’t we? At least I think we are.”

Lori lifts her gaze to Monaca as if hearing the words she truly wanted to hear.

“Thank you,” Lori replies. Tears swell into the corners of her eyes and she repeats, “Thank you.”

“Come on. Your ice cream’s starting to melt,” Monaca says to change the topic.

“Ah! My ice cream! It’s dripping down my hand,” Lori panics.

“Don’t worry. I’ll get you a napkin,” Monaca says before standing from the bench. Lori stretches out her free hand and catches Monaca’s coat. She says, “That’s fine. I’ll be alright for now. Look, I can just lick it clean. So, why don’t you sit and talk with me some more. You know, I don’t really want you to leave me right now. I won’t promise you anything. I don’t know if this is love or not, but at least right now, I don’t want to be away from you. Is that wrong?”

Monaca smiles as Lori finishes licking the dripping ice cream.

“Not at all. Besides, I said it before, “I don’t mind waiting.”


Submitted: November 22, 2020

© Copyright 2020 KainZero. All rights reserved.

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