Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Generation 1 - Snow: Chapter 2

Three months passed.

Three months, without one single finding. America was just as nonexistent to the rest of Sugar Valley as it was to Logan. I'd started calling him that the day we introduced ourselves. I guess to him it was like a nickname, but to me taking the 'berry' off the end toned down the weirdness level by at least 10%. Of course, that was before I looked at him and noticed the blue skin and hair, and it skyrocketed back to well over 100%.

"Going to the pool this morning?" he asked one Saturday as I sat on the couch with a bowl of cereal. It turns out he hadn't really had any food in his fridge, and I insisted we go to the market and pick up some necessities.

Placing the last of the flakes in my mouth (appropriately named Sugar Crispies), I nodded and stood to place my bowl in the sink, which was in the bathroom.

"You ask me that every day." I said with a smile when I reentered the living room.

"It's possible you could change your mind."

Logan was an interesting person...or Berry, or whatever he was. He seemed to rely on schedule to get through the day, but was constantly prepared for it to be thrown off course. We had fallen into a routine over the past 12 weeks, which started off with a workout at the Cotton Candy Community Pool.

Logan swam laps, while I pressed weights nearby. Athletics had been a big part of my life from the time I was a little girl. Running, strength training, softball, soccer, I did it all. Both my parents had been strict vegetarians, and I'd followed their lead. I hadn't touched a piece of meat since I was in 1st grade and Tyler Parker offered me one of his chicken nuggets in turn for one of my chocolate chip cookies.

"Are you gonna come in today?" Logan's voice came from the pool. I opened my eyes, but didn't move my arms from the weights.

He had forced me into buying a bathing suit a week after we started our whole pool ritual. He took out some money from his wallet, placed it in my hand, and turned my shoulders toward the direction of the biggest - and only - clothing store in town. He refused to go inside, most likely because it would be too awkward, and instead greeted me once I was finished with an ice cream cone in the park.

"I don't know..." what I hadn't bothered to tell him was that the bathing suit I'd bought wasn't for swimming laps. It wasn't even a one piece! I guess it was just the girl in me. When I left the clothing store that day, tucked inside my bag was a little white bikini.

"Oh come on!" and while his words were light, his tone was borderline pleading. "The water is perfect!" He splashed a little onto the confetti colored tile near my feet and I sighed.

When he looked at me like that, it was hard to say no. The truth was that I'd wanted to go for a swim for weeks. I kept the bathing suit in the duffel bag Logan had let me borrow, which I brought with me every day so I had a change of clothes after I finished my work out. 

"I'm not sure..."

"Come on," he coaxed with a smile that stretched wider across his face as I lowered the weights and stood from the bench.

"Just let me change. I'll be back in a few minutes."

Standing in the women's bathroom, I studied myself in the mirror. I desperately wished I would have grabbed one of the towels Logan had resting on a sun chair outside, so I would have at least been covered as I walked the perimeter of the pool to use the ladder.

Come on, Snow, stop being such a baby. You went swimming plenty of times back in Michigan and never felt nervous. Just go out there and swim. 

I pushed open the door and poked my head out into the morning. It was March, and although the air still typically possessed a chill during this time of year back home, it was a pleasant 70 degrees with a clear, cloudless sky and cotton clouds streaking the sky. 

Logan had his back to me, finishing up a lap on the other side of the pool, so I quickly hurried down the steps and stood near the edge, my toes inching close to the water.

He was almost finished, and would be turning around any second. Turning around to see me there, standing awkwardly in my bikini. The ladder was on the opposite side of the water. I wouldn't make it in time to use it, so I plugged my nose and jumped forward.

"There you go!" I heard his voice call. My eyes were filled with water, so it took a few seconds before I could see clearly again. He was swimming directly toward me, wearing an expression I couldn't quite decipher.

"See? It's not so bad." he flashed a playful smile, and a michevious gleam appeared in his eyes. I barely had a chance to raise my eyebrows before he ducked beneath the water and two hands wrapped around my ankles.

He let go as soon as I was beneath the surface, and there, surrounded by the sun-warmed water and feeling weightless, something happened.

I pushed my feet against the floor of the pool and took in a gasp of air when my head broke the surface. My heart wanted to race, but instead it was doing the opposite. Everything felt the opposite of what I expected. Instead of the world appearing sped up, the gentle wind that swept through the trees was slow, almost impossibly so, and I could see each leaf as it shook in place, a few losing their grip on the branch and dancing to the ground.

My heart was strong and steady, beating with an increased ferocity in my ears. Thud. Thud. Thud.

I wasn't sure how long we had been under there, but I felt like I needed to lean on something for support. I was light headed, tired. Surely it wasn't from oxygen deprivation. It had to be something else. I knew what that something was, too. I could feel it in my stomach, and in the tingles that danced across the skin of my ankles, right where his hands had been.

I swam over to the corner of the pool and shut my eyes. You can't do this, Snow. You don't even know him.
That was the truth. In fact, when I came to think of it, I realized that we hadn't told each other about anything apart from a few generic facts. 
"Snow, are you okay?" my eyes opened at the sound of his voice, and I was surprised to see him right in front of me. My slow, concentrated heartbeat started to pick up. 

"I, um...I'm fine." I cleared my throat. "I just need some air."

"Do you feel sick? Maybe you need something to eat. Let's go down to the pier. We can hang out there for a little while."

"Okay..." at that point, I just wanted to get out of the water and sit down. I prepared to hoist myself out of the pool, but Logan gently touched my shoulder and smiled.

"Let me get you a towel first. " He effortlessly pushed himself out of the water, and I tried not to stare at his dripping figure, but it was hard not to.

Yes, something had definitely changed between us while we where underneath the water together. Something had clicked, or maybe switched off, I don't know. All I could see was him watching me, water lifting his hair like a blue wreath around his head, and those eyes watching mine. 

The pier - Peppermint Pier, to be exact - was amazing. I realized that it was where I had collapsed my first day in Sugar Valley, and wondered who would have found me that evening if Logan hadn't. There was an entertainment room, stocked a computer and TV, as well as fully equipped bathrooms and small nooks for  naps after a tiring day at the beach. 

The warmth that radiated from the red and white walls made the entire place feel much more like someone's home than just a place to hang out.

I grabbed a small meal from the kitchenette, while Logan went outside. I quickly ate my lunch, though I honestly didn't have much of an appetite, and wandered out onto the patio afterwards. The place was entirely ours that morning, as it was still relatively early and a weekday, meaning everyone else would be heading out to work or school. 

I spotted him at the foosball table, and walked over.

His face was set in concentration, and I cleared my throat. "Having fun?"

He smiled, but didn't look at me. "As much fun as someone can have playing foosball by himself. Did you eat?"

I nodded and watched the waves loll against the shore for a few minutes. "Logan," I finally began. "Can we talk?"


"Well, I was thinking about us at the pool. All the time we've spent together these past three months. And I realized something."


"Yes. I realized...we don't know anything about one another."

He froze then and cast me a sideways glance. "You're right."

"And I was wondering if...if you wouldn't mind getting to know each other better? I mean, I'm staying at your house and you've already done so much for me. I'd just like to know more about the person who...saved my life." I added the last part tentatively, and watched his eyes widen as the words left my mouth. He let them hang between us, and sink into his mind. He blinked, as if he had just completed processing everything, and nodded.

"Of course we can get to know each other."

"Really? Do you want me to start? What do you want to know? I already told you I'm from America. Michigan, to be exact. Did I tell you I was a college student? I went to the state university and..."

I realized I was rambling and quickly stopped talking. He looked up at me then. "What's wrong?"

"Nothing, I just...I don't want to babble."

"You aren't. Go on. But first, tell me about America. What is a 'state'?"

I walked to the other side of the Foosball table, and sighed. This was going to be a long conversation.

"So, you go to college and want to be a doctor?"

"I don't know exactly. My parents wanted me to be one, but I'm not sure what I want to do to be honest."

"Well, you have plenty of time to decide." Finding another meaning to his words, he quickly apologized. "I didn't mean because you're stuck here..."

"I know that. I really don't think it matters where I am though, Logan. I haven't been certain of anything about my future for a long time."

"Why not?"

"I don't know," I admitted. "I've always just lived in the moment."

He nodded and chewed on his bottom lip. A few minutes later, we started another game and he asked me about my family.

"I have two parents, of course. My mom is a creative writing teacher at a university. It's funny, because she wanted to much for me to attend the college she taught at just so I could be in one of her classes. My dad is big on the outdoors, and runs a store in our town. You know, stuff for hiking, camping, all that stuff. Both my parents are health enthusiasts, which is why I am too. I've had morning work out sessions since I was 13."

"What about siblings?"

"I have a sister." I smiled, but felt tears in my eyes at the thought of Winter. "She's three years older than me, but we're super close. People still ask us if we're twins when we go out together, which is a lot."

"You must miss her a lot." His voice was hoarse and he avoided my eyes. 

"I do."

We left the Foosball table shortly afterward, and began to walk along the beach. Logan was quiet, more so than usual. "Are you all right?" I asked him once we sat down to watch the waves. 

He sighed and slowly nodded. "Um, yeah. I'm fine. Just thinking."

"About what?"

"Just what you told me. About your family and all that."

"Oh..." I wasn't quite sure where he was headed.

"You love them a lot." he said a few minutes later. "I can tell."

"Of course I do," I smiled softly, but only to ease the thick level of tension that had taken in the air between us. "Doesn't everyone?"

He glanced over and gave me a rueful smile. "I don't know."

"What do you mean?" When I asked him this, he moved his face back toward the ocean.

I knew he was slowly gravitating toward something, building himself up bit by bit as if whatever he wanted to say was too difficult or too painful to spill out at one time.
We sat there, quiet, and somehow despite the obviously troubled expression on his face, Logan appeared to be more at ease than I was. His eyes shifted slightly with each roll of the waves, settling back down to a midpoint level whenever the surface evened out.

"My family." he stated blankly, with no sign of continuing at the end of his sentence.

I waited before tentatively asking, "What about them?"

He took a deep breath and looked at me. "I never knew them. I've been by myself as long as I can remember."

"Logan, that's horrible, I...I'm sorry."

"It's just that hearing you talk about yours...I can actually see how much you love them. It's in your eyes. I've always wondered if there was someone out there who looked that way when they talked about me. My mother was alone when she had me and I was left at the hospital. That's the only thing I know."

"Who raised you?"

He shrugged. "Good question. Someone obviously had to, but I have no idea who he - or she - is. I was found on the doorstep of an orphanage when I was about six months old, and from that point on I lived there. When I was fourteen and started high school, I left and found the beach I live on now. There was no house then."

My eyes widened. "You mean you actually built the entire place by yourself?"

He flashed a smile. "Impressive, huh?"

I nodded. "But where did you learn how to do that?"

"I taught myself. I didn't have any other choice." he shrugged.

We stayed on the beach long after the sun set, and soon I stopped feeling uncomfortable and was just insanely curious. I didn't feel awkward asking Logan questions about his life, and he didn't seem to be unhappy answering them. Maybe it was because I hid all signs of pity, because despite how much I felt, I knew that wasn't what he was seeking when he first told me about his childhood. So I just left out all the sympathy and let the interest show itself in my voice. It was amazing all that he'd been through, and how well he had turned out given the circumstances. He worked part time at the local grocery store, which would explain why people had been so friendly to him when I'd dragged him on that shopping trip. 

Recently he had been earning extra money on the side by traveling to the more built up part of town and playing guitar in some of the dive bars. They're instruments weren't good quality, he said, but they still helped him bring in an extra $100 a month if he was lucky. 

In his short life, Logan had already experienced more pain and loneliness than I could have ever imagined. Despite his soft personality, he was tough. A fighter. By the time we stood up to go home, the moon was set high in the sky and accompanied by thousands of white, twinkling stars and my feelings for Logan had only grown stronger.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Generation 1 - Snow: Chapter 1

I woke up the next morning to the sound of footsteps against hardwood. I squinted my eyes, just enough to see who was in front of me while still appearing asleep, and saw the boy from yesterday crouching beside my bed to place a glass of water beside me.

He stood and moved a few feet back, and sighed. He sounded worried. I shut my eyes completely then, which sent all of yesterday's events flooding into my mind. My heart started to pick up, and I needed to get some answers. I sat up, startling him, and immediately asked where I was. 

"You're at my house...I brought you here last night, remember?"

I could remember talking to him on the beach, and nearly breaking down into tears over the small dinner he had bought me from a diner.

"Where am I?" I asked abrutly.

"Sugar Valley."

"Where is that?"

"Um...near the Macadamia Sea."

"Macadamia? You mean Mediterranean?" I swung my legs over the side of the bed, and he watched me, his eyebrows close together in concern.

"No, I mean Macadamia. What's Mediterranean?"

"It's a sea!" I hollered, and jumped to my feet. The soles throbbed, sore from the miles of unprotected running they had been subject to the day before. I could only imagine what bruises and cuts my socks were hiding.

"There is no such thing as the Macadamia Sea. That's a type of nut. And you - people are not blue. How is your skin that color?"
He seemed hurt by my tone. "Lots of people here look like me. Have you really never seen one someone like me before?"
I shook my head.

"Well, then what do people look like where you come from?"

I plunged into a detailed explanation, starting with my home. He told me he had never heard of America, or Michigan. I argued that there was - I knew there was. I'd spent all 19 years of my life there! He was the impossibility, not me! He didn't seem to find that true, though. 

"Don't take this the wrong way," he started, "but you're the one who is weird looking. I've never, ever seen someone with hair that color before."

"It's blonde!" I screeched. He gave an apologetic smile and shrugged. My head began to spin, and as I looked around the room for the first time, eying the glass of water he had left, he tapped my arm with his finger.

"I'm going to help you." he promised. "I want you to find wherever it is you came from, but you're going to have to do what I say, all right?"

What other choice did I have? With a soft nod, I agreed and he smiled. "I'm going to run down to the store and get a few things. If you're going to come out and help me out more about this America place, you're going to have to look like a Sweetian."

"A what?"

"A Sweetian. A Berry Sweet."

"A Berry what?"

He waved his hand and headed for the door. "I'll explain later. Just sit tight and I'll be back soon. I made you some breakfast, it's in the fridge."

At the door, he looked over his shoulder and smiled. "It's going to be okay."

With that, he walked outside and left me standing in the living room. 

"Where am I?" I whispered, as tears began to build in my eyes and clog my throat. Where was this place? This house I was standing in? It was small, I realized, with the only rooms being the nearly empty bedroom I'd woken up in, the living room which had two counters for a kitchen, and a smaller room off to the left which I assumed was the bathroom. 

I noticed that all the furniture was hand made from unpainted wood, and the surface of the coffee table seemed to have been carved out of something smooth and pale...seashells. 

Where were my parents, and friends? How was my roommate in college? Did she just wake up to discover my bed empty? Where the police frantically looking for me? I couldn't imagine my mother and father waking up to a phone call that I was unable to be found.

When the door opened, I was still standing in the same spot I had an hour ago. The boy gave me a soft smile, and held up two bags. "These are for you."

"What is it?" I asked.

"Clothes, and hair dye."

My eyes widened. "Hair dye?"

He nodded and picked up the smaller, plastic bag that read BlackBerry's Beauty Supplies on the front and gestured toward the bathroom. "Come on."

"Are you ready?"


We were standing in front of the bathroom sink, me with my head in my hands and the boy with a reassuring smile on his face.

"It'll be okay," he said as he removed the dye from the box. "You're going to be fine."

"I still don't understand how this is going to help me fit in."

"Okay, open your eyes. "
"Ta da! What do you think?"

"My hair..." I could barely get the words out. "It's...it's white."

"It's the only thing they had closest to your natural color." he said. "And I thought you might have had a heart attack if I turned it green. So voila! I think it looks good."


"I know. Now I'm going to get the clothes and you can change. Maybe we can head down to the library in a little while? I don't think it closes until 9."

He placed a larger, paper bag by my feet and shut the door as he went to wait in the living room. I studied myself in the mirror for a few more minutes before deciding to get dressed. When I opened the bag, I discovered that everything in it was white as well, apart from the mauve colored ribbon that tied around the shirt.

What was up with this guy?

Shaking my head and deciding to ask questions later, I laid out the top, shorts and shoes and began to undress. A few minutes later, I examined myself in the mirror and smiled. I actually didn't look half bad. When I opened the door, the boy's jaw dropped.

"You look...nice." he stammered. I laughed and thanked him.

"You're actually pretty good at picking out clothes."

"Don't give me any credit," he smiled. "I had the saleswoman do all the work. I hope you don't mind all the white...I just thought it would match your hair. Girls like that stuff right?"

I laughed then, genuinely laughed, and the confused look on his face didn't help me settle down.
"Did I say something?"

"No, nothing at all." I said, as I managed to harness the laughs and soften them to giggles. Amazing how boys here were just as clueless as the ones in America. "Now what did you say about a library?"

I decided that I wanted to take a fast shower before we left, and luckily found a headband at the bottom of the hair dye bag. We left shortly after I finished redressing, and when we reached the nearly empty library, the boy led me into a room filled with towering bookshelves and computers. "What do you say we start with the internet? There has to be something there about this America place."

"Right..." and so we set to work. 
Every so often, I would peek over the top of my monitor to see him watching the screen with a determined stare.

 When the internet turned out no results, I headed upstairs to start looking through books. 

 With a sigh, I slid the twelfth book on the shelf and frowned.
"Did you find anything?"

I turned around and faced the boy.
"No." Judging by the look he gave in return, it was evident he hadn't either.  "So what does this mean?"

"That we have to look harder, I guess." he shrugged. "This is only the library. We can do research outside of here, right?"

"I guess so, but where?"

"I'm not sure. I'll figure something out."

We went home, and I fell asleep in his bed again. This time I realized where he had slept the day he first found me - on the couch with no blanket. I insisited it be the other way around, but he refused to hear any of it and wished me a good night before flicking off the lights. 

Just as I fell asleep, I heard him quietly call out from the other room, "I'm still going to search for you."

In the morning, I headed out early and took a seat by the small blue fire pit in front of the shack. The cool ocean breeze rushed over my face, and I watched the waves calmly lap against the sand. 

"It's a beautiful view, isn't it?" the boy sat down beside me and smiled. 
"It is." I nodded.

"I've lived on this beach..." his nose scrunched up as he counted in his head, "five years and haven't grown sick of it."

"Five years? That makes you...?"

"19." he smiled. "And you?"

"The same."

"You know something? I just realised I never even introduced myself." Saying this out loud made me feel absolutely ridiculous. This person had taken me under his wing and let me stay in his house, and I hadn't even told him my name. "I'm Snow."

"Snow? Where'd you get a name like that?"

"Oh, I was born in the middle of December. I guess my parents aren't too creative."

"No, no. I like it. Snow." The way it rolled off his tongue made it sound completely different, mysterious, as if I hadn't heard it once in my entire life.

"What's yours?" I pressed.

"Oh, sorry." he laughed a little. "I am Loganberry Trifle."

"Loganberry Trifle." I repeated. "Like the fruit and dessert?"

"Yeah, I guess. Hey, don't give me that look."

"What look?" I laughed and stood up, turning around to hide my smile. He did the same and stepped in front of me.

"That 'you're so weird look'. If you think my name is odd, you should hear some of the others around here."

"Well, my last name is probably like theirs. In fact, it's just as strange as yours. It's Créme. The French word for cream. No one is sure how my family got it."

"Hmm, Créme." Once again, he made my name sound so different. Special. "Maybe you're not that strange here after all."

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