Monthly Archives: June 2010

Nanny Days

I walked up to the door and rang the bell, juggling my big purse, water bottle, and craft bag in one hand while I waited for someone to come. I heard shouts on the other side of the door, and looked down at the blind-covered side window and wondered which of them would come first. It was Reese. “It’s Nina,” he called to everyone. Then he unlocked the door.

Grinning at him and my baby (not to play favorites or anything…), Jude, a “Hey, guys!” had hardly escaped my mouth before it clamped shut as Jude spewed out, “HI NINA!” I was very surprised. Yes, he knows I love him a lot, and he loves me, too, but normally he will shyly give me that adorable grin of his and then run behind his mom. Either he is just becoming more outgoing with me, or he’s growing up. Aaahh, I hope it is the first one!

That happened Wednesday, my first day as taking over the official job as Nanny for the three Page boys, Calvin, Reese, and little Jude. Their ages are 7, 5, and 2 (pretty sure, anyway). I shall be watching them for a few hours once a week, and though it is far from one of those dramatic, TV-worthy, full-time Nanny jobs, I am still very excited about it.

And now, school work salutes me to come and finish before my regular Friday night babysitting job. I have so much I need to cram into today it is far from funny. Spanish, math corrections and test, English corrections, history test… Lord, please help me as I hammer through my work on less than 9 hours of sleep.

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Twilight Serenade (4)

The deep red sun had set in the dull orange and bright pink sky long ago, but Halyn had not even noticed. Her mind was far off in a place where, before today, she had never visited before. Her russet-colored eyes had stopped dripping, but she wiped them nonetheless. What had just happened? Her mind had ceased to work as soon as Nate had pulled away from the shocking kiss.

“What am I going to do now?” she said aloud, looking up at the heavens as if the outlined clouds could give her the answer. Instead, the wind began blowing harder than before and she watched as it whipped through the tree branches and teased her hair, blowing it around her face.

Almost without realizing it Halyn licked her lips, and then suddenly smiled. What were the odds of receiving your first kiss on a bridge with a group of friends and a fiery sunset flaming in the background? For a crazy moment she nearly wished someone had taken a picture, but then shook her head.

“Stupid, stupid,” she muttered, jamming her hand through her hair. If someone had taken pictures, what if her parents found them? She would have got grounded for life. But on the other hand… would she really care? Getting grounded until she turned twenty-one might not seem like such fun, but after all, would getting your first kiss not have been worth it? Not to mention I just kissed a really good-looking Australian best friend, she added silently.

Sighing, Halyn looked up. Where were the others? If she knew Shiara, which she did, she knew Shi would have more than likely walked off extremely upset with Adam trailing behind her to make sure she did not get into any trouble. But that still left Lizzie and Nate. And if Halyn’s guess was correct, then Liz had probably given Nate one of her speeches. A smile almost twisted her mouth at the thought of Nate standing there awkwardly as Liz gave him one of her little “philosophical talks.”

Squinting her eyes, Halyn stared off in the distance to her right. She could have sworn someone was sauntering towards her. Standing up, she started towards the figure, but two seconds later she realized who it was and briskly turned around and strode the other way.

After walking a minute she glanced behind her and was startled to see him nearly in stride with her. For a fleeting moment she thought of running, but just then she felt his hand on her arm.

“Halyn, I –”

“Nate!” She jumped at his voice and stopped dead in her tracks, looking down at the cracks in the sidewalk. She prayed he did not expect her to answer any of his questions, but knew that she would eventually have to respond.

They both stood there a moment, not talking, Nate’s hand resting on her arm until he dropped it, embarrassed. The sky grew darker and the clouds looked fiercer, seeming to threaten to burst open with their downpour.

Halyn felt Nate’s eyes on her as if they were burning a hole through the top of her head. Finally she risked peeking up at him, and regretted it instantly. Her small round face turned three shades of pink when her eyes met his ocean-blue ones; she lowered her head again.

“Halyn, I don’t know what I was thinking.” He broke the silence at last. When she did not meet his gaze, he gently yet firmly placed his fingers under her chin and forced her to look into his face. “It was just a stupid dare, and Adam’s right – dare’s are a child’s play, and I shouldn’t have done it.” He paused.

Stop! No, don’t stop, keep going. No! Cut it out now! Halyn’s emotions were in turmoil, and she could not decide whether to slap him across the face now and get it over with or let his beautiful accent make her forget about everything.

After taking a deep breath and exhaling, he continued. “I’m sorry for putting our friendship in an uncomfortable position; I never wanted to do that. I never meant to hurt yours or Shiara’s feelings; I had been thinking about the dare all week. Shi probably won’t ever want to speak to me again, and Adam more than likely feels the same way.” He sighed and let go of her chin, only to gently intertwine his fingers with hers.

Confused, afraid, filled with excitement and curiosity, Halyn looked up at him now. His feelings were plastered all over his face: his remorse, his guilt, his happiness… his love.

Nate leaned forward, touching her forehead with his. “I truly am sorry if I hurt you, Halyn,” he whispered. “I only want you to know, that even if you don’t forgive me, you’re still the first and only girl I’ve fallen in love with.”

Halyn’s head jerked upward, bumping Nate’s head. “Oh! Sorry,” she mumbled, momentarily looking at the sidewalk but then staring back up into his eyes. “But… but I’m only eighteen.” Her eyes were full of confusion, and seemed to ask him, Why me? Why now?

He smiled. “I realize that, but that doesn’t change my love for you. I know… we can’t do anything for awhile yet, seeing as how you haven’t finished up college and all that –” he broke off and laughed when she slapped him on the arm.

“Oh, and you have?” She demanded, not unkindly. They laughed together, but then took on serious expressions.

“Neither of us are out of college, nor do we both have really supporting jobs…” he trailed off as her face suddenly reddened, and smiled when he realized she was making the connection. “But maybe, someday, when we’re older…”

Halyn took a step back, holding her hands out in front of her. “Nate, I – I really don’t think I can talk about this right now. I mean, I… you – we… uh!” She threw her hands up in the air.

But Nate wouldn’t let her get off so easily, and reached for her hands again. “Alright, we won’t talk. Right now.” He laughed at her relieved expression, and the next moment he kissed her softly again on the mouth. “I promise, I’ll wait,” he whispered when they broke apart.

Wrapping herself in his embrace, Halyn let her tears fall down her face. Why stop them? She didn’t even know why she was crying in the first place. She felt so confused, loved, happy, lost, sad… in what other way could she let out all her emotions at once than crying?

Gusts of wind blew harder, the clouds became darker, and the warmer weather started drifting away, but Halyn found comfort and warmth in the embrace of the friend she had finally realized she loved.


Twilight Serenade (3)

The sky grew darker as the sun faded away, and Lizzie finally turned to face Nate. Her expression by now was unreadable, and she scrutinized him through her wire-rimmed glasses.

Halyn having disappeared behind a building long ago, Nate found that he did not have anything to look at. He could not bring himself to look at Liz, and so he gazed down at the softly flowing water under the bridge.

“How long?”

The blonde twenty-one-year-old jumped at Liz’s words. What did she mean? “How long what?”

“How long have you loved her?” was the matter-of-fact answer.

Nate looked startled. Loved her? Even he did not know the answer to that. Was it when they had all gone to Florida together last year? Or when they had all ridden horseback down the lonely Montana trails and Halyn’s horse had dashed off with her and they all thought she was going to die? Or maybe when she, Liz, Adam, and Shiara had all introduced themselves to him three years ago? Suddenly he remembered Shi.

“Oh, dang it all,” he muttered. He had not meant to leave her hanging like that; to make her believe that he liked her. In a way, he had liked her – as a friend, though. And all this time she had thought…

Nate sighed. And Adam had seemed upset as well, he remembered. Did he like Halyn, too? No, it was not a matter of simply “liking.” Nate had liked Halyn for a very long time, true enough, but that was not what Liz had asked. How long have you loved her? The words ran through his head, and it was quite a few minutes before he remembered that she expected him to answer.

“To be honest,” he replied, scratching the back of his head, “I don’t really know. It just kind of happened, you know?” He looked up at her, and actually blushed when she stared back it him, unmoving.

Finally she said, “No, Nate, I don’t know. I’ve never been ‘in love’ before – whatever your definition for that is. The only people I’ve ever loved have been my friends and family and Christ.” She paused, the thoughtful look taking over her face once again.

Nate licked his lips, remembering Halyn’s stunned expression after the kiss. Had it really been a mistake? It was just a dare, just a stupid dare. One he should never have taken. But maybe I wanted to, his own words rang through his head, but he tried to shake them out. Now what did his friends think of him? Or more yet, what did Halyn think of him?

“So I screwed up.” The statement could easily have been mistaken for a question.

Liz snorted. “I should say so! You’ve made Halyn unsure of herself and her relationship with you now; you’ve made Shiara extremely upset; and I wouldn’t doubt it if Adam hated you.”

He glanced over at the philosopher of the group, unsure if she had added some sarcasm into the last part, but her face gave nothing away.

“Does he like her then?”

Liz shrugged. “It’s not really my business, Nate. But if you want my opinion, I think you should at least go and try to fix things up.”

That was not what he wanted to hear. “How?” His Australian accent made him sound croaky, suddenly desperate. But Liz did not answer right away; he watched as she looked out over the horizon. The sky looked like it had been boldly scribbled over with maroon and purple crayons, and the three dimensional clouds looked like they had been pulled straight out of a fairytale.

“Nate, I can’t give you an answer for that,” said Liz, shaking her head and throwing a sympathetic look his way. “Only you know. But for starters I guess you could apologize to Halyn.”

He jerked his head around to face her. “What? Apologize? Why?”

Liz arched her eyebrow and her face took on a skeptical look. “I should think you would know. You’ve basically just told an eighteen-year-old girl who happens to be very emotional that you care at least a little for her, and in a way she’s not used to. She’ll be confused – about herself, about you.” She paused, licking her lips. “Not to mention Shiara will be more than a little upset, angry, and feeling like punching your lights out. And Adam…” she sighed. “There’s no telling what he’ll be thinking right about now.”

Nate rubbed his face. “Great, now I’ve just lost all my best friends and…” he glanced at Liz and continued in a mumble. “…and the only girl I’ve loved since moving from Sydney.”

Exhaling with teeth clamped shut, Nate stuffed his hands into his jeans pockets and started walking away backwards. “Well, I guess I’d better… get… going then,” he muttered, wondering how exactly he was going to apologize to someone for something he was not quite sorry for.


Twilight Serenade (2)

Shiara sat in the coarse brown sand, arms wrapped around her legs, staring down at her jeans. The trees above her swayed gently, and the wind started blowing her tears across her face. She looked up to wipe them away and laid eyes on someone coming up to her. Briskly she stood up to leave as Adam called, “Shi, please don’t.”

Ignoring her friend, Shiara set off quickly down the beach and away from him. She did not want anything to do with anyone right then. Her insides were all twisted up, and her emotions felt betrayed.

Sighing, Adam jogged up to her and put a hand on her arm. “Shi, I know–”

“What do you know?” she demanded suddenly, swerving to face him. Her dark eyes glinted angrily, and despite biting her lip to keep them back, the tears still came pouring down. “Nothing! You don’t know anything!” She fell down on the beach, head in her arms so she would not have to look at him.

Adam rolled his eyes, though not unsympathetically. He was not mad; she did this all the time. He was disappointed in Nate, though. And Halyn. Halyn. He sighed inwardly, shaking his head. Obviously the kiss had not been planned; he saw that plainly from the shock on her face that had mirrored his own. But still, why had she not pulled away as soon as Nate got an inch from her face?

Slowly he sat down beside Shiara. At first all he could do was stare across the ocean as the sun basked in its last few moments of glory before sinking behind the clouds. Suddenly he felt confused, almost as confused as he knew Shiara felt.

“I know you like him, Shi,” he said softly, glancing at her back. “And to be honest, I thought he liked you, too.” That got her attention.

Even though she tried not to look eager, Shiara’s head jerked up from its hiding place and she looked at her friend, tears still stinging her eyes, those almost hopeful eyes.

“Don’t look at me like that. I said I thought he liked you, not I think he likes you.” Adam looked at his friend kindheartedly as her face became suddenly downcast again. He sighed. “So he’s liked her all this time,” he said quietly, out loud yet to himself. “After three whole years of thinking he liked…” he trailed off, trying to scratch an itchy spot on his head and get around his gelled spiked hair at the same time.

Shiara sucked in breath. “You don’t know what it feels like, Adam. To like someone for that long, and keep it a secret–”

“Well, it wasn’t really a secret,” Adam interrupted, throwing her a skeptical look.

She continued on as if she had not heard him. “–And then have him kiss one of your best friends right in front of you without telling anyone anything and – and…” she could not finish, and ended up swallowing more tears.

Adam leaned back against the sand, hands behind his head, staring up into the vast sky. “Come to think of it,” he muttered, “Nate said the dare was for the first person he had a crush on. Maybe… maybe that means he doesn’t really like her?”

Snorting, Shiara glared at him. “Yeah, right. Fat chance. Didn’t you hear him when you told him he ‘didn’t have to take the dare’? He said, ‘Maybe I wanted to.’ Don’t you know anything?” She choked suddenly, and then added, “Yeah well, he always was a jerk, anyways.”

At this Adam laughed loudly. “C’mon, Shi, don’t lie. You know you liked it when he was mean to you and beat up on you. Admit it! Just like you admitted you looked funnier earlier.”

A smile crept up onto Shiara’s face, and she could not wipe it away. “Okay, fine. You win. Now give me a hug before I feel depressed again,” she demanded, turning and giving him a squeeze. He hugged her back.

“But he’s still stupid!” She wiped her sandy hands off on her jeans and tried to wipe the stupid half-smile off her face.

“I’ve always wondered something,” said Adam, standing, and giving Shi a hand up as well. “Why are girls more emotional than boys over the smaller things?” He ducked as she delivered a blow right above his head.


Twilight Serenade (1)

The burnt orange sun started sinking below the sharp pink and red clouds, creating a dazzling sea of colors reflecting off the lake. On this evening five friends laughed and talked their way over the wide bridge connecting Asian Island to the rest of Michigan. They had traveled from Maryland together that morning, and wanted to enjoy the last moments of their short vacation before heading back home.

“You should’ve seen your face when Adam pushed you under the water!” exclaimed Halyn, wiping a stray chunk of light brown hair from her face and laughing as her mind flashed back to earlier that day when Shiara was dunked under the lake, the cold water stifling her high-pitched scream.

Shiara, though trying hard to look angry, could not succeed, end ended up grinning just as widely as her giggling friend. “Yeah, I guess I probably did look kinda funny,” she admitted, shrugging.

Gasping, Adam slapped a hand on Halyn’s arm in mocking shock. “Oh, wow! Did Shiara just actually admit that she looked funny? Hurry, Hal, write this down,” he ordered Halyn, the member of the group who wrote down all their various inside jokes and quotes. “It’s gonna make history!” The other three laughed while the eighteen-year-old boy earned a hard punch on the shoulder from Shiara.

Lizzie, the second eldest of the group, brushed her short brown hair out of her eyes and put a hand on the pouting girl’s shoulder. “Don’t worry about it, Shi.” Her battleship-gray eyes looked tenderly at her friend. “We’ll always love you.”

“No matter how stupid you look,” added Nate in his beautiful Australian accent, his eyes twinkling mischievously like a reflected blue ocean. Shi glared at him and stuck her tongue out.

Halyn halted suddenly. “Let’s stop here.” She turned to face the golden ball dropping further in the sky. “The rays bouncing off the clouds are too gorgeous, and with the water all aflame with these colors –”

Adam finished for her, “You want us to take pictures.” Halyn looked back at him and grinned. Ever since she had met him ten years ago, they had been best friends and could always tell what the other was thinking. Great minds think alike, they were in the habit of quoting to each other whenever they voiced the same opinion at the same time.

While he fished his digital camera out from his cargo pant’s pocket the other four decided on what poses they should strike. Each of them took turns as camera-man, and the next half hour resulted in explosions of laughter and teasing. Then the excitement toned down some, and silence reigned as they stared out into the distance, each wrapped in their own thoughts.

Nate was the first to speak, and he did so with hesitancy. “Can you guys forgive me ahead of time for this?” He fidgeted with the mood ring he always wore on his index finger, which now seemed as if it could not decide which color his mood was.

The others were still shaking themselves from their reveries when Nate stepped towards Halyn. Cupping her chin in his hand and ignoring her puzzled expression he gently and slowly kissed her on the mouth.

It seemed like an eternity before anyone else dared move as Adam, Shiara and Lizzie stared at their two friends, a mixture of horror, disbelief, bewilderment and shock painted over their faces.

Finally Nate dropped his head and hand, silently taking a couple steps backward and looking more than a little awkward. The only sound that could be heard was the swishing of the calm water beneath them, until Shiara found her voice.

“Why?” the single word slowly escaped her throat, sounding croaky and hoarse.

Nate simply shrugged and stuffed his hands in his front jeans pockets. “It was a dare,” he explained hesitantly. “I was talking to a friend back in Sydney abut how you guys are the greatest friends anyone could ask for, and then he…” trailing off, the twenty-one-year-old glanced at Halyn. Her glassy eyes were unreadable and watched his every move.

“He dared me to kiss the first girl I had a crush on here in the States.” It all came tumbling out.

So that was it.

Halyn’s dark eyes widened, and her long hair could not conceal the shades of pink that crept up and bloomed on her face. The only move she made was to cover her open mouth with her hand; the others stood still.

Adam, the youngest of the group, was the first to recover. “Crushes are stupid and lame, invented by eleven-year-old girls who can’t find any other way to waste their time,” he stated matter-of-factly, with a hint of reproach in his voice. He paused, and continued quietly, “You didn’t have to take the dare.”

No matter how hard he tried to look anywhere other that Halyn’s face, Nate could not tear his eyes away.

“Maybe I wanted to.” A near whisper; had he not been the only person saying something it could have easily been missed.

Dropping her hand and feeling suddenly shy and embarrassed, Halyn started to walk away and, taking a few steps back, she stuttered, “I… they… I forgot… something.” Turning sharply she sprinted off the bridge towards the rest of the city, tears of confusion and mixed emotions streaming down her face.

Shiara, dazed, turned towards the island and began walking back the way they had just come, hurt and sadness written in her near-black eyes and pasted over top her face. Liz stood leaning against the wall of the bridge, looking surprised yet thoughtful as she stared out at the ever-sinking sun. After a minute Adam followed in pursuit of Shiara, his head down. Nate stood rooted to the spot, trailing after Halyn with his eyes, unsure if he had just messed up his relationship with his friend…