Read the intro to Words In Color here.
Stevie Nicks, Edge of Seventeen
Words In Color – Chapter 4
“Where ya headed off to?” Amity’s mom looked up from her crochet on the couch.
“Uh, out..side. Just gonna star watch…a bit.” The words hung on Amity’s tongue making her sound less than honest.
Her mom nodded and smiled, a twinkle in her eye as her hands continued to loop the yarn unsupervised.
“That’s my star gazer.” Amity’s dad grinned from the opposite side of the room where he sat watching TV. It used to be he’d jump up to go with her setting up the scope in just the right position on top of the carport roof. She had him to thank for her deep seeded interest in all things stellar even if his enthusiasm had fizzled in the wake of game shows and light beer.
Closing the door behind her, Amity waited a minute, hoping neither parent followed, but more than that trying to calm her nerves.
“Just breathe,” she whispered to herself, then rubbed her sweaty palms against her jeans and stepped out. Amity hoped it would be cooler than the balmy eighty degrees creeping up the back of her neck, but was thankful for the descending darkness, a veil over the rings of sweat expanding under her arms.
Dustin stood in the same spot next to his drawing rolling a piece of chalk in his fingers. A gentle grin spread across his lips at the sight of her. Amity couldn’t help smiling under his gaze as she stopped in front of him.
“Hi.” His voice was deeper than she’d imagined, which made her think he must be older than her.
“Hi.” Amity hadn’t intended to whisper and figured it was a subconscious reaction to her parents being twenty feet away.
The pair stood and looked at each other then at the ground, then back to each other. Amity thought it felt just like an episode from a Jane Austen book.
“I really like your drawings.” Amity sounded nervous and why shouldn’t she. Her insides were trembling as if she were freezing cold.
“Thanks. I like your writing,” Dustin replied with a half smile.
“Really? Thanks.” She debated explaining how this particular poem took forever to write, but decided to save it until she knew he could handle her babbling.
“Yeah. Where’d you learn to write like that?” Dustin looked genuinely interested.
“Well, I didn’t really learn it, like in a class or something. Just started writing one day after reading a book with a horrible ending. It’s kind of therapeutic, writing. Like if I’ve had a bad day or something interests me I just start writing my feelings down. Eventually they turn into stories or poems or just thoughts. Sometimes, if I really want to make an impression I’ll research certain subjects.” Amity caught herself. She was babbling. It was exactly what she didn’t want to do, but Dustin’s expression, posture, eyes, were so open like he actually wanted to hear.
“Cool.” He smiled broadly. Amity thought he could almost see into her soul the way he looked into her eyes.
“So what about you? How did you learn to draw?”
Dustin looked down at the panther’s as if they might give him the answer. Amity thought a look of sadness crept over his face, but in the shadows, couldn’t be sure.
“Not sure. I just woke up one day and started drawing.” His answer seemed simple. So simple it made her feel stupid for asking.
“Weird, huh?” He must have noticed Amity nodding, a look of confusion on her face.
“No, not at all.” She stammered. “I just figured this kind of talent must have been learned to some degree, but when I think about it, there’s no way someone could learn to draw this way. Could they? I don’t think so, but again I don’t know. I don’t think I could, but that’s just me.” Amity stop talking, she said to herself ending the rant before it became a full fledged monologue.
Dustin chuckled. “Sure you could. You just have to practice.” Amity thought he was just being nice, but appreciated the gesture.
“No, I’m pretty sure you’re born with these skills.” She dropped her eyes to his drawing.
“Probably, just like you were born with writing skills.” Dustin’s compliment gave her that warm feeling in her stomach. She wanted to debate learning to write since that’s what every English class was based on, that and reading books no less than a hundred years old.
“So, how do you decide what to draw? What’s your inspiration?” Amity hoped she wasn’t being too nosy, but thought it a valid question, one that would extend her time with him.
“Sometimes I draw things I’ve seen in books or on TV. Sometimes people I’ve seen or maybe combinations of people.” Dustin smiled as he studied her face wishing the light was better.
“Combinations? Sounds interesting, like pizza.” Amity imagined his mind worked like a Mr. Potato Head toy plugging traits from one person onto another.
Dustin laughed. “Yeah, but not as tasty.” He thought her quirky sense of humor fit her name.
The thought of eating brought Amity’s attention to Dustin’s mouth. His lips reminded her of puffy marshmallows in the shape of a heart perched peacefully under his nose.
Dustin bit his bottom lip under the scrutiny. He’d always felt like his mouth was a bit oversized for his face, so sometimes rolled his lips inward hoping they’d somehow melt under the pressure.
“You wanna walk?” He motioned his head toward the end of the courtyard.
“Sure.” Amity answered before thinking twice about walking with a stranger, at night no less, but in her heart she didn’t feel anything strange about him.
Dustin grinned as they turned and started to the far end of the complex. It wasn’t a long walk, maybe two or three minutes, but Amity aimed to make it longer shuffling her feet like a toddler.
“So, where are you from? Any brothers or sisters? What do your parent’s do?” Amity knew she sounded like a reporter, but she wanted to know everything about Dustin.
He stifled a full fledged laugh, a bit taken aback at her jump into this personal line of questioning. “Are you writing my life story?”
“Sorry. Didn’t mean to offend you.” Amity looked down at her sandals.
“I’m not offended.” He smiled into her eyes. She thought for a second they looked the deepest shade of brown, but as he tilted his head toward the street lamp she could tell they were an orange eerily similar to that of the panther’s.
His gaze made her nervous causing a trickle of sweat to escape from under her arm and trace a path to her elbow. She quickly rubbed her arm against her side pretending to scratch her back. Dustin seemed not to notice.
“I’m from Oregon. I’m an only child. My dad works for the airline’s and my mom’s…” He hesitated looking off in the distance as if his mom might appear and save him from the painful admission. Amity watched him wondering if he might finish or leave her to decide for herself.
“My mom lives in New York.” Dustin looked Amity square in the eye, a solemn expression on his face. He wanted to hide the fact that his parents were separated, but couldn’t stand the thought of losing another friend when the truth came out. He didn’t know what it was, but every time he came clean it was like he had the plague losing friends over the course of a few weeks, sometimes days. No, he couldn’t wait to tell Amity. If she were going to reject him then he’d rather have her do it before they were friends and he really hoped they would be, friends.
Amity watched his face for a minute then smiled, “I heard Central Park is pretty cool, but they can’t see the stars like we can.”
A feeling of relief soaked Dustin to the core. “Really? Good to know.”
“Yeah, too many city lights not to mention the smog.” Amity grinned wide. He thought for a second how cute she looked with her cheeks all puffed out. “Take for instance those stars there,” she held her arm in the air and pointed toward a cluster of bright twinkling lights.
Dustin raised his head to the sky, “Orion.”
“How’d you know?” Amity sounded shocked and impressed at the same time.
“I like to read. Plus, Oregon has an even better view.” He winked at her, a sly smile on his face.
Amity felt her heart skip a beat. She thought Dustin might be too good to be true. What she didn’t know is that he thought the same about her.
~ **** ~