Generation 2, Chapter 1
“Dream as if you'll live forever, live as if you'll die today.” -James Dean
"Thank you Violet." Mr. Hai smiled at me but I knew what he was really saying, "Don't call us, we'll call you..." or whatever the high school drama department equivalent was. I nodded, mute, and gathered up my things.
I passed Summer Green as I left the stage and bit my tongue for a fraction of a second before all willpower left me. "Good luck." I said, plastering a sweet smile on my face.
Summer whirled back at me and glared, searching my face for any sign of malice. Whether I passed her scrutiny or Mr. Hai's voice distracted her, she turned away and stalked onto the stage. I clung to the curtain and watched her give a flawless audition and knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that she was take the lead - AGAIN.
For two years I'd gone to every audition; for two years I'd watched Summer Green take the lead role; for two years I always ended up on the crew. I didn't mind working on the crew really, we had a lot of fun actually! I just had bigger dreams than painting sets and catering to Summer's whims.
When I got home, absolutely certain that I'd be working on the crew again this time, I went right to my room and tossed my books aside. Homework could wait! I touched the genuine replica of a Golden Llama award that adorned my dresser and then took a deep breath...practice, always with the practice...
This time, it was going to be different! I could feel it as I waited my turn in the theater. My stomach was aflutter of course but I felt confident! A few weeks before Mr. Hai had pulled me aside and gave me an encouraging pep talk and a few pointers for the next audition. I was as ready as I'd ever been when he turned toward me and flashed me one of his prize winning smiles. "Vi, you're up!" he said.
I took a deep, steadying breath and nodded. I was calm and collected until I saw him sitting in the audience as well. "What the h...?" I mouthed in Haiti's direction but if he saw me, he didn't respond. He looked abnormally pale actually and suddenly my ire that he was invading my audition was replaced with concern for my little brother. Mr. Hai cleared his throat once, snapping my attention back to the audition and I tried to push Haiti out of my mind and focus.
I jumped off the stage and hurried toward Haiti, only to be stopped in my tracks when Mr. Hai spoke. "Haiti Dust!" he called out.
My eyes went wide as I looked between Haiti and Mr. Hai. "Seriously?" I said a little loudly. I clamped my hand over my mouth and sunk into a seat as Haiti stumbled toward the stage. Suddenly the paleness made sense as I imagined the butterflies in his stomach. Been there, done that! To be fair, Haiti was actually really good - if you can ignore the fact that he tripped on the way on stage AND coming off the stage. His face was scarlet from embarrassment when he took the seat next to me and I put my arm around him. "You did good." I said, "As clutzy as ever but otherwise..." I teased.
Mr. Hai called Summer next and I grimaced. "Let's go get some ice cream" I said, eager to be away from the theater suddenly.
The following week, I paced anxiously in front of the doors to the theater where the cast lists would be posted. The auditions had been for the "Arts in the Park" program which had several short one act plays requiring a number of small casts. Finally Mr. Hai came out and smiled in our direction before tacking six lists to the wall; five for the plays and one for the crew. I saw Summer's name first, followed directly by Haiti's in one of the plays and frowned as each list failed to include my own name. Finally on the fifth list, there it was...Violet Dust! I'd done it! I'd made the cast!
As Summer and Haiti were doing a number of scenes together in their play, she came around the house more and more often. "Don't y'all practice enough at school?" I asked, trying to keep from gagging as Haiti watched her leave with puppy dog eyes.
"Hmm? Oh she thinks we need extra practice is all..." he said. Yuck! My brother had a crush on Summer Green! I thought about teasing him about it but I wasn't sure I could keep down my dinner if I did!
Haiti, being the awkward guy that he is, believed Summer may just share his feelings after weeks and weeks of practicing their scenes. I tried to caution him against it - she had an on again, off again boyfriend after all - but he insisted that they were "off" at the moment and this was his chance...
...yeah it didn't go so well.
After that things just got A.W.K.W.A.R.D whenever Summer came over to practice. Haiti would try to stay as far from her as possible and she kept getting closer, trying to get him to focus on the scene. I just couldn't watch it anymore and started staying late after school anytime I knew was a "Summer Day". I could focus on my own rehearsal a lot better away from those two and I had some long monologues I had to memorize for my own part.
Besides, standing on the stage with the warm stage lights bathing my skin with their glow - it was the prefect retreat for me! I was in the midst of stumbling through one of my monologues and cursing my crappy memory when I heard the clapping from stage right. I didn't know anyone else was in the theater and blushed at the thought of someone hearing that weak imitation of art. The clapping droned on, getting slower and mocking in nature.
"Wow. You suck." he said, with a cruel smirk on his face as he walked onto the stage.
"Excuse you?!" I sputtered, my cheeks were hot and I'm sure they were betraying the inner embarrassment I was trying to hide.
"Did I stutter?" he asked. "Oh wait - that's your specialty"
"Who the frack are you?" I asked, quickly going from embarrassed to angry. He was undaunted by my outburst or the violent thoughts I was thinking about him.
"A critic?" he said with a smirk. "Would you like some advice?" he asked. I couldn't tell if it was a genuine offer or if he was just going to tell me to quit acting all together but it didn't much matter to me.
"Why would I want advice from you? I've never even seen you before..." I lied, I had seen him in the halls now and then but I had no idea who he was.
He just shrugged as if it was no big deal to him either way. "Just thought I'd offer...I know a few things..." he said with a cocky expression on his face.
"I bet.." I said rolling my eyes.
He smiled at that and I felt my body betray me then. Here was this arrogant jerk attempting to dash my very dreams and one little peek at those pearly whites and I was turning to jelly. "Close your eyes." he commanded. Before I could even protest or question him, he came up to me and put his arm around my waist.
"What are you doing?!" I barked, trying to squirm away from him. Okay I may not have given it my best effort, the boy was hot - though a berryhole - definitely a hot berryhole...
"Just do it." he said exasperated. "Close your eyes..."
"Fine!" I closed my eyes firmly and frown. "Now what Obi-Wan?"
He leaned in close, his voice was barely above a whisper as he spoke. "Relax, find your calm and just relax." The edge in his voice was gone and I felt like he was guiding me across a fluid lake. "You talk about heart break as if you can put a band-aid over it and make it all better..." I tried to turn and protest but he held me firmly. "Think about someone - anyone - you love more than yourself. Do you have someone like that?"
It only took me a moment to settle on Minsk, my twin brother, and I nodded, sure to keep my eyes closed as I pictured him in my mind and smiled at all the silly and stupid things we'd done together. But no matter how much it annoyed my parents, we would never rat each other out.
"Good." he said quietly. "Now imagine he's gone..." I don't know how he did it but it was as if he reached in and plucked Minsk right from my thoughts. There was a gapping hole of darkness where he had been and I gasped.
"Minsk would never..." I protested. I knew it was just an exercise but I felt like I had to defend the honor of my brother.
"Doesn't matter - he's gone - he ran away, leaving you to clean up a mess he left behind...leaving you crippled and aching..." he said, cutting my protests short. "You call and he doesn't answer, you email and he doesn't reply...he's just...gone. For all you know he's dead..."
"No!" I shouted trying to break away from his strong grip. As I struggled he released me and I fell to the hard stage with a thud. I bit my lip to try and stem the tide of tears.
"Now how do you feel?" he asked. "Angry? Sad? Violent? Depressed? Use it...then maybe, if you're really good, you can portray heartbreak..." he said. He didn't stop to help me up before he left the theater.
The morning of Arts in the Park was hectic in the Dust household. Haiti and I were both acting that day and Dad was scheduled for a bit of guitar playing as well so we were all scrambling to make sure we had everything we needed for the day.
"We're going to be late!" I called up the stairs. A thundering of footsteps came down the stairs as six bodies descended finally. With a great deal of effort and frustration we all made it to the park and split off to go our different ways. While I wasn't fond of the idea of spending the whole day outside, I wasn't going to let it affect my performance.
I had just finished my first performance of the day and was mingling with the rest of the cast when I spied him in the audience. Had he just watched me or was he there to watch the next play? I excused myself from the conversation and wound around the far side of the stage but when I got to the other side he had vanished!
I scanned the park quickly for any sign of his blue hair and frowned when I came up empty. But then why did I care? I cursed silently and turned back toward my cast mates. That's when I caught sight of him and my heart fluttered a moment and I felt goose bumps prickle my skin. "Gah! He was a jerk!" I reminded myself out loud.
Then, as if in slow motion, I saw Summer Green sidle up to him and place her hand affectionately on him. When he didn't push her away it all suddenly clicked in my mind...THAT was how I recognized him! He was Summer's boyfriend (some of the time anyway).
As Haiti walked passed me, I grabbed his arm and dragged him with me toward the couple, "you need to do me a favor..." I said and quickly explained how I just wanted to talk to him - without Summer hanging all over him, "Distract her for me..." I said with a pleading smile. "Please!" Haiti was at a loss for words as I shoved him in Summer's direction. He looked awkward for a moment but Summer, thankfully, loved the attention of boys and soon took up the conversation - all but ignoring her boyfriend.
"Skillful." he said with a smirk as we walked a short ways away. "My name is Nepal by the way - I don't think we got around to that last time.."
My mouth hung open for a moment. I hadn't actually figured out why I wanted to talk to him before sacrificing Haiti to the beast and now he was being, well kind of nice...
"This would be where you tell me your name." he whispered, the all too familiar smirk still firmly planted on his face.
"Err...Violet." I choked out and then cringed. Why was I suddenly an idiot?!?
"Yes Violet Dust..." he said in a way that suggested he'd known my name even before that afternoon in the theater. "You know, I was wrong last time..."
"Huh?" I sputtered.
"I watched you today - you're actually quite good." he said leaning closer to me.
Without realizing it I leaned into him as well. As before, my body betrayed me, reacting to his closeness and smell. Suddenly he pulled back and I could feel her eyes, Summer's eyes, boring into the back of my head. "Well, thank you." I said quietly. "I'm glad you enjoyed the play."
"I didn't say that." he said, confusing my already somewhat addled mind. "I enjoyed you though." he had an expression on his face that could only be described as a smolder. And boy was it working overtime!
I probably would have fallen into his arms at that moment if their hadn't be a loud shriek coming from Summer's direction. "Uh oh." I muttered, looking over at her. She was staring at us and nothing Haiti could do would distract her now.
"Go on. I'll deal with that." Nepal said all to calmly. I didn't stop to think about he might calm her rage in that moment; I just grabbed Haiti's arm and pulled him away from the scene. By the time they had to go on to do their play, she was every appearance of calm and collected and Nepal was no where to be seen.
I tried not to think of Nepal after that; tried being the operative word there. Fact was he had invaded my mind, my dreams and my whole conscious. Part of me hated him for it and part of me loved it. Still, as far as I could tell he was still dating Summer and was therefore off limits to me. I still hadn't come to grips with why I was even interested him so that suited me just fine - at least that's the lie I told myself whenever I would catch his eye in the halls at school.
To get my mind off of Nepal, I turned to the one person who was always there for me and had been through far worse things than this - my pen pal. Years before I'd sent off a cheesy fan letter to Blossom Sakura who played the middle sister on a show I watched as a kid. She'd responded with an autographed picture and a letter of her own and we'd quickly become regular pen pals even after the show went off the air.
We emailed most often but still sent the occasional letter, package or pictures back and forth through the traditional mail. I loved coming home to see if there was mail waiting for me and making up little packages for her as well.
When Blossom wasn't available or I was waiting for a response, there was always Amethyst. We'd never been SUPER close but we had a few bonding moments - mostly over TV. Thanks to her, I'd been introduced to the doctors of San Marino Hospital, the hottest medical drama currently on the air! And thanks to me, Amethyst was now addicted to a couple crime dramas. Every Monday and Thursday night we'd shout at each other to get the snacks or to turn on the TV as we scurried into place and settled in for a couple hours of good TV. The boys mostly laughed at us but I caught Minsk and Haiti watching now and then as well.
Spring Break and the auditions for the final play of the school year came up hard and fast and once again I found myself stalking the theater while I waited for the final judgment. To my great joy, my name was once again on the cast list....right underneath Summer Green.
To say that rehearsals were awkward was an understatement - Summer, who still had me pegged as trying to steal her boy, took every opportunity to make me look like a fool. Thing is, she needn't have bothered seeing as Nepal showed up to more and more rehearsals making me fumble over almost every line. That boy was my kryptonite!
I usually took the longest at the end of rehearsal getting my stuff together and was therefore the last one out of the theater so I was really surprised when I walked onto stage to see someone lounging on one of the set pieces. "Nice job out there...that kiss between you and the green guy"
"Forest." I supplied the name but he waved it off as unimportant.
"Yeah - looked a little stiff." he said with a smirk. "You should practice."
"Right, and I suppose you're gonna give me advice on that one too?" I said rolling my eyes. I started digging through my bag for the key to lock the doors so I was caught unaware as he pulled me on top of him.
"I could." he said. "If you wanted it..." And then he busted out that smolder and all my resolve to avoid him dissolved. He smiled arrogantly, "and I think you do..."
Oh boy was he ever right! I was pushing myself away from him as much as I could though and trying to resist the whirlpool, it would suck me in and I'm sure crush me to bit before spitting me back out. "No..." I lied. "No, you're..."
"I'm what?" he asked.
"Vi? You still here?" Mr. Hai called out from his office. Before I could pull myself off of Nepal's lap, he was there staring at us. Nepal was quick on his feet though and we were soon standing up - though I was a bit unstable from the sudden shift of position and nearly fell on my face.
"Nepal..." Mr. Hai said disapprovingly. He didn't even meet my eyes, just continued looking at Nepal.
"Yeah Dad?" Nepal said, straightening up and evening his gaze with Mr. Hai's.
After that, word soon spread like a wildfire that Nepal and Summer had broken up and he stopped showing up at rehearsals - though I did still see him around school often enough to remind me just how attractive he was.
"Violet!" Mr. Hai snapped. Once again my mind had been wandering in the midst of rehearsal and Mr. Hai was none to pleased with me lately. "Pay attention or I'll have to find someone else!" he said, his voice hard and unforgiving.
"Sorry" I said softly.
I was so busy with the rehearsals that I nearly missed out on Amethyst and Windsor's birthday. My mom was blowing up my cell phone the entire way home and I ran in out of breath just as they were walking up to their cakes. "Sorry!" I panted. "Rehearsal ran late!"
Neither Windsor nor Amethyst seemed to mind but my mom looked at me with disappointment in her eyes for a second before putting on a happy face and turning toward the cakes.
Even after all that, I still had my homework to do - Mom and Dad were very strict about the homework regardless of our reasons for being late getting home. They only let me slide until after the cake because it was a special occasion. As a result, I was the only one left awake as I scrambled to make my mind wrap itself around these math problems.
Finally, at near midnight, I closed the notebook and fell back against the couch. My brain literally hurt in that moment. With a great deal of effort, I pushed myself up and dragged my heavy book bag upstairs to my room. I was on the brink of falling asleep - fully clothed mind you - when I heard a soft clink clink on my window.
I sat up and grabbed my genuine replica Golden Llama as my weapon of choice. Ya know, just in case there were a crazed nut job outside my window, okay it was a little unlikely but I had scenes from crime dramas and the occasional slasher movie popping into my mind as the clink became more insistent. I pulled back the curtain slowly, peeking out the window.
While there was no serial killer standing out there, there was trouble. Trouble that was wrapped up in a gorgeous blue package. I looked at the Golden Llama that was raised above my head and blushed as I quickly tossed it on my bed and then opened my window. "What are you doing here?!" I hissed.
"Come on!" he said beckoning me down. He saw I was about to protest and beckoned again. "It'll be fun..."
I glanced back at my closed door and listened closely for any noise from within the house. I could hear Dad snoring and felt confident they were all out but I didn't dare go back down the creaky stairs. With a bit of anxiety and a lot of exhilaration, I slipped out the open window onto the slope of the roof...he better freakin' catch me!
He had a motorcycle waiting for us and I hung back just a bit as he climbed on. "Well you coming or not? Don't tell me you jumped off the roof to chicken out now..."
I steeled my nerves and climbed on behind him, wrapping my arms around him tightly.
He chuckled. "Not too tight darlin', I have to be able to breathe" he said. With a deafening roar I was certain woke up most of the neighborhood - including my parents - the motorcycle came to life and rocketed through the sleepy streets of Sugar Valley suburbia. There were only a handful of places he could be meaning to go this late at night really and I tried to discern his destination while clutching him to keep from falling off.
Before I had a chance to figure out where we were exactly, he was stopping and peeling my fingers apart. "Come on doll." he said taking my still trembling hand in his and heading for the ropes the blocked the door from almost everyone. There was a small crowd of people looking at the bouncer hopefully but Nepal blew right past them and within moments we were inside the club.
"How did you...?" I was staring at the doors as if waiting for the bouncer to dart inside and grab us and throw us back out. This place was definitely an over 18 club for one and, from what I'd heard, pretty exclusive. I turned toward him for an explanation but he was already at the bar ordering us drinks.
I pushed past a couple people, feeling incredibly small in the crowd of adults. "Here, drink this - it'll calm your nerves." Nepal said, materializing by my side.
"Wait..." I looked toward the bar where I was sure he'd just been and then at him. "How did you...?" I looked at the drink. "What's in it?"
"Little of this, little of that..." he said with a wink.
"Come on Nepal - what's in it?" I asked, crossing my hands across my chest.
"Don't you trust me?" he asked, looking wounded for a fraction of a second.
"Not hardly!" I said with a chuckle. Nevertheless, I held the drink to my lips and hesitated a moment, taking a long sniff. It didn't smell like alcohol...not that I really knew what alcohol smelled like.
"Not so bad eh?" he said after I finally took the first sip.
I shook my head and then gulped most of the rest of the drink. "I still want to know how you just waltzed in here!" I shouted over the thrum of music.
He merely shrugged and then pulled the glass away from me, depositing it on a nearby table. He wasn't going to divulge his secrets this particular night but maybe sooner or later. He pulled me onto the nearby dance floor and we started out with a foot or so between us bopping our heads to the music.
As the night wore on, my inhibitions disappeared all together. I threw my arms around his neck, pulling him closer to me as I shimmied along his body with the music.
He didn't look surprised or protest the closeness. He put his arm around my waist and pulled me into him so that soon our faces were mere inches apart and other parts, only a few layers of fabric stood between.
It was after four in the morning when we left the club - if it weren't for the fact that they were closing, I may have lost all track of time and been there well after sunrise. The drive back was just as fast and thrilling as the earlier departure but I had the presence of mind to have Nepal drop me off a few houses away. "My mom..." he waved off my explanation as I climbed off his motorcycle a little awkwardly. He reached out and grabbed me around the waist just as I was sure to fall to the ground. I gulped as he held me close to him for a second or two longer than it took me to find my footing. "Thanks..." I said awkwardly.
"No problem." he said gruffly, seemingly recovering himself from some sort of moment. In a second I felt his strong arm leave me and I stepped away from the curb just in time for him to speed away.
I fumbled with my key at the door and opened it very very slowly, careful not to let it creak as it so often did. I was mindful of the particularly creaky steps as I made my way upstairs and paused on the landing for a moment. Dad was still snoring as he had been when I left and there was nary a sound in the house. "Not a creature was stirring..." I whispered.
I changed quickly and fell into bed, suddenly feeling exhausted and realizing I'd been up for near twenty-two hours by then. I could barely see the sun peaking up over the horizon as I pulled the blanket up to my face and quickly fell asleep.
I'd only been asleep an hour when Mom shook me awake. "Rise and shine!" she said cheerfully. I groaned and pulled the pillow over my head, trying to block the sunlight she was admitting through my window at that moment. "Come on! Up up!"
"Noooo" I moaned as she pulled the covers off me and physically dragged me from bed. "Why?! It's Saturday...and it's early...it's evil early!" I complained.
"Well perhaps you shouldn't have gone out partying all night then..." she said with a fake smile on her face. When she saw my eyes grow wide she nodded. "Yes, I know..." she said. "So come along, you have chores to do..."
Which is how I spent every weekend for the next month up before the sun helping my mom with the garden and doing every chore left behind when Amethyst and Windsor moved out. I never realized until that moment just how much my obsessively neat brother had taken care of for the rest of us!
It wasn't until after he'd left that Haiti told me about the visit from Nepal while I was busy doing chores. "What did he say? Why didn't you call for me? How long was he here?" I peppered him with questions, not giving him to answer one before I asked another.
"He's bad news Vi." Haiti said simply. He turned to Minsk for back up but Minsk wisely continued to read his book, as if we weren't there.
"I think that's for ME to decide!" I hissed. I didn't want to alert Mom and Dad to our little argument and possibly get more time added to my sentence.
"How can you even think of seeing him again anyway? He's the reason you got grounded!" Haiti argued, loudly. He, obviously, was not concerned with getting any punishment.
I brushed him off and stomped up to my room and threw myself on the bed. It had been almost a month since the club night and Nepal had made no real effort to talk to me at school but then he came to the house...what was he thinking? What was I thinking?!? I heard the light knock on the door while these thoughts battled it out in my mind. "Come in" I said with a hmph.
"Wanna go to a movie? They finished the new theater in town." Minsk said with a smile.
"You know I'm grounded." I reminded him grumpily.
"Not anymore" Mom said, popping up from behind him. "I think you've served your time..."
"Really?!" I asked, excited for the first time in weeks.
"But no more breaking curfew or overage clubs right?" Mom cautioned. I nodded vigorously, I'd agree to just about anything to be let out of the proverbial cage.
Even with the grounding being over, I saw little of Nepal except a passing glance at school. I tried to distract myself with things but the play had long since wrapped and fact was that summer was coming up so there wasn't much at school to distract me.
I started going to movies nearly constantly and when I wasn't at the movie theater, I went to the gym across the street just to pass the time and stay out of the house for the few hours a day I usually dedicated to rehearsals.
At home I found myself hoping for that clink clink on my window or for the doorbell to ring - at least if I stayed busy I could keep him out of my mind. For awhile anyway.
As chance would have it, the last letter I'd sent Blossom had detailed the whole club night and for whatever reason it had taken a while for her to respond this time. When her letter finally arrive it was like it was plucking at my already confused and beguiled mind.
"Vi - He sounds tasty! Perhaps you can sneak a pic of him with your cell and send it to me. The way you describe him has ME all a twitter and I've never seen him! What did you say his name was again?"
The letter went on to describe her latest attempt at fitting into a regular high school when she was "that child star". Even though she hadn't really done anything in the industry since the show had ended, she was still recognized constantly and it was unnerving to her.
I scribbled a quick letter to her while I was pretending to do my English homework and slipped out to the mailbox while Mom was making dinner before returning to actually do my homework.
"Bloss - I just don't understand what's going on with him, one minute he seems to be into me and then the next it's like we don't know each other. The last few weeks I've passed him in the hall and I'm lucky to get a look from him let alone a hello...are all guys like this?! Ugh, anyway the terminal grounding is over just in time for summer at least. I wish Mom and Dad would let me come visit but that's not likely. Much love...Vi"
I approached my locker feeling relieved. I'd just finished my last final of the year which meant summer vacation was just minutes away. I just needed to grab the last of the stuff from my locker and freedom was all mine.
Of course that one brief moment of ecstasy was the moment he decided to acknowledge my presence again. "Hey." he said, standing directly in front of my locker.
"You're in front of my locker." I said, not really in the mood for his games.
"Am I?" he said with a grin. "Want me to move?"
"Yeah. Away!" I said with an eye roll.
"Mmm" he faked a pout. "That's not very nice Vi." he said but he step aside so I could get to my locker.
"Well neither is getting me grounded!" I shouted. I instantly regretted the words.
"You could have said no!" he said, voicing the very thoughts running through my head.
I cringed and hung my head. "I know...just..." I buried myself in my locker, trying to distract myself with removing the few pictures that were tacked up inside.
"Just what Vi?" he asked, pushing my locker door closed and leaning in close to me.
"No no no, why do you do that?" I sputtered, trying to push him away from me but he wrapped his arm around me and pulled me closer to him.
"What? Do what?" he asked grinning. His delicious looking lips were inches from mine and I couldn't stop staring at them. Why did he have to be so intoxicating to me?!
And then he closed the gap and his lips touched mine. It was soft at first, like he was testing for a reaction from me. When my fingers wove into his hair, I think he got the reaction he was looking for because the kiss become harder and hungrier.
I would have let him devour me right there in the school hallway if the final bell hadn't rung just then, snapping me back into place. I pushed against him until the kiss broke and he looked at me confused. "No." I whispered. "You..." I lost the words that I'd intended to say as I looked at the hurt in his eyes - real, genuine hurt.