I walked with a bag slung over my back with Lauren walking beside me trying to explain a show she liked, to be honest I wasn’t actually listening I was too distracted and not by the forest scenery around us but by Lauren herself. For some reason no matter the situation she always distracted me, always appeared in my mind, the way she smiled or talked was just so distracting.
I ran my fingers through my hair lightly as the wind blew and pulled on Lauren’s long red hair making it wrap casually around her body, I was slightly shocked by what she had decided to wear, she had on short denim shorts and a black singlet that had a sort of corset style to it.
“So you understand now?” she asked me tilting her head lightly to the right, I zoned back into the conversation and nodded “yeah I understand” I replied with my usual monotone voice, I knew talking the way I did probably didn’t actually convince her that I cared, even though truthfully I did and do care, but spending my life acting like I couldn’t care less has just stuck with me as my protective shield.
I shifted the bag that was resting on my back it was cutting into my burnt shoulder a bit causing me some pain but I simply ignored it as I walked with her through the tropical forest that lead to the Natural Arch’s of Australia.
“So umm. I didn’t know we were allowed to swim here.” Lauren said at random as she looked around at the birds and butterflies flying past, I smiled lightly slipping my hand into my pocket casually “we aren’t…” I began when she quickly cut across me, “so we’re going to illegally swim?” she asked and I laughed shaking my head, “No. we are allowed to swim because I know the owner.” I told and she looked at me curiously, “how?”
I grinned and winked “that’s my secret.” She grabbed hold of my arm and pulled on it lightly whining “James…” I laughed again and shook my head lightly “I’ll tell you later. As for now…” I took hold of her hands and pulled her closer, she looked at me with a soft blush appearing on her well-toned face, I overlooked it for the moment and continued talking “You’re about to stand on a snake.”
She looked down behind her where an ordinary carpet python was slowly slithering past her feet; she squealed and moved as close to me as humanly possible I forced back my urge to laugh and lifted her up placing her on the other side of the trail away from the snake. I leaned down picking up a stick with almost a hook at the end and slipped it under the snake’s belly moving it over to the furthest part of the trail; it didn’t even mind that I had moved it away. I threw the stick into the bush and turned back to Lauren “should we keep going then?” I asked as if the snake had never been there, she nodded lightly watching the ground carefully, I shook my head and took her hand, “relax Lauren….” She looked at me and smiled nervously, I started to walk again keeping my hand entwined with hers making our way to a secluded spot I had been given.
“is there any chance I can get you to close your eyes?” I asked as we neared our destination and she hesitated for a moment “yeah okay… but you better not make me run into anything.” She said and I smiled “never.” Lauren closed her eyes and gripped my hand tighter, I led her carefully down the track and to a stop, “okay keep your eyes closed but don’t move or you’ll trip over.” I told her and let go of her hand pulling the bag off my back and unzipping it, I pulled out a picnic blanket my sister let me borrow and laid it down on the ground pulling out the food I’d been told the previous night that Lauren likes. I looked back to Lauren and took in a deep breath “you can open your eyes now.” I told her waiting for her to open her eyes, slowly but surely she opened her eyes and her mouth fell open looking at the scene surrounding her, “wow…” I smiled at her as she looked around her eyes falling onto the picnic, “So this is what you put in the bag…” she observed and I laughed lightly “yeah that’s it.” I replied as she sat down on the blanket and looked up at me, “You going to sit down? Or just stand there like a waiter?” Lauren asked with a grin, I smiled and sat down beside her “well for today I might be like a waiter.” I said simply handing her a bottle water “Sorry it’s all I could get.” I told her with a small laugh, she smiled taking the bottle “that’s alright. Water will do.” She replied sweetly, and there it was she was distracting me again, her voice and her smile, everything from the way she spoke to the she sits admiring the water falling from the natural rock bridges, everything distracted me.
“Why do you keep doing that?” she asked with an eyebrow raised looking at me curiously, I blinked a few times and rubbed the back of my neck, “keep doing what?” I asked in reply and she laughed, “Keep zoning out.” I smiled lightly and shrugged “Don’t know. Just got a bit distracted by something beautiful.” I told her and she continued to look at me putting the water bottle down before looking over at the water fall, “yeah it is beautiful.” She said with admiration.
I shook my head and ran my fingers through my hair, “not what I meant.” I said randomly not actually meaning to say it and she glanced back to me, “then what did you mean?” she asked with a large a moment of curiosity, and I went quiet suddenly very nervous. “Uhh…” I stumbled trying to actually tell her what I meant yet I refused to say it, “you not what it is what I meant. I zoned out again. Sorry... Umm do you want to go for a swim?” I said standing up; she nodded lightly pulling her shirt and shorts off to reveal a red polka dot bikini clinging to her body, I looked away and thought for a moment ‘do I actually dare show my burns...?’ my hands lingered on the bottom of my shirt again I had on a long sleeved shirt to hide the burns on my arm and despite the heat that the summer Australian sun was throwing on me I had a feeling I was going to refuse upon taking the shirt off.
I looked a bit shocked for a moment as Lauren walked over to me placing her hands on mine, “It’s okay James…” she said softly and moved my hands so I pulled off my shirt, I let the shirt fall to the ground my eyes closed I didn’t really want Lauren to see my burns but clearly I had no choice in the matter. I felt her fingers trace their way from my wrist up my arm and along my shoulder, I held in a breath as she let her fingers trace down my chest lingering lightly on my stomach where the burn was at its worse. I opened my eyes cautiously; suddenly realizing how scared I was of her reaction, I couldn’t care less about the way people thought I looked but something about Lauren made me scared. A new feeling for me to be honest.
She looked up at me her brown eyes reflecting the flecks of sun shining through the trees, “it really is okay James. Don’t be ashamed of them. Please.” She said her voice soft and sweet, I took in a deep breath closing my eyes again, “I’m sorry… it’s just… I don’t honestly like them” I told her my voice timid almost vulnerable she moved her hand to my cheek and rested it there softly she was quiet and I instantly felt regret for telling her that and I pulled away from her opening my eyes. “Let’s swim.” I said trying to change the subject before quickly taking a run and bomb diving into the water, I lingered under the water letting the fresh water slide against my skin; I looked above me the water starting to resettle before it was disturbed again this time by Lauren jumping into the water. I swam to the top taking a breath as I broke through the surface; I shook my head flicking my hair about sending drops of water flying.
Lauren appeared in front of me and smiled, I smiled back nervously and she lifted a hand fixing my hair up, “you’re hopeless with your hair. Just so you know.” She told me with a smile before disappearing back under the water; I smiled lightly and floated on my back staring up at the sky as the water fell from the rock bridge giving an air or serenity to the place. I let my eyes fall closed as I floated on the almost crystal clear water when I heard Lauren laughing; I smiled softly and opened my eyes turning to look at her, she was underneath the water that was falling a grin set on her face. I swam over to her and watched her curiously “why are you laughing?” I asked softly and she looked over to me letting the water continue to fall over her mostly bare body, “it tickles.” She said with a laugh and I shook my head lightly smiling, I looked about and found a little spot where I could sit but still be in the water.
I sat down on the rock just as Lauren appeared in front of me again, “Hi there.” I said unable to keep from smiling at her, she smiled back and rested her hands on my legs to keep herself held above the water, “hiya.” She replied innocently.
I took in a deep breath prepping myself to tell Lauren something I had really wanted to for a long time, she moved onto my lap randomly facing me smiling, I looked at nervously I could feel my hands trembling on the rock I was sitting on.
“L-Lauren….” I began, never had I ever stuttered but again she was distracting me, I focused my mind taking in another breath as she looked at me with curiosity, “yes James?” she said her voice soft again.
“Umm… I’ve w-wanted to tell you s-something for a l-long-time…” I was silently cursing myself for stuttering and making myself look like a fool in front of her, she smiled encouragingly at me and I stumbled out my words in almost a rant, “I really do care about you. Even if I don’t make it seem like I do. Because I know I’m really distant a lot but I really try not to be like that, it’s just that I get distracted. I get distracted by you and your beauty and your personality and just distracted by you in general. And I’m so distracted because I love you Lauren….” I took a deep breath putting my rant to a halt, she was quiet just staring at me and I started to panic a bit and felt rather annoyed at Hilary for convincing me that today would be the best day to tell her how I felt.
Lauren suddenly leaned forward placing her lips on mine and slipping her arms around my neck, I was shocked for a moment before kissing her back and moving my hands to her waist, she smiled into the kiss her eyes closed and her fingers knotting in my hair, I let my eyes fall closed kissing her holding her close to me a smile falling onto my face as well.
Lauren pulled away taking a breath and looked me in the eye her fingers still knotted in my hair, I looked at her taking a heavy breath as she leaned forwards whispering in my ear, “I love you too James.” a grin spread across my face and I could feel my heart beat pick up “r-really?” I asked slightly shocked and she grinned at me nodding “really and truly.” She told me kissing me quickly, “but for now… I’m hungry.” She said with a giggle at the end and swimming off, I shook my head slightly dazed and followed her.