A story with two angles
Sunday, May 5, 2013 at 09:47PM
Drew Richardson in fiction, fiction

The Story of Sunshine:  One story from two angles

By Sunny

               “That boy is looking at me again.”

               “Who? Tank?  He looks at everybody.”

               “No, not Tank.  That one.  The saxophone player.”

               “Tenor or alto?”

               “Tenor.”

               “Oh, Jacobs.  Ryan Jacobs.”

               “Is he a Junior, or a Senior?”

               “Senior, I think.”

               “Why’s he always looking at me?”

               “I dunno.  Want me to go ask him?”

               I grabbed my best friend by the elbow, “Don’t you dare Sara Marie Lutton.  Don’t even think about it.”

               “Well little Miss Sunshine, I am thinking about it.”

               “Don’t make me hurt you.”

               “I don’t think you will.  Besides, Ryan’s nice.  You’re due to date a nice one.  You’ve certainly had your share of shitheads.”

               I looked again for Ryan, but he was gone.  I turned to Sara, but she was looking at the clock on the far wall.  When I turned back around, Ryan was right there.

               He smiled at me and said the dumbest thing he could have said, “Sunny, you sure don’t look very sunny today.”  I stared at him, frozen, barely blinking.  “Where’s your smile Sunny?”  I just stared some more, but he was undaunted; “I’ll see that smile someday.  You just wait.”  He then sauntered back to his chair and picked up his sax, ready for class to begin.

               Sara turned back to me and I said, “I can’t believe he tried that.”

               She sighed, “He doesn’t know.  Don’t hold it against him.”

               “I can’t help it.  Dammit.  He’s cuter from across the room anyway.”  I knew in my heart that it wasn’t his fault that he tried to use my stupid name as a way to break the ice.  It didn’t make it any less obnoxious.  For about the 70 millionth time I cursed my hippy freak parents for giving me this name.  I didn’t deserve it, didn’t want it.  I was a typical surly teenager.  I didn’t need to be saddled with a name like this.  I couldn’t live up to it.  I just wasn’t a very chipper person.  But everyone expected that with a name like Sunshine, I’d be happy and smiling all the time. 

It was annoying almost from birth, but by the time I got to high school, I expected a lot of that bullshit would be over.  I’d done a lot of stupid stuff over the course of my first semester trying to break out of the prison that name put me in.  I barely spoke to anyone except for Sara.  I drank too much almost every weekend, stole cigarettes and smoked them behind the school, and fooled around with boys a lot more than I should.  I even went to the lake with the back-up tailback on the football team and gave him a blow job.  And now, this jerkwad wants to use my name as a way to get me to smile.  Not fucking likely.  He’s not going to win me over like that.

And then he went and won me over like that.

I didn’t want him to, but every day before band he came up to me with that stupid singsong voice, “Suuuunnnny.  Suuuuunnnnnny.  Are you going to smile for me today Sunny?  No?  Not today?  OK, well maybe tomorrow.”  For the first week I just glared at him.  The second week I was indifferent.  By the end of the third week I was looking forward to seeing him every day, but I was afraid if I actually did break down and smile, he’d stop caring about me.  Not to mention the fact that almost all of the other freshman flute players were so jealous of the attention that I was receiving, that I was afraid one of them might try to snatch him up.

That Friday I broke down to Sara, “OK, I’m gonna smile for him.”

“Finally!  I thought you would have given in a week ago.”

“I know you’ve been dying to give me the scoop on him.  Tell me what you’ve found out.”

“What do you mean?” she said with a devious grin.

“I know you better than that.  You’ve been preparing a file on this boy for at least a week, maybe two.”

“OK, so I talked to Ashley who is friends with Erica who goes with Ted Farmer who is Ryan’s good buddy.”

“Right.”

“And she says that Ryan has dated two girls, both last year, and was talking with at least two more this year, but hasn’t dated anyone seriously since last summer.”

“And?”

“And he’s in band and track and drives a blue car and he’s coming over here right now.”

I followed Ryan from the doorway with my eyes as he made his way to me, never breaking eye contact.  “Hi Sunny.  Are you feeling Sunny today?”

I was intending to go for a shy smile, but I probably looked more like a serial killer.  I realized just how long it had been since I’d smiled and meant it.  It didn’t seem to matter though.  I guess he was so surprised that I was giving him any acknowledgement that he literally fell to his knees.  “Sunny, oh Sunny,” he said completely over the top ridiculous, “I never knew it could be so beautiful.  It’s like a puppy licking a baby’s face while a rainbow dances overhead.”  All the other girls were laughing watching him writhe in fake ecstasy on the floor.  I could feel my face crack into a genuine smile, my first in a long, long while.  But before I could say anything to him, one of the alto sax players grabbed him by the shirt, pulled him up, and dragged him back to where his horn was waiting.

That night we were supposed to play in the pep band for the basketball game, but the opposing team’s bus broke down and so the game was going to start an hour late.  The director told us all we could go home if we wanted, so we packed up our instruments and left.  While I was packing up, Ryan came by and said, “So, since we have the night off, ya wanna catch Splatterfest 5?”  I smiled, nodded, and followed Ryan out to his car.  He opened the door for me like a real gentleman.  It was a nice change from the other guys I had been out with.

The marquee said that the movie started at 7:20 and it was 7:20 when we pulled in the parking lot.  Ryan said, “Wanna run?”  So we jumped out of the car as soon as he put it in park and were slightly breathless when we made it to the ticket booth.  Ryan said, “Two for Splatterfest,” and quickly paid before I could protest.  “Can we skip the popcorn?  Ted said the first kill is a doozy and I don’t want to miss it.”  I nodded again and we scurried into the theatre, found two seats near the back, and settled in right as Bimbo #1 took her top off.  “Just in time,” Ryan joked.

Ryan was a good movie date.  He was a much bigger fan of horror movies than I was, so it was nice to have his running commentary about the various actors, directors, and special effects to distract me and keep me from getting too scared.  Usually when I watch a scary movie I keep jumping up and crawling all over whoever I’m with, but I just felt so at ease with Ryan.  I was immediately comfortable, and stayed that way.  I’d never watched a horror movie and actually relaxed before.  Heck, I’d never been on a date and been relaxed before.  It was really nice.  About two thirds of the way through the film Ryan took my right hand in his left, using his other hand to gently trace up and down my fingers.  It didn’t feel grabby, possessive, or aggressive like some other guys, it just felt…right.

We left the movie, still holding hands, and I let out a contented sigh. 

He laughed and said, “It just occurred to me that I’ve never heard you talk.”

I looked at him a little shocked, “I can talk.”

“Well I figured you could.  You just never do.”

I gave him my flirtiest smile, “Well I only talk to people I really like.”

He shook his head rapidly, “Wow, what a smile.  I notice you’re talking to me now.  Did you just decide that you like me?”

“Pretty much.”    

We went back to his car and drove around for hours.  I’d never met anyone I wanted to talk to more than Ryan.  I told him things I’d never told anyone.  I told him things that were true.  I told him things I hadn’t even known about myself.  I really felt like I gave him a piece of me.  When he finally took me home I was waiting for him to make a move on me, but he didn’t.  He gave me a polite and friendly hug instead. It felt very sweet.  It had been a long time since I went out with someone who wasn’t just trying to get in my pants.

Sara was just as excited about the great date as I was.  “Oh Sunny, I’m so happy for you.  He’s a great guy.”

“I’m going to ask him to the Saddie’s dance.”

“When?”

“Today, at the game.”

“Aw crap, I forgot we had to play again today.”

“Yeah, I’ve never looked this forward to it before.”

When we got to the game Ryan was sitting with kids in his class so I didn’t have a chance to talk to him until after the final buzzer.  The crowd was going nuts because we had won on a last second shot, but my stomach was churning so much I wasn’t really paying attention.  I was two rows of bleachers below Ryan looking up at him as he was looking up at his buddy, Ted, who was in the balcony.  It looked like they were making plans for after the game. 

Ryan was all smiles when I got his attention, “Ryan?”

“Yeah?”  He turned back to his friend in the balcony.

“Do you have a date for Saddie’s?”

He turned back to me “No,” then back to the balcony.

“Would you like to go with me?”  I flashed that smile he liked so well last night, sealing the deal.

When he turned back to me, he was still smiling, but obviously not at me.  “No,” he said plainly.    I stood there, jaw hanging open, as he turned back to his friend, finished yelling back and forth with him, and then walked off.  He never looked back.

 

 

 

By Ryan

 

               “Who’s that flute player with the scowl on her face?” I asked Jodi, my best buddy and fellow tenor sax player.

               “Who?  Sunny?”

               “Her name’s Sunny?”

               “Sunshine Reigns, yeah.  She’s a Sophomore like me.”

               “Shut your face, Jode.  That’s not possible.”

               “What’s not possible?”

               “That someone who never smiles is named Sunshine Reigns.  It’s too good.  It can’t be true.”

               “Well that’s her name, jackass.”

               “Who’s she go out with?”

               “I don’t think anyone.  She used to date Eric Stevenson…do you like her?”

               “Well I don’t know.  What’s she like?  Is she a real bitch?  I’ve never seen her smile.”

               “She’s not a bitch.  That’s just her face I think.  She hangs with the Preps, not like queen bee or anything, but in that crowd.  I’m sure she smiles.”

                “She’s cute.”

               “I guess so.  If you like a chick that never smiles…”

               “Yeah, but if I can get her to smile, it might be worth it.”

               “Take your shot, hotshot.  Ya big Senior, ya might impress her, who knows?”

***

               “Sunny, you’re not very sunny today,” I said, in a singsong, giving her one of my patented grins.  She just glared at me.  I was a bit surprised that she didn’t seem to like it, but I did it again the second, and the third day, and the fourth.  Same intentionally cheesy voice, same dorky grin.  On the fourth day I added, speaking baby talk, “Come on, just one iddy biddy little smile for me?”  She was scowling still, but I could tell by her eyes that I was getting to her.  This continued for a few more days, until on the eighth day when I walked into the band room, I saw her looking for me, waiting for me to come in.  As soon as she caught my eye, she broke into a huge grin.  She had one of the greatest smiles I’ve ever seen.  She smiled with her whole face.  Her huge blue eyes lit up, her whole face was glowing.  She pointed at her mouth.  I was generally pretty smooth, especially with a little sophomore, but my heart started beating faster and my stomach started to churn.  Usually I got away with burritos for breakfast, but all of a sudden they felt like a brick in my gut. Not that I would show it, not with my audience watching. 

               Over the last week our little joust had become quite the spectator sport among the other freshmen and sophomore girls.  I figured that could only help me if this thing with Sunny didn’t work out.  So I made an exaggerated stagger, feigning a faint. I wobbled over to the pack of girls.  The sea of them parted as I made my over to Sunny. I’d never come within two yards of her before this.  I fell to my knees at her feet and raised my hands in the air.  “Hallelujah!  Praise Jesus!  It’s a miracle!  She smiles!  She really smiles!” This cracked up the pack, but she didn’t laugh, she just kept staring into my eyes.  I hopped to my feet; surprised that I was only an inch or two taller than her.  My hands refused to betray the pounding in my heart, and my voice never waivered or cracked.  I brushed her hair from her ear and whispered in her ear.  “You have a perfect smile.”  I intentionally hissed the “s” just a little, and it made her shiver.  

As I walked away, I didn’t turn back, but I heard all the pack gather around her. “What did he say?  Did he ask you out? Are you dating now?”  I could feel all eyes on me, including hers. 

“So now what are you going to do douchebag?”  Leave it to Jodi to read my mind.

“I don’t know. I think it’s all downhill from here.”

“I heard her talking yesterday in Biology.  You’d better ask her out.”

“Will you ask her for me?”

“No way mister smooth talk.  You think you’re so cool, you get her yourself.”

As luck would have it, I wouldn’t really have to.  We were scheduled to play at a pep session for basketball that Friday night, but the other team had a bus breakdown and was over an hour late. The director cut a deal because we had to play the next night too, and after the Star Spangled Banner, we were free to go. The latest slasher flick was playing and those are always good date movies, so I asked her to go.  She nodded her head yes, and flashed that smile at me again. 

The movie was fun, definitely a good choice for a date flick, and about halfway through she brushed her hand against mine.  I’m no dummy, so I gently took hers in mine.  It was warm and soft and when I gently stroked her finger with my thumb, I heard her sigh slightly. It was then I realized that I had never heard her speak. 

After the movie we went back to my car.  “Do you realize I’ve never heard you talk?” I said.

She laughed her melodious laugh, “I can talk.”

“I assumed you could, I’d just never heard you before.”

“Well I can, I just don’t talk to people I don’t like.”

“But you’re talking to me…”

“Yes I am.”

We drove around talking for the next two hours.  And “Yes I am,” was the last nice thing she said.  Apparently once she got started talking, she never stopped.  And she didn’t have anything nice to say about anyone. 

“Oh god, I hate my friends, they’ll screw anything that moves, ya know?”

“My parents suck!  I wanted an Ipod Touch, but they just got me this old Razor.”

“I hate my sister.  She used to steal all my Barbies when we were kids.  Ugggh!  What a bitch!”

“I don’t like any of my classes.  I just want to cut hair, why do I need to learn Algebra?”

“My mom makes me babysit for the neighbors. They’re a bunch of little brats.  They won’t even watch TV!”

“Yeah I’m on dance team, but Coach Mindy’s such a skank.  She never lets us pick our own songs, we always have to do the stupid ones she and the seniors pick out.”

“Yeah, I went to that party.  I drank Jason Harris under the table that night!”  This one was especially distasteful to me.  In high school my major act of rebellion was not drinking.  Everyone else was doing it, so I refused.  EVERYONE knew that about me.  If you asked anyone about me they would describe me as that brainy kid who doesn’t drink.  And I hated Jason Harris. He was the second-string defensive end on a mediocre high school football team and he wore his jersey around all off-season, I guess so we wouldn’t forget that he was on the team, since he rarely played.  If you were trying to impress me, you couldn’t have done a worse job.  Mercifully she had a curfew, so I had an excuse to take her home.  When we got to her driveway, she turned to me, and I knew a kiss invitation when I saw one, but I gave her a hug instead and said “Good night!”

The next night we had to play at the game again.  I avoided Sunny, subtly I thought, by getting there early and surrounding myself with other Seniors.  When any other members came by, we said “No, No, Seniors only!  You little Freshmeats go sit over there!”  By the third quarter I had pretty much forgotten all about our disastrous date and Sunny too, frankly. 

Jodi, who wasn’t allowed in the Senior section either, called me over. “She’s going to ask you to the Saddies Dance.”

“Oh, I don’t think so.”

“Why not?”

“She’s mean.”

“What should I tell her?”

At that moment we made our fourth basket in a row, and the other team called time out.  It was our time to shine.  I ran to my horn and got ready to play.  When the time out was over, I was back in the Senior section and my mind was on the game.  We won by two points when they missed a last second, half-court heave that rimmed out.  I put away my horn and was looking for the party. 

Ted, a Senior who wasn’t in the band hollered down to me from the balcony, “Hey band fag!  Ya goin’ out!”

“’Course!  Where we goin’?”

Right as Ted was replying “Everyone’s going up to the levee,” Sunny tapped on my elbow. 

She was two steps below me on the bleachers looking up, “Ryan?”

“Yeah?”  I said to her.  Then up at Ted, “If I’m driving your drunk ass around, you’re buying my Mountain Dew.”

She said, “Do you have a date for the Saddie’s dance?”

Ted said from above, “Already got a two liter for ya!”

I looked down at her, smiled, and said “No,” and then up at Ted, “I’m in!”

She looked at me with that knees melting smile, “Do you want to go with me?”

I bent down, grabbed my horn case, stood up, looked down at her and said, “No.” I yelled up to Ted, “I’ll dump my horn in the trunk and meet you outside.”  She just stood there, mouth agape as I walked away.

 

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