posted on 20-Feb-2002 7:04:25 AM by kaleidoscope
AUTHOR'S NOTE: I've been so stupid. And naive. Silly me, to think that web hosting providers would be in service forever. See, I had all my files stored at and that was my only source of backup. But recently went out of for a good several weeks or so, I kept on typing in my address to no avail. Panic time! I thought that all my stories had been lost...especially this one, since this was also wiped out with the server crash on this messageboard. Life as a Fish, I think, is okay. Hrm...anyway, yeah. So after this part, I will be putting up the second part sooner or later. Preferably sooner, but who knows? That's as far as I've posted on this board before. *happy*

TITLE: Make Me Feel
AUTHOR: kaleidoscope
EMAIL: kaleidoscope⊕
SUMMARY: He doesn't know her; she doesn't know him. But that's about to change...


I don't even know her name.

I see her almost every day, whenever I decide to go out for a walk. Sometimes she'll be walking, too, and she smiles at me. This quick, genuine smile that makes me feel funny inside, right down to my toes. No words, no greeting...but somehow, that smile means more than a thousand words strung together.

But mostly, she sits. On the same stoop, day after day. I'm not sure, but I think she watches people. Her eyes aren't glazed or half-shut like the others about town. They're open, and they're bright. I haven't gotten close enough to her to see the color of her eyes yet, but I think they're brown. They must be, because from a distance they look so dark that they're almost black. And no one has black eyes.

I walk past that stoop just to look at her.

My parents don't know. That I walk all the way into this part of town, I mean. I don't really plan on telling them. They'd worry if they knew. They think it's dangerous. They're probably right. There are a lot of crazies out there on skid row. Gang members, prostitutes, child molesters. You can get shot for wearing the wrong clothes.

The funny thing is, I don't really care.

I know I should. But all I can think about is her. She's a risk worth taking. All the potential dangers seem to pale in comparison. All I know is, she's invaded my every thought. Sometimes I can even see her in my dreams--like a ghost, shimmering out of a white fog. Somehow not altogether solid, but ethereal, as if she's going to drift away any second.

Forgive me. I know I'm obsessed with her. I can't help it. I'm not even so sure myself, why I'm so drawn to her. She's beautiful, sure, but there are lots of beautiful people out there in the world. Maybe it's because she manages to be beautiful in a world where beauty just...isn't. In my neighborhood, maybe, it would not be so remarkable. But mine is a world of comfort and clean air and tended hedges and identical two-story houses. Hers is a world of drive-by shootings and paid sex.

She's a flower blooming among weeds.

Pure and untouched and clean.

She doesn't belong there.


So school's out for the day, and I'm sitting at the kitchen counter having an afterschool snack of cookies and milk. It's a bit childish, but I like to indulge my mother, who works outside the home as a lawyer--along with my father--and often feels guilty about not spending enough time with her children. This is one of her rare days off, but the phrase "rest and relaxation" is not in her vocabulary. Convinced that my sister Isabel and I are, due to her and Dad's frequent absences, going to someday rebel, dye our hair an assortment of colors found only on the Las Vegas strip, and change our names to Mo and Fuzz, she's gone into Mother Overload. Elementary school snack time is only the tip of the iceberg. Just wait until Family Game Night.

She hasn't stopped at cookies, either. She plunks down in front of me a large, freshly baked blueberry muffin. Isabel gets a large, freshly baked slice of banana bread (she's allergic to blueberries).

"So," she says after a moment's pause, "what'd you guys do in school today?"

I swallow a chunk of cookie. "Stuff."

"Stuff. What kind of stuff?"

I shrug. I don't really remember what I did in school that day. Mainly because my mind wasn't on school, but my mother doesn't need to know that. Classes. Break. More classes. Lunch. More classes. What else is there to say?

Fortunately, Isabel's gone out into full gossip mode, saving me from speaking. She's yammering on excitedly about something or the other (maybe about how her best friend's older brother's coworker's second cousin's wife's cat pissed on some famous actor's manager's lawn). Girls!

I wolf down the rest of my cookies, swig down my milk, and hop off the stool.

"I have to go," I say. "I'm going over to Michael's house, we need to work on a project."

I'm lying, of course. There is no project.

"Max, wait, you haven't eaten your muffin."

"Mommmm..." I give her a peck on the cheek. "I really do have to go, I was supposed to be there an hour ago. I'll be back in time for dinner."

Mom still looks uncertain, but I know she won't refuse, lest she be known as Evil Mother Extraordinaire. See, she feels so guilty that she has a hard time saying no.

I head out the door.


I swing a right at Jefferson, another right at Turner, and then a left at Sequoia. I walk past a park, an elementary school, a donut shop, and a laundromat. The houses in the area begin to look less well-tended. The bushes no longer appear trimmed, the lawns are choked with weeds. There's a dead cat in the middle of the road.
A few minutes of this, and then I turn on to Oak. The heart and cornerstone of Skid Row, USA.

Where she lives.

Whores on every corner. I wonder how many of them are doing that because they want to, and how many because they have no choice. They look at me, they beckon, they whisper in sultry voices.

I ignore them.

And continue walking.

There she is. On her stoop.

She's still watching the others. I look at her for a minute. Just staring, seeing how the light glances off her chocolate brown hair. Her eyes, how they look so dark and luminous and black (only, of course, no one has black eyes). She sees me, and smiles.

It's like every other day.

Only...this time, something deep and powerful wells up, and I know I have to hear her voice. I have to hear it or else she'll remain nothing more than the ghost in my dreams. I don't want her to be a ghost. I want her to become flesh and blood, a person.

So I do something that I've never done before.

I walk up to her, and say, "Hi."


[ edited 1 time(s), last at 21-Feb-2002 11:50:23 AM ]
posted on 21-Feb-2002 11:49:23 AM by kaleidoscope
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Okay, well, I've finally managed to salvage the second part of this story! *happy* My heartrate can go back to normal now. And now I can start drafting new parts. But they might not come out for a while, because I have this huge midterm coming up, not to mention all these stupid research projects and papers, blah blah blah. And in between all that, I plan to catch up on some much-needed sleep. *tongue* *YAWN* Hey, if any of you are high school seniors and have been accepted to USC and are going to an upcoming Preview session, tell me!

TITLE: Make Me Feel
AUTHOR: kaleidoscope
EMAIL: kaleidoscope⊕
SUMMARY: He doesn't know her. She doesn't know him. But that's about to change...


She looks a bit startled at my sudden boldness, which is understandable. We haven't spoken so much as one word to each other and here I am, getting up into her face. Maybe she thinks I'm a psycho. I really hope she doesn't put out a restraining order on me.

Fortunately, she's too polite to just blow me off. "Hi," she finally returns warily.

I walk up the steps of the stoop and sit down next to her. Up close, I see that her eyes are, yes, brown. This indescribably deep, dark, rich brown. And her hair seems more lustrous and shining than ever. For a split second, I imagine what her hair would smell like...strawberries, probably. Her hair would smell like strawberries.

Realizing that she is still looking at me with this scrutinizing expression on her face, I hasten to introduce myself.

"I'm Max."

She doesn't say anything...she only nods, slowly, as if digesting the information. I feel uncomfortable in the silence--like it's a dangerous black void that desperately needs to be filled with words.

I continue to speak, nervously.

"I've seen you--around, you know, I go on these walks sometimes to, uh, well...just around the neighborhood and I see you--I mean, not that I, er...go out specifically to see you, it just happens, sort of..." My words come out halting and limping and I feel my face going red, but I can't stop. "And you're always sitting--here--and you look so lonely, um, not that you don't have any friends, I'm sure you do, it's just that, er, well...see, what I'm really trying to say is...I had nothing to do, I just thought--not that I'm only speaking to you just because I have nothing better to do! It's just that...well..."

My voice trails off.

She's leaning against the crumbling brick wall of the building behind us. After a minute, she says quietly, "Stalking's illegal in all fifty states."

I flush and sort of squirm. "Yes, well, I'm not--I walk out here a lot, and um, well, I'm not stalking you, per se...uh..."

All of a sudden, I catch a faint sparkle in her eyes and the ghost of a smile on her lips. So she's not serious. I feel like a total idiot. Maybe she doesn't think I'm a stalker, but I can't rule out the possibility of being a fool.

She laughs at the expression on my face, but mercy seems to get the better of her and she finally holds out her hand.

"I'm Liz."

So she has a name.

I reach out and shake her hand. Her skin feels cool and smooth and delicate to the touch.

"So," she says, drawing out the word, "whaddaya doing in this neck of the woods?"

I shrug. "Just...walking."

"All the way out here?"

Her voice sounds slightly suspicious. I avert my eyes.


"Why?" She shoots the inevitable question at me and gives me a piercing stare. "You're not from around here."

"What makes you say that?"

"I can tell. Some people...they just have an outsider's feel to them. I can't explain it exactly."

"Oh, thanks," I say with a hint of sarcasm.

She laughs softly before placing a reassuring hand on my shoulder. Not expecting her to do that, my heart jumps a few notches into my throat.

"Don't sweat it, Max, I didn't mean anything by it."

"'re right, anyway," I admit. "I'm not from around here. More like from the suburbs."

"That must be nice."

"It is. Kinda boring, though."

"How so?"

I struggle to explain, while not really knowing myself why I don't like living where I do.

"Dunno. It's just...everything's the SAME. There's this whole huge world out there and I'm stuck in Anytown, USA. My family's part of a homeowner's association, and that's even worse because even all the houses look alike."

I wonder if I'm complaining too much. Maybe she thinks I'm a self-centered, spoiled brat for saying all that. After all, she's grown up under worse circumstances. Slightly embarrassed, I glance down at my hands and try to laugh.

"Sorry. I don't mean to sound so whiny. You've probably had it a lot worse. No offense, but this place isn't exactly very homey."

"It isn't that bad," Liz says mildly. "I like it better than where I used to live, in any case."

My curiosity is piqued. "Where's that?"

She doesn't answer, instead leaning back and staring at the sky.
There's that uncomfortable silence again. The thing is, I know she heard my question--it's not like I exactly whispered it. So she must be ignoring it deliberately. I wonder if I've touched upon a sensitive subject that she doesn't want to quite broach just yet.

After a few seconds that seem like hours, she murmurs, "It must feel pretty confining."

So relieved to hear her speak again, I momentarily forget what we're talking about. "Excuse me?"

"Where you live."

"Oh. That. Yeah, I guess so."

Liz smiles vaguely at my response and gets to her feet.

"Where ya going?"

"I gotta go."

I nod and stand up, too. No use staying if Liz isn't here.

I'm walking down the steps when I hear her voice.

"Hey. Daydream Believer."

I turn around. She's standing in the doorway of the building.


"See you later."

I smile.

"Count on it."


Breakfast at my house is never a casual affair. I've already explained the frequent guilt trips that my mother goes through as a result of her career choice...meaning, she finds it impossible to deny making Isabel and me a real breakfast whenever she can. According to Mom, breakfast on the go does not constitute a real meal.

"Morning, Max!" my mother says as I stumble downstairs in the morning and take a seat at the kitchen counter. "I've made eggs, bacon, sausage, and waffles. If you want, I can whip up some pancakes for you."

Now, like most teenage boys, I like to eat...but not that much. I shake my head and give Mom a smile.

"No, thanks, Mom. I think I have enough with the ton of food that you've already made for me."

Mom hesitates. "But chocolate chip pancakes are your favorite..."

"Ever hear the phrase, 'Too much of a good thing...'? I'll be fine." I pour myself some orange juice as Mom gives me enough food to feed a starving nation.

"Eat all your meat," she says firmly. "You're a growing boy, and you need the protein."

I roll my eyes but comply. I'm popping the last sausage link into my mouth when Isabel breezes in, perfectly made up as usual.

"No time for breakfast, Mom," she says airily. "Grace is picking me up in a few minutes."

Mom instantly looks worried. "Breakfast is the most important meal of the day."

"But there's so much fat in that!"

It's the beginning of an argument that I've heard many times before. Isabel thinks she needs to lose weight, like the typical teenage girl. Mom thinks that she looks beautiful just the way she is. I've been caught in the crossfire more than a few times. It's not pleasant.



"You look just fine."

"Easy for you to say," Isabel huffs. "You're my mother!"


"So your opinion doesn't count."

"On the contrary. It counts the most."

"Not if I want to get a date to the junior prom."

When I leave for the school, they're still arguing.


During first period English, Michael asks me if I'm going to junior prom.

"I might," I say carefully. I haven't really given it much thought.

"Stag? Or with someone else?"

"Not sure..." My mind instantly drifts to Liz. I'm not sure that I want to go with anyone else. But I barely even know her. "What about you?"

A grin flits across my best friend's face. I poke him. "Maria, is it?"

He practically swoons, he's so besotted with her. "Ohhhh, yeah."

"Who asked who?"

His smile goes broader. "She asked me."

"Betcha loved that."


"I always wondered when you two would move beyond Just Friends status." I grin. Michael, Maria and I are all friends. Along with a few others--Isabel, Alex, name a few.

Michael chuckles. "Yeah...took us a while, didn't it?"

"Just don't let me catch you two in the Eraser Room! I don't think my stomach could handle it."

"Shut up." Michael punches me on the shoulder. "What about you, bud? Got anyone special in mind?"

"No..." My face slightly colors though, and a silly grin falls across my face. Of course, this does not escape Michael's attention.

"Dude...who is she?"

"It's no one."

"I'm not stupid. Who is she?"

"None of your business."

"Oh, come on...what is there to hide?"


"You know about me and Maria!"

"Who DOESN'T know about you and Maria?"

Michael gives up.

For the rest of the period, my thoughts stray to a certain brown-eyed, dark-haired girl.

I think I'll go see her again after school.

I smile to myself.


Several people's comments on the old board about this certain part have spurred me to leave this note. *happy* Since Max and Liz's situation isn't the typical high school student scenario, there isn't really going to be a whole "Will you go to the prom with me?" type of deal. Because, see, when Liz--oh wait, I can't tell you. That'd give it all away. *happy*