This takes place three days after the last scene (when Nathaniel and Rosemary met).
Orion loved basketball. It wasn't so much the game itself, as it was the activity of playing. The testing of the combination of skill and instinct in an individual against others. Which in basketball is heightened due to the fast pace of the game, and made things all the more exciting in Orion's opinion. And then of course there was the winning. Orion always won at sports. Which, while he quite enjoyed bettering others, was part of the reason his love for sports lay more in the playing of them. Football, soccer, hockey, really any sport that pitted people against each other. He especially liked hockey, because hockey had the highest threshold for violence. Not that Orion thought he was violent, but he was always aggressive when he played something. After all, why bother playing if you're not going to do your best? But apparently most people considered him too rough when it came to contact sports. Which was why Orion had been banned from every basketball game in town. Even pick-up and street players knew him and his style of game and refused to let him play anymore.
So now Orion practiced on his own. It wasn't the same as playing a game, but it kept his skills from fading. He did shooting and dribbling drills. He'd work on passing to himself off of walls. The most fun lay in pretending he was facing off against his favorite NBA players and figuring out how to win against them. Sometimes he would even narrate aloud to himself as he practiced, simulating game conditions as best he could.
Today he was on the court practicing fancy moves. He could dribble between his legs without thinking about it anymore, while he was moving. But he still had to pay attention to his own motions when standing in one spot trying to keep the ball away from a grabby opponent. That just wasn't acceptable to him. He needed to be able to look around the court and judge what was going on without having to worry about the ball in his hands against a good ball stealer. The best way to do that was to constantly keep in motion. Right foot forward, bounce from left hand to right between the legs. Switch feet so the left is forward, bounce from right hand to left between the legs. Keep the feet and body moving, but the ball in the same place and protected. In theory it was easy enough, but in reality it was more art than science. Plus, any good player would be able to recognize a repetitive set of motions and adjust to them. He had to be able to throw in a stutter step every once in a while, or move the ball around the outside of his leg as he switched feet position. He had to be able to keep changing it up, without concentrating. That last bit was what kept tripping him up.
He caught the ball from its last bounce, and stood up straight for a quick stretch. Then he walked over to the sideline where he had left his bag to get a drink before starting up again. He didn't have much time before others would come and kick him off the court. It was a public city court, no way to reserve it for anything, and street rules were the group with the most people got to play. Unless there was a game in progress, in which case the group got to play next. As one person he wasn't actually playing a game, therefore any group could come take the court from him. So he had skipped class today to get some serious practice time in. Most everyone else was still in school, making the competition for courts quite small for the time being. Still, there had been enough kids out that the best court he could find was this old one. The baskets had chain nets that weren't fully connected, and the backboards were cracked. The one concrete wall the court had was covered with graffiti, though the building behind the wall was stable enough. And the ground was still even and smooth, which made the court decent despite its appearance. The other three sides were standard chain link fences, with a door sized hole in one of them.
As he turned back from his bag to face the court again, he saw a girl standing behind the fence wall with one hand rested in a chain hole. She was a blonde bombshell, and she was obviously watching him. He grinned at her. She smiled back. He put down his water, and picked up the basketball. With four long strides towards the basket to get up to speed, he pushed himself off the ground, stretched his arms as long as they would go, and slammed the ball through the rim. Before he could fall back to the ground, he grabbed the rim and swung from it. He looked back towards the girl and winked, then let go and landed on his feet. She blushed slightly and giggled.
Orion quickly retrieved the ball, and showed off a little more with some fancy dribbling and foot work. The girl laughed and clapped. He finished with a fast-break towards the basket that ended in a 360 turn followed by a hook-shot instead of the simple standard lay up. The girl cheered and clapped some more. Orion took a quick bow, then trotted over to her.
"Hi there, I'm Orion," he introduced himself, then grinned.
"Rosemary," she happily replied. "Can I play?"
The question surprised Orion, but after a second he recovered. "Uh, sure," he answered with a shrug. It wouldn't be real playing, but he didn't mind if it meant he got to run around a bit with her.
She grinned and walked around into the court.
"Do you know how?" Orion ventured, wondering if he'd have to teach her the basics.
She walked right up to him, took the ball out of his hands, turned and shot the ball at the closest basket. And it went in. "Nothing but net," she commented with a sly smile.
Orion nodded slowly. Her form had been perfect. Shooting form that was. "Alright then," was all he could think of to say. "Let's play."
Rosemary ran over to the ball and picked it up. While she did, Orion noticed a man walk to the doorway to the court and look at Rosemary. When she reached down and starting taking off her heels, the man crossed his arms and frowned. Orion started to move towards Rosemary, just in case.
"Miss Delacourt," the man called to her with a displeased edge to his voice.
"Oh Jacob!" she responded, looking up at him with a smile, "There you are." On finding they knew each other, and Rosemary not sounding at all threatened by the man, Orion relaxed. Rosemary walked over to Jacob and held out her shoes to him. "Don't look at me like that. I'll only play for a couple minutes, then we can go."
Jacob clearly wasn't happy with the deal, but he took the shoes. Rosemary then handed over her purse to him. He accepted that as well and moved to lean against the fence wall to wait.
Rosemary headed to the center of the court and passed the ball to Orion. "Half court?"
"Sure. First to three shots, since you have to leave soon?" Orion asked, tipping his head towards Jacob.
"Oh don't worry about him," she said with a wave of her hand. With her other hand she hiked the skirt part of her dress up to her knee and held it there so she'd be able to do more than only walk. "Besides, three shots wouldn't be much of a game. How about seven?"
Orion grinned. "No, it wouldn't be much of a game," he agreed, mentally adding to himself, Since I can do that in a minute
They took up positions, and Orion passed the ball back to her. "You start." Should give her a chance to shoot before I win
, he reasoned with himself.
She shrugged, and started dribbling with her free hand. Orion crouched slightly to a defensive stance, and moved along side her. When she faked to her right, he didn't fall for it, and slid right up next to her as she moved to the left. Much to his surprise, she had faked left as well. Instead of moving into his block, she stepped around his left leg with her left leg and with her next step was past him on her way to the basket. He tried to turn to keep up with her, but as he moved his left leg to step backwards he hit it against hers and tumbled backwards to the ground. Rosemary stumbled slightly, but caught herself before she fell, and proceeded for an easy lay up.
She caught the ball on its way back down from the net, turned and smiled at Orion. "That's one."
Orion set his jaw, and snorted. I'll never underestimate someone based on looks again
, he admonished himself. As he pulled himself off the ground, Rosemary jogged back to the starting position. "Okay, okay," he said, in an attempt to regain some dignity. "I see we're playing for real."
"Of course!" she replied.
He fell into a full defensive stance. No more showing off, no more messing around. She was no longer a pretty girl, she was his opponent. "Then you better fix your skirt in place, 'cause you're going to need both hands."
She nodded and fetched a few pins out of her purse. After her dress was in place she returned to the court.
They played hard for several minutes. Full contact, hip checking, foot stepping, elbowing basketball. Orion was only careful enough to not use his full strength unless both his hands were firmly on the ball and not her. Each one of them hit the ground more than once. Rosemary's strength was her quickness. Once Orion realized she had a hard time shooting from the outside, he was able pull ahead in the game. But he couldn't shut her down because every few times she managed to slip by him.
When the score was six to four in favor of Orion, he was so anxious to finish the game he stopped focusing on anything else. Rosemary passed him the ball to start the play. He judged the distance to the basket, her stance, and the distance between him and her. He started dribbling and heading for the basket. When she moved to block him, he stepped into her and charged on through. A few steps, and he found himself free at the basket. A quick lay up won him the game.
Orion turned around with a triumphant smile. "Seven!" he proclaimed. But his victory didn't last beyond that.
Rosemary was sitting on the ground looking slightly disoriented. Jacob was by her side holding her arm as if he wanted to help her up. He flashed Orion a nasty look, then turned a concerned one back to Rosemary.
"Oh man," Orion said and hurry over. "Are you alright? I'm sorry. I just-"
Rosemary waved her free hand at him. "No no, it's okay. He's just mad 'cause I tore my dress and Daddy likely won't believe the story."
Orion looked quickly from the tear to Jacob to Rosemary. "That's it?" he asked dubiously.
Jacob shook his head. "No, it's not. You hit your head Miss Delacourt. Come on, I'm taking you to a doctor."
"Jacob, please!" she protested. "I'm fine. It's only a little bump. Just... take me to the hotel."
Jacob frowned, but nodded. It was clear to Orion this man didn't actually have any control over Rosemary, no matter how much he tried to assert some.
"Hey, I'm sorry," Orion said again.
Rosemary looked at him, and smiled. "No worries. It was just part of the game. Congratulations by the way."
He smiled slightly, feeling a little better that she truly seemed alright, and that she understood. "Thanks. Any time you want a rematch," he shrugged. "Well, I'm around."
"That'd be fun," she replied.
Orion and Jacob helped her to her feet. She flashed another smile at Orion. "Don't worry! I'm fine. Thanks for the great game! I haven't gotten to play like that since... well I don't remember but I bet it's been a while!"
He smiled back, more assured this time. "Okay. Thank you, Rosemary."
With one last smile from her to Orion, Jacob escorted Rosemary off the court and away.
Labels: Story, The Lost Song
This is the first scene in chapter one. It takes place umpteen years after Rosemary's birth.
I'm gonna need some male perspective on this one, to make sure I got it right enough.
It was what Nathaniel considered a perfect day. Comfortable temperature, not quite T-shirt and shorts weather, but warm enough for the girls to be wearing cute outfits that showed just enough. A slight breeze carrying nearby smells through the air, both the pleasant scent of blooming flowers and the fun fragrance of passing perfume. The sun peeking out from behind big fluffy clouds. And the park full of the sounds of happiness from children, animals, and adults alike.
He was sitting on one side of a stone bench just large enough for two, sideways so his feet dangled over the other edge. His laptop rested on his legs while his eyes wandered over the park. It was too nice a day to be thinking so hard. But as much as he wanted to run around and play, he also wanted to solve the most recent puzzle on his mind. Could the beliefs of creation and evolution both be right? Could they co-exist? More importantly, if they could he wanted to know how. And if they could not, he wanted to know why not.
Surely there was something somewhere in one that disproved the other, or that explained the other. So far he had concluded that the biggest flaw in evolution was did not account for what started it all. He did very much like evolution because for every question of "but where did that come from?" or "but how did that happen?' there was an answer, all they way back to things that wouldn't be considered life but only the building blocks of life and even before that. And Nathaniel was all about answers. He always wanted to know Why. But where evolution satisfied his thirst for answers at nearly every turn, it failed to answer the all important first question. Where did everything come from? For example, if there had been a Big Bang that started everything in motion, what caused it and where did all the energy and matter that was involved come from? And what made all the laws of physics and nature they way they are? Why, why, why?
On the other hand, creation had a very simple and elegant answer to the all important first question. God. Nathaniel was not enough of a scientist to dismiss outright things he could not see or measure. Especially when so many things had no answers. He didn't believe coincidences were just that either, somewhere inside he felt everything had some meaning no matter how small. Which is all the more reason he wanted to know what those reasons were. But it also seemed to him people used God too much as an excuse for things they didn't want to know or for things they wanted to blindly believe.
Then again, he had discovered many times over most people were much more comfortable being ignorant of everything going on in the world around them. And he couldn't fault them for that, sometimes it was just nicer not to know about the atrocities that went on. But that also meant not knowing about all the other stuff, and Nathaniel simply couldn't live like that.
Couldn't God have created evolution? After all, when a concept for something great occurred when had the concept ever been brought into reality immediately as the end result? Never, as far as Nathaniel had found. Every great concept always began as something much smaller and was built up to its envisioned form. It only made sense humanity would be the same.
Nathaniel looked up from the research on the screen in front of him, up towards the crystal blue sky spattered with white. So much information to go through. So much nature to enjoy. He was quite thankful for the invention of the laptop and the wireless internet that allowed him to indulge in both his favorite activities at the same time! When temperatures were not at their extremes, he much preferred to be outside doing anything.
"Look out, Mister!"
Nathaniel turned in time to get hit in the shoulder by a large ball. It was one of the red rubber playground kinds, sturdy enough to make his arm smart but not enough to do any real damage. A kid about ten years old came running after it, catching it as it bounced low to the ground back towards him. Behind him two other children stood watching.
"Sorry!" one of them yelled to Nathaniel.
Nathaniel rubbed his arm for a second to be sure it was going to be fine, then waved at the children to indicate all was forgiven.
He took a few moments to look around at the people in the park. People watching was interesting too, as another form of gathering information, but not one Nathaniel was particularly good at. Especially when a person looked like that!
She was all that. Nathaniel found he couldn't look away. Long curly blonde hair that shined in the sun and bounced with every step she took. Flawlessly smooth skin like a porcelain doll, but the color of lightly roasted peanuts or a perfect tan. A true hour glass shaped figure, bust and hips created curves every which way she turned. Strong long legs that kept going up and up. Heels high enough to show off her ankles and make her walk in that way that drives men nuts. All of which was nicely displayed by the dress that flared slightly at the thigh and form fit all the way to the neck without seeming to cling anywhere.
She looked to be his age too. And she was the perfect height as well, just short enough that she needed heels but not so short that even in heels you looked down on her. When she momentarily turned his way to flash a smile at someone, his heart jumped. Her eyes were as blue as the sky above them today, with a sparkle of life in them he had seldom seen in anyone over five years old. He didn't care she was way out of his league, he wanted to meet her. He wanted to talk to her. He wanted...
...to not suddenly be at a loss for words as the girl passed him by.
Nathaniel watched with a sinking heart as she walked away. With every step she took his disappointment grew. He desperately wanted to call after her, to go after her, but he couldn't find the courage.
And then, as her purse swayed with her walk, something slipped from the corner and fell almost soundlessly on the grass. Nathaniel's eyes locked on it. Just as quickly as his hopes jumped he bolted from the bench, not even thinking to take care for his laptop, which dropped forgotten to the ground. All that mattered in this moment was the object she had lost.
On reaching the item he found it to be a small mirror. It didn't really matter to Nathaniel. He said a silent Thank You to whomever was listening as he picked it up. Then he took a deep breath, and quickly jogged up behind girl.
He reached out to tap her on the shoulder, but at the last moment couldn't bring himself to mess up the vision that she was. He was sure he would do so if he touched her. "Um, excuse me?" he said instead to get her attention.
She turned around, and they both stopped walking. On seeing it was indeed her attention that was being sought, she gave him an inquisitive look. With her eyes now actually on him, Nathaniel lost all memory of what was going on and merely looked back at her. She was beautiful and mysterious, and paying attention to him! Why was that again? Oh right, he had her make up thingy. He was about to offer it to her when she spoke.
"Yes?" she prompted him.
Nathaniel lost all ability to think in that moment. Her voice was soft and angelic, like the most pleasant song. He loved the sound, and simply wanted to hear more.
"Do I know you?" the girl asked after a moment of silence had passed.
Her question made Nathaniel jump slightly as he came back to the world. "Oh, um, uh," he fumbled for words while his mind worked as fast as it could to understand her question and seek out the answer. "I mean. No," he smiled to try and cover for the awkward moment. "I don't believe we've met before," he finally managed to say and sound coherent.
She nodded, but pulled her purse into a more secure position as she looked around. "Can I... help you with something?" she offered hesitantly.
Suddenly Nathaniel found he was very nervous. He hadn't meant to scare her. He didn't want her to think he was dangerous, or some sort of weirdo. Not that he had done such a great job of proving otherwise thus far. Good going
, he chided himself as he started fidgeting with the object in his hands. Just get yourself out of this!
"Um, no, um...." He looked down at his hands, and seeing the mirror remembered why he was in this position in the first place. "Oh, here. You dropped this." He held it out to her.
The girl's attitude changed abruptly when she saw the mirror. She smiled sweetly at Nathaniel. "Thank you," she said. As she took it, her hand gently touched his. But he didn't notice.She's smiling at me!
The girl tucked her mirror securely back into her purse, gave Nathaniel a parting smile, and turned to walk away. That Nathaniel did notice.
"Wait!" he called after her. She turned half way back towards him with an expectant look, but kept walking. He only hesitated slightly, this time knowing what he wanted. "What's your name?"
She giggled slightly. "Rosemary!" she called over her shoulder, then turned again and headed out of the park.
Labels: Story, The Lost Song