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The Space Between Us

By:Anie Michaels

The Space Between Us
Anie Michaels


The familiarity of his arms was like a drug. No matter what I was  feeling  –  happy, sad, panicked, flustered, agitated, angry  –  when his  arms wrapped around me, so did peace. I moved my chin up to look at his  face. Dark, thick, beautifully long lashes dusted across his cheekbones  as he slept  –  lashes many women would kill for. And although the lashes  were feminine to an extent, when his eyes were open there was no  mistaking his masculinity. Eyes the color of slate gray hid behind those  lashes, and when he used them to look me over, when he perused my body  with them, I could feel the smoothness of the granite they resembled  silking over my skin.

His face was beautiful. A strong square jaw left room for one dimple  that sat on his left cheek. His unmarred skin was smooth and creamy  besides just the few dark freckles that gave him a distinct look. We  were both still young, just eighteen, but he was already so manly I  shivered to think what he would look like in five or ten years.

I leaned up to press a gentle kiss just at the bottom of his chin and as  he roused I pretended to look apologetic, but really I wanted him  awake. I wanted him, period.

"Awake already?" His voice rasped, still groggy from sleep. "What time is it?"

"I don't know," I replied honestly as I trailed kisses along his jaw,  following the line of his jaw down the slope of his neck. He pulled away  to look at me.

"Charlie," he said softly to me. "Are you sure? I don't want to hurt  you," he said all too sweetly as he placed his hand on the side of my  face.

"I feel fine," I whispered, trying to convince him I was indeed ok.

"Aren't you, uh, sore?" He asked sheepishly. I grinned at him and shrugged my shoulders.

"Asher, I know I lost my virginity a few hours ago, but I was far from  chaste before that. I'm not sore at all." He gave me a concerned look.

"You'd tell me if you were hurt, right?" I nodded at him. "You'll tell  me to stop if it gets to be too much?" I nodded again and then leaned up  to press my mouth to his.

"You're already too much," I said against his lips. "But I get what you  mean." And with that he took me under him and made love to me for the  second time in our lives. Loving him was easy and beautiful, and I wish  I'd taken more time to cement the memories in my mind. There was no way  to know that in such a short time everything would be taken from me.  Everything.

Part I

Chapter One

I heard the thunk-thunk of something hitting the ground next to me, but I  didn't look up. I just continued to draw in my notebook. It wasn't my  choice to move to a new town and not having anyone to spend recess with  wasn't making my first day at a new school any easier. The pencil in my  hand trailed lead across the paper and I know eventually it will look  like something, but right now it's just lines and scribbles. All my  drawings start out that way. My hand just kind of goes where the pencil  takes it, but it always turns into something.

More thunks. More rocks and pine cones landed near me and I finally turned my head to see where they are coming from.

"Hey. New girl." A boy with red hair and freckles covering his face  stood at the bottom of the hill I am sitting on. His hand went up over  his eyes trying to keep the sun out. "New girl," he said again.

"Yeah?" I answered.

"What grade are you in?" He shouted at me.

"Fifth," I yelled back.

"What's your name?"



I paused and tried not to roll my eyes. I had to deal with this my whole life.

"Yes. My name is Charlie and I'm a girl."

"That's a pretty stupid name," he said through laughter. I turned back  to my drawing, not willing to debate with him about it. I've been  dealing with it since I started school. I never knew why my parents  chose a boy's name, but it didn't matter. I was stuck with it. More gray  lines appeared, circling around each other, some darker than others.  Then something bounced painfully off of the back of my head. My hand  reached up to the injury and my head snapped back to look behind me  again. Another rock headed straight for me but I ducked to the side to  avoid it.

"Hey!" I yelled at the red-headed boy who was now taking aim at me again. "That hurt!"

The boy dropped his arm a little, still grasping the rock in his fist.

"You've got a boy's name. Can't you take a little pain like a boy?"

Suddenly another boy came up behind the redhead and shoved him to the ground.

"What's your problem, Ryan?" The boy towered over him, fists clenched at  his sides. "You can't go throwing rocks at girls, Dude. You're messed  up." Ryan brushed his hands on his jeans, trying to free the dirt and  pebbles stuck to his palms from landing on the ground.                       


"I didn't even throw them that hard and they were small."

"Doesn't matter. It's wrong." The dark haired boy looked over at me, and  then back to Ryan. "I think you should apologize," he said.

"Give it up, Asher. You're just sticking up for her because she's got a  weird name just like you." Ryan stood up, spared one look back at me  saying nothing, but then turned away and walked towards the school  building. I still rubbed the small knot that was forming on the back of  my head.

"Are you ok?" Asher asked, walking up the hill towards me.

"Um, yeah, I think so," I said, still trying to rub the pain away.

"Is it your first day?"

"Yeah, I just moved here."

"Do you want me to take you to the nurse?"

"No, I'll be ok, but thanks." I gave him a small smile and turned back to put my notebook into my backpack.

"So, you've got a weird name too?" He asked.

"It's not really a weird name. It's just not supposed to be a girl's name."

"What is it? Bob? Max?"

I laughed. "My name is Charlie." He tilted his head to the side, seeming to contemplate what I'd told him.

"That's not a weird name. There's another girl who goes here whose name  is Casey. That's a boy's name I guess. It's could be worse; you could be  Frank or something."

I laughed again. "Asher isn't a weird name, either. I like it."

"Thanks," he said as he came up right next to me. "So, why'd you move to Willow Falls?"

I shrugged my shoulders, trying not to let on that I didn't really want to talk about it. "I just go where my dad tells me to."

"Oh. Are you sure you don't need to go see the nurse? I don't mind showing you."

"No, I'm good," I said with a small smile.

"Well, I guess I'll see you around." He gave a small wave and walked  back down the small hill. I continued to put my things away and the  longer I thought about Ryan and the rocks he threw at me, the more I  thought about why I was here in the first place.

Thinking about my mom and how she died was never fun, but it was  something I found myself doing often and usually at times when it was  inconvenient - like now. The tear that fell down my cheek wasn't because  Ryan had thrown rocks at me, but because my mom died. My dad didn't  know what else to do, so he moved me away from my friends I'd had all my  life to be closer to my grandparents. That was the reason for the  tears, not Ryan. But I couldn't let anyone see. I'd never live it down  if I was caught crying on the first day at a new school.

No one would know that every time I wiped away a tear it was because I  pictured my mom laying in a hospital bed, tubes and wires coming  seemingly from every available inch of skin, eyes closed, chest moving  only slightly with each shallow breath. It was not because some idiot  didn't like my name. My shoulders slumped, my backpack came to rest at  my side, and I looked up to the sky trying to calm down enough to go  back to class. Deep breaths - one after another.

I managed to get my emotions under control and headed back to my  classroom. The rest of the day dragged on, time slowed down by the  loneliness of not being around anyone I know. A girl sat in the desk  next to me and I caught her looking in my direction more than once since  lunch. My eyes drifted over to her and again, she looked at me. I  pushed my black, stick-straight hair over my shoulder, turned my head  towards her and gave a faint smile. She smiled back and just that one  moment made the day not totally suck.

I gave my attention back to the teacher at the front of the room but a  few minutes later I felt something poking my elbow. I looked over and  the blonde girl next to me handed me a note. Taking it from her, I hid  it under my desk to unfold it.

Hi! My name is Reeve. Did you just move here? What's your name?

I looked over at her as she stared straight ahead at the teacher,  convincingly looking like she was interested in the geography of Africa  at the moment. I took a pen out of my bag and replied to the note and  then, when the teacher turned his back to the class for a moment, tossed  it onto her desk.