I felt a cold breeze kissing onto the apples of my cheeks, giving myself a slight chill throughout my whole body. My body tossed left to right, feeling uncomfortable by the minimal clothing I was wearing. The dress backfired my need for warmth. Somewhat it was cold in Bear's car. A while later, I felt warmth placed over my body, wrapped gently for me not to get startled from my sleep. I stopped tossing around, and I allowed myself to sleep for an extra hour.
An hour later, I proximately assumed, my eyes opened slightly to my left and I see Bear still driving, his eyes still onto the road. I looked down onto my chest, seeing his jacket over me. It was still dark, the morning hasn't come out yet. I looked onto my phone and I saw that we were on the road for over 7 hours now. I see Bear yawning, rubbing his eyes as he tried his best not to doze off. Bear noticed that I was awake, and handed me a water bottle. I took it and sat up straight. I hold onto it, I wasn't thirsty.
“We're almost there, probably a couple of hours” he yawned, but kept a smile onto his face.
“Do you want me to take over?”
“Do you want me to take over?”
He raised his eyebrows, “You don't know where I'm taking you to”
“I know that, but I can drive until we reach to a certain exit”
“It's alright, you can just go back to sleep. You look adorable when you're knocked out with a little river flowing out”
I touched the corners of my mouth, he wasn't kidding, the drool was now dried up. I leaned back, and I notice a carton of cigarettes in the dashboard that wasn't shut tightly. Bear kept yawning, tears kept seeping out as he opened his mouth due to tiredness.
“It's okay,” I said.
“It's okay for what?” he asked as he looked over to me, then back to the road that had a few little cars.
“If you want to smoke, it's okay. I understand if you need them to help you stay awake” I twisted the cap of the water bottle, managed to opened it, and took long sips.
“You're asthmatic Bianca,” he said
“I care for your health more than I do of mine” he continued to say, “so it's not okay for me to smoke.”
I leaned forward, opened up the dashboard and took out the carton along side with the lighter that was beside it. “What are you doing Bianca?” Bear lifted his eyebrows. I opened up the carton, I saw that it was a full pack, it was either newly purchased or that he haven't touched it. I took one cigarette out; it was my first time touching one, it was cold and soft. I placed them in between my mouth and took hold onto the lighter. Bear suddenly pulled aside, and pulled the hand break.
“What on Earth are you doing?”
I flick the lighter using my left thumb and a flame was created. I placed the flame to the tip of the cigarette and inhaled. After three puffs, I exhaled, along side with coughing. I continued to cough, as I continued to smoke. It was disgusting, the heat that filled my throat, my lungs felt like burning and the bitter taste that lingered down my throat made me gag, I never liked coffee; I don't see how I would like this. Bear took the cigarette out of my hands and throw it out of the window. I wouldn't stop coughing, and I felt queasy. My chest was getting tighter, and I was out of breath. Bear started to panic, he turned his body to the back seat and reached out my duffel. He brought it to the front and unzipped it. He started rummaging through my clothes, my underwear and everything I never showed to a boy before. He finally found my inhaler and took it out. He started to shake it and uncapped it. He placed them into my mouth and pressed the chamber. One puff, my lungs were still stuffed. I signal him to press the chamber once more, and he did. My lungs were cleared and I could breathe fine, by then I started to smile. Bear stared at me, his face was in utter shock as he was still holding onto my inhaler.
“Why are you smiling?!” His tone was high pitched as he had the confused look onto his face.
“You just literally committed suicide in front of me!”
“I uh... I... I was being young and wild”
“What the frick frack fuck?” He leaned into me and took the carton out of my hands alongside with the lighter and threw it out of the window.
“Don't pull that shit onto me again, okay?” He pulled down the hand break.
“Are you... mad at me?”
“Yeah I'm mad, what do you think? I know I do outrageous things but for you? I love you-”
Bear froze, bit his lips and started to drive again. “You don't need to do things like that,” he said.
“But I wanted to”
“For the experience, not necessarily to be making it as a habit. Just for the thrills of things. Like you said, I don't know the definition of living life. We need to experience it all, don't you agree?”
“I do, but please. I'll stop smoking if you don't do less smart things like that”
“Not stupid things?”
“To come think of it, there's a lot of geniuses out there, high achievers that smoke cigarettes, cigars, weed and other crazy things. So it isn't stupid really, just a less smart of lifestyle choice. I guess, I'm in that category too.”
“Well, I didn't realize you categorize yourself as a genius or a high achiever” I remarked.
“Oh no, Bianca. I don't. I'm categorizing myself as making less smart choices in life. We all do. No choice is stupid, it's just out of ordinary for them to do so. That's why people say we make stupid choices but really in fact, nobody else have ever done them but the person who did it, so it is seen as stupid. Just like my list, nobody else have done such thing but me.”
“But I think, the list isn't a less smart choice to do.”
“Oh really, then what is it?”
“a crazy one; and crazy can be good sometimes. You taught me that.”
“Wow, never did I thought I could teach the smartest girl something”
I remembered the first time I was dragged into being part of this whole thing. I remembered I supposed to be doing my usual study routine, but instead I was blowing fireworks at a teachers' house. I felt that moment, my heart exploded just like the fireworks did. It was an unusual feeling, the thrill of doing something out of the ordinary, the sensation of not getting caught, being a partner in crime with someone I barely knew but that he was my neighbor.
A couple of hours later, Bear stopped driving. I looked out to see an old building. It was dark, tall and gloomy, and to be real with things; I was scared to why he was bringing us here. Bear unbuckled his seatbelt and got out. “Come on,” he said as he bent down, showing his face at me indicating me to get out. I got out, and the wind was harsh here than it was before. “Wear my jacket,” he said and I did. I place my arm into a sleeve of his jacket, brought it over to my back and slipped my other arm into the other sleeve. It was big, as expected; but it I felt warmer as soon as I zipped it up. Bear started walking ahead to the direction of the castle and I started trotting behind him as I didn't want to make the gap between us any less than a foot apart. Yes, I was that petrified.
“This place is abandon, but don't worry; ghosts don't bite” he said as he took his phone out and switched on the torchlight of his phone. We walked through an entrance that lead us to what I believed was a garden. It was still dark at the moment, but I heard the sounds of the waves that was coming from the other side of this building.
“Where are we?” I asked trying not to get high pitched as I stayed close to Bear as he lead the way to wherever it was.
“At a castle” he said, I looked around, the more I focused through the darkness, the more I realized the details and the settings of this place. Yes, it was a castle. And yes, I was still petrified. We walked onto a pathway that was nicely paved by rocks, Bear shone his torchlight onto the ground, suddenly he slowed downed his pace and so did I.
“Can you read what it says?” he said; there were carvings onto the ground, the writings were like chicken scratch but I could read it.
“A bear was here and it was cool...?” I read out loud and then I turned my attention to him. He was smirking, “It was legit cool,” he said.
“A bear was here?” I asked, he nodded. “Yup, came out from that side of the building, out of totally nowhere” he pointed to the east side of the castle.
“And you were alone?”
“Oh no, I was with my grandad. He literally chased it away with a stick , at least that was what I could remember”
“And it was cool?”
“And hence where you got the nickname Bear?”
“Because, how old were you?”
“Because a nine year old boy saw a bear and found it cool?”
“Man, do you always have to be right?”
I shrugged my shoulders, “It's what I do best, a curse actually”.
Bear lead me further into the castle, it was empty and dark. I felt there were things unknown staring at me from behind, so I stayed closer to him and I could hear his heavy breathing as he torchlight the walls. “Are you sure this place is safe?” my voice was trembling; Bear could sense it, I was getting out of breath. He pulled out my inhaler that he apparently kept into his pockets and hand it to me.
“Relax,” he said. I sensed his smile underneath the darkness that was over shadowing this place.
“We're almost there”
As we walked through the pathways and pass the years of untrimmed bushes, the faint sounds of waves started to get louder and louder as he lead the way. We came across to an entrance that was blocked by thick vines, branches and leaves. His eyes started to wander around the place, he was looking for something. Then he handed me the torchlight and I hold onto it as I shone it to the every move he made. He went to a wall that had a displayed ax near a webbed painting. He took it off and walked towards the entrance, swung the ax behind him and brought force forward as he axed the thick vines, continuously he did so until the sounds of the waves started to get louder and clearer. The sounds were now placed to an image, as what I saw was just the dark sky.
Bear dropped the ax down and he looked over at me. “Come on,” he said and he walked out. I followed suit and as I got closer to the entrance, my heart dropped to the ground. I saw waves meters below my feet crashing vigorously against the rocks of the cliff that the castle stood firmly on.
My body froze, no, Bianca you're not afraid of heights. A hand was extended and took hold of it. I gripped onto his hand for dear life as he slowly lead me way out of the entrance and around the narrow pathway that either could lead me to safety or down to my death.
“We're going down,” he said softly,
“Excuse me?!” I freaked out.
“So watch your steps,”
He was still holding onto my hand as he we walked down the steep steps made out of rocks and centuries old cement. I shone the torchlight as we walked down, ever so slowly, I was risking death when my parents don't know where I am at the moment.
“Final steps,” he said and we stepped foot onto sand.
Bear exhaled and he was smiling; I switched off the torchlight. He sat down onto on of the rocks and I sat on one that was three feet away from him. His eyes were closed as he breathed in the air.
I closed my eyes, my heart that was racing out of fright slowly slowed down to its normal rate. I breathed in the air. It smelled different from our hometown. It was clean. The waves crashing onto the rocks and onto the shore was like a meditation song. My mind was getting clearer, I was at ease.
“Open your eyes,” Bear said and I did. Lights of oranges, red, and yellow blinded me. It was beautiful as it slowly rose from the beneath. I let the fresh rays hit my face, let it all sink in and I tell myself that I am really here, I am actually doing things.
Bear got up and walked towards me, then he sat down onto the sand beneath my legs. He then laid back against the rocks as I sat above. He took out his list and ticked one of the boxes. I didn't know what he ticked off, but we accomplished something off the list.
“Jeremy?” I said, he looked up and smiled.
“Usually, when people call me by my real name I get weirded out” he smirked.
“Oh no, I like it when you say it” he smiled and looked ahead at the waves.
“Can I ask you something?”
“Sure,” he said “anything you want,”
I bit my lower lips, I was risking myself and my pride to ask this. The wind was blowing harsher as it hit the high points of my face. I tugged in Bear's jacket in a little bit more tighter. I looked down at him, I'm sure he was cold. His hair was sweeping back and forth, and just from the back of his head I knew he was freezing. He turned his head and looked at me, and sure I was right. His lips were quavering and his nose was getting red. I bet he'd love a smoke at the moment, the fume up the insides of his. Make him feel warmer by the heat of the tobacco. “So, what is it?” he looked at me. I placed off his jacket and handed it back to him. He looked at me as I was extending my arm to give the jacket back. He then got up and sweep the sand off his trousers.
“Scoot aside,” he said as he took the jacket. I moved a few inches to the side and he sat next to me. He took the jacket and placed one half of it over my shoulders. He got in closer to me and placed the other half over his shoulders. It wasa big jacket, there was a little extra room.
It was warmer, the heat of his body transferred to mine. Okay, maybe not as much, but I felt warmer and his lips stopped quavering. He looked at me, waiting for the question I wanted to ask.
“What kind of a girl do you like?” I asked.
His eyes widened as both brows lifted. “I mean, in general” I stuttered. He smirked.
“Well I don't know Bianca, it varies”
“It depends on how much I'm willing to give to her and how much she's willing to accept it. And I will do the same. It hurts when you give all that you can afford to give, but it's not appreciated. I don't like being a passed down gift; you buy something and you don't like it so give it someone else. I want to be liked and loved from the beginning till the end, you know appreciated with the existence of what I am and what I will be,” his smile then began to fade as he started to be in deep thoughts.
“Thank you,” he said. “For doing this with me, it means a lot. Really,”
“Thank you,” I said back. “For allowing me to do this with you”
The sky was getting brighter as the sun was getting higher up into the sky. The view was getting clearer and the harsh winds were getting calmer. We were silent by then.
“What kind of a boy do you like? In general that is,” Bear asked. I shrugged my shoulders.
“I don't know Bear. Really I don't. My life don't revolve around boys, only the princes inside the storybooks.”
“Ah, the ones with the charming smile, ravishingly good looks, makes all the fair maidens weak to their knees. You're into those I see, not like the white trash sitting next to you” he looked away. I nudged him.
“Probably someone like you, to be honest, you're the only boy I've gotten close with. I appreciate it. I like you Bear, I feel obligated to do new things with you. You make me feel alive Bear and I can't thank you enough.”
Bear looked at me, his eyes widened for the second time. “I like you too Polar Bear,” he said. Weirdly, I felt it. The distance between us was just a hair apart. His heartbeat was racing but the expression on his face was calmer than what was going on inside his chest.
“Aren't you hungry?” I asked. I was famish, I couldn't recall what I ate last night. Actually, I ate nothing at the party. I've been fasting for hours now.
Bear exhaled. He looked down and lifted his shirt, I could see the scar from the stitches of the night. He patted his stomach.
He got up and extended one hand. “Let's go and have burgers,”
“In the early mornings?” I tilted my head.
“Why not?” he grinned. I took hold of his hand.
And it was odd. I could still feel it. I felt the rapid beating from his chest to the palm of his hands. Bear pulled me up and took the jacket off my shoulders. He started to walk as he lead the way back to the car.
“Bear,” I said.
He stopped his pace and turned around. “Yeah?”
“Fries too?” I was embarrassed.
He chuckled as he looked down to the ground and then back up.
“One thing for sure, I love it when a girl eats. Sure, burgers and fries. A big cup of juice for you and we'll share it,”
“How about coffee instead?” I said.
“Oh, being young and wild I assume?”
“Like I said, you make me want to try new things” I shrugged.
Fifteen minutes later, we found a diner that wasn't pretty empty as it was 8 in morning. Ten minutes later, a lady in her mid-fortys gave a look of remorse as she placed two sets of double beef burgers with cheesy fries on the side in front of us. She then came later with a big hot cup of coffee and the pungent smell cut through all my nose hairs.
Bear lifted a brow, “You can always order your juice and give this back” he said. I took the cup and cupped it tightly as I lifted it to my nose to smell the fresh brew. I looked at Bear who was gazing at me. He hasn't touched his burger yet nor the fries. I lowered the cup to my mouth and placed the rim in between my lips. I slowly tilted the steaming brew and carefully took a cautious amount of sips. I let it glide around my mouth and then finally swallow it. I placed it down.
“So, how is it?”
I pushed the cup towards him. He picked it up and took a sip. He placed it down and stared back at me. Then he looked away towards to one of the ladies that worked here. He lifted his hand.
“Can we have one big cup of orange juice please; actually, make it two”.