Yellow daylight made the green grass glow in Central Park. A slight breeze hit Jen's face as she lay sprawled out on the lawn. Her tight black t-shirt rode up, revealing a small portion of her stomach. A small red duffle sat next to her on the grass along with a pair of expensive sandals. Her pedicured toes raked through the lush turf. It was an abnormally warm fall day. Jen's short jean skirt fell in the middle of her thighs. The sun illuminated her salon-tanned skin as she reveled in the busy quiet that surrounded her. Her eyes were shut and she fell into a light half-sleep.
A tall boy let out an ironic chuckle as he saw the figure in the grass, and stopped walking on the concrete path that went through the park. In his mind, he debated whether or not to go over to her.
Jen jumped as she felt a foot push against her side lightly. "Jesus Drue..." She pushed her sunglasses up on her head, "Are you stalking me or something?"
Drue laughed and squatted next to her. "Hardly. I was just taking a walk and happened to come across you. Thought I'd disturb you, ya know, just for the fun of seeing you become all hot and bothered."
"Bothered, yes." She retorted, "Hot, never around you." A sideways smirk grew on her face.
"Ooooh..." He chuckled, "That hurts," Drue put a hand to his heart, "Right here."
"Good." Jen raised her eyebrows at him, "Because that's where it was supposed to hurt."
Drue laughed a little again. "So what are you doing laying in the middle of Central Park all by yourself?"
"Just relaxing," She leaned back on her hands, "It's gorgeous out today. I thought I'd take advantage of the weather. Before we know it it's going to be cold and all sorts of nasty."
"That's true." He sat down next to her. "There's nothing like New York City on a bleak and gray day."
"Or on a magnificently sunny day either. Sometimes it's nice to just sit here and watch all the people...because even as your life is standing still for those moments, there's still so much going on around you. People have places to go, things to do, people to see. It really makes you wonder." Jen's eyes were focused on a couple walking hand in hand in the distance.
"Wonder what?" Drue inquired, looking at the side of her face.
"Wonder what all of these people are doing. If you sit and watch long enough all sorts of questions come to mind. You start to think about why we're here and what the purpose of it all is."
"Jenny I don't think I've ever seen the philosophical side of you before." He smirked.
"Well enjoy it while you can," She replied sardonically, "It doesn't like going out to play."
There was a silence between the two of them. They both thought of the same thing: how crazy they were about each other. She wouldn't mention it though and neither would he. He couldn't know, Jen thought. There was no way he was going to give his feelings away, Drue decided. Simultaneously, they let out a breath of thoughtful air.
Their heads immediately shot around towards one another, greeting each other with a smile.
"What?" Drue asked.
"That was really weird." Jen replied. "What were you thinking about?"
"Nothing really. Just contemplating your musings." He fabricated quickly.
"Oh." She nodded. "Me too. I mean, I was contemplating my own musings." They both laughed.
"So what's on your agenda for this lovely Sunday?" Drue asked, keeping the conversation going.
"A grueling two hour work out with my devilish personal trainer. My mom is such a bitch about that. I have to go six days a week, one or two hours a day. She couldn't have her daughter being fat, now could she?" Jen rolled her eyes.
"Hey it's paid off." He grinned as his eyes scanned her body.
"Yeah but sometimes I just want to sit on my ass all day and eat ten Mr. Frostee's."
Drue laughed. "That sounds...great. Sickening, but great."
"I'm lucky if I can have one every three weeks. Oh well." Jen shrugged. "The poor little rich girl routine is even annoying me, and I'm the one conducting it."
"Why don't you just stop going?"
"Cause Daddy pays five thousand dollars a year for gym membership and another ten for my lovely trainer. He makes more then that in a day but of course still complains about it. Selfish bastard."
"My parents pay the same. It's insane." He pushed some hair away from his face in the wind.
"Not so much the price but the way they make such a big deal about it."
"Yeah that's it."
Jen glanced at Drue. "Ya know maybe you should go more often, flatten out that chub of yours." She poked his virtually fat-less stomach playfully.
"Maybe you should eat those Mr. Frostee's, put some meat on your bones."
"Why so you can make fun of me?"
"And so you can give all of those guys something to hold onto. How anyone can manage to have sex with you is beyond me. You'd think they were going to break you." He smirked.
"Want me to prove you wrong?" She raised her eyebrows.
"Jennifer Lindley did you just offer to have sex with me?" He questioned.
"What?" She realized what she had said. "No!"
"You wanted to prove me wrong. Sounded like a sex offer to me. Do you take cash, check, or plastic for your services?"
"Fuck you." Jen rolled her eyes.
"Gladly." Drue winked at her.
"Oh my G-d shut up." She pushed him down onto the ground.
Drue fell with a soft thud and let out a laugh. "So when should we do this?" He questioned.
"Do what?" Jen forgot for a moment.
"Um how about never?"
"What!? Come on you can't do this to me."
"Because it's not fair. Every other guy gets a taste of you. And what do I get? Nothing. I'm the one who used to chase you around the Hamptons when we were two years old. Your old buddy Drue. Remember him? The one you used to take baths with?"
Jen laughed. "Vaguely."
"Aw come on Jenny. I've already seen you naked." He joked.
"Sorry Drue. That's not happening again."
"Damn." He snapped his fingers and shook his head. "At least I tried."
"I think I'll give that one an...8.5." She smiled.
"8.5? That was so worth at least a nine."
Jen rolled her eyes. "Yeah, whatever you say." Drue grinned widely at her. Jen lay down next to Drue, turning her head to face him. "So you and Laura, huh?" She questioned.
"How'd you hear about that?" He replied.
"She called me, told me all the rather gruesome details."
Drue sat up now. "Really? What'd she say?" He became curious.
"More than I wanted to know I can tell you that much."
Drue laughed a little. "I bet it turned you on." He smirked.
"Oh yeah, that's it. I was so turned on as Laura gave me a play by play recount of your little rendezvous." She rolled her eyes and sat up next to him. Truthfully, as Laura explained everything that had happened she didn't feel jealous but rather sad. It wasn't only that Jen wanted to be the one with him, but it was also that she didn't want Laura to be the one with him. It wasn't even a matter of sex, really. It was a matter of general affection and attention. She wanted his attention; she loved it, and if he was devoting himself to someone else, that attention couldn't be hers.
"Come on you know you want me." Drue joked.
"I do not." She stated.
"Yes you do." He looked at her deeply, moving his face towards hers.
"No I don't." She laughed as she watched him.
"Yes you do." He repeated huskily. "You want me so much you can hardly contain yourself." Drue stared into her eyes.
"Right you keep telling yourself that." She laughed nervously, diverting her eyes from his.
"You mean to tell me that I don't have you totally smitten?" He wrapped an arm around her stomach, inching closer and closer. Drue was just joking around with Jen because he knew there was no chance in hell she really wanted him.
Jen would continue to play his game. If she didn't he might figure out the truth. "Yup."
"How," he began to lay her down on the grass slowly, "is that humanly possible?"
"Maybe because Drue Valentine isn't human?" She shot at him with a twinkle in her eye.
"Oh now you're gonna get it Lindley." Drue began to tickle her furiously.
Jen squirmed and laughed in pain. "Stop!" He didn't. Jen escaped out of his grasp, turning over quickly and pinning him to the ground. She smirked at him from above.
"Don't think you're going to win that easily." He turned her over on to the ground again.
"Don't think I'm going to give up."
They continued to wrestle like that for a minute or two. Tired and out of breath, Drue landed on top of her finally. They both panted slightly, their chests rising and falling at the same rapid speed. All of a sudden Drue leaned in and kissed her furiously, sticking his tongue down her throat.
Jen pushed Drue off of her with a force that sent him falling backwards with a large thud. "Drue that was so not cool!" She shrieked, gagging playfully.
In light of their previous conversation, the kiss didn't give anything away. It had no meaning, even to him. But that didn't mean he didn't want to really kiss her. If he was going to kiss her it wouldn't be like that, he thought. It would be sweet, slow, and passionate. Drue let out a long laugh as he still lay on the ground. "Sorry, I just had to do it. The moment was so right." He continued to laugh.
"That was sick. I need to brush my teeth a million times, then get a new toothbrush." She joked. "Can't you ever contain yourself?"
Drue pondered that for a moment. "Umm...no."
She laughed. "Oh God I should have known that with out even having to ask..." Jen smiled at him. She knew that the kiss was playful and that it meant nothing, but feeling just that made her long for a real, emotion driven kiss from Drue even more. A silence suddenly came between the unrequited lovers. The only sound was their rhythmic breathing. Jen broke the stinging hush. "Can I ask you something, seriously?" She questioned.
Drue's expression turned sincere, his eyes curious and caring. He scooted closer to Jen on the grass.
"Am I really...messed up? I mean, do I need help?" She asked seriously.
Drue shrugged. "I think we all do. We're all pretty messed up."
"But me, specifically."
"I think you need some confidence, that's what I think."
"I have confidence." She defied him.
"Right, when you've got four beers packed away."
"What is that supposed to mean?" Her eyes tightened.
"It means just that. The day to day Jen Lindley is not the girl who dances and parties shamelessly in front of tons of people. You're only confident when you're drunk." Drue told her sternly.
She turned her face away from his, thought for a moment, then looked back. "Maybe I like it that way...maybe I enjoy the way it feels."
"You mean you enjoy being two different people?"
"Who are you to talk about being two different people Mr. I'm A- Jerk-To-You-then-Put-You-In-Your-Bed-At-Night? You have two faces sometimes and it's so sickening."
"Why are you trying to turn this into a fight about me? We're talking about you here."
"Fine." She gave in.
"You asked me what you thought. I was just telling you the truth. Sorry if it offended you."
"It did not offend me..." Jen stated clearly.
Drue let out a sigh. "You know, despite all the times I have been a jerk to you, I do care, Lindley. You may not believe me but it's the truth."
Jen brought her eyes up to his. They locked. "I know." She blinked.
Drue nodded and looked to his side. "Now that we got that out of the way..."
"Hey." She grabbed his arm, forcing Drue's eyes back in her direction, "Thanks for that."
A small, satisfied smile grew on Drue's face. He nodded slightly, acknowledging her long overdue thanks. The tension disintegrated quickly.
"Sometimes I feel so..." She groped for the right word, "so desperate. I receive no love or affection at home so I have to find it elsewhere. You know...in sex, alcohol, and drugs. They make me happy and give me the love and affection I need...for a few moments. Then I'm thrown back into the reality of that big, cold house filled with nothing but material possessions and two self-centered aristocrats who make the place feel even chillier. So I go straight for the things that warm me up. You do the same. You know exactly how I feel."
Drue was surprised at her confession, but he was glad to be hearing all of it. "I do..." He nodded slowly. "That I will admit. But sometimes you have to take a step back and realize what you do have. We have a hell of a lot more than so many people."
"Yes but I'd give it up in a second just to feel some happiness." She said back. "Material things are just that, material. They can't tuck you in at night or show you any sort of affection. Having something can make a person happy but can't make a person feel happiness. Happiness can only come from other people, from what other people give to you. It comes from their emotions and feelings, and not from the bracelet dangling on my wrist or the bag hanging from my shoulder." She sighed, "I don't know...sometimes I just wish..." She trailed off.
"You wish?" He questioned at her silence.
"I don't know. I just want something different."
"A different life."
"A different everything!" Jen turned her face to his quickly, her golden and now straight locks whipping around with the motion of her head.
Drue paused as they looked into each other's eyes for a moment. He began speaking slowly, softly, but firmly at the same time. "Did it ever occur to you that maybe you don't have to wish for a different everything? That maybe it's all in your power, and that you can change it if you want to so badly?"
Jen's face dropped in annoyance. "That's such bull Drue, you know that. How can I change the fact that my parents make me do all sorts of things I don't want to just so their social status can remain pristine? How can I change what I haven't even chosen for myself?"
"Okay maybe you can't change those things, but you can change others. You don't have to live the life you do. If you hate it so much you don't have to party, drink, do drugs and sleep around. The only one who's making you do that is yourself, Jen! And if you want something different so badly, then it's also you who can create that difference." He told her with pleading confidence. "You are worth so much more than what you put yourself through. Your potential overwhelms and your beauty, inside and out, can shine so much brighter if you just let yourself make this difference. If you give yourself power over your own life, if you don't let your parents and your addictions hold you back, you can have that everything you're craving. Whatever...it may be." He slowed on his last few words as he realized not only all the words he had just said to Jen were not only for her, but also for himself.
Tears brimmed in her eyes and she swallowed the lump in her throat. He was so right. As Drue told her how much potential she had and how beautiful she was with a caring desperation in his eyes, Jen could feel herself falling, falling fast and hard for none other but Drue Valentine. "But...but..." She sniffled and wiped a falling tear quickly, "but how do I do that?" She asked, her eyes still stuck on his.
Drue swallowed. He too felt like he was moments away from tears. Right then Drue just wanted to embrace her, to hold her and tell her that he loved her. "You have to be strong." He whispered, their eyes never straying.
Jen's throat grew tight and she shook her head. "I don't know if I can do that, Drue." Her voice was uneasy. "I don't know..."
"You have to know." He pleaded. "And you CAN do that. You can be strong. You WILL be strong. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, and maybe not next week..." Drue lifted her chin gently with his hand in order to look into her eyes, "but it will happen. You'll be strong, Jen. I promise."
A tear filled laugh escaped her mouth and she lowered her head onto Drue's shoulder for a second, and lifted it up, smiling. "Where in the world did that just come from?" She wiped a tear away.
Drue shrugged and chuckled. "I don't know."
"Well wherever it came from, thank you." Their eyes met yet again.
Drue wanted to kiss her at that moment, and for about a second he actually considered doing it.
She wanted him to kiss her. She wanted to kiss him. With all he just said to her one would think he didn't only think of her as a friend. As his eyes diverted from hers though, she got a sense that he did consider her 'just a friend'. "So will you one day." Jen said after a short silence.
Drue looked to her, questioning. "Huh?"
"One day..." Her voice was soft, "one day we'll both be strong."
Drue blinked and nodded ever so slightly, a small toothless smile grew on his face. Again, their eyes locked. They seemed to be mesmerized by the contrast of the hazel and vivid blue. They told each other secrets with out speaking. So many secrets except, of course, the one both wanted to hear.
Jen snapped out of their stare suddenly. "Oh God what time is it?" She stood up quickly, sliding her feet into the sandals on the grass.
"Um...3:45," Drue glanced at his watch then stood up next to her as she picked up her duffel and slung it over her shoulder. "You have to go?"
"Yeah..." She said, slowing down.
"Oh, ok." He nodded, disappointed.
"I'll...call you later." Jen hesitated.
"Sounds good to me." He tried to regain a normal tone.
"Okay then." There was an unfamiliar uneasiness in their goodbye. Maybe it was because neither wanted to say it. Jen began to turn from Drue slowly, but they kept their eyes on each other until her back was finally facing him. She took in a deep breath as she began to walk towards the West Side, letting the air out with a slow sadness. He had told her that she would be strong. Jen wondered how he knew this and why he thought this. What did he see in her that she could not see inside of herself? Then yet again she was asking herself why he could not see just a little bit more, and why he could not see the part of her that he could fall in love with. For a second she thought that maybe he was doing the same as her, hiding his true feelings. She shook her head, dismissing the thought quickly. Suddenly she wished she were strong like Drue said she would be, because that way she could actually reveal her longing, so that her pining would no longer be pining, but something else. Maybe even mutual admiration. Again she shook her head. It was wishful thinking, Jen knew.
The sun shone brightly on the side of her face and she pulled her sunglasses down over her eyes. It was warm but the air smelled of autumn and the changing colors of the leaves. Each year she watched the leaves go through a transformation, changing from green to fiery orange, blood red or yellow like the sun, then to brown, and she watched them fall softly to the ground, blanketing the paths and the fields of the park. It was so natural, the way the leaves changed. It was so easy. She was envious of the leaves and the way they could transform so effortlessly. She wanted to be like a leaf, so she could become strong without a thought. But were the leaves really strong? Jen wondered. They fell to the ground, eventually. But at least they had the power to change. Change to something, even though in the end their fate was to drift to the streets of the city, they could revel in the brightness of their colors for days or weeks. If she could be strong, even for one day, she would revel in it, and her true colors would be bold and bright. She could not find this strength though. Maybe it existed within herself, like Drue said, but maybe she needed a push to make her find it. Something...or...someone...Drue; it hit her suddenly. Her strength could come from Drue. Now only if she could find the power to tell him how she felt. It was suddenly a no win situation. But Jen would never reveal her feelings to him. They would stay pent up inside of her until they slowly faded away, as a little girl's dream of being a princess is gradually replaced with the harsh dilemmas of adolescence.
Drue watched her go and let out a tragic sigh. He pictured himself running up to her, spinning her around, and before she could ask him what he was doing, he'd kiss her with so much passion and emotion she would be knocked off of her feet. There was no way he could do that though, because as he visualized himself kissing her he also saw himself being forcefully pushed down onto the hard concrete path. He thought about what she had said. "One day, we'll both be strong." They both would be strong, he knew. As Drue saw Jen stop on the horizon line and peer back at him, he was sure that neither of them would ever forget the conversation they had that day. It would never be discussed again, but it would remain close to their hearts. And as they walked in separate directions, they both knew that ultimately, their strength would come from each other.