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By TwoFlower

Chapter 1

This story, in keeping with the site, is hopefully about true love and finding it without knowing it. There may be sex scenes, but that is not the overall intention, so I ask that if that is what you are looking for, you look elsewhere. Having begun on a journey with the main characters in my minds eye, I hope now to share the story as it unfolds for me. All comments are welcome, as I am eager to know what others think of the work. Enjoy!

"... and I will call him Squishy!". You ever get the feeling that the cute, cuddly characters in movies inevitably have something to hide? I know I do. No person (or in this case fish talking to non-responding tiny blue-bottle) can be so innocent. Her violent blue colouring is annoying me anyway, so I shed the headphones and decide to try and get some sleep. Why is it that the in flight movies are either for kiddies (case in point - bloody Finding Nemo), or sad attempts at comedy? This is a "family tradition" - basically, something my parents do, but can't think of a reasonable excuse for dragging me along - traveling for endless hours to the crowded city of Los Angeles. We go for two weeks every summer holiday, and I sit bored out of my skull in a dingy hotel room watching re-runs of bad movies on TV. Fun, I know.

I guess my life is good. My parents sit comfortably above the average in the money department. Not so rich as to be elitist, but better than your average Joe. I have enough friends to be comfortable. I don't want people buzzing round me the whole time. I'm strange that way. I could be a friend to the whole world, but I choose only to be around certain people. I have enough friends to be happy, and that suits me just fine. Maybe that makes me elitist. I don't know and frankly don't care - ah, well maybe I do. I've cocooned myself into this way of life, and who ever said change was good? Ok, a lot of famous people did, but I don't believe it. I won't believe it. I suppose it just feels good to vent sometimes since I get dragged everywhere with my parents; and generally don't want to go. Don't get me wrong, I love my parents and they love me, but it wouldn't kill them to leave me be once in a while.

Perhaps I'm being unfair though. I am going through that rocky hormonal time when I'm madly, eye-poppingly angry one minute, and pathetically sobbing sorry the next. I'm a horney thirteen year old, who has answers to all the world's problems. What does that mean anyway? I get told it a lot. I figure people just think I'm extremely arrogant. I hope not. I try to be modest, really I do. Sometimes though, I'm right and whoever happens to be arguing with me is just plain wrong. Why can't they see that? Anyway, back to the story. I never can sleep on plane flights, so I now spend about half an hour fighting stubbornly, trying to force myself to sleep. Yeah, I know, perhaps not the best strategy. I then pull out a book, and half-read for the rest of the flight. It's like going through the seventh circle of hell, flying is. I can't do anything because I can't concentrate, and I can't sleep. Oh well, what choice do I have?

The flight is uneventful. Go figure. We arrive in LA at the ungodly hour of 3 am. My parents decide to buy their way out of my wrath by taking me out to breakfast at the airport. Or Supprest - if brunch is the meal between breakfast and lunch, I call the meal between supper and breakfast 'supprest'. It looks like suppress and rest, so I make a point of mentioning this fact to the professionals attempting to buy my acceptance. Grrr. Oh alright, enough whining; I'll clamber down from my soapbox. How would you like to up at 3 in the morning for no other reason than being dragged against your will to a place you don't want to be and ordered with Germanic precision to "have fun"? Okok. Enough now. My parents aren't that bad. By the standard of the day, they're both really cool. All my friends call my dad "dad", and always come to him when they have a problem. Being wide-eyed and innocent as I am, I don't often take note of just how lucky I am to have a dad who I could talk to about anything. And I mean anything.

After the breakfast, and seventeen or so cups of really strong coffee, we get a taxi to take us to the hotel. We have been coming here so long that I know exactly which room we stay in. Yeah, the hotel gives us the same room every time. Either that means they really like us and are giving us their best because we're good customers, or they despise us and always give us the crappy room. I'll never know 'cause I never seen any of the other rooms, have I? At least I get my own room with a TV. Otherwise I would have written to China by now to suggest that this "holiday" be listed with other horrendous tortures they have there. I dump my meager possessions into various draws and cabinets, flop down on the bed and begin what I have perfected into an art-from. Channel hopping. I suppose that's why I hate these holidays so much. For all my claims at being independent, and limiting my circle of friends because I don't want people crowding me, I hate being alone. As an only child, the only contact with people my age is through school and friends (which, incidentally, I made at school). Every year, my family makes this stupid pilgrimage; I am bored out of my mind and lonely as hell.

After about half an hour of joyous channel hopping, I decide to catch some much needed shut-eye. That, and the fact that Finding Nemo was showing on every stupid movie channel, sends me quickly into a peaceful slumber, where I start to dream:

Cogito ergo sum . . . cogito ergo sum. I AM, dammit. Stop playing games with my emotions. I hate this corridor with the endless choice of nondescript doors. Every time I open one, I just end up in some other corridor, with and endless choice of nondescript doors. I feel so claustrophobic here. I begin to run, furiously throwing doors open.

Running . . . running . . .mark . . . running . . . mark . . . running . . . running . . . Mark . . . running . . .

"MARK! Wake up you silly lummox. Your mom and I are going to explore the town. We'll be gone for most of the day. Are you OK? You're sweating."

"Yeah dad. It's just hot in here. I guess I should just take off my clothes and wander around naked. It could be a form of protest." I grin at my dad. We like to joke around. Fun chatter we got going. I think it's really awesome.

"You do that. Just make sure you don't leave the room. I aint gonna bail you out of jail for indecent exposure. Big waste of holiday money." He rubs his thumb and first finger together, giving me a meaningful look.

"Where are you going? You both know L.A. so well, you could navigate blindfolded in a thunderstorm with a rabid dog tied to your ankle."

"Well aren't we a smartarse today. Never you mind where we are going. Just behave ok? You can go wherever you want as long as you stay in the hotel grounds." And with that they leave. Some offer, that. There's nothing to do here and no-one to talk to. Yeah, the dream. Long story. Maybe some other time. I have the day to myself. Yay. Yippee. Horay. I'm so ecstatic. Whatever will I do with myself. Well, anything has to be better than sitting here feeling sorry for myself. I strip off all my clothes and go to the bathroom to relieve myself (nownow - don't get any ideas). There's a full length mirror in the bathroom, and it's into this that I stare.

How do I know if I'm good looking? I've never really thought about it before, but now that I stand starkers in front of mirror, it would be nice to know where on the scale of incredibly ugly to dashingly hansom I am. Little me and my messy mass of short light brown hair, staring with light hazel eyes, and listening to the sounds of the hotel at 8 in the morning with smallish ears. I sortof have a pimple problem - fine, a really big pimple problem. I hate the word zit. It is so degrading. Sounds like a snail took a dump on my face if I have "zits". I have a medical problem with "pimples". I'm skinny if anything, and all I can tell you about the crowning glory is that it is small. I look down and give it a flick. The little balls bounce around. What will Mark junior and the boys eventually achieve or ruin for me? I know I'll find out some day. I badly need to get a tan. Everybody tells me that I look like the son of Dracula, I'm so pale * sigh *. So much for self esteem. I lazily pull on a swimming costume - the shorts type, not a speedo - and proceed to apply copious amounts of sun cream to all exposed areas; this is to prevent an enraged flailing from my mother later today. All set. Off to the pool to lounge around.

However, in a shining moment of rebellion, I decide . . . not to wear a hat. ahHA mother figure. Deal with that one, cause no hat for me today. I wander down to the front desk, and ask for a towel. The snooty clerk notes the loss, and reluctantly hands over the towel. What, do I look like a hardened criminal or something? I hate it that everyone treats kids like underlings. He need not worry. I've no intention of purloining his precious towel. Being the holiday season, very few people are awake at this time, so when I get to the pool I have it pretty much to myself. I dip my toe into the water and squeal like an old lady. Not that it's very cold, I'm just not what you might call a manly man. I spend the next half hour submerging myself in the actually-not-so-cold water, grumbling about it being colder than Antarctica. I then wander up and down the length of the pool a few times. Swimming alone really sucks. At home, me and my buddies have all these games we play in the pool. It's just no fun by yourself.

Feeling the protest from my peanuts and pencil, I emerge from the water and choose a spot in the sun to vegetate for the next couple of hours. A few people are now gathering by the pool. Nothing of interest, as usual. Some pre-school kiddies are playing around in the splash pool, while their parents watch without interest. A couple old enough to be my grandparents are sitting by the bar, assumedly ordering breakfast. Outside the walls of the hotel, the sounds of the city float gently over me. This holiday is looking like it is going to be a riveting rolercoaster ride of a fun blow out. * sigh *. I flop face down on my towel, and let my mind wander. I don't fall asleep, but drift into a distant daydream. Images of my younger existence form before me, as I remember that horrible day:

I'm standing in the middle of the playground. Alone. All the other kids are playing in groups. I stand on the fluffy grass all by my lonesome because, well, I actually don't know why no-one wants to be my friend. Being all of seven years old, not having a friend in the world really upsets me. I plop unceremoniously onto my rear, and look despondently around. Everyone seems to be having fun, and enjoying friendship. That's the way of the world: when you are depressed about something, all you can see is others enjoying it.

Why does no-one want to be my friend? I really wish I knew. I wasn't weird or anything. Just introverted. It might have something to do with the time I wet myself after getting a real tongue lashing from the principle. You can't be seen around the kid who wets his pants. You're a'gonner on the playground even if you say hello to him.

I lie on my back and squint up at the sky. I've always loved that blue colour. Found it comforting. Maybe one day I will rule the playground like Freddy Berkowitz. Everybody likes Freddy. What he says, goes. This awesome power, all after he told the teacher to shut up. Oh, he was severely punished for that. He still has to write lines, and he couldn't walk properly for a week after his mother's spanking, but I guess when you are young, small things like being rude to an old crone matter. They make you famous. Perhaps I should be all rebellious so that I too can be famous. Skipping class? No, I'm just too much of a goodie goodie. Little wetty markie would never do anything naughty. He is the teacher's pet. And, in an ironic twist, is also friendless.

Great. Here come the cool kids to bother me. Led by the infamous Freddy, they being the chanting "wetty markie, wetty markie" and throwing little stones at me . . .

"You ok there?" how to place the accent? I suppose you might say it is American, but that would conjure the wrong idea. Definitely not your New York high pitched nasal, and most definitely not the Texas drawl. It was a relaxed, soft, almost British tone, ringing with boyish youth. Precise. Interesting - there are rarely such creatures at this hotel. "Hoy" I get poked in the ribs, "you alive? Need mouth to mouth or something?" followed by a cheeky little giggle. I can't help but grunt a laugh aswell.

"I'm just feeling sorry for myself. Don't mind me." Without even opening my eyes, I assume that he has left. You know,the whole closed circle of friends thing. No such luck. Another poke in the ribs, but this time hard enough to bring me to a sitting position and fling my eyes open.

"On a day like this? Why, not even I have the energy to be depressed. I'm stuck here for three weeks with nothing to do and yet I choose to enjoy the beautiful day. How about that. Get your head out your arse and join me in feeling good." lilts the voice. I sit looking at this poke-monster for a second or so, before bursting into a fit of uncontrollable laughter. When I have finished rolling around and have calmed down, I take the time to get a proper look at him. But first I notice is that he is staring at me. What, is there something hanging from my nose? I got something between my teeth? This is what I picked up from my inspection. He has flaming red hair, short and neat. Green eyes, flecked with blue here and there. Everything I am not in other areas (that I can see). Well built, muscular upper body, and shapely legs with the beginning smattering of red hair. He must work out. Honey brown tan.

"I'm Mark, but if you are feeling unkind or generally malicious, you could call me wetty marky. Don't ask, it's a long and embarrassing story" Ok, so sue me. I decided to go out on a limb and try to be nice. Well, yes, it was a rather sad attempt, but what do you expect? I had got it into my head to feel sorry for myself. Part of my strategy is also to see if he can convince his brain cells to work together by seeing if he knows what malicious means.

"Trenton." And he extends his hand, which I obligingly shake. "I hate the name. Sounds like a piece of industrial machinery. 'I'm here to buy a Trenton for my buisiness'." That gets a another laugh out of me, and he grins like a chimpanzee. No luck with my plan. Either he just doesn't comment, or he doesn't know.

Something clicked in me then and there though. It's not often that people can make me laugh. I guess I see myself above the rest in the brains department, so it takes quite a wit to get a chortle out of me. This guy seems nice, so at least I should give him a chance to get to know me. It might even make this holiday bearable if I have someone my own age to talk to.

"So Trenton, is this your first time here? I ain't seen you here before. And I come here every bloody year." This gets another of his inane grins.

"My family and I [how posh - perhaps he is trying to impress me] always go to some hotel. Usually in Canada, but this year my parents decided that they wanted to see LA."

"I take it you don't get much of a say in the matter. That makes two of us. I hate this place. One would think I'd be used to it by now, but every year it just gets more boring." We have something in common. Yay!

"I know. With only a little brother to keep me company, it gets kindof monotonous. You got any siblings?"

"Nope. At least you got someone to talk to and annoy when you get bored." We both grin at this.

"Well, parents and brother are exploring the fantasy world otherwise known as uber rich Hollywood. Shall we find something interesting to do; that is unless you are wanted back in your room." I snort.

"Yeah, well, even if my parents were not exploring LA for the umpteenth time, I would not wish to return to that chamber of deathly-nothing to do." He giggles lightly.

"Come - I have a chess board in my room. Lets go get it. We can come back and play here if you like."

Against all hope, this holiday was looking like it might actually be ok. Perhaps I might even make a new friend, but if it all went to pot, at least I would be entertained for the next couple of hours.

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