GLEN OAKS, Chapter 1

Here’s a sneak peek of what I have been working on for the past 2 years. Glen Oaks is NOW available in eBook format through the Amazon Kindle, the Barnes & Noble Nook, the Sony Reader, the iPhone and the iPad through iBooks (Search for Glen Oaks through the application).


CHAPTER 1

KIDS NIGHT

            I entered Glen Oaks Swim and Tennis Club, apprehensive to what my first working shift, as a lifeguard, would entail. I took a deep breath and quickly made my way through the parking lot toward the front gate. The sun was scorching on my body, so I wiped some sweat off from my face, cursing the hour I spent putting on makeup and straightening my strawberry blonde hair. It would all go to waste in 30 minutes with the typical 100-degree Sacramento weather in June. Hesitantly, I pulled my hair into a ponytail, trying to relieve the heat and minimize the summer glow I certainly was not hoping for: being drenched in sweat.

As I entered the battered, run down gate, a small sense of comfort came slightly into my mind. Glen Oaks had not changed since I had swum here as a little kid. The member-owned club was still as basic and beautiful as it had always been. The grass still showed miniscule spots of brown patches where the never-fully-working-sprinklers could not grasp to reach, along with reduced patches of grass where dirt triumphed from the scorching California weather. My peripheral view of the “big pool,” where most of the members resided, slowly increased as I passed the tattered “GLEN OAKS SEA LIONS” drawing that had cracked and faded since it was first painted 5 years ago.

Suddenly, my body tensed. With each step, my initial shyness and nervousness increased, overwhelming my body. Ironically, this stress only caused me to walk faster to what I had been dreading all day: entering the snack bar. This was where all my staff members would be, getting ready to start the crazy shift of “Kids Night.”

The Glen Oaks Lifeguard Staff consisted of a group of friends who had formed bonds stronger than a family, a family full of strangers to me, a family that I was not a part of. Well, minus my relation to Emilie, my older sister, who was working her fourth and final year at Glen Oaks.

Taking a deep breath, I opened the door. Well, more like tried, but the ancient entrance to the snack bar apparently needed some oil or other strong apparatus to unjam the door. I decided this apparatus could be my butt, so as I turned the handle, I thrusted my body into the door and finally, it swung open unwillingly.

“You’ll get used to it,” laughed a girl with curly brown hair, as she passed quickly through the doorway and into the crowd of unknown faces.

There were at least 10 teenagers uncomfortably crowded in the snack bar, each one trying to maneuver around the limited space. All were laughing, recounting stories in multiple small groups, and unintentionally making me feel that I could possibly fit in better on Mars than this workplace.

“Hey Lexie, did you just get here? Did you clock in?” From behind, my sister had just walked into the confined place. “Here, let me show you.”

She slid her way through the crowds as everyone awkwardly and unhelpfully tried to get out of the way. Chaos emerged in this cramped room. Since there wasn’t that much room in the confined area, moving to make space for one person inversely caused the person to get in the way of another.

“Basically grab a timecard, write your name on it, insert it in this slot and push the black button.”

Before I could respond, Emilie had already turned away and started talking to a guy with tan skin and sun kissed brown hair. He was pretty cute actually, in more of a dorky, lovable way.

“Lexie Marzen?”

I turned around, to see two blonde girls that I immediately recognized.

“Hi! I thought it was you! Are you excited to work this summer?” Sam Blakely smiled, her light blue eyes sparkling as she invited me into the conversation.

“Yeah, I guess.” I replied. I secretly wished I had something else to say to this friendly girl who I hadn’t seen in 4 years, someway to continue the conversation. However, the blonde girl next to her immediately asked another question, but this time, I was greeted with brown eyes of skepticism.

“You just finished your sophomore year, right?” If it wasn’t for her judgmental glare and unintentional degrading tone, I might have forgotten how much I hated her when we were younger. Yet, all the jealousy and hatred returned in the pounce of a heartbeat. It was just like Allie Puente to point out how I differed from everyone and how she fit in perfectly here at Glen Oaks.

“Yeah, I’m a junior now.” I responded, trying to conceal my irritation.

“We need someone to lifeguard the small pool! Landon! Start the barbeque!” Josefin had just walked in, another recognizable face. She was Emilie’s best friend and ironically the complete opposite of my sister too. Emilie was tan, like me, with honey, highlighted hair. Josefin had dark brunette hair and ghostly white skin. While Emilie had a bulkier, athletic body, Josefin was a lanky, barbed wired model. Emilie enjoyed sports, generic music and preppy things. Josefin was more artsy, interested in alternative music and very liberal.

As the boy talking to Emilie turned around, I noted that he must be Landon.

“Okaaaayyy, Josefin,” Landon said, laughing to Emilie, not moving an inch.

Josefin did not seem satisfied with the response of her fellow colleagues, “SMALL POOL! LIFEGUARD! Landon! Ryan is out there manning the barbeque by himself!”

Landon laughed harder, “Well, I guess it is time I started perfecting my cooking skills for my future five star restaurant anyways,” and then he left the snack bar, chuckling.

Curious, and relieved, I figured I should take this welcoming opportunity to leave the party of awkward conversations that were soon to continue my way.

“I’ll lifeguard,” I told Josefin, and sprinted to the door.

Leaving the snack bar, I quickly reached for a whistle and lifeguard buoy, and headed outside.  Kids were running around, screaming, splashing water everywhere and laughing, basically being crazy miniature savages in the big pool. I looked at the two lifeguards chatting by the pool and recognized the chestnut haired girl, Taylor Meadows, another swimmer from my youth. She seemed at ease and relaxed as she talked to the curly brunette next to her. Both girls strategically sat in white plastic chairs next to the old, battered lifeguard stand with red paint chipped off of it. Watching them giggle and smile, I sadly continued walking, wondering if everybody felt that this job was just a social gathering, and when I would finally receive an invitation to the event. However, before I could deliberate how long it would take for me to actually become friends and end my days as the pariah, I came into view of the barbeque area by the small pool and lost all my thoughts. My jaw dropped open and I stood still, as if completely star struck.

With the sun beaming on his perfectly bronzed, sculpted body, Ryan Mitchell looked like Apollo, a sun god. His thick, blonde hair was uncontrollably sticking up all over the place, creating a natural style that any male hairstylist could only dream about attaining through the usage of many hair products. His white lifeguard tank top displayed his lean, chiseled muscles on his arms. I could only picture what underneath the t-shirt could possibly look like, yet I knew my imagination would not do enough justice. As I stood there wondering how tall he could be, possibly 6’2, his baby blue eyes suddenly looked up at me.

“Heeeeyyyy girl!!” Ryan yelled, smiling.

Not thinking it was possible for my body to be any warmer in the scorching heat, I frustratingly felt my cheeks warm up and dreaded how crimson they were coloring to.

“Hey to you, too,” I replied, naturally being drawnmagnetically toward him. There was a pause as I stepped closer. To quickly cover up my humiliation and prevent another awkward conversational pause, I casually added, “Having fun barbecuing?”

Having fun barbecuing? Really Lexie?

“I would be having more fun if you were here helping me, honey.” Ryan commented with a flirtatious grin.

Shit. The crimson shade just got stronger.

“Haha,” I uncomfortably laughed, “Well, I hate to disappoint you, but I have to lifeguard the baby pool. So, um, I’ll see you later.”

“Next time then.” Still smiling, Ryan added a wink before I turned away.

Walking away, I almost hyperventilated. It was one thing for Ryan to have Michael Phelp’s model body, but did he have to be so confident and verbally flawless? I had never been so stiff around boys; actually, I usually prided myself with this ability to possess a natural control over them. I never had been in the reversed role. That was definitely a surprising first. I guess if he played that sport too, I would just have to step up my game. I could do that, I thought, I’ll just simply batter my eyelashes over my turquoise eyes, flaunt my perfect set of milky teeth, show off my golden shimmering tan too… it would be easy.

Once I got settled into the white plastic chair, I realized there were only a measly 2 kids in the pool. Since they were easily standing 2 feet above the water, there was a miniscule chance they would ever drown. Boredom spread over my body and my mind began to wander, something I actually had not desired this job to let me do. This job was supposed to be a distraction. Having such time to think and nothing to consume my attention, I started unsurfacing thoughts I had not been planning to think about this summer, at all. Hesitantly, images of my mom entered in my mind. The conversation that ruined my blissful joy, a happiness that I had never wanted to give up, until that day appeared in my mind. I shook my head and immediately tried to think of something else.

Throughout my first two years of high school, although able to hypnotize any boy with my dazzling flare, I also secretly played the depressing, pathetic character who desperately loved her best friend; the best friend who never thought twice about their friendship being anything more. It was a constant battle between enjoying the ease of two counterparts fitting harmoniously together, with the horrifying idea that it could never be me who he wanted to be crazy about. There was another battle simultaneously occurring with him leading me on, getting my hopes up, and then instantly being crushed by his boulder. As I thought about my best friend Justin, well, ex-best friend Justin… I forced myself to stop.

I looked over to Ryan at the barbeque and realized that Landon was there too. Was he there earlier? I guess I hadn’t noticed him, but he hadn’t said anything to me either…

As if reading my mind, Landon turned and stared at me. My entire focus, of course, went back to the unentertaining pool, now with only one kid present.

My thoughts wandered again, back to when I went to one of Justin’s swim meets. He had just finished swimming the 100 free and ran over to greet me. His eyes were electric blue and as he smiled, dripping water everywhere, I could barely notice his goofy, ecstatic smile, but instead, the beauty of his sky blue eyes piercing me, like always. Getting closer in range, he shook his wet hair like a shaggy dog and then rapidly attacked me with a hug. Before I could even object, I was instantaneously drenched with pool water, from being pressed against his rock hard, swimmer body. I pushed him back, teasing him with my flirtatious anger and yelling, “I hate you!” repeatedly. Yet, like always, I could never pretend to be mad at Justin for long, even when I was actually furious. He knew this too, so when I finally yelled a measly “Look at me!” followed by a giggle, he just started laughing and attacked me again.

I jumped out of my flashback and my thoughts came back into the present with a shiver. These ghostly shadows would never come back to life and I knew that I needed to stop thinking about Justin. It never helped my painful feelings when I thought about him. I knew I couldn’t be with him, as much as I wanted to. Along with Justin’s exultation came a day that broke the innocence in my youth, a harrowing day that changed my life. I wanted to forget the nightmare that haunted me everyday, but since one event always reminded me of the other, I unwillingly had to give up the pure euphoria that Justin brought me everyday for the best 2 weeks of my life.

“… Lexie?”

I turned to see Sam, her smile beaming with kindness.

“I’m making the order for the barbeque, would you like something?”

“Um yeah, could I have a cheeseburger?”

“Of course! Thanks!” Sam turned and walked toward the barbeque, writing down my last order on her green piece of paper.

I looked over at the barbeque where Sam was handing the list to Ryan. Allie was over there too. Apparently, they were arguing about something, Allie shoved him while laughing. I wondered if they were dating. They were always paired up when we were little, because he was the fastest boy and she was the fastest girl on the swim team. Many of the coaches would joke about “Ryan and Allie” and how cute they were together, how they were best friends and how they would ultimately end up dating each other when older.

However, then he made another snide comment, something about “not being qualified enough for the job,” and she walked away pissed, yelling, “I hate you! I’ll just do it myself Ryan! Geez! ” Hmm, maybe their friendly competitive sides as children continued to their teenage years.

Then, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed two boys walking from the front entrance. Matt Riley and his sidekick, Nate Nathanson, had entered Glen Oaks with all their tennis gear.

“Matt! Hi!” I jumped up from my seat, ran over and hugged him.

“Heeeey, I didn’t know you were working here!” Matt exuberated.

“Of course. Are you guys rallying tonight?”

“No, actually, playing a match. Well, more like I’m going to be winning a match,” Matt laughed, emphasizing the word “win” and then jokingly punched Nate.

He was probably just trying to show off, but from his comment, I knew that I was in control of the conversation; this was the normal response from boys that I was used to. My confidence sparkled from my eyes.

A little nervous, he added sincerely, “I’m glad that you work here now, maybe we can hang out … or something… sometime.”

“Yeah, maybe.” I flirtatiously smiled, inviting him to fall under my spell. “Well, have fun and let me know the outcome.” Cut the conversation off early and always leave them wanting more.

“Will do.” He walked away, Nate trailing behind him.

I had never actually seen Matt Riley in person. Yes, we had briefly talked to each other on the phone before, and I knew of him, but we had never talked in person. His eyes were a deep, dark chestnut brown, a mix of mahogany and caramel. His hair was long, shaggy, and brunette. His tanned, olive skin complemented these features by highlighting the beauty of his rich brown palette that was consistent throughout his body. He was tall and scrawny, but not in a bad way, because I could see his muscular arms. Apparently sleeveless t-shirts were in fashion today. It was just the right amount of muscle and immediately I noted that he wasn’t just a gaunt stick. Truthfully, I concluded, the complete look makes him look like a European meets Brazilian model.

Although Matt was my age, 16, he was also one of Emilie’s best friends. That’s how I knew him. Their friendship was based mostly on their shared love for the game of tennis and since it was basically both of their lives, obviously they would get along wonderfully.

I reviewed this first encounter that had just occurred in my mind and was surprised at how easy it seemed to converse with him. Also, I shockingly noticed, that I usually don’t impulsively hug people when first meeting them, but with Matt, the deed just seemed normal, like a typical routine. I noticed, amazed, that the pauses throughout our conversation weren’t awkward, but just came naturally, as if acting like a pause that connected two harmonious chords together. Matt seemed like a very laid back, sincere person. I could definitely picture him being the type of boyfriend who would honestly care about someone, and whose motive wasn’t just to get into a girl’s pants. Someone whose sweetness could be overwhelming in a sensational way, like a éclair. I smiled, gazing down at the tennis court where Matt was rallying with Nate. Matt had already broken a sweat and after winning the point with a volley, he took off his shirt and my jaw opened again.

What was with these boys at Glen Oaks? Acting like a family my ass, I was more excited about the numerous dates I could go on this year! I looked over at the barbeque to see Ryan glimmering in the sunlight, the shadows from the sun defining the outlines of his unbelievable muscles. Then I turned back to Matt, playing an intense match, sweating, shirtless, so whenever he swung at the racquet his eight-pack came into view, accompanied by all the muscles in his body surfacing along with it.

“… HELLLOOO crazy kids!” Josefin’s “announcer” voice loudly hit the loudspeaker. “It’s time to get out of the pool, finish eating your dinner and head down hill for some fun!”

Getting up from the poolside chair, I knew it was definitely going to be an interesting summer.

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