GFD: Children Of Sunset

Children Of Sunset 19

“Nothin’ like the soft crackle of a warm fire to loosen you up, is there?” Colby said, his boyish smirk peeking out from the longer strands of his medium brown hair. I had to will myself to look away from him to keep from staring. It never took much to feel my innards tying themselves up in knots over him again, my head spinning until I was almost too dizzy to stay standing.

“Uh huh...I suppose.” I agreed, guiding my eyes down to my feet to keep from salivating over him as much as I usually do. Instead, I tried to change the issue, nervously clutching my hat with both hands as I held it against my chest. “You was watching me tonight? Just now?” I asked him.

“From afar...maybe. Wasn’t quite sure what you might be thinking about me after...figuring things out. Wasn’t sure whether or not I should go back to the words or not.” He blushed.

“Without saying goodbye?”

“Well...I reckon my word is my word. There was nothing more to it than that.” He peeked up at me, and I peeked back. Pretty much at the same time. I was covered in shivers, but I did what I felt I had to do to hold myself together.

“I wouldn’t have taken any offense...if you came to say goodbye.” I mumbled softly, my fingers still twisting back and forth with that hat. But after a pause, I worked up the breath to say, “I had no cause to be scared of you, Colby. I was a little on edge at first, but...right now? I don’t feel no fear around you at all.”

“I know.”

“I’m serious, alright? I ain’t just saying that...”

Colby put his hand on my shoulder this time, and said more clearly, “...I know, Deke. I can feel it.”

“Ok. Good.” I could hear my voice shaking, but I couldn’t seem to hold it steady. “I needed you to know that. You don’t seem much like a monster to me.”

“Hehehe, good to know.” He grinned. “You don’t seem like much of one to me either.” And after another brief pause, Colby gently caressed the side of my face and leaned in to give me another lingering kiss on my lips, with me trembling from the contact. My eyes closed all on their own, and our tongues had barely touched at all before I found myself lost in him all over again. Wandering aimlessly through the thoughts in my head where nothing else mattered. It sure is wild how two boys can find a connection so pure that the rest of creation melts away without you missing a single second of it. He made a full blown madman out of me.

It wasn’t until I started worrying about whether my daddy might stick his head out to see what I was up to that I realized the danger in my current actions and opened my eyes again to pull away. Not by much, but enough to keep from being found out in case my occupied mind allowed me to lose track of my surroundings. “My pardon...” I said.

But Colby just took a hold of my hand and said, “It’s alright. You’re still just as pretty from here.”

He smiled, and it got me to giggling. “I suppose I’ve gotta be a little scared of something out here, don’t I?”

“Don’t we all?”

I made sure to look him in the eye this time, and I said, “You know...that Priest fella and his boys are still looking for you. Well, all three of y’all, I figure. I wish my daddy could find a quick way to run them out of town and get them out of here before they make much more of a mess of the place. But the thing is...they don’t seem to be in any hurry to go anywhere.”

Colby’s grin stiffened up a little bit. “I suppose we’ll just have to deal with that when the time comes. Until then, it’s best not to make a whole lot of ruckus for now. We’ll lay low for a while...stay out of his way.”

Frowning up a little, I grumbled, “Can’t y’all do something to handle the likes of them. Ain’t you got a touch of magic about you, or whatever it was I saw back there with the coyotes?”

Looking down at the fire as it crackled right next to us. “Maybe. But it’ll just bring more like his kind seeking us out. The more we fight, the more we make ourselves out to be the monsters they want to make everybody believe we are. Once we get to tangling with them on that level...somebody’s bound to get hurt. Maybe even worse.” He told me. “Once that happens...they’ll hunt us to the ends of the Earth. What’s worse is they’ll get everybody in town on their side. We ain’t looking for war, Deke. We don’t want to hurt anybody. We just want to be left alone.”

“So what can you do then?” I asked.

“We’ll find ourselves a few safe spots. Some here. Some there. Ahote knows those woods better than anybody. He’ll know where to go.”

“So...there ain’t nothin’ that I can do to stand with you? Run ‘em off? Get them to leave you alone, maybe?”

“ just let me come out here and catch me a little smooch every now and again, and I should be fine.” He said. “It would help more than you know to have something to look forward to, night after night.”

I was doing my best to think it out, and I said, “You know...I’m sure that my daddy would have more questions than grains of sand out here in the plains...but, on a count of me being so smitten with you, and we don’t get into any of the details of what we been up to as of late...I reckon that I can maybe give you and your friends a place to lay your head for a bit.” The thought of it swept through my mind, and even though I shouldn’t have let my raunchiest thoughts go to such a place...I sure wouldn’t mind laying down to sleep with him every night. Waking up to him every morning. Seemed like it would be a fantasy worth having, even if only in secret.

“That’s sweet of you, Deke...” He said, looking away from me again. “...But...I can’t. Boys like me...we can’t be out in the sunlight.”

“I could shut the windows and all.” I said. “Put an extra blanket up if you need me to...”

“That’s not what I mean. It can’t be any sunlight, you understand. None. Not even through a closed window and a blanket.” He could tell that I was a bit puzzled by what he was telling me, so he went on. “I’m a creature of the night, Deke. And only the night. Forever and always. And once the dawn raises up, I go into a state of rest that don’t end until the sun sets all over again. Do you get what I’m telling you?”

Feeling a bit of despair over hearing it, I nodded. “So...that’s why nobody has ever seen you around town? During the day, I mean.” Colby nodded, and I wasn’t quite sure how to even get involved enough with this situation, much less be of any help to him. “So we’re both stuck, I take it.”

“Afraid so. At least for now.”

“Will you still be able to stay here? Here with me?” I asked, hopefully.

“I’d like to.” He replied. “I would never want to leave you be, Deke. I love you. Can’t say that I’ve ever loved anybody else.”

Sadly, I mumbled, “That don’t much sound like a God’s honest ‘yes’ to me, Colby.”

“It wouldn’t be honest at all if I tried to make it sound that way.”

“So you’re thinking you might have to leave? Just run away and never let me see you again?” I know that I sounded a bit angry when I said it, but it hurt. It really hurt. “Can’t you just tell me that you’ll stay???”

“I can’t do that, Deke...”

“Why NOT?!?!” I sniffled, voice trembling all over again as the thought of having to go back to not feeling right around the rest of the townsfolk ever again washed all over me.

But Colby just worked up all the sympathy that he could, and he once again reached out to hold my hand. “Because my word is my word...and there’s nothing more to it than that.” He said.

Feeling like I wanted to cry, right then and there, all I could do was whisper, “I love you, Colby...”

“I love you too.”

“Can you make me one promise?” I asked. “If something goes wrong...and it turns out that you’ve got to go and be on your way...” I wiped my eyes on the back of my wrist. “...Will you come to me to say goodbye?”

He smiled warmly. “That, I reckon, is a promise I can keep.” Then, I noticed Colby’s head perked up slightly, and he said, “Your daddy’s gonna come looking for you. He’s thinking about it...which means I’ve worn out my welcome.”

I looked back over my shoulder and managed to hear a little bit of stirring in the house. I sure wish I know how Colby was able to do stuff like that. “Ok, I guess.” I pouted.

“You keep yourself safe and pretty now, ya hear me?” He said with a wicked smirk. “I’ll come back when it feels like it’s safe again.”

“Can’t wait.” I said.

“Me neither. You know the signal.” And with that, it was like he stepped away from me and melted back into the shadows...his bright eyes being the last parts of him to disappear as he blew me a goodnight kiss.

I swear, I’m all kinds of crazy for that boy right there!

“Deke? Where you at boy?” Came a voice from behind me.

“Comin’, Daddy. Just taking in the night sky.”

“The night sky will be there tomorrow just like it is tonight. Come on now, put out that fire. You’ve got chores to do in the morning.”

“I’m coming.” I said, and started washing out the light so I could come back in and get to bed. I missed Colby already, and it ain’t been but a minute or two. Imagine if life had to go on without him here.

As I lay back in my bed with the window shades pulled back...a clear vision of the stars, looking so bright it felt like I could just reach out and touch them...I thought about Colby telling me how he wasn’t able to be out in the sunlight. Did he me...ever? Like forever ever? That, alone, seemed like a hard concept for me to grasp. How does he stay in the dark all the time? Not even the woods are that dense so as to stop all of the sunlight from touching down on you. There must be something more to it than that. I don’t know, sounds like some kind of curse...being a ‘creature of the night’ all the time.

Either way, I’ve got enough love spinning around in my heart like a cyclone and I feel like I’m about to burst. I wanted to just close my eyes and go to sleep...but the urge to maybe touch myself a little bit beforehand was a necessary evil at that moment. There was no way that I was gonna do much else outside of tossing and turning until I got rid of some of this excess I’ve got stiffening me up. I’ve been doing it an awful lot lately, with now shame to follow behind it. It was as close as I could get to my beloved right now. I might as well enjoy it.

The next morning I got my belly full and got up to take care of my work for the morning. I sure will be glad when they replace Ms. Samson up at the schoolhouse so I can lay back on some of my chores and leave ‘em for Uncle Buster to sort out on occasion. Although, it’s partly my fault for not getting a decent amount of sleep last night. I swear, kissing Colby was the only thing I could wrap my head around until morning light...followed by the fear that he might be scared off some time soon where I might never get to touch him again. Back and forth, back and forth...I was too mixed up to stay straight at all. Strangest thing.

“Morning Benny, boy.” I said, petting his mane as I made sure to get him a good breakfast too. Sometimes that horse just rest his head over my shoulder to let me know he loved me too, and it made me smile every time.

I finished everything around me without lagging too much, and I saw my daddy making his way into town for the day. So once I got cleaned up, I figured I’d do the same. I’d drive myself mad if I just sat around and thought about my future sweetheart all day. I wasn’t looking for any mischief or anything, just enough of a distraction to keep me sane. The town seemed a little bit busier than normal today. All familiar faces, but just happy to be around other townsfolk, I guess. Maybe they needed a distraction too.

I saw Willie standing on the side of the road...and I know full well he saw me coming his way, but he didn’t say nothin’. Not so much as a smile or a wave from him. If anything, he seemed a bit sour on the inside at that particular moment. “What’s going on, Willie?”

He almost looked like he didn’t want to answer me, shifting himself in the other direction. “I take it you feel up to conversatin’ again, huh? Now that you’ve gotten yourself some sleep.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” I asked.

“Nothing. If you don’t know, I ain’t got no right to tell you, I s’pose.”

“What are you getting at?”

Willie flashed me a fiery look, saying, “You was acting like you was gonna jump on me yesterday. I just wondered if maybe you got it out of your system or not.”

“Are you talking about that piece with Sarah Cutler?” I had all but forgotten about it, to be honest.

“You threatened to knock me flat, Deke...”

“You called me ‘odd’!”

“Well...are you?” He said, and I glared at him until he was forced to look away.

It just hurt having him think of me that way. Then again, maybe I was just a little bit ashamed that he had come a little too close to the truth. Either way, I didn’t want to talk about it. I wasn’t ready yet, and I wasn’t looking forward to ever make that an extra chore during my day. I barely wanna deal with it myself...what makes him think I want to get him all involved in my private issues.

Still...if it ever comes to that, it’s better to have a friend on my side than another enemy. “I apologize for gettin’ all wrinkled up around you Willie. Ok? I shouldn’t have done that.” I said. “I’m just feeling a little out of sorts right now, and that was the last thing I needed on my mind yesterday.”

“I was just ribbin’ ya, Deke. That’s all.”

“Don’t matter. It agitated me just the same.”

Willie was quiet for a moment, and then he patted me on the shoulder. “I’m sorry for suggesting you was odd. Ok? I won’t do it again.”

The toughest part was the fact that he wasn’t wrong...and that I was gonna have to keep up with a handful of lies to keep him close. But what else was I gonna do? Word about stuff like that gets around town pretty quick once it’s out, whether it be a secret or not. So I just nodded, and Willie and I went back to be partners just like before, walking down the main street side by side as though it had never happened. “Street seems awfully crowded today. What’s going on?”

“Nothin’ that I know about. Mean ol’ Mr. Webb seems to have an itch for bothering everybody that comes within range of him..but outside of that, everything seems to be going on like normal, far as I know.”

“I take it that we can count our blessings for that one.” I said.

“Ain’t that the truth. I’m not looking to get into anything that will make it harder to beat the heat today. Lord.” Willie said, and he continued to walk forward until he saw the shadow of somebody standing in front of him. We both looked up, and we saw that foreign boy staring directly at us. That same boy that was riding with Gideon Priest and his crew. Willie stepped to the side. “Pardon.” But the boy stepped back and got in his way again, this time widening his eyes a bit as he made it clear that it was definitely intentional this time. “Something on your mind, boy?” Willie seemed to be getting up on his haunches already. When he tried to pass this time, the boy put his hand on Willie’s chest, causing him to immediately slap it away. “You ain’t got no cause to put your filthy hands on me!”

“Let it go, Willie.” I said. I remember how quick this boy was on his feet. If he started spinning and kicking, Willie and me wouldn’t stand a chance. Even together.

“Well, well...if it ain’t the Sheriff’s kid.” Another voice said from the left of us. Gideon Priest was standing there, halfway done with a fresh cigar and grinning at us with a devil’s grace. “Why don’t come over here and talk to me, Sheriff’s kid? Let me holler at ya for a spell...”