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AN: Here we are, the one that started it all. Reposting this is honestly some super nostalgic shit guys, I'm not even gonna lie. I remember being so nervous the first time I submitted it and worrying that no one would like it and it would just affirm the fact that I'm a failed writer. You guys gave me the complete opposite of what I expected and ultimately built me up to be a better writer through your support. I cannot thank you enough for that Lit community.

Now...Happy Reading!


Act I

Cool for the Summer

Chapter 1

Do I Wanna Know? -- June, 1996

"There goes my summer." I muttered.

It was the same thing I had thought a million times over the last two weeks since my parents had broken the news to me. They were going on a second honeymoon--a cruise that would take up most of the three months of summer. At first, I was ecstatic. Three months all to me. I could stay up late, sleep in later and do whatever I felt like during the day. Then they told me the nasty bit about shipping me down to California for the duration of their trip and that ecstasy I had built up in my head instantly deflated.

I tried to argue with them about their decision. I had just turned eighteen after all, plenty old enough to take care of myself without a constant babysitter. In the end though, they wouldn't be swayed. Not trusting me to stay home all summer without completely destroying the house--or whatever other nonsense they believed.

I sighed again and pressed my head against the cold glass of the taxi window as it sped me off to my aunt from the airport. I'm sure most kids my age would think I was nuts, but I was dreading this visit more than anything. I would rather be exploring the forest than hanging out on a beach and I would take the sticks over the city any day.

My aunt Tanya was leaning against the red brick of her home as I pulled up, ankles and arms crossed as she surveyed the traffic. I smirked at the sight of her, at least my folks sent me off to the cool side of the family. That was a plus if nothing else.

"Hey kiddo!" Tanya greeted with enthusiasm, and scooped me up in a big hug as soon as I got out of the cab.

"Hi." I choked out through her tight embrace. When she finally released me I had to push my glasses back up the bridge of my nose. The intensity of her excitement to see me had knocked them askew.

Tanya handed the cabbie a few bills and rounded to the back of the car. "Let me help you with your bags." She said and scooped them out of the trunk before I could get a chance to lift anything out.

"Uh, thanks." I muttered and rubbed my neck before following her into the house.

Aunt Tanya dumped my luggage off into the living room and huffed out a big sigh. Stretching her back she uttered a chuckle and admitted, "Not as spry as I used to be."

"I could have helped you know." I shrugged.

"Don't worry about it." She said and waved me off, "So are you excited to be down here?"

"Uh." I began, not knowing exactly what to say at first. I had always been blunt and direct though, so there was no hiding how I really felt--if it was only to spare her feelings. "It's not how I planned to spend this summer."

Tanya didn't get upset like I expected her to, instead she nodded solemnly, "I understand completely, but I promise we'll make the most out of your time here. There are some great kids your age that live down the block, I'm sure you'll fit in and make some friends in no time."

That was the last thing I wanted. I had friends back home. I didn't want to meet some people that would just be occupying their vacant spot for three months. Still, I put on a smile for my aunt.

"That would be great." I lied smoothly, "Do you mind if I put these in my room and just settle in?"

"Sure thing let me show you where it is." Tanya agreed and started grabbing my bags again, I made sure to jump in and take two of them before she completely loaded herself up this time.

After Tanya showed me the room I thanked her for the help and sat down on the edge of the bed. She got the message and left me alone to my thoughts. I looked around at my foreign surroundings with some glum and laid back.

"There goes my summer." I said again and sighed.


"I have to take off for just a few hours, but there's food in the fridge and cable TV so I'm sure you can occupy yourself." Tanya explained getting into her car.

"I'll be fine." I shrugged, my hands dug deep into my pockets.

"I'm sure you will be." She smiled at me and then looked past my shoulder, before calling out, "Hey Alex!"

I turned around to get a glance at whoever Tanya was talking to and raised my eyebrows in surprise. It was a tall girl in short shorts and a loose tank top. She was riding a skateboard and zipping down the hill at a daredevil pace. A flat billed cap was jammed down crooked on her head and wild locks of her brunette mane whipped behind her in the wind.

Hearing my aunt's call, the girl looked over and raised a hand. She turned her heels and flung her hips out to make the board abruptly stop its descent to turn sharply towards us. At about a foot away she jumped off and brought her heel down on the tail end hard, the board jumped up and she caught it nimbly with one hand.

"What's happening Ms. D?" the stranger greeted, her voice full of cool confidence.

"Nothin' much." Tanya replied, "Have to head to the hospital for a quick shift."

"The Man always needs something right?" The girl laughed and nodded in my direction, "Who's your friend?"

"Niece, actually." Tanya corrected her.

"I'm Marley." I butted in, and held my hand out.

She shook it and offered me a wide toothy grin, "Alex. Nice to meet you."

"Marley just got into town today. If you have some time on your hands maybe you could show her around the neighborhood." Tanya suggested. She had started the car and was ready to leave at any moment.

"Of course, I can give her some Cali hospitality." Alex assured my aunt with a wink of her hazel eye and motioned for me to follow her. I shrugged and gave Tanya a good bye wave before following Alex down the sidewalk.

"Things are mostly chill down here. Not a bunch to do, but that's cool if you got some good friends." Alex told me, "Bobby Beats, Pockets and Jessie Stones are some of the coolest dudes you'll ever meet. I'll have to introduce you while you're here."

"I really hope that those are nicknames." I muttered to myself.

Alex laughed lightly, "Definitely, we all have nicknames down here."

I was enjoying this simple conversation as the sun began to set, the warm rays felt good on my skin. "So what do they call you?"

"Sunshine." Alex replied, "Everyone just calls me Sunny though."

"Why's that?" I chuckled. It was a bit ironic, given my previous thought.

"Who knows? Maybe it's because of my shining personality." Alex shrugged and flashed me another megawatt grin. "So what are you doing in Cali anyways? It's not my business, but I'm curious."

I had forgotten for a moment that I was here and not home, and that got me upset again. I sighed, "My parents took a second honeymoon and sent me down here for the summer."

"No better place to be in the summer." Alex said.

I'm sure she thought that I would agree with her, but I just kind of grumbled instead. "That's a matter of opinion."

"What do you mean? Don't you like playing in the ocean and hanging out in the sun?" Alex asked, actually stopping her forward movement to look at me like I was crazy.

"Yeah I guess. It's just not, like, ideal to me though. And sand. Uck." I acted out a motion of disgust at my general dislike of the beach.

"Well, I'm convinced I can change your opinion by the end of the summer." Alex said.

"I severely doubt that." I told her with a chuckle.

Alex waggled a finger in my direction. "Don't underestimate me, I love a good challenge."

"This should be a challenge all right." I told her honestly.

Alex put a finger to her chin, "Me and the gang are having a party this Friday on the beach, why don't you come down and hang out with us? I'm sure a little revelry will lighten your opinion some."

I shrugged "Guess that's a start." I noticed then that we had made a full circuit, and were back in front of my aunt's house.

"Gotta start somewhere, right?" Alex chuckled. Somehow, this tickled her funny bone. "Well, I would hang out longer but I gotta be somewhere before it gets dark."

"Oh." I said, trying not to sound as disappointed as I was about losing her company.

"But I'll be back in a couple of days to pick you up for the party." Alex did a little groove with her hips and grinned wider.

"Cool." I giggled and looked at the ground, "Thank you by the way. I really didn't want to come out here, but maybe you're right. It could be fun."

"I'm sure you'll have a good time." Alex told me, her voice more sincere now. "This place has a way of growing on you."

"Hope you're right." I said and raised a hand to see her off.

Alex took one last look at me and dropped her board on the ground. With equal parts grace and agility, she hopped on and pushed off the ground with one foot. In no time at all she was flying down the road once more. I watched the way that she swerved in and out of downhill traffic, her shoulders back in a lazy stance, her feet switching position to tell the board where to go next.

It was amazing.

Getting to hang out with someone as cool as Alex was a good trade off for this horrible trip at least. Her friends were probably as cool as her too. Maybe I hadn't opened myself up enough to the thought of this experience in order to actually enjoy it.

This could be a good summer after all.


Tanya didn't get back until midnight. I didn't mind really. I liked being by myself and night time was the best for me anyways. It was easier to think for some reason.

"Sorry I'm so late, ended up covering half of another guy's shift." She said, her voice sounding much more exhausted than her face gave away.

I put down the pocket notebook I had been furiously scribbling in a moment before and offered a friendly smile, "No problem."

"Whatcha doing?" Tanya asked, lifting her chin towards my notebook.

"Finishing the short story I started on the flight over."

Tanya scratched her chin. "I didn't know you were a writer."

I shrugged, "It's not a big deal. Mostly just to pass the time. Mom thinks I should try to get published though."

"I would listen to her, if anyone would know about that it's your mother." I had a hard time discerning if that was a jab at mom or an authentic compliment. She would know, being an English professor and such, but then again my mom thought she knew everything. "I don't know if you ate or not, but I brought pizza."

I sat up with more enthusiasm now. "I could eat."

"Can always count on a teenager to be hungry, right?" Tanya said with a laugh and motioned for me to join her at the kitchen table. She put a plate in front of me with three hearty slices of pepperoni pizza and my mouth began to water. I didn't need an invite to dig into the cheesy goodness.

"So did Alex show you around?" Tanya asked.

"Yeah, I suppose. We really just walked around the block and talked about stuff." I wiped sauce off my face with the back of my hand and suddenly realized that I was being a little cold with my consistently vague answers. "She invited me to a party in a couple of days down on the beach. I guess there are some people she wants to introduce me to."

Tanya nodded as she chewed on a piece of the pizza, after swallowing she answered, "Pockets and the guy's right? That should be fun."

"How do you know all of these kids?" I asked with a raised brow.

"I babysat most of them when they were younger, guess they still think I'm cool after all these years." She chuckled, "That was before all of the crazy nicknames of course. Bobby B was just Robert at one time and Alex--excuse me, Sunny--was just Alexandria."

I couldn't for a moment picture Alex going by Alexandria just in the short amount of time I spent with her. It was way too floral for someone as laid back and cool as Alex was.

"Yeah, what's with the names?" I didn't want to offend Alex earlier by asking, but maybe Tanya had an idea.

"Who knows? Some kid thing I guess." Tanya shrugged, "So are you planning on going?"

I wanted to say yes right away, but that was because I wanted to see Alex again for some reason. In reality, I hadn't actually thought about whether I wanted to go to this party or not. There were a million things that could go wrong. At the same time however I considered my thoughts about not opening myself up to the experience of this trip.

"Yeah I guess. Parties aren't really my thing, but your right, it could be fun." I said after a moment's consideration.

"That's a good attitude to take." Tanya agreed and took another slice from the box.

"Can I ask you something Aunt Tanya?"

Tanya smiled in an open way that told me I could ask her anything. "Sure."

"I haven't seen you in years, why did my parents send me to stay with you out of the blue like this?" It wasn't something I had dwelled on, but after being here for the day I began to wonder.

Tanya looked down with the utmost concentration written on her face, as if she were searching for just the right words. "I regret not spending more time with you as you grew up. Hanging out with all these teens has actually made me wish that I would have settled down and had kids." She uttered a humorless laugh and then looked at me. "I have a niece though and I know nothing about her. I guess I was hoping that we could try and reconnect this summer."

"I hope we can too." I said quietly, suddenly feeling like an asshole for all my negative feelings about this trip. "Thanks for having me out here."

Tanya smiled and turned the pizza box towards me. "Want the last slice?"


By Friday I was actually feeling really settled in. There was an easy going vibe, especially in Tanya's house, which was completely unheard of around my parents. Everyone--and everything--felt so much cooler down here. It was the perfect environment for writing.

Since I had got here, my hands had been moving a million miles a minute to get all of the crazy tales that went on in my imagination down on paper. For the first time I seriously thought about throwing together a portfolio. I was starting to wonder if my mom was right about getting published after all.

I felt like I had so much to get out right now, and whether it was the environment or the freedom, it was all trying to get out at once. All I knew was that I was on a roll. The only problem was that my hands were starting to seriously protest their constant use.

I had woke up with a great story about dragons that I couldn't wait to get cracking on, but my wrist was feeling sore and stiff so I decided not to at first. Halfway through the day and I still couldn't get a comfortable motion going for writing so I sat on the couch and glumly stared at my notebook. I willed my thoughts to stay ironed into my brain until I could get them down on to paper.

"What's got you so down?" Tanya asked on her way out the door, she was already in her pale blue work scrubs.

"My wrist hurts." I told her, my voice as flat as I felt in that moment.

"That's right!" Tanya said and left without a word.

I stared at the spot she was standing in just a moment before with pure confusion on my face. I had no idea how my wrist hurting could remind her of anything. Sometimes Aunt Tanya was really strange. It was times like this that made me wonder if it were actually possible for her to be related to my stick in the mud dad.

Tanya came back a minute later with a brown box in her hands and held it out to me. I was wary to take it. I wasn't too fond of random gifts.

"It's for you." Tanya urged, "Think of it like a really belated birthday present."

With one more uneasy glance at my aunt, I finally took the box out of her hands. It was much heavier than I expected and it fell in my lap with a dull thud. Now I was even more nervous about opening this. I couldn't stall her all day though, and finally I tore back the flaps to see what was inside.

My breath caught in my throat, and I pulled the contents of the box out and set it on the table in front of me. It was an old Royal typewriter, one from the twenties or thirties probably. I had always wanted an old school type writer like this. I knew everyone else was starting to move on to PCs and word processors, but I was still fond of the old timey purity of a good typewriter.

After a moment I stuttered out a response, "I don't know what to say."

"You can start with thank you." Tanya offered.

"Thank you." I said, more than enthusiastically.

Tanya beamed, "I'm glad you like it. Hopefully now you won't get carpal tunnel. At least not as quickly." She managed a quick laugh and checked her watch. "I really got to be heading out though. Have fun tonight, don't do anything too stupid."

"I won't." I muttered, but I wasn't really listening. My hands traveled up the sides of this wonderful ancient machine, still in fine working condition. I didn't even hear my aunt leave I was so caught up in the beautiful old Royal.

It was such a nice day and I couldn't wait to try the type writer out, so I lugged the heavy old thing out front and got comfortable on the stoop. The overhang roof provided enough coverage to keep the sun out of my eyes, but not so much that I couldn't feel the rays on my skin. I sat with the typewriter on my lap, pounding on the keys incessantly as I dug the story out of my brain and forced it onto the page word by word.

I had gotten so far into that zone of creativity that I had stopped hearing everything around me. I didn't feel the warmth on my skin slowly being sucked away, replaced by the slight evening chill. Nothing pulled me out of that fascinating imagination world--until I heard the voice of Alex right next to me.

"You can really go can't you?" She said with a chuckle.

"Huh?" I whipped my head up, my fingers finally stilling. Then I realized who was talking to me and felt tongue tied all of a sudden, "Uh, yeah."

"Please don't tell me that's homework." Alex said, with an appraising look. I noticed she was without the hat today but her attire was pretty much the same besides.

"God no." I rolled my eyes as I tucked a lock of thick auburn hair behind my ear, "I'm writing a story."

"What kind of story?" Alex asked, looking decidedly more curious now.

"The kind that has magic and swords in it." I chuckled. "I do all sorts of stuff though-- thriller, sci-fi, and even the occasional horror tale." I had leaned back on my hands, realizing that my shoulders ached from the stiff position I had held for the last few hours.

"Wow. Can I read something?" Alex seemed interested enough, but I wavered at the thought. I usually didn't let anybody read the things I wrote. Not that I thought they were bad or anything, but they were mine.

"I don't know." I said finally.

Alex pouted, "Aw, that's no fun."

"I'll think about it." I amended quickly, not wanting to disappoint her.

Geez, why do I care?

"Fair enough." Alex said, "So are you ready to head out, the gang is already starting a fire so we should get there soon."

"Yeah, just let me put this monster away." I told her and took the typewriter back in the house.

There was a moment of anxiety I felt when I was out of Alex's presence. Something about her unnerved me, and at the same time she drew me in like a magnet. It was the most peculiar feeling I had ever experienced.

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