“Remember to smile out there, and do well- it’s important to our reputation, especially since this pageant happens to be sponsored by your father’s family,” My mom, Andrea, told me as she examined my cowgirl costume.
I sighed, knowing that I was going to have to go onstage again after I had been promised a break from pageants, and replied, “Of course, Mom. I want to be able to see Dad just as much as you do.”
I felt a sickness in my stomach, not from nerves, but from knowing that I had just told a flat-out lie. I knew that my dad, Malcolm Landgraab, had left my mom after she had gotten pregnant as a teen, and I never wanted to see him again. I had no idea how you could love someone who had done such a terrible thing to you, and I never wanted to find out.
I had never fallen for anyone, my “friends” were the other contestants who were always giving me icy glares, and I couldn’t even trust my mom anymore now that she had broken the one promise that she had made to me just to see some guy who was obviously such a snob that he didn’t care for us one bit. Well, I guess that she had made other, smaller promises that she had broken, but none had mattered to me as much as this one. But all of those broken promises and lies had only coated my heart in layers of frost so hard that I assumed no one would ever be able to break through.
That was the day that I was proven wrong.
The cure for a twisty stomach is to run, and that’s exactly what I did. But as my stomach untwisted and the desert sand flew up behind me, a felt a pain in my heart. Crack. I entered the first building that I saw, which happened to be the drugstore, and grabbed a box containing red hair dye off of the shelf. Crack. I had always wanted red hair, and ignoring the fact that the boy at the register was yelling at me, I kept running until I reached the gas station at the edge of town. Crack. I realized that I looked silly in my cowgirl outfit, so I threw it off to reveal the set of black, gray, and white clothes that I always wore underneath my pageant outfits. Crack. I entered the gas station through the back door and swiped a flannel shirt, white beanie, and pair of scissors from a table. Crack. I went through the door into the store and headed into the woman’s restroom. Crack. Then I took the scissors and cut, then used the hair dye, and finally shoved on the beanie and tied the shirt around my waist. Then all reality came flooding in as the thin layer of ice that had always encompassed my heart began to melt, and I was on the floor, in a ball, crying.
I heard the door squeak open and the footsteps of someone walking in. I didn’t realize that the door squeaked.
“Are- are you okay?” the distinctly feminine voice asked as a hand patted me awkwardly on the back.
“Yeah. I guess. I don’t know,” I replied, scrambling for the right words as the ice continued to melt.
“There’s some police officers out front looking for you- I’ll take you out the back. By the way, I’m Alexia,” she replied as she helped me up.
“Ren- Renee,” I replied, realizing that she could recognize me, and hoping that she would and wouldn’t take me back to my mom at the same time.
I glanced over at a sign as we entered the cool building. “Welcome to Oasis Springs Airport” it read, and I jerked away from Alexia, finding that she let go easily.
“Where are you taking me?” I asked her.
“I’m meeting up with a friend of mine- he’s got three tickets to the city. Don’t worry; we’re like you. We’re all people who don’t fit in where we were placed. But I’ve heard that it’s not that way in the city,” she replied, and I felt better knowing that I wasn’t going to be breaking anymore laws.
“Hey,” a guy about my age said as we entered the waiting area. “I’ve got the tickets- who’s she?”
“Renee,” I replied.
Alexia mumbled something about going to get some coffee and left. I turned back to the guy and noticed that he was suddenly acting shy.
“So… what’s your name?” I asked him, suddenly feeling sweaty.
“You can call me C,” he replied, sitting down on a bench. I sat down next to him, a billion unanswered questions floating around in my head, but all of them getting stuck in my throat.
Suddenly I felt his warm breath in my ear. “You know, you’re one of the prettiest girls I’ve ever seen- the way that you don’t need to dress or act like a girl yet you act so comfortable, it’s so… beautiful,” he whispered.
I gave a huge smile, then realized how genuine it was. Not forced, like my smiles in pageants had always been. But his voice when he complimented me- there was some undertone in it that told me he really meant it, in a different way than people usually did.
Then I noticed how the heat from his body seemed to radiate, making me remember how cold the airport was.
“It’s freezing in here,” I complained, giving off the false sense that I was annoyed.
“Here, let me warm you up a bit,” C replied, holding my hands in his.
Then I became completely self-aware, as if I was looking from a third-person angle while inside my own body.
There were four hands, two from each of us. Soon, we would be boarding a plane, going to the one place where we could truly be ourselves. I knew that I was looking forward to getting to know C better, and that I would never run out of things to learn about him, because people like him leave an infinite legacy.
I felt my eyes grow heavy and realized that I hadn’t slept since early this morning. I laid my head against his shoulder, feeling his heart beat, making the blood move through the arteries that led to his arm. But his blood was playing double duty.
It was making me warm for the first time.
Author’s Note: This story was written for the first monthly short-story contest on the Sims Forums, which can be found here. The theme is “firsts”. Renee’s cowgirl outfit was made by me, and will be available for download sometime tomorrow.