A Bird Fell From It’s Nest

Even with her eyes closed, the world still seemed to tilt and turn. She could feel the saliva in her mouth thinning, her stomach lurching. Inside her mouth there was a foul taste, like she had been eating dirt or something like that.

Lifting her hand, she winced as she felt something pulling at her hand. Opening her eyes, she looked down.

An IV drip.

Looking around the room, she could see Vincent asleep on a chair in the corner of the room and Harrison slumped over the end of the bed by her feet. They were in a hospital room, she realized, her head still foggy.

Kicking gently, she pressed her foot to the side of Harrison’s face. “Harry,” Her throat felt raw as she whispered his name. She kicked again when he didn’t stir.

Eyes open, he bolted upright to look at her. “Spa-”

Lifting her hand lazily to her lips, she put a shaking finger there to shush him. Her head tilted in the direction of Vincent, who was sleeping in the corner.

Harrison nodded, moving to sit next to her on the bed. “I was so worried.” He told her as he gathered her hand up in his own. Raising it to his lips, he kissed it. “It must have been Cheryl.” Anger flashed across his face. “I should have noticed she was holding onto that drink for a little too long.” He hissed, struggling to keep his voice low.

Swallowing hard, Sparrow tapped at her throat.

Scurrying, Harrison quickly and quietly grabbed a cup of ice chips. He held the cup to her lips and waited until she gathered some in her mouth before moving the cup away. He waited patiently for her to chew them, reaching up to push the hair back from her forehead.

“Is Vincent upset?” She asked when her throat was finally loosened up enough to speak.

Harrison didn’t spare a glance behind him to look at his father in the corner. “More worried than anything else. Ready to give Cheryl and her parents a piece of his mind, that’s for sure.”

Tears welled up in her eyes as she looked at Vincent sleeping in the corner and then back to Harrison. “I am sorry I have been so much trouble.”

Shaking his head, Harrison tightened his grip on her hand. “No. No, you weren’t any trouble. I have to tell you though, when I looked out the window and saw you in Stanley’s arms, your head hanging there like that, I almost had a heart attack. Practically threw Cheryl across the room to get out there to you.”

Sparrow couldn’t help but chuckle. “I am sure she was happy for the physical contact.”

“Now that I know she slipped something in your drink, I am kicking myself for not throwing her a little bit harder.” he grit his teeth.

Making room for Harrison next to her, she waited for him to get comfortable so she could rest her face on him. Wrapping her arm around him, she burrowed a little further down on the bed. “I think we can probably cut back on the social events.”

It was a joke, but Harrison didn’t laugh. “I should have known better than to try and spend time with those people.”

“Hey, don’t beat yourself up. You were just trying to find the diamond in the ruff, like I did.”

Harrison laughed lightly at that. He had spent so much time observing the other students at their school, judging them, that sometimes he forgot in so many ways he was just like them. Had he been raised by his mother instead of his father, he would be them. Kissing Sparrow on the top of her head, he held onto her. “I am happy you are okay.”

“I’m just happy you’re always there to catch me when I fall.”

With Sparrow in his arms, he listened to the steady beep of the monitor beside the bed as the sky darkened outside her hospital room window. The fear that had burrowed deep within his chest over the past night was slowly fading away and was being replaced with this happy relief.

Sparrow was okay.

That was all he needed to know to finally breathe again.

And he would always be there, he silently vowed to himself as he felt her fall asleep in his arms, to catch her when she was falling.

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Lights Out At A Party

High School is as much like a movie about High School as it isn’t. The people who go to High School are typically a lot smaller, they have more acne than they have porcelain skin, they looked closer to twelve than they do to twenty, and for every student in the movies that was driving a car, there is a kid counting down the days until they are old enough to get their learner’s permit which only allows them to drive with someone else who has their license.

There are the little cliques. The girls who already have boobs and have less acne than every other teenage girl at school do tend to hang out together. And because they look more eighteen than fourteen, they are the ones the guys who have no backne or fat, and tend to be on all the sports teams typically go for.

Harrison and Sparrow didn’t go to public high school. They went to a private school. At private school, there was a lot less acne, a lot more confidence and arrogance, and there were a lot more teens looking like they were moving into their twenties because of all the Spa Days and minor plastic surgery their rich and obnoxious parents would allow.

One thing that seemed to be the same, on TV and off, was the parties. They were always at the kids house who’s parents seemed to be MIA. They had no substitute supervision, just the parents that were always out of town or on vacation. They magically had an abundance of alcohol, that no one questioned and it was just a bunch of teens who couldn’t handle their alcohol going on in. Asking out people they normally never would, going in for the kiss, dancing like no one was watching.

These parties were normally things both Harrison and Sparrow avoided like the plague. Sparrow hated to go because she hated the judging look all the girls gave her, and the idea that she was someone like her would be grateful to be with any of these trust-fund kids. Harrison also resented the shallow girls who thought they should be an obvious choice for him based on what their parents did or were worth.

Despite how much they hated the weekend parties, they had agreed one night on the couch while watching 10 Things I Hate About You they both agreed they would attend at least one party every month.

Sparrow always got ready slowly, hoping by some miracle that Harrison would take just as long and they would look at the clock and realize they had missed it all together. No matter how long she tried to take, it seemed they always had enough time to go.

Standing in front of the mirror, Sparrow sighed. She was wearing black jeans, red sneakers and a white tank top. Her hair was down, which was a rarity, and hung in crazy loose curls around her face and down her back. She wasn’t wearing any make-up, but she did put in some shinier studs which was also a rarity for her.

Most of the girls there tonight would be wearing mini skirts, eyeshadow, little heels. They were a mess of hormones without the knowledge of how to use them. Sparrow wasn’t trying to rid herself of any pent up energy. She just wanted to get in and get out.

They were both on the bus to the house in Rosedale.

The house was massive, and was surrounded by this thick stone wall that seemed to keep most of the noise in. Most people in a neighbourhood like this would be the kind that would complain about noise, but the party was being thrown by Bentley Wilson, and his parents were somebodies. Their neighbours knew better than to complain about some noise.

They stood at the end of the driveway, looking up. Sparrow’s stomach was in knots. She hated social gatherings, she always felt like she was under a microscope with all these curious eyes trying to figure out just what she was.

Harrison reached out and wrapped his hand around her own before letting out a long sigh. “Into the trenches?”

Sparrow tightened her grip around his hand, adjusting so her fingers weaved through his. “Into the trenches.”

Walking into the house was like walking through a wall of sticky heat. So many people jammed into the entryway, bodies molded together as hot breath was being whispered on the bare skin of someone’s neck. Everywhere you looked you could see someone’s skin. Glimmering thighs, bare arms, exposed cleavage, no matter how barely there is was.

They weaved their way inside, squeezing through groups of people to get to the back of the house. She was hoping to walk right through the back into the yard where she could finally breathe again.

Harrison held onto Sparrow, his hand wrapped around her wrist as she moved through the crowd. Cheryl hooked her finger through the loops of Harrison’s jeans, standing between him and Sparrow. “Harrison King. I didn’t think I would see you here tonight.” She smiled at him, her eyes hungry.

“Cheryl.” He nodded at her, trying to step around her. When she didn’t move, he cleared his throat before pulling Sparrow gently back towards him. “We were just making our way back into the yard.”

She glanced over her shoulder for a moment as Sparrow moved to stand beside him. She scowled for a moment before pasting on the kind of smile Meredith usually gave her. “Sparrow. I didn’t think you would be here.” She said through her teeth.

Wrapping his arm across Sparrow’s chest, he pulled her back against him and smiled at Cheryl. “I tend not to go to things like this without Sparrow. I would be bored out of my mind without her.”

Smiling at him, Cheryl got up on her toes, putting her over developed breasts on display for him. “Most people go to parties to meet new people, Harrison. Get to know someone else a little bit better.”

Pursing his lips in thought for a moment, Harrison shook his head. “I already know everyone who matters.” This was a jab at Cheryl who often flirted with Harrison at these parties but at school made it her mission to make Sparrow’s life difficult.

Cheryl was beautiful, but she was the type of person who was mean for no reason other than she could be. Seeing someone like Sparrow walk the halls of her prestigious private school caused her blood to boil. It watered down the fine blood that went there.

Harrison saw the way she behaved and only stood back because Sparrow told him to, otherwise he would have made an example of her at school long ago. His fear was that one of these days Cheryl was going to get to Sparrow, and she would beg Vincent to send her to a public school. Which he would. He was unable to say no to her when she asked for something, because she very rarely did.

They were Sophomores now. Sparrow could easily be a Junior if she applied herself. It seemed like she did well enough to get straight As but not exceptional enough to be pushed forward a year. If she wanted to, Harrison would kick his ass into gear to keep up with her. She had skipped a grade to be in the same classes with him.

Cheryl flashed them her pearly whites. “You know Sparrow, I heard Stanley Wright say he was looking for you.” She lifted her eyebrows suggestively.

Sparrow wasn’t interested in someone like Stanley Wright. She wasn’t interested at anyone at this party. He was just as conceded as the rest of them, only he was simple and dull. He used his charisma to get what he wanted, never really needing much else.

She doubted he was interested in her at all, but knew if she did go up and chat with him, he would engage her. Keep her busy while Cheryl worked at getting her hooks into Harrison King.

Letting out a low sigh, Sparrow ducked under Harrison’s arm. She looped her fingers through his as she continued to make her way towards the kitchen. If she was going to be helping Harrison bat Cheryl away all night, she was going to need something to drink. Normally she wasn’t a drinker, being underage and always wanting to feel like she had a firm grasp on her mind were the main reasons, although thanks to her parents, there were others.

Harrison followed close behind her, while Cheryl followed close behind him.

There were a few kegs on the floor of the large kitchen, three punch bowls on the counter with pinkish-red unidentified liquid in them, and an assortment of beer and coolers in buckets of ice.

Sparrow didn’t like the idea of having a drink from the open bowls of punch and she wasn’t a huge fan of beer. She would have a cooler, and nurse it until they could go home.

Cheryl came around the massive kitchen island. Grabbing the cooler before Sparrow could, she held it below the counter and hit the lid off the edge. “Allow me.” She smiled. Cheryl held onto the cooler for a moment, leaning over the counter to look more closely at Harrison. “And for you?”

A mix of annoyance and impatience surged through Sparrow. She looked behind Cheryl at the large double glass sliding doors that lead into the massive yard. She just wanted her drink. She wanted to go outside where the air wasn’t so heavy. She wanted to be done with Cheryl and everyone else at this party.

“Stan!” Cheryl waved him over.

Tall, blonde and inching towards behind handsome once puberty was done with him, Stan came up beside Sparrow and Harrison. “Hey guys, are you having a good time?”

Beaming, Cheryl grinned. “I was just telling Sparrow here about how you were looking for her earlier.”

Confusion flickered across his face for a moment before he turned and looked at Sparrow. His eyes roamed over her as though she were something on a menu he was trying to decide on. Finally, he smiled, nodding. “Yes. I have been looking for you Sparrow. Where have you been hiding?”

Taking in a deep breath, she tilted her head back for a moment before looking at Stanley. “Right in plain sight, Stan. Are you sure you’ve been looking for me?”

“Well, I found you now.” He ignored Harrison’s looming presence. Harrison was taller than most of the guys in their grade, larger due to all the martial arts classes he took on the weekends. “Come, talk to me for a bit. It looks like these two want to be left alone.”

In all the years they had spent together, the two of them had learned to speak to one another without words. Reaching behind her, she gently squeezed Harrison’s hand. It would be easier for them to get rid of Cheryl and Stan individually. Sighing, she accepted the cooler Cheryl had been hiding from her before walking out the back door.

As soon as the door closed behind her, Sparrow worked to rid herself of Stan. He was handsy, he was full of himself and he had a hard time realizing there was someone who couldn’t be interested in him.

Sparrow had to practically chug the cooler to keep herself from punching him in his throat.

Tossing the cooler aside, she went to take a step towards him and felt the world tilt. Her stomach lurched as her vision blurred. Stan’s hands moved around her hips to steady her. Sparrow’s hand went up to her head, she clasped her forehead, trying to steady her mind as everything seemed to whirl around inside her skull. “Harry,” Her voice sounded far away, even to her own ears.

Before she could say anything else, her knees buckled under her and she felt herself falling.

 

Batman and Sparrow

Exhaustion made her limps ache and feel infinitely heavy. Each step seemed like a challenge as she pulled her lead feet forward with more effort than she cared to admit.

She had spent most of the morning in the library. After not getting much of a night’s sleep, she had gone from the reading nook, to leaning back on the chair, to sitting on the floor propped up against the wall, to sprawled out on the floor using her sweater as a pillow, to passed out with the book thrown over her face like a heavy curtain, keeping out the rest of the world.

Sparrow had awoke after an hour and half, her body crying out from sleeping on the dirty floor of the library with a book stuck into her lower back. Limping out of the library, all she wanted to do was get back to the apartment, throw herself on her bed and say goodbye to the rest of the day.

Her phone rang when she walked out of the library. Flipping it open, she held it up to her ear. “Where have you been?” Harrison asked her.

Hopping onto the streetcar, she tossed some change into the box at the front by the driver and walked to one of the seats in the back. “I am just leaving the library.”

Laughing in disbelief, Harrison snorted. “Did you plan on reading all the books at the library today?”

Sighing, Sparrow rolled her eyes as she sunk down into her seat. Propping her head against the window, she closed her eyes. Her voice was still thick with sleep, her body refusing to completely wake. “What do you want, Harry?” She moaned.

“Come meet me.”

The word No was already forming on her lips.

“I am at Sick Kids.” He told her.

Sparrow’s eyes were open suddenly. “What are you doing there?” She asked him.

Harrison was the kind of person who always wound up in the oddest places on the weekends. She would get a phone call telling her where to meet him, and she always did, no matter what else she had going on.

Last weekend she had met him at the Ferry Docks. No plan, he had just wanted to ride the Ferry.

“Just come. I have something so fun planned for us!”

She was already standing up on the streetcar, pulling the yellow cord running along the top to signal her stop to the driver. Hopping off, she walked up the street towards the hospital. She had been at the library just down the street, one that was further from their apartment but had a bit of a better selection.

Stopping short in front of the building, Sparrow’s eyes went wide as she looked at the tall guy standing out front in a movie grade Batman suit. He held a phone to his ear and tilted his whole upper body so he could look up at the building he was standing in front.

Laughing, she closed her phone and shoved it in her pocket before stopping to stand beside him. “Harry? What are you doing?”

Unable to turn his head to look at her, he completely turned. Holding up a bright red uniform in front of him, he smiled down at her. “I am not Harry, I am Batman.” He dropped his voice, making it sound raspy and deep. “And I have been waiting for you, Robin. We have work to do.”

Reaching out, Sparrow took the costume he was holding out to her. “Aw man, I have to be Robin?”

Harrison’s facial expressions were impossible for her to see and interpret under the suit he was wearing. She could see the top of his upper lip curl up for a moment as he sighed dramatically. “If you were here on time, maybe you would have been Batman!” he retorted.

Sparrow put her hand on her hip. “I didn’t know I had anywhere to be on time. You told me to meet you here ten minutes ago.”

“They didn’t have this one in your size anyway.” He added.

Rolling her eyes, she walked ahead of him into the building towards the bathroom to get changed. “I am sure for whatever you paid for the actual costume from the movie, you could have found a smaller one for a fraction of the price.” She said under her breath as she held open the door for the bathroom. Pausing to look back at him, she smiled. “But don’t worry. I will be you Robin. You’re going to need a good sidekick.”

She changed quickly, happy she had her backpack to throw all her clothes into. The outfit was snug and fitted. At least he went for the costume that had tights. Sparrow thought to herself. There was no one she would come out of this bathroom in those little green undies.

Pulling her long hair back in a french braid, she put on the mask and left the bathroom.

Harrison let out a low whistle when she came out. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen Robin look so good.” He joked. Reaching out, he held his hand out to her. “Let’s go Robin, we have a lot to do!”

All the exhaustion she had felt in the library completely disappeared as they went down the halls of the hospital visiting all the sick kids who were allowed to have volunteer visitors. They sat with each one, joking around, telling stories. Harrison used the raspy voice the whole time, and Sparrow couldn’t help but smile, wondering if he would complain about a sore throat the next day.

The kids seemed as excited as Harrison was. They would ooh and ahh as seen as they saw him standing in the doorway. He would make a point of learning their names from the nurse before he went in, asking for them by name as he went into the room. The kids would just beam. How did Batman know their name?

After four hours, Harrison and Sparrow were practically being kicked out. Visiting hours were over.

Frowning, Harrison nodded and said he understood making a point to pause and wave into each room as they were leaving.

Standing outside, Sparrow watched as Harrison stood there with his hands on his hips. They were sixteen, but Harrison looked more like a man than a boy at this point. He attempted to tilt his head before turning fully around to look at her. “That was a great day.” He said flatly.

Looking at him, she didn’t have to see his face to know he was going through a mixture of emotion. He was happy and grateful for the way he had decided to spend his time today. It was rewarding, it lit up your heart in a way that nothing else quite could. Right below that really good feeling, was something else.

This despair. Because as good as they felt about all the smiles they had spread tonight, it broke their heart to know there were so many children that were sick.

Walking up to him, Sparrow wrapped her arm around his waist and leaned into him. “Yeah. Great day.” Tilting her head up, she smiled at him. “Ice cream?”

Clearing his throat, Harrison put his hands on his hips. “To the store!”

Sparrow laughed. “We are going into the store like this, Harrison?”

“Who is this Harrison? I am Batman!”

Before she could say anything else, Harrison was running down the street.

Laughing, she lifted her shoulders before she shoved her backpack on under her cape and chased after him.

 

Moments

All that we are can be broken down into single moments.

What we were, what we want to be, what we will become. Moments are the steps towards our dreams; whether we get to grasp them between our tightly clasped fingers or whether we watch them slip away. It’s all in the moments.

Usually the collection of our moments, the ones that shaped and carved us into who were are right now are filed away in the back of our minds. Not forgotten, yet dusty and not really remembered.

Sometimes Sparrow likes to pick through the moments of her life as though she were searching through old boxes in the attic. She like to sort through them, separating them into two piles.

In one pile were all the moments that seemed to sparkle. Moments where she smiles a little too big, laughed a little too loud. Moments where she was taken by surprise in a way that made her heart skip and beat and warmth to spread through her. Moments where she thought this feels a lot like happiness.

Those types of moments were ones she held in her hands a little too long while she sorted through them, like dusty photos found in the boxes that brought her back to a time when her heart was full and her life was promising.

The other pile was full of broken moments. Moments when she was scared, moments when she had cried and felt defeated. Moments that chipped away at the person she was leaving her no choice but to try to rebuild or crumble away into nothing.

Those moments she pushed back into the shadows of her mind, barely glimpsing at them and hoping one day to put them in a box that would be brought down from the attic of her mind and left on the curb where they would be picked up and discarded.

She had spent most of her day walking around Manhattan. More the tourist than she would like to admit, she tried to forget about her troubles; Jake, Harrison, and Rachel, and take in the sights of the city. As she walked, she sorted.

She tried to look for the happiest moments she could find and hold onto them. It made her feel a little less anxious about being here. A little less overwhelmed with the idea of run ins with the people from her past.

Reaching down, she absentmindedly wiped at the front of her faded blue jeans that were ripped at the knees. She tapped the toe of her red sneaker wedges as she paused on a corner and pulled out her cellphone, opening her map app. She wanted to start making her way back to the apartment so she could shower before getting dressed to go out for dinner. Vincent wanted to discuss going away for a weekend. Somewhere they could lie on a beach, being served all day and decompress.

The idea was enticing, but Sparrow wasn’t sure running away was the best answer. She knew he was only offering because he felt guilty about her being caught up in Harrison’s life. Especially when he knew that was why she had been so hesitant about coming to visit in the first place.

Her phone vibrated, pulling her out of her app as Jake’s name came onto the centre of the screen. She hit the ignore button.

Turning, she slammed into someone.

“I’m sorry. I wasn’t looking where I was going. I was distracted and I-“ She pushed away from the broad chest she had collided with to look up at the person she was apologizing to. All her words disappeared as she stared up at Harrison King. “What are the chances?” She sighed, shoving the strap of her purse onto her shoulder.

Harrison looked just as flustered. He was wearing a white Henley shirt with the buttons undone and a worn in pair of blue jeans. Standing there, he looked more like the Harrison from her past than he had since she’d first seen him. “Sorry.” He said.

Sparrow walked around him. “That’s okay.” Her voice was flat as she opened the nearest door to her and walked into the coffee shop. She was hoping he would see her retreat for what it was and continue on his way.

When he followed her in she immediately regretted her decision. Now she was in a small coffee shop with him. Moving to stand in line, she kept her face forward as she busied herself reading the menu.

“I thought you went back to Toronto.” Harrison moved to stand behind her.

She rolled her eyes. “Are you keeping tabs on me?” Annoyance shot through her.

“No. I stopped by your hotel to talk to you and they told me you checked out and headed to the airport.”

Sparrow wondered how much pressing he had to do for them to tell him that. “I did. Now I’m back.”

They stood in silence waiting for the painfully slow line to move. She wished they would just order a coffee and love to the side so she could do the same and run out of here. Here heart was beating so hard in her chest she felt like it may crack a rib. She let out a slow, stray breath, reminding herself to be calm.

“I am sorry about that whole scene in your room the other day.” He said.

Sparrow was surprised by the apology. “When you showed up and your fiancé followed or later when she showed up on her own?”

“Rachel showed up at your hotel room?” Surprise had his raising his voice for a moment before he dropped it back to the casual tone they had been using.

“Yes. She wanted to talk.”

He didn’t say anything, processing silently. It had all seemed like surreal timing to him. He had been hesitant about starting a relationship with Rachel in the first place. His mother had sung her praises and practically printed out a resume for her and after brushing it all off for months, he finally agreed. After dating her for six months, his mother had started planning a wedding and pestering him to start talking marriage… family. He had thought about it every day, wondered if the feelings he had in the pit of his stomach was about Rachel in particular or about the commitment as a whole. Then Sparrow showed up.

If he believed in things like that, he would say it were fate.

The only woman who had ever held onto his heart, was here, in his life once more.

His father would stare daggers through him if he knew he were here, he had just come back from an icy meeting with him. Knew his father’s plans weren’t to push them back together because he told him he wanted them to stay apart.

And Rachel was pestering Sparrow. It’s no wonder she took off, leaving the hotel.

He mentally kicked himself for causing her all this trouble. “Either way, I am sorry.”

His apology was something Sparrow hadn’t expected. She seemed to constantly be caught by surprise. “I don’t know why you are apologizing.”

Moving a step closer to her, he dropped his head so their conversation couldn’t be heard as clearly. “I just told you. I am sorry because-”

Sparrow shook her head. “I know what you are apologizing for. I just don’t know why you are apologizing. The way we left things ten years ago, I was under the impression that was a bridge burnt. Apologizing is something someone would do if they wanted to repair something. We have nothing left to repair…” She turned and looked at him for a moment. “What we had is gone.”

As the last person in front of her walked away with her coffee, she ordered a large black coffee, something easy, so she could be done with this place and quickly make her way back to the apartment. Before she could pay, Harrison stepped forward and put some money in the barista’s hand. She paused to look at him for a few moments, a blushing grin on her face.

Rolling her eyes, Sparrow took the coffee and walked out.

“Sparrow.”

Her legs wanted to jump alive and flee, but instead she stopped to turn and face him.

“I went to see my father today. I had intended to have a conversation with him about a few things, but things between us lately have been… strained.” Pain flashed across his face as he pushed the word out. Clearing his throat, he continued. “I was a bit distracted and didn’t get a chance to discuss what I had sought him out for. My mother is coming.”

Sparrow’s eyes widened. Opening her coffee, she took a large gulp and tried not to wince as the hot fluid slightly burned her tongue. “Meredith is coming here?”

Harrison nodded. “If you could warn him, I don’t want him caught off guard.”

Her brow furrowed. “Really? Based on your actions I would say you love catching people off guard.”

“I deserve that.” He let out a long sigh. “We aren’t kids anymore, Sparrow. I am not a kid anymore.”

“Yeah. Well… neither am I.” And she wouldn’t be so foolish as she was back when they were kids.

No Nest For Harrison

When Sparrow was sixteen she had acne.

She wasn’t a shallow person and wasn’t the type of girl who over obsessed about her looks but when puberty started throwing her hormones into hyper drive and she acne appeared along her hairline and forehead, her self esteem did begin to waver.

Her solution was bangs and no one was ever the wiser.

Except Harrison.

When they were at home, she would pile her hair on the top of her head, clip her bangs back and slather a combination of acne medications on while they sat back and watched TV or did their homework. Every so often, she would reach up and pick at her hairline.

Harrison would often reach out and take her hand. She didn’t even realize she was picking at her face until Harrison had to make her stop. She would smile lightly and continue what she was doing until her mind would go back on auto pilot, and her hands would go up once more.

Later, when the scabs has been picked one too many times and a faint brown scar was left in its place she would let out a dramatic groan and go on a rant about the disfigurement she was enduring all because of puberty. Harrison would laugh and tell her the solution was simple: stop picking at her face.

He couldn’t understand what was so difficult about it.

Walking through his father’s office, he watched as the receptionist’s head turned, her mouth going slack for a moment as she forgot about the call she was on. It had been a while since he had come to his father’s office, and the surprise was evident on her face as he smiled at her and walked through the double wooden doors without pausing.

Now, he understood Sparrow’s struggle.

Over the past ten years she had always been there, in his mind. He had tried to push their memories away, forget about her and move on, but the moment he felt himself relax, his mind brought her right back.

Like he was reaching up absentmindedly and picking at the acne scars along his hairline.

Vincent’s high back brown leather chair was turned away from the door as he spoke on the phone, looking out the window. His voice was light, carefree. It wasn’t his usual business tone. “I was thinking just for the weekend. It could be fun. We can get away from all the stress of late and let the dust settle.” He laughed.
As though sensing Harrison’s presence, he slowly turned his chair around. The humor on his face melted away as he cleared his throat. “Well you think about it and we can further discuss it later. Yes. I have to go now.” He hung up the phone.

It was clear to Harrison that his father had been talking to Sparrow. The smile and look on his face had been reserved only for her… and up until a little while ago, him.

He had gone to her hotel in hopes of talking to her, but the front desk had told him she had checked out and had bought a ticket to Toronto. He figured constantly being bombarded by her past had finally caused her to retreat.

Knowing that caused a battle of emotions to ensue inside him.
Pushing his hands into his pockets, Harrison crossed his father’s large office to stand in front of his desk. “What exactly are you playing at, dad?”

Vincent leaned back in his chair, his eyes roaming over his son. “I don’t know what you mean.”

“Ten years and suddenly Sparrow is back in our lives? Just around the time mom starts pushing for an engagement between Rachel and I… who I can tell you don’t care for.”

Laughing, Vincent’s eyes slightly darkened. Despite the light smile
on his face, Harrison knew there was a pinch of anger under the mask he was wearing. He wondered where it was pointed. Was t because their relationship had widdled down to this? Was it because of the relationship he had with Rachel, one his father had never approved of? Or was it Meredith King and her role in their lives?
Vincent stayed seated, letting the laughter slowly die away.

All Harrison could do was wait.

“It’s evident you’ve even spending an abundance of time with your mother. Look how self involved you’ve become.” Vincent let out a breath, a mixture of disappointment and sadness escaped his chest. “Firstly, Sparrow and I continued our relationship for five years after the two of you fell out of ways. She told me she needed some time away from the Kings and I obliged not realizing how much time she would take. Secondly, I love Sparrow like a daughter and those five years away from her were devastating. I would do anything in my power to get her back in my life, turns out all it really took after all this time was a letter. Thirdly, I knew very little of your relationship with this Rachel woman. You went to spend some time with your mother six months ago and I’ve scarcely heard from you since then. I had of course heard your mother had set you up with and eligible bachelorette and that was really all I needed to know for me to decide this relationship is wrong and can’t be healthy for you. But you are a grown man Harrison, capable of making your own decisions and mistakes. If you wish for Rachel to be one of your mistakes then power to you. I’ve stopped hoping my opinion on this would become of worth to you.”

His father’s sudden alienated, business tone caught Harrison off guard. This was probably the first time in his entire life that his father had spoken to him as though he were someone else… not his son.

The reason for his visit was suddenly erased from his mind as he looked at his father’s harsh gaze.

Their relationship had always been light, it had always been full of love and acceptance. Now, it seemed suddenly harsh and judgmental. The love was still there, it would always be, but he had damaged something between him and his father, he suddenly realized, just as he had between him and Sparrow all those years ago.

“I hadn’t meant to stay in Paris so long.” He regretted the sentence as soon as it came out of his mouth. It as a sorry excuse for him disappearing, for the sudden drop in phone calls and contact between them. “I got… overwhelmed.” He suddenly felt like he was just a little boy again who didn’t know what to do and was waiting for his father’s guidance.

“That tends to happen when you surrender the reigns of your life over to Meredith King.” After all these years, Vincent’s demeanor towards his wife was icy at best. “As I’ve said, you’re your own man, Harrison. You can do as you please.” He paused for a moment. “However, I do think it’s best that whatever you decide, you should keep your distance from Sparrow. If you truly believe she is only here to complicate things in your life, then staying away from her would only help you resume your course. All these unscheduled visits from Rachel and yourself… this wasn’t what I brought her here for. It’s not fair to her.”

Harrison did agree about that. Nodding curtly, he turned and walked towards the door. “Agreed.”

Vincent was left there staring at the door.

Regret coursed through him.

He had been hard on Harrison, something he had never done before. Seeing little pieces of Meredith suddenly mixed in with who Harrison was now had caused an angry ball of rage to rise up in his chest. He had worked so hard to ensure Harrison would become a good man, not the kind of man Meredith wanted him to be. One obsessed with money and worth and little else.

Harrison was thirty years old and if he couldn’t stand against Meredith and her schemes now, he never would. Vincent had to take a step back and give him room to do just that.

We Are Butterflies

Are we not all butterflies?

The question repeated itself over and over and over again in her head. Like the drone of melodic elevator music, something you could hear but your brain refuses to completely pay attention to. The question was there on loop, the only line on a massive record that turned round and round with no end.

When she was a very little girl she had sat in front of the mirror in her bedroom. Her Pyjamas were old and worn a few buttons were missing at the bottom of her top so it didn’t close all the way and the smooth skin of her belly was slightly exposed as she sat there. The bottoms of her pants were frayed slightly at the back from a time when they were too big and had dragged behind her on the floor. Now they were too small, exposing the thin, knobby bones of her ankles when she stood.

Staring at herself, she tried to ignore the sounds of banging and breaking outside her room. It was as though her world outside of this room was crumbling and all she could do was wait until it calmed enough for her to go out and assess the ruin.

Reaching her small hand out, she touched her finger to the glass, tracing the outline of her face. She ignored the wafting scent of whiskey and regret that seemed to always be present in their small townhouse, and tried for a moment to imagine the scent of fresh plants and blooming flowers as she inches along the length of a branch, so high up nothing could touch her.

She was still a caterpillar.

Her parents too, were caterpillars.

That thought had been a comforting embrace to her. If they were still caterpillars, that meant that eventually they would become butterflies. When they were butterflies, they would be better.

As chaos raged outside her room, she climbed into bed and closed her eyes, dreaming of the day they would all become butterflies.

Her childhood was held steady by the promise of a world filled with butterflies.

As a woman, she had abandoned the dream that everyone transformed into this beautiful thing. Leaving what was ugly about them behind in a cocoon as they became all they could be.

Sometimes she still thought of people as caterpillars though.

Meredith was an arrogant caterpillar. She was colourful, and beautiful but she was venomous and refused to believe there was anything better than what she was. Rachel seemed to be the same as her. Jake was also a caterpillar.

If there was someone in her life that she could believe without any doubt was a butterfly, it was Vincent. He seemed to be the best version of himself. He was as beautiful as he could possibly be, she couldn’t imagine growing into something more wonderful.

She only wished she felt like she was even close to becoming a butterfly.

She was twenty-nine years old. She had just broken up with a guy who had been the only serious relationship she had in her life. She had practically fled from Toronto to live in New York so she could spend time with the only person who seemed like they wanted anything to do with her; Vincent King.

Walking through the middle of Central Park, she watched all the people hurry along. Walking over to the grass, she lied down on her back and looked up at the sky, her arm folded under her head.

Closing her eyes for a moment, she let her mind slip away from her, floating up towards the clouds above.

There was a bit of a chill in the air, one that most people would have thought was refreshing after the scorching afternoon they had. The smell of promise floated through the air, it made goosebumps cover her flesh with happy anticipation.

It was going to rain soon.

Sparrow smiled, looking around the grassy field of the school yard. It was just after nine o’clock, so it had been hours since any of the kids that went here were in this school yard. Sitting down on the grass, she leaned back, supporting her weight on her arms as she waited.

“Sparrow.”

Turning to look behind her, she watched as Harrison walked towards her. His stride was slow, his eyes glued to her.

Puberty was changing them both, she noted. Harrison’s shoulders had broadened, his chest had seemed more toned, just like his arms that she could see now coming out of the sleeves of his t-shirt. His thighs seemed to fill out the legs of his slim cut jeans.

Dropping down to sit next to her, he threw his arm over her shoulder and pulled her into him. “Have you been waiting long?”

Leaning into him, she burrowed her cheek into his chest and let out a long sigh. “Not long at all.”

They sat there for a long while in silence, just enjoying one another’s company. Harrison’s body heat seemed to combat the chill in the air. Tilting her head up, she looked up at the greying sky. “It’s going to rain. Do you want to head home?”

Slowly shaking his head, he let out another sigh. “No, let’s stay awhile.”

Meredith was visiting them again. The tension in their apartment was almost unbearable. The forced smiles and division between everyone was beginning to take their toll on them.

Vincent was using himself as a shield to protect Sparrow from Meredith’s talons, Meredith was trying to pull Harrison away from Sparrow and Vincent and Harrison was just trying to keep the peace. The stress was mounting and adding that to the puberty the both of them were already going through made her feel like she was close to pulling her hair out.

“This is nice.” She wrapped her arm around his waist.

Thunder boomed overhead. The sky lit up for a moment before darkening again. Before anything else could be said the sky opened up and thick drops of rain fell down onto them.

Within just a few moments, they were both soaked through.

Laughing, Harrison pulled her to her feet. “I guess we should start heading home.”

On her feet, she held onto his forearms. Looking up at him, she watched as the thick drops of rain soaked through his hair and poured down his face, settling on his chin and the tip of his nose for just a second before raining off his face.

Reaching up, she wiped at his face. She couldn’t help a giggle from rising from her chest as the rain caused her hair to cling to her face in clumps.

Taking her hands from his face, he held them in his own for a second before slowly turning her around. Harrison started humming out loud, moving Sparrow around, dancing with her as the rain poured heavy around them. She swayed against him as he wrapped his arms around her and pulled her back against him.

The dirt had turned to mud under their feet and she could feet the soles of her sneakers losing their grip as they moved together. As her foot slipped, her knees buckled and Harrison’s arms around her held her steady as they laughed.

Sparrow turned around, slipping slightly, holding onto Harrison tightly. He pushed some of the hair back from her forehead as he held her steady.

She slipped again, and when he tried to steady her, they both slid in the mud for a moment before collapsing in a heap on the mud soaked grass.

Laughing, Sparrow looked up at Harrison who was holding himself up over top of her.

Their eyes locked for a moment as Harrison swallowed hard.

Her stomach was like the thin net used to catch butterflies, and it was full. She could feel them flapping around, trying to escape their confines, break free of the net that held them all trapped. The rain water was cold, so was the mud beneath her yet she felt like she was burning up.

Swallowing past the tightness welling in her throat, she tried to pull her eyes away, suggest they go in, dry off, cozy up on the couch with a hot cup of cocoa. Yet she couldn’t get her mouth to work. Her saliva was suddenly like glue, sealing up her throat, preventing her from doing little else but squeeze her tight breaths through.

Opening her mouth to talk, she closed it as Harrison traced her jawline slowly.

Dropping his head, he took her mouth in hers.

It was all a frenzy. Her sensations were being overloaded. She could feel the cool air, the constant drops of water soaking through her clothes, beating on her face and her arms, soaking through the fabric of her sneakers. She could smell the grass as it absorbed all the moisture letting out a fragrance she marveled in. The heat from Harrison was like a hungry fire burning in the hearth on a winter’s day. And his lips…

She felt dizzy from his lips.

 

Something Was Missing

Sparrow looked out the window of her new apartment overlooking Central Park. It was only temporary and she had told Vincent she would pay rent here, which she was sure he would fight her on when the time came.

With a coffee mug in one of her hands, she leaned back against the tan leather chair that face the window. She wasn’t quite ready to sit down. She wanted to see the view, to marvel at the wonder. There was something so beautiful about the park below right now, when inside her chest she felt like something ugly was growing. She needed the balance this view created for her.

Letting out a long sigh, she tugged the hem of her t-shirt down over her lounge shorts and sipped at her coffee.

Her phone vibrated on the small glass table next to the chair she was leaning on.

Glancing back over her shoulder, she read Jake and turned away.

This was at least his dozenth call. She had no intention of answering, she knew exactly what he was calling about. He was calling because when he did finally decide to return to her apartment after sleeping with Brittany, he saw that picture she had taken of the two of them together taped to the front door. It was only the first of many surprises for him. The other surprise was when he opened the door and found the apartment completely void of all furniture and decor. All that she had instructed the movers to leave behind was his clothes, his guitars and the few other things in the whole of the apartment that belonged to him.

He had arrived him at nine in the morning, no doubt returning to take a quick shower and get ready for his shitty job as a barista that supported him while he worked on his music.

Looking back now, she couldn’t help but think Jake had made such a big deal about moving in with her so he could save in the rent. Sparrow owned her own condo, which meant he helped with the small maintenance fee and nothing else. Did he care about her at all, or was she just some stupid girl he had manipulated to get what he wanted?

On the counter was the third surprise he would encounter that morning, she had the movers leave a lease for him to sign. If he wanted to stay there, he was going to have to pay the steep rent that went with living in a condo you didn’t own in downtown Toronto, or he had 30 days to vacate.

She had been sure to own her own home. The money from her mother’s life insurance was a good lump. Not really enough to think she could slack off, but enough to get her a leg up. When her father had passed away when she turned twenty, she had received some money from his insurance as well. It seemed he forgot to take her off his policy just as he had forgotten her.

In the back of her mind she had been afraid that if she had struggled, renting a shitty apartment, clipping coupons and living that kind of lifestyle, she would set off a beacon that would bring Vincent running to her rescue, with Harrison in tow. That thought had terrified her in the beginning, and pushed her to work harder.

Now all that hard work had allowed her to shove it to Jake.

It was petty, and Sparrow was sure that when she wasn’t so close to it all and had some time to process everything, she would feel a little bit guilty. If there was one thing she learned about herself last night, it was she was not someone to be trifled with.

The door to the apartment opened. “Good afternoon, Sparrow.” Vincent, who was the only one who now knew where she was staying strolled into the apartment. He paused before the single steps that led down into the living area she was standing in. Slowly taking in the clothes she clearly slept in, and the messy bun piled atop her head, he nodded to the mug in her hand. “First cup?”

Letting out a long breath, she nodded. “Yes.”

“Taking two flights in less than a day would tire anyone out. You left late afternoon and were back before morning. Anything you want to talk about?”

Sparrow looked back over her shoulder at him. The casual tone and glint in his eyes told her he already knew. “One of these days I am going to figure out how you know everything, Mr. King.”

He winced at the formal way she addressed him. Walking over, he sunk down into the leather chair she was perched on. “You’ll come to learn that money can really buy you anything.”

A light smile spread across her face.

Taking her hand, he pressed a kiss to the back of her hand. “Sometimes people disappoint you. People you love with every piece of yourself, and people you don’t even love at all… the heart always seems to hurt the same.”

“I always felt like something was missing, between Jake and I.” She told him, turning to look out the window at the park.

“Well then you are better off.” he told her.

She nodded. “What about you, Vincent. Was something missing between you and Meredith?”

Groaning, he let out a sigh before taking her mug from her hand and sipping from it. When he had taken his shot of caffeine, he leaned back in the chair. “Not at first. At first she was everything I ever thought I wanted. In a way that was worse. Your heart feels cheated… sorrowful even when it’s experienced all it can and then, little things, things that used to make it skip a beat slowly start disappearing. I guess it would be better to be hungry than have a bite of food. Once you’ve had that bite, you know exactly what you are missing.”

It wasn’t long ago she had written something so similar in her journal. She had felt the love Harrison had given her as her best friend was something even romantic love couldn’t measure up to.

The silence built between them, the two of them passing her mug back and forth as they stared out at the park.

“Harrison doesn’t know about this place.” Vincent said finally. “I acquired this property while he was living with Meredith overseas. You can be confident you won’t have any unexpected visitors. Stay as long as you like, as long as you need.”

Turning, she smiled at him. “Thank you.”

Eyes wide, he looked at her. “Just like that? A simple Thank You with no argument, no bargaining, no telling me what you will pay or that you don’t need my help?”

Her mind had been completely bursting with thoughts from the moment Vincent’s letter arrived in the mail. She had questioned every moment of her life, every character in it. She had painted all these different paths, trying to figure out which one she was walking now and what she was walking towards. Once again she was up on the attic of her mind, sorting through moments like dusty old boxes that had been packed away.

She still had a lot of sorting to do, but she thought she had at least settled on something. “Vincent, I don’t know what made you want to get in touch with me after all this time. It has been ten years since I have seen Harry, the last time we saw one another was at an awkward dinner five years ago when I told you I thought I needed a little bit of space. Harrison seems to think you reached out to me because of his relationship with Rachel. I could tell by the way he looks at me, waiting for me to tell him he has to throw this one to the curb. Rachel and Meredith both think you brought me here to throw a wrench in whatever plan she has cooked up for Harry and his future with Rachel. I have thought about it for a long time. I don’t think you reached out for Harry, or even for me. I think you did it for you. It’s the first thing you’ve done for yourself in a really long time. And what you need right now is for me to say Thank You and not put up too much of a fight. So that is what I am doing.”

He smiled, the deep blue of his eyes lightening slightly. “I always tell people about my daughter and how she has this way of reading people that is just brilliant.”

Sparrow smiled back at him, her heart fluttering at Vincent calling her his daughter once again. She missed him.