Anywho...here's the next part of "Ocean Mist" for your enjoyment. I should tell you...not everything these kids do should be copied. Just a warning. NOW go and read the next part of the story with that in mind. ;)
“Did you get a haircut?” Steven asked Dillon.
The six teens had just finished getting Nicole, Shawn, and Ray through the whole bike rental confusion. They were now slowly riding down the sidewalk that stretched parallel to the ocean.
Steven’s question registered in Dillon’s mind finally and he tore his eyes from the gorgeous view, one that never got old even if he had spent the last ten years of his life living here, and said, “Yeah, Dad said that if I grew it out much longer Mark would think I was copying him.”
“Would that be a bad thing?” Mark asked from in front of him, twisting around so his smirk was visible to everyone.
“Yes,” Steven and Dillon both said with conviction.
This exchange drew laughter from the three pastor’s kids who watched it.
“You guys are really something else,” Shawn muttered, shaking his head in apparent hopelessness.
“Why thank you!” Mark said, giving an awkward bow from his seat on the bicycle. This comical act only served to cause more laughter.
As the only girl, Nicole felt it her responsibility to keep everyone from getting hurt so when Dillon proposed a race to the end of the sidewalk, she was quick to offer reasons why that would not be the best idea.
“You guys are going to regret this,” she argued when it was obvious the boys were going to ignore her warnings.
“Nobody said you had to race,” Ray pointed out, irritated that his sister, who usually put up with his antics, would voice her disapproval.
“Nicole and I will be the judges,” Shawn offered, eager to get himself out of something that might mess up his perfectly tailored appearance. He hopped off his bike, straightening his jeans and running a hand through his hair.
His sister didn’t say anything to his suggestion, but followed his example and got off her bike.
“Who’ll say ‘go’?” Dillon asked.
“I can,” Shawn said, when Nicole folded her arms stubbornly and refused to be any part of something that was sure to end badly.
Dillon, Mark, Steven, and Ray lined up their bikes. Once mounted, the boys leaned forward, their eyes alight with excitement.
The boys nodded wordlessly.
At the last word, all four friends took off towards the agreed upon ending point.
Ray relished the feel of wind rushing against his face. He shut his eyes for a moment as the bike’s wheels carried him smoothly along the sidewalk. His legs pumped the pedals up and down, around and around, as he worked his way up the hills. He was becoming seriously addicted to vacations. They were so awesome!
“Hey, dude! Watch out!” The frantic cry came from behind him.
Ray’s eyes flew open in time to watch himself crash into a telephone pole. He jumped sideways, off the bike and away from the object in his path, only to land on the sidewalk and skid a foot before coming to a halt in a haphazard heap. Scrapes from the cement were all over his hands, arms, elbows and knees. His shirt was ripped and a gash from the handlebars was beginning to bleed heavily. Pain. The world was full of pain. Everything hurt.
Nicole watched her younger brother ride with the careless abandon he was known for, and heard Steven’s frantic warning come too late. Her first reaction had been one of concern, but that soon mixed with angry frustration. Her brother must have had his eyes closed in order to run into a telephone pole without realizing it. With her teeth clenched, she mounted her bike along with Shawn and rushed to the scene of the accident.
Her brakes jerked her bike to a stop, skid marks showing up clear on the light pavement. She stumbled over to Ray who lay groaning on the ground. A few tears had squeezed their way out of his eyes, which was a bad sign. Ray never cried in front of people.
“Ray, buddy, talk to me,” Dillon was saying, down on his knees by her prostrate brother. Concern was showing in his eyes and leaked through his request.
To her relief, Ray let out a groan. He could understand them. That was a good sign. She knelt on the other side of him and noticed the gash in his side for the first time.
“Guys, we need to stop the bleeding,” she said.
“Um…does anyone have a Band-Aid?” Dillon asked the small circle.
Nicole let out a groan herself. “You didn’t pack a First Aid kit?”
Sheepishly, Dillon shook his head.
“Boy, what is it with guys and not being practical?” she muttered. “What we need,” she continued in a louder voice, “is actually not a Band-Aid, but some sort of absorbent cloth. The cut in his side is too big to be covered by a Band-Aid. Also, we’ll need to wash it before we can wrap it up.”
“Oh, like in movies,” Mark said, nodding to himself as if it all made sense now.
Steven handed her his mostly unused water bottle, the first helpful thing any of the boys had done, and she dumped the better part of it over the gash in her brother’s side. She did her best to use the remainder of that water bottle and Ray’s to clean the rest of the abrasions. Now to find bandage materiel…
Something was shoved into her hand, and Nicole looked over to find it was Dillon’s shirt. “It’ll be ruined,” she warned.
“I couldn’t think of anything else that would work,” he explained. “Go ahead and use it. People are more important than things.” She glanced up and saw his easy grin. “Besides, I don’t even like that shirt.”
“It’s a good thing you don’t,” Nicole said as she pressed it to her brother’s cut. “Otherwise you’d have a pretty hard time trying to get the stains out. Always use cold water, by the way, to get out bloodstains. Just in case you needed to know that.”
After a few minutes passed, and Ray was able to stop clenching his teeth against the horrible pain of having water poured over his open cuts, he managed to crack an eye open. Heads and worried expressions swam into view. For another minute, he focused on the three-headed apparitions until the single, solid face of his sister spoke.
“How are you feeling?” she asked him.
“Like I was run over by a car and then trampled by a herd of horses before being carried off and eaten by a dragon,” he said.
She smiled, and he heard chuckles of amusement from around him. “So, a little better, I take it.”
Ray nodded, but winced when the movement made the pain levels skyrocket. “Yeah, I guess.” He paused, and watched as her busy hands went to find every cut and bruise. “You can say ‘I told you so’,” he offered. “I totally deserve it.”
Nicole raised an eyebrow at her brother’s confession, but shook her head. “God already took care of that,” she said. “His punishment was worse than anything I could have come up with. I could stand an apology for scaring me out of my wits though.”
A mumbled ‘sorry’ made it past Ray’s reddened cheeks, and he looked as if he really meant it.
“How soon will it be until you’re ready to make the trip back to your house?” Dillon asked.
Ray ignored the burn of his many cuts and tried sitting up. It took a few seconds for his vision to clear again, but he was up. Progress was good.
“Um, maybe ten minutes?” he estimated.
“You know, maybe a couple of you could ride back and get my parents,” Nicole suggested. “I don’t think Ray will be riding a bike again anytime soon. Then they can drive over here and pick him up in our car.”
Shawn nodded his agreement. “Maybe Steven and Mark could go back?” he suggested.
The two selected boys took off after a unanimous vote declared them the messengers.
Once Steven and Mark left them in the dust, Ray glanced over at the mangled remains of the bicycle and grimaced. “That’s going to be expensive,” he said.
“Yep, and guess who’s paying for it?” Shawn said, leaning against the telephone pole, which had remained annoyingly free of crash marks.
Ray glowered at it as if the whole crash was its fault. “Me,” he groaned aloud. He was not looking forward to what his parents would have to say about this.
The silence was almost as bad as the scolding he thought he was going to get. Ray squirmed inside, since actually doing it would have been painful, while waiting for the lecture he knew would come.
His dad glanced in the rear-view mirror. He had that look in his eyes. Here it comes, Ray thought, bracing himself.
“So, I take it you learned a lesson today?” his dad asked at the next stoplight.
“Yes sir,” Ray admitted quickly.
“Which was…” the pastor prompted.
“To not close my eyes while riding a bike.”
It was a good thing the next light was also red. Mr. Daniels turned around to face his son, disbelief etched in every feature. “You closed your eyes while riding a bike?”
The whole story came out, and, to his credit, Ray did nothing to avoid the truth about his mistake. His dad stayed silent while he told his tale. Once it was over, the pastor met his son’s eyes in the rear-view mirror.
“So you actually learned two lessons today,” Mr. Daniels said.
Ray frowned. “Um, yeah? I guess so?”
“Come on, Ray, you know what the real lesson was. Think son. I know you can.”
Ray furrowed his brow, thinking so hard that his head began hurting. Finally, he came up with the lesson he hoped was what his dad wanted. “To listen to my older siblings when they’re giving me advice I know you and Mom would agree with.” He sighed. “Nicole said my accident was a punishment from God.”
“Mmm,” the pastor said noncommittally.
The silence stretched to the point of awkwardness. His dad was the one to break it again.
“Are you all right?”
Somehow feeling worse than if his dad had lectured him, Ray hung his head. “Yeah, I’m ok.” He glanced at his reflection in the passenger side mirror and shuddered. “I look worse than I feel.”
“When Steven and Mark showed up at our door, you caused us quite a bit of worry.”
“I know,” Ray answered miserably. “I’m sorry.”
“I’m glad to hear that. Make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
“We love you.”
The remainder of the ten-minute drive was spent in silence. Ray, too embarrassed by his behavior, didn’t feel like small talk, and his dad appeared in the mood to humor him this once. An almost relieved feeling swept over him when their car was parked in their driveway and the awkward silence was now over. He hopped out of the passenger seat only to be enfolded into his mom’s arms.
“Are you ok? How bad was the fall? Did you have Nicole check you for a concussion? How did the accident happen? Are your siblings ok? Did anyone else crash?” His mom’s onslaught of worried questions took awhile to register in his head; a head that still hurt from the crash.
“I’m fine Mom,” he assured her finally.
The crease between her eyebrows flattened out a tad and she searched his eyes for any sign of untruthfulness about his health. “You sure about that?”
Ray nodded. “The fall wasn’t a bad one, I just ran into a telephone pole.”
The worried expression returned full force. “Just ran into a telephone pole? Ray. Fletcher. Daniels. How did you ‘just run into a telephone pole’?”
Ray flinched at each new name his mom added. He was in big trouble. “I was racing with Dillon, Steven, and Mark,” he explained sheepishly. “I was winning and it felt so good, what with the wind rushing in my face and everything, I shut my eyes for a minute…” the sandy-haired pastor’s son hung his head. The situation was even more embarrassing when he explained it out loud.
“You shut your eyes while riding a bike?” his mom repeated in disbelief. Déjà vu, Ray thought to himself while nodding wordlessly.
The pastor’s wife looked over at her husband helplessly, having trouble making more words come out of her mouth.
Mr. Daniels laid a calming hand on his wife’s shoulder. “I talked to him about it on the way here,” he said.
Mrs. Daniels closed her eyes and took in a few steadying breaths. She took her son by the shoulder and led him into the house before sitting him down on a couch. “Let me get some ice for those bruises and a proper bandage for that gash in your side.” She left the room, her stiff back the only factor that displayed her current emotional state.
“I hope you realize that you’re going to have to pay for the damage done to the bike,” Ray’s dad said, breaking the silence.
“I do,” Ray said in a small voice.
“You really gave us a scare.”
“I’m sorry, I really am.”
“Don’t do it again.”
There was another awkward pause in the conversation, during which Ray could hear his mother moving about in the small kitchen. A freezer door opened, there was a distinct crackling of ice cubes as she put them in a plastic bag, and then the door shut. A squeaky cupboard hinge whined out a complaint and there was a rustling sound and the soft murmur Ray recognized as his mother talking to herself as she looked for something.
She made her appearance a few minutes later, triumphantly carrying in all the items she needed. It wasn’t long before Ray was propped up on the couch, an icepack held to an especially large bruise on his forehead, and the crude bandage Nicole had made from Dillon’s shirt replaced by clean, sanitary squares of gauze held on by strips of medical tape.
Mrs. Daniels surveyed her youngest child with an air of supreme satisfaction. “I hope you learned your lesson, young man,” she said after placing a firm kiss where she knew there were no bruises or scrapes.
“Yes ma’am,” Ray assured his mom quickly.
“I’m glad to hear it.”
Just then, his two siblings burst through the door, breathless.