Prologue
Light and Dark

We all have a perfect moment. A moment that defines what happiness, for us, means. Where true bliss bursts and hums in the pits of our very soul, where we feel invisible. Where the sun, even if its in the rain, seems to beat down at us, illuminating everything in a beautiful golden colour. Where beauty just seems so natural and unpracticed.

My perfect moment happened at the beach, on a sticky Summer day. Ashley, my best friend, her brother, Julian, and his friend, Chase, had all come down to the beach for the day. We were all primarily based about two hours away from the beach in a small town called Anikee, but we'd made the long journey for this day, this one day, so that we could have one of those happy moments.

The sun was truly shining that day, illuminating and bouncing off our tanning skins and glinting eyes. I was wearing my first bikini. It felt like a monumental event for me. I can still remember what type it was, you know? It tied up at the back and had orange lining but was primarily red, with a dragon running along the bottom. My blonde hair was ratty from the surf, sticking to me.

The waves were toppling me over and leaving me breathless, but overjoyed. My ribs were hurting from one too many powerful waves and my head hurt from when a wave had sent both Julian and I hurtling through a wave, him effectively kneeing me in the base of my head. I was laughing along with Ashley, her looking beautiful in that serene way that I always envied. She didn't have the same neuroses as I did about food, she was comfortable with her frame. There was salt water burning in the back of my throat and nose from when I had gulped some accidentally.

I remember this moment - or rather, this day - in my life as being, quite simply, well, the happiest moment of my small life. I was thirteen.

I can remember sitting down, or more collapsing, next to Julian on my beach towel. He was fifteen at the time, just growing into the body of a man, his arms and legs slightly too long and his voice just breaking. I can remember him lucidly that day, so much so I could draw his exact stance as we talked. Julian's brown hair was slightly tousled, sticking up at the back from that annoying habit he had of scratching the back of his head. His blue eyes were sparkling. He had a thin line of small pimples on his hair line. He had no muscle on his stomach, but I could see his ribs.

"Tired?" He said, laughing.

My stomach was rising and falling rapidly as my lungs cried out for more oxygen. He waited for me to catch my breath, before I replied, "Uh... yeah. Yeah, definitely. This has been the funnest day... ever. Thanks."

Julian smiled, "Don't thank me, thank Chase."

Chase, as I have mentioned, was Julian's friend - and absoultely nothing like Julian at all. Whereas Julian was only nearing manhood, Chase was blatantly straight in it with a strong build. Where Julian was gangly, Chase was just tall. Chase had a deep voice, black hair, and even at thirteen, I lusted over him.

Lust is a very peculiar feeling when you're thirteen. You don't exactly know how to approach the object of your lust. So, in my case, I left him alone. I talked to him, I didn't follow him, didn't stare at him. I was very civilised in my teenaged adoration.

"Thanks Chase," I said, knowing Chase was beside him.

I can tell you exactly what he said ver batim, just out of the blue, completely uncalled for, "Man, Jules, she is hot. I'm going to put her on layby."

He was talking about me as if I wasn't even there.

Julian tensed, "Shut up, man."

I was, of course, secretly ecstatic, saying over and over in my giddy little mind, Chase likes me he thinks I'm hot oh my God he really likes me Chase likes me he thinks I'm hot oh my God he really likes meChase likes me he thinks I'm hot oh my God he really likes me.

"What?" Chase said.

"I've known her since Youth Group for Gifted Kids. Leave her the fuck alone."

It was true that Julian and I had met, when I was ten and wore obscenely bright colours. I was a poncy little know it all, who always asked pompously, What, you don't understand? He was a crooked-smiling, awkward twelve year old who got bullied on even by the other nerds. How times had changed.

Ashley chose that moment to fling herself onto her towel, next to me, and ask, "What's the hap, peeps?"

I laughed as I realised that this, this was my perfect moment of beauty and perfection and happiness. And it was splendid.

Yeah. K. Review Please.
- I Shed Myself.