Status: paced.

The Story of Iris

Two: Iris Emerson Thoreau

I woke up drenched in sweat because I didn't have air conditioning in my creaky old house and it was august in nowhere, Ohio- namely, Rushville.  Although it was almost autumn, the heat refused to let up. It amazed me still that I could sleep in absolutely nothing but my sock monkey print boxers and still wake up covered in perspiration. I rolled out of bed, in denial that summer break was over. It was too hot for that. 

I immediately took a cold-to-the-bone shower for longer than I needed to, but by the time I got downstairs I was sweating again, which made showering seem like a waste of time.

"That's what you're wearing?" asked a familiar, scratchy voice across the kitchen. I nearly jumped out of my skin at the sound of Iris Emerson Thoreau's voice.

I was scandalized, stretching out my Black Sabbath t-shirt to get a better look. "What's wrong with this shirt? I love this shirt!" 

She had a cute laugh, the same laugh she had when she was four, when I met her. Well, her voice had gotten a little deeper in the past thirteen years, but otherwise she still had the same hoarse, always intrigued vocals. 

"You should listen to the Beatles.  Their lyrics are so much more meaningful," she insisted, even though this wasn't the first time we'd had the Ozzy-versus-Lennon argument.

We fought all the time; well, we debated all the time. I guess since we'd been friends for so long, our interests branched out away from each other but we still remained inseparable. Iris Emerson Thoreau moved here from Michigan when she was four years old, right into the identical ranch house half a mile from mine, the only thing separating us being a small river between properties. She was the closest neighbor to my house and we were friends by default, although I was glad that we were. Our childhood was a constant crossing of the wooden footbridge to see each other every single day, no exceptions.

Now I want you to picture your best friend. Or better yet, every friend you've ever had. Now take the best parts of their personality and separate them into one little bowl of good  traits. That's Iris. She was funny, light-hearted, easy-going, friendly, happy and extroverted. I mean, she was still headstrong and impulsive, but I loved her. She was practically my sister. I literally loved her with all of my heart, more than I loved my own parents (well, parent. We'll get into that later) and I would do anything for her. I got the feeling she felt the same way, too. It's just that we spent nearly every day of our lives together, sharing everything from toys when we were little to each others' bedrooms. 

We didn't really have a choice of whether or not to be friends; there was literally no other family around for at least five miles. Her parents were huge transcendentalists, as I'm sure those of you in the know could tell by her less-than-subtle name, and sought to reach the Oversoul by dropping everything and moving to the countryside. I'm not sure if they ever found said oversoul, but they obviously liked it here. Or maybe they just liked their daughter, who liked it here. 

And so what if she was headstrong and impulsive? We were perfectly matched; I was always kind of introverted and sheltered, and Iris was the one who forced me to talk to people, to climb trees and swim across the small river between our properties. She needed someone to boss around and I needed someone to do just that. At first when she moved here, I was afraid of her, but Iris kind of changed me through the years. I was still the same Charlie as pre-Iris, but more fun to be around. Iris was the same way; I guess by hanging out with a conservative and shy little boy all her life and being raised by a bunch of enlightened hippies (and I use the term in the least offensive way possible; the Thoreaus were amazing people) had mellowed her out, making her less of a beast and more of a sweet teenager with curly yellow hair.

Anyway, here we were in my dimly lit kitchen at six in the morning, Iris munching on a bowl of Fruity Pebbles and milk, her white-blonde ringlets reaching no farther than her collar bones and pinned back with little gold clips with blue flowers on them. Her heavy-lidded blue eyes didn't seem at all tired, while I was having trouble keeping mine open. 

"Oh yeah, 'I am the walrus, coo coo ka-choo," I exemplified, and she looked truly offended. "Very deep. The Beatles are pansies."

"The Beatles are timeless and sexy. Take it back," she ordered. 

"Admit you like my shirt!" 

"Never!" she spooned the last of her cereal into her mouth and shouldered her book bag. 

"Iris Emerson Thoreau," I muttered, shaking my head. "You are way too eager to get to school. Must I remind you of Prof Carson's famous research paper? Or that you're taking AP Chem? This year's gonna suck." 

She shook her head, wild blonde hair bouncing around. "Charlie Daniel Ross," she countered, "you'll never get anywhere if you dread the year before it's begun. You need to focus on the task at hand before you worry about tomorrow's. And the task at hand now is breakfast." 

"You sound like your mother," I commented. "But fine." 

I was rummaging through the fridge when Iris's cell phone started to buzz. 

"Hello?" I heard her say as I checked the expiration date on the milk. 

"Yeah, I have everything." 

It expired tomorrow. 

"I know what time the bus comes, mom." 

There was still so much milk in the jug, and it was all going to waste soon.

"Wait, what?" Iris sounded bewildered, and I broke out of my milk-crazed trance. 

"Oh my goodness, thank you thank you!" Her voice rose with every syllable. "I'll be right there!" 

Before hanging up the phone, she smiled and said, "Yes, seize the day, mom." 

And then she turned to me with the most excited shine in her gigantic eyes, clamped her hand around my wrist and jerked me out of my seat and out the door, leaving my almost expired milk on the table to further curdle. 

She pulled me across the property, the footbridge creaking and groaning under our weight. Finally I stopped resisting and we raced to her house. We raced a lot, and I almost always won. This time, she was so excited that she pushed ahead of me and left me behind, disappearing into the garage. 

I was almost there when she started screaming, and from the doorway I saw her bouncing up and down next to a cornflower blue VW bug. 

"It's mine!" she yelled, pointing and jumping. "It's slightly used and I'd rather have a green one but it doesn't matter because it's here in the flesh or at least in the metal and oh my goodness I have a car, Charlie!" 

She ran over and nearly knocked me to the floor with a huge hug. Her parents appeared in the doorway with huge grins on their faces and she attacked them with hugs, too. 

"Thank you so much!" she squealed. 

"You're welcome, babe," her mom said, laugh lines creasing around her eyes. "But this is officially your birthday present even though it's not till December. It was such a good deal that we couldn't not buy it!" 

"Deal! Thank you, I'm going to school now, you crazy parents!" 

They gave her the keys and she sat in the driver's seat, waiting for me to get in. "Charlie Daniel Ross, this year is going to be spectacular." 
♠ ♠ ♠
Tomorrow. Is. My. Birthday. :D no longer will I be sixteen, and seventeen will be fantastic!