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Glass and Steel: Pt. 3
Posted By: Random 14-Year-Old<i-rule-2008@sbcglobal.net>
Date: 14 August 2005, 12:19 am

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Part 3: Interim

"Is there a note or something?" Ren asked, still with his eyes fixed upon the incredible object that lay before him. A strange stone tablet was encased beneath shiny protective glass and surrounded by a purplish frame, almost like marble—except Ren had never seen purple marble before.

"I don't know..." Ariana replied, briefly searching the mess of styrofoam for a message. "I doubt it—Uncle Jacob never sends notes explaining what these things are." She glanced at Ren for a second, then turned back to the object.

"It's alien, for sure," Ren said, but he was convinced this had been obvious since the moment they opened the box. He gestured toward Ariana's closet, "None of that other stuff is like this at all—this must be worth millions!"

"I bet it was worth a lot to the aliens, too," Ariana said, studying the intricate markings carved into the stone tablet. There were dozens of lines of foreign characters spanning the tablet, and at the bottom was a single, enlarged character, with two vertical lines intersected by a wavy, horizontal line.

"Yeah, since they had to cover the thing in this glass—" Ren paused, thinking. "How did you say your uncle gets this stuff?"

"Black market," Ariana answered. "But a lot of it gets delivered to him by people who just found this junk in space, and he buys it off them for cheap."

"Wow," Ren said with awe. Not only was he with a girl who could grow up to be a model, but she also had an uncle who could hook her up with really cool war junk.

"I think I'll stand it up against the wall over there..." Ariana said, pointing somewhere near the closet. Ren had forgotten that they couldn't stare at it on the bed forever.

"Here, let me do it," he said after watching Ariana struggle to pull the tablet off from the bed. Ren lifted the object to find that it was at least fifty pounds, but he forced himself not to show weakness as he heaved it across the room and stood it up against the wall.

"Thanks," Ariana said. Ren was looking down at the tablet, but he knew that her eyes were on him. And then she said out of nowhere, "You can stay the night."

Ren felt his palms get a little sweaty, but it wasn't from lifting the tablet. "What?"

"Stay the night," Ariana repeated. "Look, it's pouring rain outside!" She got up from the bed and pulled open her window. She was right; the sky was a horrible mess of dark clouds, and buckets of rain washed down from the unrelenting storm. In fact, Ren thought he even saw a glimmer of lightning in the distance.

"So..." Ren couldn't think of anything to say.

"You can't walk home in that!" Ariana exclaimed, much too enthusiastic for Ren's comfort.

"Let me call my parents," Ren said, finally finding a way out of the situation. There was no way he was going to stay at Ariana's house with her family there.

"Okay, here," Ariana grabbed a phone from her desk and handed it to Ren. He took it and dialed his number nervously—certainly, his parents would absolutely deny him from staying the night with a girl he had just met—and that would be his escape...

"We're sorry, the lines are currently damaged or busy. Please hang up and wait for the system to recover."

"Crap," Ren blurted. "The lines are messed up. I can't call my parents."

"Oh, well, that's okay; they can miss you for awhile, right?" Ren looked into her sparkly brown eyes and knew that she had realized that the issue wasn't with Ren's parents, it was with her parents.

"I can't stay here, Ariana. Your mom is here—I mean, it's not like we'll be doing Truth or Dare like it's a sleepover party—"

And then she kissed him. Ren fell into that ominous world of bliss once again, vaguely in tune with reality, wholly residing in this alternate universe, totally in love. Ariana let go of the kiss rather suddenly—or that's how it felt to Ren—and he was slammed back into the real world. He realized that with other girls, you could think "bad kisser" or "good kisser" during the kiss itself, but with Ariana, it was impossible to have any comprehensible thoughts while he kissed her. It was incredible.

"Alright—" Ren said, caving in. Whatever Ariana was excitedly getting Ren into, he prayed that she would get him out of it—which meant Ren would have nothing to say if Ariana's mom caught them way past second base. "I'll stay."

Ariana gave a squeal of joy and hurried to her closet, pulling it open recklessly. Ren caught a second glimpse of the pile he had seen earlier—guns, mounds of bullets, and small pieces of vehicles made up a lot of it. Ariana reached up for a shelf and pulled down a rolled-up sleeping bag.

"You keep a sleeping bag in your closet?" Ren asked. He only speculated how many times she had previously pulled this off with another guy.

"Yeah—is that suspicious?"

"Sort of."

She untied the bag and unrolled it next to her own bed. "That's where you're sleeping, but not until later." Ren glanced at his watch, but Ariana said the words he had neither dreaded nor welcomed: "Right now you're in my bed."

Their bodies came together again, and again Ren got lost in the world of bliss. Before he knew it Ariana had her shirt off, and articles of clothing indeed began to seem like meaningless barriers that served no purpose whatsoever. And the natural thing to do with meaningless things? Throw them away—

"No!" Ren exclaimed, pulling away. He felt a trickle of sweat run from his hair. "I just can't, I'm sorry. Your mom told me to go no further than kissing you, and I've already passed that—" He saw Ariana's look of disappointment, and he, too, felt rather disappointed as well.

"Fine," she sighed. After a moment she realized Ren was serious and pulled her shirt back on. "Oh—do you need pajamas or anything...?"

"No," Ren replied. He kneeled down to his sleeping bag, slipped inside, and pulled up the zipper. "I'm fine."

Ren laid there, fully awake, for several minutes after Ariana had shut off her light. In the silence he could only hear the wet sounds of rain from outside and Ariana's calm breath, but if he wasn't mistaken, he could also hear a faint humming from the alien tablet. He wondered what those markings meant on the stone, and why the aliens had valued it enough to encase it in glass. He wondered if maybe he shouldn't have denied to have sex—or maybe if Ren should've returned home in the first place. He imagined himself trudging through the thick of the storm, finally returning home to his mom—who would yell at him for being soaking wet—and his dad—who would simply shake his head as if to say "I told you so."

Ren groggily woke up to the distant sounds of an argument, but he didn't try to comprehend who was arguing or why, so he simply fell back to sleep.