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RDL: Under the Influence






Dalton,
I loved you once. A love I thought irrevocable. A love I
mistakenly believed could transcend both time and circumstance. Under the
influence of my dimwitted, naïve, traitorous heart, I became intoxicated with
what I now know was simply a figment of my self-indulgent imagination. So drunk
on the feeling, I couldn’t see what was right in front of my face. So foolishly
enamored, I blindly followed my heart into the depths of an emotion that would
ravage me. 

Years later, I know now what I wish I knew then. I am
stronger. Smarter. Tougher. I will not allow myself to be broken again. 
I loved you.
I raged for you.
I wept for you.
And now, I’m letting you go.




Author’s Note:  Under
the Influence is the journey of two childhood friends that spans the course of
five pivotal years in their lives. It is a story about their discovery of true
friendship as it blossoms into first love, their experience of crucial sacrifice
and ultimate betrayal, and their endurance of agonizing heartbreak on the way
to finding lasting redemption.

Barnes & Noble






Dalton  POV:
All that remains is
the orange in the sky and the sweet scent of the angel lying next to me.
Nothing else.
We watch in silence
as we always do until the sun finally sets, then both breathe out a long sigh
before I turn to face her.
I have something for you. Its not much, but I
saw it and thought of you.
Her eyes widen with
excitement as an equally joyful smile spreads across her beautiful features. I
reach into my pocket and pull out the item I spied just a couple of days ago,
buying it as a gift for her birthday, but it turns out I really suck at
surprises. Who knew?
Dangling the long
strand of black beads in her face, an unexpected rush of anxiety races through
my system. I
ve never given anyone anything. Ever. I find it extremely unnerving.
Her grin widens
further as she extends her hand, uncurling her fingers and exposing her palm. I
lower the bracelet and watch as it coils into her grasp.  My eyes rise to meet hers and I swallow
deeply, trying to rid the nerves constricting my throat.
Its uh
Theyre onyxthe beads. I read
that they offer protection for the person who wears them. I just
…”
I clear my throat. I wanted you to be
protected even when I
m not around.
Her smile is
hindered as her teeth graze her bottom lip. I fight the urge to take that pouty
lip in between mine, breaking my stare from her mouth and bringing it back to
the bracelet before glancing back to her sky blue eyes.
She turns to fully
face me, the bracelet still secure in her clenched hand. Her expression timid,
she inquires,
Put it on me?
I nod and slowly
uncurl her grip, allowing my touch to linger on the soft pads of her fingers
with each one drawn away. She shivers in response and I breathe a light chuckle
through my nose, still amazed each time I elicit those involuntary reactions
from her. Once the bracelet is pinched between my fingers, she turns her wrist
and waits patiently as I hook the ends together. Releasing it, I watch as it
slides gracefully along the skin of her arm to land across the bones of her
wrist. My hand instinctively rises and my fingers trace its traveled path,
raking over the bracelet as I clench her hand in mine and press a soft kiss in
the center of her palm.
Her breath shudders
before she whispers,
I love it, Dalton. Itsperfect. Thank you.
I feel my face warm
with her compliment, so break my eyes away from her to focus on the stars.
After a couple of moments of peace-filled silence, I inquire,
If you were a
color, what color would you be?
Taking her eyes
away from the bracelet, she giggles and twists to look at me.
What color would
I be?
I nod. Yeah…”
I stall, stunned
with my need for honesty.
Its just, sometimes I feel like a
chameleon, you know? Forced to change my colors based on where I am in my life.

I release a
weighted breath.
Lately it feels as though I change them so often, Im nothing more than
a fucked-up version of an impressionist painting.
Glancing to the
side, my heart lurches as she crinkles her nose in confusion, my absolute
favorite of her expressions. My eyes linger the light scattering of freckles on
the bridge of her nose before once again seeking comfort in the obscurity of
the night sky.
To those far away, I project a solid, recognizable image. But in
reality, I
m comprised of nothing but a series of angry, incoherent brush strokes
in every color imaginable. Disjointed.
I twist my neck and
pin her with my stare.
Broken.
Her mouth dips at
the corners before she turns on her side and tucks her hands under her cheek,
her blue eyes sincere.
Do you think Renoir and Monet didnt know what they were doing? That they
didn
t purposely place
each stroke of their paintbrush in order to create their envisioned
masterpiece?
She tightens her
gaze.
You are a work of
art, Dalton. Y
our own masterpiece, regardless if you choose to
acknowledge it or not. Every experience that paints your picture is a stroke
made just for you. Each one of them is essential in order for you to grow, to
learn, and to teach.
She shrugs her
shoulders.
You ask me what color I would be? Well, I would be every single color
I could because to me, those colors are emotions. Feelings. And life would mean
absolutely nothing without the many colors that surround us. The many
experiences
we live through that propel us forward into the people we are meant to become.













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L.B. Simmons is a graduate of Texas A&M University and
holds a degree in Biomedical Science.
She has been a practicing Chemist for the last 11 years.  She lives with her husband and three
daughters in Texas and writes every chance she gets.








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Lori L. Clark

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