Gazing out into the blackness of this beat-up old rock of a town, I couldn’t help but wonder, we’re moving here? You’ve got to be kidding me, my parents actually expect me to graduate here? I let out a sigh and turned up the volume on my headphones. I had recently gotten into the habit of listening to loud rap music lately. I never really cared for it before, but I didn't hate it, the rap just soothed me more than alternative did these days.
“Turn Left up here Thomas!” My mother shouted from upfront. Even with my headphones blaring, I could always hear my mother. She was really loud without even realizing because when she was a kid, my Uncle Dmitri partially deafened her with a bottle rocket. To this day, she never has been allowed to enjoy the Fourth of July. My mother was a stout little woman with short black hair that curled around her simple face. She didn’t care much for makeup besides the occasional getting dolled up whenever my father decided to take us out to a fancy dinner.
My dad, he was a bit different; he was as tall as a doorway, always having to duck to get inside, and he had buzz-cut blonde hair that almost matched the tan color of his skin. He was brawny, not as much as I was, but he had to work out on account of his career. It was his fault we were moving to this despicable town in the first place because my father was a leading officer in the navy; so, we would move all across America to all sorts of places just for him.
The problem with me was that we haven’t been to a new place since I was eight years old; I practically grew up in the busy town of Denver, Colorado. Every weekend, I’d look forward to grabbing my board and shredding the ice with my friends up in the hills; there, I was locally known as the best triple cork-screw boarder on the half-pipe, and more importantly the master of Big Air. My best friend, Kurt Lincoln, told me all the time I could go pro. He always managed to get me into some trouble where ever we managed to find some snow---his personal best was at a local resort when my 1080 Big Air accidentally passed through the governor's suite---my punishment then was nothing compared to this being forced to move away.
“Derik Allen Peterson,” My mother directed in a tone that meant I was about to get punished for something soon if I kept ignoring her. I pressed pause on my piercing I-pod, and glanced up at her through the rearview mirror. The noisy road beneath the tires of the Silverado, not to mention the giggling of my little sister, Anna, were the only noises in the truck; everything was so quiet once the loud music was shut off.
“Derik,” My mother scoffed again, “Your father and I have been talking to you for twenty-minutes, and you’ve just been sitting there ignoring us!”
“Sorry Mom,” I replied innocently, “I didn’t realize...”
“I’m surprised you can even still hear,” Anna mumbled beneath her Nintendo DS. I shot her a glance and she sulked even farther into the game, her little blonde curls hiding her blushing face from me. Anna was born in Denver, but even so, she was extremely excited about this move; frankly, she got hyped-up about anything that involved Twilight or Werewolves---Hey, she’s eight, that’s her whole life. That was close enough to where we were moving anyway---all the way to Sequim, Washington, a town, that’s only two hours away from Forks; its population is a little under 4,000 which can’t even minimize Denver’s census by a digit! But you know, Anna doesn’t know any better, she just wants to meet glittering vampires.
“Seriously though, Derik,” My mother continued, “Your constant sulking about your father’s promotion is tearing this family apart.”
Oh, F.Y.I, my mom’s also a bit of a drama queen.
“Darlene let him be,” My father groaned, taking one-more large gulp out of his coffee mug, before turning onto the exit. This long road trip has been taking a toll on his nerves, and Mom wasn’t helping. She thinks if I hate even one miniscule decision that the family makes, I’m no better than a high school drop-out, who gets married in Vegas, and knocks some girl up just for kicks. Meanwhile, I took the newly quiet opportunity to start playing my music, until eventually I collapsed from my own boredom.
I woke up in my room. The first thing I saw were my blue walls which were covered in posters of hot-shot cars and athletes; there was a pile of wet clothes in the corner from yesterday's slope session, and a horde of books from my History report due in a few days---and I was on break too! Those teachers just can’t seem to leave us alone! I stared out the window at the beautiful snow capped hills, there white gleam shone through the glass into my face as the gray sun peaked and birds flew around the tips of the mountain. I lay there in harmony thinking of the snow... I wouldn’t give this up for anything!
“Dang it Derik, wake the heck up!” Kurt, my best friend, hollered, while banging ferociously on my door. I sat up curiously, the noise snapping me out of a once peaceful daydream. Kurt jiggled the knob until the door reluctantly opened (a trick he’d learned from my constant sleeping in.) He flailed eagerly to my bed and pushed me plum out of it, so I would crash into the floor and shake the whole house when I landed.
“One day, I’m going to fall through the ceiling Kurt!” I grunted, pushing myself up onto my feet. Without a reply, he shoved my snowsuit into my face and chucked my boots at my head. Since this happens nearly every day, I knew just the right moments to duck and catch, while he started ranting, “You do this to me everyday Derik; you go off to the Back-Country and stay out until the break of dawn! Then, you have the gall to sleep in on me the next morning!”
“Meanwhile, you’re in the lodge mackin' on a couple thousand girls right Kurt?”
“And don’t you forget it!” He laughed proudly, still shuffling around my room like a tornado looking for my goggles, “Gah man---Don’t you ever organize?”
If you didn't believe me before, I'll say it again... Kurt did this to me all the time! We’d go out on the slopes all day, until a cute girl came along, then he’d go romancing into the lodge for coffee and a warm spot by the fire. The big Casanova, I just don’t understand how he does it? While I think he looks like a modern version of James Dean, the women apparently think he’s the most irresistible man in the resort--- I mean, Kurt goes on and on with the box-full of compliments he gets every single night: His chiseled features… His dark brown, bedroom eyes…Six pack abs…Wavy golden bronzed hair they can run their fingers through--- Blah, blah, blah, he’s just a big, cocky Romeo in my book.
“Dude, get the hell out of your boxers and into the snow, its perfect shredding today!” He hollered with a grin that revealed his perfect white teeth (Also one of his many compliments).
Here I am taller than a freaking stoplight---taller than my father even and that was saying something! I had flat black hair, and the only thing I praise myself on, is being stronger than everyone in school, even Kurt, but he says I’m too intimidating to talk to---says we’re just like David and Goliath, Jack and the Giant, George and Lenny! So what? I don’t care if no girl in school talks to me; the chicks that Kurt picks up are a dime a dozen and I’d much rather be doing what it is I love without anyone holding me back.
Of course, Kurt says I’m obsessed picking snowboards over girls, and having big, Olympic-sized fantasies about being the world’s greatest winter athlete; but, for me, I just love the way it feels…the rush of the mountain, the thrill of the adrenalin--- \All better than a bunch of flirty Betty’s only interested in making out so they can post pictures of it on Facebook!
“Dammit Derik, would you stop day-dreaming for like two-minutes, we gotta get out there bro!” Kurt whined.
“Hey,” I calmed, “Will you watch it with the cussing man, you know my mom doesn’t like it.”
“What does she like?” He grinned, victorious to the fact he found my last glove in the top drawer of my dresser. He tossed it to me, as I stuck a leg into my black snow pants, laughing, “Why does she let you in here every morning? All you do is harass me to go to the mountains with you? She hates our snowboarding you know--- Says it's too dangerous...”
"Oh please, I've been in motorcycle wrecks that were worse than any bail I ever did on the slopes! And wait---don't you go blaming me, you’d find a way to shred some ice with or without me---But, if I didn't break in every morning, you’d sleep in through the best part! Think of me like your official alarm clock!” He showed me his digital watch impatiently, snapping, “Oh, and by the way, your mom says you’re taking Anna with us.”
“What?” I choked, toppling over my pants like an old, dead tree.
Later, in the lobby of the resort, the three of us stood with our equipment on and our snowboards in hand. Anna was dressed in all pink, and she looked like a small strawberry marshmallow; not to mention her bedazzled Barbie snowboard was literally making my self esteem and masculinity weaken by its sheer girlie-ness. Kurt, however, was already swooning his charms to two girls our age by the check-in table. They were both pretty hot, tan-skinned, and one had long black hair that looked as though it was made of silk; the other was a bleached blonde that wore way too much make-up, but she was still sort of cute? The Betty’s (as I call them) were eagerly rubbing their hands up and down his dark blue and white suit, giggling loudly to one another as he allowed them to feel his biceps.
“Well, Anna,” I huffed with the most excitement I could conjure up; “I guess it’s just the two of us.”
“Why do big-girls always laugh around Kurt?” she asked, starring up at me with her big, round eyes.
“Because little sister," I huffed, "They think he’s cute.”
“Oh,” She sighed, a slight concentration in her eyes, and a sideways frown on her little mouth, she looked at me and added sweetly, “I thought they were laughing at his big ears?”
I couldn’t help but bust out in a booming laugh that made a couple of people stare at us with nasty facial expressions.
“You’re alright, you know that?” I smiled, flipping her hood over her eyes. She grunted in annoyance and chased me outside, occasionally punching at me with her tiny, balled-up fists or whacking me with the Pink snowboard.
“You’re gonna teach me how to snowboard now, right Derik?” she squeaked with excitement.
“Sure,” I smirked, rolling my eyes to myself. Alright, it was just one day off my vigorous adventure to become the best Olympic boarder, and who knows, maybe Anna will be good enough to train with me one day? Still, the thought of the kiddie-slopes brought a blush-worthy chill up my spine. How could this get anymore humiliating---and, of course, I had to ask...
It took her a few hundred tries, but Anna finally got the hang of standing, moving, and turning. Enough to where I felt confidant she could hold her own for twenty-minutes so I could catch some real action at the “dangerous” peaks in the valley.
Ah! The fresh chilling scent of the mountains. There was a white blanket of heaven just stretching across the horizon, as far as my eyes could see. The powdery white bliss was untouched, even by the wildlife, and I was going to be the first to tame this savage land.
“Alright,” I thought to myself, while hovering over the edge of the mountains, “The cliffs below were rocky,edged, but manageable?” With a few short head notes, I was ready and rearing to go. I strapped my boots onto my board; it was slick as oil and black as night, on the bottom were two dazzling lightning bolts (both white) to symbolize the terror of nature and the ferocity of me. I stood tall, adjusting my goggled on last time before taking my epic plunge, thirty feet below (at least) to my depth. Then, the unthinkable omen of any local boarder happened... I was sandwiched between two smaller punks who flashed their high-priced gear in my face! They laughed with foul, yellow grins that stretched across their faces to a pair of jagged, pointy noses, red from frostbite, but they didn’t seem to care.
“Oh, sorry about that bro,” One chortled; His twin laughing psychotically like a hyena beside him. By the sounds of their voice and the style of their gear, I could tell they were from up North--- Brooklyn I think? Punks like them, I called “Accessory-Men” because they cared more about their gear than their skills. The boy talking to me, lifted his red goggles to reveal his snow-burned face and shady green eyes; his forehead was covered in brown freckles that trailed up to his blonde, unkempt hair sticking out from beneath his Auski-brand beanie.
“We weren’t aware that this zone was already claimed?” he cackled, “What do you think Ben, should we leave Tank here to his mountain?”
“I don’t want any trouble,” I warned in a threatening tone that made my own skin crawl by the sound of spite.In the meantime, Ben, the other snowboarder, starred toughly up at me, while keeping the balance on his ice-blue board, “That sounded like a threat, Dino?” he gasped dramatically to his buddy, “Is that any way to treat a guest in your town?”
“What kind of crap youse dealing out, Tank?” The one called Dino spat in a definite Eastern coast accent.
“You know the B.C.O.B--- The one main rule of the lodge, don’t you?” I smiled, starring at them in an inviting expression. They eased closer to hear, and I continued, “Locals shred the back-country and Gaffers stay in their shack with the other Hoedads.”
They glanced between the three of us and eventually decided my comment was an insult. Which it was...
“Fine then Tank---” Dino scoffed, “You just shred your drop, but youse to chicken to race me for rights!”
Ben started in with the endless mockery of chicken noises and the rapid flapping of his arms. The two laughed and I sighed in hopelessness. The only way to get my peace and quiet with the cliffs was to thrash the tourist and send them packing. But, a race---That was a skill more outlined for Kurt, I was just an air-man. Without another thought on the matter, my voice somehow took over for my brain when I replied, “You’re on!”
Just as the sun reached the high-point of the sky, Dino and I were in position. I looked down at the death-defying drop as my body started to fill with adrenalin.
"No funny business," I warned, glaring down Ben as he readied to start the race.
"Wouldn't dream of it man," Dino smirked. By the look on his face I could just tell he was lying, and that's what worried me. I'm not so much out of my depth as I am my comfort zone, but this guy seemed to easy to crack---Perhaps he'll chicken out and I can go back to my peaceful break away from Anna and the kids. It then dawned on me, I've been gone longer than I'd planned--- Gee, I hope Anna hasn't noticed.
"Get ready!" Ben motioned…. "Get set----"
Now I was crouched and ready. It was my signature show-off opportunity to do a front-flip right off the starting line---Right over cornice ledge. With confidence in hand, I gripped my fists and waited for the--- "GO!"
"Hiyya Anna," Kurt said chipperly, finally rid of those two girls from the lobby. His hair was all shagged from their constant messing with it, but he wasn't covered in lipstick like he usually was, so that was a rare bonus.
"Hi Kurt," She gruffed, sloshing a pile of snow with her foot.
"What's up?" He wondered, crouching to a knee so she could sit on his leg and look him in the face. Kurt always did treat Anna like his own sister---partially because he practically was part of my family, heck; he even went on our vacation to the Grand Canyon with us. "Come on...what's the matter, Anna," He pouted at her.
"Derik said he was gonna teach me how to snowboard, but then he wanted to go play somewhere that he said no one ever goes to---- And---and now he's been gone for like three days, and hasn't come back!"
"Where'd he go?" Kurt stated distraught. He was starting to worry that I'd fallen off a cliff and died somewhere or broken some serious bone and got trapped in an icy lake or a cave or something along those lines? Anna looked worried by his tone and looked into his stern brown eyes with her own big, blue owl stare that was starting to tear up. "It's alright Anna---" He motioned calmly, "Derik isn't in any trouble; I just want to beat the snot out of him for leaving us. Now think real----Real hard. Where did he say he was going?"
She pressed her little finger to her out struck lip and hummed. Then with a concentrated face asked, "Where's the back of the count tree?"
"Back-country!?" He exclaimed in correction. She nodded slowly and Kurt abruptly stood up. He knew the choppy-choppy peaks I'd been wanting to go to about a mile outside of the resort area. "Don't worry sis, I'll go get the big snow bum."
"I wanna go!" She begged.
"No, this is no place for a little bunny like you, just stick here and keep practicing with the Dragon and other grommets." He was referring to the brightly colored ski instructor who was acting as LifeGuard to the kiddie slope---and the other kids learning to snowboard like my sister were known as the "grommets". Most of the things Kurt says involves our own odd snowboarding slang. He even had me doing it subconsciously after a while, so now that's just the way we talk in the resort.
Kurt sped away furiously, towards the peaks, all the while cursing at me under his breath---saying things like, "You'd better not be dead," or the ever popular, "I am not digging your hide out of an avalanche so don't even ask."
I did my flip and practically flew weightlessly down the mountain, floating on the fragile air beneath my board. When I saw a lump, I caught it just right and it launched me onto the horizontal track far below. All the while, Dino kept up with me pretty well for a noob, but my big air put me well in the lead.
We were skidding our separate ways around jagged camouflaged cliffs and boulders I hadn't seen before due to their caked on snow blankets. The sound of Dino flailing and scraping his corners on the jagged pieces of ice noisily followed close behind. I couldn't look back at him because I was too busy concentrating on my own course, but his grunts of effort and worry started to bug my conscious.
"Hey “yippee”," I yelled, "Having fun yet?"
"Not as much fun as you, Tank," He grunted, "I'll see you at the finish line!"
His more confident tone surprised me and I turned to glance just as he shredded past me. The vast force coming off his board was enough to snow slap me and I almost busted it on a rock. I quickly caught the glance of fire that flung from the back of his board, and I knew now why he was acting so cocky. A rocket-powered board, seriously? That was so weak, but more importantly, this canyon couldn't take that sort of new-fangled pressure, one wrong slide and it was St. Bernard’s digging up our bones. I quickly sped up to his heels and hollered over the roar of the mechanism, "Turn that thing off before you cause an avalanche you maniac!"
"You're just jealous because I'm about to win, Tank!"
I rolled my eyes and tried to catch up, when distantly, I heard another voice coming up from behind. It was hollering out, "HEY! DERIK, YOU AIRDOG, PULL OVER!" Of course it was he speedster himself---no normal man could have caught up to us so quickly, even with a Blinger's rocket board… "What's that 'Cessory man up to?" Kurt bellowed, "All this rackets gonna start a snow-slide---You know that doncha?"
I shrugged in an obvious DUH, motion, and slowed down to meet Kurt face to face… "I tried to warn him, but he won't listen?"
"Then, we need to bail or finish this soon before the slopes decide we overstayed our welcome! You just had to go to the backcountry, didn't you!?"
As the trench circled, the three of us noticed Ben waving at us from the top. We skidded left and up a steep slope to reach the U-turn back to our starting line. Then I noticed something bright and eye-catching up there too. I couldn't help but turn my head and look, as a little pink dot jumped right off the edge of the peak.
I yelled out before I could think twice about it, "ANNA!"
Kurt sloshed to a stop and I nearly tackled him doing the same as our boards clapped against eachother and I grabbed his shoulders to keep the both of us from face planting into the snow. We watched as my little pink dot of a baby sister soared like a raging comet ninety-degrees downward, and went pale as ghosts as she stuck the landing, pulling a perfect Angelo as her mini-board impacted the snow and shot away like a greased up piece of lightning.
"DAMN!" Kurt exclaimed, his voice half worried and half proud as we watched my sister take off. "Anna's a Meat Torpedo!"
I shoved him with fear for my baby sister, and dropped down the ledge to go get her. Unfortunately when I did, I caught the angle of the mountain and was soon racing after her at top speed. Kurt hurried now to catch Dino, but he had already crossed the finish line. He had just started whooping, jumping, and cheering with Ben, before Kurt could stop them---and of course by "stop" I mean: tackle and cuss out, while mercilessly beating the crap out of the two of them.
The only thing I could even feel was the noise of the cliff cracking---the loud echo chilled my spine as the ice started to fall. Snow crashed from above like a wave, and now I was frantically blazing for little Anna, who was crying literal frozen tears onto her red freckled cheeks. I shot in, and grabbed her in one swing of my arms. She hugged onto my neck as I held her up and rushed to get out of the bowl we were trapped in---The one filling up with deadly snow as the new avalanche fell towards us. It was right on our heels. The booming rush of frozen death chased after us, making my board and bones quake with terror. I saw only one drop ahead that was out of our racing range earlier. It was either an epic plunge like that or we'd be put into a museum with Wooly Mammoths, so I needed to choose and do it quickly. Without thinking, I held Anna tighter and jumped right off the edge of the earth.