There is a lovely little girl he had never seen before.
Short black hair, a little windswept but soft and natural. Her tiny ears were pierced, the little gems glinting adorable specs of a rainbow. Large eyes, china doll face, a mini-tender Snow White hiding delicately behind her sister.
The sister was pretty, he could admit that much. Pretty in that high school popular kind of way. But that was already a turn-off. For the most part, too old, too 'grown up'.
Too much disgusting hormones, where sweet supple flesh and innocent eyes turned into something vulgar and disgusting. She was pretty to other people, maybe she was pretty enough once- doesn't matter, he preferred the petite pale one with the soft look and the squeezable thighs.
Her jacket was oversized, dragging across her fingertips in a way that made people want to hold and wrap her up. To slip inside all that extra space and hold that tiny frame against themselves. Even more tantalizing were the exposed legs, exposed flashes of flesh, the only good thing in this heat.
He didn't care for the old women, their gaudy bras flashing and exposed to the world. Didn't care for the cellulose and stretch marks, like chunks of cottage cheese and torn cloth.
But the children- oh sweet lord the young.
People let their kids frolic in the sea, like little nymphs in a classical painting, out to bathe.
The sweet bellies, perfect for blowing ticklish raspberries on. Squishy limbs, soft and appealing in, ways that no adult could ever replicate. Bell-like giggles, childishly alluring grins, oh but the legs, the thighs!
What would it be like to bite, to feast?
He hasn't seen them all, despite all the days weeks they've been trapped together. There are only so many suitable children, yes but they're protected usually. Hidden away in shady barriers by fussy parents. The heat brought them out, melted their obstructive clothes right off.
This little girl, he had not seen, and judging from her hovering siblings he can see why.
This was a delicate age for girls, before the starting line to womanhood. As delectably delicate as her smooth pale legs were, there were the telltale signs of curves developing on those lightly chubby thighs, that sweet swell of ass.
Girls at that age couldn't get any more perfect, ripe and ready for the picking before they rot into their fat fat dead shells of mothers.
He preferred boys for that very reason, their youthful loveliness, that pure romantic light bestowed onto them reaching further across the expanse of time. Boys were to be cherished and worshiped in the golden light of day, the very reason the Ancient Greeks went so mad for them. They were like magic.
Girls were a gentle light in the night, beautiful and always slipping through your fingers.
This one was still palmable, might even fit in one, his own perhaps. A fragrant bud not yet ready to bloom. Oh, what a waste that would be.
There were other kids, so many sweet beautiful kids.
But a lolita made of stardust and dreams stands here across from him in this unworthy space. An exotic Dolores Haze in the middle of balmy days and the palmy bays, a tropical Carmen unclaimed. Her skin, her charm blinding even in a crowd of long waiting aged and weary ghouls.
She can't not know.
Not with eyes like that, not with that spark of intelligence paired with a playful kitten's countenance. Her most beautiful time was running out, her childishly seductive power at its peak. For then a beloved adorable kitten turns into a gruesome tiger, unable to be loved, and it is never the same.
Grinding noises, rolling wheels, and heavy thuds of luggage rolling back and forth. The wrinkled uniforms, yelling to sedate a thirsty mob.
They haven't known true thirst, not like he does. He is only a human, lungs desperate for fresh air when the world sinks deeper, older, underwater. They don't understand, he floats and plays dead because the world cruelly refuses to understand.
They stand around them now, separating them. The heat, the confusion, and anxiety all around as herds of humans claimed their possessions in a tired frenzy.
Yet there a serpeh stands, undetected undisturbed.
Her laugh is the sweet pure ringing of the highest holiest of bells, Sunday's taunting. A small demure smile that would put the moon to shame. Moon crescent eyebrows, hair like night, the swell of prepubescent hills and a dark side no one common man can see. She brought with her a cooling breeze into his heart and a blazing fire far hotter than any summer sun through his blood rushed head and loins.
He is no fool, people catch fools. Catch them quick and lock them up, either in therapy or in jail. He didn't make it to this age as a free man by being a fool.
Love is an opportunity, a hunt, stolen breaths in the dark corners of playgrounds and bedrooms.
He does not look too long at one time, no one notices a thing. They never notice because what they are looking for are men in trench coats and sunglasses and not among themselves. He is not in the wrong with his honest desires, desire for youth, and beauty all wrapped up in one body. It's society's sin, to make the most delectable fruit forbidden.
He does not look too long, cannot. Look, then away, back again, to somewhere else.
His blood roars at the sight of her gaze, mirroring his own in those deceptively innocent eyes. There's no way she doesn't know, doesn't invite him back.
Girls were never as perfect as when they were this age, so innocent yet full of cravings, so ready and just...waiting.
She was waiting for him, watching curiously, intently.
A flutter of dolly lashes, a pant of lollipop lips, even as everyone around them cracked and bled. He knows as a gambling addict does, how he wouldn't be so forsakenly thirsty if he drank from those lips, open and waiting. Lips that spelled out words, silent, a message only to those worthy to read. A message just for him, one that he could dream of stretching into dark corners among the leaves.
He may have found his little mermaid, his rosy red and snowy white- a fairytale princess out of place but perfect nonetheless.
There is no conceivable way that she doesn't know, this cruel child.
She cannot avoid time. Nothing beautiful can last. She will become a woman. But by all the gods ever spoken on the lips of good little boys and girls, it could be him to make her one before time does.
She does not wink nor giggle away like a common teenage whore, still too good too young for that. The eyes are enough, eyes that mirror his hunger, his thirst with all the starvation that the young and curious can possibly fathom.
OF course, yes of course. He understands, would give up his chance off this god-forsaken island for the chance to claim again and again this whimsical fantasy before her time is up.
It is not seafoam that washes her away, a tragic little mermaid in tales untold, but rolling wheels and taped-up cardboard boxes. The gangly teenaged dragon and the too-old sister witch lead their princess away, but not before she turns to kiss him one last time, mere yards away from him across the heated air, her eyes imploring. Begging for rescue, to be whisked off and away.
He is human. A good person. He cannot deny the call of such a little beauty. He understands at this moment how fools get caught, what the books are all raving about. He'll find her, at the next sign, the next chance.
The moon and stars sparkle in her night eyes. When she silently begs for him to find her, he knows that if God even exists in this wicked world, not even he could stop him.
"Sophie, can I have some chapstick?"
"Mmmm berry peach flavor!"
"Don't eat it June, it doesn't taste that good."
Sophie patted her sister's arm dotingly, pampering June in the little ways they could still afford. It might have looked more like June was the older one teasing her smaller sister, either way, the girls looked close.
The girls' cute looks and good relationship drew some appreciative glances, as people enjoy looking at flowers or puppies. A tall similar featured boy leaning over to join and casually annoy the girls didn't detract from the charming scene at all, rather he was perfectly a part of it. It was a good thing for siblings to get along and look out for one another, a lot of older people, and parents, approved.
It was another hot summer day but people were willing to brave it if it meant they could finally receive their check-in luggage.
Earlier there was a debate among the flight crew and staff on what to do. In the end, it was decided to lighten the load. Improve the public morale and empty out the storage on the extra weight. They would need to conserve fuel to start up the planes and move them as much distance as they needed.
There was no electric carousel but people still stood in a large circle, waiting to spy their belongings or hear their names read out loud from luggage tags.
"How many did you guys bring?" June asked.
"Five. Five whole heavy fucking pieces of luggage, that I really regret not bringing more now. There were some boxes. One luggage was Sophie's college one, the rest were from the family pack." Mattie mused.
"Oh shit the big ones from mom's closet?" his little sister recalled
Popped Mattie, enunciating on the P as he applied the stolen flavored chapstick. Damn it was dry out.
Nearby a group of slightly older people that he had recently kind of befriended laughed and snorted to themselves. Half of them already had items and took their sweet time to not only wait for their companions but to poke fun at a certain dirty blond, his head in his hands from humiliation and a slight hangover.
"Yo Manny, I saw a girl that would totes be your type. She's got on neon silly bracelets and a One Direction backpack!"
"Oh Oh Oh what about that one with the glittery pink suitcase? Oh, poor kid still got braces on ouch, good luck."
"Are side ponytails and scrunchies cool or something? I don't know Manny, you sure got some....interesting tastes."
"I fucking hate all of you! I said I'm sorry, I didn't know!!!" cried the boy called Manny.
"I always knew you played Pokemon Go too much Manny, what were your reeeeeeeal reasons for prowling all those public parks?!"
"*Gasp* Omg it all makes sense now!"
"What genius pick-up lines did you use then?! Oh, I know 'is that a Pikachu? bc I pick u~'"
"No wait I think he legit used one like that before."
"Everyone go die in a ditch!" sobbed the unfortunately now sober youth.
His exasperated crying did nothing to deter his friends' laughing, oh god why didn't he have better friends?
He was drunk and dehydrated okay?! He thought the kid actually had boobs and was like, closer to their age-ish? He wasn't a pedophile?!! Why is everyone still laughing?
At least there was A.J., clearing up the situation and preventing a girl from really being traumatized. He apologized to Sophie, such a cute kid. “So sorry bout that-”, and to her fam this morning okay?! On his knees! Really, he didn't mean to! Only A.J. is invited to his future wedding for now on!
Oh, fuck what is he saying, everyone's going tag along and tell his future wife and she gonna dump him bc she thinks he's a pedo too. T_T . Then Brendon gonna beat him up AGAIN and no girl will want a divorcee with a black eye and a swollen face and these kinds of shitty friends. Fuck his liiiiiife.
At least the kid and fam were cool. Mattie kinda gave mini Brendon vibes but he was a chill dude and could talk soccer and volleyball. He'd call the June girl cute and perky if his friends weren't still busy choking from their own really bad jokes.
A few feet away he could see those Quan siblings, laughing along at what they could overhear. Short little Sophie gave him an expressionless peace sign and yeah fine, he'll just live with this. At least they forgave him for his drunken stupidity, even though he was the brunt of the bad joke.
Leave him alone, he just wants to cry in A.J.'s soft manly chest- safe away from all these bullies!
Oh sweet it's his turn! There’s his stuff and board, all nice and safe. Now he can surf! Why get stuck on an island if you can't surf?
From the small distance, June eyed the surfboard a little enviously, looking over at her siblings with sparkling eyes.
"No June, we did not bring a surfboard. You don't even know how to surf." deadpanned Mattie, somehow deciphering everything with one look.
"We stuck on a beachy island for how long and ya'll didn't pack surfboards?"
Mattie shrugged, looking down to his older sister for a bit of help here. It's not like he knew about everything she shipped and packaged for them, just their 5 luggage and some cardboard boxes. Sophie might as well have been throwing wads of money at the airline for the weight allowance and storage. She did technically.
"Didn't even cross my mind June. I'm sure if you ask nicely they'll let you borrow one of theirs another day."
"I think at this point it's more effective if you ask Sophie." droned Mattie,
His older sister playing 12 and under for a free meal or a bet was nothing new. He just didn't think it would extend to ...this. He wouldn't give her away so easily, at least he wouldn't go around calling her out, not if he wanted to live in peace. Didn't mean it wasn't weird.
At least the Manny guy's reaction was funny? Yeah, that was worth a good laugh.
The siblings patiently waited for their turn in the line, the younger ones a mix of curious and anxious.
Mattie may have helped pack the check-ins but he didn't keep track of everything. Too shocked and overwhelmed in the night Sophie brought home half a grocery and camping supply store.
June wasn't even there. While she was extremely grateful to her older siblings for providing for her, she couldn't help the excitement welling up in her. What did they bring, and what did they pack? It was a little like waiting for Christmas presents.
Sophie didn't mind, kicking back and watching the proceeding calmly. She kept an eye on the supplies, whose luggage was what. There were a few rather memorable treasure chests being passed back today. If she didn't already know who they originally belonged to, then she made an effort to remember them now as they claimed their luggage.
Sophie had long started bribing the attending staff, since the beginning so it looked completely natural. That morning she coaxed them with more water, jugs only half full from passing it out to some women and children at the shelter. All to make it convincing how difficult it was to find and filter the precious resource.
It didn't matter if they got their items a little later, the main plane wasn't the one to blow. Her extra packages would stay safe in cargo, ready to be picked up at a later time if need be. She just needed to be sure that the things they needed now would be delivered safely.
"Hey jiejie-um who's the neckbeard?" June asked up into the air.
"The who what now?" her brother responded.
Mattie quickly scanned the crowd, maybe a tad too quickly. He was still getting the hang of whatever this was without tiring himself out. From his side, he could see how June slouched as if to grip and hide behind Sophie.
Sophie's face was smiling far too sweetly, his eyes followed the direction of her gaze to a large man in a hat. He was large more due to age than just being out of shape. One would guess him to be in his 50s or 60s. He had a case of some strong sideburns but was a rather well-groomed and decent-looking sort of individual. Someone that you would probably respond to with a polite 'sir'
"Who? The hat?"
"Yeah....he's giving me creeper vibes. I swear he keeps staring at us."
June was a young girl, being raised and trained to sense these sorts of things better than Mattie had to. It was an unfair and unsafe world for pretty girls in the dark. Though she couldn't prove it, her gut rolled at even a peek of this old man's staring.
Sophie gave her another reassuring pat, good girl. June always had the sense, she was just lacking in seeing the big picture. Too restless and inexperienced to actively make the right choices.
Mattie asked, switching over to their father's native tongue. As they did sometimes. Especially when they needed to keep the rest of the world from hearing. No names, no details.
"Jie, who is he? Do we need to do anything?" Mattie spoke.
"No one to concern yourself with. Later, I may ask for you to help me later. But he is not one of mine."
Not one of mine to kill.
She would be doing to world a favor if she got rid of him right now, right here. Scum like this bastard was the worst-those that could blend in with the rest of the common society. Their sins, their crimes executed right under people's noses.
That's what it was for those kids, an execution.
So he is not hers to destroy, to tear limb from limb and castrate with nothing but a rusty spoon.
"A rusty spoon?" she had asked.
"It was all I had at the time, don't judge me queen bitch."
"Did that even do anything? How did you cut shit with a curved spoon?!"
"With this little something called god damn patience, I never liked quick finishers. Took a hell long time but damn it was good."
"A spoon? You spooned a man's dick to death? You sure he wasn't just already dead."
"Kinky motherfucker, I had him bound tied up niiiiice and tight. Like he used to do to me. Made him juuuuuust as 'pretty'. Took him days to drop dead from the infection. Stubborn old shitstain."
A pink tongue licked at his own lips, the color contrast of pink against toffee tan a well-practiced seductive sight, even she had to admit that. Like a contagious yawn, she copied the motion.
Instead of smoke and banana moonshine, Sophie tastes artificial berry peach. Chapstick.
Ah right, the zoning out. She hadn't done it much lately but it was unavoidable really, not with her string of mental conditions on file. This was already pretty good.
"Jiejie- when you say 'not mine', what does that mean?" repeated June, her accent and flow a little clumsier, unpracticed, like an elementary schooler.
"Don't worry about it. That is a bad man, yes, but there is no need for us to act. Fate already has a plan for him, I just wanted to help it along."
"Are you confident you can handle it." slowly breathed Matt, his mind already running through the scenarios to come.
He was always a fast learner, faster now with what she put him through. She does not pray it will be enough, it will just have to be enough.
"Yes, but rest assured, I will come to you if I cannot. The part I want to play is not a big one. He is not one of mine."
Like Christmas, Sophie will wrap and deliver this particular overdue vermin right under the tree! She's looking forward to what sort of reaction she'll get. How he'll enjoy the crude gift, only available on this lawless island.
She doesn't think Leon has any rusty spoons this time though. Well, he'll figure something out.
"Matthew Quan! Sophie Quan-"
"Oh! Guys, it's us it's us!" cheered June, falling back into comfortable English. Sophie puts her face back on, a chameleon mask of innocence, and smiles.
"Looks like it, let's go then."
They've been bribing the staff this long, and she will continue doing so to reap the subtle payoffs.
"Thank you very much! Um....about the thingies from before?"
"Oh it's you, kids, yeah we get it. Don't worry, your family packages are safe with us. Stop by another day when it's not so busy to pick them up."
"Thank you very much, we'll try our best to return the favor eventually. Um, it's not much...but we were able to forage some herbs and coconuts this morning? Ah, the root thing is a type of ginger? There's a lot you can use it for!"
"Oh thank you, you didn't have to you sweeties."
Yes, they did. The unspoken rule on this island, from the day they crash-landed, was that nothing was free. No act of kindness, no transaction of any kind was ever just free. Didn't the 'real' world operate just the same? It's just a lot more transparent on a tiny island like this.
But the smiles Sophie and her siblings received were still genuine, and so were their thanks in return. June's shoulder was healing. Sophie didn't want her to push it, letting her carry only one while she and Mattie rolled the rest of the luggage out of the way.
"And these here too, just like you wanted right?"
"Yep! It's these ones. Thank you~"
The college kids from the night before were more than friendly enough to walk up and help Mattie out. One freshman-aged kid taking care of two teeny bopper sisters and all the luggage? That's just harsh bro.
Mattie couldn't complain, not when Sophie beamed with a grateful girlish smile. Besides, he wasn't expecting the boxes.
They were flat large things like cardboard doors packed and wrapped up. Three of them, about the same size but not quite. He had no idea what they were, what was in them. They were among the things Sophie had bought and had delivered to the airport on their D-day.
Sophie asks shyly if the boys could help them move the boxes a bit further from the crowd. It's too loud and crowded, too messy and scary to open their wrapped packages. Of course, such a small request is nothing.
In return, Sophie makes a note that these walking muscles are really not too bad. She wouldn't mind feeding them a few of their scraps in the near future. Besides, Mattie liked them even if he wouldn't say so. Young men tend to look up to their fellow senior brothers.
"Can we open them now?" gulped June.
She was already more than satisfied with the five large luggage between the three of them. But there was more? It really felt too much like a tropical Christmas.
"Go for it." Sophie allowed.
Even Mattie couldn't hide his curiosity, quickly getting to work with cutting tape and loosening cardboard flaps. While June worked diligently and with much more brute force, it was, of course, Mattie that managed to open the first box. The largest of them all.
Barely out of the box, stands a sleek brand new electric mountain bike.
No returns or exchanges were necessary.