topping the list of movies than made me want to be a journalist

One Summer, three best friends, a fortune teller and a mysterious new arrival in town.

I Can See Clearly Now

“I can see clearly now the rain is gone, I can see all obstacles in my way.”

June 19 - Virginia

Looking back, Caroline blamed her unexpected discovery on boredom that summer. The temperature had hit a stifling 103 degrees mainly due to low cloud cover containing the heat and the girls piled into the car headed for the cool sanctuary of the movie theatre to catch the latest Nicholas Sparks adaption. 

Well, that’s what Bonnie and Caroline wanted to see. Katherine on the other hand preferred a lot less mush, as she liked to put it, and a lot more violence. Knowing her dogged determination, Caroline knew this was going to be a difficult argument to win.

They’d been best friends since they were six. Class bully Jimmy Johnson had been teasing Bonnie mercilessly and one day went too far, earning himself a smack from both Caroline and Katherine. The girls still maintained that their ‘time out’ punishment was more than worth it to see him return to school with two very attractive, black eyes. After that he’d never messed with Bonnie again.

Now here they were about to embark on their Senior Year of High School. All Caroline had ever wanted was to leave Mystic Falls but even now she was beginning to feel nostalgic for the only place she’d ever called home. Not to mention her best friends. They’d chosen not to discuss their plans for the following year, too scared to contemplate separating.

“Um, last time I checked the cinema is in that direction, Katherine,” Bonnie gestured behind them.

“Who needs GPS when I have Bonnie Bennett barking directions at me from the backseat.”

“Well, she does have a point, Kat,” Caroline chimed into the conversation. “Surely the prospect of Nicholas Sparks isn’t bad enough to make you drive in the complete opposite direction.”

“Ah yeah he is, that Notebook movie you guys made me watch has scarred me for life.”

“It’s okay, we promised not to tell anyone you cried,” Bonnie mused.

“There was something in my eye, I told you that,” she shot back. “Anyway, I just thought we could do something a little different today. You know given it will be our last high school summer and all.” The dread lingered between them for a while, each girl feeling the overwhelming sadness that came with that very fact.

“I’m almost afraid to ask,” Bonnie murmured, finally breaking the silence.

“You’ll love it, trust me.”

“The last time she said that I ended up dancing on the bar at the Mystic Grill in a tequila fuelled haze,” Caroline recalled.

“And look how much fun you had. Well, you know after the hangover subsided.”

“And the subsequent grounding from the Sheriff. Katherine, she was this close to pressing charges against her own daughter for public drunkenness.”

“Yeah those were good times,” Caroline drawled, raising her eyebrows. “Please tell me this little surprise doesn’t involve illegal activity of any kind?”

“You two really are boring,” she muttered, checking out her appearance in the rearview mirror. “But no this isn’t illegal, well not that I know of anyway. If I’m being honest, I’m not completely across the laws in Maryland.” The girls were rendered speechless just as the ‘Thank you for visiting Mystic Falls’ sign rushed past their windows.

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Officer Negan ( Negan x Noa)

Summary: Noa Campbell moves to a new town called Sanctuary after being hired for a new job. As fate will have it, she literally bumps into Officer Negan

Characters: Officer Negan x Original Female Character

Word Count: 2,181 words
Warnings: Mild language and eventual smut (just not in this part)

Author’s Note: I am taking part in another Negan fanfiction challenge created by @flames-bring-a-ton-of-ash. @negans I chose to write about Negan and an Original Character.

The story is a lot longer than this. This is just part one. Its one hell of a rollercoaster ride.

Officer Negan x Oc
The main reason why Noa Campbell moved to a small time like Sanctuary was work. She got a job working as a freelance journalist for the local paper. The idea of moving to Sanctuary made her nervous. Noa lived in the city for her entire life. Now she needed to adjust to the peace and quiet. The crickets chirping loud outside in the yard and the idea of everyone knowing her name. Forget about the part of being one of the few black people there. That was a given. She thought about someone burning a cross on her lawn one evening out of spite. A thought that crossed her mind as she carried the final box up the front steps of her new home.

She decided that she needed to go for a drive around the town. It was too pretty to be sitting in the house eating takeout and watching movies on her phone. Well that and the cable guy wasn’t coming until, the next weekend and it was only Sunday. Noa decided to drive downtown first. The warm night air filled up her nose as she cruised through the streets. This was life at the moment and she was okay with that.

Noa parked her car downtown at the corner of Main Street and Marigold. She climbed out slinging her black leather bag over her shoulder and shutting the door. She saw some kids walking on the side walk. They giggle as they pass her, but she’s not the source of their humor. No, one of them was eating an ice cream cone piled high with as many flavors as it could hold. Unfortunately, this kid is a bit of a klutz. That explains why his white shirt has a dark stain on it. One the kids calls his chocolate boy and they all start cracking up. Noa misses the rest of the conversation, but smiles.
She remembered laughing at her baby brother Sam for being a klutz. He somehow managed to always drop something or another on his clothing. The main reason why Noa left her house was for a coffee fix. The Sanctuary has a crap load of stores and establishments, but not one Starbucks. How is that possible? Isn’t that supposed to be a prerequisite for all cities and towns? See this is how she knows that she’s been living in the city for far too long. Back home all that she had to do was turn a corner and she could get a Frap. Noa sighs thinking how out of all the things that she will miss that will be on the top of the list.

Thank god that the town has a decent looking coffee shop with the name Toni’s on its sign. Noa believes that it’s named after author Toni Morrison. The owner who is a young white dude in his early thirties with purple hair reveals that this is the truth. One short hello turns into a conversation about a book called The Bluest Eye. Dwight (aka the purple haired dude) started talking about his favorite character Claudia. She’s a little black girl with strong feelings of distain towards a doll that her mother brought her. Claudia doesnt want to be anyone other than herself. She’s okay with having brown eyes. There’s no need for her to change herself. Like Dwight says, those blue eyes are all that poor Pecola lives for to make herself feel beautiful. The book is all about the self-hatred that many young black girls feel. This need to fit into boxes that they don’t need to fit in. They are fine the way that they are.

The drink that Noa ordered is a vanilla latte. She’s about to take it to go, but decides to drink it in house. When she walked over to the counter to wait for the drink, there’s a small crowd of patrons gathered. Everyone was in the middle of separate conversations. Two men bickered over curtains. One thinks that blue is a beautiful color while the other likes green. One woman carried a small dog with a pink bow on her head. From the top of her head to the tips of her toes, she looks perfect. This is not to say that Noa doesn’t look nice nor does she envy her. No, this woman appears to be some sort of model. Later on, Noa learns that she owns a place called Jessie’s pleasure closet. A store six shops down with pink letters on the sign.

There’s a man and woman holding hands and pecking each other on the lips every so often. What she wants is to tell both of them to get a room. Each group drifts away leaving her alone waiting. Some other people pop up, but Noa pays more attention to her phone than them. An alert about a few emails seems to distract her. One of which reminds her that the cable company is coming. The door opens when her back is turns. She hears the jingle of a bell.

Someone says, “Dwighty boy, I can’t for the life of me understand why the fuck you dye your hair all those colors.” “There’s nothing wrong with a little color in your life.” “You know I know that,” the voice says with a laugh. Noa sees him in of the corner of her eye and looked over. It’s a tall dark and handsome man with a bright smile dressed in a police uniform. She feels her skin prickle with goosebumps. Look away, Noa. Look away,” she tells herself. You did nothing wrong. He will get his coffee and go. One breath in and the other pushed out slowly as she continued checking her phone. “One vanilla latte,” says the female barista Sherry. A petite brunette with big blue eyes and a sweet smile. “Thanks,” Noa replies taking her drink from the counter.

She tucks her phone into her pocket then turns around. Somehow, someway Noa manages to collide with the person behind her. During the collision, her drink fell out of her hands and landed on the floor. “Shit,” she replies noticing that the liquid spilled all over this person’s shoes. Noa looks up about to open her mouth to apologize when she makes eye contact. Fear rushing through her as she stands face to face with the cop. Of all the people to bump into and she bumps into him. Her voice wavers as she says, “I’m so sorry. It was my fault.” He smiles looking down at her with those hazel eyes. ‘It was an honest mistake, darling. This is what I get for not watching where I was going.” Noa closes her mouth then bend down to pick up the cup.

“Listen,” she says, “if there is any way that I can…”

“Don’t worry about it,” he says. “It happens to me a lot. Allow me to buy you another drink for scaring the shit out of you.” Noa wants to say no, but allows him to because he insists.

She listens to as him speak not paying attention to his words. She only understood that this man was “shooting the shit” so to speak with Dwight. Sherry hands Noa her drink with raised eyebrows and a look that says good luck. Noa’ eyebrows raise as she takes it. “Thank you,” she says turning to the tall policeman whose name that she hasn’t caught yet. “I’m sorry for bumping into you.” She pivots then starts to walk away from him. Her feet move a lot faster than she anticipated. So, fast that she made it to the door and before she could catch her breath.

What the fuck was that? Why did he do that? Noa didn’t wait for his answer as she went to her car. She never checked over her shoulder as she crossed in front of the grill then got inside. Her heart beating fast and harder than usual. She started up the engine taking a deep breath then releasing it. Breathe. It’s okay. It’s okay. A slight knock on the driver’s side window made her damn near jump out of her skin. It was the officer smiling that smile of his. He motioned for her to roll the window down. She does it taking a slow breath trying to calm herself down. That breathing exercise that always worked wasn’t doing so well at the moment.

“You move mighty fast darlin’,” he says with that slight southern twang in her voice. “Not that I minded the view.”
He laughs a bit then says, “But, I was a bit hurt that you left before I caught your name.” Noa paused then said, “Noa…..” She cleared her throat. “My name is Noa. “That’s a beautiful name,” he replies. “I’m Negan by the way.”

“Do I scare you, Noa,” he asks motioning to the way she’s holding on to the steering wheel for dear life. “Yes,” she admits with a waver in her voice.

“Really? I wouldn’t hurt a fly.” Her eyes go straight to his gun. He leans into the window then look down at it as well. “The safety is on so, you don’t have to worry about that,” he replies. Noa look him in his eyes then says, “I’m not a big fan of cops.”

Immediately, she regrets saying it. His face shifts to a solemn look as the smile fades. “Listen,” he says, “darling’ you are not on my radar other than to give you my number. I want to at least show you that I am not a monster. You may change your mind a bit.” “Okay,” Noa says sitting back in her chair. He reaches into his pocket then pulls out a card. It’s stained with a little coffee. He hands it to her with a smile on his face. “Now I need to get your number….” Noa handed him her phone out of curiosity not trusting herself with a pen. She did so more out of curiosity more than fear. How did all this happen? A teensy loss of control more than anything else. He had her unlock the phone before he accepted it from her. One fact that she remembered later on.

The officer handed it back to her and said, “Is it alright if I call you this week?” She nods then says okay. Now he doesn’t call her until, around Wednesday which is fine for Noa. She needed a couple days to calm down. Not that the sight of his name didn’t give her a slight heart palpitation. But, she decided that she needed to research this man. The town was pretty small. Everyone knew everyone so, it was the word already that the new girl was talking to Officer Negan. Also, that she spilt coffee on him. He offered to buy her a new drink then ran off. See this is why she missed the city. Nobody gave a damn about what anyone else was doing unless, it was something illegal. Noa almost dropped her phone picking it up. Her hands are clammy. What the hell is wrong with me, she asks herself then hits the answer button. “Hello,” she answers.

“Noa, this is Officer Negan. Do you remember me?”

“Yes, I spilled coffee on you.”

“I hope you aren’t still worried about that,” he laughs. “It’s been two days.”

“ I’m not usually clumsy,” she reveals.

“I startled you,” he says, “so, that’s my fault. That’s also, why I am calling you.” Noa held the phone closest to her lap. She put him on speaker not only for her own sanity, but also because of how his voice carried. “I wanted to know if you were busy on Saturday afternoon,” he asked. Noa licked her lips then replied that she was free. “Good,” he says, “I want to take you somewhere. If that’s alright with you.” “Its fine,” she says looking down at the phone.

“What time?” “How about one o’clock,” he asks. “Okay,” she says, “I’ll meet you there.” “I was thinking more of me picking you up.” “No, she says, “I would rather drive.” “Fair enough,” he says, “I’ll see you then.” They say good bye to one another and then the call ends. Noa stared down at the phone with a furrow in her brow. How the hell am I going to survive sitting somewhere with Negan without having a panic attack of some sort? She shakes her head then places her hand on her forehead. A feeling of dread washes over her. Noa can cancel. He won’t mind if she does. If he does then she can explain that spending time with anyone in law enforcement is not what she had in mind. By spending time, she means dating. There’s no way in hell that she can date this dude. He looks much older than her. Plus, right now sst wants to focus on herself and not be in a relationship. And then she decides to meet this guy.

1. I hear people say that Cannes is like the Miami of France, but I’ve never been to Miami, so Cannes is mostly just the Cannes of Cannes to me. Curving gently around a bay on the Cote d'Azur, the city is sun-blessed and beautiful and tacky and utterly alive with luxe, ludicrous possibility. At least for the film festival it seems to be. The beach is lined with tented restaurants and clubs that thump with parties at all hours of the day. Arriving there on my first day, I’m struck by how close and upfront everything is. In New York, the fabulous stuff is largely carefully spirited away in anonymous buildings. Here it’s splayed out on the beach for all to see, in a way that is silly and exciting and sexy and very French. My boss and I find ourselves, three hours after landing, standing with glasses of champagne at one of these beach parties, making small talk with Adrian Grenier. I’m so jet-lagged and yet over-stimulated that this truly bizarre moment registers as weird but not that weird. I just floated dumbly into it, anyway. This was all my boss’s doing, he easily talking our way into the party, the girl with the clipboard saying “Oh, I’m sure you’re on this list somewhere.” There’s a lot of that in Cannes (at Cannes?), people trading false confidence, no one wanting to be caught out of the loop. It’s fun and makes you feel powerful, but it’s also the beginning, I worry, of a lie.

2. I’m a liar for being here. That’s what I spend a lot of the week thinking. What am I doing here? Everyone else, literally everyone else, belongs here, knows what they’re doing, fits into this opulent jumble in some crucial way. I meet other writers who speak in a language I barely understand, casual, familiar references to directors and oeuvres and styles and influences that make me feel like a dumb kid with a Blockbuster card. Is there a word for how smugness disappears, the way it sickly, sadly evaporates out of your body? Because that is what I feel at Cannes (in Cannes). As if all the years I spent reciting IMDb facts and impressing friends with not just movie knowledge but movie opinion were, it turns out, worth nothing. Because here I am, feeling so stupid, so useless, so unproductive compared with these journalists and critics, real journalists and real critics, who know so much more than me. Here I am with this fancy assignment but with nothing to back it up. This is a shaming experience, but a changing one too. I can actually feel myself changing. 

3. Ego steps back in, of course. How could it not as I gape at the Hotel du Cap and Justin Bieber and Jennifer Lawrence and Edward Cullen and every other famous person you can imagine at this party I’ve mistakenly been allowed to attend. We’re right on the ocean and there are yachts twinkling in the distance, looking like a whole skyline there are so many of them, and I am drinking free but very good champagne and wondering, but secretly appreciating in some shameful way, what I ever did to get here. This is my second night, but on the first night I felt it too, at another beach party with a new friend, he very kindly encouraging me to uncynically accept the wild majesty of this place and these people, awed and amazed, guilty and grateful. It’s such an odd feeling to exist somewhere you know you shouldn’t, scared that you’ll be found out, but giddy at the continued success of the con. 

4. Of course there are movies! And before each one the logo for the festival comes up on the screen, a mini presentation set to dreamy music that everyone applauds. Applauding because we all made it, and because the French really take this seriously. The cinema. There are kids all around the Palais des Festivals holding signs asking for tickets to the night’s red carpet premieres. All impossibly attractive teenagers desperately hoping to see, waiting all day to see, some art film that, I don’t think, kids in America will ever hear about. That strikes me as wonderful, as hopeful, as a sign that this really is something special. This event I’ve read about every year for well over half my life. This is how it works, and people care about it. Not just those hired to care, but these kids, with their good hair and nice outfits, all enviably cool and French. Old people, too. They queue up for the afternoon screenings, in smart windbreakers, tickets in hand, asking foreigners in lilting English if they too have seen “the film of Cronenberg." 

5. I begin to lose myself, to fall into the grand swoon of the whole experience. I stand on more beaches and clutch more glasses of champagne and think to myself that I don’t really know who I am. It’s like all that weird, surging growth you do as a teenager during the summer, every moment tingling with possibility, living in the yawn, the maw, of potential. Now, suddenly, I am someone who’s here. Who chats up a pretty blond Brazilian film student at a party, who doesn’t care when he says he has a boyfriend, who laughs when he says "You are Richard, I am Ricardo!” Who stumbles, way too late at night, to a gay bar and introduces himself to a certain young, beautiful, maddeningly successful Quebecois director and makes a total fool of himself in the process. (“Um, hi?” is the last thing I hear before I turn away from him in hot-faced embarrassment.) Who wants to hate this cocky director’s movie but winds up loving it, more than anything else. Who stands, one weird night, looking out across Monaco (who goes to Monaco!) with two new friends, still strangers, and feels for a second a sense of certainty. I’m here! Despite everything else, I’m here. And maybe nobody else here knows who they are either. Maybe that’s the point. 

6. It’s strange to be this much in my head. It’s a surprisingly emotional experience, this whole festival thing. An epiphany every hour almost, which is exhilarating and exhausting and definitely pretty lame. It’s easy, but probably correct, to feel completely annoyed with myself, some brag-happy nightmare who’s asking people to marvel at and confirm his impossible luck. (Of course, in my head, these people never really call it luck. To them, these fantasy people, it’s all perfectly earned.) I have to stop talking about this already. I can’t be this gushing, bragging jerk when I get back. But it’s so hard to not feel special here, even with all this indignant doubt worming its way around.

7. On my way out of Cannes, the owner of the Airbnb arrives to drive me to the train station. I’d met his girlfriend, a Russian girl in cut-offs and a tank top, fled somewhere cold for this sunny place, and assumed her boyfriend would be some gruff, hairy European, idling outside in his Renault with house music blaring away. But he’s instead a nice, clean-cut guy in shorts and boat shoes, who speaks in apologetically broken English and is enthusiastic about his new rental enterprise. He asks me about New York as we drive in the rain, and tells me about living in Antibes with his girlfriend. She wanted a yard and a real kitchen, and that’s what her apartment has in Antibes, so that’s where they chose to live. He shakes my hand when we get to the station and then I’m on my own.

8. Aix is as lovely as everyone said it would be, but it’s also full of university students and I feel incredibly old and sad, there by myself, eating dinner and reading my Kindle, the lonely weirdo, table for one. It’s an odd sort of narcissism, the kind that insists that everyone is looking at you, but out of scorn and cruel pity. Of course no one is looking at me, I don’t even register, but it’s hard not to feel conspicuous when traveling alone, especially if you’ve never really traveled alone before. Here was this trip I was so excited for, and I find myself only rarely marveling at the beauty of the place I’m in. It’s mostly the loud echoes of recent ghosts–I was just on a beach with hundreds of people drinking champagne! I saw Jane Campion dancing like mad!–and worries about what’s waiting back home. It’s hard to not have someone to talk to, to break it all down, even at charming cafes in France.

9. So I go on Grindr, my first time ever on Grindr, and I get two drinks with an opera singer from Texas who is in Aix for the summer. It’s not as awkward as I thought it might be, but it’s not as fun either. Mostly because I know how quick it’s going to be, that we’ll say goodnight and that will be that. When I get back to my hotel room, though, he’s sent me a message asking if I want to hang out more. I do, in some small way, but I tell him I’m tired. It’s not a lie, exactly, but it feels like one anyway. 

10. At another cafe, on another day, with another round of drinks, I strike up a conversation with another person from Quebec. But this time she’s friendly and warm and she tells me about how she came here on a business trip 20 years ago and never left. Now she has French kids, teenagers, and it’s funny to think about that. She says her son, 16, is very cultured, and when he goes to North America, Canada and Ohio, to see her side of the family, he is horrified by his grandmother who buys her produce from Costco. “They grow up faster here,” she says, and I can’t tell if she’s happy about that. Later that night I say fuck it and sit outside at the nicest restaurant I can find and order a steak tartare and a bottle of wine and smoke my Gauloises and am suddenly glad I’m not a French teen whose mother doesn’t quite understand him. 

11. The train station in Marseilles has the most beautiful view, looking out across the city and a castle or a church or something on a hill. And the station is built like all the great old European stations, a huge shed with tracks leading out into the unknown. Weird that the Marseilles train station is one of the most enchanting places of the whole trip. But, there it is. Somewhere I’ve been now. 

12. My last night, in Nice. What a place! As I walk down toward the water, walking like mad toward the water after four days spent inland in beautiful, boring Aix, I wish that I’d chosen to spend more time here. But an evening’s all that I’ve got, and I watch the sun worriedly, like the minute it’s dark the French gangsters will come out and get me. I sit on the beach one last time and pay too much for a glass of wine and take some obnoxious Instagram photos and watch planes land and take off, arcing up over the Mediterranean. On my way to Aix I met two kids from Indiana, just graduated from Purdue, who were backpacking across Europe. And on my way to Nice there were more American backpackers on the train, a bunch of kids just starting their trip. It’s comforting and sort of sad that someone else’s trip is always beginning as yours ends. My feet blistered and dead, these kids all bouncy and stringy and uncertain about what’s going to come. On the train platform in Aix I said “That’s great! Congratulations!” when the Indiana kids told me they’d just graduated. And I felt old, but almost cozy in that oldness. They were polite and said thank you and then wandered off to find their friends, leaving me with my cigarette and my suit bag, trying not to stare off after them with some small bit of longing.

13. For my last dinner alone, I rack up more insanely expensive data charges and fiddle on my phone, eating duck and potatoes and bread and drinking rose and smoking more Gauloises and good god I’m overdoing it. But I’m supposed to be, right? When else but this kind of stolen week can you let yourself be the most ridiculous version of yourself?

14. When I get back to New York I meet a girl who writes for Vogue who was on my same flight. We laugh at the small worldiness of it all as we smoke a cigarette outside JFK. She disappears somewhere and I get in the taxi line, right in front of an attractive family, mother and two handsome teenage sons, who have returned from, and I’m maybe crazy for interpreting what I heard this way, Kim and Kanye’s wedding. The way the kid says “And then I said to Kanye,” so casual and nonchalant, leads me to believe he knows him. But maybe I’m tired and just imagining things, maybe I’ve been alone in my head for too long, or exposed to too many impossible things in the last two weeks. I get in my cab and say my address and it’s nice to speak confident English again, to watch all of familiar New York spring back into being on the horizon.

15. The day after I don’t feel so special or magically confused anymore. That feeling fades quickly, both a relief and a disappointment. It’s muggy and my apartment’s a mess. Someone got my debit card number and charged $500 at a French version of Home Depot. I’m broke and tired and feeling guilty about how many times I tweeted from France. (“Was I annoying?” I ask a friend. He doesn’t say no.) But then there’s work, and the subway, and everything else. How nice it all is. How lucky I am. And then I go to a movie.