These three words were printed on a plain white sheet of paper that was stapled to the tree outside my house. The three simple words were either not spaced correctly or even misspelled and was reprinted over with the correct letter. Attached to the paper was hand picked mistletoe; a nice touch that made me want to throw it to the ground and stomp on it. The letter had to be from her. My eyes watered with pure confusion mixed with frustration.
What are you trying to tell me? These words echoed in my mind. Then the world began to spin and became white noise.
“Get up, twerp! It’s the first day of Christmas Break and you spend it sleeping in?” A thunderous voice woke me up from my sleep. As I glared at the source of the sound, with a couple of eye blinks and yawns, I could see in my sleep deprived vision my older brother with his joyous attitude exploding into my oxygen. He was wearing his winter coat and gloves so I presumed he just got home. I groaned as I got out of bed, rubbing my eyes to greet him but he immediately picked me up into a giant hug while spinning me around profusely. I screamed like a toddler having a tantrum,”Let me go Josh! I’m not five anymore!”
He, of course, put me down immediately since I’m now a lot bigger than five years old. He probably almost threw out his back trying to lift my lanky tall body away from the Earth’s surface, but he still smiled away the pain. Upon hearing all the commotion, our mother decided to enter my bedroom too.
“Josh, why do you always torment your brother while he’s still sleeping? You should leave him alone until he wakes up. We did with you when you had your video game craze and wanted to pay till 2 in the morning.”
“Mom that was when I was in high school! Now I have to stay up even later to get homework done.”
“Please don’t remind me. You’ll make me hurl from all the stress you go through. Anyways, I made breakfast. Andy go wash your self first, OK?”
“Yes, mom.” I replied between my teeth. I wasn’t even hungry nor I wanted to spend it with my brother. I just wanted to sleep. Nonetheless, I dragged my body to the bathroom to wash my face. I started to question myself why did I feel so tired. I’m the exact opposite from my brother so I usually stay up all night reading different novels. However, I didn’t this time. My mind was in a deep sleep deprivation fog that I couldn’t even remember what I had for dinner last night. As soon as I started to think about food, I felt my stomach giving me twenty punches in the abdomen region. When I was finished and dried my face, I looked carefully at myself in the mirror. I had scratches all over my cheeks and even a bad one over my left eye. I rubbed my eyes to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. I stared at how the cuts looked fresh for they weren’t completely healed.
What did I do last night?
“ANDY! HURRY UP! MOM WON’T LET ME EAT TILL YOU GET YOUR ASS OVER HERE!”
Without thinking twice, I skipped putting on deterrent and brushing my teeth to just shut my brother up. While walking down the stairs to get to the kitchen, I heard my mother pestering my brother with questions on how classes are for him. He recently just declared his major so my mother was dying to know. He sent an old fashioned letter to us weeks ago to make the news even more special. He smiled in a dorky way like if he just got a love confession. I rolled my eyes, shutting my ears up as I slammed cabinets pretending to be looking for cereal.
“Andy dear, your food is already on the table. I made everyone scrambled eggs with butter toast and a cup of coffee like you always enjoy.”
I politely nodded my head thanks to my mother, while giving her a hug before I started to eat. I loved how my mother allows me to be my grumpy self whenever my brother comes over. I feel she understands how its like to be the younger sibling and having those teenager emotions unresolved really nails you in the stomach. As I stared down at my coffee mug, drinking in the pure bliss, I felt my brother smirking at me.
“So mom told me that you had an accident yesterday.”
Did I? My started racing as I remembered two bicycles and a hat blowing in the wind. Besides that I could not understand what he meant.
“I think it was from that bike accident, right? Wait, I got ran over by bikes?!”
“Oh no! You do not remember what happened? I’m going to call your father to make sure you didn't get amnesia. Stay right here.”
She ran as fast as she could to get to the phone that was on the other side of the house. Without thinking twice, Josh continued his gossip, “Apparently you went for a ride to go to a friend’s house but mom told you that a storm was coming. Course you did not listen to her, so you went out anyway and you had to crash into a pedestrian!”
I felt flustered by all the information thrown at me as I tried to remember what happened but it felt like there was something in my head that prevented me to do so. In a flash, our mother was back with her hands shaking. Her face was so red that she looked like was going to explode. Then, she came over to me so fast to slap my cheek raw. My eyes grew wide with bewilderment, feeling dizzy with confusion.
“YOU ARE IN SO MUCH TROUBLE YOUNG MAN! YOU HAD TO RUN OVER THE MAYOR OF THIS TOWN ANDY! YOU JUST HAD TO! GO TO HIS HOUSE AND APOLOGIZE RIGHT NOW!"
I would love to, but I can’t. I have to….
My mind started to ache and I held my head in my hands. I felt a pounding of pain as I groaned “Give me my medicine mother…”
I suddenly felt the lights in the room become too bright and all the sounds in the whole house blasted on full volume. I held my head tightly as I tried to fight the monstrous headache. In the dream-like state, I felt my arm float away from my body as I unconsciously opened my palm out. Like two gentle clouds, they massaged my hands gently within giving me two large raindrops. Then my other hand went drifting off my head and went to touch a cold glass scepter. I opened my eyes though very slowly to see that in the now dim lit room it was my medicine and a glass of water. With a head tilt and swallow, I let myself fall into the back of the chair while I waited for the medicine to kick in. My mother finally shooed my brother away as I felt the soft clouds return to my icicle hands.
In the small daydream, I just imagined drowning in my coffee cup. Being covered in head to toe with the warm liquid blanket. I felt like I was suspended in space as I tried to move my arms to hug the liquid which formed around my body. Everything felt slowed down as I even tried to swim around this strange world. I wanted to feel like this for the rest of my life; being overjoyed by this good feeling. Next thing I know, I suddenly was transported to be perched on my black bike again, riding through the snow. I rode fast with wild furry as snow and cold wind hit my face multiple times. On my side was a small green present tied in a red bow which had a name tag To Marney flapping in the wind. I was in a hurry for some reason as I saw the cold mist coming and going from my mouth repeatedly. Then, the dream sped up to me watching a girl running on the sidewalk listening to her iPod loudly. She wore a really pretty black and white sweater that matched her sweat pants. Her blond ponytail danced behind her and her brown eyes stared straight and focused. They were shiny like glass marbles in the snow background. I knew by heart who she was, but I couldn’t remember her name. As she ran, I overheard lyrics from the song Sweet Disposition from The Temper Trap. I took a chance to stare at her for a few more seconds before turning around and getting launched out of my bike seat while landing head first into a bunch of timber wood. Then, black out. I couldn’t remember what happened after that.
It was one in the afternoon when I woke up from my long nap. I was in my bedroom, but I wasn’t alone this time again. Next to me was my mother dozed off in her rocking chair covered in one of my grandma’s old wool blankets. I got up slowly, feeling refreshed and reborn, that I was able to get up with ease. When I walked down the stairs, I heard my brother playing video game in the living room and immediately spotted my father in the kitchen. He was reading the newspaper with a cringing news line MAYOR HIT AND RUN: SON OF TOWN’S DOCTOR POTENTIAL KILLER? I felt a lump form in my throat as I felt terrible for ruining my whole family’s livelihood. I turned around to go back to my room when I heard my father calling out to me, “Andy, how are you feeling? Did you take the medicine for that migraine?”
I shuffled in place for a moment prior to joining my father at the kitchen table. He was drinking his black tea which made his graying mustache wet. His blue and gray eyes observed my face intensely. All I wanted to do was cover my face in shame.
“Good, your scratches aren’t infected as they should be. I think you should clean them before going to bed tonight, alright?”
“I will, father.” I replied in a soft voice.
Then, the kitchen became quiet and filled with the smallest noises. Outside was the wind making the birch tree hit against the window and even a couple of dogs barking faintly in the distance. In the other room, was sounds of Josh pressing buttons at the speed of light as he would make sounds of disapproval and shout “I’ll see you in Hell!” to whoever he was fighting against. I even heard one of the old doors close softly and creaking of floorboards coming to the direction of the kitchen. My ears perked at who else was here since I knew my mother had to still be asleep. So I turned around and later regretted every second of it. In my own home, the running girl stood before me! She wore the same clothes from yesterday with an expectation of a red beanie tilted to the right side.
“Thank so much for your hospitality, Dr. Wiggins, but I should be on my way home. I don’t want to go for a run once the snow comes down too hard."
While she talked she took brief glances at me which made me feel a tickling sensation in my chest. I reached out to her with my mouth a bit gaped before saying, “I like that song.”
She tilted her head at first but then flashed a smile.
“It’s my running song. I only run when that song plays.” She then started walking to the door. Before she left, she asked“You wanna join me?”
“I love…” I couldn’t even finish my sentence as my dad butted in, “To not go, Andy. You should stay here at home where it's safe. With the reputation you have caused us, you shouldn’t go with her period. Maybe next time, OK?”
She nodded at his decision before waving goodbye. “See you then, Andy.”
Upon her departure, I only started to realize how cold the room actually was.
It’s been two weeks and she never showed up ay my place. I haven’t even left the house. Not once to even help my mother buy groceries. My stupid accident made me the only wanted convict in this whole town populated by 34 people. The only time I was able to leave, during my long incognito state, was during Christmas Eve. I had to go outside with my dad to fix the lights on our tree. Apparently our neighbor, Mr. Jones, was walking his dogs early that morning and they decided to give us out early Christmas present. If anything, I think Mr. Jones did the dirty work himself. He always did hate me and my brother for no good reason. I think it was because Josh broke his daughter’s heart when he forgot to pick her up for junior prom. Let’s just say he didn’t go period and instead went to go geek with friends about the new game he got till mom called. Next thing you know, he got grounded until he graduated high school. As well, mom made him go apologize to Mr. Jones’s daughter. I’m not going to say what happened so I’ll just let you imagine the food throwing after she regretfully gave Josh another chance which left a few ancient china vases in pieces, the front windows of the house shattered, and tons of bitch slaps. He came back so red faced that day that he could have totally replaced Rudolf.
It’s almost New Year’s Eve now and I still haven’t seen her. I keep writing in my journal everyday about how my life sucks now. I hate my brother for having no homework during Winter break. I hate how my mother and father act all giddy downstairs as they are taking about "dinner." Most of all, I hate myself and how the world sees me as different. I even decided to take on the world by deciding one night to sneak out. I'll show my parents that I'm a full functioning adult! Well teenager at least.
I even looked up places to go to on my personal laptop. I turned up the brightness all the way since my room is dark as a gopher hole. The first thing I wanted to do was go to The Wrangled Bird, a private club located close to home. They usually don't let kids go inside, but I can probably go since I'm the only exception. I can imagine being at the gate and the security guard recognizing me from the papers and would feel so pleased to meet me that I'll be welcomed like if I was a movie star. Then, when people see me, they'll ask me questions about the incident and would beg for the details. I might even get to see her, and she'll be so sexy in her running outfit that it'll make my heart race. I'll then act all tough by buying us drinks and we'll get so drunk while laughing at how I got the scars on my face. Soon afterward, we'll fall in love, get married and have kids together. Oh that'll be the dream!
Sadly though, after a couple of searches, I realized that the place burned down a few months ago due to a gas explosion. Shocked that I never heard of this, I realized that my mother told me before but I probably wasn't listening during the time. I closed my laptop and allowed the darkness of my room to swallow me and my broken dreams whole.
10 o' clock on New Year's Eve was when the running girl helped me to escape from my parent's clutches. I remember that day I went to bed early since I was getting my migraine headaches again. I slammed my head first into the marshmallow soft pillow to try to fight the intense pain. However, my ears were sharp as a hawks' and I heard all the commotion of my intermediate family with my other relatives slamming against my eardrums. Usually, my parents throw a big giant s'mores and sushi party with all of my relatives invited for one giant reunion. I tried to quiet the noise by imagining the fireplace downstairs burning with a beautiful light that can make any headache go away. It felt so peaceful that I wanted to run downstairs and jump into that fire to heal this awful pain away. I allowed this image to stay in my mind till the migraine died out.
Before I got overtaken by sleep, I heard a soft knock coming from my window. I at first ignored the sound since I really wanted to go to sleep. Soon the sound got louder and louder to the point the glass broke. Shattered glass sprinkled my bed sheets as I looked around and saw a giant stone sitting next to my right foot. I saw the smooth surface glisten in the moonlight like a newly polished emerald.
" Andy! Andy! Oh no don't tell me that I killed you!" A voice spoke to me from the cracked window. I got up to look outside and saw the pretty running girl down below. She wore a white wooly coat and tights to match that made her look like a winter queen. Her black rain boats made herself stand out from the snow which brought out her persten image even more. I felt glad I wasn't dreaming otherwise I'd think she was a delicate snow angel. It took me a couple of breaths before I responded, "I just came back from the dead. Wait there I'll come down."
Without thinking about my actions entirely, I looked around the room for blankets and tied them to make a rope like people do in the movies. Tying it to my bed rail, I opened the window and threw the rope out the window. I as well quickly grabbed for a scarf, my favorite blue winter jacket and black boots before going out to climb down. Sadly I lost my footing and fell down next to where she stood. Luckly the snow was soft so I didn't get hurt.
Soon the sounds of the party became distant as we both started to run in the snow. We sang out loud the lyrics to the running song like maniacs. We didn't care who overheard us or who even gave us mean glares if they did see us together. We just kept running till we left the town and made out way to the frozen lake. By that time we were cold and out of breath but we didn't care. We just smiled through the pain this world offered to us.
When the moon covered us in its beautiful glow, making the running girl's eyes shine with a eerie glow, I couldn't help but look deeper into her eyes. She did the same to me and eventually broke our contact with a small smile.
"You know... That day when you ran over the mayor, I have to say thank you for that. He really pissed me off that day and with you running him over with your bike, you actually allowed me to get even at him."
"What? Are you..."
"I'm his daughter. Yes."
The air then started to grow silent as I felt my windpipe getting tighter from the cold air.
"I didn't mean to run over him! You know that, right?"
She took a few moments before nodding slightly.
" I don't care if it was fate or not, you're still a cool person to me. You've always have been to me, Andy. Believe it or not, we've seen each other before. It was before you moved to this town it was where we met. In Mr. Lonharts classroom when we were in first grade. I always admired you from that day."
She then walked to me, even taking my cold hand and placing it in her gloved one. She even took her glove off and held my hand gently in hers. I felt her giving me something. When she let go, it was a piece of crumbled worn out paper. I unfolded the paper with care, realizing that it was a letter that I wrote a long time ago. I then looked up at her, feeling the whole universe calling out to me at this very moment.
"You saved this letter. The letter I gave to you before I left." I felt my eyes swelling as tears rained down my cheeks. I wanted to call out her name quickly but instead I grabbed her hand and instinctively, pulled her close to me. I closed my eyes as I searched in the darkness for her. We met at first softly like angel wings that are trying to spread across the night. We held each other close in an embrace to escape the cold. I even felt our wings beating so fast that we propelled ourselves into the sky. As we soared so high we were able to go past the atmosphere and stand in front of the moon, we opened our eyes and saw the stars and planets of the universe surrounding us. It was a blissful sight that we couldn't contain within ourselves. Then in the distance, the unthinkable happened. The song started to play. It rang all across the galaxy with such intensity. It brought the girl to smile so beautifully which could satisfy me for the rest of my life.
However, she didn't last as long as she wanted to. The day after, she got very sick. My father had to go see her every day. He whispered under harsh breath about her condition getting worse than it used to be. She apparently had been getting sick lately so it was why she never got the chance to try to see me again. I wanted to go see her, but my father refused. So I told him that I'd write letters to her and before he would leave to see her, I gave him the papers. In reality, it would just be ripped entries out of my journal. I even used red pen and added comments with remarks that I hoped would make her smile. The final letter I received, from her, was stapled to the tree outside my house. Apparently, she got so weak she wasn't able to write anymore. So she made her mother write with a typewriter and her instructions to not give it to me directly. The note had three quotes that seemed out of place, but I knew by heart what they meant.
"Sweet Disposition, never too soon."
"Songs of desperation. I played them for you."
"We won't stop till it's over. Won't stop to surrender."