The Curious Meeting

The fire in the fireplace emitted a soft, rosy heat throughout the room, illuminating the delighted faces of the people around it. They may as well have subconsciously noticed it, since they seemed somehow happier as they danced, twisting into different shapes and poses, making the wooden floorboards beneath creak softly below them. Outside the crusted window, thin flakes of snow fell, spiralling, twirling, throughout the backdrop of the dark sky, a perfect representation of a winter wonderland. In fact, anyone looking at it would have been mesmerized by the sheer beauty of its movement, of its repetitiveness. But everyone was looking instead into the smiling, joyful faces of each other as they moved across the wooden floor, each in their own little world of infinite time and infinite bliss. Nothing mattered to them then except their partner and the swaying rhythm of the music.
I was sitting away from the firelight, on a small wooden bench half in the shade. I hadn’t wanted to go there in the first place; no, I had been told of this event weeks before. I could still remember it now: The day had been a Saturday, a kind of herald to the holidays. I was sitting at the breakfast table, in the Mickey Mouse pyjamas I was wearing the night previously, not quite awake but still conscious enough to pour some milk from the fridge onto my bowl of Frosties. Mum came in, yawning. She sat down beside me, on the opposite chair, and said that she had received an email from one of her childhood friends last night, who wanted her to come to a class reunion in the nearby mountains, which, since it was winter, should be snowing. Dad had agreed to go; he stated that, since mum can’t drive, someone should have the honour to escort her there. He ended up getting a playful whack over his head with a rolled-up newspaper.
I had not wanted to go at first; I had planned my own activities, involving theme parks and movie cinemas, accompanied by Frank, a close friend of mine. The idea of going to a sappy reunion with adults who I don’t even know sounded weird to my fourteen year old mind.
But, I reflected, I somehow was persuaded to come. Maybe it was the idea of snow, which still appealed to my childish mind. Whatever it is, I stood there now, half regretting my decision. But then…
She had came, glimmering in the glow of the firelight, with a smile that seemed to make the world and the fire brighter than it ever was. Her hair was a bright auburn, her eyes lively and sparkling.
“Good evening,” she said in a purring tone. “I believe that we are in the same school, as your parents told me”.
As she glided towards my chair, I felt, for once, an opening in my heart. To love.
Two weeks later, the holidays had ended; and I was once in the world of homework and tests. However, there was one thing I had not forgotten so easily, something that stayed in the depths of my mind.
I had my first taste of love. And that had somehow changed my mind and how I think. I felt more determined to win her, known as Kelly, more determined to know more of her…
And that may be why, on a Tuesday afternoon, I decided to wait outside the school, with the intention of making her acquaintance. The sky was cloudless; but as I watched innumerable cars go by, with their own destinations that they were striving to reach, I felt as if I was separated from the world and the rest of my school, as countless schoolmates rushed past me, out of the gate, into their own turmoils and personal problems. Some waved and said things to me, but, in my own world, only silence came out of their mouths and their waves went by unnoticed. I was half in a stupor; unaware of anything but a overwhelming desire to meet Kelly. To see her again, to hear her voice…
A bird in a nearby beech tree chirped, a soft tone that shattered and dispelled the cloudy and overwhelming mist hanging over my mind. As it cleared, I was sent back to Earth, back to the troubles of everyday life. Into…
A vivid flash of auburn hair, accompanied by the delicate sweetness of a distinct perfume, as it floated through the air, invigorating the senses. My mouth went dry; I lost the ability to speak.
“Hi,” Kelly remarked softly, “nice to see you”.
It felt that the force of the entire world was on me; time suddenly seemed to accelerate. I was now aware of my burning cheeks and the impatient gestures of my peers as they pushed past me. I didn’t want this to end badly, but I could imagine that Kelly was already getting impatient. I needed to say something…
“Y-Yes, great day,” I replied.
She smiled and moved on, leaving me behind in a sea of embarrassment.
I don’t know why; but I had tried again.
It was nearly a fortnight after my embarrassing conversation with Kelly; yet I still felt confident.
As the sun set on another gloomy and overcast day, I could be seen, yet again, waiting outside the iron school gates, waiting to see her. However, this time I had come prepared; in fact, mum had caught me rehearsing a speech to her. She had given me a knowing smile.
A nearby car tooted, shattering my thoughts. It was travelling rather haphazardly, swerving across the narrow road, nearly colliding with a van going the opposite way. I could see the driver’s horrified face, forever frozen in fear, as he ploughed towards…
A girl, with long auburn hair.
Time seemed to stop completely: I could only remember that I was desperately calling out to her; but the words just won’t come. I could see her turning, her smile turning into a silent scream…
And then I had ploughed into her, knocking her aside…
But it was already far too late.
As the church bells solemnly tolled the hour, the tight knot of people standing around the open grave silently wiped away a tear from their eyes. It was spring; but not one bird sang in the trees, and no flowers blossomed. Well, not in this area anyway.
As a sobbing couple slowly sat down on one of the wooden benches around the grave, I knew that it was time. I picked myself up, and, shaking with resolution, ambled towards the imposing hole in the ground. I opened my mouth, then stopped; I had no idea of what to say. I saw that the others were looking intently at me, their eyes never straying away from me for a moment. I was the only witness to her death; the car driver had also died. But the words just couldn’t come. And then I remembered…
The dancing couples. Snow. The bright fire in the fireplace. The first attempt to speak with her. And the undeniable influence she had on my life since.
Slowly, carefully, I looked over the edge. And spoke.

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