Essence of Life
Scarlet was walking down the sidewalk contemplating the year to come, as she was admiring the beauty outside. She had just signed up for her Fall and Winter classes for
her third year of college. She was wearing her favorite tank top, blue jeans and navy jacket with her blue converse on that were worn down and busting at the seams. But Scarlet
loved the sound that they made as she walked across the concrete sidewalks and over the leaves and broken twigs blown off her neighbors lawns. The crunch was a comforting sound.
This was her favorite time of year; Autumn. The way that the leaves had turned into beautiful shades of red, orange and gold, the way the grass had darkened to an even deeper, and richer green. The change of the air pressure,
which somehow always made it easier to breath in and the the feeling made her envious. It all made her so very happy; she could not stop
smiling. But there was something tugging at the back of her thoughts. Her happiness was being besmirched by the fact that her favorite season also meant the beginning of all the traditional family holidays. She had no family to celebrate
Scarlet had been tossed around from foster home to foster home since she was born, as she never felt like she was fitting in with any family she spent time with. She never felt at home anywhere, with anyone.Her mother Sarah, had been an only child, her grandparents were apparently long gone too, and she knew nothing about her father. Her mother died giving birth to her and the state decided what to do with her from there. Foster homes was it, and when she
wasn't in foster homes, she was spending her time at orphanages. When she turned 16 she finally decided to quit fighting the fact that none of the families she was placed with felt right and she should just finish off high school, go to college and start her own life. Only one good thing came from finally settling, Scarlet met her best friend, Ally. They had bonded
over the lunch table - gossiping about the popular girls who
worried about everything else in the world- and the fact that neither of them had much in show of friends.They had become inseparable ever since.
They went to college together, different majors, but remained close as ever. Scarlet worked part-time to afford her own apartment, while Ally decided to continue to live at home with her parents to save her money and put it towards her love of shopping and paying of her tuition, not everyone got full ride paid scholarships because they were so focused and smart like Scarlet had done. Ally had 10s of thousands of student debt she would probably be paying off until she was in her 40s.
Scarlet shook her head to clear it of her past. She was working toward a future. One where she could take care of underprivileged babies whose parents decided to give them up, or the even more unfortunate ones whose parents were dead or died during labor like her own mother. The nursing life would be long hours and hard work, but to Scarlet, it was well worth it. She was excited to begin the life she had been working so hard to begin for the last 6 years when she was 16 and made her decision. Her 22nd birthday was coming up in a few weeks and the best thing had just happened this morning after she had signed up for classes this coming year.
The guy she had a crush on, who she had sat behind in class for the last 2 years in business management had asked her out on a date. They had many pleasant conversations in the past, and had been forced to work on some in-class assignments before, but they never exchanged words that were anything but business essential. But Scarlet swore multiple times she had felt his gaze linger on her, she had always felt a strange pull toward him. Aiden nightblood, his name was odd but intriguing, and he had dreamy hazel brown eyes with flecks of green and gold, and were protected by long gorgeous eyelashes. His hair was such a dark shade of chocolate it was nearly black, but it was a thick and a perfectly unruly crew cut. His skin was always the perfect golden tan, she could have sworn that he was more than likely part Native American. He was very strong and burly built. His muscles often bulging from beneath his fitted t-shirts.
Scarlet loved a man that had thick arm and leg muscles. She had daydreamed of him walking around her apartment in nothing but his boxers, with his skin glistening wet fresh out of the shower. Scarlet had to shake her head again to remove the image from her head. Boy -was Aiden a good daydream. Scarlet exhaled, wishing she could relieve her pent up frustration, she was too shy and too self-conscious to ever please herself. It would have to wait until she got herself a boyfriend. Maybe Aiden would soon become that special someone, she couldn't believe she had a date with him tonight. She just had to go see her best friend Ally and tell her the amazing news.
She could smell crisp apples and plump pumpkins in the breeze. There was a slight whiff of spiced cocoa and apple cider wafting throughout the trees. Scarlet could swear she
could almost feel the season beginning to change around her. It was still warm, but there was a tinge of a cool breeze so delicious that she reveled in it and wanted to consume it.
Scarlet was so delighted to see and feel the season changing. It was truly one of her most favorite things.
Although she didn't know, that this time, today, was the last time she would ever enjoy fall this way. Her entire life was about to change.
Scarlet sighed happily as she finally reached her best friends house as she started her way up to the house to Ally's front door. Her best friend would always enjoy a silent walk with her in the park, or maybe the beautiful forest nearby. She would allow Ally to choose which place they went to today. She just wanted to enjoy the walk and tell her about her newest encounter with Aiden.
Scarlet continued up the steps covered in freshly fallen leaves and moss and rang the doorbell. She quickly pushed it 4 times, a little quirk she'd established over the years so the whole house knew who it was ringing the alarm.
"Allison! The door!" a low grumpy voice shouted from the inside of the immense house. She could hear the quick lithe feet of Ally, padding their way down the staircase, the old cedar boards creaking with protest because of the age of the wood.
"Don't strain yourself dad!" Ally shouted back at him annoyed. Scarlet could almost hear her best friend rolling her eyes at her father. She envied her for having parents. Scarlet dreamed of what her life would be like if her mom would have been in her life. She wouldn't have grown up feeling alone and out of place, no matter all the different places she had gone, all the families she had lived with. But she grew up, the way she needed to, because of it, she had a career path. Something she cared to make a difference about, helping babies as a neonatal registered nurse.
Scarlet chuckled on the other side of the large mahogany door. Her best friend did not get along well with her parents. Her mom was always gone, she was a full time RN and she volunteered at the local fire department. Her dad was a factory maintenance worker, he had 16 hour shifts, so he was always coming home tired and grumpy, if he was home he was in his chair with an ice cold beer in his right hand, the remote in his other hand, watching sports on their flat screen with his feet propped up.
The door swung open with a loud swish. Ally smiled at Scarlet, glad to see her best friend.
"Want to go on a walk?" Scarlet asked raising her eyebrows letting her best friend know that they had some gossiping to do. Ally nodded, her face gleaming.
"That's exactly what I need right now." Ally breathed, turning around the door to grab her jacket and wallet. She had left her purse upstairs with her phone and other personal belongings in it. She knew she wouldn't need it with her best friend being the only person she texted.
"MOM, DAD! I'm going for a walk with Scarlet, we'll be back soon!" Ally shouted into the house. Her parents waved their hands away at her. This was a normal thing that the two best friends did often. The two girls were well old enough to be on their own without telling Ally's parents what they were doing but she felt obligated to always let them know out of respect.
"Don't worry about us either, your father is headed to work in a half hour and I'll be headed out the door right behind you, I just got called into the hospital. Get your own dinner tonight." Ally's mom, Lara, yelled back at her. Scarlet could see Ally's mom rushing around back and forth between the rooms In the house in her scrubs and bare feet.
"Family drama?" Scarlet asked, a chuckle in her voice. Ally nodded, giving Scarlet a defiant glare in return.
"You bet, when isn't there drama between my parents, or them with me. Its like they're never happy." she breathed out a sigh. Ally tucked her arms into her jacket, shoving her wallet into the side pocket before quickly trailing out the door ahead of Scarlet back down the steps and down onto the sidewalk, the leaves crunching quietly under her feel like music.
"Lets go get some sparkling cider before we go on our walk, i could use the sugar rush" Ally mentioned to Scarlet. They went to their favorite little place and ordered two extra large sparkling apple ciders, sipping them through the straw in happiness. Nothing ever tasted better than the Autumn flavors.
The two friends walked down the sidewalk some, neither of them quite ready to start venting to one another. They just continued slurping their cider through the straws eagerly downing the delicious drink made from apples from a local orchard.
"Don't you love this time of year?" Scarlet asked between sips, expressing herself by waving her arms around in the air as if to hold the season surrounding them both, her cider sloshing inside the cup. Ally took a deep breath in and nodded, agreeing without words; they both loved Autumn. Scarlet downed the last of her drink and tossed her empty cup into a nearby trash bin, Ally quickly finished hers and did the same.
"So, where to?" she asked Ally.
"Let's go see the colors off trail in the forest, I bet its just absolutely gorgeous now. We can go to our favorite gossiping tree." Ally explained. Scarlet knew though, that no matter what time of year, the forest; off trail and on it, was always beautiful. She nodded happily to her own thoughts, agreeing with her best friend. They had shared the same gossiping tree for the past 5 years when they found it off trail. A beautiful large oak tree whose giant snaking roots created a perfect bench to rest on, the branches above were sparse, so they allowed a lot of sunlight to shine through the leaves of all the nearby trees.
"It is, maybe we could take the longer route through though, see more of the shadowy green." Scarlet added on the side. Ally acknowledged the thought gracefully. They both liked the darker green of the moss that grew in the more shady part of the forest. How the sunlight would filter through the orange and red leaves made the two best friends smile delightedly. They looped their elbows together and began the small hike into the forest, taking the narrow winding path deep into the forest. And as they continued their trek, the woods got darker and darker. They chit-chatted about the coming semester and such, saving the good gossip for their tree. They found their small worn path. Scarlet and Ally headed off trail to the deepest darkest part of the forest; their favorite place to go and watch the natural beauty of the trees. They were on their way to go sit on the giant root that stood out from their favorite oak tree at the center of the dark area of the woods. They chose the wrong day to go walking in the forest. It was another good half mile or so till they got there. The girls admired the nature that surrounded them.
Although they didn't know at the time, there was something dangerous that lurked in the deep brush of the shadows nearby; and it was waiting...
It had watched Scarlet and Christy go on many walks for the past two years now, never being seen, or noticed, always staying quiet to remain unheard. It was out hunting for a deer or some other game suitable for its pack. But mother nature had changed its mind, the wind blowing through the trees gave whiff of the two girls to the beast. It had planned on hunting food, but now, it wanted Scarlet, it wanted her badly. Just thinking about her strong heartbeat thumping made its mouth water; the color of her full lips, made it hungry...
The two girls finally finished their walk and plopped down on the big root that they often used as a bench to relax on when they were gossiping. Scarlet took a deep breath and exhaled. Ally knew she was holding something in, she was ready to hear whatever her friend had to say. The anticipation was killing her, she knew it was something big he way Scarlet flushed, preparing herself to tell her best friend. Scarlet looked around her taking in her surroundings. The ground was splotched with maple leaves, the trees covered in moss and dying ivy.
" I talked to him today..." Scarlet started. She heard the fake gasp from her friend sitting next to her. Ally knew who she was talking about, Scarlet only ever talked about Aiden. Ally thought he was hot too, but not her type, she liked blonde guys. Ally could feel her friend was holding back, she pursed her lips and squinted her eyes with intrigue. Scarlet awaited for her reaction, the slew of questions that were imminent from her best friend.
" And...???" Ally replied back her excitement emanating in waves, Scarlet was never this nervous talking about Aiden. Her best friend was flustered, it was a first that she had never seen before. She couldn't wait to her the rest of this.
"Well, he actually was the one that stopped me. Told me he had been admiring me the last couple weeks. He asked me out on a date...tonight! I gave him my address and he said he'll be picking me up at 7." Scarlet squealed with excitement. She didn't understand how she was so capable of holding in that amazing news their entire walk to the oak tree. She was so giddy, she had trouble sitting still on the large root.
"Wow! Wait, what are we doing here out in the woods, you need to get ready! You need to look absolutely stunning tonight. I have got just the dress you can borrow, plunging neckline and deep blue, it'll totally match your eyes and your boobs will pop. Lets go!" Ally exclaimed excitedly. Dragging her best friend off the tree root to start dragging her back to her house to get her best friend ready for the best first date of her life.
Just as they had gotten off the root and stood up to begin the trek to exit the forest, the two girls heard something thrumming. Scarlet and Ally both heard it. It was loud, and getting louder by the second. Something big was running towards them close by. Fear spurred like fire in the two girls and both of their hearts spluttered into a race. The thrums played rhythm with Scarlets heartbeat, as her heart began to race, the noise got louder and faster.
"Run" Ally whispered, but Scarlet was already ten feet in front of her. She dared look back and the immense creature was in view then. It was gaining quickly on Ally, it growled at her, and she screamed, her heart beating, threatening to hammer its way out of her chest. The beast nipped at her heals barely missing, but then it tackled her to the ground, but it only stood on top of her growling and bearing its teeth as if it was warning her, holding her hostage under its great size and strength. Ally tremored in fear, unable to open her eyes and witness the monster kill her. She screamed. Scarlet turned on her heel and sprinted to rescue her friend under the mercy of the creature she'd only seen in movies. A werewolf. She had no idea how she was going to save her best friend. She only knew that she had to, the beast was probably going to tear them both to shreds but she had to try. Scarlet quickly picked up the biggest broken down branch she could see within arms reach and she began to swing but stopped, puzzled.