The Day the Leaves Melted
Light fills the sky and seeps through the slit between my eyelids. A bright yellow replaces my dreams and my eyes blink open to discover my room engulfed by the loving glow of the sunlight. A small smile appears on my face. Everything around me seems clearer than it has been the last week.
The pictures on my wall are more vivid, every colour standing out against the next. The feathers in my duvet are much softer to snuggle into; a comfort I may need less today but that I’m able to appreciate more. And even the tune of the chipper birds chirping makes a far sweeter sound than I remember. Every note of their song I feel my essence further intertwine with the serenity of nature.
In spite of the day ahead of me, I’m actually feeling content; even optimistic. I may have an unpleasant evening planned but I can enjoy right now. My moods tend to flip when I reach an extreme. It happens whenever I come out of my spiral of misery.
I slide onto my side, still basking in the warmth and nurture of the sunlight. I look to my bedside table; my phone screen catches my eye. A notification flashes beneath the glare and I squint my eyes to see the details. I spring upright and my covers are thrashed to the floor when the letters on the screen become clear.
“Missed call” I read it three times over. Four times. Five. The words still read the same. “Voice mail, Evan Birsha.”
My heart drops when reality hits me. It has to be a mistake. I swipe the phone off of the table to set my wandering mind straight and dial my voicemail ready to hear a short muffled noise before the cut off beep.
“Lay-Laaay. I have to spor-speak to you. Please talk to me *hiccup*” his voice slurs in that drunken way. I hear a sharp grunt and then a faint whooshing sound in the background for another minute before the line goes dead.
The sounds around me disappear with the light on my screen. No more birds chirping, I can’t even hear the sound of my own breath. The silence is only interrupted when the words leave my lips, “You remember?”
All the warmth and movement is drained from my body. For the longest time the past I shared with Evan seemed almost like a fiction I had created in the same way as my stories. The way our relationship changed so drastically in such a short time and the way he treated me since, like none of it had ever happened. How could a part of me not be convinced I had imagined it all?
But he called me Lay-lay. He hasn’t called me that since seventh Grade, the year he turned on me. I remember that year like it’s been seared into my brain. Those memories are what fuel the few good dreams that I have, and now I know he remembers them too.
I look back now to one particular day. Two days before the Frost of Fall dance. Two days before everything changed between us.
It was the first and only fall in my life that had brought snow down with the leaves, and the whole class was rioting in celebration. Old Mr Boik had a soft spot for our class; partly because I was his favourite student and partly because under my request, Evan made every one behave for him.
He was at retiring age but didn’t have the heart to leave his students, he was the sweetest person I had ever known so I made sure his last years there were happy ones.
When the snow started to fall, we all jumped from our seats and huddled around the window to see the beautiful anomaly. Mr Boik responded to our cheers with a wrinkled smile wider than any of ours and a shaky hip shimmy, his knees wobbling to hold up his frame without the help of his cane.
We all giggled along with him. Evan and I laughed louder than everyone else, falling into each other over our own terrible jokes that nobody else would understand. After the commotion settled down, Mr Boik handed out the last of his hard caramels and sent us home an hour early to enjoy the snow day.
Our whole class charged as a herd towards the local park. The three consecutive mounds were already layered in snow and a few kids had stopped on the way to pick up their sleds. Everyone rushed over to take their turn going down the hills, some of them sliding down on their coats and some diving right in as if they were at the swimming pool.
Evan grabbed a hold of my hand and pulled me past the mounds. We squeezed through the gap in the wire-netted fence at the back of the park and sprinted down the narrow alley-way that had a spooky shade from the trees trailing down the path. At the end of the path there were two adjoining paths. Left was a one way road that leads to our favourite ice cream shop, and right was a door. We rarely went left.
We had cut through the wall of overgrown forest many years prior to make our own path into the woods. Over time some of the weeds had grown back over it and made a superficial layer that hid the path we had made behind a door of weeds.
We carefully pulled back the layer of weeds and stepped into our very own part of the woods, letting them spring back into place to keep the entrance a secret. This was the one place in the whole town that nobody else knew how to get to. This was our place.
My heart got a certain flutter of excitement at the sight of our verdant wonderland and from the look Evan had on his face, I assumed he got the same feeling. I don’t know if it was the speckles of sunlight that shone through the trees, the multi-coloured flowers that gave every bush its own style, or even just the fact that my best friend was by my side, but nothing made me happier than the time we spent here.
Hand in hand, we sprinted towards the den that we’d built and hurdled over the fallen tree at the entrance. We had decorated it with rocks and flowers when we first found it, to commemorate its death and thought it fitting to build our hide out there. Because according to 9 year olds, you can’t have a cemetery without a church.
We squealed in delight when we saw that the snow had made it through our ceiling of trees. The shelter usually kept out most of the rain, so to us it felt special to see a layer of snow freezing the fallen leaves. Our hands still linked, we did a little dance to make a memory out of footprints. Evan pulled my arm to get me to do a twirl and I tumbled into him.
He was lying underneath me in a blanket of snow, icy flakes seasoning his tousled hair and only a thin denim jacket between him and the frost, but we didn’t move an inch. We were face to face, his hands holding onto my waist and mine turning numb in the cold either side of him.
For a minute we stayed silent. His eyes flickered between mine and his mouth slid into the most natural smile. The kind that is so rare in its genuity, you can’t stop yourself from mirroring it.
Looking into his eyes, I saw my future reflected back at me. In that moment my life flashed before me, the life I was going to share with Evan. “Friends forever” had never felt truer.
His eyes didn’t move from mine, or even blink, and in the softest voice he said “you know I love you Lay-Lay.”
My smile grew wider in that giddy way and I said the only words that came to mind, “you better Birsha.” I giggled at him and hopped up with a snowball in hand.
We didn’t see each other the next day, he was busy with his boxing but our morning phone call was the same as any other.
It wasn’t until the day after that it happened.
I look back now to one particular day. The day of the Frost of fall dance. The day everything changed between us. And I’m still just as clueless.
****Thanks for reading!! I would love to hear your thoughts on this chapter :) Next update scheduled for 11/06/20 Stay tuned! ****