The tears in his giant orby eyes had me sunk into the gouging planks of the bench where we sat, slouching across from each other. The heavy, watery air bit through my skin, deeper into my veins, and condensed itself onto my core.
“Well, do you still want your Christmas present?” I half whispered, half whimpered in his direction, only glancing up from my favorite ankle boots I knew he loved me wearing.
I didn’t expect him to say yes. The streams that marked his pale facewere from telling me his family was falling apart and he wasn’t coming back to Granger. I was pegged withmy stomach curling, waiting to be shut down by the boy who had dumped me five days prior. I heard the slosh of cars pass over damp December roads, the headlights passing, searching for an answer across his face.
The evening lamps flitted awake as the sky turned black and cold. I shivered and sniffed, my nose a popsicle from wet winter atmosphere.
“Yeah, I think I could use a pick-me-up.”
My heart raced as my brain shifted from shock to preparation for the nearing journey. I handed him a brown paper bag with a solitary note inside. My legs lifted my stiffened body heavily and I stepped back, a pang running through my rock-hard toes.
“You have to trust me, but I’ve gotta go,” I informed, leaning toward him. I could barely make out his high, sharp cheekbones and woeful blue eyes. Fresh lavender laundry filled my sense as I gave him a tight, short, squeezy-hug, then I ran the opposite way, knowing his eyes were on my back. He didn’t follow after me as I began my race around town, but I didn’t want him to. The hard, plastic-like grass crunched and swished as I cut across yards and glistening streets to various destinations—a bench, a fountain, the old city gates. At each point I stopped, panting in the choking, freezing air as I placed a zip-lock bag with a new note and a tiny trinket sealed within.
The last note I dropped into place instructed to “go where it all began,” and there I completed my journey and waited. I sat on aiceblocked concrete bench, out of breath and in the darkness. My light was singularly the moon, haphazardly floating in the sky among dark, invisible clouds, attempting to regain glow in the reflection of the bay below me. The crisp smells of saturated pavement and decaying frozen fish lingered as my heart continued to pound in my mind. The slow, lazily lapping of the ever-flowing abyss in front of me, usually a softening and pure sound, couldn’t calm me down as I waited. Every motion sent my body into a shivering frenzy. What if he gave up? What if he just walks away when he gets here? How could I even begin to help this broken boy that doesn’t believe in happiness anymore? I couldn’t stop the reeling, terrifying questions from pouring out of my mind, draining and mixing into the blinding, black bay.
I watched the moon’s beam fall across the bobbing surface of the water. Down the hill my bench was perched on stood a dinky, poorly-lit town. Few cars passed silently through the darkness into the night. Surrounding my shaking nerves inside of my shuttering cavity was the vast, lonely sky.
Suddenly I became an ice sculpture, hearing his soft, swooshing steps move through the rough foliage behind me. I clumsily turned and saw the vague, lanky blur of the wounded boy, and shot up off the bench.
“Merry Christmas,” I announced softly, gingerly holding out the last prize of the scavenger hunt Christmas present. I felt my face burn up under my frost-bitten cheeks as he took the small, brown bag from my nervous grip.
I watched him look into the bag, his pale lips tightened and his chin crinkled up. His long arms flared outward, gracefully unfurling like the wings of a crane, and gathered around me, pulling me against his chest. The warmth of his body and his lavender scent melted away the cold night, and the remains of the frost flowed from my eyes.