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A small girl crawled up onto her bed in order to look out the window. At the small, tender age of seven, the girl feels like she can’t do anything without someone or something helping her along. But despite that feeling, independency has never been a problem for the girl. It comes easy, trying to do things alone. Even if that’s not always the best way to go.
She stared out the spotless window, waiting for it to start. She knew it wouldn’t happen for a while, but she wasn’t going to miss it for the world. It only happens a couple times a year, and they give her a fuzzy, warm feeling, like anything is possible. It’s a great feeling. She would do anything to feel it.
The stars in the dark night sky didn’t illuminate the night like they usually did. It made the girl frowned. She loved the stars, because they were always constant, and it felt like there was always someone there that way. But one night with their absence won’t hurt, the girl thought.
She leaned against the windowsill after pushing up the window. All she could think about was what was coming. Well, that was, until she saw a boy in her backyard.
She stared at him for a moment, and he stared back. All she could see of the boy were his eyes, which looked… yellow. It was pitch dark, and his eyes strangely resembled a cat’s as he stared at her.
“Who are you?” she called out, leaning out of her window. A slight breeze pushed around her light brown hair, her green eyes focused on the boy’s yellow ones. “What are you doing in my yard?”
The boy stared at her for just a moment longer before taking off running into the cornfield that the girl lived next to. The girl was left in shock, staring at him as he ran off, quickly and quietly.
The girl, in a sudden fit of determination, jumped off her bed. She quietly but quickly ran to the bathroom, where she pulled a shower hook from the wall, taking off the Command strip. She took it to her room and placed the hook just under her window. She then promptly got her two long jump ropes, which she used for Double Dutch with her friends, and tied them tightly together.
She tied one end of the jump rope to the hook, and threw the other out of her two-story house. The rope was about five feet from the bottom, but she figured she could jump from there. She grabbed two large key chain clips and put her belt around her waist tightly. She clipped them to each other and clipped one of them onto her belt. She clipped the other end onto the jump robe, and then climbed out the window.
The girl was slightly nervous, but she was determined to find out who that boy was. She pretended as if she had just gone rock climbing, and started to walk down the rope, clutching to the rope. She knew that the clips wouldn’t be enough to hold her, but they were a good enough form of protection. For now.
Scaling her home careful, she made her way to the bottom, letting herself drop. She couldn’t believe that it had worked, much less that she wasn’t hurt. She almost let herself forget about the boy, until she heard rustling in the dark cornfield.
The girl ran towards the rustling, seeing the boy running away. He had been watching her scale the building. The thought of somebody watching her was scary, but the girl just kept chasing.
“Wait up!” she called out, running faster. Her bare feet pattered against the rough dirt, uncomfortably wedging itself between her toes. She felt herself sweating from the humid night air, and she started to slow. But the boy didn’t let up at all. “I just wanna know who you are!”
The girl tripped, landing on her face in the dirt. Tears came to her eyes, and she sat up, looking at her scrapped knee. “Ow.” She frowned at it, brushing off some of the dirt so that it wouldn’t get infected. She hates getting cuts and scrapes, even if they were worth the adventures.
“Are you okay?”
The girl looked up, only to see the boy staring at her knee. She was silent as he crouched down and looked at it. “Are you okay?” the boy repeated, looking the girl in the eye. She was right. His eyes did look exactly like cat’s eyes.
“Yeah,” she replied. “It’s just a scrape. I get them all the time.”
The boy looked back down at her cut. “But it’ll leave a scar.”
The boy leaned down and carefully licked the girl’s knee. “Ew!” the girl shrieked, pulling away in shock. “What the heck are you doing?” The girl was shocked with the boy’s actions.
The boy acted as if he didn’t do anything that wasn’t polite. “What? I’m helping you heal it.” He stared at her innocently.
“You use Band-Aids to heal cuts and scrapes,” she informed him. “You don’t lick them. That’s just repulsive.”
The boy stared at her in curiosity. He shook his head, his long red hair obviously tickling his face, because he stopped and rubbed his cheek. “Let me show you,” he said, pointing at her knee. “I can heal it by licking it.”
She stared at him with her lips pressed into a straight line. “That’s weird. For all I know, you could be some kind of sicko.”
“That doesn’t mean you’re not a sicko.”
The boy shrugged. “Agreed. Do you want me to show you or not?” She looked at him unsurely before nodding. He crawled over to her and leaned down to her knee, licking it gently.
It actually felt nice for the girl. Better than rubbing alcohol, at least. She watched as the boy finished licking her knee, in the manor that a cat would. When she looked at her knee, the scrape was gone, and all that was left was a pink patch of freshly healed skin.
“Whoa!” she exclaimed. “Tell me how you did that!”
The boy shrugged, sitting cross-legged. “I don’t know how I do it. I can just lick people and it makes them all better. Well, I didn’t know that before tonight, but I could lick myself and I would be better.”
“You’re weird,” the girl commented, sitting cross-legged, like the boy. “I like that. People always say that I’m weird, but then grown-ups all tell me that I just have an over-active imagination or something like that.” She shrugged. “I’m Autumn. What’s your name?”
“I’m Braden,” he replied.
Autumn stuck out her hand for him to shake, but he just stared at it. They stayed like that until Autumn’s patience was shot. “Are you going to shake my hand or what?” she snapped.
He looked up at her innocently. “What?”
Autumn sighed, dropping her hand. “You’re weirder than I thought. Anyways, Braden, where’re you from?”
“I travel a lot,” he replied with a shrug. “And you live in that house, right?”
Autumn nodded, getting up. “I should probably get back to it, too. I need to watch something.”
He frowned at her. “First, do you wanna play something? I’m alone all night, and bored.”
Autumn felt bad for Braden, but she didn’t want to miss it… She sighed. “Okay. What do you wanna play, though? Just a quick game, alright?”
Braden nodded like a bobble head, standing up. “Let’s play hide and seek.”
Autumn gave him a look. “In a cornfield? At night?”
“In a cornfield,” Braden replied. “At night.”
Autumn sighed. “Okay. I’ll play hide and seek with you, in a cornfield, at night, but it’s your fault if we get lost. I get to punch you if we do.”
He smiled. “Okay! But would we be able to find each other if we got lost…?”
She frowned, and then shrugged. “Eh, whatever. Let’s go!” Autumn ran wildly through the cornfield, the only thing accompanying her was the sound of her own footsteps and Braden’s voice as he counted.
“One… two… three… four… five…”
Autumn snickered as she stopped and hid behind a stalk a long ways from Braden. He’d probably never find her, with as fast as she was. She could stay out all night if she wanted.
“Ten! Ready or not, here I come!” Braden teased, and Autumn pressed her back to the stalk of corn. She waited for the sound of his footsteps coming to find her, but instead heard… well, nothing.
She peaked around the stalk, only to see that he was already gone. The boy who she had followed out here was nowhere to be found, as if he had vanished; it made her scratch her head. “What the heck…?”
Autumn screamed in surprise, whipping around only to find Braden laughing his head off. “Idiot!” she shouted at him, hitting him repeatedly. He fell to the ground, still laughing.
Autumn glared at him as he finished laughing, lying on the black dirt of the cornfield. “Ah,” he sighed. “That was funny. I think you’re pretty cool, Autumn.”
She lay next to him, sighing also. “Yeah. I think you’re a boy,” she replied curtly. “And not in a good way, either!”
“Okay. That’s fine with me.”
They were still for a couple minutes, silently watching the sky. “Autumn?”
Autumn didn’t look at Braden. She didn’t feel the need to. “Yes, Braden?” she replied quietly, absentmindedly listening.
“I wanna tell you a secret.”
She looked at him. “Alright, then, Braden. Tell me a secret.”
“Well,” he started, seeming a little uncomfortable. “During the daytime… I’m a cat.”
Shock overwhelmed Autumn, and she looked at Braden as if he was crazy. “What? Now you’re not! You’re obviously a boy.”
He shrugged casually. “I am at night, but, during the day, I’m a cat. I always have been, for as long as I can remember.
Slowly, Autumn processed this. Why would Braden lie to her? What reason would he have for lying to her? She relaxed, and sighed. “Alright. I’ll believe you.” She didn’t fully believe him, because she’d need proof. But she didn’t feel like arguing anymore. It was almost time, anyways.
And there, together, they watched what Autumn had been waiting for; the fireworks lit up the night sky like nothing else, in shades of green and red, yellow and purple. The lights were never ending as the sparks faded into the black of the sky, and Autumn felt her heart to a flip.
Someday, I’ll everything will be alright, she thought to herself, closing her eyes as the last firework faded. Someday.
NINE YEARS LATER…
“Autumn, are you gonna come out soon?”
Autumn, now sixteen years old, looked down out of the same window that she first saw Braden through. “Yeah, I’ll be right down!” she replied, scurrying back into her room to put on her shoes.
It has been exactly nine years since Autumn and Braden first met, and they were going to watch the fireworks show, just like they did every year. They’ve hung out every night for the past nine years, and became best friends rather quickly.
Braden, being quirky yet shy, was a good match for pushy, slightly arrogant Autumn, who didn’t want to be friends with anybody who she would argue with all the time. Otherwise they have nothing in common, because, first of all, Autumn is normal, and Braden is, well… a cat.
Autumn hasn’t let this bother her. He was one of her only friends, and he was nice, and accepting, so… they were friends. Plus, Autumn wasn’t sure if Braden had any other friends, considering his ‘situation.’
Autumn ran down the stairs in her house and out the door, into the back. She was sixteen, and her parents could care less where she went, so she no longer has to sneak out of the house to hang out with Braden. That’s a good thing, too. She can’t scale her house like she used to.
“Happy ninth Friend-iversary!” Autumn cried as she got into the backyard, tackling Braden with a hug.
He smiled a mile-wide smile, seeming unconditionally happy. “Can you believe it’s been nine years since we became friends?” he asked as they walked into the cornfield. Despite the fact that he was happy, he seemed a little nervous, and Autumn could tell. But she decided not to bombard him with questions—tonight.
“It’s pretty crazy that I’ve had to deal with you this long.” They plopped down into the dirt where they could see the sky perfectly. They never really did all that much talking, just lying around and staring at the sky. It was just nice to have company.
“Don’t be mean,” Braden teased. “Or I’ll tell your mommy on you.”
Autumn smirked, and then shook her head. “Gosh, Braden. You amuse me so much.” Her voice dripped with sarcasm, but Braden didn’t mind; she was his best friend… and, he hoped, someday, maybe… more?
They fell into silence once again. “Autumn, I wanna tell you another secret.”
Autumn faked an exasperated sigh. “Braden, Braden. You have so many secrets.” She grinned, looking at him, but soon her grin vanished. His face was flushed and he was staring straight up at the sky, blankly. She was suddenly worried. “What’s the matter?”
“I… uh, I… I like you.”
Autumn looked up at the sky again. “Yeah, and I like you, too, Braden. It’s not exactly a secret.”
“No. I mean I… really like you. As more than a friend. More than a best friend, even.”
Suddenly, the truth struck Autumn like a brick wall and he face flushed. “Oh,” was all she could manage out. Braden… likes her? It was hard to believe. Nobody likes her in that way.
Slowly, Braden took Autumn’s hand. It was subtle, and nothing was said, but they kept holding hands throughout the night. Autumn would’ve teased Braden, if she wasn’t too confused about her own feelings.
Right as the fireworks started, spraying blue and pink colors all across the sky, Braden asked another questions. “And how do you feel about me?”
Autumn thought about this for a moment before answering. “I don’t know. I guess I’ll find out, though.”
Braden grinned, incredibly happy with himself for finally telling Autumn that he liked her. “I’m not going anywhere.”
And Autumn realized that, without Braden… who was Autumn? She clutched his hand tighter and closed her eyes. She’d find out. She definitely would.