November Rain (Amber On The Highway) This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   It's hard to pinpoint when it was I first fell in love with Amber. I've narrowed it down to either the first time she threw sand in my eyes at Happy Acres Nursery School, or the time she stole the pencil with my name in gold lettering at the end. But I think maybe I was born with a crush on the little girl next door. She's always been on my mind.

Love's a funny thing. I used to torment Amber in a little boy-type fashion. You know, name-calling, ("Amber-Bamber" echoed by her, ("Rick the Tick"), spiders in the shirt, (I used to love her little tantrum with every eight-legged encounter), and basically every nasty thing neighborhood kids can figure to do to each other.

But I never pulled her hair. I never wanted to. Even when she was six, it was beautiful, long, wavy locks of a color only her name could describe: Amber.

She had an odd habit of hiding under her hair. When she became frightened or embarrased, her hair became a curtain, covering her soft, brown eyes. She always hid from me.

We matured together to the ripe old age of nine, which proved to be a changing point for her. She abandoned old school dresses for denim overalls and a worn t-shirt; and gave up prissy tantrums for fights at recess with the other kids -- all boys.

She won every fight. But I still loved her. Still walked her to school every day, holding her hand in mine. She still had her hair a little longer then.

And she still threw sand in my eyes.

Together we survived pre-teen crisis and Middle School blues. But eighth grade was a tough one for Amber. She had never outgrown her hostility towards others, and she still had never lost a fight.

Someone told me she drank a lot of alcohol then, I'm not sure, she was still hiding behind her hair.

I always walked with her to the bus stop, but I couldn't hold her hand. I couldn't even get close. She wouldn't let me.

She liked to walk alone.

By sophomore year, Amber had lost a lot of things, including her sanity. She played drums in a local heavy metal band. She also got involved with a lot of different drugs (mostly crack, I heard). Not experimenting; abusing.

I'd see her in the hallways at school, long hair down to her waist, brown eyes bloodshot and glazed. Her knuckles were always bruised and her muscles solid.

Her record was unblemished.

To many, she became merely a statistic: another messed-up teenager, bound for jail, overdose, or death.

But I could not bear to see her so screwed up. I didn't want to believe that the girl I loved so much would fall prey to the evils of society. I guess it was when I overheard Amber say that she was going to drop out of school that I decided to step in. And although it was hard, every day I worked on her, yelling, pleading, crying-- anything to get her to stay in school and clean up her life. But she'd just turn away, still hiding beneath her amber hair.

After two months of working to change Amber, with nothing to show for it except a sore throat and a drained heart, everything in her life, and mine, changed once more.

She turned to me that morning as we stood in the chilling November rains, waiting for the bus. I can never erase the look in her eyes, or the emotions in my heart from my memories. She turned to me and said,

"Rick, you're the only one left in this world who cares about me."

Whether it was tears or rain that streamed down her cheeks that morning, I'll never be sure, but as we stood there--arms around each other-- I knew I would love her Atill I died.

And in my heart I swore it.

But Amber didn't get off drugs that very instant. She was very stubborn and hostile, even toward me at times. She did not want to come down from her highs.

By the beginning of junior year, though, after a summer in re-hab, Amber was a clean soul.

She'd won her final fight.

I still hadn't told her how I'd loved her all my natural life. That day in the rain hardly told a fraction of what I felt for her. But I couldn't tell her- Acause after all we'd been through, she still hid from me.

Last weekend, Amber played a gig at a club some miles away. The rest of the band had been drinking so she became the "designated driver."

The band was still several miles from home when a tire went flat. Amber stepped out onto the near-empty highway to fix it. While she was jacking up the front of the car, the bandmates, who had gotten out of the car, began roughing each other up,joking and shoving in a drunken state. When Amber stood up from her position at the jack, she got caught in the tangle, and was shoved into the middle of the highway.

The driver never had a chance to hit the brakes.

I still love Amber. I like to think that wherever she is now, she realizes that I have always felt this way.

I never could tell what she was thinking,

She was always hiding underneath her amber hair. n


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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tomboy-42 said...
Jun. 1, 2011 at 7:30 pm
wow that was awesome...i literally cried...great job
 
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