Memories and Dreams

My tears freeze as I cry into the snow. Above me, stars twinkle and
the full moon is high above me, hidden slightly by the branches of the
trees surrounding me. I come out to my favorite place when I miss my
sister. I am out here more than I am in there. I miss her so much,
yet all I have left of hers is a locket. A locket with a picture of
her in a long red dress, ready to go to her first dance with her first
boyfriend. A picture so beautiful, mid-length black hair shiny and
perfectly parted, one side over her shoulder, one side in front. Her
dark eyes were shining and her smile so gorgeous it would shame any
model, and her dress so perfectly fitting I thought it was made for
her. I remember that day: how she'd spent hours doing her makeup and
finding the perfect dress; how she'd done her hair over and over
again, and how she'd given me a hug goodbye and promised to be back in
a few hours and that she'd see me in the morning. I remember so
clearly that feeling of despair as I called after her, how I'd
complained to my mother. "But why can't I go?" I'd asked. "Why can't
I dress up pretty and go to a party with Anna, too?" My mother had
sighed and said "One day, you will, Kira. Just wait." And I'd sighed
and pouted all evening until I was tucked into bed and fell asleep
with dreams of my beautiful sister already spreading across my mind.
I shake harder as I remember, but not from the cold. No, the cold is
nice. It keeps me from completely breaking down. I stand up slowly
and run through the quiet forest; the only sound being the wind around
the trees and my footsteps in the perfect snow. The sound of my own
breath hardly seems to make a sound. I can hardly see where I'm going
through blinding tears, and I very nearly hit several trees. I have
to go back inside. I have to do my homework, I have to feed
Blackberry, my black one-eyed kitten. I have to give her a hug and a
kiss and tell her it's alright, because she has a cold and needs to go
to the vet. I have to, but I don't want to. I will soon. Too soon.
I sit at my table in art class holding the brush. I am painter, but I
can't decide what to paint. It is our assignment to paint something
that we don't understand, something that we wish we could. And then I
know. I remember how Anna had come home in tears saying It's not
fair! How could he? And I didn't understand. How could anything but
happiness come out of the fun she'd had dressing up and going to a
dance? And I don't understand now. I just don't understand. My hands
move faster than my mind, painting her in that dress, that beautiful
hair, smiling before she left. Back when everything was right, before
she left for college in Alaska. I am not even thinking as the brush
moves across the paper, painting Anna's beautiful smile that I long to
see every day.
I climb the large steps to the bus as I always do. The same thing
every day. I sigh and find a seat towards the back, empty, of course.
Blackberry must be getting antibiotics at the vet still. My poor
kitty hates the car, just hates it. I wonder if she's on her way home
yet.
"Hey, you okay?" A voice I've never heard startles me. I turn around
to see a boy I've seen a few times at school slide into the spot next
to me. I am surprised. No one ever sits next to me on the bus. The
loner. I hesitate before mumbling "Yeah, I'm alright." I am so
tempted to just spill out my secrets. That I miss my sister so much,
that I'm lonely, that my cat has a cold. For some strange reason, I
want to tell this boy that I need someone, that I'm sick of crying
into the snow, alone in the frozen woods beneath the night sky. That
I'm sick of being so lonely all the time. But, as always, I just
pretend I'm fine. "Why?" I ask and he shrugs. "I dunno. You just
look kinda… sad." He has a hint of an accent that I can't quite
place. "No, I'm fine." For a split second, I think I see something
in his eyes. That he's seeing right through me. But the look doesn't
last. Instead he just extends his hand and says "Well, hi. I'm
Peter." I shake the hand he's offered, and reply "I'm Kira. Nice to
meet you," and for the first time since Anna left, I really mean it.

I slip through the front door and stay inside long enough to call to
my mother so she knows I'm home, toss my bag and coat on the old
ripped up couch and leave again. The wind is strong as it whips my
hair around, a black tornado around my face, the cold piercing my
skin, freezing air clearing my head from all thoughts as I sink into
the too familiar sadness. There is no need to keep back the tears,
but I blink several times anyway, out of instinct. The tears flow
freely after several seconds, hot on my cold cheeks. Silent, though.
Always silent as I start to run through the woods, blind and out of
control, brushing a low branch of an old tree. This is my freedom
from everything, but this time there is just the slightest feeling
nagging in my thoughts. If this is freedom, then why is there still
pain? And only pain?
I turn around in my seat as Peter slides in next to me. He has been
sitting with me every day this week. "Hey," he says, and I smile in
response. Then he changes the slightest bit. He seems to get a
little nervous. "You know, I was wondering…" he pauses, so I jump in.
"You were wondering what?"
"Well, I was thinking that maybe… maybe you'd want to come with me."
"Where?"

"Well, you know there's a dance next Friday? Well, I thought maybe
you want to come with me?" I am in complete shock. This is my chance.
I am finally going to go to a dance. Finally going to get to dress
up like Anna did.
"Yes. I'd be honored," I reply, and I am so happy. The bus is
pulling into the school parking lot now, and everyone is standing up
to leave.
"Thank you," he says, and he kisses me on the cheek. And then he is gone.
The painting is coming along quickly. I have her outline, her hair is
partially colored, along with one eye. I have to blink a lot to keep
from crying at the sight of even a painting of my beloved sister. I
wish she would come home. No one ever understands how much I miss
her, how, when she left, she took part of me with her.
I am in my own bed tonight, which is so strange. I have stayed here
for three hours, much longer than I can usually keep myself here. The
window is wide open, the wind pleasantly cold on my cheek. Maybe it's
the excitement and unfamiliar happiness of the fact that I am going to
a dance in two days, my dream come true. All that I have really
wanted since Anna left. Maybe it is that my painting is very close to
being finished, or that Blackberry is purring on my lap. I think it
must be a combination. But there is still a strange feeling in my
mind. I feel like I am growing up now, much faster than I expected.
That I take after my sister way more than I thought. Did she feel
like this before her first dance? And I still wonder why she was so
sad afterwards. Thoughts are swirling around in my head and I feel
myself starting to drift off to sleep.
I am back in art class working on my painting. I am making the last
finishing touches, the curve of her eyelashes. And before I know it,
it is finished. I hold it up to look at it, and then I realize. I
have not painted a picture of my sister. The long black hair, the
liquid dark brown eyes, the golden locket around her neck. I have not
painted my sister. I have painted myself.
It is time to start getting ready for the dance. I am so excited! My
mother helps me get ready, telling me to use red lipstick instead of
pink, to leave my hair down instead of up. I am just about ready, but
first I close my eyes and think I love you, Anna. I'm thinking about
you. I will be all evening. And then we are off.
I meet Peter at the entrance and am blown away. He looks marvelous.
We dance and we eat, but the food is junky and not very good, the
music loud and obnoxious. The dancing is fun, being with Peter is
even better. I see a girl crying in the corner, and she reminds me of
Anna. And all of a sudden, I understand why Anna was so sad. This
girl has lost her partner, I can tell. That must be it, that must.
It is hours later when I return home, laughing all the way, and I
still remember her. I feel sorry for her and for my sister. So
sorry.
I am out in the snow now. The stars are bright above me in the clear
sky. The moon is full, just as it had been when I was out here one
month ago. The night is so perfect, so bittersweet and familiar and
unfamiliar at the same time. I had a wonderful evening, but I cannot
help thinking that the dance just wasn't what I had wanted. I had set
my expectations too high. It isn't Peter, no, Peter is wonderful, and
spending the evening together was great, but the dance could have been
improved. I know now, that after this evening, everything will start
getting better, I can feel it. But I also know that I would rather
have stayed curious all my life than experienced my dream, much less
than I had wanted. Dreams shatter, in the blink of an eye they can
vanish. But what's even worse is when they just aren't what they're
cracked up to be.





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