All Nonfiction Bullying Books Academic Author Interviews Celebrity interviews College Articles College Essays Educator of the Year Heroes Interviews Memoir Personal Experience Sports Travel & CultureAll Opinions Bullying Current Events / Politics Discrimination Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking Entertainment / Celebrities Environment Love / Relationships Movies / Music / TV Pop Culture / Trends School / College Social Issues / Civics Spirituality / Religion Sports / Hobbies
- Summer Guide
- College Guide
- Author Interviews
- Celebrity interviews
- College Articles
- College Essays
- Educator of the Year
- Personal Experience
- Travel & Culture
- Current Events / Politics
- Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking
- Entertainment / Celebrities
- Love / Relationships
- Movies / Music / TV
- Pop Culture / Trends
- School / College
- Social Issues / Civics
- Spirituality / Religion
- Sports / Hobbies
- Community Service
- Letters to the Editor
- Pride & Prejudice
- What Matters
The icy water swirled around Michael's bare feet, the fresh cold sending a pleasant tingle up his spine. He reached down and splashed the earthy-smelling water on his face. Cheeks flushed and eyelashes dripping, Michael shook himself like a dog and grinned. Freedom. It was finally Thanksgiving break, and there was no more school or mind-numbing homework for a whole week! He spun around in the shallow creek, head thrown back.
A girl's fluttery laugh suddenly interrupted Michael's celebration, and he started in surprise. A small, birdlike girl with chocolaty skin wearing a cherry-red plastic cowboy hat stood on the opposite bank, looking at him. "That looks like fun!" she exclaimed before Michael's face had a chance to flush. She quickly shed her shoes and socks and leapt into the creek with a delighted whoop.
The splash she made glittered in the pale November sunlight.
Michael finally found his voice. "What's with that outfit?" he blurted out rudely.
Unfazed, the girl glanced down at her pale knee-length gown and made a face. "My mom makes me wear it," she explained dismissively. She cupped some water in her hands and took a sip. "This tastes great!"
"So… um. What's your name. I'm Michael."
Chin still shiny and dripping, the girl grinned. "Blue. It's not my real name, but it's what everyone calls me."
Michael's feet were beginning to go numb with cold, not that he would tell Blue that. "Follow me. I wanna show you something." The tree house his dad had built before he left. He hopped onto the bank and began to walk, not caring that dead leaves began to stick to his wet feet.
Blue nodded and followed. She didn't even glance at her abandoned shoes.
When they arrived at the tree house, Michael scrambled up like a scrawny blond monkey and helped Blue up the uneven wooden ladder, since she didn't seem to be very strong. She was almost unnervingly light, and her skin was cool and dry like a lizard's.
Blue looked around at the small wooden tree house and beamed. "It's like a pirate's hideout! This is sooo cool!" She went to one of the two small windows and pushed back a threadbare curtain to look out at the fiery multicolored trees outside.
Michael resisted the urge to point out that he doubted pirates hid out in tree houses with leaky roofs. Instead, he smiled back and fished two chocolate bars out of a rusty metal lunchbox. He handed Blue one and tore his open. "Hershey's is the best," he told her through a mouthful of chocolate.
Blue nodded vigorously in agreement and began eating her own with a look of wonder on her face. "I haven't had one of these in forever. Thank you."
Basking in the warmth of Blue's gratitude, Michael impulsively took her small brown hand. She didn't pull away, finishing off the last of the bar and licking her lips.
Michael breathed in the sweet smell of the younger girl. She smelled like daisies and oranges. The two of them sat perched on the edge of the tree house platform, not speaking--just enjoying the tranquility of the quiet forest. Soon Blue's head was resting on Michael's shoulder, her plastic hat hitting him in the ear. Careful not to wake Blue, he removed the hat. His eyes widened when he saw that her small skull was covered with only a short field of short, fuzzy black hair.
Michael didn't really mind Blue being bald. She still looked pretty to him, he decided as she slept on.
Suddenly he realized that Blue's hand had gone limp in his. Eyebrows drawn together, he looked at her closely and saw that her small chest was completely still.
"Blue?" His voice cracked. Her face was smooth and peaceful, and the edges of her slightly smiling mouth were smudged with chocolate.
Michael looked down and saw the hospital bracelet on Blue's tiny wrist and hugged her to him with a shuddering sob.