Lost and Found

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Fingernails had always confused her. Their presence seemed arbitrary. She stared at them. They were encrusted in dirt. Embarrassed, she shoved her hands deep in the pockets of her fleece. She had lost track of the numbers, they had flown away, and drifted into the wind that now blew at her long locks. One thousand was a long way off, too long for her, too long to count to.

She squeezed her eyes tightly. The wind was icy, the scent of pine robust, the snow beneath her feet crunchy. The anticipation of the coming search was too much to handle. She opened her eyes again and was struck by the bright colors of the world. The sun reflected off the icy snow onto the bare branches of the white oak in front of her. She was blinded by the beauty of the winter.

She shifted from leg to leg, excitedly bouncing up and down. If she had been counting maybe she would have been up to five hundred, yet the numbers were elusive. They laughed at her, taunting her inability to manage them.
She arched her neck backwards and stared into the sun. She didn’t understand why she was always told not to. She loved the warmth of the golden disk and the strange colors she saw after she looked straight into it. It was like magic, only better then the magician at the circus.
The bright colors soon swam before her eyes. Flashing yellows and purples mixed with a swirling black blob. She grinned.
Patience no longer appeared as a virtue; she was ready to win. Spinning around, she watched as the white world whirled, and then she let her high-pitched voice pierce the air. “Ready or not, here I come!”
She snuggled her cold nose into her green knit scarf and began her trek. She just had to follow footprints; they would be sure to lead her to the prize. She scanned the expansive yard.
His footprints departed from where she stood. She followed them with her eyes until the impressions in the snow were too far away to be distinguished from the blanketed ground.
She put her small feet into his footprints. “I’m coming!” she shrieked as a fit of giggles erupted from her chest as she realized the genius of her idea. Slowly she followed his footsteps, placing her feet in his steps, again and again.
In the middle of the yard the footsteps suddenly veered off to the right towards the big pine. The footsteps circled the grand tree and then stopped. Her eyes followed the footsteps, which seemed to disappear into thin air. Confused she trotted back to where the footsteps had started and retraced them.
Her face began to flush as a rush of warmth hit her cheeks. She didn’t understand. She scanned the yard looking for his dark green sweatshirt. He wasn’t behind the tool shed, or the big rock, or behind the lawn furniture. The heat was rising again, and she was burning with frustration.
He always won, she thought. This time she wasn’t going to give in. She sat down at the base of the big pine giant tree and wrapped her arms around her legs, making herself into a ball. She felt the cold of the icy snow seeping through her flannel pants and the ridges of the bark digging into her back.
The sun had gone behind a cloud, and the icy wind was beginning to bite at her ears. A tear rolled down her cheek. She did not want to accept defeat. The wind whistled and the branches of a nearby tree sighed in the wind. Another salty drop rolled down and splashed on her lips. She licked it and tasted the sea.
And then there was a rustling above her and a thud at her side. She looked up
into his bright blue eyes. “You found me!” he said, his eyes twinkling as he sat down in the snow next to her. She leaned against him and felt his warmth. It was a warmth that was comfier than victory.
“Cinnamon buns?” he asked. “You can ice them.” She grabbed his hand and they left the big pine, the cold ground, and the frosty air for the warmth of home.





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