The Meadow

The air was crisp and cool, the comfort of the summer breeze gone, replaced by the whipping chill of fall; a sure sign that summer was finally fading away. The leaves were starting to lose their bright emerald hue, in exchange for shades of yellow and dull green. The dying grass crunched underneath the soles of his shoes as he made his way towards their usual meeting spot, the big granite rock thirty feet from the side of the old road.
He released a sigh, the air cooling his breath like a cloud that floated around him. He was tired. The summer splendors had left him exhausted and worn from with the constant worry for his closest friend.
As he approached their usual meeting place he saw her sitting on the rock, a big dark green jacket shrugged over her slim shoulders. She was as beautiful, with a golden halo of hair that fell in loose curls and tangles around her face. Her skin, while not dark was not pale either, had a glow to it that had been enhanced by her dazzling and bright personality. She simply had that type of personality that grew smiles on people’s faces just seconds after the first hello. Even seeing her now, brought a small smile to the boy’s face, as he walked causally towards her.
Her back was faced towards the dark haired boy, but when she heard him approach she twisted around to get a better look. Her face lit up instantly the moment she saw him, and she jumped off the large rock to greet him with a sweeping embrace.
“Noah!” She pulled away and smiled. “it feels like it’s been forever since I last saw you!”
Noah let out a laugh, “I’ve only been gone a week, Lis.”
“Well, it felt like forever.”
He didn’t reply, only smiled.
“Well,” she prompted, “how was your trip? Tell me everything! What were the people like, did you like the school, and was it as crazy as everyone said?” She slipped her arm through his and pulled him along their secret path where the trees were lined up down the side.
Noah laughed again, amused by her multitude of questions, “Yes, everything was amazing. Like a dream. The city was a chaotic mass of people; they were everywhere. The school campus was incredible, just so modern with all the newest technology. It was all just really fascinating. And the classes they offer there are just what I need to be able to contribute to my parent’s business. Definitely next fall, I think I’ll go there, to Columbia University.” He took a quick glance at her, and the smile slipped from his face when he saw that golden haired girl he’d known from a young age was now somewhat different. Her childish confidence was gone, he noticed, replaced by something more reserved, something fragile.
“So Lis, what about you” she looked over at him, “what did you do during the week?”
She turned her face towards the side, and pulled her arm away from his. They stopped walking, and reached their destination. There was a large meadow, the same meadow they used to go to when they were little kids. The wooden fence that had been there since probably the Civil War was rotten, splintered, and had fallen away in some places. She walked over to the wooden fence and stopped. She didn’t cross over to the meadow.
“Lis,” he probed gently, “tell me did something happen?”
“My parents were home this week,” then she added, “at the same time.”
Noah winced in sympathy for his dear friend. They both stayed silent for a moment. The air continued to grow colder as chill crept in from the northern wind. Clouds started rolling in from the north, only the meadow was still illuminated by the sun’s light; its last attempt to keep the summer presence.
Noah broke the silence first, “did they do anything—you know…” he trailed off, not finishing his sentence with the possibility he offended her.
“No,” she said curtly, “they were running from the police again. They might have to move out closer to the border.”
“Will you go with them?”
“No, I’ll stay with a friend. The sooner they’re gone the better.”
She was still staring out into the meadow, hands gripping the splintering wooden fence. Noah could read her emotions clearly; she wanted her parents to leave, and be out of her life—for good. The years since she was little up to now had been painful. They moved to this little town in the middle of nowhere to escape the police from their crimes. Unfortunately they always return to the city to wreak more havoc, on the civilians of New York City, and there was never any care or nurture for their sweet little golden haired daughter. They spent her love on their drinks, drugs, and other crime excursions, never bothering to pause for a moment to give a simple word of encouragement or to show they cared. They always abandoned her, leaving Noah’s family to find her. One day his mother found her one day trapped in the house, without anything to eat or drink, both parents gone, probably doing something illegal. Lis would stay at his house for weeks at a time, and through the years they became really close. He always felt this sort of protection over her, because he wanted to keep her safe from the life that she was sadly living.
“You know you could come with me to the city. You could apply to go to college there and forget all about your parents and your friends.” Noah grabbed her by her shoulders and turned her to face him, “I know what you do with your ‘friends’ I hear the things they say about you and how you act. Everyone knows and thinks that you’re going the same route as your parents. But I know that that’s not true. You have so much to offer, but you think that this is the only life you deserve.”
Tears appeared at the corners of her eyes, but she rapidly blinked them away. She twisted from his grasp and sputtered, “It doesn’t matter what I do, it’s not like I can go to college, my grades are horrible.”
“I know you’re smart. If you start working hard I’m sure there is one you can get into.”
“Stop, once they know my record of getting into trouble they won’t want me either.”
“But if you reconcile with the administration and stop hanging out with those types of people they would see differently.”
“No. Stop.” She was getting angry now; her hands balled into fists. “My friends care about me! They’re practically the only people who care about me! I don’t have parents like yours that take me on fancy trips and get me into good schools.”
Noah remained quiet. He was used to her sudden outbursts by now, and fully understood them. Though he winced a little at the jab about his parents, she was right. He was really fortunate that his parents loved and cared for him and he could see just how lost she was; she didn’t know where to go or what to do, like a lost little girl who can’t find her parents.
“You think your friends care by persuading you to commit petty crimes and sell yourself for drugs?”
“They give me the comfort of a family I never had.”
“You could have a better one. I could help you get into a good college; you could turn your life around. Imagine the life you always wanted plus more.” He hesitated, “You could be with people who really care about you, and not want to use you for… their own ends You could be happy.”
“I don’t need your charity,” was all she said.
“Everyone needs a little help sometimes.”
The wind blew the tendrils of her dull blond hair around her face. He noticed that her hands were shaking, from anger or something else, Noah couldn’t tell. Her oversized jacket had a few holes in it, giving her overall appearance a sad, wretched look. She took a shallow shaky breath and looked away, but not before Noah was able to catch a glimpse of silver droplets that slid down her pallid face. It pained him to see her this way, the girl so full of life, now starting to fade away like the late summer. He wouldn’t press the matter - for now. Her time would come, hopefully, when she realized that there was nothing good for her here.
Trying to lighten the mood, Noah ran and jumped over the dilapidated fence and ran straight into the meadow.
“Com’on, Lis!” he shouted laughing, “just like old times!”
She hesitated for a few moments, unsure how to react, before the corners of her lips picked up a little, revealing a childish grin. Placing her shaky hands on the fence, she gradually hopped over it and stepped out into the last bits of light before it was covered in the dense blanket of clouds. The light played in her hair, turning its dull color into a softer gold. Once the light faded away, Lis broke into a run, tugging her best friend by the arm with a playful smile.
“Race you to the end and back!”
“You’re on,” he laughed, “but remember I’m a fast runner.”
“But if you give me a head start I think I’ve got a good chance.” She smiled and broke into a sprint, Noah following close behind, heading to the green trees on the other side of the meadow.

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schumdav said...
Aug. 7, 2013 at 8:47 am
I enjoyed reading your short story. Your use of descriptive vocabulary really makes the scene come alive. I want to learn more about Lis and her childhood. And how her parents ended up becoming such awful criminals.
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