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Learning to Share
The sticky sweet sap of my tree drips lazily down its rough bark. My cicadas whir and buzz and chirp away high above me. I smell my apples that have fallen, been trod on, and have been discovered by my insects, who feast on its sugary goodness. My grass is new and crisp and green – well, the grass that hasn’t been fried by the late August heat. A warm, slow, aestival breeze rustles my leaves on my tree and makes my apples sway. This is my refuge.
I pick up my notebook and pen and settle deeper into my soft and springy green leaves. And I write. I write about everything: my life, people I know, my dreams, my hopes, my fears. Nothing is concealed. Everything I don’t want to admit to myself and everything I never admit to others comes out here. Because it is mine; it is my place where I can be alone and meditate.
A rustle that is not mine brings me out of my absorption in my writings. I look up, and I see somebody is most definitely not mine, and therefore not supposed to be here. He looks to be about sixteen or seventeen, around my own age, and though I must admit he is rather more handsome than most, I am not pleased to see him. He is disturbing my place! How dare he!
And yet… his expression is not intrusive or spiteful. Rather, it is surprised. Surprised that I am here? But I am always here, when I am not in school or asleep. Now he blushes, realizing his intrusion upon my time. Who is he? Is this his place too? I suppose another could come here, but how could I have not known this in all my time coming here? He turns to go, but I think – if I had accidentally walked in on him, would I want to leave? Certainly not. I should not force him from his place, assuming that he comes here regularly for a similar reason that I do. It is not right. Now he is stepping away, and I speak.
I do not yell or scream urgently. It is more of a request than a command, quiet and reserved. I know he hears; there is no other sound except the cicadas. He does. He turns around slowly to face me.
I look up into his face solemnly. “Is this your place, too?” I ask him softly. He nods wordlessly. “Then stay,” I say, moving over so that he may sit next to me against my – I mean the – tree.
He smiles, and my heart stops for a moment, and then pounds like a hammer inside my chest. Any trace of uncertainty has left his face. He is infinitely more handsome than he looked before. He is now staggeringly gorgeous. His eyes are bright and friendly, and his mouth is pleasantly turned up at the corners. Usually I am not the type of girl who swoons on sight of a man, but there is something about this one… maybe it is my – I mean, the – place that unites us.
Whatever it is, I am on the edge of swooning, to my surprise and dismay. I hurry to scribble everything that has just happened in my notebook, inconspicuously tilting it away from him so he cannot read what I am writing about him.
“So, you come here to write?” he says. I lower my notebook warily and nod. He speaks before I can summon the courage to ask. “Me, I come here to think. Just to get away from life and busyness so I can think.”
There is silence, not awkward, but comfortable. Finally I ask, “What do you think about?”
He grins, happy I ask. “Everything,” he says. “Whatever my mind wanders to.” I nod, understanding. We do exactly the same thing, except I write it down.
Silence, again. I am about to turn back to my notebook when I hear, “My name’s William. But you can call me Will.”
“Is that your nickname?”
“No, but you can still call me that.” His smile seems just for me, special, unique. I blush.
“Daniella, but everyone calls me Ella.”
I blush again. This is a new experience. Not many boys at school talk to me, and if they do it certainly isn’t like this.
Will and I go back to our activities, thinking and writing, respectively. Of course, every word in my notebook since he walked into my – the – place has been about him. I must not think of it as my place anymore. It is now shared.
My pen pauses. I try to develop the skill of watching him through my hair without turning my head, which is harder than it might seem. He is not fooled. Will looks at me (without hiding it, like me) every few moments, smiling broadly when he catches me looking. Now the blush is permanent on my cheeks. They will never look the same. I am still staring at Will (how long must I know him before I can call him my Will?), who reaches up and plucks an apple off our tree. He crunches into the apple and lets out a soft, contented sigh.
“It’s nice here,” he says. My only response is to blush harder. How humiliating. He tosses his head, sending a little piece of hair that hangs over his eye flying and coming to rest back over his eye. I chuckle quietly. “What?” he asks, puzzled. Will is adorable when puzzled, I jot down in the corner of my notebook.
“Nothing,” I say, laughing.
“Tell me,” he says, trying to be ominous and failing miserably. His eyes are far too jovial to be ominous. “Or else,” Will warns.
I raise an eyebrow, half amused, half mischievous. Will picks up a handful of leaves and blossoms from the ground and pretends to aim them at me. I scoff silently and roll my eyes, until I feel leaves hit my face. They do not hurt, but I am shocked. Will tries to hide his grin. We start throwing leaves at each other mercilessly. I record every detail of the leaf fight in my notebook to be treasured forever.
At one point, Will ends up on top of me. I do not know how, but I am not complaining. In fact, his warmth is quite nice, and he smells like soap and laundry detergent. My face is redder than our apples in our trees. He leans in (somehow. I can swear we are as close as humanly possible) and whispers, “Hi.” He kisses me softly on the lips, as sweet as our apples and as perfect as our blossoms. From this moment, I know I will have no problem sharing our place.