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Snow, Purple Hair, Bus Stop
It should have just been a snowy wait at the bus stop. A normal fifteen minutes, something the average Denver citizen would do almost everyday. But it wasn't. Because she was there, too.
Arnold waited on the corner, his hands shoved underneath his armpits, hopping from foot to foot. The snow had arrived uncharacteristically in October, just a week and a half before Halloween. Seven inches of the stuff had fallen overnight, pure and white-- until day broke and it turned into brown and gray slush on the busy streets. A token to the city's frequent neglect of beauty, his mom had said. She hated the city and had always been a Wyoming prairie girl through and through.
Huge, wet flakes were falling now, plopping unceremoniously onto the ground. One fell onto Arnold's glasses lens. He cursed under his breath, wiping it off, only to be assaulted with three this time. Finally, he surrendered and shoved his glasses into his coat pocket. Stupid eyesight...
“It works better if you pull your hood all the way up,” someone said. He turned and saw a girl standing a few feet away. She was wearing an olive green pea coat, a knee-length blue skirt with orange flowers, thick plaid leggings, and white Converse high tops. Although her hood was pulled up as high as it would stay-- apparently shielding her glasses from the dreaded snow-- he saw little tufts of bright purple hair framing her pale face. Probably because he read entirely too many fantasy and sci-fi novels, his first thought was that she was a demon or a faerie or something else magical. Which was entirely wrong, of course. Still, she did have almost a mystical, mysterious aura about her as she moved closer to him and smiled.
“Trust me. I hate it when water gets on my glasses.”
“Oh,” Arnold replied, blushing despite the freezing air. He pulled his hood up and replaced his glasses.
“I'm Cora,” Cora said, sticking out her hand. It was soft and flushed pink with the cold.
“Arnold.” he replied, shaking her hand with his dry, cracked one.
“That's my little brother's name!”
“Yep. He just turned four. Right now he goes by Arnie, but he changes his nickname every other week.” Cora exhaled, watching her breath cloud up and float away. Her cheeks were rosy, almost like a doll's. After a few uncomfortable seconds of silence, Arnold rubbed his hands together and made an attempt to stand up straighter. He studied the girl, trying to think of something to say. She looked over at him and smiled, cupping her hands around her mouth and blowing on them. He wished he had worn those gloves today so he could offer them to her.
“So you're waiting for the bus?” he immediately slumped over again. Dumb dumb dumb...
But his idiocy didn't seem to phase her and Cora nodded. “Yep,” she repeated. “I assume you are, too. Where are you heading?”
“The library. I've got an English essay due Tuesday and I've already procrastinated enough. What about you?”
Cora bit her lip and turned away slightly. “Um...the hospital. I'm going to the hospital.”
Arnold regretted asking. She obviously wasn't going to the hospital for a good reason. He had made her sad and uncomfortable. The bus should be here by now, he thought.
She glanced over at him. “Are you going to ask me why?”
“Do you want me to?”
“Okay,” he said tentatively. “Why are you going to the hospital?”
“Well. Someone told me I should go to the emergency room or they'd send the police to my house. Because I was going to kill myself. So I decided to go to the hospital, just to make them happy, then go to the roof and toss myself off.”
Arnold couldn't believe it. The previous uncomfortable silence was nothing compared to this. This was an uncomfortable silence of apocalyptic proportions. All he could do was revert back to his previous words. “Oh.”
“Aren't you going to ask my why I was going to kill myself?”
“Well...do you want me to?”
Cora smiled wryly and shrugged.. “I probably wouldn't tell you anyways. It's a long, complicated story. But didn't you hear what I said? I said I was going to kill myself.” Her hood fell back slightly, showing off even more of her crazy purple pixie cut. “But I don't think I will. I met someone who changed my mind.”
Arnold's mouth fell open. He closed it quickly and whispered, “Who?”
She swung her head back and laughed. Arnold blushed again, baffled by the girl standing next to him. “Silly. You of course!”
“Me?” he mumbled, staring stupidly at her. She laughed again, but not in a mean way. Her laugh was beautiful, quiet but hard to ignore, like a chorus of tiny bells. “Why me? What did I do?”
“Nothing. I don't know. It's just...you intrigue me. You make me wonder.”
Arnold could think of nothing to say. Except, of course, “I like your hair.”
Cora grabbed his hands and moved closer to him, knocking his hood back lightly. “The hood doesn't really help,” she confided. “I just have a talent for dodging the flakes.” She kissed him on the cheek, and looked up. “The bus is here.”
Arnold reluctantly verified that she was right. The bus, according to his English teacher, would here symbolize separating paths, decisions to be made. The driver opened the door. Arnold looked quietly over at Cora. She was studying his hand carefully, lost in thought.
“Well?” the man asked. “You kids getting in?”
Cora dropped his hand, looked at the driver, then over at Arnold. “I think I feel better, for now. The hospital would just be unnecessary paperwork at this point. What about you?”
“The book report can wait. It's only Saturday.”
Cora smiled and took Arnold's hand again. Together, they walked down the icy sidewalk, not at all bothered by the snow that couldn't help but land on their glasses.