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Day 1: The Meeting Place
Zanobi flung his backpack into one of the many dark places in his room as he entered and crashed onto his bed. While he lay there on his chest, half of his body on the bed and the other half draping off, he thought about how the school day had gone. The word “terrible” entered his mind. Having a crooked nose and a face covered in acne didn’t exactly help a tenth grader gain a good title in Grace High School.
A flicker of light drew Zanobi’s thoughts away from the hurt of the day and to the only window in his room. The shades drawn over the window allowed only small tendrils of warm sunshine to enter the room, the only light present in the darkness. Maybe visiting the meadow will help lighten my mood. He told himself.
Zanobi slowly peeled himself off of his bed and walked out of his room. Lazily, he clomped down the stairs and out the back door, into the tall grass meadow. The meadow was ablaze with color-purple, pink, white, red, yellow, and tons of green. A honey-sweet fragrance perfumed the air and lifted Zanobi’s spirits slightly. He stood there, in the middle of the meadow, taking it all in and breathing in deep breaths of deliciously clean air.
Out of his peripheral vision he saw a girl suddenly stumble and collapse into the long grass of the meadow, her body now hidden from view. She emitted no cry of help or anguish, but Zanobi made his way over to her anyway. He crept closer and that’s when he saw that her eyes were closed in peace, a metal crutch gleamed in the grass beside her. He didn’t wish to disturb her but when his shadow crossed over her face she opened her flashing green eyes. In alarm she sat up, astounded that someone else had been in the meadow.
“Are you…alright?” Zanobi managed to stutter. Frizzy golden blonde curls fell down to her shoulders and outlined her heart-shaped face, making her angelic face look even smaller. The long purple skirt, a bold color compared to the pale complexion of her skin, fanned out about her like the petals of a flower.
Pink lips were barely able to form the words, “Yes, I just had a small tumble. It happens often when I come out here.” She smoothed her skirt with shaking hands.
Zanobi eased himself onto the plush grass below him, close to her but far enough away to give her space. She had probably felt small with him towering over her, so he thought it best to join her on the ground. “You come out here often?” He asked without looking in her direction. She seemed nervous and her shaking hands and stuttering speech confirmed his thoughts.
“Uh, yah, every day.” She continued to smooth her skirt. He looked down at her small frame and saw that she averted her eyes away from his. At least she’s not staring at my nose or criticizing my horrible face. Zanobi thought to himself.
They continued to sit there, silent as the unseen stars. Warm breezes washed over them, caressing their faces and hugging them close. Birds flitted back and forth from one side of the meadow to the other as puffy clouds sailed over them, casting cool shadows over their still forms.
Day 2: Just Talking
Zanobi placed his backpack on the floor just inside the front door and walked towards the kitchen in search of a snack. This time he needed something extra special to brighten his dark mood. With a glowering expression he stared into the fridge to find nothing that would satisfy his craving for junk food, so he continued on to the freezer. Ah, just what I need. He pulled out the cookie dough ice cream container. He snapped off the lid to find only a scoopful left. His mood darkened even more. What’s the point? If I eat it I’ll just want more. He pushed the lid back on and replaced the container to its original spot in the freezer.
Zanobi dragged himself into the living room and plopped onto the couch, his entire body sprawled out. Frustrated, he sighed and picked up the controller to the TV, clicking it on. The bright white letters of Storm Watch popped up onto the screen and he immediately clicked to another channel. After clicking through several channels he gave up, there wasn’t anything worth watching.
After lying still for a couple of minutes, the warm air began to make him sleepy. His eyes closed and his mind went into shut down mode. Breezes flowed through the house from an open window, cleaning out the dusty air and pushing away the heavy atmosphere that limited his breathing. He was almost there, almost able to reach out and touch the pleasant sleep that he wished would envelope him and take him captive. But when he heard a beautiful voice singing his eyes snapped open, sleep vanished. Quietly, he eased himself off of the couch and over to the window, his ears perked to the gentle sound. Where was the singing coming from? And that’s when he saw her, the girl from yesterday. She was sitting in the meadow, gingerly picking the flowers around her and smelling them. Her lips formed the words that he was hearing.
Slowly, he crept out the back door, shutting it carefully behind him, as not to scare the girl and gradually moved towards her till he was standing right behind her. He waited till she had finished her song to speak. “You have a beautiful voice.”
“Oh!” The alarmed cry came from her lips and she moved away slightly. She gave a nervous laugh, “I didn’t see you there.”
“What’s your name?” He crouched down to her height.
Startled by his close presence, she shied away. “Uh, it’s Vivian, but people just call me Viv.”
Satisfied with her answer, he crashed onto the grass below him and stretched himself out. “Vivian.” He tasted the word on his lips and found that it felt surprisingly good to say her name.
“What’s yours?” He glanced over at Viv from his bed on the ground to see that she had moved closer to peer down at him.
“Why would you want to know?” He didn’t say it in a harsh tone, but the girl still flinched at his question. He saw her movement and his heart filled with regret. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to say that.” He paused to look up at her. This time her eyes were focused on his, steady and unfrightened, a small blush evident on her pale cheeks. Zanobi continued his explanation, “It’s just that, you’re the first person to ask me that question.”
“Really, why?” She inquired with owl-like green eyes.
“No one cares about me. No one’s ever wanted to be my friend.” He shut his eyes against the bright sun.
“That’s terrible. Is there a reason why they wouldn’t want to be your friend?” He peeked open an eye to look at her. Her hair was neater today and her skin looked a little healthier. She looked so innocent with her big green eyes and small body.
“If I knew the reason I would have done something about it by know.” Zanobi maneuvered himself onto his side and began to pick at the grass beside him. “Have you ever wished to be popular, to be noticed? I’ve hungered for it for so long, to be noticed, to make a difference in this pitiful world.” He looked up to see her expression. Shockingly enough, he saw a smile form on her lips.
“Are you always this open to people?” She asked with a positive attitude.
“Well, no, I guess not.” He answered sincerely.
“I don’t really have an answer to your previous question. You see I’m homeschooled and I’ve never been surrounded by people my own age. I live with my elderly grandparents, mother, and father. So I get noticed every day, being the only child.”
“Lucky you, my parents are rarely home. I actually don’t even know where they are most of the time, and when they are home they avoid me.” Zanobi rolled onto his back again and stared up at a cotton ball cloud drifting overhead.
“You wish for popularity because you’re insecure.” Viv responded to his unhappy mood.
“You really think so?”
“I know so. You’re self-confidence is very low. You have no parents there for you, not a single friend at school, and I’m guessing that you’re criticized daily. Not only that but you tell yourself that you’re not worth anything, useless. You’re beginning to believe the lies that everyone has been stuffing in your face and sooner or later you’ll begin to turn into the person that people say you are. Don’t give in; don’t let them make you a person you’re not.”
Day 3: No Meeting
Zanobi’s blue rusted truck sputtered to a stop in his driveway. Fat raindrops thundered on the top of his cab and streamed in large rivulets down his windshield. He breathed a sigh of relief that he had made it into the driveway; even if the truck was now dead he was still thankful. He hadn’t been in the mood for his truck to capsize on the side of the road. But he’d have to work on the truck tomorrow.
Zanobi stared through the torrents of rain to see the meadow beyond his back yard. There would be no meeting today, no comforting talk with Viv.
A sharp grating noise filled the already thunderous noise-filled air as he pushed the truck door open and pulled his backpack out after him. With only a thin sweatshirt on him, he could feel the raindrops that pounded on his shoulders slowly seep into his clothing. Quickly he ran to the mailbox, grabbed the small pile of mail, and rushed to the porch to get out of the rain. Panting when he reached the door, he shook his jet black hair free of raindrops and stepped into the house.
No “welcome home” or “how did your day go?” greeted him, only the sound of heavy rain on the metal roof. Depressed, he shrugged off his backpack and walked up the stairs to his room. He sank onto his bed and sifted through the mail. When the name Zanobi appeared on one of the letters he sat up with a stiff back. Who could it be from? No return address was written on the envelope, only the name Zanobi and a flower sticker which sealed the envelope shut on the back.
Zanobi fumbled with the envelope as he struggled to open it with shaking hands. Never in his life had he received a card in the mail, not even a birthday card. He pulled out a folded piece of paper. Carefully, he unfolded it to see beautiful cursive handwriting stretched out across the page.
Zanobi(I found out your name from my grandmother since you never told me yourself),
How was your day at school? Today it is raining, and I know that I won’t be able to speak to you today, and that is the reason why I composed this for you.
I wish to remind you of what we talked about yesterday. Do you remember when you told me of your desire for popularity? Well, think with me for a bit. Just who are those people that you wish to notice you. They’ve always disliked you, haven’t they? Then why should you care what they think about you? You don’t care about them, so you should not care about what they think of you. You are your own person, special and unique in every way. You could not possibly be a better person than you are now. Don’t you think so? Remember that, what makes you different from everybody else makes you all the more special, no matter what anyone else may think.
Vivian? She wrote this? To me? Thoughts began to crowd into his mind. He continued to think about her letter, and what truths it revealed to him.
Day 4: An Act of Kindness
As he walked up the driveway, silver chains, which hung from his baggy black pants, clinked against each other in a discomforting reminder. The reminder that he had tried to fit into the emo crowd, hoping to draw out his inner self and to just be himself, but he hadn’t felt right, not in that crowd. He hadn’t looked completely like them, but he had tried, just to know what it felt like for one day. It was different.
He opened the hood of his junky truck and got to work. He was soon drenched in sweat from the heat of the sun. Easing himself out of his sticky shirt, he tossed it aside and got back to work.
It had been about an hour and he still couldn’t figure out what the problem was with his truck. It seemed to have a new problem every day, but he didn’t mind. He liked cars and he loved to play around with them, tweaking this and that, and sometimes tweaking actually worked.
A small noise behind him caused Zanobi to turn around. With wrench in hand, he stared down at the small figure of Vivian. Viv stared unconsciously at his bare chest, a blush slowly creeping into her cheeks, but she still continued to stare. “Uh, can I help you?” Zanobi gave her a troubled look.
“Oh!” Zanobi’s deep voice startled Viv out of her trance. She became beat red and held the plate of cookies she had in her hands at arm’s length, her head slightly bowed. “These are for you.” She kept her head down to hide her blush.
Zanobi peered down at the freshly made chocolate chip cookies that Viv had shoved in his face; the pit in his stomach became deeper at the sight of them. He looked around the plate to see Viv struggling to hold the cookies out while leaning against her crutch for support. Quickly, he relieved her of her burden so that she could stand better. “Uh, thank you, but how did you know I needed something to eat?” He looked into her sparkly green eyes.
“Well, I thought you might need something. You haven’t eaten anything since you’ve come home from school.”
“You’ve been watching me?”
“Well, yes and no. I’ve been reading on the swing in my front yard and I noticed that you hadn’t gone into your house since you came back from school.” A small blush still remained on her pale face as she looked up at him. She seemed a little uncomfortable. Zanobi stared down at the crutch that she clung to for support. I wonder what it’s for.
“Is this your truck?” Viv asked as she peered under the rusty hood.
“Uh, yah, it is.” The couple’s conversation was turned towards the truck for the remainder of their time together.
Day 5: Troubling Times
It was a perfect day outside, bright sunshine and warm breezes, but not inside Zanobi’s heart. In the dark expanse of his stone cold heart lay only grief, no joyous light was present. He lay on his bed, swamped in dark feelings. There was no life in him, no smiles, nothing. The day at school had been the worst out of the entire week. Tormenting beyond description had filled his unpleasant day.
I yearn to be noticed, to be cared for. Is that too much to ask? Zanobi turned over onto his side. When I try to attract attention I only make a fool of myself. There is no possible way for me to gain friends. I don’t play sports and never will. I don’t have a single talent. Everyone who sees me automatically shies away from me. What is the point of living? I have no joy, no life. Then a miraculous thought popped into his head. The time has come, to leave.
Zanobi stood up and got to work on his packing. Clothing, food, accessories, everything he packed together into a heap on his bedroom floor. It’s done. He crawled back into bed with anger still present in his heart. I leave in the morning. No one would notice. It was Saturday tomorrow, no school, no parents, nothing to hinder him from leaving. His brown eyes closed in sleep.
A moonbeam managed to crawl through the blinds to rest on Zanobi’s face. He woke up with a start and sat up in bed. Then he lay back down, hoping to get back to sleep. He tossed and turned, sleep had deserted him never to come back. Maybe I’ll visit the meadow one last time. He tugged on a T-shirt and some pants before slipping out of his bedroom, down the stairs, and out the back door.
The bright silver moon hung in the sky, illuminating the meadow below. He strolled out to the center of the meadow to gaze up at the moon. It was so big and isolated for no clouds joined it that night. Zanobi glanced behind him when he heard a soft clinking sound. He was startled to see Viv coming towards him. Her white nightgown rippled around her like a white fountain. Moonlight struck her blonde curls, turning them a pale silver color. Her small face combined with the effect of her nightgown made her look angelic.
Dark green eyes looked up at him, questioning him as to what he was doing out in the meadow. He turned his back to her, not wanting to look into her steady green eyes. “I’m leaving in the morning.” He didn’t turn around to look at her face; he stood steadfast with feet shoulder-width apart like a towering mountain.
Then he heard the clink of metal as something fell into the grass, but still did not turn around, even when he felt thin arms wrap around his waist. Viv? He felt her body press against his back in a tight hug.
“You wouldn’t believe me, would you, if I told you that you are the most handsome man on the face of this earth?” Zanobi felt the muffled words vibrate through his body. He didn’t respond, but stood still as Vivian’s head pressed against his shoulder blades. Her weight leaned into his back for support and her tiny hands clutched handfuls of his shirt. “You’re who you are, Zanobi,” she paused and Zanobi felt her hand reach up to feel where his heart was. He could feel her heart racing, thumping a tune in her chest during that moment of silence, and then her soft voice whispered what he had been longing to hear all his life. “You’re perfect.”
The walls that had formed around his heart came crashing down, in that moment, as Viv pressed a shaking hand to his heart. Emotions he had never felt before flooded into his warmed heart and among them was…acceptance. He thought he never would have been able to hear those words, but now a girl who had probably never been able to run around and play offered the words with love.
Please don’t go, Zanobi. The unspoken request in Viv’s thoughts hung in the air around their still bodies as she clung to him with all of her might.
I won’t. A brilliant smile nearly as bright as the moon escaped from his heart to rest on his face. As long as you’re here…i’ll never leave. Viv…you’re the one who gave me life.