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Winter (Chapter One)
Monday, November 22nd
I look up at the snow slowly falling in beautiful arcs around me. I lay down on the ground, staring up at the sky. A cold flake lands perfectly on the tip of my nose, and my eyes cross trying to watch it melt on the heat of my skin. I sigh in pleasure.
“Are you okay?” someone shouts, and I hear hurried footsteps rushing my way. I sit up quickly, brushing snowflakes out of my blond hair, and look up. It’s a boy, about my age, with dark brown hair, and light brown eyes, which were full of concern. His bangs hang in his eyes.
“Yeah,” I say shyly. “I’m fine, thanks. I was just…” I lay back down, staring up at the sky again. “Enjoying the view, I guess.”
“Cool,” he says, and lays down next to me. “I like doing that, too, but my folks usually think I’m crazy.” He laughs. “They’re all about the material possessions.”
I laugh. “Isn’t…” I stutter, then cough and try again. “Isn’t everybody?”
He grins at me, the tips of his bangs collecting bits of snow, perfect crystals balancing on our faces. “I guess we are,” he says, looking up at the slow moving clouds.
“If only we could be more like clouds,” he comments, at the same time that I say, “Clouds are so much more peaceful than us.” We look at each other and laugh simultaneously, which makes us laugh harder. A bunny hops over to us, laughing in the snow, and watches us disdainfully for a few seconds. Then the boy, sensing the animal’s presence, jumps up.
“Boo!” he yells, and the rabbit bolts away, into the ring of trees encircling us. He grins, then turns back to me. “I never even got your name,” he says.
“Oh, right,” I say. He waits. I blush. “I’m Sara James. I live up the road, on top of the hill.”
He smiles at me, and reaches out his hand to shake. It’s warm, despite the cold flakes gathering on it. “I’m Kyle,” he says. “Kyle Nickolson. I live right down the street from you. Number 218. I remember seeing your house when I went for a bike ride this morning. It’s very beautiful.”
“Thanks,” I stammer.
He laughs. “Wanna maybe hang out this weekend? You can show me the inside of your elegant home.” He laughs. I nod eagerly, and he hands me his phone to put my number in. “I’ll text you later,” he says, looking at his watch. “But I’ve gotta go now.”
“Oh. Bye!” I call as he walks through the woods. He waves at me over his shoulder and disappears. I remember 218. It’s a tiny house with charm, but a bit of a fixer-upper. I remember when it went up for sale, thinking that it would have to be purchased by someone who could give it some TLC. I guess Kyle and his dad are those people.
I look down at my phone. I have a new text from my best friend, Megan. ‘Hey,’ it reads. I grin and reply similarly, then begin to jog through the snowy woods, following Kyle’s footprints back to the main road.
My phone buzzes again as I reach my driveway. ‘I’m coming over, and Mark is with me.’
I grin. Mark is Megan’s cute twin brother, with long blond hair and pretty blue eyes like Meg. I’ve had a crush on him since second grade, when me and Meg met, and she knows, often teasing me about it, and insists he likes me back.
‘Can’t wait,’ I reply, running up the hill into my house. I understand why Kyle liked it. It’s two stories, with the first five feet brick, and the rest a pure white. I can see my bedroom from the front, up on the second story.
“Hey, Mom,” I greet my mother as I walk in. “Meg and Mark are on their way.”
“Cool,” she replies. “You guys going down to Tony’s?”
My stomach rumbles at the thought of the warm, fresh, cheesy pizza. “Probably,” I admit. She nods in agreement, and I head upstairs, dropping my winter coat and boots off. I stare out my window for a minute, and see my friends pull into my driveway on their bikes. Meg waves up at me, and Mark grins.
“Hey,” I greet them, bolting downstairs as they opened the front door. “Wanna go to Tony’s?”
Meg closes her eyes and smiles dreamily. “Yum,” she says simply.
“I’m up for it,” Mark offers. He grins again at me, and I smile back.
“Let me get my coat,” I tell them. “Meet me outside.”
“I’ll come with you,” Mark suggests, following me upstairs. Meg laughs and rolls her eyes, then heads outside.
“My room’s a mess,” I apologize, pulling on my coat and boots again.
“It looks fine,” Mark says. “And… there’s something I’ve been meaning to ask you, Sara.” He fidgets nervously, tucking his hands deep into his pockets.
“I’m listening,” I say, my heart pounding.
“Will… Will you go out with me?” he blurts out, then steps back, lowering his head. “Sorry,” he mutters.
“For?” I demand. “Of course I’ll go out with you. I’ve liked you since second grade.”
He looks incredulous. “Seriously?”
“Same here,” he admits, laughing easily, more like the Mark I know. “So… are we officially boyfriend and girlfriend now?”
“I think so,” I say, grinning.
“Cool,” he says, and we head down the stairs. My stomach is rumbling, and my heart is fluttering.