by Kailie Rian
Two former friends and an unexpected walk back home.
| It was almost time to go home, it was almost winter break so 6th period was just another dreadful obstacle keeping you from the holiday season.
As my math teacher was trying to explain quadratic formulas I put on my earbuds and listened to my music. I was using my dad’s old iPod so I didn't know most of the songs and I'll usually skip a bunch until I land on a good song but I didn't this time. I let one of my dad’s old songs play and it was quite relaxing.
The bell rang half way through the third song. I grabbed my bag and walked out the door without the teacher dismissing me, it was rude but I couldn't care less.
I walked down the hall with my earbuds still in and watched my peers rush to their lockers and talking to their friends. I passed by so many people I couldn't identify the person who spilled coffee on my sweater. Luckily it's a dark blue sweater so it didn't really show but I went to wash it off anyway.
I pushed through the traffic of people and ended up in the bathroom. There were two girls there, Lizzie Smith and Maya Bourke. I've never talked to them before except for when I had to do a science presentation with Maya but other than that. I didn't bother to talk to them I just tried to wipe off the coffee from my sweater.
I left the bathroom with a big wet spot on my sweater so whether it's better than having or coffee stain or not I can't say.
I turned my iPod on again and listened to White Winter Hymnal and noticed that people were looking at their phones and lighting up and some people were bundling up at their locker. I took an earbud out and heard excited chatter about snow.
Great. Just what I needed, now I had to walk in the snow. I had canvas sneakers on and no doubt they would get wet.
I go to my locker and grab my emergency jacket, it was a light blue jean jacket with Sherpa fur on the inside that I left a month ago. I also grabbed a red scarf, a black beanie, and red gloves. I may have acted like I don't care but I would’ve if I got frostbite.
I went outside and there was already an inch of snow. I put my hoodie on and started walking home.
It was super cold and it was getting harder to walk in the snow. I contemplated running to my house, that would warm me up but that also might've killed me.
I was half way home when I heard someone call my name or what sounded like my name. I stopped and pulled out an earbud, it was indeed my name.
I turned around and one of my classmates as running to catch up with me. As he got closer I realized it was Henry. We used to be best friends from elementary but we stopped talking in high school.
He looked a lot different than when we last hung out together. He wasn't wearing braces or glasses and he didn't have as much acne on his face. He also didn't wear any polo t-shirts which was pretty a must for him in middle school. I think the most noticeable change was the fact that he was no longer a noodle of a human being.
He joined the soccer team in sophomore year and he was pretty good. Before that he was super skinny and muscle less.
He catches up and smiled at me. “Hey Bronwyn. How are you?” he said, now walking at the same pace as me.
“Good.” He replied
We walked in silence. I wasn't the best at conversations or socializing in any manner but I knew I had to say something.
I tried to ask him if he enjoyed the weather but we ended up talking at the same time and I doubt he heard the beginning of my question because I couldn't understand his.
He chuckled and looked at me “wow, I am such a failure at this” he said.
I was confused for a second as I thought I was the one who was making errors but I realized we were both equally as bad.
“We're both failures at this” I said making him chuckle again. “It's just that, we haven't talked since 8th grade”
“I've been meaning to but you're always preoccupied with something”
Yes, but I only am to keep people from interacting with me. “I like to keep myself busy” I lied.
“That's cool… uh, what're you doing for Christmas?” He asked me looking down at his feet.
“My family is boycotting Christmas” I replied. I wasn't lying this time, it was true. My family sucked.
“Oh… that's stupid” he replied. He froze realizing what he had said, “I mean- it's totally fine if you don't want to celebrate Christmas. I didn't mean to offend you or anything! Your family is great!” He panicked.
I just laughed. The poor guy was worried he had offended me. That was a first.
“It's fine. It is stupid.” I reassured him. We kept on walking in silence after that.
“Do you want to go to a park?” I asked him as we passed by the park entrance.
“Oh- sure” he said.
We went to the swings and brushed off the snow that was on them. We put our backpacks down and I sat on one of the swings and just stared at the snowy trees in the distance.
I forgot about Henry who was sitting on the swing next to me and actually swinging unlike me.
“Hey! Why are you on a swing if you aren't going to- well, swing?” He asked me mid swing.
I smiled and pulled my swing back and released. In no time I was up higher than he was.
We were there just swinging and enjoying each other's company for a while. All of the sudden he jumped from his swing into the snow. Thank goodness there was 7 inches of snow or else that would've hurt. We were laughing hard.
“Jump!” He said once we stopped laughing. Before I knew it I found myself letting the swing go and jumping off. Unlike him I jumped before I got to the top so I landed a good 12 inches below him and hit my head on a pole.
“Ow” I said, laying still in the snow.
Henry started to laugh and I couldn't help but laugh too. I was rolling around trying to stop laughing and at one point it was hard to catch my breath. I calmed down and looked at him. Half his face was buried in the snow and I could still hear his muffled laughing. It was all very surreal and dreamlike.
He noticed I wasn't laughing and sat up. He scooped up some snow and hit me with it. I dramatically gasped and threw one at him.
It turned into a snowball fight, I ran around the swings and tried to hug him but he's faster. He tackled me and we ended up in an awkward position.
“Er- sorry” he apologizes and got off of me. “I got carried away” he said sheepishly.
“It's fine” I brushed snow off of my coat and stood up. “Let's grab our backpacks and have a stroll around, shall we?” I extend my hand to help him up.
We passed the playgrounds and the park benches where I saw a middle aged lady reading. Surely that would be me in twenty years.
“I love this park” he said out of nowhere.
“Me too. We always played here in elementary”
My family used to have picnics at this park and they would always invite Henry. We would always get in trouble.
It's the biggest park in town so it was always filled with people. But not anymore, maybe because of the technology we have now or the fact that parents gave up on trying to get their kids outside but barely anyone went except old people.
We walked around the park, stopping at one of my favorite parts of it. The bridge.
It was a nice wood bridge that went across the pond. It was covered in snow but I wiped some snow off and found where we carved our initials into.
We caught up. School, home, hobbies, dreams, we talked about it all. It was really nice to just talk to someone and have them listen but I liked it more when he was talking. He was more interesting.
“The pond is frozen” I point out.
“Maybe it'll be solid tomorrow and people could skate. I haven't ice skated in forever”
“I don't think it's snowed like this in forever” I said looking out into the forest behind the park. The snow had accumulated. It was now about 8 or 9 inches, at this rate it wouldn't be long till it was a foot.
“It's nice” Henry said, then changed the topic “can I ask you something?”
“Why did you stop talking to me?”
I've often thought about that, why had I stopped talking to him? Maybe I wanted a fresh start in high school but I couldn't remember anymore.
“I was 14. I was stupid… I am stupid”
“That's fair I guess…” he replied. He leaned against the hand railing. “I was too. I was so stupid.”
“Henry Reynolds, stupid? No way” I fake gasped.
He laughed “you'd be surprised. I once stalked Veronica Byrd online just so I could talk to her and be popular”
“Okay, that is pretty stupid” I admit “but look at you now! You don't have braces or glasses anymore AND you're on the soccer team. She’s swooning”
“Soccer team, not basketball or football or even baseball. I had to be in freaking soccer team.” He sighs.
“At least you have friends”
“Fake friends. I'd trade them all to be friends with you” he said. I'm not sure he realized he had said that.
“Did I say that out loud?” He asked me, his face was as red as Veronica Byrd’s lipstick.
“I'm an idiot. See? More proof” he joked.
“You're such a dork” I laughed. “I'm flattered though. Personally I would rather have fake friends than be friends with me. I'm a terrible friend”
“Minus the two years of you ignoring me, I think you were a pretty good friend”
“8th birthday. I had to spend my birthday at the hospital because my mom got injured. I was so scared for my mom I had totally forgotten that it was my birthday”
“I showed up at your house and you weren't there. My mom called your parents and found out she was in the hospital” I recalled.
“You went to the hospital and comforted me. You bought me a zebra cake with your mom’s money and gave me a birthday present.”
“Guess I was a better person when I was 8 then I am now”
“That's not true” Henry looked at me. He was trying so hard to make me feel better about myself.
I checked the time on my phone. 4:36 pm. My mom would be home in 30 minutes or so.
“My mom is gonna want me back home soon” I said putting my elbows on the hand railing.
“Do you want to go home?” He asked me.
To be honest I wanted to stay. “Do you want me to stay?”
He doesn't reply for a while. He just stared off into the trees. I looked at him. His dark brown hair was tangled and wild probably from running around. He was very pale, beside his nose which was red from the cold, he looked as white as a piece of paper. That happened to him in the winter, no matter how hard he tried to get tanned in the summer.
He noticed I was staring at him and looked at me. I met his eyes, I use to call him “greenie” because of the color of them.
“I'm cold. Are you cold?” He asked me unexpectedly.
I hadn't even thought about how cold it was. It was probably in the negatives by now. As if my body was suddenly aware of the temperature I started to shiver.
“Yes, I'm freezing. I can barely feel my fingers”
“Let's go get coffee” he suggested “do you drink coffee?”
“I like tea better” I replied “we can go to Molly’s, it's closer than going to Starbucks and they have better heaters”
“You're so weird”