by Alana Lenore
Contest Entry for Writer's Cramp 2.24.21
| A strange impulse. Outside lay a frosty winter, yet as I stand here and wash my dishes I can't help but to stop mid scrub and reach in front of me to open up my kitchen window. Pink playtex gloves still on my hands, faucet still running. There wasn't even any thought, just a physical reaction to invite in the crisp, cold air and nuzzle my face in it's gentle strength. In doing so, I immediately think of the first boy I loved as a silly, young girl. Though I haven't been here in so long, I stay frozen in my palace of nostalgia, where I was quiet, studious, and witty; as he was mischievous, smart, and troubled. I was 12, he was 13.
But our story stretched off and on, until I was lost, anxious, and broken; as he was charming, cunning, and manipulative. I was 21, he was 22.
The later memories are strictly bitter. But the early ones are bittersweet. His attention was constantly fleeting, but he always came back. The jaded young lady in me wants to say he came and went when he did on purpose. Because of him, moments of summer nights and winter festivity were powdered with his essence. For the longest time my mind felt weak and broken with too much forgotten, but my senses remained overstimulated by the only memories that came in crisp, and those memories were all with him.
So every summer night spent playing or crying, every Winter afternoon spent snug or bitter, I was coated in the touch, smell, sounds, and tastes of my first ever love; with or without him.
That was so far in the past, though. I learned long ago young love is mostly fleeting and full of all the intensity best left on a dusty shelf. I learned long ago many loves in many shades will come and go until you're aged and steady, and the best parts of every heartbreak are the journeys through oneself that follow each time. When you're young and infatuated, you think you're gaining more of you through someone else, when really you're giving away your heart. It isn't until after pain, that you find it again.
So, with all time passed and wisdom gained, I can't understand why I'm standing here today in front of a frosted window, bathing in sensations I've lived so many summer nights and winter afternoons without. Before I can figure out an answer, I'm startled back to my running faucet at the slam of a door. Is it 3:00 already? Before I can check the time, my attention is pulled to small, but strong, footsteps stomping up the stairs, followed by another door slam. I turn off my faucet at last, and take off my gloves.
Coming from what seems like an entirely different world, laughs and shouts of glee come through my front door in the form of three boys, it's funny to see my teenage son and his friends after I had just been stuck in middle school nostalgia. How am I already old enough for him to be mine?
"So if you young gentlemen are in front of me now, I take it that means the stomping door slammer that fled upstairs is your sister?"
"I hope so, otherwise Blair is missing AND there's an intruder afoot." Ah, young wit.
"Do you know why she's so upset? The last day of school is over, you're on Christmas vacation, everyone should be full of cheer!" I say half sarcastically, immune and maybe even desensitized to the unpredictability of adolescent emotion.
"I don't know Mom, I'm not her diary it probably has something to do with whatshisface"
"Yeah, her boyfriend."
"Your sister has a boyfriend?"
I didn't even hear his reply before he and his friends wandered off into the basement. My heart tightened and sunk to my chest as my eyes fell fixed up the staircase. I was right there again, deep in the sentiments of my own first heartbreak; planted in my daughters shoes. In my head, all I wanted to do was run up to her room, hold her tight, and let her know my heart feels hers and it will all be over soon. I wanted to tell her this wasn't an end but the beginning to something better, to not get lost or in too deep, now comes the love that truly matters, between her and herself. Then after, the rest will come.
But, I stopped myself. Moments ago, I was as young as her, feeling all there is to feel completely and all at once. If I were to barge in now and try to force her into healing, it would all be for me. So, I'll sit here at the kitchen table and wait.
No, I'll start dinner, and wait.
It wasn't long before that slammed door came creaking open, and those stomping feet softly sauntered down the stairs. My gaze was on the cutting board, my hands were cutting carrots, but my heart was watching her as she slowly crept up and laid her head on my shoulder. It took everything I had to hold back my tears, as I put down my knife to hold her tight. I kissed her head and gently held her face to mine. Looking in her puffy eyes, I simply couldn't help myself. I wiped a tear beside her perfect, reddish nose and did my best to present a soft, disarming smile, and without a single thought or any shred of impulse control, the words "Time to find your heart", fell through my lips. My heart skipped a beat, hoping it wasn't the wrong thing to say. But then I watched her puffy eyes shift from desperation to understanding, to which I couldn't be more grateful nor proud.