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Coming of Age Friendship Happy


Trigger warning: Mentions of parental abuse and homelessness.




200 attempts. 199 fails. 1 pending response. Papyrus believed the wind had a life of it’s own, whispering quiet tales, and inspiration. Her eyes followed, as her paper plane rode the wind, gliding its light edges along the stories of the world. Light as a feather in the wind, heavy as a missing report, within it's words. Cackling laughter, arose from the tiled pavements below, tiny hands pointing at it, convinced they would win the race. The wind hissed around her, coiling like a snake, as she stood atop the tallest building in Charenton, Paris. She could almost hear her own venomous thoughts in them. ‘It’s been seven years, Papyrus. Why won’t you let go? Don’t you understand? It’s over. She’s gone’.


‘No.' She fired in her head. 'A promise is a promise. I’ll have to find her, no matter how long it takes’.


Charter Walliams. Charter Walliams. Charter Walliams’ She held the oceans in her hair, lined with teal and blue. She was the only girl who loved planes as much as she did, and even more. 'What else do I remember though? What did she look like now? Would I recognize her?' Every stranger's face became a facade under which Charter was hidden.


“If tomorrow carries me away from you, find me through planes”, she said, before two larger arms, lifted Papyrus up, and Charter faded into the distance.


Her cheekbones, were pale, without Charter's thumb grazing over them. A chiseled jaw with broken teeth. Oh what she’d give to hold her face like she held hers, to tell her she missed her, to hear paper planes hustle by in the silent night. Under moonlit days, when all the stars mocked her, Papyrus wondered if her interpretation of the sentence was wrong. But then she’d remember Charter’s amber eyes, the way they flickered, and sit down to write and fold another plane. Rustling snow, below the building was heavy with a child's wail, the thud of setting suitcases in a car trunk and hurried footsteps.


'Spare her a friend, a friend like home'. Papyrus sighed, her breath stained with so many strokes of hope that the canvas bellowed a dull grey. The wind must have listened, because the girl stopped wailing, suddenly excited by the sight of the paper plane, wrapped in another blanket of arms now. Her own family had just moved again, and no matter where they went it seemed farther and farther away from Charter. But, the world was a massive modern painting of eight billion other humans, and Papyrus wanted one specific soul. And there was one specific way to find her. Through the wind. If she found a building tall enough, if she prayed to Aeolus enough, then maybe, just maybe the plane would find her.


Aeolus the wind god, was rather more annoyed than impressed, but he took requests in order, and Papyrus’ paper plane story, was due a year later.


Charter Walliams ran across a long Paris street, her borrowed physics textbook tucked under one arm. “Hey, watch it!” yelled an old man, as she bumped into his shoulder, having no time to heed to good manners. Helton, the owner of the air museum, promised to test her that morning, and Charter was really, really late. Struggling to read the capacitor definition, Charter tripped on her own lace, and fell down.

 

Her arms sizzled, and a deep groan hovered around her. After sitting up, and vigorously shaking her arms, she noticed that stuck to her palm was. . . a paper plane? The capacitor definition was kicked away, lost in the crowd, and she stopped to examine the perfect creases instead. Slanting cursive words spread across the sheet, but when Charter opened the plane, most of the writer’s ink was blotched by nature and time. Reading through the words, however she found that there was enough to light up her fingers, to spark a hope that she'd finally have a home.


“Dear,

      I was no god, neither did we believe in such a thing, but you embraced me that day. You took a stranger's face and cupped it like your own brethren. I’ve seen many places and many people, but none of them are you. You made Greece my home. I live in Paris now, and I have written to you every year, but this is my last ounce of hope. If you’re reading this, find me like you always said you would. I miss you. Here’s my address rue de Charenton”


A Hellene in Paris. Charter could stay at their home, they would have to accept her. They’re Greek after all. ‘But, what was the house number?’ Charter crumpled the paper open again, and found a whimsy 200 written on the back. Her cheeks stretched in a grin, her fingers regressing with the paper.


 ‘Take that you nasty raccoon’ she dissed in her head, at the street side raccoon that made irksome noises every time she tried to sleep.


Oh you didn’t think I’d make it that easy did you?’ whispered Aeolus, rushing around her, carrying the sheet away.


Charter couldn’t care less. A world of heaters and security awaited. She scurried across the streets once again, nearly forgetting how to breathe, basking in the warm thought of her own brethren. She stopped at last, in front of a black gate. Her fingers pulling her brown pants down, and combing her hair, as neatly as she could. She checked the number plate. 200, lined in gold. Her face flushed as she pressed the doorbell.


A bubbly fair woman, wearing a fluffy ball dress, stepped out and studied Charter’s clothes. Brown pants, ragged from all the cement roads, and a dusty blue shirt, wafting with the fragrance of every city she ran away from.

  

“Qu'est-ce qu'un salaud ici?” she scowled.


"Madame, s‘il vous plaît. I don’t speak much french. Please. I’ll only stay for a day and I earn enough to feed myself. Please. The gods would never forgive you” she pleaded, feeling guilty for using the gods’ name, but if believing in the gods would get a roof over her head, she wouldn’t hesitate.


“Honey, get this scoundrel out of here!” she yelled, and a chubby man in his forties came behind her, his face turning to ash. Charter’s legs wobbled, ready to fall at their feet, for a day of good sleep. She folded her hands, sobbing. ‘Please’. The rash couple slammed the gate in her face, with a loud bang, and Charter turned to the skies.


‘Aeolus, you are the one god who has never failed me. I rely on the wind the most. Find me a home please’ she cried, her heart pounding, her nails sinking into her skin, as her fists grew tighter.


‘One good thing! That’s all I need! One. Good. Thing!” she yelled at the skies. She shook her head from side to side, grinding her teeth. ‘Even the Greeks now. How could they?’ A small stone shined against the afternoon light, Charter snatched it into her hands, eyeing the top window, she hurled it with despair.  


‘Screw you!’ she shouted, as the glass pane shattered.


 “That rag!” howled a man from the inside, making the bones in her body rumble. Charter knew what was coming, she sped to the nearest building, and pushed herself over the fence, crouching behind a white pillar.


“That was a good jump” whispered a small girl from next to her, dressed in a white frock, tingling with joy. Stunned, Charter shuffled back, shivering in the cold.


“I’ll leave now, I’m sorry for intruding like that” Charter said, getting up again, but the smaller girl shook her head.


“I overheard the conversation, xenos. You’re Greek?” she asked, holding Charter’s hands, her skin as smooth as iced lakes. Her eyes, floating like an untamed cloud. Charter nodded, studying the other girl’s face, searching for something hidden too deeply in her own forgotten memories.


“Come in, my parents won’t mind. We’re Greek too” she said. Charter grasped her hands in hers, wiping stray tears. “Thank you . . .” she began, pausing.


“. . . Papyrus. It’s a good thing to do. I don’t believe in all gods, but I believe in all the good things they ask of us, and well, Aeolus I suppose, but I might be starting to lose my faith in him” she said, her hair blowing against her shoulders, tucked neatly under a black beret, but Charter was more focused on Papyrus’ choice of clothes.


“You’re wearing that in winter?” Charter asked.


Papyrus faced her, skeptical. “Well, looks like you're doing just fine in those summer clothes yourself xenos”, she chuckled. “I like to bend the rules as far as they will go”. 


Papyrus was still holding her hand, never ceasing to let go. Charter’s head burned, trying to remember if she had been held like that before.


“Aeolus brought me to you, I’d say there’s never a better time to love him,” she said.


Papyrus smiled, and looked at the sky. “He took away the one person that mattered to me the most. Unless he granted me that well. . .it’s a forgotten battle now. What’s your name?” she asked. 


Charter paused, her real name folded into her throat, and she replied “Arter”.


Papyrus turned so swiftly, searching her face.


'What?' asked Charter, confused.


"Nothing" she replied, softly, leading her up the stairs. She opened the doors, to a hallway lined with photographs of a middle aged pilot.


“Your father is a pilot?” Charter asked, beaming, for what could she love more than planes?


“You like planes?”


“Oh I adore them. I have an entire collection of mini models. I actually work at the air museum in Paris. I know enough to give a visitor’s tour.” 


Papyrus gaped. “No way, those are the coolest! I usually just make them by hand with paper, but I love the wind. The sky has ruled my life forever. These days though, I want to stay in one place and settle down. We keep travelling, and after every two weeks it’s a new house in a new city. In the beginning it’s fun, and curious, but afterwards all of the world feels like too much to see, and you’re weary for home”.


Charter nodded. She knew the feeling too well, but she would never go back from where she came, to a family only by blood. “Planes?! Throw those stupid toys away! She’s crossing her lines! We can’t afford college. Drop it!” her father’s voice echoed. Pans flew everywhere, and Charter sat in a corner of her room, her eyes blurry with tears, her breath staggering. Her father’s voice thundered and a ringing monotonous sound ensued, as a tennis racket came down on her.


 ‘Aaghh’ she exclaimed, rubbing her forehead, the room shifting in focus. The only memory of Greece she had, the only memory she wished she didn’t remember.


Papyrus put the back of her palm on Charter’s forehead, somehow keeping her world alive. “You don’t seem feverish, but if your head is aching, I think I might know just the cure” she said, holding Charter’s face in her hands, grinning like a fox that managed to reach the grapes. That damned smile. The gaping hole in Charter’s chest stitched up every time Papyrus touched her, but the more she yearned for the memory, the more it slipped away.


‘It’s going to take a really strong memory to bring everything back’ her therapist had said. 


Papyrus reached for a small black leather bag and the pair stepped out into the evening, the streets ablaze with lights, casting reverent shadows of the buildings around them. Papyrus, held that grin again, like the world had melted below her, and all that remained was two friends floating above. The snowflakes settled on their shoulders. They wanted to listen too.


Charter couldn’t help but chuckle, “What? Are we going to run away now?”


Papyrus laughed. “No. My friend, we’re going to fly!”. And with that, she yanked Charters arms and they flew across the streets, their hands wide open laughing, earning ignorant eyes from some, and tangible smiles from others.


“Engine two is failing, commander, do you hear me?” Charter mimicked a co-pilot.


“Yes mam! There’s nothing to worry about. We’re clear to land in five!” yelled Papyrus, pulling to a halt, in front of a tall abandoned apartment, covered in old vines, and towering above the two, beckoning the friendship higher.


Charter smirked. “Race you up?” she asked, but Papyrus had already gotten her head start. “Too late Arter!” she called, sprinting up the stairs.


“You’ll see when I catch you!” followed Charter, running closely behind. 


They nearly fell down, when they reached the top, but the wind called to them, whistling. A spy twirling around two extraordinary stories each. Papyrus grasped the gate handle and pushed it open with all her might. The rusty brown gate screeched against the floor, forcing the wind to listen, not just talk.


She embraced the rushing, fast-moving wind, throwing her beret to the side. Charter wondered how someone could be so warm, so beautifully burning with generosity that even in the midst of the freezing cold, threatening to destroy their chances, they could stand and debate their worth. The leather bag flipped open, and Charter’s eyes widened, as she caught a paper plane. The same paper plane she had caught in the morning, but there were no blotched ink stains this time. Just the truth.


“Dear Charter,

            200 attempts, 199 fails, 1 response pending. My brain is a collection of your tapestries, a winding memory of you, and of nothing else. You’re like the wind Charter, you surround me. Ever since you left, not a day has passed that I haven’t thought of you. That one week was a dream. I destroyed everything by leaving. But, in all these years, there isn’t a soul I met like yours. I was no god, neither did we believe in such a thing, but you embraced me that day. You took a stranger's face and cupped it like your own brethren. We stayed in one city and yet you flew me around the world. I’ve seen many places and many people, but none of them are you. Countless flights have passed, my heart aching for our friendship, to see you just once more. To find you. “If tomorrow carries me away from you, find me through planes”. Do you remember that? You said it the night I left. You made Greece my home, Charter. I live in Paris now, and I have written to you every year, but this is my last ounce of hope. If you’re reading this, find me like you always said you would. I miss you. Here’s my address, 199 rue de Charenton”


Charter took a staggering breath, her hands trembling as she folded the paper into her pocket. The wind weighed down on her. She closed her eyes and the city lights of Greece opened up. A beautiful young girl was sitting by the bench alone, swinging her feet, her gaze fixed to the ground. Charter moved up to her, and held her hand. “Hey . . .” she whispered. “What gives?”. The other girl shrugged. “My parents said we’re leaving Greece tomorrow”. A familiar twist formed in her stomach, “Tomorrow?”


“I’m so sorry” the little girl wept, but Charter, cupped her face, and only said, “We have to fly away today then”. 


Papyrus chuckled, as Charter wiped the tears away. “How?” she asked and Charter yanked her arms, as they rode the wind together. Papyrus’ parents held her arm, and it was finally time. Neither pilot wanted the other to leave, so they made a promise. Charter clutched at her shirt. Papyrus. She stifled a tear, opening her eyes back into Paris.


“Hey Arter!” she shouted, waving at her to join the embrace. 


Charter looked up at her face, the smooth edges, those floating blue eyes, how could she have forgotten? She ran up to join her in the wind, their clothes flapping against their skin, hustling. Their arms stretched wide open. Then Charter turned to face her once again, “Hey Papyrus! What if there comes a time when I have to leave?” she yelled over the howling wind. Papyrus turned, her face lined with worry.


“A friend once said! That if tomorrow carries me. . .”


Charter smiled, her amber eyes, finding their hearth once again. “. . .Away from you! Find me through planes!” they both yelled at the same time.


Floating clouds settled, the wind silenced itself to a lost history, and the two held hands. Papyrus searched Charter's face for the missing piece. Every moment, an hour, slowing to listen.


Charter opened the letter in her pocket. “You found me Papy” she whispered.


Papyrus’ eyes welled up. If the wind could have brought rain, it would have, but it showered them in snow instead. She choked against a friendship buried alive, tugging at her Charter’s shirt, burying her face in the nook of Charter’s shoulder. Though the shirt smelled like different cities in one for others, to Papyrus, it smelled of Greece, and of a stranger’s love.


She grazed her thumb against Charter’s cheek, beaming. “I missed those eyes''.


Aeolus laughed heartily from the skies above. He carried things around the world, different stories, different words, different people, and different kinds of love, always dropping them in the end. Charter and Papyrus, though, had written something not even the wind could let go. 


To them, the wind carried everything.



June 03, 2021 09:35

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3 comments

Arwen Dove
08:56 Jun 07, 2021

This is sooo good! I love your descriptions and the way you kept the flow of the story. Wonderful! :)

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10:23 Jun 07, 2021

Thanks a lot Arwen!

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Arwen Dove
04:30 Jun 09, 2021

:)

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