Do you remember that time in sixth grade when we stayed up until twilight, the sun just peeking over the horizon, ready to warm the familiar suburban city? We stared up at the sky for hours, hoping we might happen to catch a glimpse of the dazzling meteor shower we knew was happening above us.
You leaned back on the picnic blanket and stared at the sky. We created a make-shift campsite on your porch for the special occasion.
“I want to be an astronaut,” You said, running your fingers through your golden hair.
“Really,” I teased, “Are you sure you don’t want to be a superhero? Or a princess?”
"I'm serious. This isn’t some kindergartener's dream. I really want to go up there,” The light from inside your house danced across your face. I could tell you were serious.
“Why would you want to be so far away from home? From me?"
“Adventure, I want to be the first woman on the moon.” You smiled.
“Why not Mars? That seems to be what everyone wants to do,” I remembered talking about NASA’s plans to go to Mars during my science class.
“Mars is overrated,” You said matter of factly, “I want to see the moon for how it truly is. I see it from Earth, sure, but I want to be on it. I want to feel small in this vast universe we live in, you know?"
“Woah. Those are some big thoughts for a sixth grader, Sienna.” I snorted, grabbing a handful of popcorn. You rolled your eyes and put your head on my shoulder. We never saw the meteor shower. The clouds set a barricade between us and the rest of the universe. But I didn’t mind the fact that we missed it. You still made it fun, just like you do with everything.
“Come on, it’ll help!” Sienna nagged, clutching Jules' hand in hers. She sat cross legged on the large blue and red blanket, facing towards her best friend.
“Sienna, I already told you.” Jules pulled her hands out of Sienna's and looked away. Sienna leaned back on the picnic blanket, stretching her long legs outwards.
“Have you ever been to one?” She asked, raising one eyebrow.
“No,” Jules stated, pulling grass out of the ground. She twirled it around her finger slowly, “My parents would ground me for life, and I'm not being dramatic." The sweltering sun beat down on her cheeks, making them turn cherry red.
Sienna knew she wouldn’t budge her.
But sometimes she doesn't know when to stop.
“It’s just a 10th grade party. Nothing’s going to happen,” Sienna leans closer, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear. “Beside, it will help you relax. With all the stuff that’s going on at home, I'm sure it will be a good change.” She smiled.
“It’s just not my thing.” She grumbled.
“Fine,” she said, “I have something to show you.” Sienna said, as Jules rolled her eye and followed her best friend down a muddy pathway and into the forest behind them.
“Will you at least tell me where we are going? I mean, if you are going to drag me around like some sort of doll, I want to atleast-“
“Just be quiet for a second,” She said. "We’re almost there."
They both walked quietly, surveying the scenery around them.
They wove in between the shadows casted by the trees overhead. The low-lying bushes rustled as the breeze swept through them, and a large blue bird stretched out its wings as it fanned itself from the heat. Twigs cracked as they ran along the path until, finally, Sienna stopped at a clearing.
Do you remember that time in 7th grade when you told me you had a crush on James? You leaned in closer, and whispered it to me. I laughed so hard I snorted chocolate milk out of my nose. Your cheeks turned bright red, making your freckles stand out.
“James? Really?” I whispered back, not believing what I had heard. I took a sip of chocolate milk and set the cup on my lunch tray.
“Yeah, why?” You asked, playing with your fork anxiously. I snorted and felt an odd tingling sensation in my nose. I grabbed a napkin, but it was too late. Milk spilled all over the table and everyone looked at me.
“Ms. Edward?” A teacher called, “I thought I was in a room of seventh graders, not first graders. You know better than to play with your food, don't you?"
“That's-" I tried to explain what had happened, but the teacher cut me off.
“Principal's office, now.” I ducked my head as I walked through the cafeteria. My eyes watched my toes as I walked, step after step. But that’s not what I remember the most, though it’s up there on the list of most embarrassing moments. I remember waiting in the principal's office, scanning the daunting room, and seeing you plop down in the chair besides me.
“I leave you for one minute and you already get yourself in trouble,” I smirked.
You shoved me playfully on the arm. “That’s not what happened.”
“Then what did happen?” I saw the wicked gleam in your eyes.
“I threw a bowl of mashed potatoes at Brittany. Now we can be detention buddies.”
“You didn’t need to do that,” I said, still amazed you’d do that for me. I mean, Brittany wasn’t the nicest girl at school, but mashed potatoes? I was actually impressed.
“Eh,” You shrugged, “I guess you’ve rubbed off on me.” I still laugh at what you did, especially because I didn’t end up getting detention. I knew you sat in that room, all alone, just for me. You don’t know how much that meant to me, even until now.
“You know, I used to come here when I was little,” Sienna said softly, scanning the horizon, looking off the large ledge they stood on. The sun was setting, turning the world into a dazzling mural, ready to see what would be painted next. A yellow halo surrounded the brightly lit fireball in the sky. Blue mountain stretched across the horizon, making a perfect backdrop for the crowded town below. The roofs were painted in a rainbow of colors and Jules could spot her own; a green roofed apartment, with a small plant lined balcony. She knew her father was in the kitchen, ready to punish her for missing curfew, but that didn’t matter right now. All that mattered was the faint gliding of the clouds and the peaceful heartbeat of the forest. Jules spoke, snapping her back to reality. “Wow, I never knew this place existed.” She took a deep breath, letting the crisp air fill her lungs.
“Isn’t this place magical? When my parents were arguing about their divorce, I would sneak out the back door and come here. I always felt calmer here than at home. It helps me think,” Sienna concluded, stealing a glance at Jules' puzzled expression.
“You never told me that your parents were divorced. I mean, after all these years you’d think I’d know.” She paused, waiting for a response.
All she said was, “I guess you could say I'm good at keeping secrets.” She grinned.
“Is this really why you led me here? To have some sort of heart-to-heart? Because you know me well enough to know that—”
“That’s not why I brought you here,” she paused, thinking of the right words to say. “I wanted you to know that I trust you. I have since the first time I met you, and I still do.” She stared thoughtfully at the town below, waiting for Jules to say something. When she finally turned to look at her, she saw a gentle tear rolling down he cheek. Sienna tilted her head, “What’s wrong?” She whispered.
Jules hesitated, searching for her voice, “I don’t know. I don't even know why I'm crying now. I feel so confused.” She sat down and buried her head in between her knees. Sienna could hear her silent whimpers break through her makeshift barrier.
“You know you can talk to me, right?” She slowly sat down next to Jules.
“Adults are supposed to fix things, not break them. I’m always left to patch it together, and I’m sick of it. The divorce—” Her voice cracked at the word.
“The divorce is supposed to fix things. There’s supposed to be less arguing, but instead there’s more. They keep fighting about who I’m going to live with, but they haven't even asked me. I feel so helpless.” Jules broke into a sob.
“I’m here." Sienna reassured, giving Jules' hand a quick squeeze.
“I don’t know what to do. I need help.” Her words settled slowly into Sienna's stomach. She had always been the strong one. She always knew what to do. Now she was the one asking for help? “Whatever you need, I’m right here,” She chose her words carefully, not caring that her cream colored sweater was getting soaked with Jules' tears. Her breath quickened pace and the world seemed to turn grey, matching his mood. “It’s okay,” Sienna whispered, “I’ll do whatever you need me to.”
“Just being here is enough,” Jules breathed.
Do you remember the eighth grade dance? Well, I guess you don’t, we stayed home. I was in my bed, and tossed a used tissue on the floor. I groaned as a headache started to form. “Aw, don’t be such a baby,” You laughed as you walked inside.
“Shouldn’t you be at the dance?” I ask, noticing the stack of DVDs in your arms.
You nudged me and I scooted over on the mattress, "I'd rather hang with you."
“But didn’t James ask you to go?” I still remembered your face, how excited you were when he held up that homemade sign.
“Eh,” You shrugged, “He kind of smells. But not as bad as you do. When was the last time you took a shower? A proper one?” You asked.
I noticed your quick subject change, "Can you tell me the truth? I know how much you were looking forward to tonight. Just tell me the reason." I asked.
“Its—” You pause, thinking about something. “Never mind. Want some Icecream?"
“Just tell me." I gave you the eye.
“I don’t want to go to the dance without you,” You blurted out.
“Aw,” I smirked, “I knew you were clingy.”
“Whatever,” You rolled your eyes and slid a DVD out of its case.
I don’t think I ever thanked you then, but I was glad you came over to my house.
By the time the sun had set, and the stars glistened across the sky.
“Are you ready to talk now?” Sienna asked, being careful of Jules' fragile situation.
“No, I’d rather talk about something else,” She replied quietly.
“Alright. What would you like to talk about?” Sienna smiled.
“Did you ever get those letters I sent you?” She asked, looking straight into Sienna's eyes. She always knew what she was doing, the certainty shown through her.
“Yeah, why?” She responded.
“You never wrote back to me.”
“I didn’t think I needed to.” She twisted the silver ring on her finger, a nervous habit.
“Why not?” She countered, a puzzled expression scrawled across Jules' face.
“I was going to respond after you sent me the first letter, but once I figured out what I was going to say, another one came in the mail. And that’s when I realized."
She paused, “I realized that these letters weren’t for me, they were for you. They were helping you cope with your family drama. I didn’t want to mess it up. So, I simply read them. They are beautifully worded, by the way. You have a real knack for writing."
Jules blushed at the compliment, “How do you handle it?”
“What?" Sienna was startled by the sudden change of topic.
“I rely on my chosen family,” she smiled, but worry was etched between every crevasse in her face, “My friends are the only thing that are always here, even when the rest of my world is being swept away. They ground me.”
“I’m going to need you,” She leaned her head on Sienna's shoulder.
“I'm going to need you too. Now, tomorrow, always." She smiled.