I combed back my short hair with my fingers. It was boring and black, but had dissolved into small waves at my shoulders. I sighed as I turned to my dresser, noticing the clothes my mother had set out. As ugly as ever. I threw on the lime tank-top, and sheltered my shoulders with the puffy pink jacket. I put on the orange shorts and the blue socks that went to my knees. I stood in front of the mirror, hoping it didn’t look as bad as I felt. I saw a hideous figure stare back at me, ashamed she put her hood over to cover her face, the one feature she thought wasn’t terrible. I walked away, embarrassed at my own reflection. I seized my ring, my favorite ring. It was a simple, but shiny silver. I slipped it on. I took the time to tie my brown loafers, now torn after all these years. I opened my window, to see the ladder I had put there for times like these. I quietly slipped out and closed the window behind me. I lept off the ladder and made my way towards the city. We called it “The Centre.” It’s where everything happens, everything interesting at least.
“Alaska!” I turned around at the sound of my name and of his familiar voice. His name is Lance. We’ve been best friends ever since we were little.
I could see beads of sweat running down his forehead, as he inched closer to me. He greeted me with a quick kiss on the cheek, as most of us did in The Centre.
“I come bearing gifts!” He exclaimed as he gasped for air. He pulled out a small box from his bright blue satchel.
“Don’t be shy, open it,” Lance said.
I smiled as I removed the ribbon from the box. I could feel a grin creep it’s way onto my face. A locket. It was gold with a metallic black rose on the front, my initials on either side of the rose. It was perfect, Lance knew me too well.
“You spoil me,” I teased, as I slapped him on the shoulder. Lance’s family owns a metal factory in The Centre, let's just say he's one of the wealthier families around here. I wish I could say the same. I fiddled with the locket, and the rose on top. Beautiful.
“Well I try my best,” he said, “I’m gonna go help them prepare for the show,” Lance said, as he gave my hand a squeeze before jogging away.
The same events happen every year, in which we celebrate the origin of The Centre. Our old ancestors lived in four regions, the north, east, south, and west. The Centre was the midpoint of these regions, sort of like the country's capital. This country was once known as North America, but now, it’s just The Centre. The four regions were going to go to war until an immigrant from Asia, which no longer exists, helped us form a truce, combining the regions into The Centre. Our home now. I always meet up with Lance early, for on this special day he brings gifts for me. Normally metallic beauties, such as jewelry. I glanced down at my watch, 9:32 A.M. I sighed, the parade didn’t start for another 28 minutes. Part of our tradition for this special day, known as the Centrepiece, is to make masks. We wear these masks to symbolize our great Asian hero, who will have still not discovered whom it was. I took a slow walk, allowing my feet to sink into the gravel with each step. Soon enough, my feet began to swell, but I fought the urge to take my shoes off, knowing that might only make it worse. The bell rang, as I walked into the shop known as “Gadgets.” Here the shopkeeper Mrs. Donoghue sells all sorts of junk, like scraps of metal, and garbage, it’s rumored that she even sells old bones. But, with these simple and dingy materials she creates a masterpiece. These “masterpieces” include gadgets, and robots, craft supplies, and much more. Well if you haven’t noticed I’m not very fond of large, extravagant things, so I just order the materials.
“Why hello darling, how can I help you today?” Mrs. Donoghue asked.
“Um… I’ll just have some scraps of tin and iron,” I started, “Wait! Add a few buttons to that, like the tiny, black gems.”
“As your much needed mentor, I’d go with orange, it brings out your eyes. But, as a citizen of The Centre you have the right to choose your colors, even if they are dark and lifeless.” Mrs. Donoghue said.
“Yeah ok, I think that’s 7 dollars,” I added, as I slapped the money down onto the table, slightly agitated that our own shopkeepers could be such jerks. I walked out with my handbag full of materials. Groaning I gave in. I tore off my shoes, the same ones I have had since I was 6, and threw them in the furnace outside Gadgets. I can’t believe it, I want to get out of this stupid city. It’s big and bold, but I’d rather put on my black cloak and pick flowers. It just… it felt so lonely here. I couldn’t shake the feeling of uneasiness as I walked across the freshly paved road. I checked my watch, utterly bored. 9:43 A.M. I sighed, this whole parade was a drag anyway, I wanted something to do. I checked the small phone on my hip, only to see a text from Lance. “Alaska I’m reaaaaaaally bored. Come to the square, and help me set up my families float for the parade!” I smiled and turned my phone off, I mean it’s something to do. I broke out into a sprint, excited to see Lance again. I’ve never worked on a float before and my artistic abilities are great, even if I do like dark, bitter, and aesthetic themes. About ten minutes later I reached the float.
“So, my handwriting sucks, do you mind making the flag?” Lance asked. I wrote the name of his company in a large font, coated in silver. We hung up the flag and I checked my watch again, 9:59 A.M. Shrieking, I hopped onto the float as he pushed it and hopped on shortly after. We rushed to the main street, just as they announced Lance’s name. We rode down The Centre, blasting music so loud I felt all my worries wash away.
Then I felt Lance’s hand wrap around mine. I didn’t resist. I never wanted to feel lonely again, and with Lance, it feels possible.