Colors of Spring

Submitted into Contest #86 in response to: Set your story at a park during a spring festival.... view prompt

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Fiction Friendship Happy

Alana walked along the sidewalk outside Jade Park to get to the entrance between the black iron-rod fences. The noises of the day had already started. She had to park a few blocks down the road as the spots surrounding the park were already filled. Her phone buzzed in her sweatshirt pocket.

At the entrance! Kiely texted to their group chat. 

Trying to find a place to park, ugh. Emily texted back. 

Alana picked up her pace and adjusted the draw-string backpack on her shoulders. She rounded the corner of the sidewalk and saw Kiely’s jet-black and pin-straight hair bobbing above the small groups of people trickling into the park for the first day of the yearly spring festival. Kiely was wearing white tube socks that stopped just below her knee, new white sneakers, whiteb shorts and a t-shirt. 

“Wow, you really went all out for today, huh?” Alana said as she stepped beside Kiely on the concrete. 

“I’ve never done a color run! Is it too much?” She looked down at her stark white outfit. 

Alana smiled at her friend, “You’ll certainly be the most colorful one out there today. Come on, let’s look around while we wait for Em.” 

The pair walked through the open gates and sounds and colors hit them from all directions. Vendors were setting up under the market tents, bounce houses and inflatable obstacle courses were whirring to life, there was a stage and microphone at the far end of the park with benches set up in front of it. Smells of food trucks and grills and fresh foods overwhelmed Alana’s senses and she sneezed a few times. 

“Oh, a craft tent!” Kiely pointed to a blue tent along the fence. 

“Looks like they’re all still setting up. Where’s the color run entrance?” Alana looked past the tents and vendors to the other side of the park. Flags marked a starting line and a few groups of people clothed in white t-shirts had already formed. 

Alana’s phone buzzed as Kiely’s phone dinged. “Em says she’ll meet us at the starting line.” 

They weaved their way through the festival grounds checking out vendors and making mental notes of who to come back to when the race was finished. Technically, the festival didn’t start until 10:00am, but vendors and racers for the color run were allowed to start setting up between 9:00 and 9:30am. The race didn’t start until 10:30am and ran through the entire length of the park. 

Kiely and Alana stopped near the starting line and stretched as they waited for Emily, who ran marathons competitively. They just did it for fun. During a color run people stand at points along the course and throw colored powder on runners as they pass by. By the end of the race everything on each person is covered with a multitude of bright and bold colors. It’s like tye-dye but with more physical exertion. 

After a few minutes, a tall lanky girl with short hair jogged up to the pair. “I finally found a parking spot!” 

“Just in time too, looks like they’re opening up check-in.” Kiely nodded to the start of the line. 

“I’m hoping to beat my last year’s time.” Emily said as they got in the back of the forming line. 

“I’m hoping I won’t die,” Alana joked. She and Kiely had watched Emily run during last year’s festival and had decided to join her for this year. Neither of them were seasoned runners and had jogged a few times in the past few weeks, but nothing too serious. 

Emily shrugged and took a swig from her water bottle, “Just go slow and have fun.” 

The line started to form behind them as runners filed in for check in. They mingled and chatted as they waited for the race to start. Alana noticed the rows of tulips growing around the fence surrounding the park and silently hoped they wouldn’t get trampled by the runners. 

Closer to 10:30 the runners lined up behind the starting line. The festival was in full swing now and people crowded to watch the race and get their chance to throw some colored powder at people. A countdown clock ran down from a minute, and then everyone took off at once. 

The seasoned runners took off from the start and weaved their way to the front of the crowd. Alana and Kiely started their nice slow job near the back of the column of runners. The first checkpoint was coming up early in the race. People shouted and threw their hands in the air and Alana was jolted in the face by pink powder. 

“Ugh!” She spit on the ground. “Did it have to be pink?” 

As they continued, Alana drove them near the inner perimeter so she could see what was happening with the festival itself. She was glad to see carts of flower pots and planters strolling around the festival. The second and third color checkpoint came and went and the blue and green powder on Kiely’s face was dripping with sweat. Alana could hear her panting loudly and slowed their pace down to a little more than a brisk walk. 

When they finished the race, Alana shook the hair and powder out of her eyes and scanned the crowd for Emily. Next to her, Kiely hunched over and started heaving. 

“There, there.” Alana patted her back. 

Emily parted through the crowd and saw her friends. 

“Took you long enough. I beat my time!” She threw a victory fist in the air. “Is she okay?” 

“Water,” Kiely choked out. 

After a few minutes of slow sips of water and sitting, Kiely’s face returned to its dark brown color from the near pale it had been and her breathing regulated again. 

“Sorry you had to see that. I guess I should’ve prepared more.” 

Emily shrugged, “All that matters is that you had fun. Look at your socks! Those are going to turn out amazing after you wash them.” 

Kiely looked down at her once-white attire and smiled. “My mom is going to think it’s ridiculous and I don’t care!” 

“Come on,” Alana stood. “Let’s check out the rest of the festival.” 

The crowds in the vendor tents were stuffy, especially after the runners joined them. But Alana paid it no mind as she looked at the handmade ornaments and paintings and jewelry. One table had set up nature books and handouts about flowers and gardens. Alana shuffled through them as Kiely tried on a few bracelets at the next vendor over. They each returned to Emily with new things, two books about wildflower identification and garden starting and a bracelet in the shape of a bird's wing. 

The smell of food trucks was wafting toward them and the three of them steered themselves to the center of the park, where all the trucks were parked. 

“Oh, burritos!” Kiely pointed. 

“Bar-be-que!” Alana said. 

“Salads!” Emily clapped her hands together. 

Alana and Kiely shared a look. “Salads? You’re such a health nut.” 

“Oh, come on. Don’t tell me you couldn’t go for a nice cool crunchy salad after that run. Do you really want grease to fill your bellies?” Emily started walking toward the salad truck. 

“Okay,” Kiely started slowly. “I don’t want to throw up again.” 

Alana sighed and joined her friends in the much shorter salad line. 

Alana choked down her salad, refusing to admit to her friends that it was actually pretty good, and led them toward the carts of potted flowers. 

“Since when have you been so into flowers?” Emily asked. 

Alana shrugged and picked up a plant labeled petunia and spun it around, looking at it from all sides. 

“Yeah, I didn’t think you were into such girly things.” Kiely said. 

“Since when are flowers particularly girls? Does running today make us tomboys?”

“By the state of us and the stench of vomit and sweat coming off Kiely, I would say yes.” Emily laughed as Kiely shoved her arm playful but with a frown. 

“Well, what am I? A girly girl or a tomboy?” Alana asked as she extended two petunias toward the vendor and a packet of morning glory seeds. 

Emily and Kiely shared a look and remained silent as they turned from their friend. They wandered over to the stage area and found a shaded grassy area to sit since the benches were full. They listened to the band strike up a tune on stage and tapped their feet along to the music. 

Alana looked around the park. It was busier this year than last, and two years ago the festival wasn’t held due to the pandemic. She had been coming to the spring festival ever since before she could walk and was devastated when it had to shut down. Last year people were still too afraid to come out and risk the crowds. But today she smiled to herself and felt like life was once again normal.

March 19, 2021 15:56

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1 comment

Kenneth Michael
15:04 Mar 27, 2021

Italics for texting is my favorite prose idea from a writing perspective. This was a fun read. I think you did an excellent job at having the three characters interact with each other and be distinct. I will say the progress throughout the day was good and gave you a chance to expand on the characters. I'm happy for Alana and can definitely relate to the relief of things going back to normal.


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