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 as you ran your fingers through your golden colored hair.
“Really,” I teased, “Are you sure you don’t want to be a firefighter? Or maybe a princess?”
“Frank, I’m serious. This isn’t some kindergardener’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?”
“Adventure, I guess. I want to be the first woman on the moon.” You smiled as you said this.
“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.”
“Those are some big thoughts for a sixth grader, Primrose,” I snorted, grabbing a handful of popcorn. You rolled your eyes and put your head on my shoulder.
We never did see 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!” Primrose nags, clutching Frank’s hand in hers. She sat cross legged on the large blue and red blanket, facing towards her best friend.
“Primrose, I already told you, I’m not going to do it. It makes no sense,” Frank pulled his hands out of hers and looked away. Primrose leaned back on the picnic blanket, stretching her long legs outwards.
“Have you ever tried it?” She challenges, raising one blond eyebrow.
“No,” he stated while pulling grass out of the ground. He twirled it around his finger slowly, “My parents would ground me for life.” The sweltering sun beat down on his cheeks, making them turn cherry red.
Primrose knew she wouldn’t budge him.
But sometimes she doesn't know when to stop.
“It’s just a 10th grade party. Nothing’s going to happen,” Primrose 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, it will be a good change.”
“It’s just not my thing,” he grumbled.
“Come on,” she decides, taking his hand, “I have something to show you.”
He rolled his eyes as she led him down a long, muddy pathway and into the forest behind them.
“Will you at least tell me where we’re going? If you are going to drag me around like some sort of doll, I want to-“
“Just be quiet,” she said, beginning to jog, “we’re almost there. It will only take a minute.” He walked quietly, surveying the scenery around us.
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, Primrose stopped at a clearing.
Do you remember that time in 7th grade when you told me you had a crush on Thomas Hulbury? I laughed so hard I snorted chocolate milk out of my nose. You leaned over the lunch room table and whispered it into my ear. Your cheeks turned bright red, making your freckles stand out.
“Thomas Hulbury? Really?” I whispered back, not believing what I had heard. I took a sip of chocolate milk and set the cup on my tray.
“Yeah, why?” You said, 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 my way.
“Mr. Edwards?” 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.”
“I—”I tried to explain what had happened, but Mrs. Gates cut me off.
“Principal's office, now.” I ducked my head as I walked through the cafateria. 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 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 poured a bowl of mashed potatoes on Estelle Kimberly. Now we can be detention buddies.” You grinned at the shocked look on my face.
“You didn’t need to do that,” I said, still amazed you’d do that for me. I mean, Estelle Kimberly wasn’t the nicest girl at school, but mashed potatoes? On her head? I was more impressed then I would let on.
“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.
“You know, I used to come here when I was little,” she said softly. Primrose scanned 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 Primrose 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.
Frank spoke, snapping her back to reality. “Wow, I never knew this place existed.” He took a deep breath, letting the crisp air fill his lungs.
“Isn’t it 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,” Primrose concluded, stealing a glance at Frank’s puzzled expression.
“You never told me that your parents were divorced. I mean, after all these years you’d think I’d know.” He paused, waiting for a response.
All she said was, “I’m good at keeping secrets.”
“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 Frank to say something. When she finally turned to look at him, she saw a gentle tear rolling down his cheek. Primrose tilted her head, “What’s wrong?” She whispered.
He hesitated, searching for his voice, “I don’t know. I feel so confused.” He sat down and buried his head in between his knees. Primrose could hear his silent whimpers break through his makeshift barrier.
“You know you can talk to me, right?” She slowly sat down next to him.
“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—” His 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.” He broke into a sob and rested his head on Primrose’s shoulder.
“It’s ok. I’m here,” she reassured him, giving his hand a quick squeeze.
“I don’t know what to do. I need help.” His words settled slowly into Primrose’s stomach. He had always been the strong one. He always knew what to do. Now he was 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 tears.
Frank’s hands shook as he gripped tighter on Primrose’s hand. His breath quickened pace and the world seemed to turn grey, matching his mood.
“It’s ok,” Primrose whispered, “I’ll do whatever you need me to.”
“Just being here is enough,” Frank breathed.
Do you remember the eighth grade dance? Well, I guess you don’t, we stayed home.
I layed down 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 in.
“Shouldn’t you be at the dance?” I ask, noticing the stack of DVDs in your arms.
“Who needs a dance when I can hang out with my best friend?” You nudged me and I scooted over on the mattress.
“But didn’t Thomas Hulbury ask you to go?” I remembered how excited you were when he held up that homemade sign.
“Eh,” You shrugged, “He kind of smells. But not as bad as you. When was the last time you took a shower?”
I noticed your quick subject change, “Come on, what's the real reason? I know how much you were looking forward to tonight.”
“Its—” You pause, thinking about what to say next, “Never mind. What movie do you want to watch?”
“Tell me the real reason.”
“I don’t want to go without you,” you blurted out.
“Aw,” I smirked, “how sweet.”
“Whatever,” you rolled your eyes and slid a DVD out of its case.
I don’t think I ever thanked you. I was glad you came over to my house.
By the time the sun had set, and the stars glistened across the sky, Frank’s breaths had become slower, more consistent.
“Are you ready to talk about it now?” Primrose asked, being careful of Frank’s fragile situation.
“No, I’d rather talk about something else,” He replied quietly.
“Did you ever get those letters I sent you?” He asked, looking straight into Primrose’s confident eyes. She always seemed to know what she was doing, the certainty shown through every aspect of her.
“Yes, why,” she responded.
“You never wrote back.”
“I didn’t think I needed to.” Primrose twisted the silver ring on her finger, a nervous habit.
“Why not?” he countered, a puzzled expression scrawled across his 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 sat back and read the letters you sent me. They are beautifully worded, by the way. You have a real knack for writing.”
Frank blushed at the compliment, “How do you handle it?”
“What do you mean?” Primrose 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,” he leaned his head on Primrose’s shoulder.