*I'm really passionate about fixing my past mistakes. It's the only true way to get better at something, especially writing. Every time I go back through my old works, I find so many things that sound... well, horrible. This story doesn't really fit into this prompt, but I feel like it's a good time to give it a little more sophistication, especially after two years. I hope it doesn't turn out even worse XD. Anyways, it's just a short little thing, so to all those who stumble upon this, enjoy :)
“Have you ever wondered why we live like this? Not just us, but everyone. It’s weird.”
The heat outside was unbearable that day. Colorado winters can drop to temps that could scare away a bear, and now that I think about it, they do. But people forget that summers in some Colorado counties are like the inside of an oven in the deepest pit of hell.
All the birds and clouds must have been blown away by the hot wind, because the sun was gliding freely over every building, tree, or exposed scalp of unfortunate pedestrians.
I turned to look at Skylar. She was gazing forward, with whips of dark, curly hair dancing around her face. She was the most beautiful girl I'd ever met. Not just because of her looks or style. There was something about her, like she had a real presence. She was a drug, and I was the addict.
“What do you mean?” I said.
We sat there a minute, my old converse and her docs dangling from the open face of the treehouse, watching the endless rows of cars go by on the street behind the fence of her backyard. We sat, listening to the constant whir of engines, all varying in volume and tone but still merging into one ugly crescendo.
“Even when I was little, I always wondered why humans do such boring, pointless things. In the past, people would have to live off of the land around them, sustainably. They would put so much energy and effort into doing things like that, but now we do them in seconds without even really trying.”
I'll admit, I didn't see the point. I didn't most of the time. Skylar had a way of bringing up things that nobody else thought was particularly important or comprehensible. But if you listened to the end, you'd see that it wasn't pointless at all; it was everything. She made me feel connected to something, even if I had no clue what that something was.
“We’re all so disconnected, you know,” she went on. Her deep, brown eyes darted up to mine, holding me in a sort of concentrated trance. “We’re humans, and we're organic beings. Or at least, I think we still are. We were meant to live hand and hand with nature, but we don’t. Instead, we live our lives in a shielded bubble, protecting us from a world of harder work and greater sacrifice. The thing is, the work is for a good purpose, and the sacrifice is only the risk of losing touch with the bubble.”
“Umm," I started, confused. "I mean, what’s wrong with this, er, bubble?”
Skylar sighed and leaned back against the wall next to her, pulling her ripped denim-clad legs up inside the treehouse and facing me. I did the same.
“Everyone goes to school as a child and learns many pointless things they'll never need. Then they get older, find a job, and work mindlessly in a field they’re not interested in and benefits them in no way except the money. Then they go home and sleep at night, dreaming about a gigantic mansion, dollars they’ll keep tucked away in a bank account to admire, and new devices that will make their life even easier and more purposeless than it was before. It’s the life that everyone seems to want, but I don’t understand why.”
Her eyes searched my face, and (not for the first time) I noticed the cute freckles on her nose.
“I don’t see what’s so wrong with that," I said. "Wouldn’t you want to be rich and live in a house with everything you want? You wouldn't have to work as hard to do anything at home, and you could do whatever you wanted to. That sounds nice to me.” I said.
Skylar’s eyes left mine and glided to the floor. “Yeah, whatever. Nevermind.”
“I mean, I don’t really know what I want," I said. I could feel even more heat swell in my cheeks. "I haven’t spent a lot of time, you know, thinking about this. What do you want for your life, if you don’t like the one you’re describing?”
She looked back up at me, her eyes looked doubtful.
“You would probably think I was crazy if I told you," she said.
“I would not! Come on, just tell me. I promise, no judgement.”
“Alright," she laughed. We flung our legs back out over the abyss. "I guess I have this dream. I want to have an impact on the world, but I also want to make a good, peaceful life for myself. I want to live a simple life, out in the woods somewhere, maybe Sweden. Just a place where you can still see the stars." She paused and smiled.
“Maybe I'll live off-grid in some old shack that I fix up. I'll hike and fish, and on rainy days I'll sit in the window with A Walk in the Woods until the light gets too dim, and I'd get up to make a fire. Then, on bright mornings I'll get up early and meditate under a tree like Buddha. In the afternoons, I'll type away at a book and admire the finished ones on my shelf. I'll travel places with my grandpa's old truck, except I'll fix it up to run with solar. I'll rescue a dog and they'll come with me everywhere. And I'm going to be a minimalist, zero waste, all that stuff. I’ll be such a minimalist that the tiny house will seem big, and there will be lots of space on the floor to stretch and lay there daydreaming for hours. And, at night, before I fall asleep, I'll watch the night sky through a window above my bed."
She stopped and sighed, but I couldn't say anything. We just sat there together while I watched the wind try to tie her shoelaces. I've never felt more separate and connected to a person than in that moment
I finally choked out some words. “I think that's beautiful. You're beautiful."
I was different, changed. The wonder of the world that you feel as a child came back to me then. I felt it in my soul. This was my world. This was my everything.
Skylar was staring at me with renewed interest. “Really?”
Again, we were sitting in silence, looking at each other. We were one.
“Can live that dream with you?”