I was ten years old when I met Alexander… Or Alex… Or Meany. His dark hair which hung low to his cheeks. The way his thin spread eyelashes would hover over his dark eyes as he squinted out to the playground. His tanned, toned skin stood out from everyone. Pale creatures that giggled and screamed at each other while Alexander, stood back in the shadows, watching.
My mother had taught me to be kind to strangers. In this case, Alexander was the stranger. In my white sparkle sneakers, I made my way over the wall where Alexander had huddled close to.
“Hi, I’m Brooke. Aren’t you Alexander?” I stood in front of him, hands on my hips, looking down at him. All he did was nod and stare at the swings. Following his eyes I looked at the row of empty swings. Biting the inside of my lip, I reached out for his hand. “Come on, we can play on the swing together.” I offered gently. His small hands were warm and he easily stood up. We walked hand-in-hand to the swings. The mulch shifted under out shoes as we crossed the grounds to the swings.
Gripping the chains of the swings, I sat on the hot rubber. Beside me Alexander did the same.
“So where are you from?” I asked, turning my swing towards him. His lips shifted to the right a little.
“Canada.” He spoke softly, and then his eyes turned up to meet my own. Smiling, I pushed his swing and started pumping my legs. “Where are you from?”
“I’m from here. New York.” Laughing and closing my eyes to the wind as I heard him breathe out and the swing start squeaking.
* * *
“Alright now remember, the school year is almost over. That does not mean you slack off understand? Sixth grade is still a very serious grade!” Mama was rambling. I knew it was almost the end of the school year but I wasn’t slacking. I never do.
“Yes ma. I know! I’m going to miss my bus.” Grabbing my lunch bag from my mother and rolling my eyes at her.
“Don’t you dare roll those eyes at me!” She called after me, but the door was already slamming close.
The lights were dim in the art room. Chairs shifted slowly along the flooring. Music was flowing out of sliver speakers from Mr. Dwaine’s desk. My pencil eased across the paper, from beside me Alex was making hatch marks along the edge of his paper. Making no progress of the photo he was supposed to be drawing. I glanced at him, then to his paper. His position had changed; he had dropped the pencil across his paper, his fingers had wandered up to his temples, his serious eyes were now closed. Dropping my pencil, I nudged him.
“Alex? What’s wrong?” Looking at him with worried eyes, he looked like he was shaking. Breaking the connection with him temples, his hands collapsed on the paper. Turning to face me, his eyes bore into mine.
“I’m moving back to Canada, Brooke.” His voice was hardly a whisper; in fact I could hardly hear him. But I knew I heard clearly. My breathing was cut short and I started tapping my fingers wildly on the table. “I know, I found out last week, I was going to tel-“
“Last week? Last week? Alex, I should have known about this the moment you were told. I always answer my phone!” Gripping the edges of the table to hold myself steady.
“Brooke, I know don’t worry! I leave at the end of this year. No rush!” he said quickly. I could feel the tears welling up in the brim of my bottom eyelid. Raising my hand quickly, I escaped to the bathroom. Losing my best friend, buddy, partner, was worse than falling in love.
I didn’t talk to him. My phone was silent all of a sudden. The nights were filled of sleep, instead of Alex’s voice radiating from the phone’s speaker. The weekends were spent in corner of the room, staring at the phone, wondering if I should call him. A few days passed, the phone trembled in my hands as I dialed his number.
“Hello?” He answered on the second ring.
“It’s me Brooke.” I half laughed. “Sorry I haven’t been in touch lately.”
“Don’t worry about it; I’ve been pretty crammed with packing.” There was a pause from my end and his end. “How have you been, Brooke?”
“Good, thank you. When are you leaving?”
“Tonight, but hey listen; I’ll keep your number. Then once I get my new phone; I’ll call you up. How does that sound?”
“Sure, I’ll hold you to that though.” I laughed and sighed deeply.
“Alright, catch you later, Brooke. Bye.” The line went dead as I said ‘Good-bye’ to myself.
…Ten Years Later...
I groaned loudly as the alarmed screamed at me. A soft whine arose from beside me in agreement. I rolled over onto my back, in a tangle on sheets. The bed yelped as a massive weight held it down. The alarm stopped screaming, but a playful bark filled the room.
“Okay! Okay! I hear you Dukester.” I looked over to where Dukester was posed. His paw was firmly pressed on the ‘SNOOZE’ button. Dukester Dominic Reeves, purebred German shepherd. “Silly, it’ll just turn back on!” I laughed and grabbed his tail. Barking loudly, he pushed himself off the nightstand to land on his belly beside me. The daily morning routine, hit the ‘SNOOZE’ button, coffee, then potty break.
Yawning and brushing my cropped, spiky bangs out of the way of my eyes. I stood slowly and felt the carpet under my toes.
“Dukester, the blinds please.” Jumping off the bed, he pulled the cord to the blinds to let the California sun burn through. Walking tiredly to the bathroom, I flicked on the light.
“Uck!” I held up my hands to the mirror, shading my sight from my reflection. Grabbing a wash cloth, I scrubbed my face clear of the drooling make-up all over my face. Looking into the mirror, I sighed at my reflection; my short brunette hair that grew from short to long layers. Spiky bangs, hung around my eyes. I had cut off my long hair from my high school years. Green-hazel eyes stared back at me, longing for affection. The years had stripped away the chubby cheeks to leave defined cheek bones and crisp lips; flavored in pink. My pink delicate fingers, with chipped nails were altered into defined joints and long nails, trimmed near to the nail bed.
Dukester whined from the kitchen. I wondered into the kitchen and rubbed my eyes.
“Ah, coffee, just what I needed.” I smiled as I slid onto the chair. Gripping my cup, Dukester jumped onto the chair across from mine and laid his head on the cool layer of glossy wood. "Don't give me that look, I'll let you go potty in a second!" I rolled my eyes and placed my glass cup down gently on the table.
Standing outside on the porch, I watched Dukester mark his territory. Even though he already marked the same bush about every morning. That was when my eyes caught a red haze. The flag to my mailbox was down. I hadn't realized how early the mailman came. Dukester, panting over, his heavy paws picking his way through the grass to where I was standing. Kneeling down to kiss his head, I kept my eyes on the mailbox. Matt never dropped off the mail this early. Never! The newspaper wasn't even laying out on the sidewalk. I took a deep breath and padded my way to the mailbox. The sides were rusting from exposure, the sun was starting to finally wear it down.
I pulled open the hatch and peered into the dark space. There, neatly placed on it's side was an envolope. Sliding it out of it's hiding place, I held it stiffly in my hands.
"What in the world..." I commented quietly.
To: Brooke Reeves
Jumping and shuttering as Dukester barked from the door, I shook my head, closed the hatch to the mailbox, and started to the door.
Slipping on a pair of dark blue jeans, I searched for my lucky, German Shepherd Rescue hoodie. Adjusting my tank top in the mirror, as I passed it. Duke whined from the bed.
"I know!I didn't mean to loose it Duke. Wait! Wait! Here it is! Right where I left it." I smiled over at Duke, who was lying on the bed looking at me. I hurried over to my dresser and retrieved it from it's place. Slipping on my blue socks over my tanned toes. The sun had also gotten it's way with me. I wasn't the pale little girl I used to be anymore. I found my Champion running shoes. Moving from my room to the doorway, I grabbed my keys and my leather purse, with the additon to Duke's leash.
"Come on, Duke! We're going to be late!" I called, unlocking the golden lock. "Even though we already are." I grumbled silently. I opened the door wide for him, as he bounded out the door. His muscle rippling over his body. His fur swayed back and forth, just like his tail.I dug my key into the lock of the old Camaro. Its paint was a sun kissed blue, with the rustic rims. The door creeked open as I held it open for Duke. Walking around the front, I opened my door, with the same creek. I buried the key into the ignition and let the engine let out a gravely purr. I shifted the gears with care and gave it a bit of gas.