There was a usual routine. It went on for years, and even though they changed, the routine didn't. The lake was still their meeting place, the dock still their bench. Someone might bring food. Or a gift that could only be given in their special spot.
For the firs(more)t few minutes they wouldn't talk. Then the silence would be broken with a murmur or a laugh. And until the sun dipped below the trees, the surrounding forest would no longer be tranquil, but alive.
The routine doesn't change when she goes to college and he enlists in the army. The meetings just happen less frequently.
No, change didn't come when they saw each other less than once a year.
He supposes change came when she wasn't sitting down on the the dock. When they didn't have a few minutes of silence. When she displayed the ring on her left hand.
For all of the years they had known each other, he didn't realize until now that he may have fallen in love. With her? No. It was impossible. With his best friend?
Not so impossible after all, it seemed.
And that was their game changer.
"I didn't realize." She found him a few weeks later.
"It's ok. I didn't either."
"You need to leave."
"It's better for both of us."
"I love you. I'm sorry."
They usually wouldn't notice me. A passing mention in the society column, say: "Among the debutantes starting their first season this year is Elizabeth blah blah blah Cornelia blah blah blah Rhanis blah blah blah..." would be enough, and that's all for that. (Additionally, I would never cause a(more) fuss worthy of mention in the papers - too quiet for that) I don't like social activities; if balls and parties weren't mandatory, I'd go occasionally and for the food only. I don't like coy smiles and simpers and gossips and squabbling over standings and fighting over potential spouses. I've never felt that nervous butterfly flutter so often expounded in romance novels and the dreams of young ladies. I want to stay at home and read books or go to the seaside and swim in warm wavelets, go to university like the boys do and learn something useful, do something other than be a trophy wife worth no more than the jewels and sumptuous fabrics that adorn me.
But of course, I attract more attention than that. Of course, it's not as comfortably, blissfully simple as that. You see, I have lush, shining, hair. Yes? Many more maidens have hair lusher and shinier than mine.
But my hair is white.(less)
it was mostly the meandering circles my hair whipped around in as i twirled it over my index finger. it was the notes i passed in class that didn't say much of anything until the teacher threatened to read them to the class.(more) it was the ridiculous doodles lined my notebook, and it was okay that way.
the game was tag; it was "the floor is lava!" and kickball that threw up a ridiculous amount of dust. it was recess negotiations over gel pens and scented erasers. it was a million little insignificant and all-important moments.
but the game is notorious for changing. i don't suppose band-aids can heal my wounds now, and there really is no "kissing it better."
...can we please share a guidebook? maybe there are some cheat codes.(less)
I start counting without noticing the game changer. The game changer, 2 buses that park on the road in front of the park. Being a curious folk at the time, I spread my fingers, to see a tall man with an army uniform and a mask on his mouth approaching. He told me:
"-Are your parents near?
-Where are they?
-My dad's working at the nuclear station, and my mother at the bank.
-Oh god, he said in a sad tone. Well, come with me, there was an accident where your dad works, we must all go."
At this moment, an immense fright and sadness hit me.
"-But is my dad ok? Will I see my mom? Will we come back? Where are my friends?"
I had so many questions, and he had so few answers. He looked at me deeply and told me:
"I don't know. Enter the bus, you will surely see them soon."
Hesitantly, I looked at the beige bus, already full, and entered. The army man entered behind me, told something to the driver, and the bus started.
It's been 10 years since the Tchernobyl accident. I never saw my friends again, nor did I saw my parents.(less)
Al sat with his chin on the table, a scowl settled deep on his features. If he had had the wherewithal to hunt down wherever it was Ed had decided to stash his laptop he WOULD - he just did not want to prove Ed right by standing up(more) and then having a dizzy spell.
He jumped a mile when Winry settled her hand on his forehead. "You are burning UP," she said, and covered him with a blanket. "Does Ed know you have a fever?"
"I don't have a fever," Al muttered. "I feel fine."
"You're a worse liar than your brother is," Winry took a step back, and looked down the long table. So many of the chairs were still dusty, unused by either brother. "Why are you so sick? What isn't Ed telling me about?"
Al closed his eyes, grateful that Ed didn't spill the beans on everything that was currently going on. "Nothing, I'm just - maybe I caught some sort of ancient crud from the books." Hell, this lie even sounded flimsy to HIM. Mei would have beat him half to death with his own laptop by now. He sighed deeply and tried not to think about how long it had been since he had heard her voice.
"Right." Winry was even less impressed. "Ancient crud from the books. Whatever, you boys can keep your world-ending secrets, I'm just here to make sure that you don't cough up blood and die choking on phlegm while Ed is galavanting around doing... whatever the fuck it is HE is doing." She shook her head. "Someone needs to remind me why I took this job when both of you have this stupid, strong silent suffering MAN thing going on. It's not cute when either of you do it."(less)
~~~combination "on the table" and "game changer"~~~
"Alright, I'm gonna lay all my cards on the table, Marshal Bayley. Here I am. You want her to pay for her crimes? Fine. I'll take her sentence before you make me hang. You have nothing to lose, meanwhile I(more) could die right now and not care."
The outlaw lay his gun on the table, the prized Red Hand. He smirked to himself, thinking he would convince the man to let Laurie go. She didn't deserve to be hanged beside an ordinary criminal like himself. She was too compassionate, too generous, too merciful. Laurie was perfect in his eyes.
"No dice, Mulligan. She saved your life and that alone is enough for me to kill her myself, daughter or not. And to make it worse on you... I'll let her go- Ladies first."
The outlaw roared up, seizing the man by his collar, lifting his fist to punch the living daylights out of Marshal Bayley. A voice startled him out of this fury.
"Darling... Let him go. I knew the price I would have to pay the second the bullet flew. I knew what I'd done."
"No, Jack... I love you too much to let you take the fall for me... so, the least I could want is to be by your side when we do together."
The Marshal smirked, straightening his collar once more, relishing the moment. He seemed genuinely pleased with himself- two criminals ready to hang. It didn't matter that she was his own flesh and blood if it meant that the States would honor him as a hero.
"Well, Mulligan. It seems my daughter is in love with you... Isn't that a game changer?"(less)
I've never been to a bakery. I thought they were in farietales and Europe. But a Bakery. The smell of cooking yeast. The flour that dusts the floor. The sound of crunching freash bread.
(more) This could be a nice start. And maybe a nice finish, down the road. A new twist. Ben, the Baker. Kind of a nice ring to it. The kids will love it. We would never go hungry again. And it's not like anyone's gonna use it. It'll be only ours. Our little secret. Something to do, other than remembering.
I would bake it. Samantha would make the dough. Little Robert could deliver it. People from all over town would come for some of our goods. For frosted cakes, and salty pretzels. For plain donuts and plain bagels.
We could move past the war together. Look at the sky and for once not think of the planes, but think of the clouds. See a valley and not think of a crash, but of a stream that dances through it. See a family and not think of the homes burnt, but of the mouths fed. That would be a blessing.
Samantha sees me struggling to hold it together and takes my hand. She tells me it will be alright. She slows the car down. She stops in front of a small shop, with the windows borded up and the walls green and a sign that says a name, but I can't read it, and the big bold letters that spell Bakery.
It's the next step. The next hope. And I think I'm ready.