By Paul Alex Gray
We sit on the floor of my soon-to-be old room. My legs crossed with one hand keeping the tip of my skirt down. Marc’s leaning back, smug smile slathered to his face and I think he’s playing the unblinking game again. We hear the moving van drive off.
“Manitoba eh?” he asks.
He always thinks he’s so funny.
The window is open and I wonder if I should close it. We took down the blinds and dad insisted on putting back the old curtains that apparently hung there when we first moved in. They move lazily half translucent and casting tiny pieces of dust. I watch them glow and shine in the light.
“Let’s ditch this place,” says Marc. “In fact, let’s never come back.”
He guides me out into the hall, that first wooden board at the top squeaking like always.
We pass by my Mom, checking empty cupboards. Everything echoes a little too much.
“Just a few more minutes, Sarah”, she says.
Marc leads me to the porch. All the furniture is gone and I can see more of the bushes where we once found a hundred thousand ladybugs – or so it seemed. My skin tingles in the sun. I could be lying out back, baking slowly.
“Hope you packed your snowshoes,” Marc says.
“Honestly,” I reply, wanting to say more but feeling all out of breath.
Dad’s got the car all set up, ready to go, all four doors wide open. Knowing Dad, there will be a full tank of gas, a couple of juice boxes and snacks ready to go. He looks up at me, then down, then does a double take then turns back again. I’m sure I’m freaking him out now. He moves back around, busying himself with something in the car. Marc lets go of my hand and I grab it back.
“I’ll write you,” I blurt out “I’ll call you, when I get there.”
He smiles, and it looks like he’s about to say something profound.
“Oh, wait!” he says, dashing off.
Mom comes out and shuts the door behind her. She moves down the steps and out to the car. The light flickers through the trees. Things are going too fast. Dad starts the car.
“Let’s go,” he says, but softly and without any urgency.
I stare up the street, past letterboxes and bikes laying out on lawns and kids up the street throwing water balloons.
“You don’t want to forget this.”
Marc hands me the baseball. The one we both claimed we caught and somehow always seemed to end up back at his place. I take it, squinting in the light, turning the ball in my hands. The surface feels raw and the stitches flow like a story, round and round.
Marc squeezes my hand and I think I should kiss him. The wind is picking up. It rises and races through the trees and it makes the leaves shout in whispers I cannot understand.
Author Bio: Paul Alex Gray enjoys writing speculative fiction that cuts a jagged line to a magical real world. His work has been published in 365 Tomorrows, 101 Words and Devolution Z. An Aussie now living in Canada with his wife and two children, Paul spends his days working in the software industry. Follow him on Twitter @paulalexgray.