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Charlotte Williams, 02 Mar '13

A thin layer of glitter as fine as fairy dust was sprinkled over the shrubbery; over the wilting flowers and their sad faces, their dying buds; over the tall grass that weaved in knots that were out of place; over the narrow dirt trail that wound like a serpent between the sleepy life that surrounded. The glossy coat gave an otherwise morose scene a gracefulness; it cast a spell that enchanted the entire forest into a deep slumber, it granted a soft, steady stillness that hovered dreamily like an icy breath around the trees.

The beauty was in the peace and the calmness, neither of which had presided in this place this time three months ago, where chaos had reigned, but the first day of winter had crept in silently, had oozed through the cracks without any of us really noticing, and now it was official that the summer had gone. Autumn had been where we grieved, but winter was where we had to accept the passing of that hot, hazy summer that had come and departed like a dream long before it had been properly mourned.

This was where I met her for the first time. It seemed like years ago now; a gentle silence had echoed from tree to tree as I padded carefully over the more overgrown sections of the trail. I was trying to focus but my ears were attuned to the soft whispers of the adjacent river that shadowed my path and had followed me for the past mile I had trekked. It appeared that not a soul had walked this track in an excessively long time, though I remembered it well; the grass, though twisted and overgrown, still clung to life and stood crisp and frosty and untouched by a human’s acid graze.

She had begun as a tiny black shadow in the distance and grew as she materialized; she developed into colour. Streams of blinding light leaked from the misty sunrise behind her and surrounded her until her flickering silhouette was all that was visible to me. As we drew closer, I strained my eyes more and more until her features became more visible to me. She was cute; probably 5”3 with scarlet hair that clustered softly around her heart-shaped face before tumbling over her small shoulders, and a heavy fringe that skimmed the top of her eyelid, narrowly avoiding her gentle eyes that were a shade of melted chocolate, so warm and so soft that you could thaw out just gazing into them, I’ve never seen eyes like it. She donned an overlarge sweatshirt that hung loosely from her narrow frame and basketball shorts that skimmed her knees.

An age seemed to have passed before we began to reach each other but we finally met where the river splits and diverted into a much larger pool of icy water. Though seconds before it had been erratic and bumbling, my mind had fallen into a smooth, peaceful blankness as we halted and speaking suddenly became the meanest feat I faced. She made to pass me by but I blocked her path awkwardly.

“Hey,” she said, stopping in her tracks and smirking cheekily up at me. Her eyes grazed over my face for a second. “Want a cigarette?”

We had sat on the lush green riverbank in an elongated silence as she rolled tobacco into a tidy little cigarette while I fought an internal war to find something witty and interesting to say. Of course, there was nothing in the fast plains of my mind that I could conjure.

“I haven’t smoked in so long,” I laughed nervously. I neglected to say that by ‘so long’ I meant never. She didn’t even attempt to humour me; her face remained blank and impenetrable as she concentrated.

“Trying to kick the habit?” she asked coolly, lighting the cigarette and taking a drag. She rolled her eyes back and sighed as if a weight had been lifted from her shoulders. “God, I needed that. Here,” she hands it to me and fixes her eyes on mine, waiting for me to copy the action.

“Something like that,” I answered, raising the cigarette and puffing on it. It was clearly the wrong thing to do because she roared with laughter at me.

“Here, let me show you,” she giggled, elevating herself onto her knees and leaning in close to me. She gently took the cigarette from my grip and brought it to her own lips. “You don’t want to blow,” she informs me softly, holding my gaze with a serious expression. “You don’t want to suck either. What you want to do is you inhale. Just breathe in, like this:” she demonstrated for me, her eyes not breaking contact. Slowly, she drew away from the cigarette and released a puff of smoke from her lips. “Here,” she handed me the cigarette. “Your turn.”
Trying to abandon this overwhelming feeling of foolishness that seemed to be simply part of my personality, I locked my eyes with hers and tried to follow her instructions. I inhaled the cigarette and exhaled just like she had done but it didn’t work out as well for me. The smoke erupted from my mouth and floated straight up my nose, practically choking me. She giggled at me again as I spluttered and coughed.

“You’re okay, you’re okay,” she laughs, rubbing my back as I coughed. “Maybe try it a little slower next time, champ,” she murmured, her hand lingering on my back. She gently chewed the corner of her lip in an adorable way which was the last straw for me, I had to avert my eyes and allow myself to blush in private. In my peripheral vision, I could see a cute grin light up her face. She adjusted herself and laid on her back on the soft grass beside me. I did too. I traced the wispy clouds that dotted around the sun with my eyes and extended my arm to gently run my fingers through the lukewarm waves of the river.

We talked for longer than I remember; for some of the time about nothing in particular and for other parts, about random, pointless philosophical things. “Have you ever looked at the sun?” she had asked me thoughtfully, “Like, really looked at it without blinking or turning away?” I shook my head. “They teach us about staring at the sun when we’re young; they say we should never stare at it because it’s too bright and it would hurt our eyes, but don’t you think it might be worth hurting your eyes to see just how bright it shines rather than be told that it’s beautiful and it shines bright? It keeps us warm and healthy and alive, but we might as well not know if we haven’t witnessed it with our own eyes. Because what’s the point of being told? You never really know that way.”

Thinking about it now, she was right; about that and a lot of things. Being around her that summer was much like staring into the sun; it hurt a lot to be around her sometimes and other times it was so effortlessly blissful. If there’s one thing I know, it was the most alive I’ve ever felt; the most real I’d ever been. But now it’s winter; she’s long gone and I’m alone again, shielding my eyes from the sun.

Comments · 1

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  • Charlotte Williams said...

    Don't really know where I was going with this, I was just writing without a purpose really. It's not brilliant, it wasn't bad before but I had to cut a lot out because it was over the word limit.

    • Posted 6 years ago