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Forum Home > fiction > A taste of "Autumn Grey"

Jay Mooers
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Ting.Kara slowly became aware of her surroundings. Her bed, her toy chest, her book case, dresser. It all seemed to be in order from what she could see from the glowing nightlight beside her bed. It wasn’t neat by any means. But what does one expect from an eight year old girl? The lights and shadows across the walls were all too familiar. She took a glance at the closet door. One always has to check for monsters. From where she was it appeared to be shut tight. She stared at the door knob for a moment or two and nearly imagined it turning. The door could open with a slow creek as something would shuffle through the darkness and creep to her bed, eager to bite her toes. “Good thing I don’t believe in monsters”, Kara told herself as she did her best to turn away from the closet door. Her daddy had told her there were no such things as monsters and if there were, her closet would be much too small to make a suitable home. Kara slid across her bed and found a cool place in the sheets. She loved to find the cooler places. They made her skin feel tingly. She also flipped her pillow around because the other side was fluffy and cool. Placing her head down, she was more than content. She closed her eyes. Ting. That was the sound that had stirred her in the first place. She kept her eyes closed in an attempt to convince whatever or whomever was disturbing her that she was still quite asleep. “Better to be left alone” she thought. Ting. It was the window. She kept the curtains drawn tightly to keep any kinds of lurking creatures from seeing in her window. Could there be a creature out there? Could it know that she was inside? She contemplated running to her daddy’s room. What if it came in the window and grabbed her? It would surely know she was there if she moved. She grasped her knee under her covers but revealed nothing to anyone that could have been watching. She remained still with her eyes tightly shut. “I am sound asleep” she thought to herself. “Kara?” That voice? It was Mel. Kara opened her eyes. “Come on, Kara. Wake up!” The loud whisper from outside confirmed Kara’s suspicions. Kara hopped out of bed. The floor was cold on her bare feet, but she hated the feeling of socks. She bounded over to the window, her dirty blond hair toppling around her face. Kara briefly thought a monster may be tricking her but quickly shrugged it off. She moved the dark purple curtain aside and peered out into the dark backyard. Everything looked different at night. It was like a different world. “Mel?” she said, in a voice only someone standing right in front of her would hear. Mel stood in the slightly overgrown grass in the back yard. She was holding a small rock. When she saw that Kara was looking out at her she dropped the pebble and began to wave and smile. Mel was Kara’s best friend since “forever”. They had been known to spend whole summers playing in Kara’s yard, or in the playground in the park, or by the brook. They called each other sister, and they were even closer than that. Mel was a little taller than Kara at this early age. She always had a pale complexion even after spending days in the sun. Her eyes were warm and green. Kara wished she had eyes like Mel instead of her stupid hazel ones. Mel also had beautiful dark brown hair that curled all the way to the middle of her back. Her lips were thin and always smiling. Mel was always dressed in sun dresses and sometimes trousers when it was muddy. From what Kara could see from her window, Mel was again wearing her favorite sun dress. Kara hated this old window as she tried to open it quietly. She didn’t want to wake her daddy. He would probably make her go back to bed. She pushed on the edges of the window until her fingers turned purple. It opened suddenly, letting the cool spring air into her room, tossing her straight hair and curtains back, out of the way. She turned to her bedroom door and held her breath for a few moments. She thought of locking the door but it wasn’t allowed. “It isn’t safe” her daddy told her. After a few moments she was relieved to hear nothing from the hall way. “Mel, what are you doing?” she whispered loudly into the wind. “Couldn’t sleep.” Mel folded her hands in front of her and pouted her fake little pout. “You wanna come in?” “No, I wanna play outside. It feels good.” Kara had to admit this was the perfect temperature for playing. Kara was about to plea that they could get in trouble. “Climb out your window and come on!” Mel approached the window. She stood about six feet below Kara. When one is eight years old, six feet down might as well be a mile. “No.” Kara pleaded, feeling a bit scared. “I’ll fall”. “It’s easier than jumping off the swings” said Mel. Kara and Mel were both veterans of swinging so high they’d almost spin around the top of the swing set, until their bellies tingled, and then jumping into the sky like they were flying before thudding into the sand while laughing themselves silly. It was one of their most favorite things. Kara was not so convinced that this was easier. And even more, this could get them in trouble. “I’ll catch you.” Before Kara could rationalize the idea of jumping out a window she clearly would be incapable of climbing back in, she sat on the outside of the window sil and slid off down into her friend’s arms. They fell into the grass with a dull thud and some giggles. “The window scratched my butt” giggled Kara. Words like “butt” always got giggles. The two girls, both barefoot, ran hand in hand around the house, trying to keep their giggling to a minimum. At least until they were sure that daddy wouldn’t hear them. As scared as she got thinking about the monsters that Kara didn’t believe in, it would always disappear when she was with Mel. They felt safe together. The two girls plopped by the hedge in the front yard to catch their breath. The street light cast a shadow that half covered Mel’s face as the two smiled at each-other. “Best sisters ever!” chuckled Mel. “The wicked best!” agreed Kara. “Wanna go to the water?” Mel smiled. Kara began to worry. It was one thing to stay in her yard. It was another thing entirely to cross the street. She was only allowed to cross Park Street with an adult. Her daddy told her so. “But daddy says we’re not supposed ta.” Mel was ready for this. Kara needed to be persuaded by her friend. “You’re not supposed to cross during the day cause there’s cars. But there’s no car’s at night. And you’re not going alone. You got your sister, right?” “Yeah” Kara kicked at the grass at her feet. It felt cool and damp. “I’ll protect you” Mel said. “We’ll protect each other.” “OK” Kara was almost completely on board. “I’ve done it before.” Kara was sold and smiling again. The two of them were off, hand in hand, across the street. They didn’t pause as they ran across the cool damp sand of the playground nor did they stop to marvel at the fireflies that appeared along the trail that lead down to the water. The wind blew their hair back and whistled lightly in their ears as they approached the water. Kara then stopped. She was surprised. The water looked different. Everything looked different at night, but the water looked so different she wasn’t sure where she was at first. Glancing to the big tree to her right helped to give her her bearings. This was the lake, but in the dim moon light it looked like a deep black hole. “I can’t see the water” said Kara. Mel giggled as she stepped into the blackness with a little splash. “It’ s the most pretty at night.” She lifted up the edges of her sundress and began to wade in the water. “Cold!” “Yeah” said Kara as she cautiously approached the water. The sand grew much cooler as she stepped on the fringe of the blackness. She stuck a toe into the chilly water. It made her lip shiver for a moment. “Doesn’t it hurt your feet?” “Only a little, it feels nice and squishy, see?” She kicked water at Kara who let out a little shriek of shock. “It’s only not awake yet.” “Not awake?” asked the slightly dripping Kara as she braved her first foot-numbing step into the pond. “My mommy told me that the lake sleeps. It sleeps in the winter. It wakes up in the spring when it gets warmer.” “The lake can’t sleep” Kara was now half way up her calve in inky blackness. “Yah huh it can.” Mel stuck one hand in the water while the other kept her sundress just inches above it. “Thats why the animals go away mostly in the winter. The birds fly away and the fishies go to sleep. They come back in the spring when it wakes up.” “I’m glad it wakes up. I like it better when it’s warmer.” Kara couldn’t imagine trying to swim in this water. It was way too cold. “When it’s warmer, thats summer. That’s when everyone wakes up. Everything comes to the park then.” “Like the people?” Sometimes the crowds would bother Kara. She only liked sharing the park with Mel and her dad. “The people, and the animals and plants. The summer is when everything lives. The summer is when magic can happen! That’s when the fairies come.” “The fairies, they come here?” Kara loved the idea. “Yeah. My mom says this is their favorite park! They all come here.” “I never saw them.” Kara walked back out of the water. Her feet were hurting from the cold. She sat on a root that stuck out from their tree. “I saw them.” Mel turned and looked out into the inky blackness. “They are so pretty but they are afraid. You have to be sneaky.” “You saw them?” Kara always believed anything her “sister” Mel said. Almost as much as she believed what her daddy said. Kara tucked her feet under her nightgown in an attempt to warm them. Her toes felt so cold she imagined that they were purple. “Real sneaky. Would you like to see them?” “Yeah.” Her eyes lit up with excitement. “This summer, Kara.” Mel let her fingers walk along the surface of the water. “Like I said, the lake isn’t awake yet. This summer.” “This is going to be the best summer ever!” Kara could not wait. Maybe if she closed her eyes she could sleep until summer. Everything happens faster if you sleep. She would use that every Christmas Eve to make Christmas day come faster. She would run to bed by 8:30 when her dad would read her a story and kiss her goodnight. It was hard though, falling asleep when you were so excited about Santa. But she knew that he wouldn’t come if she wasn’t asleep. So she would hold her eye lids tight and try real hard. Kara smelled the fresh air with her eyes closed. She placed her head down on the large root and smiled from cheek to cheek. She could hear Mel stepping through the water. She could hear the rustling of the new leaves in the trees. Leaves? “Hey Mel?” Kara opened her eyes but remained sleeping on the roots. “Ya?” “If the lake sleeps in winter, and wakes up in spring. What happens in the fall?” Mel turned away and said with no emotion, “Autumn is when things die.” “Autumn” Kara thought. “What a funny word.”

June 21, 2012 at 12:39 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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