Categories > Original > Drama0 Reviews
Have you ever met someone who makes you question and challenge your reasons for living?
"I don’t believe in ghosts," I simply replied.
It was like any other summer night we spent laying on the cooling pavement of her driveway. The smell of the hot days melted into the relieving chilled nights. Chlorine tingled around our noses from neighboring pools. Blue tint from TV’s flickered in bedrooms all down the street giving off little light other than the old lamp post that barely illuminated the corner of the cul-de-sac. We’d spend hours laying there staring up at the countless stars, having conversations about everything that meant nothing to anyone else, until the hours crept into the early AM.
Every summer night we’d do this until school began again. Then I’d watch her get into her car and wave goodbye from the backseat as she left for another school year on the Atlantic coastline. I was never sad when she left. I always reassured myself that she’d return in another nine months. She always did.
"But you don’t have to believe in them to wonder what it’s like to feel like one," she pressed on. I watched her from the corner of my eye as she scanned my face for an answer. I kept still.
"That doesn’t make any sense Ayla."
She quickly sat up and stared up at the sky. "Nothing is supposed to make sense. Why the sky is blue doesn’t make sense. Why we rotate around the sun doesn’t make sense. Why we have to put periods at the end of our sentences doesn’t even make sense." She stretched her arm up towards the sky and pinched at nothing while squinting through one eye. "Do you think one day we’ll be able to touch stars?"
I sighed, shaking my head. "Now you’re just being ridiculous."
She dropped her arm letting her hand smack the ground bringing my eyes away from the sky.
"By asking such silly questions."
"But you only answer with such silly answers," she countered.
I sighed again, shutting my eyes.
"There is no way we’d be able to touch stars. One, they’re light years away. Two, even if we got technology to get to a star they would be too hot or too cold to touch. Plus stars are made up of gases, you can’t really touch a gas. Does that answer your question?"
Ayla suddenly stood over me with her a hand on each hip. Her face crunched up into a glare. She hated when I talked science to her. She knew that it meant I had no interest in her topic. I stared up at her, her long brown hair cascading over her shoulders and casing her round face. I couldn’t help but let out a small laugh breaking her little staring contest and her lips cracking into a smile. This was my best friend.
"You have a weird way of looking at things Dennis." She looked up at the sky again. "Looks like it’s time for me to go inside."
Her hair whipped against the gust of wind and she closed her eyes, stretching her arms wide open. Her pale skin contrasted with the dark night. She inhaled and span away from me and let out a little giggle. She then stuck out her hand, along with her popsicle stained tongue, and helped me off the ground.
"If you don’t get inside soon," she got on her tip toes and ruffled my hair a bit which was still a bit damp from swimming earlier, "you’ll catch a cold."
I rolled my eyes. There was so many things she needed to learn. Like how you don’t catch colds from being cold really, but I already shut her down twice in one night which was more than enough. It was best to keep this topic for another time otherwise we’d be arguing over colds for the next hour.
"What ever you say Ayla."
She span away from me again and grabbed the edge of her shorts and made a small dip.
"’Til we meet again my young prince," she laid on a terrible mid-evil accent which I couldn’t help but laugh at.
"’Til then milady," I mocked, bowing before she turned and ran inside her dim house.
I stood in her driveway and waited for her bedroom light to come on. As soon as it did I walked across her lawn into mine and sat on my porch until her bedroom light turned off. I did this every summer night. Regardless how late it was. It gave me some sense of ease, almost like she knew I watched her bedroom light every night. It was like saying goodnight without the words. Now that I look back at those times I laugh at how dense I was, even my own feelings.
The summer I met Ayla plays over and over in my thoughts. I can’t tell you the exact time or date, but the images of the day always stayed fresh in my mind. It was raining. Heavy summer rain. The kind where it suddenly comes out of nowhere and all the kids go run out in the street to relieve themselves from chlorine pools or air conditioned houses. They’d run around screaming in their bathing suits, laughing, and playing silly childhood games like tag. I remember hearing the sound of the rain against my roof and I quickly ran to my window to make sure the summer wasn’t just doing it’s déjà vu.
She stood in the middle of the street, her head back, arms wide open, and eyes tightly shut. The rain pelted against her tiny frame. I had never seen this girl before which was odd since all the kids on this street knew everyone and their business. I squinted hard to get a good look at the girl when I realized a silver object in her hand. I pressed my hands against the window to shade the glare so I can make out what it was.
Slowly her arm raised in the air and a strike of lightening streaked across the sky lighting up everything. Screams of the other kids further down the street echoed, but the girl just smiled. My heart nearly sank as I figured out what the object was in her hand. A fork. I bolted for the front door.
’What kind of idiot is this girl?’ I vividly remember thinking as I threw open the front door and ran out towards the street. A series of lightening sheared across the sky making my heart beat faster as I came talking distance to the girl.
"What are you doing?!" I yelled over the heavy rain.
She jerked a little bit and brought her arms to her body, holding the fork against her chest. She looked doe-eyed at me as if she had never seen a person before. Then smiled.
"I want to be hit by lightening!" She returned to her previous position with an even bigger smile.
If my jaw could drop to the floor like how ridiculous children show characters did when something unexpected happened my jaw would be just like that. This girl wasn’t an idiot. Just a kook. A streak of lightening suddenly crashed on top of one of the houses nearby with a satellite disk. Then another on a different house. Kids quickly ran under their porches, but the girl stayed put.
Unsure of what to do, I grabbed her wrist, which surprised her and made her drop her fork. She tried to yank away from me, looking at me as if I was the crazy one with the fork. Another bolt of lightening followed by an eruption of tremendous thunder. I quickly pulled her towards safety under my porch with much protest.
"Lemme go! This is my only shot!" I remember her screaming over and over, but I kept a tight hold of her wrist afraid if I loosened she would break away.
"Are you crazy?!" I yelled over her and the thunder.
She stopped hesitating for a second, looking me dead in the eyes.
That was a clear yes.
"Doesn’t it make you crazier for helping me then?" she asked.
The rain turned into a slight drizzle and the clouds started to break apart. My grip around her wrist loosened and she quickly broke away and ran back out into the street. I didn’t follow her. Just watched as she grabbed the fork and stared up at the clearing sky. She kicked at the ground and tucked the fork in the back pocket of her shorts. Then she began to hum something like a lullaby and span in slow circles.
This girl was something else.
And I knew from that point on we would be very good friends.
"Do you ever wonder if people could be invisible Dennis?" she asked me the next night on her driveway. The sky was a mixture of oranges and reds as the sun lowered on the horizon.
"What’s with these questions all of a sudden?" I was beginning to get annoyed with her sudden fascination with the unseen.
She pulled her legs to her chest and hugged her arms around them. Slowly she rocked, resting her head on her knees.
"No reason really," she finally answered.
I look back now and I wish I would have pushed for a better answer. I look back now and wish I could have seen that something was clearly bothering her. But you can not blame you lack of judgment as a child. You can not take the knowledge you grew to learn now and implant it to the knowledge then. You can just wish that what was done could have been done differently.
I wished hard.
The next night she was standing in the middle of her driveway with a white sheet draped over her body. It covered all the way down to her bow-legged knees which were patched up with colorful band-aids. One of her feet overlapped the other and by the outline I could tell she had her arms crossed.
"Can you see me Dennis?" she whispered.
"Of course I can! Stop playing around." I reached up and pulled off the sheet.
Her eyes were red and puffy. Her cheeks were streaked wet. She looked quickly towards the ground.
"What if you couldn’t anymore?" she mumbled, sniffling.
I sat down on her driveway and shook my head.
"Don’t be silly Ayla. People don’t just disappear or become invisible." I grabbed her hand tightly and led her close to me. "Not even you."
She smiled and wrapped her arms around my neck. I sat still out of shock. She began to sniffle again. I reached up and cupped the back of her head.
"Don’t ever forget me." Her voice vibrated against my shoulder. I could still feel her breath against it to this day.
"Have you been watching those weird cartoons again?" I chuckled, stroking her long brown hair.
She pulled away and laid on the driveway, her eyes wide with a life full of unanswerable questions.
"Watch the stars with me tonight."
That night we laid closer together than we had ever laid. Our arms barely touched but the chill radiating from her skin tingled through mine sending a mixture of feelings throughout my body. I did not realize it then, but it was fated to be that way.
The next day I was eager to lay out on the driveway with Ayla again. When the sun began to fall I ran over to her house and knocked anxiously on her door. I couldn’t keep still as each second passing seemed like minutes creeping into long hours. Finally her grandmother answered the door, the sweet smell of home cooking teasing my sense of smell.
"Can Ayla come out now?"
Her grandmother’s head cocked to the side and her eyebrows furrowed together.
"There is no Ayla living on this residence. Have you forgotten I live all on my lonesome young one?"
I laughed. Ayla always told me how her grandmother loved to tell jokes.
"Tell Ayla I’ll be waiting on the driveway then," I turned, twirling a bit towards the driveway. The door shut and I took my usual seat and waited.
She didn’t come out that night. Or the night after that. Or the night after that. But I would go and wait there for her for the remainder of that summer. And the summer after that. And even the summer after that.
But she never came out.
Four summers passed and I was now eighteen years old. It was the last day of school and the first day of summer. The heat danced around my body and my heart beat was slow. The night was approaching and I felt a slight twinge in my chest as I pulled up to the side of her driveway. I switched off the engine and slowly got out of my car, grabbing the flowers from the passengers side of the car. Taking a seat in my usual place I placed the flowers on her side. I glanced up at the sky.
"I’m moving away tomorrow. To the Atlantic." My throat suddenly tightened. "To look for you."
The slight gust of wind blew past me ruffling my hair a bit. I sighed.
"And to go to school of course. I’m going to become an astronomer or something. I knew you’d like that." I reached over to the flowers and twirled the ribbon around my fingers. "I brought these for you. They’re called moon flowers. They only bloom at night so moths can feed off them. Then they die in the morning, but," I reached into my pocket and pulled out a packet of seeds, "I brought the seeds. I’ll plant them before I go so they can bloom over and over again." I laughed. "I know you hate when I talk science, but I can’t help it."
Another gust of wind blew past, whipping past my ears. I looked away from the sky and the empty place next to me. Shutting my eyes, I took in a shaky breath.
"I miss you Ayla." I paused. Almost as if I was waiting for an answer, but my head knew better. "But I know I’ll find you. I just know it."
I ripped the bag open and dug in-between the cracks in the driveway. I placed a couple of seeds in the small hole and covered it with the dug up dirt. I wiped the remaining dirt on my finger on my pant leg then placed my palm over the planted seeds. Glancing up at the sky I sighed again.
"I remember the time you asked what it felt like to be a ghost. That was almost four years ago. I remember replying that I didn’t believe in such things… I still don’t," I looked down at the moon flowers which began to bloom, "but I think you know what it felt like from the very first time you asked me that. Maybe even before that. And even if I don’t believe in ghosts or people becoming invisible, I do believe in you."
My throat began to tighten and I clenched my jaw tightly before beginning again. "I remember the other time when you asked me to never forget you. I couldn’t reply. That was probably the most silliest thing you ever asked me. And you’ve asked me some pretty silly things. I thought the answer would be quite obvious, which is why I didn’t answer."
I looked back at the empty space next to me. That space that laid empty for four years. The tears began to rim around my eyes. There was no use to fighting them now. "But I hope you did know that I could never forget you. No matter how hard I tried these past four years. I couldn’t. And I never will."
The tears that were held back for four years poured freely for the first time. The twinge inside my chest became an open wound. The tears poured down my face and onto the patch of moon flower seeds. I could barely breathe, but I didn’t care. The tears poured freely. Just like how the rain fell on the first day we met.
I did not spend my last night living in the cul-de-sac with friends. I did not spend my last night partying with my senior class. I did not desire to. I spent it there, on the driveway, just like old times. Just like how we were supposed to begin our summers. I spent it there, talking to the sky, and I knew that she was listening. Although she wasn't there, she was listening.
The next day I packed my car with all my belongings and kissed my parents goodbye. As I looped out of the cul-de-sac I looked over to her driveway. The moon flowers had surely died, but there was no sadness in my heart. Soon there would be a green patch growing in that driveway. Soon there would be an abundance of moon flowers to bloom every night and die every morning over and over again. Although we both were going to be far gone from the driveway our existence there won’t be like a ghost. As long as the moon flowers kept blooming and dying every night and day we would not be invisible.
I never went back to that driveway to see what came from the planted moon flowers nor did I ever desire to return. All I really desired was to be anywhere Ayla was and it was not in that driveway, or that house, or that cul-de-sac, or that town, or even this world.
It was far past than what the naked eye could see. Far past the limits of our sky. Far past our own galaxy.
I desired to go to the stars.