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The cold winter wind brushes across my skin with a deafening sound, but I don’t mind. After a night spent lying awake and cursing at my own inability to fall asleep, I welcome the sensation. I turn back and glance at the beige house, covered in recently fallen snow. With a sigh I face ahead and continue on my path. The snow is still falling, hiding my footprints and erasing the only evidence I had even left the house. It was a struggle to convince myself to even leave my bed, but I am now grateful for the numbing frigid air. I close my eyes, silently hoping that the snow will make me disappear just as it did my footprints.

My eyes remain closed as I continue to walk on the powdered sidewalk. It’s true the cold is numbing the pain in my chest, but it also ignites the memories of last winter, counteracting the effects. I feel the anger welling up inside me, and the familiar sting of tears in my eyes. I violently swipe at my eyes with the sleeves of my jacket, refusing to let my emotions get the best of me in public. After a few minutes of deep breathing and more swiping, I manage to calm myself down. It takes a minute for my vision to clear up, but when it does, I curse under my breath. It seems that I subconsciously made my way to the place where it all began.

Closing my eyes once again, I let the memories resurface and watch as my mind replays the events of last year.

 * * *

 “Marshall, have you finished shoveling the driveway yet?” my mother called to me from the window.

“Yeah, I just enjoy walking around with a shovel in my hand in this freezing weather.” I called back.

“Drop the attitude Marshall. Your dad won’t be happy if it isn’t finished by the time he gets home!” I heard her voice fade more with each word, meaning she must be done with the conversation and left her position by the window.

“Yeah, yeah. I know.” I mumble under my breath.

I hate winter, and everything about it. The cold weather, the flashy holiday lights, and the looming knowledge that exams are coming. It’s ridiculous that I have to shovel the snow from our driveway instead of one of my older brothers. Dad claims it’s to ‘build character’ but it has always been obvious that he favors me the least of all his children. Whenever I tell my mom this, she feigns innocence and tells me I am being silly. But her eyes never fail to reveal her true opinion. The truth is that she too prefers my siblings over me. It never bothers me unless It involves me doing more than my share of the work.

I continue cursing under my breath as I shovel the freshly fallen snow until I hear footsteps approaching. I don’t bother looking up, as I can be pretty sure it’s dad coming to scold me for not being finished with the driveway.

“I’m sorry. I’m almost finished, I promise.” I said, still shoveling. I heard a giggle that was far too high to be my dad’s. I turn my gaze up and am greeted with an unfamiliar, smiling face. Her hair was a light blonde, almost white to match the snow around her, with bright blue eyes filled with amusement. Despite the cold she wore a light yellow t-shirt with jeans that didn’t quite reach her ankles. The weather didn’t even seem to bother her, while I was nearly frozen solid with a heavy coat and several layers of clothing.

I finally snapped out of my trance and managed to croak out a few words.

“Can I help you?”

Somehow she managed to smile even wider and nodded slightly. “Could you tell me where St. Lucas park is?”

She had a bit of an accent, though I couldn’t quite place it. Maybe some sort of French? “Uh, yeah, it’s not to far from here. Take a right at the next turn and then keep going straight. You’ll find it.” I pointed as I spoke. She gave me a confused look but nodded anyway.

“Okay, thank you.” She walked down the driveway and started walking in the opposite direction I had told her to go. I sighed and sprinted after her.

“Why don’t I just show you. It won’t take long.” The girl smiled brightly and nodded quickly. “Thank you very much! My name is Amelia.” She extended her hand eagerly. I couldn’t help but crack a smile of my own.

“Marshall. I’m guessing your not from around here.” I took her hand and shook it. Amelia nodded again.

“Yes, I just arrived from Montreal with my father.”

We continued to make small talk and before long we had arrived at the park. We exchanged numbers and she thanked me once more before taking off down the running path. I found myself smiling as I made my way back home. When I got home dad scolded me for not finishing my chores, but I didn’t mind. The only thing on my mind was her.

Over the next couple of months Amelia and I became closer and closer. I was no longer bothered by the favoritism of my parents or the extra work load, because she was often by my side. We spent our days spent at the park and our nights speaking in hushed tones so that our families wouldn’t discover our midnight rendezvous. It wasn’t long before I realized I had fallen for her.

One night, after an hour of star gazing, I abruptly stood up and pulled her along with me by the hand, telling her to keep her eyes closed. “….Okay, you can open your eyes.” I watched her sparkling blue eyes light up as she gazed upon my surprise for her. Carved into our favorite tree was our names in the shape of a heart. She smiled at me and squeezed my hand in a thank you.

We lived like this until the beginning of summer, when disaster struck. It was a beautiful, sunny July day. I awoke to the sound of the loud buzzing of my cellphone.

“Hello?” I asked groggily. With each word that came out of my phone I became more alert. Even so, I only managed to catch a few words. Accident. Hospital. Gone. Amelia.

 * * *

The tears now flowed freely and I didn’t try to stop them. It would be a useless effort now. I allowed myself to cry for the first time since Amelia’s death, and It felt good. After awhile, I slowly removed my hand that was supporting me from its position and took a long look at the tree it was resting on. Though somewhat faded, the names were still there. Much like the memories of her would be someday. But they would always be there.

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- Total nr. of readings: 3,000 Copyright © The author [2020] All Rights Reserved. This story may not be reproduced without the express written permission of the author except for personal use.

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