I am thinking. And thinking. And thinking. I don't seem to know how to open my mouth. My rubber bands add to that sensation of glued-together jaws. It's almost as if my mind is saying to my mouth, "no, you stay put, you'll end up saying something you'll regret." People won't stop asking me what's wrong, like the answer really mattered. But nothing's wrong. I'm just not speaking. I don't think there's a problem, and if there is something, I'm unaware of it at the moment. I'm just remembering. Remembering the friends I used to have. Real friends. It's so complicated. But I can show you. I can take you to that perfection, with my words. After all, what more is there but a memory?
It was another warm day in early August. The leaves were slowly scattering themselves among the dying grass around our house. A chill would come and go, not feeling the urge to stay quite yet. My mother had just picked my little sister and I up from school, and we were anxious to change out of our uniforms and enjoy the good weather. When we arrived home, I hurried into my long sleeved shirt and old sweatpants, knowing how little time I always seemed to have. I was eager to join my neighbor who I could hear bouncing a basketball out front from my cracked window. I quickly put hair back in a ponytail and, being twelve, didn't bother to glance in the mirror. Will was what mattered now.
William Doub had been my neighbor since I was born, and we had always been the best of friends. I hadn't ever gotten into the girly stage of life, and hadn't planned to anytime soon. Will had dark brown hair that sat perfectly on his forehead, and his chocolate eyes were always full of happiness and excitement. We spent every minute we could together, and made the best of even the worst days. I don't think I ever once remember him being angry or scared. We never even had a fight. But, of course, we were young, and things change.
That Friday, however, was heaven. I remember that I ran out the front door, creating a wind that stirred around me as I ran towards in his driveway. I didn't have to knock on his door today, which was occasionally the case. It was always the same question, no matter what time of day or what season. I'd ask those six words that my whole life seemed to rest on. "Can Will come out and play?" today, He was there, standing with a hand on his hip with the basketball in the crevice of his arm, a smile playing on his lips. He was challenging me. I knew this game, I'd played it too often. "You're on," I said, grabbing the ball from his grasp.
I don't know how long we played, just as you can't measure how long a tree can stand. All I know is that before we knew it, the light in the sky had faded, and the wind had slowed to a light sweeping of feathers on our faces. We were exhausted from the battle, having a tie score the majority of the time. I let him win in the end, though. He was worth it. Now as the darkness began to linger and deepen, I knew my mothers call would not be far off, but I didn't care. I cared about then, and my joy, and Will.
In the little light we had, we walked to his porch and sat on the step as the fireflies began to come out to play. We talked and joked around and made faces, being kids for that short while in our existence. We tried to catch lightning bugs in out outstretched hands, freeing them once we had captured one. It was as if we were meant to be together. It wasn't a silly crush. It wasn't anything like that. It was a deep love for each other, having nothing to do with butterflies in our stomachs or shyness when we were together. We were perfect, the best of friends, complete with each other. There was never a dull moment.
Now as I sit here in a classroom, the cold doesn't affect me, as it should. I'm just staring into space. There seems to be too much on my mind, and yet one thought comes to the surface, blocking everything else in shadow. It was Will. His smiling face. His welcoming arms. His pure nature. I'm tuning everything else out, trying to focus on that one, perfect memory. It's slowly slipping, but I can still feel it. Feel the wind on my face. I can still hear it. Hear the bouncing of that basketball. I can still taste it. Taste the juices on my tongue. I can still see it. See his lovely, boyish face. Something I'll always want to remember.
I'm still sitting here, thinking about this personal narrative. And my mouth didn't have to move, for it's sake. It is my mind that's doing all the talking, letting you in to that bliss that is my world. I try to bring myself back, to listen to the conversations around me. But it's as if nothing here matters. TV shows, dresses for homecoming, what did any of it matter? There is no Will in this picture, and that, in itself, disturbs me. But I realize that I myself have grown into that girly person I never thought I'd need to be. I never needed to fit in when I was there. When I was with Will. But then I remember that, though we don't expect it or want it, things change.