Astounding encounters


By Shahzara Malik (15-years-old)

The dispute was still sizzling in my head, ready to boil. “You don’t belong here, Justin, not anymore”. Dads voice still echoed in the back of my head, playing over and over, like a broken jukebox. His husky voice was just as vivid as the yellow-orange leaves on the newly sprung autumn trees, hanging a few inches above my head. My legs were dashing as far away from that house as humanly possible.

I knew, the immense running would cause a buildup of lactic acid, which would result in the lovely phenomenon of sore and aching legs. When the muddy marshes came into view, recognition resurfaced, I was going to the only place that felt like home. Just then, when my head tilted towards the left, a spiky, hanging branch collided with my forehead, whilst I simultaneously tripped over a godforsaken muddy patch on the ground. The fall was flat on my face, great, I was going to ache in other places too now, I sarcastically thought.

Thankfully, the jacket I was wearing eliminated the arm scratches factor but didn’t however, eliminate the cleanliness factor as mud had cumulated in places it shouldn’t. Just as I sat there, practically reviewing my life and what consequences I would have to face, not only of this fall but also at the house, a petite, colorful six-year-old girl came into my sight. Oh, this was definitely going to be a long day.

“Hey, you, you’re in my way, move! I am on a mission and you’re blocking my path!” She said, with a grimace and while snapping her fingers in my peripheral vision. My very first impression of her was that she had a big mouth for such a small body, what a stark contrast. Too dazed to reply, I unhurriedly got up and took in what clothing was draping her miniature body. I excruciatingly struggled to take her clothing into perspective, and I realized I really couldn’t.

Her head was decorated with a lacey neon pink headband and large hoops hung on her tugged earlobes, quite frankly I was impressed they hadn’t ripped her ears off. Her Oyster white shirt had an Abyssinian cat with sunglasses on, all concluded with a cartoon bubble reading ‘You can’t mess with this’. Tights clung on to her lanky legs, with that same infamous neon pink rue reoccurring. Conclusively paired with metallic silver high top shoes, which I am sure lighted up in some way or another. I decided I wasn’t going to ‘mess with this’ and intended to dodge her whilst I cleaned up my khaki pants from the leaves and dirt that clung on to it.

When I looked up next, her eyes had softened a little and she asked in a hushed tone “A-are you okay? Did you fall down?” When I hadn’t replied, she responded by shadowing me to my destination. Her ant legs were running after my long lion strides, for I was glad, at least someone cared enough to run after me. But then her razor sharp, piercingly definite voice started its tumble, into a large, large ditch. “Are you mute” she asked, surprisingly confidently. Suddenly I was annoyed, really annoyed because of all the people I needed caring from, I got a six-year old kid who I doubted truly cared for me, a boy she hadn’t ever seen before, who held no significance to her.

“If I was mute, how would you expect me to reply to you?” I asked through grinded, gritted teeth. “Well, I wouldn’t really expect you to reply, duh” she replied, with a finger pointing at her head. “Yeah, duh” I chimed in sarcastically, with great wit. “That tone wasn’t very nice of you, it doesn’t seem like a person like you would talk like that but whatever, I’ll still be your friend, you seem like you need it.” I sharply turned towards her and when her small frame bumped into my large one, I could see she got livid.

“Listen kiddo, I don’t need a tag along, I don’t need opinions, I don’t need backslash answers and I sure as hell don’t need a six-year-old telling me I need friends” With each word, I stepped forward and she faltered backwards, fearfully. “I-I’m seven and I’m sorry I-I-I” The blotched tears stuck onto her eyes, afraid to cascade down smooth skin only to make it down to the retched ground stingingly.”

“Just- just don’t talk okay?” I said, the more the merrier.

My legs gave up on me and so, I could no longer run, so limping was my last and only resort. Once we reached my destination, she descended and sat beside me. We both just marvelled at the beauty laid right before our eyes, the city lights illuminated every detail and magnified every street and road. The boxed houses stacked identically alongside one another created pattern and momentum, and the moon was like a cherry on top, setting in to hug at every single leaf, streetlight and house. Like a grandfather hugs all his grandchildren all at once.

I guess I was so lost in my own thoughts that I forgot that the kid was right beside me, so lost in my own thoughts that my eyes started to water, so lost in my own thoughts that the tears slipped. This was the first time in years that I had cried in front of somebody, I just couldn’t help it this time. She laid her small palm on the crook of my shoulder and said, “I know you don’t want me to talk but I think you need to know this trick I do when I’m sad,” she said, aware of the nod I silently gave her, urging her to go on.

“I try and imagine all the stories in every one of those houses”, I thought that was stupidly time consuming but she urged me to try it with wide and peering eyes and so I did, for no apparent reason. I visualized the weight of the tears the floors had felt, the true people the doors had seen when closed. The guests the dining room had heard the laughter of, the unmistakable screams the walls had struggles to retain. The comfort the bed had felt, the smells the kitchen had created. I forgot about everything for a moment and surprisingly I was ready to share the stories I had thought of. I had surrendered to her, finally managed to break down my façade when I looked towards my right, with a smile. But she was nowhere near in sight.