by Lindsay MacMillan, Age 18, Canada
Artwork by Mia Martins
It was a new feeling flowering in Emma’s chest, its vines creeping up her throat and gently choking her into silence.
She had escaped into the coffee shop from a sudden blizzard roaring in the city streets while walking home from class. It was not a place she’d usually go, preferring the school’s lab or the sterile quiet of her flat, liking the distance from others, but the quirks of winter storms lay outside her control.
Throwing herself into an overstuffed chair, her skin prickled at the heat and cinnamon smell. She smiled as the feeling returned to her fingers. The café was busy, full of other escapees like the coffee-gulping writer and exhausted mother, and Emma was content observing the interactions around her.
Emma turned to the door when it creaked open again, when she walked in. Emma’s breath abruptly hitched.
She was a shadow against the white storm outside, but her dark hair, skin, and eyes glowed in the café’s murky light. Emma couldn’t help but stare.
The warmth in her hands paled in comparison to the sudden heat dancing in her chest. It was a new feeling, but bordering on the familiar. She remembered prom, slow-dancing with Jacob, the first time the teachers didn’t have a ruler between them like a cavern so he pulled her head against his heart. Emma recalled faking a glowing smile the whole night, but it had faded, compared to the smiles of the other girls; she lacked their blinding happiness because of her own private nature, the realization she would never see the boy again after school ended (despite later laughing in strange, warm relief at their separation).
The supposedly most romantic night of her life was overshadowed in a second by a simple glance at a stranger in a snowstorm.
Lost in the memory and the fire sparking inside, Emma hardly realized when the girl sat in the armchair next to hers. Hands clenched at the armrests as she struggled not to look over.
Never had a person – a girl! – affected Emma like this before. The woman looked up; Emma glanced furtively away. Her heart pounded at her ribcage, bruising the bones.
“Are you alright?” a husky voice asked dully, and Emma’s spirits fell at the tone, the distance.
Emma turned to the voice, the stranger, the cause of her sudden problems. “Yeah,” she said, voice wavering. “Just cold.”
The girl stared, an unimpressed eyebrow raised. Emma smiled, sheepishly, words and compliments and invitations to dinner fighting to escape. She knew how to talk to girls, just not this one.
“Then go warm up,” the girl said, standing up. “I can’t help you.”
Emma stared as she walked away, a sudden emptiness in her gut, oppressive and cold like the snowy wind. It was a new feeling, and she didn’t understand it. But the warmth, she had liked. She got up to follow the girl, an apology on her lips and a dull hope glowing in her heart.
Lindsay says, “Writing for me is a way to keep my imagination fit and mind free. Thank you for this opportunity.”