by Sana Hameed, Age 15, USA
Artwork by Lucy Zhang
The fiction prompt of the month for September was to use the word “orange” at least three times.
Under the Noon Sun
The boy and girl swung gently back and forth on the swing set. The distance between them felt like miles, though it was only a few feet. Every so often, she would look over at him and admire the jet-black bangs that ended just before reaching his jade eyes, his thoughtful expression, his relaxed, broad shoulders. And once she dropped her gaze out of either embarrassment or reluctance, he would admire the different shades of orange and crimson gathering in her hair to create a medley of colour under the noon sun. It fascinated him how light could affect each of the countless curls so differently even though they sprouted from the same remarkable source.
“Autumn, are you there?” Eli teased, attempting to break the silence. She stuttered “yes” in response. Innately, she was pondering how he could be so calm, so unaffected.
He sat beside her, utterly at peace while she sat trembling, nervous to her core. Autumn didn’t know what to say to the boy with the green eyes, her neighbor of a year, and current companion as she fed the ducks gathered at the local park.
She was glad they sat on swings, close enough to have a decent conversation but far enough apart so she wouldn’t spontaneously combust. She hadn’t planned for this. She had never spoken with him longer than necessary, dispensing only polite commentary in response to his questions before scurrying away. But at the moment, she was trapped. The young redhead had simply been tossing breadcrumbs to the squalling birds as per her usual Sunday routine when Eli had approached her.
He had held out his hand at first, as an offering. Probably of friendship, she supposed, because for as long as Autumn had known him he hadn’t been anything more than plain friendly. Quickly turning her head to avoid eye contact, she had considered her escape routes and weighted her options. In the end, the auburn-haired teenager decided she didn’t want to risk offending him by running off. However, conversing with him was difficult when her heart threatened to implode.
“Are you upset that summer is coming to a close, Autumn?” The question required a more opinionated response but all Autumn could do was nod softly, lips pursed. She tucked a strand of her hair behind her left ear and breathed in and out. Slow and steady. She could do this. It was just conversation.
He looked slightly surprised but pleased to hear her voice.
She looked to him, confused. The end of summer meant the coming of fall, and no one was fond of fall. It was back-to-school season. Back-to-work season. Coats and caps season. The prelude to the harsh insufferable cold of winter.
“What do you mean?” Autumn felt her nerves disappearing into the blissful breeze, her curiosity unravelling the knot that had formed in her stomach.
“I love going back to school and seeing the people I want to see. Seeing them after all the vacations and family visits. It’s coming together again. Reuniting.”
Eli gazed at her as he spoke, a smile plastered across his face as she blushed softly. She hated that he made her blush. It always seemed to make her feel ridiculous because of her orange, almost red hair. She didn’t want to look like a tomatoe in front of him, but by the way he was looking at her, Autumn didn’t think he would care.
“But wait there’s more,” He said jokingly in a deep voice imitating the ads on television almost perfectly, “I love the changing of the leaves during the fall. Orange, yellow, red littered across my lawn, an array of colors tumbling down from the trees.” His words were pure poetry.
“I simply adore autumn.” He seemed to imply more than the obvious.
“I simply adore autumn.” She could hear him repeat in her mind, and it motivated her enough to hold out her hand. An offering. An offering of more than just friendship.
Eli examined her face, looking for something to tell him his message had been conveyed. In her cerulean eyes, he found what he was looking for and laid his palm atop hers as their finger intertwined. United. They swung back and forth hand in hand, heart with heart, coming together under the noon sun.
Sana Hameed is a teenage writer often inspired by nature, especially the changing of the seasons.