Retracing Steps – by Rachel R. Liu (High School)

A light breeze sounded through the field, flowers swaying gently under the sun. A few birds chirped peacefully on the telephone wire.
I hadn’t been home in years.
When we’d first visited the dandelion fields, it was June of our seventh grade. You were feeling adventurous, so we climbed the newly-painted white fence with gusto, and giggled at our suburban rebellion. We’d seen the field so many times before, but trespassing onto it was a venture previously unknown to us. Every step taken, pebbles crunching gleefully under our feet, was a thrill.
Then it was freshman year, your sister was driving us someplace on the other side of town. She commented on how nice everything had bloomed that year, she sighed at how pretty she thought the dandelions were. You shot me a glance and we smiled at our secret.
Then we had graduated. It was midnight, and for summer in the south, it was surprisingly cold. I laughed at how ridiculous we looked, polyester gowns dancing with every movement as we hopped over the worn-down fence with our ease of familiarity. My stomach rumbled with hunger, yet all I could think about was the way you looked set against the moonlight.
I left and you stayed back home. You were mad, I knew, but you didn’t say so until I was gone. I remember wishing I could be like the dandelions, calm and steady, when your yelling filled my head.
You wanted to be buried in that field.
You wrote me a letter, you knew I wouldn’t remember otherwise. By the time I’d received it, you’d already passed.
So I went home, for the first time in a long, long time. I stood by the fence, worn and splintered. Footsteps were imprinted in the dirt on the other side, presumably by kids who followed the same path as us. The dandelions swayed with the wind, and in full sunlight, they almost looked immortal.
I climbed, once more, over the old white fence, and breathed in the summer.

 

Learn more about the contest which inspired this story:  Nutshell Narratives 2019-03
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