This is a regular column featuring original fiction by and for teens, provided by Figment.com, an online community writing site for young people.
Her feet smacked loudly on the pavement as she sloshed through the ankle deep puddles that spotted the sidewalk. Droplets were running down her face, mixing with her salty tears. The frosty air whistled behind her, urging her along. Her fingers were numb and she curled them into her palms as she stormed forward.
“Melanie?” a soft voice cut through the turbulent night. She whirled around at the sound of her name.
“Who’s there?” she yelled into the wind.
“Relax, it’s just me.” The voice grew louder and a figure began to emerge from the fog. Melanie shifted her weight to her left foot and folded her arms tightly across her chest, shivering. Jared seemed to materialize out of the darkness before her.
"What do you want, Jared?” she asked impatiently. The misty rain was soaking her through to her bones; her thin cotton shirt was drenched, her hair was plastered to her face.
“Come back,” Jared said, his voice staying soft but still somehow rising above the roar of the storm. He stepped toward her, shrugging out of his jacket. He held it out to her. The blue letters embroidered on the front shined in the moonlight trying desperately to push through the clouds.
“Cut the chivalry crap.” Her voice cracked like lightning through the rain. He winced. “I’m not going back there.” She turned on her heel and splashed down the street away from him. He simply followed, gliding noiselessly behind her like a shadow.
“Leave me alone please Jared,” Melanie’s voice cracked with strain. Her tears were coming faster now and so was the rain. Drops pounded her face and masked her tears as they ran relentlessly in rivulets down her face.
“Melanie, stop,” Jared said coolly. Thunder boomed somewhere in the distance and lightning lit up the sky ahead of them. “Mel, wait!” His voice was hard now; it had lost its gentle charm.
“Make me!” Melanie shouted over her shoulder childishly. She took off running through the river that had once been the sidewalk. The moon was nowhere to be seen now and the dark clouds, pregnant with the fierce storm, hovered low.
Thunder boomed louder and lightning flashed across the underbelly of the clouds almost simultaneously. Wind ripped at her body, tearing her hair one way and then the other. The cold burned her skin, matching the burning in her legs as she sprinted. Jared’s even footsteps followed behind her.
Melanie pushed herself faster and turned off the sidewalk. She crashed through the trees of the park, slipping and sliding on the wet grass. Wildflowers grew beneath her feet and they cried wet petals as she trampled through them. Without the glow of the streetlights, Melanie saw with her hands, reaching them out in front of her. Jared’s footsteps faded into the night behind her.
Thunder boomed again, closer this time and lightning illuminated the dense patch of trees for a split second. The rain continued, crying along with Melanie as she ran.
"Melanie!” Jared’s voice was far away now, muffled by the trees. Melanie slowed; she was losing him. She sought shelter from the biting rain under the canopy of a tree; pressing her back against the rough bark. Water droplets fell from the leaves, bouncing off of her face, her arms, the top of her head. Shining circles appeared on the edges of her vision and she blinked the water from her eyelashes. She took a deep breath and the chilly tang of the storm nipped at the back of her throat.
“No, no,” she moaned, closing her eyes and shaking her head back and forth slowly. “This can’t be happening.”
“Mel!” Jared’s far off voice floated through the rain. “It won’t be as bad as you think. She’s a nice woman. She’ll be good for us.”
“NO!” Melanie yelled. The wind picked up and carried her denial through the thick trees. “She’s not Mom!”
“Oh Sis,” Jared said softly, his voice close now. “She’s not trying to replace Mom, she wants to help us start a new family.”
“I don’t want a new family,” Melanie sobbed, as the rain and her tears picked up again.
“Come on, Melanie, give her a chance,” Jared appeared from between the trees in front of her. “She’s a really nice lady. And she’s good for Dad.” Melanie sank down to the dirt floor, the bark of the tree scraping her back through her shirt. Jared sat down next to her and put his arm around her. She buried her face in his shoulder and let the tears come.
The rain fell steadily through the leaves, dropping softly to the ground.
“Shhh,” Jared soothed, rubbing Melanie’s arm gently. “It’s okay Sis. Everything’s gonna be okay. I promise.” She didn’t answer, her throat full of tears and lungs gasping for breath through her sobs. The rain was slowing now, the thunder and the wind gone, the lightning extinguished. Jared kissed the top of Mel’s head sweetly and she looked up at him, tears and rain still running down her face. She sat back a little and wiped her cheeks, smudging the mascara streaks across her skin.
She looked down at her hands for a moment and then back up at Jared, bewildered. Jared couldn’t help it; he laughed. He leaned back, holding his stomach and slapping his thigh, his throaty chuckle echoing off the trees and ringing through the park. The rain slowed to a thin mist again and the moon burst through the heavy cloud cover. Melanie smiled weakly. Her eyes lit up with their usual sparkle as she watched her brother laugh. Jared was right. Everything was going to be okay.