This is a regular column featuring original poetry and fiction by and for teens, provided by Figment, the online community writing site for young readers and writers.
It was the middle of winter when we first met.
It hadn’t been the bitter wind that tore through my school uniform, or the crunching snow that seeped into my tights, that had forced me into Wallards bookstore. Instead, I was battling the elements, armed only with a scarf and a pair of woolen mittens –- slightly singed from being left on the radiator the night before -– for my weekly issue of Buzzkill magazine. The pavements were crowded with the teeming mass of bodies only a 4:00 PM Friday could provide, and I had slipped gratefully into the shop, the smell of new books, and the sharp scent of a Christmas tree filling my nostrils.
It had been noticeably quieter in Wallard's bookstore, with the outside babbling chatter merely a thrum in the background. Jingling change in my blazer pocket, I shuffled over to the magazine section, my shoes squelching with melted snow.
Unerringly, my eyes sought out the familiar, red printed title, and my mittened hands stroked the magazine lovingly. I pulled the change from my pocket, counting it out. I didn’t notice a boy slide up near me, his own eyes glued to the shelf of magazines. He let out a frustrated sigh, snow dripping from his hair. Ignoring him, I put my change back into my pocket, and went to go and pay.
But he stopped me, tapping my shoulder before I had moved two feet.
“Is that Buzzkill magazine you’ve got there?” he had asked, peering at it. I stared at him, my hands tightening protectively on the spine, my mittens catching on the staples.
“Yes,” I replied quickly.
“Well...” the boy seemed to be mulling something over, and he wrinkled his red nose. “Can I have it, please? There aren’t any others left.”
I had stared even more, my gaze highly affronted. As a fourteen year old girl with an older brother, I had been extremely suspicious of this wet-haired, red-nosed stranger.
“No!” I had told him firmly, lifting my nose in the air. “I got to it first!”
“Look, it’s really important. They have a feature on Race-car Legacy this week and...” The boy seemed to notice my stubbornness, and he changed his approach. “Who are you buying it for, anyway?” he had asked, pulling at his undone collar as if it were strangling him. His own tie bore no resemblance to mine, for it was almost halfway down his shirt, with a big, untidy knot.
“I’m buying it for myself, of course,” I had said, a little uncertain. The boy had jerked upright, his eyes widening in surprise. They were the colour of milky hot chocolate, I had noticed, and the comparison made me remember the cold walk home I had to look forward to.
“Really?” the boy laughed, shifting his weight onto one leg. “Who are your favorite bands?”
For almost fifteen minutes, we stood by the magazine section, chattering about our best bands and songs. The sky outside grew steadily darker, and my grip on the magazine eased.
“You can keep it,” he had said suddenly, giving me a radiant smile. For some reason, I didn’t want the magazine any more, but when I said so, he grinned, taking it off me.
Standing up on his tiptoes, he tucked the magazine at the back of the top shelf, so only the bold, red letter ‘B’ was visible. He winked at me, grinning.
“Our secret?” he offered. I didn’t even think to refuse.
“Okay,” I had giggled happily.
I went back to the bookstore every other day for the next month, just to see if he had kept the unspoken promise between us. And, sure enough, each day, the magazine was still there, its top corner peeping through.
Winter warmed into spring, spring melted into summer, summer breezed into autumn, and when the next winter came around, it felt like it had been dragging its heels. My mittened hands were tucked safely into my blazer pockets, fiddling with the change there. An unwanted admirer was next to me, chatting away. I barely saw him, and left him talking to the snow as I slipped into Wallard's bookstore.
I rushed over the magazine section, my eyes hungrily searching for that elusive magazine corner.
My heart fell to the soggy soles of my feet.
It wasn’t there.
I turned away, tears pooling in my eyes like little puddles of melted snow, like the pavements outside. My fist curled around the change in my pocket.
“Looking for something?” a voice had asked, and I looked up into eyes like milky hot chocolate. My heart had soared again, this time reaching my snowflake-dotted hat, and a smile spread across my face.
The rest is history. Our lives had become entwined since we had both set eyes on that magazine – we didn’t stay together forever, we had other boyfriends and girlfriends, lived the life of normal teenagers – but it was inevitable that we would end up together. Our imperfections made us perfect for each other.
Which is why, as we sit on the park bench now, snow surrounding our feet, a smile of remembrance springs to my face as you clasp my fingers.
My mittened fingers.