Her eyes could snag mine from across the room, around corners even, and when she was nowhere to be seen, I would scan the scene like a metal detector on a beach, waiting for the sensation the discovery of her would bring. “Bbbeebeebeep” my heart would sing. There she is, in my head I would say.
She lit me ablaze in the cold and gray of December. She dazzled me from the core—a wild headband atop bourbon ringlets, a body, facing fiercely the frigid air, enwrapped in lace revealing just enough to require a double take, but concealing enough to send the imagination into frenzy. She would eventually stop rummaging through her purse for menthols and place her gaze in my path, eyes meeting mine behind the fog of her first drag.
Not us. Our movements had purpose. She would greet me by drawing me closer in, a pocket in the bone-chilling wind. Easing each other’s goose bumps, we would relax our bodies for seconds in the warmth of our enfoldment. Only friends can hug like we did—without measure of elapsed time, unapologetic for being still in a moving mass.
In the dark hues of winter, sheer joy felt by the presence of one another gave glow to our path, and we would lock arms to insulate the heat flowing from our bodies. Of course we could ramble on and laugh about small things in our small lives, but only after showering each other with compliments, exchanging cheer, and sometimes clasping hands. Our conversations could be as shallow or deep as we were feeling.
We could detect the mood of each other through just the lifting of an eyebrow or quivering of the chin, and then, without a millisecond of hesitation, I could pour out the pulp, whatever was left over from the whole, and she would listen. Spring arrived, and we welcomed it in bandeaus and tattered daisy dukes. Still floating along upon our companionship, we reveled in the freedom of the season. No longer did my friend shiver beneath the lace enwinding her.
What a shame it was for our friendship to end once we were no longer separated by lace and layers. My sun receded as abruptly as it appeared. A tiff, a squabble, a slip of sour tongue—whatever it was—it caused her to be gone for the rest of spring. Still to this day, I don’t know what she looks like in floral or how big her umbrella is.
After a time, there were a series of August apologies. With a valiant effort to sooth the sting of words we wished we could take back, we did what we could to rekindle the ember of our friendship. I saw her for the first time since spring at the nearing end of summer. She was stuck in between the seasons, struggling with the middle ground of the year’s mood, and unknowing of whether or not she would be melting underneath the cotton by the time the sun shone directly above us at midday. We were both troubled not only with our fashion choices, but with things we never found troublesome before.
We searched for words in petty conversation about our longing for fall weather and what classes we were taking. In the midst of the transition between summer and fall, our eyes met far less than they had in winter, but when they did, the moment was frostbitten with regret.
The ember was dwindling. The sharpness of the breeze reminds me of winter’s fast approach. White clouds drifting all around, but not the ones from her cigarette. I try so hard to enjoy hot cocoa and long fuzzy stockings, but there’s a specific warmth missing from this season of cold. I see her headband bobbing up and down in the bustle of the crowd, but her gaze never crosses mine, and we pass like strangers.
Our flower bloomed in the winter, but withered away in the rays of spring, and by summer, it was dead. I hang the wilted flower upside-down on the door of my bedroom to serve as a reminder that the seasons change.