“Raine sweetie, come on it’s time to get up.”
A woman with dark short hair, who looked to be in her late 40’s, knocked softly on her daughters door before walking in. A crazy mass of red hair curled and tangled before disappearing under the blankets and the girl underneath groaned.
“It’s Saturday mom… Can’t I sleep a little longer?” The voice was muffled, most likely her daughter was pressing her face into her pillow.
“I think I let you sleep in long enough as it is. It’s already ten o’clock. Why don’t you go out? I hear kids outside, go find someone to play with?” A muffled “no” was her daughters reply.
Grinning, Raines mother grabbed a handful of the bright purple blanket, bracing one foot on the bed as she pulled on the material. She didn’t bother to hide her laughter when she saw long, thin limbs wrapped around the blanket, clinging like a monkey. She dragged the blanket down the length of the bed, giving a final tug that finally dumped her daughter on the hardwood floor.
“Ok, ok! I’m up!” She surrendered. Raine looked as if she was dragged through a bush backward. Bright untamable red hair fell in curls and waves to her shoulders. Her trip out of bed had it falling forward into her eyes so she tried to shoved it back.
“Pancakes are on the table, John’s at work so if you need me I’ll be upstairs in the studio. Ok?”
Her mother didn’t wait for reply as she left the room, leaving Raine to wake up and get dressed. A peek outside her window at the weather, overcast and a little chilly. Most kids would grumble but Raine loved the winter, it couldn’t get here fast enough for her. She put her hair up in a lazy ponytail and stood in front of her closet mirror.
She long ago learned to accept her hair, it practically had a mind of its own but it was her eyes she loved most of all. A brown so dark it was almost black and if you looked close you would see a bright blue that circled the pupil. She threw on a thick green dress that stopped at her knees and black leggings. Before she headed off to the kitchen she ran a finger over the calendar hanging on her wall. A different ballet dancer for each month. September, October and finally November. Her finger tapped the 12th, circled in red, announcing ‘happy 11th bday’ in bold letters.
“Hey mom, I’m going out!!” She called out as she slipped on her brown boots and black jacket. She skipped the slightly burned pancakes and settled with an apple instead.
“Look both ways when crossing the street, don’t take candy from strangers and no boys!” Her mom yelled back and Raine laughed. She envisioned her mother elbow deep in paint right now and she couldn’t help but feel compassion towards her. Her mother was the perfect example of a starving painter, only without the actual starving part. If her mother had not found John…
Nope, she didn’t want to think about that.
A young Autumn wind was blowing and whipped escapee curls across her face. Her destination was the nearby park, Raine was quite content sitting on a swing for several hours, getting lost in a daydream. She spotted a group of boys and froze before quickly redirecting herself. No way did she want to run into them. They’d only hassle her again.
The leader of the neighborhood bullies, Brandon, had designated her as his permanent target for torture and teasing. Because of him school was agonizing instead of fun. He was probably just jealous of her awesome hair, she mused to herself as she approached the park and was glad to find the row of swings empty.
Now seated comfortably she kicked out her legs and let her body move on its own, swinging higher and higher. Raine closed her eyes and was soon lost in her thoughts, envisioning her future as a dancer, what countries she would visit and the people she would meet. Dancing was her life and as her mother often told people it was something she had done since she could walk, when she was old enough she was placed in dancing classes of all sorts. Ballet of course she enjoyed but hip-hop and her own made up choreography was her drive. She gradually became aware of a feeling, like she was being watched. She cast a swift glance around the park. A few people walked along the sidewalk but they were occupied with each other. Raine slowed down her swinging, the tip of her boots dragging along the wood chips beneath the swing and continued her survey of the area. She couldn’t find the source but the feeling didn’t ease. She hoped it wasn’t Brandon hiding in some bush waiting to pounce.
She scanned a group of trees ahead of her, nothing. But her gaze stopped at the base of a scrub oak when she noticed something different about one tree. A good part of the trunk and a bit of the dirt and grass in front of it seemed to be doing something. What? She concentrated on the spot again. It seemed as if the texture and colors of the bark, the grass, even the air were shifting, refocusing in and out. Maybe she should have been scared but she was too intrigued. A soft gasp left her lips when a boy materialized in the very spot that she’d been studying. He didn’t appear as in POOF! but more like whatever had hidden him had melted away.
His posture was relaxed as he leaned against the tree, on leg crossed over the other and hands clasped and resting against his stomach.
He appeared to be a few years older than herself and was dressed as if he were either coming or going to a Shakesphere play. His pitch black hair was short and a starling contrast to his pale visage, she couldn’t see his eyes from this distances but could tell they flickered to passing strangers who spared him no glance before settling his gaze back on her.
He gave no indication that he even knew she was looking at him but she slowly raised a hand gave him a little wave of her fingers. It caught his attention and he glanced over his shoulder and to the side of the tree. His gaze returned to her. Still tentative, but now with her whole hand, she waved again.
He appeared startled and hesitantly returned the gesture with a small wave of his own. She smiled and motioned for him to join her but, to her surprise, he suddenly turn and bolted in the opposite direction. He never looked back as he ran and eventually she lost sight of him through the trees.
Stepping away from the swing she waited a few more minutes to see if he would return but when he didn’t she turned and headed home.