There was a faint, yet head-aching amount of light beaming from the Sun.
Lucas wiped his brow, gazing up toward the cotton-ball clouds that looked to be torn by another being until they were ripped and vast against the magnificent, grand sky. Holding the bag of garden tools that had been given to him by his mother, his attention turned to the boy on the front porch of this mysterious house that seemingly spawned out of nowhere – he had spent a year or two rolling down this exact street on the way to school and had never once came across it. Granted, most of the town was nothing but forest and farms, the population little and the area barely recognizable by looks alone. The other boy’s hair was shining, curly, thick, and golden like honey, a hand of his running through it. His head was hung over above the knees that were pulled to his chest, guilty blue eyes fixated on something Lucas couldn’t see.
He didn’t know much about Andrew, aside from only knowing now just where he lives. Lucas could have sworn they had at least passed each other in the hallway, they couldn’t have gone to other schools with there being one high school in the entire town. He wasn’t very popular himself, but Andrew only seemed to be seen with only one person and that being … Harlem. He was last seen here. Lucas’ breath stopped short remembering the name and a very sudden guilt seemed to rise in place of resentment and the knowledge of why his mom had sent him over in the first place. Sometimes he hated her for having a heart for people she didn’t know.
“Hey,” said Lucas, waving a bit.
Andrew looked up like he knew he was there, and shyly pushed the hair out of his face. “Uh … sorry, but who are you again?”
“Lucas,” He responded, “Z-Zimmerman, from school?”
The other looked him over.
“Doesn’t ring a bell,”
The two refused to meet each other’s eyes and from the looks of it they both wanted to keep it that way. After some time, Andrew stood.
“So um, what are you doing here?”
“Oh, my,” Lucas said, “I mean, I wanted to come and help, ya know, with the garden?”
Lucas’s stomach squirmed. “Yes. Don’t you have one of those?”
For a minute it looked like Andrew was going to laugh, but his face had long lost its smile.
“It’s this way,”
The other boy obediently followed behind him, glancing from side to side. There was a trail near the house the lead seemingly deep into a forest of pines, and it was so narrow it was suffocating for a time. The two wouldn’t talk, Lucas mostly, because he felt every conversation would somehow lead into Harlem, and Andrew because … well, because he didn’t seem capable at the moment to speak of anything but him. Pictures that had been plastered all over the town were often ignored and it wasn’t until the school got word of his disappearance that it had really come to light. And although he didn’t want to, Lucas thought of him the entire walk as something from the deep depths of his mind tugged at him unhappily – an off feeling rising as his feet padded the ground, like something was stuck and buried underneath it.
And then he gasped.
This wasn’t a garden and Andrew was down-playing it even if it was. Rows and rows of hyacinths painted the field in front of him, the rich purple blossoms warmly greeting him and waving with the wind, red hues swimmingly making their way to overwhelm his sensations. Lucas felt as if he could just sit there and cry from the place of sorrow the flowers carried along raw sincerity. He turned to meet the other boy, whose eyes were glazed over as if he had done just what Lucas had imagined for days and days.
“Harlem, he liked this place a lot,” said Andrew, grabbing some material from the bag, “And he would run here when things were rough at home, and he would tell me – always afraid someone was gonna take him one day. And then he’d say the fields were pretty. I saw him here the day he got lost, and said nothing. I just like to keep it pretty for him, just in case …”
Andrew choked on his words.
“… Just in case he’ll run back,”
Lucas gaped, eyes still fixated on the explosion of purple petals and sincerity and sorrow and then met his eyes, words taken from him. Nothing needed to be said.
The boys surprisingly made a good team, still not speaking as they worked, but a few chuckles would escape them from time to time, when they scooped dirt directly into their faces on accident, or mistakenly sprayed each other with the water they were using to water the flowers. The first time Andrew smiled it unlocked something in him, kept him going, working, no longer was he here out of pity, but out of friendship. Even though they weren’t nearly finished by dusk, they were proud, and Lucas offered to come back the next day and help once more.
“We need to get back for supper,” said Andrew, near the trail, “Will you stay?”
“ ’Course,” responded Lucas, before looking down and seeing an unevenness in the dirt, “You can head up, just give me a minute,”
The other boy grinned at him, this time with a bit of an unnerving emptiness. Lucas turned his attention back to the dirt. He stomped on the area for a moment, hardness swelling underneath. Grabbing a shovel, he tore at the ground and was met with a dirtied toe, and on further digging, a whole foot.
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