“Kiryn?” Her mother called, pulling the cell phone off her ear briefly, “Do you need to stop for the bathroom? There’s a rest stop a few miles off the road.”
“I’m alright. Thanks Abby.” Kiryn mumbled while pressing the buttons on her Leap Frog portable gaming system. Kiryn had a strange relationship with her mother, more like the relationship between a child and an adult mentor. Her mother cared about her immensely, but work consumed most of her time and could not provide enough attention to her daughter regularly. Kiryn started calling her mother by her first name early last year, when Kiryn realized that she could not always gain her mother’s attention unless using her name directly.
“Ok then, sweetie. We should be there in an hour or so.” Her mother quickly resumed her conversation with a client. Kiryn rolled her eyes slightly in humor. She was aware her mother worked outrageously long hours to make sure they lived comfortably. She was appreciative, albeit a bit lonely. Kiryn resumed playing on her Leap Frog until the car stopped at a little red house out in the country. Large portions of field covered the land, with a cluster of trees scattered in the distance. She shoved her game into her kitten backpack and stepped out of the car.
The strong scent of lilacs filled her nose as her and her mother walked slowly up the steps and onto the white porch. Kiryn began to feel a slight weight in her stomach build as her mother rang the doorbell. It had been six months since Carson moved away to Pennsylvania. She snapped out of thought as a woman she didn’t recognize answered the door.
“Oh, you must be the Lyle’s!” The woman expressed joyfully. “It’s Abby, correct?” She asked while shaking her hand.
“Yes,” She nodded, “And you’re Elizabeth, Jak’s new wife? You’ve been married for four months now, is that right?”
“Five months tomorrow,” She corrected while leading the tired mother and daughter into the front area of the home. Elizabeth turned around and knelt down to Kiryn’s level. “Well hello there, dear! Carson has been looking so very forward to your visit. He has been talking about it for the last week straight! You guys can play, and read, and…”
Elizabeth’s voice faded away as Kiryn remembered the last time she saw Carson. He moved away nearly six months ago, with Carson’s dad going to remarry. That day was a slightly painful one, as Carson was the only child Kiryn could connect with. His mother died when he was three and her father died when she was four, both victims of pancreatic cancer. The families met at a support group soon after Kiryn’s father was diagnosed.
Carson and Kiryn understood the pain it felt to watch a parent suffer through the terrible illness. Both were unusually quiet and intelligent because of circumstances and it made it difficult for both to make friends with other children. They carried the same grave expressions most of the time, but shy smiles and mutual understanding of one another led to an unbreakable bond.
Luckily both her mother and Carson’s father realized it wasn’t fair to separate the children permanently and scheduled visits twice a year. This was the first scheduled visit.
“Hi Kiryn,” A soft voice carried through the room. She smiled as she saw Carson at the doorway leading to the kitchen. “Come on, I want to show you something.” He smiled as he took her hand and led her up the carpeted stairs. He led her into a room filled with racecars and pictures of him and his deceased mother. Kiryn assumed it was his room. He let go of her hand and picked up a little book made out of computer paper stapled together.
“This is for you.” He proudly handed her the book. On the cover it said ‘For Kiryn’, written in messy little boy handwriting. “The pictures inside are all the things I wanted to show you while I’ve been gone.”
Kiryn flipped through the book. She recognized a poorly drawn picture of the Statue of Liberty, and the Cinderella castle at Disney World.
“This is really cool!” She quietly exclaimed.
“Turn to the last page.” Carson urged softly. She turned to the last part. He had drawn a dirt road leading to many pretty trees and a creek. There were flowers and animals scattered throughout the drawing. The picture stood out from the others, more careful and thought out.
“Where is this?” She wondered. He smiled bashfully at her question.
“I can show you. But we have to be quiet. My step mom doesn’t like me going to it alone.” They tiptoed down the white, plush stairs. Abby was talking to Elizabeth in the kitchen, both sipping cappuccinos and filling each other in on what the children have been doing. They walked silently out the front door, where Carson proceeded to lead Kiryn to a clearing in the fields. The clearing slowly turned into a dirt road, leading into the trees Kiryn spotted when she got out of the car.
“You mean this place is here?” She asked in astonishment.
He nodded. “Just a few more minutes and we’ll be there.” The path led into the trees, where Kiryn saw flowers spotting the ground. Butterflies, bees, and dragonflies flew freely around the forest. Within moments, the creek came into view.
Kiryn gasped. “This is beautiful!”
Carson motioned to a large rock next to the creek. Sun was peeking through the leaves and left a picturesque glow through the area. They both climbed up on the rock covered in moss. Kiryn looked around a bit, then noticed Carson was staring at her. She blushed.
“I sort of have something else for you. I was watching a movie and a guy gave this to a girl.” He pulled out a necklace from his pocket. It was a simple chain, and there was a key on it. He looked away shyly as he handed it to her. “This is the key to my heart. I wanted you to have it.”
“I really like it.” She pulled the necklace over her head. “It’s pretty. So, tell me everything. What has happened since you moved here?”
They carried on conversation about life for over an hour. They talked about their parents, how they missed seeing one another, and school. The sun was beginning to lower through the trees, and the temperature dropped a few degrees. Kiryn started to shiver. She was only wearing a simple dress, exposing her arms and most of her legs.
“We should go back. It’s probably around time for supper. Did I tell you we are going to Hershey Park tomorrow?” He inquired.
“No. That sounds fun.” She paused for a moment, and then grabbed his arm before he started to climb off from the rock. She stared into his eyes intensely, carefully examining his beautiful face. Carson’s dark blue eyes and his long, thick eyelashes made him look like he was six, but the expression on his face made him appear somewhat older. She understood why. Kiryn leaned forward and kissed his pale pink lips briefly; expressing her feelings in the only way she could think of. Eloquent words of expression were years away from her vocabulary. She leaned back and saw a look of surprise wash over his face. He then leaned forward and kissed her back.
“I love you,” She murmured as he pulled back.
“Me too,” He beamed. “Come on; let’s go back before my step mom sees that we left. We don’t want to get in trouble.” He guided her off the rock and they began to walk down the dirt path back to the house. He put his arm around her as she shivered again, and she curled her arm around his torso in reply. They walked back to the red house quietly and happily.