Coming back from school, I hop from one foot to another, watching my red Hunter brand rain boots hit every clear puddle on the uneven cement. I do this because it gives me a feeling of innocence and simplicity as if I were my six-year old self again. My light blue skinny jeans are soaked up to my knees and I was literally walking in water since the hard rain seeped into the little space in between my boot and pants.
There are two things I really love about New York City; One is that as crowded as the stereotype of it is, you can sometimes find yourself alone on a city street with no one in sight, hearing the nearby whiz and honks of cars and nurses or lawyers in their work apparel shouting into cell-phones, but they don’t even know you exist. Two, almost everybody in New York City is a freak, in a good way, sometimes. I’ve seen it all, Crazy people in clown- like costumes singing acapella, not even for money, to some fourteen year old like me, splashing around in puddles on a grey, rainy, fall afternoon like a little kid. New York city follows it’s stereotype; the city of Dreams. The people in New York definitely exceed the limit of normalness in other small towns or places surrounding the city, anybody could say, ”Normal doesn’t mean good.” but as a New Yorker you’re living proof.
My cell-phone makes a little bell chime-sounding noise and slightly vibrates against my left thigh, bringing me back to reality. I took out my definitely out-dated (in comparison to all the other kids I know who have Iphones or Blackberry’s) gray verizon flip phone. I look at the screen, hiding it from the rain under my other arm, but still a few small drops splatter on it. I wipe my thumb over the screen to smudge the drops off. One new text message; Click read now; Just my mom asking me what’s taking so long. I decide to ignore her and run home, I slide my phone back into my pocket. I look around, assuring myself that I was still alone and continued to hop, just more quickly this time. My hops, after about a block, turned into more of a run. Running, another thing that made me happy, nothing could stop you, it is all you and speed. I was in one of those places where at the right moment, nobody is around, so luckily running was even more satisfying since I didn’t have to stop at lights, because there were no cars.
I had gone four blocks, and didn’t have to stop once. I was now just a block away from home. Just had to turn the corner cross the street and ninth house down the block was mine. I turned sharply at the corner and ran into the street. About halfway across I heard a car honk, it was so loud and sounded so near it hurt my ears. I turned and froze at the sight of a red pick up truck coming at me, I shut my eyes so hard I may have bruised my eyelid, I clutched my body preparing to be hit, fear overwhelming me, these few seconds had been completely scarring, a pure rush of adrenaline and fear… But then I realized, these seconds had been scarring…. Seconds had past, maybe even a full minute, and I was still alive. Still too scared to open my eyes I continued to just stand there.
Just as I was standing there motionless, in the midst of realizing the car hadn’t hit me, I heard a voice. Someone yell,
“ Hey! What are you doing just standing in the middle of the street like that? The world isn’t ending, it’s not 2012 just yet.”
This made me laugh, forgetting for a moment, what had just happened. I opened my eyes, to see a boy; maybe two years older than me, he had brown straight hair that swooped along his forehead and green eyes that faded into blue. He was wearing a dark wash pair of jeans and a blue v-neck sweater and a red snapback that read “FRESH” across the rim in blue bold letters.
“What’s it to you?” I shouted back, smiling, and slowly and unsteadily walking to the other side of the street to where he was.
“I just don’t want to see anybody get hit by a car or something’”
“Didn’t you see? I was just nearly… Um, sorry never mind, yeah that would suck.” I replied, I looked down and rubbed my head, I was starting to question my sanity.
“It would suck? To get hit by a car? Oh maybe just a little.” He teased me.
I laughed, unsure how to respond, luckily he interrupted the awkward silence I had caused.
“Anyways… I’m Charlie, Charlie Borudeld”
“ Borudeld, sounds French, especially when you say it with my attempt at a French accent which is always so overdone.”
“Yeah it’s French. Say it, with you’re best French accent” He laughed.
“Borudeld” I made I snobby face as I attempted to make it sound very French.
“So, what’s you’re name? Or are you just not going to tell me, I’ll just call you Fake-French-accent girl if you want.” He said this with such a funny expression on his face.
“Tempting, but I prefer Jade, Jade Bond,” I said dramatically, trying to imitate James Bond,” No just kidding, I’m Jade Elasbe.”
“Elasbe… Sounds American.” He said, again teasing me.
Just then I felt a vibration against my left thigh again, I took out my phone, again protecting it from the rain, which had begun to stop. One new message; Click read now, again my mom, It read ‘WHEREE R U?!’ Oh god I hate when parents use slang.
I looked up at Charlie,
“I got to go, Mom’s yelling at me, nice to meet you frenchie.”
“Okay, just let me get your number” He slurred his words together, and I could tell that he tried to slightly say it with a French accent which made me smile. He took out his phone and waited for me to give him my number.
“Nine-one-seven-three-seven-four-two-seven-seven-nine. I really have to go though, Bye!”
I turned and ran before he could look up and respond, I ran up my steps, skipping every-other one. When I got inside, I yelled to whoever was really just home and listening,
“Sorry I’m late I was helping that lady next door with her groceries!” Then I quickly ran upstairs to avoid conversation with my parents.
I plopped down onto my boring bed that I’ve had for as long as I can remember. Just as I lay down I felt my phone buzz again. I slid it out and flipped it open; One new message, from unknown number; ‘Hey fake-French-Jade, u better not hav given me a fake #’
I smiled, turned onto my stomach and dangled my feet of the edge of my bed. I started typing. ‘Well I guess you’ll never know if this is me or just some stranger,’ I replied. I put my phone down next to me and buried my head in my pillow. What had just happened? There had been a car. I remember it too well to have imagined it. I remember the man inside it too, a slightly over middle-aged man, wearing a cowboy hat, fear covered his face, pure terror and shock, like he was frozen, as I was too. It had happened, but when I opened my eyes, where was the car? Things don’t just disappear like that, am I just completely insane? The most logical explanation is that I’ve just gone mad, if I told anyone, they’d just think I was crazy. But it happened, I know it happened.
Charlie and I have texted every day since we met, which was Wednesday and today is Saturday so it’s really only been four days, but we text all day, when I wake up, when I’m in school, when I get out of school, to when I fall asleep at night. He says he wants to show me something today. I slip on another pair of skinny jeans, just this time they’re maroon, and a white baggy silk tank top that went down to my upper thigh. I put two necklaces on; One was a dinosaur, little and plastic, it looked like it may have been part of a children’s toy, but I loved it. My best friend had bought it for me. My second was a little gold-colored clock with roman numerals. My brother, who was now attending college at Middlebury, which set a slightly high standard for me, had given it to me when he left. I slipped on a pair of brown, worn out boots since it wasn’t raining today and fitted on a blue and white varsity jacket as I ran outside to meet him. As I walked down the block, I shoved my hands in my pocket and walked kind of fast and kept my head down as I rounded the corner, I was not too fond of this place since what had happened on Wednesday, it mad me feel crazy and confused. When I was halfway down the next block, I slowed my pace and lifted my head a little. I was looking forward and I saw him at the corner, waiting for me, he didn’t see me yet so I kept walking and looked sideways so that if he saw me he would think I hadn’t seen him. It made it less awkward for me then.
“Jade!’ He said as I came close to the corner.
“Hey frenchie.” I teased, “ So where are we going?”
We started walking, we talked about our families, sports, school, friends, secrets. One thing I really liked about Charlie was that there was always something to talk about, never that problem of an awkward silence. We walked for about ten blocks and then we turned into central park. When you’re a tourist visiting New York you would find it crazy that an actual New Yorker barely ever goes to central park, but I’ve only ever been a handful of times.
“Central park? You wanted to show me this? I mean I kind of already know it.” I said, which I realized was kind of rude.
“ Of course you know Central park, but there’s a lot inside of it you don’t know, and I promise you, you have never been where I am taking you.”
So we followed the path, our hands kept touching as we walked and I wasn’t sure if that was just because we were swinging our arms, or if we both wanted to hold hands. I felt like maybe it just kept happening, no meaning, because Charlie was the sort of guy who made moves on girls all the time, so if he wanted to hold my hand, he would. He was “A player” which made me laugh, I mean I knew plenty of guys like him but he actually had a personality not just an image to maintain.
I was looking down, watching my feet, so when he randomly turned of I just saw his feet pivot and start to go the other way onto the grass, towards the boat house. I looked up at him.
“Come on.” He said.
“You said I would have never gone here, I have gone to the boat house, I had my seventh birthday party here.” I said as I obediently followed him.
“I’m not taking you to the boat house.”
“There isn’t anything behind it.” Trying to prove him wrong, wherever he was taking me, he had to be going the wrong way.
We walked a little bit passed the boathouse than Charlie made a sharp turn into the woods. I followed him, lifting my feet up high, over fallen branches, the slightly damp leaves crunched beneath my boots. We walked upwards in the woods for three minutes; I tried not to ask him where we were going.
Ahead of me, Charlie pushed two trees outward and made an opening, he gestured for me to go through, than he followed. We were in a field, not a crowded central park field. Nobody else was here, the even bright green grass was in a long rectangle surrounded by the woods and in the center of the field there was a circle of bright white roses around a dark red gazebo with a gold roof.
“Oh my god, how do you know about this place?”
“My dad had it made when my mother died, central park was her favorite place. He wanted it to be a secret though, he said it was for young lovers to create their own story in.”
I walked closer to Charlie.
“So is this what you do with all the girls? Bring them here and hookup with them?” I said this in a more teasing then harsh kind of voice.
“Actually, I’ve never brought anybody here. I just hookup with like every girl I know at parties instead.” He teased back
“So I’m special? And you chose to bring me here after knowing me for four days?”
“To answer your first question…”
He stepped towards me leaving no space in between us; he looked at me and slid my hair behind my ear.
“Yes” He whispered.
He kissed me; his lips were soft and lingered on mine as he pulled away. I’d been kissed before, many times, but this was by far my favorite one. I looked up at him,
“Why?” I asked.
“Why are you special? Jade you are special because, I met you when you were in the middle of the street clutching yourself with your eyes shut.”
“No, really, why?” I smiled
“I wasn’t finished,” he said,” because your smile, your complete innocence, because of your shiny red rain boots, because you ask so many questions, because I never run out of things to say with you, because of your imitation on a French accent, because when you introduced yourself you tried to imitate James Bond, because of that toothpick sized gap in your bottom teeth, because of that freckle directly in between your eyes…”
I interrupted him with another kiss.
“And because you’re an amazing kisser.” He added.
It was official, me and Charlie were official and my life was better than ever, it got kind of weird at moments and it always brought my mind back to that Wednesday afternoon. For example last week in school my math teacher asked me a really easy problem, something like “Jade what’s six times four?” I jokingly replied “eighteen” as if I were stupid enough to not know the answer to a problem suitable for a kindergartener. “Correct,” my teacher replied, I laughed assuming he was also being sarcastic, but I looked up at him and the expression on his face was serious. “I was kidding,” I informed him,” It’s twenty four.” “That is also correct, any answer you want is correct. A plus Jade, you will always get A pluses from now on” This freaked me out so much that I ran out of class to the office of the head of my grade. “Yes Jade?” He asked. “Sorry to barge in, but my math teacher…” I was cut of by him,” Your math teacher? Did he do something wrong? If you don’t like him Jade we can get a new one.” He said.
“Oh no, never mind. He’s great… Bye!” I ran out of his office, I ran home. I hid from my parents until three when I would have normally gotten home.
My parents also acted weird sometimes, they seemed to never get mad at me anymore, and I hadn’t gotten in trouble once since I met Charlie, a month ago. So since then, my life was legitimately perfect.
My parents were actually meeting Charlie for the first time tonight. I was lying down on my bed imagining all things that could possibly go wrong. I was lying on my stomach; my feet were bent, swinging up and down. My head had hurt all day, but I had taken Advil a half hour ago. Just than as I was holding my head out of pain, the doorbell rung. I ran downstairs, to beat my parents to the door. I opened it.
“Hi.” Charlie said, when I saw him I could tell my vision was getting blurry, but I ignored it.”
“Hey!” I brought him in, and into the dining room where my parents were sitting, waiting for us.
“Mom, Dad, this is Charlie.” ‘Oh god they better not be embarrassing’ I thought
“Hi Charlie! We are so delighted to meet you, aren’t we Henry?” My mom elbowed my dad in the gut.
“What? Oh, Oh yes, it is a pleasure Charlie.” My dad saved himself from a second hit.
“Well thank you both for having me tonight.” Charlie said, I could tell he was making an effort to get on their good side, which meant a lot to me.
We all sat down and started eating, my parents and Charlie talked about school, sports, his family. I didn’t talk much for my head was now killing me. I was incredibly dizzy and everything was a blur, I could hear the conversation between them in the background but so very quietly.
“Jade darling, are you okay?” My dad asked.
“Yeah, yes, no.” My head fell forward into my foot and I passed out.
Breathe, breath, I was breathing heavily, deeply and fast. I was sweating, trying, trying to wake up. I opened my eyes and sat up. I looked around, I was in a hospital room, a doctor was next to my bed writing on a piece of paper held against a clipboard.
“You’re awake!” He said when he looked over at me, ”Oh your parents will be so happy, they really started to lose hope in your survival.”
“My, my survival? I just fainted. I probably just had a fever.” It hurt to talk, everything ached.
“Jade I don’t know how you remember it, but you were hit by a car last month, and have been in a coma ever since.”
“What? No, I was never hit. I’ve been alive for the past month… Haven’t I?” I was slowly piecing everything together. I was hit that day. But… that meant, Charlie… He was just a dream
“No… no, no, no, no, no, no. This isn’t happening. He is real. I know he is.” I started to cry, assuring myself was useless.
“Are you okay?” The doctor asked,” You’re mother is just outside, I’m going to go tell her the good news.”
“WHAT GOOD NEWS?” I screamed, crying harder now, I buried my head in my hands, which hurt to do, and let my tears fall onto the ugly white blanket covering me.
The door jolted open and my mother quickly walked in.
“Jade! Jade! You’re alive! Oh my god! Jade my darling! Jade” She also started to cry.
“Mom, mom. Where is Charlie? Where is he?” My eyes looked hopeless and longing.
“I’m sorry Jade, I don’t know what you’re talking about.” She said.
“I have to go! I have to go to central park mom! Let me get out of here, I need to go!” I was balling hysterically reaching for the door.
“Jade, you can’t go, you were just hit by a car, you just woke up from a month long coma, what is this about central park?”
“Than you go! Go behind the boathouse into the woods! Find the field, it’s real! It’s all real.” I yelled
“I don’t know what you’re talking about Jade.” She said, “ I’m sorry, I really don’t.”
“MOM! LET ME GO! LET ME GO! DON’T YOU REMEMBER CHARLIE? MOM! LET ME GO!” I turned over and curled up into a ball, I was a complete mess, tears were everywhere, and pain filled my body both physically and emotionally.
“I’m sorry Jade…” My mom started to rub my back but I flinched trying to tell her that I didn’t want her right now.
After two weeks of eating awful hospital food and watching TV all day, everyday, I was finally allowed to go home. I sat upright in bed; the doctor came in and helped me to my feet.
“Any pain?” He asked.
“Nothing.” I lied, my whole body ached, I was pretty sure I still had two broken arms, but I wanted to leave.
“Alright well, you’re going to have to come in once a week for the next month just so we get see your progress.” He shook my hand, I flinched out of pain and he gave me a weird look.
“Uh, bye.” I said, and walked away. I met my mom in the lobby and we caught a cab outside to go home. When we got out of the cab, I lingered before going inside, the fresh air felt so thick, but good, and the sunlight hurt my eyes.” I walked, more like stumbled, up the steps and inside, where I greeted my dad. He gave me a huge bear hug. I seriously almost died it hurt so much.
“We have a surprise for you.” My dad said, they led me into the other room, my brother, Will, was sitting in a chair.
“Will!” I gave him a huge hug, I hadn’t seen him in over a year, and I missed out constant bickering from when he had lived with us.
“Hey Jade! I heard about your little hospital breakdown two weeks ago.” That cued my parents to leave the room.
“You don’t think I’m crazy do you?” I looked at him directly in the eye; he was one of the only people in the world I trusted. He was probably the only good person in this world, except for Charlie.
“Hey all I know is when you woke up you started screaming and crying about this boy Charlie.” He made sure to say his name gently.
I started to tell Will everything; we went outside and started walking as I explained the story. At moments I was so close to crying that I had to hold my breath to keep the tears back. After I told him everything I realized we had walked to Central Park.
“Follow me.” I told Will.
“Jade, don’t. You’re just going to disappoint yourself.”
I didn’t listen to him, I followed the path and cut off towards the boathouse where I slipped into the woods and started walking further and further. After three minutes of walking without finding the field my heart sank, after five minutes I fell to my knees on the damp leaves and started to cry.
“It was all just a dream. He doesn’t exist.” I let my arms dangle and my hair fall in front of my face.
“Jade I… I’m sorry” Will tried to comfort me, and even though he was good at it, nothing could make me feel better at this point. Life was hopeless
Throughout the next month I had people come up to me in school, asking if I was okay, and what had happened. I ignored all of them and would just say,” Silly me, just got hit by a car.” My closest friends knew to give me time and space. The next year went on, life was the same as before that Wednesday afternoon, but now that I had something to compare it to, life was boring and dreadful. There was no excitement. No story being made. New york city was the city of Dreams, and lost souls that have spent forever just searching for something.
Age 13, Grade 8
Saint Ann’s School