Hair as red as mine blowing in the chilly autumn breeze. Tickling my cheeks and ears, every now and then. Her felt jacket sleeved hands circled around my neck, I swear, are the coziest mufflers to ever be worn by man.
“Why do leaves fall?”
“Leaves fall to make room for new leaves when spring comes along.”
I instantly regret my pathetic poetic attempt of an answer. I must outsmart this 6 year old. But my throat is as if some dentist forgot to take out that saliva suction thingy after the appointment.
“I miss her smell.” She snuggles her face into my neck. “You smell different.”
“What does she smell like again?”
“C’mon Daddy. How can you even forget?”
“Let’s see, bar soap and anti-dandruff shampoo?”
“Daaaaddyyyyy!” Her small red flats and white stocking covered calfs kick around at my sides.
“Sorry, I forgot.” I pretended. “Can you tell me again?”
“OK, but this is the last time. OK?” she moves in till her mouth is almost touching my ears then whispers. “Pumpkin Pie and Purple Crayons.”
“How silly of me to forget.”
I was enjoying the view of Kamogawa in front of me. My shoes turning the high stool I was sitting on. Causing it to squeak everytime I half circled left or right. You see, the kid in me always finds his way out.
It was snowing, but somehow a lot more couples seemed to be out and about. Fashionably warm youngsters in their knit sweaters and down vests jackets. The girls wore knee high boots or snug uggs. The guys wore pointed boots or thick high top sneakers.
Just as I was in mid-spin to my left, a huge backpack was propped on the counter at my 9 o’clock. So ginormous, I couldn’t see the pretty little red head that came into view after.
“Sorry, mind watching my bag for a while?” she said catching her breath. Her strong Irish accent hit me all the way home.
What came to view first, were her olive green eyes. The eyes that I thought only belonged to fairytale princesses. The blood red lipstick against her porcelain skin was a statement of boldness in itself. The snow on her hair reminded me of Aunt Debbie’s awesome Bundt Cake. The one with swirls of magic Raspberry jam inside.
I nod like an idiot. Still turning my stool left and right.
I inspect the backpack next to me. Tangled airline tags hang from its top handle. Covered in snow as well. Without thinking, I brush it off.
“Wow! How kind yet creepy of you.” she returned with a big cup of coffee and a side of pumpkin pie in her hands. “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome.” I smiled my Kermit The Frog smile, the one mum keeps complaining about, which she says makes me look even nerdy than I already am.
“Owkay..” she says with a half smile and a half roll of her eyes as she climbs on to the stool.
“What grade are you in?” I jokingly ask her. She must think I’m such a dweeb or better yet, a perv.
“Black belt.” she says curtly, before cupping her hands around her coffee cup. Transferring the heat to her fingertips.
I retreat in to my imaginary shell.
Not by long, she is sucked by the magic of the view in front of us. White dots falling, floating and twirling against the black night. Reflections of headlights and street lamps twinkle on the surface of the Kamogawa. Couples walking hand in hand, keeping each other warm.
Our reflections in the glass were even more pronounced due to the dark exterior. I finish my raisin cinnamon roll slower than usual.
“What’s your name?” she asks all of a sudden.
“Darren.” I smile my normal guy smile. That was unexpected, I thought. My smile. Her question.
“Tourist?” I ask.
“Ow-kay..” copying her expression towards me earlier.
“Artist. I draw for a living. And you?”
“Whoa, that’s one reaction I rarely get from girls.” I thought out loud.
“No wonder.” she nods knowingly and takes a sip from her latte.
“Hey!” I acted all cross.
It was her mother’s funeral.
We were up in her room.
I sat on her bed. She last slept here 9 years ago she said.
She opened her drawers one by one as if checking everything was in the same place since she left them.
I was silent. The solemn kind.
“Found it!” she took out a familiar box. Dark yellow and green-striped the size of a cigarette pack.
“Guess which color is the shortest crayon in this box?”
She tips the box upside down.
I look over her shoulders.
There was the smallest piece of used purple crayon I have ever seen. Only the size of a grown man’s pinky nail. She must love purple so much.
“I have it too.” She says after a long silence passed between us.
“What mom had.” the purple crayon disappeared in her clenched fist.
I hugged her trembling shoulders from behind. Sinking my tears in hair as red as mine.