Can I Catch You?

by Nicole DeVincentis

It was still snowing. It was late March and I found myself sitting on my couch, wrapped in my favorite plaid blanket, cradling my coffee between my hands. There was still enough heat left in the lukewarm liquid to provide a comforting warmth to my palms. Sammie, my golden retriever, lay asleep at my feet. I loved when I had mornings off from work. I would sit by the window, with my coffee and a good book, enjoying the peace and quiet. But I didn’t feel like reading today.

I sighed deeply, leaning my head against the headrest, as the snowflakes continued to fall outside my window. A few landed on the glass, and I caught just a swift glance at each unique pattern before it melted, the drops of water racing each other down the pane.

Suddenly, I heard laughter, and then two kids clad in puffy, down coats—one pink, one blue—came running through the field across the street. They played in the wide expanse of snow, chasing one another, throwing snowballs. Finally, they both fell to the ground and I could see their arms moving back and forth. They were making snow angels.

Watching them, I smiled a bittersweet smile, and regressed 10 years back into my childhood where I played in the same field with my best friend.

~

“You can’t catch me!” I yelled, running away from Jake with everything I had. My legs, weighted down by my snow boots, pumped furiously; and yet, I could never outrun Jake. He was the fastest kid in the 7th grade, something he never hesitated to gloat about. The thought nearly caused me to roll my eyes; instead, I huffed, my lungs burning from the cold air.

I risked a glance behind me, and threw terror-stricken eyes at Jake, who was almost on top of me. I lost my footing and fell into the snow. Jake jumped, landing on top of me with his arm raised. I looked up in horror at the dreaded snowball, and silently thanked my mother for insisting I wear my wool hat.

Jake stared down at me with a mischievous smile. “I caught you, Emma. You know what that means.” I shut my eyes, waiting for the shock of a freezing cold snow bomb. But it never came. I heard a sound, like someone plunging their hand into a delivery box full of Styrofoam. I opened my eyes to see Jake smiling at me, melting snow dripping off his head. He collapsed beside me and I turned to him. “I thought you were gonna hit me with the snowball?” I asked, perplexed.

“Why?” he laughed. “I already caught you, isn’t that enough embarrassment?” I smacked his arm. “Hey!” he yelled, both of us laughing. I started moving my arms and legs, making a snow angel. Jake watched me for a few seconds, then mimicked my actions. He helped me stand and we looked down at two angels, side by side. His was slightly larger than mine. “Pretty,” I said.

He shook his head, “It needs something.” He laid back down, pressing his mitten into the snow.

“Give me your glove.”

I did, and he pressed it diagonally across his own imprint. He stood up, handing it back to me. He’d made it look like the “angels” were holding hands. “Looks better, don’t you think?” I nodded. Soon, it grew cold and we started on our way home. Suddenly, Jake bent down to pluck something from the grass; then turned to me holding a small purple flower I knew to be corn speedwell between his fingertips.

“For you, the first flower of spring.”

I frowned. “That’s a weed.”

He smiled, devilishly, “Think of it as a consolation prize.”

I glared at him, “Shut up, Jake. I let you catch me.”

He threw his head back, laughing. “Sure, you did!” Fuming, I started walking away, but Jake grabbed my hand.

“Then, think of it as compensation.” He lifted my hand and placed the “flower” in my palm.

I rolled my eyes. Jake winked. I blushed.

“Thanks.”

~

I still had that flower. I got up out of the chair, throwing the blanket aside, cold coffee forgotten. On the bookshelf in the hallway, where all my childhood memories were stored, I found the leather-bound journal. As if it knew what I’d come for, it instantly opened to the page where the now withered flower lay, nestled between the pages where I’d recounted the events of that day, and everyday afterward. Whenever Jake wanted to play tag, he’d ask, “Can I catch you?” It was like our code.

It was shortly after that playful afternoon that Jake moved away. We kept in touch for a few years, but eventually lost touch. Oddly, I’d been thinking of him a lot recently. While I was staring into space, the dog started pawing at my leg. I looked down to see him sitting at my feet, softly whining—he needed to go out. I put on my jacket and hat, and walked outside.

We crossed the street to the field. Sammie walked right beside me, obedient enough to walk without a leash. I trudged through the snow in a trance, barely noticing the footprints I was following. Suddenly, they stopped. In front of them, written in the snow, was a question, Can I catch you? My breath caught in my throat. Sammie whined next to me in excitement. I could feel his wagging tail beating against my legs.

I gasped when I heard the voice behind me. “Well, Emma…” I turned to see Jack standing behind me, holding a single purple flower. “Can I?”

I answered by jumping into his arms.


Nicole DeVincentis is an aspiring editor and hopes to work in the publication industry soon. Reading and writing are her passions, among nature walks, workouts, music, and martial arts. Currently, her genres are fiction and fan fiction, but she’s also dabbled in poetry a bit, and continues to spread her wings.

The Clearing

by G. R. McNeese

Darrius abhorred spring cleaning, despite the fact his dorm room was the most immaculate. It was more of the fact that during his Spring Break, his mother Ava set up an entire weekend to cleaning the house. This year, she gave him the task of cleaning the basement. Of all the rooms, Darrius hated the basement the most. He complained that it always smelled like someone died. Despite his grumbling, Ava smiled and handed him the cleaning tools. He marched downstairs, hiding the disdain on his face.

“Well,” said Darrius, “let’s get this over with.”

He turned on the lights and immediately went to the radio sitting on the window sill. He twisted the knob, searching for the station that was broadcasting the basketball tournament. It came out a little fuzzy, but was satisfactory for him. Dust rose from the linoleum floor as he swept. It entered his mouth and he coughed as though he swallowed a fly. He swept the dirt into the dustpan and deposited it into the trash can.

This went on for an hour. The basement was so muggy from the lights giving off heat. Even with the handkerchief wrapped around his head, Darrius wiped his forehead on multiple occasions. Ava came downstairs, admiring her son’s hard work. She carried a stack of boxes to the workbench. She then pulled totes from underneath the bench.

“Mind helping me with this stuff?”

Darrius released the broom and slid each of the totes away. He then noticed something he hadn’t before. A small wood door with a latch.

“Mom, what’s this?”

Ava kneeled down underneath the bench. They looked at each other clueless. Darrius grabbed a flashlight and opened the door. A strong stench overtook their noses. Darrius gagged.

“I think this is where the smell is coming from.”

He entered the crawl space. He waved his flashlight, but all that was there was mounds of insulation. He crawled further until he felt something soft. He backtracked and shined the light. He sifted through the mounds of fluff and became amazed at what was buried.
“Darrius, what’s in there?” Ava asked.

“You’re not going to believe this.”

Darrius pulled himself out with a black bag in tow.

“There’s our culprit.”

He slung the bag onto the open floor. They untied the bag and gasped in shock. The bag was full of decayed kittens. Ava covered her mouth and tears started to run down her cheeks. Ava ran up the stairs. Darrius turned off the radio just as the announcer reported the biggest upset of the first round; the Wildcats lost.


G. R. McNeese started writing in eighth grade. He originally went to college pursuing a teaching degree, but changed it to English with a Creative Writing concentration. He primarily writes Contemporary short stories, but lately he’s been trying new genres.

Final Resting Place

by Renee Chaisson

The waves splash in front of us and my nose is full of salt and astringent decay. Behind us, your house still stands looking out at the water. There is a different family living in it now; they painted and they enlarged the porch out front. It looks foreign, but it feels the same. Like I could go on in the back door without knocking, and you would make me a cup of tea and I would sneak a candy while your back was turned. I wonder if they still have your vegetable garden. Did they keep your clothesline? Does someone stand outside, like you used to do, with wet laundry and sing about the lilies while she clips the shirts and sheets and tea towels up on the line? Do her kids run through the sheets? Does she yell at them to knock it off? I wonder about that.

The waves are loud and wild here and the tideline is close to us. I can see the sand fleas leaping up from the long line of dead seaweed and kelp. If I were to dig in there, I would find crumbling bodies of crabs and sand dollars. Probably some beach glass; remember how you used to keep it in that jar in the window? Right next to that little, sparkling vase that held sweet peas when they were in season. Mark loved to pick you sweet peas from the beach. He would bring them home in his sweaty little fist, and you were always so delighted. As though he was presenting you with some magnificent, expensive bouquet. I brought you beach glass, and Mark brought you sweet peas, and you loved them both like they were treasure.

I bought you a rose bush today. I hope you like it. It is yellow, because I remember how you used to sing a song about yellow roses. I will plant it as soon as I can get your urn to open. I do not know why they closed it so tight, but it is good and stuck. I will keep working on it while I sit here with you. Mark should be here. We both know that it has nothing to do with the cost of his airline ticket. Maybe I should have tried harder with him, but I didn’t want to keep you waiting any longer. There’s a sailboat out there; its sails are fully puffed out and it is moving slowly on the water. You loved spotting those.

The dirt was pierced more easily than I expected, and the yellow rose looks stable and brave in the packed-down earth. Your urn feels heavier now that it is empty. The sailboat has moved closer, I see. In fact, it is so close that I can see a man walking on the deck. He pulls in the rigging and collapses the sails to let the vessel drift. He stretches, and then plops down in a lounge chair. Feet up, drink in hand, I can almost see him exhale.

This is a good place to rest.


Renee Chaisson grew up on beautiful Vancouver Island and she is proud to be raising her daughter there as a single mother. In the past, she has worked as both Early Childhood Educator and an Educational Assistant with the local School District. She is currently on disability due to a chronic illness called Myalgic Encephalomyelitis.