The sky’s vibrant gray was an embodiment of metallic hues colliding. Smothering the arid landscape like a hazy hand. The shrill, choppy thrilling of the desert songbirds forewarned of night’s arrival. It would soon engulf the soothing ash-stricken contour in its obsidian abyss. A boy treaded through the sandy asphalt of the neighborhood, shoes clomping steadily in a monotonous rhythm. He wore an apparent trait, weariness. His cheeks were pinched in a nostalgist manner. His wiry silhouette was accompanied by a downcast shadow. Willow-worn and sallow, his facial complexion was pleasant and provided an atmosphere of easy-goingness not displayed in his current state. Even his rounded, melodious, Tuscan-brown eyes, were glassy and non-talkative. Taut palo verde trees shimmied their decumbent leaves in the brisk breeze, waving at the youth, clearly unaware of the flora. The boy’s fervent forehead glistened with beads of sweat, which threatened to cascade in a trickle of perspiration. The malicious heat was exhausting him. He trembled back home; the impulse of a phantom burden suddenly seized him.
A gasp of distress from afar jarred him. His puffy, crusty eyes unfurled a minuscule sliver. The comfort that pulsated from his body relieved him like a tight fist blooming into a hand. He sighed.
“Yes Mom?” Gabriel skimmed his bronze-skin hands across bedhead eyes. Wiping the discomfort away.
“It’s time to go to school, son.”
Gabriel groaned in displeasure. In a relieved-but-sleepy-and-grumpy manner. He was a forthwith Pennsylvania native, after living six years in a cramped, but comfortable apartment. He hailed from Phoenix, Arizona however, and his childhood was a bustle. He had lived in Caborca and Chiapas, Mexico. His lucid flashback as a flourishing five-year-old living in the Sonoran Desert seemed all too genuine. Real? Not real? Somewhere in between? Answers to questions lost in the dusty catacombs of time.
* * *
Hawkins Middle School of Lebanon, Pennsylvania. Gusty, frost-heaved riptides of a draft wavered across strikingly lofty oak trees. Crisp, autumn leaves crunched into multicolored ash under Gabriel’s feet. Steam-like figurines spatially billowed from his mouth. The suggestively glacial weather exposed the middle schoolers to a seductive quantity of indoor time. No recess. Gabriel felt enclosed and captive; his school’s vicinity was restricting to him. He was accustomed to swaying freely with the frisky undergrowth caressing his liberated feet in a tender embrace.
Gabriel was heartfelt about nature and its conundrum. He was captivated preeminently by insects and akin. Abounding ubiquitously, he was obsessed with every nook and cranny of their existence and strived to unearth their every secluded perplexity. Winter was agonizing to him. A full six-month period without a trace of an insect. Eradicated. Vanished. Like a potent existence switch, winter blanked them. Mrs. Roseté, his superb science teacher, comprehended. She was a captivating reliance to him. Their prominent similarities encompassed them. His vision fazed and sputtered. Daydream. Gabriel gasped: A hollow sound that momentarily resonated against the dingy cut-rate aluminum lockers. He remarked grainy rubber gaits on the azure and cyan filamented tiles of hallway 300. He bolted to homeroom. He roughly gripped the doorknob in his right hand, gingerly turned, and winced as the bulky, birch-wood door chirred.
“Take a seat, Gabriel. Glad you’re on time.”
Gabriel’s mind churned as Mrs. Young, the mathematics teacher, coursed through algebra “…And so, the domain of a parabola…” Boredom beckoned with succulence. Its enticement held affiance. Gabriel endured, aggravation vexing to reign. Despite struggling to stay on task, he felt satisfied in school for the most part. But all this would corrode to an abrupt halt.
* * *
A pace from bus 40’s stationing was their corrivated home. A rusky apartment with crude clay-mound bricks as the structure. He clutched the hand-polished bronze handle on their door and jerked. His dad’s concern radiated as he talked to his mom from the meager living room, a formal silence of speech that barricaded any suggestive normality element. This altered him, although he blundered mentally to comprehend. He noisily trampled inside, hoping for his parents to perceive him. To no avail.
He was answered with a concerned smile. A phony, concealed grin. Dinner was eaten in the quietness of secludedness. Gabriel merely an eyewitness account of an unprovoked speech. He felt his parents’ selectivity of words. As though they strained their words. The exchange of words, or the lack of it, left him on edge. Stress overwhelmed him in a void of isolation.
* * *
A discussion took place that night. A finalizing, executive meet. They took in consideration their social position, their experiences, and especially Hawkins Middle. The stale bitterness of Lebanon’s wind rimmed the fleur-white stalks of their windows with coincidental gloominess. A crest-fallen Gabriel contemplated the memories he constructed. Snow, friends, school. Fuzzy brightness flooded him. Ghosts, reaching their tinge of liveliness in limbs of animation. Things. Gained, earned, made. Fairytales of whimsical aspects. Summarized as his memories.
* * *
“Son, it’s final. We’re moving to Florida.”
Gabriel managed a faint nod. In time, the rhythm of tempo paved weeks beyond seeming. May brought a floral boutique of daisies, cherry blossoms, and cul-de-sac poppies. Gabriel felt equilibrated and integrated with the time he had left. He chased and tumbled around the foliaged hills he had come to know. The earthy soil a hearty perfume. Walnut trees loomed atop. Their ridged trunks a nutty brown. June fletched into view, the vastness of May dominated by its upheld viewpoint of expectations.
An act of kindness was shared by Mrs. Roseté and her alumnus. A beautiful necklace of enlaced golden hoops and a hug were exchanged between the two. The last day of school curtailed. Gabriel and his parents snugly lodged their possessions into the truck and drove into the amber dusk.