Deeply Rooted by Hannah Warren

When we were younger than Sunday grass stains, Oakley was insufferable, unwilling to meet me halfway on anything. Our parents were neighbors, so we grew up next to each other. It always starts out that way, doesn’t it? We fell in love as we grew older, but we always kept that spark of bickering, right on the edge of wildfire, that still needles my toes. Close proximity, I suppose.

One great rift lodges between us: I love the spring and summer – vibrant, warm, alive. The forests are filled with families and the laughter of sun-scorched children, sap lazily runs sweet and thick, we shake off spring rains with a flick, and I am never alone. But Oakley loves the fall and winter. It’s the time when we can all rest, she says. I can strip the layers of heat and simply exist.

She’ll never know that existing alone is dreadfully silent, though.

I can catch you a piece of the sun, I tell her.

But I’d rather have the moon, she says. Sunlight is obtuse.

I frown. You used to love the sun. Remember the first time we held daylight? You kept a piece beneath your tongue and silenced my objections with your teeth.

She twirls, splaying her fingers. Moonlight peeks from around the roots of her mossy hair. Times change, sweetheart – can’t you see?

I look around us; the ground is littered with reds, yellows, and oranges, everyone having shed their summer clothes to harden their skins for the dark months. Oakley is right. The times are changing, but I hold on to the last days of the sun’s warmth, clutching the golden riches within my arms and storing them carefully. She wants to feel the darkness of winter on her limbs, though, and know the fluidity of rain when it trickles into her veins.

Then I will catch you a piece of the moon, I tell her; she smiles and scratches my back with autumn-tinged nails.

All night, I try to draft the moonlight. I stretch toward the sky opening every cell to find the right one for holding the pale stretches of refracted glow. It skitters all around me, through my fingertips, and reflects on the ice-covered lake. Most light escapes and patches luminescence on the beds of leaves beneath me. Days of reaching turn into weeks, and Oakley grows quieter and slower until wind begins to carry her soft snores. Near the newest day of the moon when she rises to her fullest, I capture the tiniest sliver of light within a bead of moisture. I wrap it in spider webs and place it on Oakley’s naked branch, knowing she will find it in the spring.

Hannah Warren is a senior undergraduate English major at Mississippi State University. Upon graduation in 2016, she wishes to pursue a Master in Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing. Hannah has recently published in Belle Reve, Burningword, and Corium and looks forward to upcoming publications with 805 and The Streetcar: MSU’s Undergraduate Journal.