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Weed

(by Meagan) It wasn’t until I slid off my headphones and stopped to skim over the words that had just flown across the page that I felt the gentle brush of blonde locks on my shoulder and swivelled around to come nose-to-nose with a pair of inquisitive green eyes and a wry smile, that I met a petite boy who went by Weed. He was calm. I was annoyed and self-conscious, because there was something unnerving about his languid cheer that made me suspect his intentions weren’t as innocent as they appeared; a feeling that he was actually examining me under that gaze. I frowned. “Is there a problem?”

The boy neatly dodged the question. “Did you write that?”

I glanced down at the notebook still lying open, arrows and proofreading marks already squeezed into the side margins, and snapped it shut.

It didn’t deter him in the slightest. He slipped over the back of the vinyl booth and slid in next to me. “I tried my hand at writing once... People said I was good at it, but I didn’t really have the attention span.” He blushed a little, as though he had just presented me with some great admission.

I didn’t return the favor, turning away from him as I stuffed the notebook in my bag.

“I’m Weed, by the way.”

I stopped hoisting the black bag and raised an eyebrow, unable to prevent the grin slowly working its way over my face. “Weed?”

This was followed by a curt nod and another blush. “It’s a nickname,” he murmured softly, ducking his head so the curtain of blonde swayed over his face.

For a guy who’d just been reading over my shoulder and then nonchalantly plopped himself in my booth, it seemed odd he’d be embarrassed so suddenly. In that moment I thought we traded roles, as it was my turn to flash a sly smile and be the bold one. I cupped his cheek and gently tilted his head up, inwardly amazed by this sudden ability to be so affectionate. He was, afterall, another male. “I think it’s cute.”

His jaw hung agape and he looked dazed, as though he’d just run into a wall; I wondered vaguely if the poor kid had gone comatose. But apparently, as soon as you bowled Weed over, he snapped right back.

“And here I thought you didn’t like me,” he said just smugly enough to make me wary again as that devilish grin made a startling comeback and the color faded from his cheeks.

I didn’t say anything, but nudged him in the ribs. He scooted out of the seat, giving a flourishing bow as he stood aside, arms elegantly outstretched and pointed toward the door, “As you wish, sire.”

I grabbed my coffee cup and popped the lid, slurping down the remnants of whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles still lingering in the bottom. Weed patiently stood next to me, rocking back and forth on the balls of his feet and, for the first time, I wondered if he actually intended to follow me. Slowly, I ambled in the general direction of the entrance, stopped to crumple up the paper cup and toss it in the trash can, and jammed my hands in the wide pockets of my jacket. Weed strolled along, trailing a few feet behind, his fingers laced behind his head.

I shouldered open the glass door leading into the quaint coffee shop, the pleasant tinkle of tiny golden bells shivering from the icy wind resounding as I left. My shoulders hunched instinctively, burrowing against November in New York. I’d almost forgotten entirely about the blonde boy with big green eyes who’d intruded on what was supposed to be my relaxation time before I trudged back to my sparsely furnished dormitory.

Almost.

The rain started coming down softly at first, the kind of cold drizzle that occasionally wet your face, but you never could tell whether you were just imagining it. I shrunk deeper into the safety of my coat, and in an immediate disapproval of my actions, the heavens let loose in one gaping torrent. And then...there was laughter. Quiet against the downpour, but growing louder, and I couldn’t help but think how stupidly jovial it was against the roar of water on concrete. I was freezing, my indifferent mood had made a rapid shift to aggravation, and my clothes clung to my frame like a second skin. I whirled around, ready to show my gratitude to the person who’d dare interrupt my pessimism with a pleasant middle finger, but froze.

There was Weed, doubled over, giggling like a lunatic. His neatly messy hair was plastered to his forehead, his small hand making a futile attempt to push his bangs out of his eyes. When he couldn’t, he merely laughed harder, collapsing on the empty sidewalk until he managed to stop. He sat there staring at me, panting, and then sprawled out on the ground. His arms stretched over his head and the tightly woven fabric of his shirt crawled up his belly, the two perk buds on his chest faintly visible. Every hair on his body stood on edge, goose bumps racing over the uncovered flesh.

I hovered over him, but couldn’t manage to conjure any sarcasm or insults. I was speechless, because in that moment, looking down on him, I felt something pulse deep within the whirls of my brain, something warm and shining, radiating to the very center of my being.

I didn’t recognize it then, but I would later remember lying in bed at 3 A.M. and thinking for the first time in my life, I felt truly alive.

“Not everything is gray...or black and white for that matter. There’s color.”

Weed lazily held up his arm and as I took his hand and pulled the smaller boy to his feet, I realized he was right. But I also realized I was unnerved. After only knowing him for twenty minutes, I was terrified this boy might worm his way into my mind, that he might change the way I think, that he had already succeeded in doing so. I wasn’t sure this new feeling of something like euphoria tinged with nausea was a good thing.

I was beginning to get dizzy, wondering if under an hour had caused his much of a disturbance, what spending real time with Weed could do. I noticed the concern etching the boy’s childish features and shook my head, "You shouldn't play in the rain like that. Bad for the health."

He smiled and shrugged. "For someone like you, maybe."

I scowled, more irritated that I couldn't decipher whether or not the comment had been an insult rather than the fact it probably was. The dizziness had faded to a dull headache and I suppose that's why I never noticed as Weed grasped my hand and began dragging me down the street. When it did dawn on me, instead of jerking away, my immediate reaction was a soft gasp. Against my own, cold and wet, Weed's hand was surprisingly warm. "Where are we going?" I asked dumbly, thinking that even if he told me we were going to watch a performing circus of midgets, I would neither be surprised nor resistant.

"Home," was his cheerful reply. Almost as an afterthought, he added, "My home."

Somehow, when he said it like that, it made perfect sense.
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