When We Were Young

By Brittany Mishra

The two boys used to knock on my bedroom window and I would bask in their wild beauty, dream they would kiss me through the window screen, as if I were Rapunzel. I would pry the screen off and tumble down my long brown hair, follow them through the forest, and eat the red huckleberries they handed me. I fell under their spell, adored their sandy blonde hair, and we grabbed fistfuls of maple leaves and wore them as clothes, camouflaging our blooming bodies. We peeled sticks from the trees and traced them through the weeping sap of firs, scent of earth and citrus, sweet blood. I made a home under the branches of a tall cedar. With its boughs, I swept the forest floor clean of fir needles, bark, and cones. The boys would bring home their trophies, blue jay feathers and the rounds of snail shells; they tucked them into the bark and roots of the tree. We climbed hazelnut trunks, balanced on them like gymnasts on a high beam. And when the wild blackberries ripened, we scraped and bloodied our way to the darkest clusters, our mouths stained purple, each tasted like blue sky and sunlight. When it rained, we would walk up the gravel roads and float small boats of alder leaves, watch them race down the currents and rivulets. Our bare feet ran through underbrush and hobbled over sharp thistles and black caps. The gold of summer rusted into the copper of fall; the boys stopped knocking on my window. I picked up one of the longest blue jay feathers and the largest snail shell, walked to the edge where forest met asphalt, and there they stood in their grandmother’s driveway, suitcases packed. I stayed just at the cusp of road, in the forest. I watched them drive away, wind around the corner, disappear; my thumb worried the snail shell like a crystal ball, a talisman of futures.

Brittany Mishra helps make medical devices for a living and writes poetry and fiction as her passion. Brittany has lived in Washington, Oregon, and Connecticut and she now lives in Washington (again) near the Puget Sound with her husband. Brittany’s poetry can be found in Voice Catcher, Sky Island, The Write Launch, Deracine, Heartland Review, and Chestnut Review.

Art by Lesley C. Weston (Mixed Media)

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