1. The Note.
A light breeze causes the naked branches overhead to rattle like wooden wind chimes. This is a popular retreat for couples in the summer. The deciduous trees provide a green canopy, far out of sight of teachers and fellow students. But now, late winter it, it feels like I'm standing under a pile of kindling. I breathe into my cupped hands and rub them together furiously to prevent them from numbing in this cold. "Just how long am I expected to wait out here, anyway? I'm sure the note said 4:00 pm." I say softly to myself. Ah yes.. the note... slipped between the pages of my math book while I wasn't looking. As far as clichés go, I'm more a fan of the letter in the locker, but at least this way shows a bit of initiative. As I ponder the meaning of the note, the snowfall gradually thickens. The snowflakes silently falling from the white-painted sky are the only sign of time passing in this stagnant world. Their slow descent upon the frozen forest makes it seem like the time has slowed to a crawl.
The rustling of dry snow underfoot startles me, interrupting the quiet mood. Some one approaching me from behind. "E.. Eric? You came?" The dainty voice asked hesitating to ask a barley audible question. However, I recognize the owner of that dainty voice instantly. I feel my heart skip a beat, it's a voice I've listened to hundreds of times, but never as more than eavesdropper to a conversation. I turn to face this voice, the voice of my dreams, and my heart begins to race. "Cassandra? I got a note telling me to wait here.... it was yours?" I felt so ashamed, I spent all afternoon trying to come up with a good line and that was the result. "Ahmm... yes. I asked a friend to give you that note... I'm so glad you got it" Cassandra said softly with a shy, joyous smile that makes me so tense I couldn't move a single muscle even if I tried. My heart is pounding now, as if it were trying to burst out from my chest and claim this girl for itself. "So... ah.. here we are. Out in the cold" I say as I try and start a conversation as once again, the wind stirs up the branches. The cacophonous noise is music to my ears.
Cassandra flinches ever so slightly against the gust of wind. As it passes, she rights herself, as if supported by some new confidence. Her eyes lock with mine and she lazily twirls her long, dark hair around in her finger. All the while, the anxious beating of my heart grows louder. My throat is tight; I doubt I could even force a word out if I tried. "You see...." Cassandra said softly to me, her eyes still locked on mine. "...I wanted to know..." She said in a dainty voice. "...if you'd go out with me..." As I hear her words I stand there, motionless, save for my pounding heart. I want to say something in reply, but my vocal cords feel like they've been stretched beyond the breaking point. "E..Eric?" She asked as I reach up to try and massage my throat, but this only sends spikes of blinding pain along my arms. "Eric!?" Her voice raised slightly as she looked me in the eye. My whole body freezes, save for my eye, which shoot open in terror. "Eric!" She yells at me as the beating in my chest suddenly stops, and I go weak at the knees. The world around me, the canopy of bare branches, the dull winter sky, Cassandra running towards me, all these fade to black. The last things I remember before slipping away are the sounds of Cassandra screaming for help and the incessant clatter of the branches above....