Damp spring air chilled Zee’s face as she walked through her neighborhood, but she didn’t mind. While it wasn’t exactly warm outside, it wasn’t especially cold either and Zee was a fairly comfortable temperature in her leather jacket, jeans, and knit hat. Her toes were rather cold inside her tightly laced, black and white Vans, but she didn’t care enough to go back home and change shoes.
With her hands slipped in her jacket pockets, Zee walked along the middle line of the quiet neighborhood streets. She knew every crack and crevice in the weathered concrete. She spent a lot of time outside, as she liked the feeling of being free to wander and to think.
Some days there were people outside, a few kids around her age hanging out at the park or on bikes and skateboards in the street, or maybe the two old ladies down the street, seated in lawn chairs in their driveway, watching their small dogs play in their yard. Sometimes Zee joined the kids, or waved at the neighbors to be friendly, but she normally preferred to stay alone and absorbed in her own thoughts.
She ambled along, approaching the small park in the center of the neighborhood, only three blocks from her house. She cut through the parking lot, passed the bike racks, and walked right through the empty playground. The small pebbles that paved the play area crunched under her feet. Some of the little rocks were colorful from paint that dripped on them every time the old, metal play equipment was repainted to look new again, which Zee knew had happened twice in the past decade.
Sometimes, she would stop at the blue set of swings to sit and think, but today she kept walking, out of the rocks and past the bench to a large, shady tree with thick, low branches. She deftly climbed this and spread out on a large branch that was concealed by green foliage to anyone that wasn’t standing directly below her.
It had been a weird day. It was perfectly normal for the first few hours, until Zee, Gabriella, and Jacob were walking together after meeting up near the stairs closest to their next class, science. Jacob was a bit more contemplative than usual, and without too much convincing, the other two got him to say why.
As it turned out, that morning he found out that a girl liked him, presumably for the first time. The female in question was named Olivia and, though neither Zee nor Jacob knew it at the time, she had a reputation for having frequent, intense, and short-lived crushes. Of course, Zee and Gabriella proceeded to “oooooh” in unison and poke a little fun at him, as that’s how their friendship was- playful and funny.
He said he didn’t like her back when Zee asked, under the pretense that she was happy for him, but really, for reasons unknown, the fact that he was so awfully quiet was making her feel rather awkward and uneasy, a twisty feeling that still simmered under the surface as she lay in the tree, watching the sun start to set and filter patches of golden light through the leaves and onto the cracks of the tree’s bark. Zee didn’t know why she sighed as she swung down from her branch and landed on her feet in the newly-green grass, but she did. She then dusted herself off and started to walk home as the streetlights flickered on, bathing the streets in soft, orangey light.
‘Whatever,’ She thought to herself. ‘Whatever.’