Michael studied the girl. Despite rolling head over heels with some random boy, she still looked pretty good. Her face was incredibly pale, like she was lacking nutrients, yet she seemed pretty. The emerald eyes sunk deep into her skull sparkled in the blazing sun, like twinkling jewels, and her lips had deep cracks running through them. They reminded Michael a little of the snakes he’d seen sliding around, the curves of the cracks seemed almost identical.
He could track a sense of freckles, possibly, but they seemed too light to be seen easily. What alarmed him was her arms and legs, burnt red raw. How long had she been out here? Why was she out here? Michael needed to know.
“Um, hullo, I’m Michael. Care to explain why you barrelled into me at such force?” Ouch, that was a bit harsh.
“See that rock there?”
“Exactly.” Michael laughed. This girl didn’t seem so bad. He stared ahead at the whipped sands and sparse bushes.
“Where have you been coming from?”
“North.” A silence set among the pair, which had seemed to follow them both rather despondently throughout each of their tiresome journeys. Neither of them knew what to do, but one thought that they knew was they needed to stick with one another.
Eleanor, being the fiercer of the two, decided to make the first move. She had no clue whether this Michael boy would follow her, yet she still began to march the way the boy had been coming from.
At this sudden movement, Michael didn’t really know what to do. He was faced with another set of questions. Should he follow? Or carry on and ignore this inept encounter? His eyes followed Eleanor and the way she stormed forwards, a sort of marching and stomping mashed up together. Michael liked that. And forgetting about the clumsy start, he followed on after.
As Michael tried to catch up with the roaring Eleanor, it looked a little like a dog running after its master. It was both amusing and poor, after all they had only just met and already the girl was taking charge.
“Eleanor!” called Michael, his voice lingering in the wind and brushing her ears. She turned with an exultant smile and waved a little, wiggling her fingers but not raising her arm. She stopped to let him catch up, and he caught up with ease once she no longer stormed her way across the dusty ground.
They walked together, side by side, their steps in perfect unison. Michael desperately wanted to ask why she was out here, but he felt inclined to ask a less personal question.
“What do you like doing?” he asked and Eleanor laughed. She didn’t really know how to respond, since all she had been doing was running. Running.
“I like running,” she admitted proudly and both of them grinned. These smiles were not masks. They were not forced or stretched like before, to try and make them happy. This time, these smiles were genuine and they truly did feel happy.
For a second, the burden of their un-fortunate lives lifted and disappeared. It felt good, and they both knew they could get used to this luxurious feeling.
“So do I,” laughed Michael and to that, Eleanor took off. She began running like never before, faster and stronger, like she had lost a weight upon her shoulders. Laughter rose up Michael’s throat and he ran too.
The pair ran, as if they were children in a playground, arms outstretched like wings. They wove through gaps in between stripped trees, and dodged bare bushes. As if they were dodgems at a fairground, they bumped into one another and laughed.
What a sight the couple was, whipping up the ground as their feet hammered down. Eleanor’s crumpled brown dress flew in the wind and she un-pinned her head dress, the awkward angled hat she wore, and let her flowing brown hair be loose. It danced like the wind behind her, and although Michael did not have long hair, he felt just the same.
As they sped, an invisible bond grew ever stronger. The un-deniable thought of friendship, even love, had become even more of a reality. Their fears, of death and being found, of facing loved ones, melted away. To them, laughter and joy only existed.
But that didn’t last for long.