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Caring For The Lonely
The Ian rubbed his arms hoping that the friction would be enough to warm him up as he waited for the light to change. No dice. Even with his jacket on he could feel the biting cold on his skin. Not that his light jacket was much. It was old and worn, the color, which had once been a light gray, was now almost black with years of use. The thing didn’t even fit him anymore, its sleeves stopped well above his wrists, and he had to force his gloves all the way up to keep the skin covered. The thin fabric was meant only to shield against light winds and fall temperature, but as winter came and fall died away he still found himself wearing the same jacket.
In front of Ian the light turned green signaling him to cross. He watched as a young boy and his mother walked past him across the street. This boy was bundled up in a jacket that looked almost brand new. He wasn’t rubbing his arms to keep himself warm. Nope, he was looking happy with full pink cheeks and a smile that lit up his face. Why can’t I be like that? Ian thought. Why has his life turned into a dreadful new direction, one that he never expected? Ian shook his head. Negative thoughts weren’t worth his time. He had to focus on the positive- always the positive- or else he would drive himself crazy.
Ian pulled his equally thin scarf closer around his neck as another wind sent shivers up his spine. I hate winter. He thought. Winter for other kids meant bundling up on the couch with a cup of steaming hot cocoa or presents when Christmas came around. Winter to him just meant dropping temperatures that chipped at any good feelings he summed up during summer and fall. The cold was his least favorite thing about winter. He hated ice, hated snow, hated anything that was at a freezing point. He even grew to hate ice cream. He couldn’t look at the stuff, much less taste it. Ice cream was just a scoop full of death that threatened to freeze him from the inside out.
While submerged in his thoughts, Ian didn’t happen to notice a tall boy as he walked toward him. It wasn’t until they bumped shoulders that Ian
even realized he had stopped right in the middle of the sidewalk.
“Hey watch where you’re going!” Ian growled, looking up at the tall figure.
“Good morning to you too sunshine.” The boy said with a smirk. Just like Ian, this boy was swathed in a jacket a little too small for him. Ian recognized the jacket as the one he himself had bought as a present.
“Landon, what are you doing bumping people? What if I was some crazed wacko with anger issues?” Ian looked up toward his face. Landon and Ian were the definition of best friends. The two were almost inseparable. It was an odd friendship though. The two boys were so different. Ian, with his half Latino roots, was dark skinned and dark haired, with a dulling demeanor and sour attitude. Landon, on the other hand, was carrot topped and freckled with a sunny take on the world to go with his equally bright hair. Yet, their differences were never able to wedge in a single argument between them.
“Considering I’m six-one and you’re not even five-five yet, I think I can take you.” Landon grinned, his happy attitude only turning that much brighter.
“You wish. Haven’t you ever heard that saying? The bigger they are the harder they fall?”
“How about the bigger the better?”
“Whatever. Where are you going? Delivering something for your dad?” Ian nodded toward the parcel tucked securely under Landon’s long strong arms. It was plain, just a brown paper back full with its contents. Ian saw the lines of writing on it, but could only make out one letter in the haphazard scrawl.
“Madison--” The two boys said together. Landon gave Ian a look.
“How’d you know?” He asked. Ian pointed at the paper bag.
“The only letter in the whole alphabet that you write normally is M. It’s the only one I can read.” Ian shrugged. “What’s it for?”
“Madie left her lunch. I’m bringing it to her.” Landon was known for being the best big brother anyone could have. He was always trying to protect his sister at all costs. Ian had to admit, it wasn’t hard to love his sister though.
Just like Landon, Madison was one of the most positive girls he knew. All the kids in their neighborhood loved her, and saw her as their own sister, even Ian. Together Landon and Ian made an inseparable wall to shield Madie from anything dangerous or negatively influential. Though they weren’t linked by blood, Madie saw Ian as an older brother.
“Give it to me. I’ll get it to her. You just run off. You’re going to miss school.” Ian made a grab for the brown bag, but Landon stepped away.
“What about you? You’ll miss school too.” Landon’s unsure look made Ian repress an eye role. Like the overly protective brother he was to Madie, he could be annoyingly protective toward Ian too.
“I’m always late for school. Just go. You actually pay attention to our teachers.” Ian grabbed for the brown bag again, this time he was successful. “’Sides, I owe you remember? You took the hit when I put gum in Sally Flint’s hair.”
“You were going to be expelled. What else was I supposed to do?”
“Let it go. Let me get expelled?”
“You know I couldn’t do that.” Landon sighed. “Okay fine. Just make sure you don’t eat any of it.” Ian smiled and nodded, turning away from his friend and back down the way he came. Ian owed Landon so much, much more than just getting lunch to his little sister. Landon was so much different from anyone else in Ian’s life. What was the number one difference? Landon actually cared.