The yard had completely mirrored a dry light brown. Autumn seemed particularly dead this year. For the past few days in Ollen, California, the clouds took on a grungy hue. The seasons dawdled as autumn settled in, and it always looked dry when it finally did. The forest that rimmed the hills and surrounded the north side of Ollen became nothing but skinned wood and thick bramble. Going through the first wall of thistle was nearly impossible without destroying your clothes or getting some sort of infection. If someone did manage to get past the first tedious hedge, they would only be met with more dead trees and after that, an even thicker wall of bramble.
Schools were just beginning their eighth week as cooler weather rolled in. Jaiden grabbed his beige knitted scarf and his dad’s worn golf hat from the closet. He brushed away lint from his jeans as he headed out his room to the kitchen. At this point, his mom had already left for work and his brother was still asleep. He scraped up some ingredients and made french toast for Marshal and himself. Once he set the table he turned to the hallway but was startled by the sight of his brother, already up, ready for school, and dressed formally.
“What a surprise, Marsh. Finally fed up with me using the spray bottle to wake you?” Jaiden remarked.
His brother shook his head ‘no’ as he responded, “Mm-mn. I wanted to look my best today.”
“Hm. What's the occasion?” Jaiden asked as he sat to eat.
“Its Bella’s birthday today! I’m going to serenade her… with this!” Marsh shoved his hand into his sweater vest pocket and pulled out a silver harmonica and started to play.
“Since when do you know how to play that thing?”
“I’ve been practicing!.. For the ladies!” Marsh continued as he put the harmonica back into his pocket, “And the boys, I guess.” He trotted over to his cushioned chair at the table. His eyes widened as he scarfed down a bite of the french toast Jaiden had made. Jaiden grabbed a napkin from the center of the table and handed it to Marsh, who was already finishing his meal.
“Take it easy there, we still have a while till school starts.”
Marsh smacked his hand down on the table and looked back up to Jaiden, with an unsatisfied grimace.
“Give me more! More!” Marsh demanded.
“Be polite, Marshall. What's the magic word?”
Jaiden glared at Marsh and handed him another slice of french toast, “I have taught you well.”
After they finished eating, Jaiden finished his leftover homework, and herded his brother, into his car, to head to school. This morning was overcast and a calm grey. The seasons changing played out as a disappointment with every passing year. When spring comes around, it only brings a downfall of allergies and mosquito swarms. In the summer, it’s too hot to be anywhere and there seems to be nowhere to go in their drab town. In the fall, one who lives in Ollen does not experience a brilliant changing of the leaves, but instead, they wake to find everything is dead and cold. Winter is only more dead and more cold. At least, in Ollen, there are interesting people strewn about in the lines of suburban houses.
Rune, for instance, has the oddest sense of fashion and the most peculiar family history. And they just so happen to be Jaiden’s best friend. Rune’s mother is Scandinavian, and to Jaiden’s knowledge, that is the reason Rune’s name is such. There are many other curious persons. The man that has only ever been seen in the Set ‘N Rise convenience store, the once very famous child actor that now paints cars for a living, the old women that deals various exotic and common fruits for trades, and of course everyone whom Jaiden had only ever seen once.
Marshall was queer, in more ways than one. Jaiden thought his charisma resembled that of a twenty-year-old bartender from the 1930s. He was definitely something else. Jaiden thought that Marsh was much like their father, and would end up living similar lives. But for now, He’s only an eleven-year-old kid with an average brother, living in an even more average town.
Once Marsh had been dropped off, there was a handful of his many friends there to greet him.
Driving himself to the high school which he attended, Jaiden looked to the swirling clouds and sighed.
“I hope it rains today,” He thought. From what he recalled, it had not rained since mid-summer. Jaiden was at a stop light, so he watched the clouds a little longer. The wind picked up, hauling leaves and his attention away.
“When will this light turn green?” He shuffled his grip on the steering wheel and glanced to the clouds once more but something was different this time…
There was a spark in the sky, although, it was not lightning. It did not flash and there was no boom of thunder. It looked as though white strands of light were sputtering about the clouds. Dancing, almost. Jaiden’s eyes widened at the sight for a moment more.
“It’s green!” The person in the car behind him was honking and yelling at him. Jaiden snapped out of his daze, embarrassed, and continued to Ollen Valley High.