Serenading Heartbreak - Ella Fields

For the ones who picked me up when I fell.

He arrived wrapped in warning,

of which I’d never heed.

Every shade of gray,

sunshine and rain-drenched days.

A love that visited

and never stayed.

Again and again and again.

Hearts are such unpredictable things,

you can never control to whom they might sing.

As if he were surprised by the flare of light on his journey through the ground, a worm, swimming through the soil, paused.

My lips wiggled, twitching my nose. With my gloved hand, I shifted the brown soil, being mindful of the worm, before dropping the peony seeds I’d gotten for my fifteenth birthday into the small crevice. Moving the dirt from the tiny mound, I recovered the patch and speared my spade into the soft earth.

“Heads up, Steve!”

My head rose in time to see a shirt sailing through the blue sky. It landed beside me, shaking the grass. I peeled off my gloves and fell back on my butt as my brother walked up the drive.

Trailing him on a banged up BMX bike was a boy I didn’t recognize.

With my hand cupping my brow to block the sun, I feigned disgust to hide my curiosity. “I can smell your stench from here, Henny.”

Hendrix’s lip curled at the use of the nickname I’d dubbed him with as kids. A sign not to call him that in front of company. One I often felt inclined to ignore.

I tilted my head, eyeing the boy with a thick mop of dirty blond hair. “Who are you?”

“That’s Everett.” Hendrix answered for him. “He lives across the street. Just moved here.”

Ignoring my brother, I kept my eyes trained on Everett as he flicked some of his shaggy hair from his face, revealing green eyes. Hard eyes. Like twin emerald jewel stones. The likes of which I’d never seen on a boy before. “Hi.” I offered a smile with the greeting.

Those eyes narrowed on my face for a beat, and then, slowly, he jerked his head in some semblance of a nod.

“I’m Stevie, not Steve,” I said.

Hendrix tossed his skateboard against the front steps, heading for the door.

Everett glanced at my brother, then at his bike, then at me, unsure. “You’re both named after rock stars?”

Still smiling, I nodded. “Our parents’ fault, not ours.”

His lips twitched; it wasn’t a smile but a brief display of amusement. “Right.” He went to turn his bike around.

Rising from the grass, I dusted the dirt from my cutoffs.

“You coming?” Hendrix called from the door.

Everett paused at the end of our drive with his brows scrunched. “Where?”

“Uh, inside.” Hendrix laughed. “Duh.”

The screen door slapped shut behind him, and I gestured for Everett to follow as I moved toward it. “You can leave your bike on the grass if you like.”

He nodded, and I waited for him to follow, some part of me knowing he probably wouldn’t otherwise.

Inside, he kicked off his worn skate shoes. Intense eyes bounced off the faded yellow walls, taking in the pictures and the knickknacks that cluttered the hall table—a key dish, textbooks, a small sloth statue, and treble clef book ends with four books sandwiched between them.

“When did you guys move in?” I asked, turning the faucet on once we’d reached the kitchen and washing my hands.

Body stiff, he was still peering around, eyes aglow with curiosity.

“Everett?”

“Hmm?” He met my gaze, blinking, then shook his head. “Oh, about two weeks ago.”

I dried my hands, then fetched the juice and three glasses. “Where’d you come from?”

“Few hours north.”

Pouring us drinks, I frowned. The clipped words brooked no room for further prodding, so I slid his orange juice over the countertop and took a sip of my own.

It took him a second, but he stepped forward, nodding his thanks before draining half the glass.

“Here it is.” Hendrix entered the small dining area outside our kitchen. “You ever play?” He slapped his acoustic guitar, grinning, his braces glinting in the afternoon light that bathed the dining room.

“No.” Setting his empty glass down, Everett took a cautious step forward. “That’s yours?”

“Yeah, man. Got it last Christmas. I’ll show you some.”

I watched, my back pressed into the counter, as Everett stared at the guitar, then shrugged. “You play. I’ll probably just fuck it up.”

My eyes bulged at how freely he’d cussed, all the while my chest clenched at his words.

Hendrix’s smile grew as if he’d found the best type of new friend. Then he was bounding into the living room, muttering about Bob Dylan and other beginner songs.

Everett didn’t follow. Instead, he stared after him with shifting feet. There