Hello, everybody!

Today's #minimonday is a bit different than others. I decided to take part in a contest hosted by the wonderful WHI squad. I encourage every single one of you to participate! I enjoyed spending a nice weekend creating something for you all to read, and for me to write. Unfortunately English is not my first language, so I apologise in advance for any mistakes.

The group account and the articles about the contest. Check them out!

Leave me a heart or a reaction to let me know what you think!

our destination

Richard Wright is a typical teenage boy. He lives in a small town, has a big fluffy dog, and a hopeless crush for the mysterious Catherine Taylor, the girl next door.
adventure, dog, and explore image autumn, fall, and leaves image

I slowed down in front of the Taylors’ house. In part because Poppy was an elderly dog and he was always tired towards the end of his walk. In part because that was where my crush lived.

It was a house similar to mine, a two-storey building made out by red bricks, in a remote part of the little town we lived in. Us, the Taylors and the Wrights, were the last two pillars of civilisation against the woods that surrounded Northpass. The people that lived there liked to say that it was a place forgotten by God and men, and hopefully by bears and wolves too.

The house in front of mine had been empty for ages, but one day the Taylors bought it. I remember it was a very big thing, in such a small town. A new family wasn’t something as common as a young adult moving to a big city to start college. During the first few months in Northpass High, everybody looked at Cate as if she was some kind of alien, a stranger everybody had to treat with care, or a second, dinosaur-looking head would have appeared to eat the insolent who disrespected her.

And that’s how she drew my attention. Even after people had stopped pointing at ‘the new girl’, I’d find myself staring at her long eyelashes, listening to the meaningless conversations she had with the few friends she made, trying to catch the smell of her perfume as she walked past me in the corridors. The fact that my crush lived in the house right in front of mine sometimes felt like a bless, and sometimes like a curse.

The Taylors’ house door was thrown open, and a girl – the girl – stormed out of it. The broken voice of a woman followed her outside. “That’s not healthy, Cate!”

Cate didn’t turn around. She stood right out of the door, clenching her fists. “I don’t care, mum. I need to go” she said, refusing to watch her mother into her eyes.

“We must forget” the woman answered from the house. Her voice was feeble and distant, like the sigh of a vanishing ghost. “What you’re doing is not healthy at all. It’s wrong.”

“Then I will be wrong!” Cate screamed.

She ran down the stairs, headed at the car parked in the driveway. She had a little struggle with the door, which opened as if it was afraid to cross a girl as upset as her. Cate tried multiple times to start the engine, her hands shaking, the car not willing to cooperate. She punched the steering wheel, probably letting out a little scream that I couldn’t hear, and took her own face in her hands, to calm down.

I walked towards her car, Poppy by my side, sniffing the grass he was not usually allowed to roam. Cate didn’t notice me immediately. I took advantage of that short moment to look at her messy braided hair, at her little golden earrings. I studied her as a painter does with his models. I wondered why I had to face such a sad image, and decided to try my best at changing it.

I knocked on the glass. Cate jumped on her seat, startled by the sudden noise. She rolled down the car window. “Richard, what…”

“Need a ride?” I asked, pointing at my driveway, where my old car was parked.

Cate wiped away a couple of tears I pretended not to notice. “It’s not going to be a short ride” she said. Her voice was still slightly shaken, but she wasn’t shivering anymore. Maybe it was because my presence distracted her from the thought of the fight with her mother. I liked to imagine that, somehow, if she wasn’t crying anymore it was thanks to me.

“Oh, well, then…” I pretended to think about it a little. “Wait. You’re not a serial killer, right?”

She seemed shocked to be asked that. “What? No!”

“Then I’m fine.” I shrugged my shoulders.

Cate was still misty-eyed, but she finally smiled. I smiled too.

winter, road, and snow image Image removed love, car, and grunge image snow, winter, and christmas image

I turned on the engine. With a way too prideful voce, I stated: “It used to be the best car on the market.”

Cate laughed. “Yes, during the last century.”

I pretended to be shocked. “What are you complaining about? It even has heating!”

“Rich, that’s the least a car should have!”

“And the cassette-player.” I added. “Does that nasty Jeep of yours have a cassette-player? It doesn’t.” I kept on blabbering about the endless virtues of my death trap on wheels. It made Cate laugh, it made me happy. She always laughed at my jokes, even at the most stupid ones. Especially at those.

Between a joke and a laugh, Cate pointed me the way. She didn’t tell me where we were headed to, and I didn’t want to ask. Wherever it was, it was extremely important for her, but it triggered a terrible fight between a mother and her own daughter. I just took the road on the right when she told me to, and turned left at the fork when she told me to.

Cate was right. It wasn’t like a trip to the store and back.

We alternated moments of laughter to long pauses of silence, but it wasn’t uncomfortable or awkward. Sometimes Cate would turn toward the backseat, where my tired dog was laying, and pat him gently. I could have sworn that she sometimes glanced at me while I was driving, then said something random about the weather when I turned to her. But most of the time, she would quietly stare outside of the window, maybe counting the endless trees that surrounded the road, or just thinking about something she didn’t feel like sharing. Her fingers, as her mind, were restless. She mindlessly played with the little golden necklace that she never took off, she tapped on the window to the rhythm of the tunes that came out of the old radio. A compilation of my dad’s favourite songs by The Smiths, I think, was playing on repeat.

“Have you ever thought strange thoughts?” Cate asked out of the blue.

“What do you mean?” I asked back.

“That sometimes places aren’t actually places. Sometimes places are people.”

I looked at her. I didn’t feel butterflies in my stomach as I did when I spotted her in the crowd at school. I didn’t feel the adrenaline rush as I did when I looked at her and found her already staring at me. I felt warmth. The same kind of warmth one can feel curling up in a soft blanket, on a comfortable armchair close to a chimney where the flames dance playfully. It was the warmth of a loving home.

quotes, place, and stay image girl, forest, and vintage image

We had been silent for a while, when Cate suddenly told me we were almost there. She pointed at a traffic sign, which suggested that we were close to a town I had never heard of. A couple of minutes later I was able to see a group of little houses in the woods, similar to those in which we both lived. She told me to pull over, and that we would have had to walk a bit.

I awakened Poppy, who was sleeping on the backseat like a peaceful, fluffy angel. After some complaints, my dog followed Cate and me, excited by the new smells of woods he didn’t know.

We walked in the woods. I tried to begin a conversation a couple of times, but Cate wasn’t responsive at all. So I stopped. I focused on following her brown suede jacket, and not losing Poppy, who sniffed all the trees he found, absorbed in the arduous task of finding the perfect spot to pee.

I don’t know how long we had been walking when we found the mansion. It was a very big house, isolated from the others, surrounded by a fence. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw Cate climb over the gate and jump on the property, as if it was the most natural thing to do.

“Cate, what are you doing?!” I was shocked. “Did you make me drive all the way here to trespass someone’s property? If they catch us…”

For the first time since when we got out of the car, Cate turned towards me. She had a weird look on her face, as someone who’s been distracted from deep thoughts by a silly nuisance. I probably was the silly nuisance.

“This is my grandparents’ house. And their parents’ before them.” She pointed at an old ‘for sale’ sign. “Nobody has been living here for over a year now.”

‘What if she actually is a serial killer, after all?’, I thought, walking behind her. I looked at the messy braid that lead the way, all around the large house towards what seemed like a hidden garden.

My heart jumped in my throat when I finally understood where Cate brought me. It was a graveyard. A family graveyard. There was a number of gravestones, all of them with incisions, little statues, an oval picture and a vase of dried up flowers.

Cate walked down the graveyard, and only stopped when she arrived to the last gravestone. She crouched down in front of it, and stretched out a hand to lightly caress the picture. It was a girl, with the same messy hair and dreamy eyes as the girl I loved. She wore a golden necklace that looked exactly like the one Cate always had. The name on the grave was Melanie Taylor. The day she died was exactly one year before the day we came to visit her.

All of a sudden, everything that had happened until that moment became clear. The unusual moving to the remote town of Northpass, the harsh words Cate exchanged with her mother. The house in the woods. The strange thoughts.

“Sometimes people become places”, I whispered. “And not everybody can stand that. That’s why your parents moved, right?”

I let her alone with her grief. It felt like the best thing to do, and I needed to find Poppy before he could spot a squirrel and try to catch it. The poor dog was too old for that sort of things, but nobody had the heart to tell him.

I waited for Cate outside of the fence. I played fetch with my dog for a while, paying attention to not throw the stick too far away. Sometimes Poppy wouldn’t be able to find the exact stick I threw, so he brought me another one to play with.

A thump behind me made me turn towards Cate. She had just jumped over the fence. She looked way more peaceful than before, now that she finally had visited her sister in the anniversary of her death.

“And that was our mysterious destination, Rich. A graveyard.”

As every sensitive person would have, I said: “Everybody’s destination is a graveyard.”

Cate laughed. She came near to me, and took my hand in hers. I intertwined my fingers with hers, but it was her the one who drew me closer. “You know, Rich, if life is nothing but a long road trip to a graveyard, I wouldn’t mind spending it with you.”

We walked to visit Melanie several feet away from each other, but when we went to my old car we were very close, and I’m not just talking about the physical distance. We were coming back home together, but we knew that our journey had just begun.

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