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Autumn Stroll

Prompts: Sharp & Leaves

Her hand felt so soft in his.   There were many observations Kaleb could have made in that moment, ranging from remarks on the weather to a thought about his brother’s relationship with that red-haired woman, but for reason that was what his mind chose to fixate on. Not the sunlight through the trees, not the leaves falling from the sky, and not the slight chill in the air. No, just the difference between his hand and the hand of the girl he was walking with.   “Is something wrong?” the mentioned girl asked, leaning forward to peer at his face. Kaleb kept his eyes ahead of him, refusing to acknowledge the happiness that bubbled up inside of him when he glimpsed the concern in her innocent blue eyes.   Innocent, he wanted to laugh. By all rights, neither of them were innocent. His hands were painted in the blood of hundreds, killed both willingly and unwillingly, killed for both his mother and himself, and she’d stood by silently for years while people sacrificed themselves for her and had even defended those who allowed it to happen.   “Kaleb,” Aurora said again. “What’s wrong?”   “Nothing,” he told her. She stopped walking. “You’re thinking about our pasts again.” He had to give her credit for being so sharp. He supposed she had to be, considering who her family was, but wasn’t she the weakest?   “Maybe.”   Aurora shook her head. “Don’t think about that now. Focus on our walk, listen to the birds, enjoy the foliage. And stop thinking about how you don’t deserve me and I’m so different from you and yet so similar at the same time. It’s not going to help.”  
He stared at her. “How did you get all of that from me saying two words?”   She laughed. “Because you’re a terrible liar,” she said. “And I’m good with people.”   Now was silently added to her sentence, but neither of them acknowledged it. Kaleb knew Aurora didn’t like to remember those parts of her past, the parts when she couldn’t see the pain her siblings were in or the apathy that drove her mother.   “Are we going to continue our walk or are you going to continue to brood?” Aurora asked, drawing him out of his thoughts again.   “Just for you, continue our walk,” he said, tugging on her hand. “I don’t do this for anyone else, you know.”   “I’m your favorite,” she sighed, leaning her head on his shoulder as they started off again.   He laughed, tangling their fingers together in different ways. “You are. Don’t tell Victor, he might get mad.”   “We both know he won’t be. He can’t really criticize you, anyway, since you’re not his favorite. His favorite’s his girlfriend.”   “When did you get so smart?” Kaleb asked her, unable to suppress a smile. “You certainly weren’t this brave when I met you.”   “And that’s what changed,” Aurora said, looking up at him with her bright blue eyes and making his heart skip a beat. “I met you, and I became more.”
by Lilliana Casper

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Cover image: by Lilliana Casper


Author's Notes

I wanted to write a happier piece this month after all of the dark or creepy ones I'd written, so I tried to give this one a more romantic feel. Of course, I had to choose two characters with trauma and guilt in their pasts, but I like how it came out. I might actually keep this article after Spooktober is over.

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