I am left behind with only a shoelace

As+I+finish+tying+my+shoe%2C+my+best+friend+stands+before+me.

Julia Beaumont

As I finish tying my shoe, my best friend stands before me.

Cross them over and under the hill. Pull them tight so they won’t fall off.

The floor I plopped down on is as dirty as ever. A half-torn, yellow, dried-up leaf catches my eye. What is the story behind that leaf?

How old is it? Did someone tear it off or did it fall? How did it get inside the building?

Maybe its leaf friend had been taken away from it and the yellow, dried-up leaf went searching, only to realize he would never find his friend.

Pointer finger out to form the ear. Clasp the bottom to secure.

A car shouts from outside. My friends are tired of waiting for me. They are tired of seeing me cry and of seeing my blank stares. I know they miss her, too, but they didn’t know her like I did.

Wrap around the ear and pull through the loop.

They didn’t know her as a young meerkat, running into the ground whenever a predator came. They knew her as the lion. 

They didn’t see her tears when she lost hope. They saw her grabbing the shovel for whoever hurt her friend. 

They didn’t see the exhaustion in her eyes. They saw it as strength. 

They didn’t see her weaknesses, for she barely let me. 

Pull them tight but not too long, for the tail might just fly out. 

She left the first of February. It was a blustery day, just like this one. All of her friends were in the car, ready to take her to base camp. Ready to wave goodbye as they knew she’d be back.

It’s been three years since then. Her communication is slim: a phone call here and a letter there. I know she’s protecting our country and pretty busy, but going from seeing her constantly to once a month is a hard adjustment to make—though her’s was probably harder. 

It’s not done yet; oh no, the bow might come undone. 

The shouting stops and the car doors slam shut. Footsteps make their way to the house and the door creaks open.

“I’m almost ready,” I say.

Take the ears, cross them over and under the hill. Pull them tight so they won’t fall off.

They didn’t know her as a young meerkat, running into the ground whenever a predator came. They knew her as the lion. ”

 As I finish tying my left shoe, I look up. The girls who I expect to see are outside smiling their ears off. 

The one standing inside is the one I’ve missed. The one standing inside is the one I haven’t seen in three years. The one standing inside is my best friend. 

Repeat the steps on the other shoe to make the second bunny. 

I race through my right shoe, which looks just as nice as the left by the end. 

I jump up to my best friend.

I give her the biggest bear hug a friend could ever give.

“Welcome home, sis.” I say. 

I look back at the yellow, dried-up leaf. A wind picked it up and returned it outside to its friends.

We head off on another adventure with the biggest smiles the world has ever seen. 

We head off on another adventure with six girls and eleven legs.

We head off on another adventure just as we would have three years ago.