By Amelia York
Green was always one of Amber’s favorite colors. She admired the hue, even when she was merely a little girl. She loved the appearance of glossy green apples, the pigment of shimmering emeralds, and the tone of viridescent treefrogs. Maybe that was why she was so fond of the sight of grassy green hills decorating the earth in front of her. They gave her a sense of calm, especially when placed against the pale, dull mist of the morning sky. Her imagination lit up, as it created images of sheep and deer grazing along the untrimmed rolling hills. However, her favorite part of the premises was the view that was behind her. Tan, brick buildings lined open streets, castles were scattered around, and heavenly churches were everywhere- it was Rennes Le-Chataeu, France.
Amber wouldn’t be able to look at the village or the mountains for much longer though. The twenty four year old had decided it was time to return to the tragically compacted and never ending list of responsibilities called her life. She had already graduated from Cornell, had already made cash off of computer engineering, and had already found her New York City life incredibly boring. She completely despised having such an average routine: waking up in her expensive, modern apartment, taking the taxi to her job, going back home, binging Netflix, and going to sleep. So, she took a break. She grabbed a backpack, a plane ticket to Europe, kissed her dog goodbye and took off. Rome, Paris, Barcelona, you name it. Amber didn’t quite end it with a bang though. Although the views were enchanting, and the mysteries were amusing, Rennes Le-Chateau was more of a tourist trap than an awe-inspiring adventure. That didn’t matter though, because no matter where her last location was, she would still have to backpack back home.
And that’s what she began to do. Despite the sky being grey and the winds still whisping her ginger curls back, she walked with her chin up and her backpack on. Except she didn’t have her backpack on. She ran her right hand up her back to feel for the bag material, but it wasn’t there.
“Nice. Cool,” Amber mentally sighed, spiraling around. Her brown eyes scanned the entire pathway. She noted a few overgrown weeds growing off the sides of the stones, dust, and no backpack. “Really cool,” She sarcastically thought to herself. “Well, this backpack isn’t going to find itself.” Reluctantly, she backpedaled into the very village that she was just walking away from.
As she walked through one of the many openings of the small community, she was enveloped by familiarity with the streets. Within the week that Amber had resided in Rennes Le-Chateau, she had already roamed every corner and mysterious twist and turn that were shrouded by trees and crumbling walls. She had grown to find comfort in the off colored houses that ran up the streets. Their chipped roofs and the uncut weeds surrounding them gave her a cozy, warm feeling that her cold and compact New York apartment could never give. She even knew most of the residents. There were only about one hundred or so after all. So of course, she recognized the young pig-tailed girls who were skipping and giggling down the path.
“Bonjour Adeline et Madison!” She waved to the two brunettes. They both flashed toothy grins upon hearing their names mentioned. Madison flailed her arm in an excited wave back.
“Bonjour Amber! Comment allez-vous?” Adeline responded, doing a small curtsy with her lavender skirt. Absentmindedly, Amber exchanged the basic French smalltalk that she was taught from Cornell with the two young ladies. Before they said their goodbyes and parted ways, Amber realized she should ask if either of them had seen her backpack.
“Oh! Avez-vous vu un sac à dos sarcastique?” Adeline had to articulate before beginning to shake her head, but Madison interrupted.
“Juste là!” She shook her index finger towards what was indeed Amber’s backpack- being carried by a hooded stranger.
“Hey!” Amber broke out of her French and back into the English voice that she usually only used when she had to scold her dog. Her lengthy legs broke off straight into a sprint, one shoe moving right in front of the other. The thief attempted to throw her off by zigzagging through the sharp turns of the village, but she wouldn’t let her eyes wander off the bandit, like how a mother keeps her eyes on her wild child. And just like that same mother, Amber eventually grasped the wild child by her clothed arm. It was hard to keep a solid grasp because the figure kept wriggling around in the manner of an undomesticated creature. She held strong, forcing them to turn towards her. She yanked the hood off only to discover that this was no creature.
It was a girl. A little girl. A little girl with ratted orange hair, disembodied freckles, and green eyes.
“Why…” Amber trailed off, her pupils nearly dilating in shock. The girl shook her fists, the backpack weighing her down. This snapped her back into why she was in the situation she was. “Give me my backpa- I mean, donnez-moi mon sac à dos.” There was a moment of silence where the thief scanned around the niche between the church and the decorative wall where the two stood, almost as though she was paranoid of someone else creeping around the corner. She looked like someone who was used to having to do this. Reluctantly, she shook the backpack off and shoved it into Amber’s arms. She quickly dug into the bag as to make sure nothing was stolen from the inside. “Thank goodness..” She thought with relief, feeling a sigh escape her lungs. “Why would a kid do this?”
She looked up only to see that the girl was looking up at her. At a second glance, there was something else besides a lack of hygiene that the raggamuffin carried. There were scratches. On her pearly skin lied bruises circling her knees and shins, and even some lines on her angular face where deep cut wounds must’ve been. But that wasn’t the only place the scratches were. They were internal. The wounds rested within the green eyes of hers. The eyes weren’t the shade emeralds, or treefrogs, or apples. They were the hue that an abstract artist would use to paint his feelings of sorrow. They were the favorite color of someone who could only find comfort in their own pity. They were the eyes of someone who had nothing, nowhere, and no one.
Amber dug into her bag once again, and she had something in her mind that she was looking for. She dropped a handful Euro’s into the girl’s cold palms, and pushed her hands close to her chest. She wanted to wish her good luck, or at least farewell, but just as rapidly as the bandit had appeared, she ran away. So, Amber decided it was probably her turn to do the same.
A few minutes later, she had reached the same entrance she was at less than an hour ago. Despite the short time frame, it seemed the view had already changed so much. The wind was blowing the trees around. The sky had transformed into a blueish color hidden behind clouds. But, the hills were still green. Amber knew that she still had to leave Europe and continue her life as a busy New Yorker, but Amber also knew that because she had a home and people there for her, maybe it wouldn’t be so bad.