cold hands, warm hearts
Your boots crunch into the dry, crispy auburn leaves as you make your way through the small town of Home. It was this year's autumnal festival and you couldn’t wait to see what hijinks your friends planned!
The road was covered in an array of leaves, muting the already colour rich town in a blanket of yellows, reds, and browns. You marched up a hill, seeing the outline of the festival’s banners from a distance. You huffed, exerting yourself as you trekked, seeing your breath poof up in a cloud of smoke. The cold nipped at your bare fingertips, but you didn’t mind.
You can finally hear the commotion of your friends scrambling around and having fun. You tilt your head to read the banner - clearly in Howdy’s handwriting - ‘Home’s Fall Festival’. There were some elegantly painted designs, as well as some crudely decorated ones. It was definitely a whole town effort to make it.
“Don’t keep starin’! Come on in!”
You break out of your thoughts to look at the towering caterpillar who stood behind a food stall, beckoning you over with one of his long limbs. You happily skip over, grinning, “Hey, Howdy! Nice handwriting!”
“Oh, that thing?” He glanced up at the sign before waving dismissively, “Shucks, I write so often, it’s really nothin’.”
You chuckle, shaking your head. “If you say so, Mr. Pillar.”
He leaned forward on his elbows, looking down at you with big eyes, “Say, you reckon you want some food? We got hot popcorn, hot chocolate, hot dogs, hot peppers, you name it!”
Being around him was so amusing. He always made such amazing pitches. How does he keep having endless stock? And hot peppers ? Who’s ordering that?
You could only assume Barnaby.
“Maybe later!” You waved him off as you started to hop away.
He simply waved back, “Alright, I’ll be here if you change your mind!”
You went to see what your other friends were up to.
A crackling bonfire lit up the centre of the festival, its fiery warmth emanating throughout the tiny faire.
You could see Sally atop of a makeshift stage, playing out a dramatic scene from a play. Her monologues were emotive, filled with passion and drive. In this scene she was holding a plastic… skull?
Wait, was this Hamlet?
You decide not to question.
Julie sat next to Frank in the audience, arms linked as they watched in awe of the brilliant star’s performance.
Looking on, you can see Eddie and Poppy sitting at the arts and crafts tent. Eddie was gently trying to instruct how to make the perfect leaf wreath. But… Poppy would often glue her fingers together and cuss a little ‘Oh, feathers me!’
Eddie, as sweet as honey, would insist she was doing amazing.
Finally, you see Barnaby next to a wide oak barrel. A crudely painted sign stuck next to it, saying ‘Bobbin’ fer Applez.’
Then you see him. The perfect deep navy blue hair, the lazy smile and half lidded eyes of the guy you’ve totally been crushing on since you moved here.
He was casually picking up the crimson apples from the chilly water, all while flatly remarking, “See, I’m bobbing.”
Barnaby released a booming laugh, practically barking, “I’m gonna bob you on the head in a second!”
Wally just tilted his head, offering a confused smile.
The giant canine cracked his neck, positioning his hands on either side of the barrel’s opening. “Watch the professional at work!”
Then he dunked his head down into the frigid liquid, splashing it like a tidal wave onto the unsuspecting Wally. When he finally emerged, two whole apples were in his toothed maw.
Smug, he looked over the shorter man. Then his expression immediately dropped.
Wally stood, blank faced, the front of his puffer jacket absolutely drenched.
Barnaby popped the apples out, “Oh, shoot, Walls! Didn’t mean for this to be a Wet n Wild ride! I’ll be back!” He hurried his way off to Howdy’s stall, probably in hopes for something to help.
You took the opportunity to duck closer to Wally. “Looks like you’re having a splashing good time.”
You internally cringed at yourself. Damn that Barnaby!
“Ha ha. Ain’t it so?” Wally held his kind smile, but it didn’t reach his eyes.
You decided to unbutton your jean jacket.
He gave a flat “Huh?”
You slid off the fabric, offering it to the shorter man. The chill bit at your skin, causing a ripple of goosebumps to run up and down your body.
He blinked slowly. “You’ll get cold.”
You shivered, offering a sweet smile, “So will you!”
He reluctantly unzipped his jacket, tugging it off to replace it with yours.
It practically engulfed him. His fingers barely peeked out from the sleeves. You wish you could take a picture of him. He looked absolutely adorable.
You held onto his puffer in the crook of your arm, feeling the wetness seep into your bones.
Another chill ran up your spine, causing you to exhale another puff of smoke.
Then in a split second, a giant wool mass would plop over you, encasing you in a tent of darkness. Wiggling out of your wool chamber, you peeked out to see Barnaby grinning above you.
“Didn’t expect ya to switch with Wallers! You can’t catch a cold now, ya hear?”
You fixed the oversized blanket so it was slung over your shoulders. You stuck a tongue out to the giant canine. “I’ll be fine! ”
“Just wait! Your tongue will be frozen like that!”
Wally popped in, copying Barnaby, “Will too!”
“Hey, you’re not supposed to side with him!”
He gave his signature cat-like grin in response.
It wasn’t long until night cloaked the town in darkness. Stars twinkled and danced overhead, with the moon showing half of its beautiful glowing face.
Everyone was gathered around the bonfire, enjoying the crackling warmth on this brisk night. Julie and Sally were playing with rainbow sparklers, twirling out a magical light display. Frank and Eddie sat cuddled next to each other, staring dreamily into the snapping wooden flames. Howdy was passing out hot apple cider, while Poppy was instructing Barnaby how to make the perfect roasted marshmallow.
That only left you and Wally, sitting next to each other on a wooden bench.
You sipped on the hot cider, allowing the toasty beverage to heat you up.
You both let the snaps and crackles of the logs fill in the silence, simply enjoying the sweet moment with friends.
That is, until you could hear a soft mumble leave the puppet’s felt lips.
“I wish I could paint you right now.”
Your heart skipped a beat. You glanced over to Wally, watching as the flames danced shadows across his face. It casted an orange hue, accentuating his soft, plush features.
A pink blush tinted your cheeks. You definitely wanted to blame it on the bonfire for licking at your exposed skin.
But you knew it was because this silly little artist was staring at you with this most love drunk expression. His adoration filled gaze made your stomach twist in happy knots.
You found yourself inching closer to him, your spare hand just barely brushing against his fabric one.
“I wouldn’t mind that.”
A blissful sigh escaped the man. He reciprocated the gesture, scooting closer. You could feel his knee bump against yours playfully.
It wasn’t long before you both tentatively laced your chilly fingers together, basking in the heat of eachother’s flesh.
“Maybe we should schedule something?”
“That sounds wonderful, Wally.”
A quietness lulled between you as you enjoyed the moment. Despite the silence, you could feel your limbs tingle with exhilaration as your tummy burst with millions of fluttering butterflies.
You may have cold hands, but at least your heart is full and warm.