Series: Spring stories in Warrensburg

Editor’s note: This story is the second in a three-part series of spring stories assigned in Matt Bird-Meyer’s Advanced Digital Journalism class. To see the origin of the assignment and the first story of the series, click here.

Here are the challenges for the spring stories presented below:

In your story, someone must reference water.

The first letters of three consecutive paragraphs must spell U-C-M.

You must describe the weather using a simile or metaphor.

Your first and last sentence must each contain five syllables.

One sentence must include three consecutive words using onomatopoeia.

Spring stories in Warrensburg

Lion’s Lake

“It has been a lot.”

That’s how Aubrey Burkholder described her week. Burkholder recently had many decisions to make.

“I have been so overstimulated, I can barely think about anything right now,” Burkholder said. “Between my parents wanting me to come home, my sister’s birthday coming up and all of the stuff I have to do in my sorority, I just need a day to relax.”

Burkholder, a junior middle school education major at the University of Central Missouri, walked by Lion’s Lake on a beautiful spring Sunday. The weather was perfect, it was like heaven with a slight chilling gust of air. Burkholder said she imagined herself lying in a soft hammock as the summer breeze whisked her to sleep. Only we were at a public lake. And there were no hammocks. And it was hardly summer.

It was nearing sunset. Burkholder approached the small dock that overlays a piece of the lake.

“I want to go sit on the dock,” she said.

“Let’s go,” I replied.

Until we looked around us, we hardly noticed the lake visitors clearing out. We were too invested in our conversation. Burkholder is a unique individual. She loved speaking, especially about her interests, and she articulated extremely well.

Conspiracy theories are her favorite topic. She had just explained the Mandella Effect theory before moving on to the Flat Earth theory. I didn’t even know how we ended up on this subject, as we were just talking about the water only minutes before.

“My God, I wish we could go swimming,” she said. “If this water weren’t so cold, I would seriously consider it.”

Burkholder looked out into the sunset for a moment in silence. She was thinking deeply about something.

“I feel like I’m being pulled in a million different directions…and I’m somehow always caught in the middle,” she said. “My parents expect so much from me, but they don’t understand all of the pressure I’m under. I don’t know how much longer I can take all of this.”

Burkholder reached up and wiped under her eye. Her makeup was still on and her hair still done from attending the Greek Week closing ceremony only 30 minutes prior to her walk. Her sorority, Sigma Sigma Sigma, had won top honors. Burkholder was grateful as she had participated in the festivities a considerable amount that week. But it did not fulfill her.

She said she hoped the beautiful spring weather would, though. Hence the walk.

Burkholder said she wanted new beginnings. She wanted a fresh start. Even if that only meant to a new week and not a new life. She said she just needed to feel as though something – anything – was starting again. All over. She just wanted to feel refreshed.

“Don’t get me wrong. Even though I love this weather, I can’t wait for it to start raining,” she said. “I love the rain, too. It is relaxing and really gives you time to think. I like to sit by my window and read a book with the rain hitting my window.”

The pitter-patter on the window pane was like heaven to her ears.

The toot of a train whistle sounded in the distance, the ducks quacked on the other side of the lake, and a car engine vroomed as it exited the parking lot.

The sun faded much lower into the Earth and it was getting noticeably chillier without the UV rays.

“I wish I had brought a jacket,” Burkholder said. “If I had mine on me, I could sit here all night.”

“What is your star sign?” she asked as she broke the short silence.

“Cancer,” I replied.

“I can tell. I’m a Gemini. We just got out of the Mercury retrograde, and it was especially chaotic for me.”

Burkholder enjoys astrology. She spoke about the signs, their traits and why the people in our lives acted the way they did based solely on the month in which they were born. Every person she described matched their zodiac description perfectly. She went through their pros and cons, their flaws and best traits. It was almost an art form how informed and in-tune she was with other human characteristics.

It was getting dark outside. Dark enough for two young girls to begin to fade out of invincibility and relaxation mode and back into cautious mode.

We gathered our things and headed toward the parking lot up the small hill from the dock.

We got into our cars and looked at each one last time.

We both waved goodbye.

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