Being grammatically-challenged, Henrietta recruited Baxter to write her diary. “Dear Diary,” she dictated, “today is the first day of the rest of my life.” Baxter tried to dissuade her from so trite an opening, but she would have none of it. “The days have slipped through my fingers like so much rose-water,” she continued, “but no more. No more will I succumb to the tyranny of dreams; no longer will I linger in sleep’s deep streams.” Henrietta placed the back of her hand against her brow and closed her eyes against the shadow-dispelling sunlight, trespassing as it was through a fearsome cloud cover.
“How was your day?” asked Baxter’s mother as he returned from school.
“What did you learn about?”
“Nothing.” Baxter climbed the stairs to his room where he fumbled through a drawer full of videogames.
“’Nothing’, despite what you may think,” began Baxter’s teacher the following day, “is a difficult concept to wrap your mind around. Jonathan Edwards described it as that which rocks dream about.”
Baxter looked out the classroom window and saw Henrietta sitting alone at a lunch table. Several crayons were strewn about the table along with some construction paper. He knew when he went outside to play she would call out his name in a tone of distress.
He winced then continued toward the soccer field.
“Baxter!!” The pitch of her voice immobilized him as if a Piccolo Pete were ignited in his head. He walked back to her table and picked up a periwinkle crayon. Under Henrietta’s supervision, Baxter drew a sunset that swelled with purpling pastel hues as though the sky had inhaled all the sprigs of lavender gracing the gardens of Tivoli.
When the bell rang, Baxter dropped his crayon and hurried to class lest he miss something about nothing.
“Nothing comes from nothing, and nothing ever will. Who said that?” queried Mr. Sosa.
“Julie Andrews,” replied a student.
“Oscar Hammerstein,” a second student answered.
“Well, Julie Andrews sang it. Oscar Hammerstein wrote it,” the first retorted.
“Oscar Hammerstein II,” insisted a third.
The attention of all turned to Baxter as he sang the song in a rich yet haunting tone that sent shivers through students and teacher alike as though a procession of decomposing corpses were sashaying along their spines. The lectures on nihilism were clearly beginning to weigh on him.
At the close of the school day, Henrietta met Baxter at the park adjacent to the campus. She handed him her diary.
“Dear Diary,” she predictably began. “Today is the second day of the rest of my life.”
Baxter nodded his approval prior to sneezing.
“That was my friend Baxter spraying the face of your pages with pale, liquid moonlight.”
Baxter looked into Henrietta’s hazel eyes and found himself lost like Persephone shrinking back into the recesses of Hades upon Hermes’ backward glance.
Henrietta removed a napkin from her lunchbox and wiped clean his nose as though vanquishing a thousand sorrows from her wearied hero’s troubled breast.
Baxter reached into her lunchbox and withdrew a fire engine-red crayon. He wrote “Baxter + Henrietta” on the page then enclosed it with a heart that would ne’er be broken—nay, not even should a gazillion ghouls attempt to neatly cleave it with a butcher knife.
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