The Kid Contest
Title Of Entry:
Sealed with a Pinecone
Penname: Lady Saruman
Word Count: 2,412
Genre: Friendship/Adventure

Disclaimer: Characters belong to Stephenie Meyer. The plot is mine.

I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. ^^

The six-year-old girl looked very dashing in a little red plaid dress with lace decorating the bottom of the skirt. She tugged impatiently on her mother's hand and rushed her.

"Mommy, let's go!"

"Hold on, Alice, sweetie, I'm waiting for Daddy to come home so he can take care of Cynthia."

"Awww, can't we just take her with us?" Alice drawled, pouting. Mrs. Brandon smiled, reminiscing about her own childhood and how she used to pull that very same act with her own mother.

"No, my hands will be all full with you. By the way, you look beautiful." She said that mainly to distract her daughter, who at six already admired and had a flair for fashion; it worked.

"I know, Mommy! This is my favouritest dress."

"'Favouritest' isn't a word, dear."

"Oh." Little Alice put a finger to her chin as she pondered her previous words. Just as easily, though, she let the mysteries of the English language drop. She finally plopped down onto the sofa and was still, much to her mother's relief.

Soon, the sounds of a car pulling into their driveway were heard.

"Daddy!" Alice ambushed Mr. Brandon as soon as she had yanked the door open.

"Hello, Princess. Someone's especially eager today." He looked at his wife, who just smiled and shrugged.

"Come on, come on, come on!" Alice was ready to frisk about, but her parents were still discussing what they were going to do. Parents were just so slow sometimes!

She ran outside. "Hi Jake! I bet you're ready to explore too, aren't you?" She greeted the family's Alaskan Malamute, stroking his grey and white fur. He sang back to her with a "woo woo" sound and licked her fingers. She giggled.

When Mrs. Brandon was finally ready, she took another eternity—or so it seemed—strapping Alice into her car seat and loading Jake onto the passenger seat. On their way to the park, Alice watched Jake, with his head partially out the window and his tongue lolling out of his mouth. She figured it must have been a fabulous feeling, and couldn't wait until she could do it herself.

At last, they had arrived! She happily danced amongst the lush grass, with Jake prancing about at her heels, his leash dragging behind him on the ground.

She made her way towards her favourite spot in the park: it was the only place that had heaps upon heaps of flowers. She would stand at the centre of the field, and no matter which direction she looked to, she couldn't see anything that wasn't flowers.

That was where she sat now, observing the multicoloured blossoms all around her. She liked these flowers best. She had seen, many times, when a man offered a woman a bouquet of flowers—and her dad to her mom as well. Those flowers were gorgeous but these were majestic. Majestic in the fact that they were left to flourish, rather than being picked and dying after a much shorter amount of time.

She truly loved the flowers. She felt that they were underappreciated; she had seen many park-goers trample through the field without a second thought. All the flattened flowers…

Jake had snuggled close to her and was asleep. The soft summer sun was calming and it made her drowsy. She was ready to doze off too, when she heard loud footsteps approaching at a rapid pace.

She turned, ready to bite off the head of whoever had interrupted her moment.

It was a young boy about her age, give or take a year. He had exquisite, dark golden-blond hair on which the sun shone and made it appear as a halo. He was dressed in a white T-shirt with some indistinguishable design on it, and black trousers that rustled with every movement.

He was the epitome of cute, as far as she was concerned. She blushed as he peered at her intently. His hands were hidden behind his back.

"My friend and I were playing a game. He told me to find a wife by the end of the day. I saw you by yourself and I came to see.

"You look very pretty, too," he added demurely, looking at her from underneath his long eyelashes. Indeed, her raven hair flowed like the turbulent waves he had seen many times on television. Her little pristine dress was arranged delicately around her slender form. She had huge, dark eyes that magnetically held his gaze.

Edward would be jealous when he saw this little beauty.

The little boy now brought his hands forward. Nestling between the palms of his hands was a perfectly symmetrical pinecone. Looking innocently down at her, he asked her a question.

"Will you marry me?" He offered her the pinecone.

"I've never seen that before… what is it?"

"I found it under a tree. But if you accept it for now, it'll be a symbol of our love until I grow up, make lots of money like Daddy does, and buy you a diamond ring like the one Mommy wears!"

That sounded pretty romantic to Alice. All thoughts of scolding the boy for stepping on the flowers were forgotten.

The fact that neither knew the other's name was forgotten as well, in the splendour of the moment.

"Okay," she acquiesced shyly. She had never been shy before.

The boy grinned. "You have to kiss me now."

Now that was something Alice would not do. "No!" she objected, albeit with a tinkling laugh. As if to emphasize her point, Jake awoke and stood up at his full height. He stared at the boy, who now looked frightened.

"Here!" he said quickly, giving the pinecone to Alice. He managed a bashful grin before dashing off.

"Oh, Jakey," Alice sighed. "You scared him off. Don't you want me to get married too, just like Mommy and Daddy?" The dog only looked at her, his tongue once again hanging out of his mouth.

Alice ran all the way back to her mother, clutching the token of her engagement to the little boy.

"Mommy, look!" She held out her new treasure.

"That's beautiful. Where did you find it?"

"A boy gave it to me!"

"Alice, what did I tell you about not talking to strangers?" Mrs. Brandon reminded her daughter, suddenly stern.

"I know, I know, but he was my age! And he asked me to marry him!"

Her mother smiled indulgently. "And I suppose you said yes?"

"Of course I did! You should've seen him, Mommy, he was the handsomest boy ever! He's even better looking than Daddy is! His hair was gold, and his eyes are the colour of the water in our pool! And he even said that his daddy gave his mommy a diamond ring! And then, he promised he would give me one too when he becomes rich!"

"What's his name, dear?"

"Oh. He never told me." All at once she was sad now. "How am I going to ever find him again?"

"Let's go home." Such a day of excitement would soon take its toll on Alice.

With the pinecone now resting in the most prominent spot on her shelf of trinkets, Alice never forgot about that fateful day.

Ten years later

The years had gone by. Each year had its share of frustration, pain, annoyance, happiness, and just about every other feeling that could be experienced by a human being.

Boys came and boys went. Alice emerged from those experiences all the wiser. But even after all those years, she was never able to forget about her first crush: the boy who had left such a lasting influence upon her.

She didn't know how to find him. None of her friends knew him. He could have come from an entirely different state and had just been visiting for all she knew.

She still even had his pinecone. It did look more significantly worn out, but it wasn't yet to the point of fragility. It had long lost the natural scent of its environs, but it was still as beautiful as ever in her eyes.

Lately, she had been thinking about him more than usual. She knew the chances of ever seeing him again were extremely slim, but she never lost hope. She had taken to going to the park on a daily basis, to the spot she loved so much. Maybe one day he would remember too.

But of course he wouldn't. It had been a decade, after all. Even that word sounded long in itself.

But she was wrong.

He hadn't forgotten her either. He would always remember her keen eyes and the way they lit up. Her delicately shaped face, and her dark, dark tresses…

He wondered if she had cut them. He hoped she had not.

She had cut her hair for her mother, who was undergoing chemotherapy for lymphoma. Having had two months to grow out, her hair was now spiky, and she often thought she resembled a porcupine. But she made the best of it, styling it as well as she could.

One day, before heading off to the park, Alice took her pinecone with her, acting on a sudden whim. She was prepared to wait, like every other day, for the boy whom she had agreed to marry but whose name she had never discovered.

She took her customary place among the flowers, never really seeing her surroundings. Her head was in the clouds. She never stopped imagining, never stopped dreaming.

"I've always been close… I live in the next city over. I would have come more often had I known how much you frequent this place."

But then again, Alice knew her imaginings had always been ridiculous, even to her highly fanciful self.

Tonight, however, she had not come in vain. She had not dreamed in vain.

He noticed her before she him. She had grown up, and she was more beautiful than she had been at six, but her eyes had remained the same. They were still as large, dark, and intuitive as ever. However, the long, black-as-night tresses that had so awed him were gone. He wondered why. He approached, hands tucked into his pockets, hardly daring to believe it.

"You look beautiful tonight," he said before he even knew what he was saying.

She started from her reverie. He had never before seen eyes as large as hers.

He had now changed, more than she thought was possible. His hair colour had lightened considerably from what she remembered, and he had grown all around. Not only was he now majestically tall, but his arms were toned in just the way she liked it. She could tell his chest was the same way. As corny as it sounded, his eyes were the most distinguishing feature to her as hers were to him. They were as blue as she had remembered it—the blue of her swimming pool water, she had said at the young age of six. His nose was still straight, but it had lengthened a bit. His mouth was still as thin as ever.

"It's you," she whispered, too astounded to be embarrassed by her inability to say anything else. She found herself blushing again, remembering back to when she had also blushed the very first time she had met this boy in this very same field.

Jasper said nothing. He only watched as she turned the pinecone—the symbol of their mock engagement—over and over in her small, shapely hands.

"I never forgot about you," she confessed, staring at her treasure. "Maybe that makes me sound obsessed, but I just couldn't forget." She fell silent, realising she was repeating herself.

"You kept the pinecone," Jasper noted, feeling stupid for stating the obvious.

"Yes," Alice said, now tenderly cupping it. "I remember how this came to be mine, and every single line that was said that day."

Jasper did too. "I proposed to a little girl with a red plaid dress and beautiful black hair. She had with her a fearsome dog that interrupted my proposal. I had also promised her a diamond ring when we were older. She had accepted me then, but I don't know if she's still up for it now."

She smiled. "How could I not be? I was so happy that one day, I would be able to look like Mom with her own magnificent ring."

"I'm sorry to disappoint you, but you'll have to wait a little bit longer," he joked.

"Of course. But before you run away again, like last time, tell me your name. We never did address that topic."

He, too, had spent many an hour thinking about the same enigma. But a puzzle it would be no more.

"My name is Jasper. Jasper Whitlock."

Alice Whitlock. Already her mind was at imagination. She liked the sound of the new name very much.

"Alice Brandon."

"Pleasure." He grinned, now finally able to put a name to the face. "Do you get the feeling that this is all out of order?"

"Immensely," she agreed. "But that's what makes it all the more unique." True, their meeting wasn't as magical as she had imagined it to be, but it was still all very unrealistic in the same way magic was to her—and she meant that in a good way.

He told her about himself. She found out that he did indeed live in the neighbouring city—it seemed all too good to be true—and that every time he went to the park, hoping she would be there as well, she never was. In that short period of time, the two learned more about each other than they ever had about anybody else.

When it got late, Jasper finally brought up a preposition. "Maybe this time," he said, eyes twinkling, "we should exchange our contact info. You know, just so we won't keep missing each other again. Unless, of course, you prefer that." He winked, and Alice found herself staring intently at her feet, her lips twitching upwards.

They were friends now, friends who had finally found each other. And maybe, just maybe, they could become more. Maybe they could even live up to their engagement they had so easily forged at the carefree age of six.

She finally looked up and stared long and deeply into Jasper Whitlock's eyes. His returning gaze never wavered.

"That will be best of all," she whispered.

A/N: What did you think? This is my first attempt at entering a contest, so yeah. :)

If only my college apps' essay prompts were as interesting as this. :X

Merry Christmas and happy holidays!