Steve opened his tattered sketchbook and quickly flipped past the first page, ignoring the crookedly pasted picture of him and Bucky as kids. It was hard to grasp that only a week ago his best friend had been right beside him. Now...well, it was different.
Bucky had shipped off to the 107th the day before. Now, Steve was enlisted, but hadn't gotten anywhere yet. He was going to camp the day after next, but for now, he was stuck at his apartment. It was...quiet. No laughter echoed in the drafty space, and the boxes that held the few belongings that he owned were stored at the Barnes' house, since his lease was ending in three days. The room was empty…and dark. Steve pushed away the negative thoughts that tried to creep in and fingered a blank page, his pencil poised. He waited for an idea, an urge, anything to come into his mind and flow onto the paper.
It remained empty.
Then, slowly, as if driven by an outside force, his pencil began to move, sketching thin, spidery threads and progressing to a sharp, bold outline. Slowly, the scene began to take shape.
From the sooty brick alley to the patched-up cap Bucky wore, every detail was clear and precise, mirroring perfectly the image in his mind. He drew himself as a little boy, stumbling out of the alley corner, only supported by Bucky's strong arms. He drew a slit on his lip and a shadow over his eye. Bucky's eyes were calm and kind, and his smile brightened the dank, scuffed-up situation, giving even the half-dead kid some hope. Gradually, the criss-crossing of Steve's lines filled in the drawing, and with the finishing touches, he blew the eraser bits off the page and closed the book.
The following morning, Steve flipped to the next page and dusted off the next memory. The two of them were in pajamas, pillows and blankets tossed every which way and couch cushions jumbled across the floor. They were bent over their homemade cardboard toy soldiers and tanks, choosing their battle formations and sending their men over throw blanket mountains and cushion-crack ravines. Popcorn and chips were strewn across the carpet, and a waltzing fire crackled in the wood stove. Mrs. Barnes and Mrs. Rogers sat in the kitchen talking over a cup of tea, and Mr. Barnes was in the back room smoking a cigar. Steve's eyes watered as he drew his mother's eyes with gentle strokes, her lips into a tender smile. How he missed her.
An aching love for his late mother sprang up and welled over in his heart. He remembered so well how in his younger years she had come home late every night, exhausted, hungry, often nearly at the end of her straw, and yet she'd always find time for him. She used to walk into his room, sit on his bed, smooth his hair back with an affectionate smile, and ask him how his day went. Often times she'd frown sadly at a bandaged arm or swollen ankle, and have to dress a few cuts. But she always did so with soft hands and a caring smile. She'd brighten with pride when he told her his grades and nod fondly when he would say his plans with Bucky for the next day. They would say prayers and she'd thank God for all the positives of the day, and humbly ask Him for help, whether it was for the next rent payment or because someone at school was giving him a hard time. They would always find a way. It seemed that nothing could tear that woman down; no matter how hard it got, she'd pick herself up and dust herself off and be right back at it with a smile. He had always strived to be like her.
As Steve's thoughts wandered, he finished the drawing and left his notebook for the next day.