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Confident This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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A sudden breeze swept up the hill like a whispering falcon, brushing my hair over my face in a veil of tangles. A smile spread across my face as I opened my eyes for the first time in a while, taking in the glorious fall sky. The sight was dramatic and soothing at the same time; from the golden blood of a dying sun to the clouds of gray gauze it seeped into, I found it almost impossible to look away.

Almost.

But even with the muted light and the irresistible natural splendor, there was something even more captivating that called to me. It was the sound of his guitar, a bright tinkling of falling water, that stole my will with a thousand times the intensity of the sweetest siren song. Slowly I surrendered, my eyes confirming the likeness between the sight before me and the one I had fabricated in my mind. He was sitting cross-legged, his slender arms cradling an old acoustic: an animated portrait of true ease. I propped myself up to get a better look at his face and couldn’t help but smile when I found it deep in concentration.

For a moment I only watched and listened, mesmerized by a simple melody that was both familiar and foreign. He stole a glance to see if I was watching, only to quickly look back at the fret board and recover a missed note.

“Since when do you play?” I asked, my smile growing wider.

He took a moment to respond, filling the silence with a bittersweet symphony. “Since you wanted me to.” His smile lit his face for an instant before it hardened in concentration once more.

I frowned. “I don’t remember that. As if you needed another way to upstage me.” My tone was playful, but my thoughts remained serious. Although his playing was far from perfect, having him pick up an instrument was not something I had asked for.

“You wanted me to become more … genuine,” he said softly. “I knew this would be real to you.” He let a final chord ring out, then abandoned the weathered instrument and focused on me.

My lips tightened into a line. “I don’t want to talk about this when I’m here,” I sighed, lying back in the grass. “Let me dwell on this when I’m alone. For now, let’s just –”

“Exist?” he finished, his voice heavy with intimation. A moment passed while we listened to the wind in the nearby trees and searched for words when nothing was meant to be said.

I let out a breath I had been holding and looked at him. His eyes burned into mine, trying to show how much it hurt to remind me. In a desperate attempt to keep my mind busy, I heaved myself up and pulled the silent guitar into my lap. My fingers pulled awkwardly at the strings until they recognized a pattern and prompted the shining wires to keep up, singing a tranquil tune. I wasn’t very good, but I was thrilled when I saw him watching out of the corner of my eye.

“You really should play more,” he said softly, shifting his weight so slightly that I almost didn’t notice. I looked up through my eyelashes for a second.

“I should be doing a lot of things right now. You know how crazy it is. Schoolwork, my jobs, those art projects …” My list could go on. “This, however, this is not one of them.”

I hardly noticed that I had stopped playing.

Somehow I wanted that to hurt him; I wanted for him to say no, he needed me, or that this was all that really mattered. But he just stared with stony sincerity and eyes that burned like dying suns. It made something inside me break.

My heart lurched when I understood: there would be no protest; he would not fight. This was a decision he would have me make alone. I wanted to cry out in agony, for the sole factor of my heartbreak would not be enough for me to abandon my common sense. But a word, one word of encouragement from him, would set my will on the other side.

Knowing that, he remained silent.

For a moment, out of pure desperation I held my breath to see if he would fold. Maybe at the last minute he would murmur the words that I so severely needed to hear. But after the coldest silence I could imagine, we both knew the decision I would be walking away with.

I swallowed hard and lowered my eyes from his face, terrified by my sudden urge to lose control. Time raced against me with a mocking grin as I stood quickly; I couldn’t allow myself to change my mind.

I ached to leave him with some kind of parting gesture, but I only yanked the guitar from the ground and let my footsteps take me away. Perhaps I turned back to look at the field once I reached its end, just where the grass sprouts through the frayed edge of the ribbon of road. It’s possible that my eyes scanned the golden horizon for a moment longer than absolutely necessary, making sure of my decision.

But I’m sure I would have seen nothing more than I expected to see: a lonely wind combing through an empty, dying field.

***

My lungs pulled in a gasp of stale air that did little to satisfy the ache that wracked my body in the form of frantic heartbeats. Fire pulsed through my veins to pool in my fingertips and toes while I struggled against the millions of invisible restraints holding me to the bed. I opened my stubborn eyes to the dull light that streamed wearily through my window and strained to loosen my joints one by one.

Good morning.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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This article has 49 comments. Post your own!

BurningBright said...
Mar. 12, 2009 at 11:30 pm:
I love how well this piece flows. It has such a creative story line, and I was just blown away by what an excellent writer you are. Job well done!
 
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booklover28704 said...
Feb. 28, 2009 at 6:00 pm:
wow... that was great, it really grabed my whole mind. made me just think about ur story. you made it feel real as if it was happening in front of my eyes.
 
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sAmA027 said...
Feb. 24, 2009 at 3:14 am:
OMG!! I loved it! Its sad ,but amazing!!!!
 
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tweedle dee said...
Feb. 7, 2009 at 2:08 pm:
wow, i felt this all saw it all... amazing. this is truly wonderful!!!
 
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mememelly said...
Feb. 4, 2009 at 11:16 pm:
i loved this story. it was so descriptive and intense that i want to know more about the characters and what happens next.
 
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artsygirl said...
Feb. 3, 2009 at 4:57 pm:
What a great story. I so want her to go back to sleep and dream so we can see what happens. I felt every breeze and string what fantastic detail. I want to read more of your work. You are so talented. Keep up the writing.
 
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i<3you said...
Feb. 10, 2009 at 9:06 pm:
Oh my god....true art
 
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balletgirl<3 said...
Jan. 29, 2009 at 2:44 am:
this storyy was omg amazinggg i am a HUGE fan o teeninkk and ive readd soo manny stoies on here but this was byfar the bst ..you have a greatt future anndd omgg itt was ESTOUNDINGGG i want this to happen to me (the oood stuff not the heartbreak) it reminds me about the things i write ongs aboutt..but greatgreatt jobb!!<3
 
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tnmebd1 said...
Jan. 28, 2009 at 12:54 am:
Great story. Great writing. It makes me want to know what happened to them and why he wouldn't ask her to stay. I loved it.
 
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