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Count to Seventeen and Close Your Eyes
11 p.m read the clock by my nightstand. I tried to go to sleep but the winds were starting to pick up. I heard the crying and howling of the winds try to enter my room and I knew that I wasn’t going to sleep anytime soon. I walked over to the window and pulled the curtains open. It was a full moon tonight as I noticed the radiant brilliance shining through the trees surrounding our house. I suddenly felt an overwhelming feeling of paranoia consume me. I looked out and saw no one but that feeling of being watched continued. I involuntarily shuddered and closed the crimson curtains.
I went downstairs for a glass of water and nearly choked on it when a shadow passed the kitchen. The lights turned on and I was still trying to recover from my choking.
“Amelie, honey, are you alright? I didn’t mean to frighten you. I heard footsteps and came downstairs to see who was making them,” my mother said as she gently patted my back.
I finally gathered my breath and nodded at my mother. I looked at her and I could see the sleep deprivation taking a toll on her body. She never was the same after my father’s death. He was murdered just last year. The killer was never found. We moved not long after from our sunny California suburban home and into a small town in Oregon surrounded by the woods and away from the familiar environment of palm trees and sunshine.
“Alright Amelie, I’m going back to bed. You should too. Tomorrow is a school day and I cannot have you miss anymore classes,” my mother said.
I replied, “Okay mom. I’ll head upstairs in a little while.”
She nodded and left me in the kitchen alone. I looked out on our kitchen window and felt chills running down my arms. “I think I’m going crazy,” I thought to myself as I turned away and went to the living room.
I grew more tired after every step and once I laid on the couch; it only took a couple of seconds for me to go into a dreamless sleep.
I woke up, still on the couch and sore from sleeping on it. I checked the time and saw I was running late. I walked up to my room and changed into warmer clothes as I looked outside at the weather. Gray clouds filled the sky and fog crawled through the woods and onto the road.
I grabbed my bag and headed back downstairs for my cup of coffee. I drank some of the hot liquid and took the rest with me on my way out.
I waved goodbye to my mother as she made her way to the kitchen and I raced across the living room and into the front yard. I closed the wrought-iron gate behind me and made my way to school.
We lived secluded, away from town. So I usually was the only person walking on the road to school for the better part of the route. Today was different though. I saw a boy come out of my neighbor’s house. I was surprised since it was only Ms. Summers that lived there. She was an old widow that lost her husband due to a heart attack a few months ago. She was really nice but after the death, she became more secluded and I rarely saw her now.
I heard the boy say goodbye to Ms. Summers and head over to me.
“Hey, you know where Halo Saint High School is?” he said to me as he walked to through the gate and to my side of the road. “I’m new here and I haven’t any idea where everything is.”
“Yeah that’s where I’m headed,” I said to him.
“Cool would you mind if I came with you?” he asked me with a smile on his face.
“Sure, I’m Amelie,” I said to him.
“Frank Iero at your service ma’am,” he said as he tipped his imaginary hat. I let a giggle slip and he smirked at me.
We soon started a comfortable conversation on our way to school. I came to find out that Frank was Ms. Summers’ grandson and came to spend the year here after his mother died in a car accident.
“I’m really sorry for your loss, Frank. I know how tough it is,” I said to him. He stopped and looked into my eyes as I started to feel tears come running down my face softly.
I wiped my tears away and gave him a short, embarrassed laugh.
“You went through the same thing huh, Amelie?” he asked me. I looked into his eyes and wondered how beautiful they were. I started to really look at him and found him to be really attractive. I nodded and he grabbed my hand and smiled at me.
“We’ll make it. We have to for their memories to live on,” he said to me as he pulled me in for a hug. I gasped as I was never one to come in contact with anyone on a personal level.
Frank must have noticed my shock and quickly mumbled an apology. I shook my head and we both made our way to school.
He was a year older than me and so I didn’t see him until lunch time. I made my usual way down to the library when I heard Frank call my name over the crowd.
I blushed and soon Frank came up to me and asked if I wanted to hang out with him.
I agreed and he soon pulled me outside into the cloudy day. He took me further out of the school and soon we came to the woods that surrounded the buildings.
“I don’t think we should go in there, Frank. I’m going to be late for class,” I said as I felt something like dread when entering the forest.
“Trust me on this Amelie. There’s something I have to show you,” he said as he gave me a cute smile that warmed my heart.
I nodded and he told me to cover my eyes.
“I want you to count to seventeen and close your eyes. I’ll keep you safe tonight,” he whispered in my ear.
I felt butterflies in my stomach as his breath came near me and I was losing myself completely to him.
We walked for a few minutes until I bumped into him. I suddenly felt colder and chills ran up my arms but I felt Frank’s hand cover my own.
“Okay open your eyes,” he whispered in my ear.
I found myself staring at a magnificent scene. It was a beautiful waterfall surrounded by beautiful flowers and with lush, green vegetation.
“Oh Frank this is beautiful,” I said as I walked towards the edge of the hill and came into view of the sparkling, clear water below.
Frank took my hand and brought me closer to the water’s edge. I sat down and let my feet soak the cold, icy water. I heard some rustling behind me and soon saw Frank shirtless and in his boxers running past me and jump into the water.
“F-f-f*** it’s cold,” Frankie yelled as his head broke to the surface. I laughed at his antics. He, then, swam to my side with an evil gleam on his face.
I was too slow to get away and he soon grabbed me and carried me into the water. Down we went as the icy water overwhelmed my senses.
I pushed myself upwards and spotted Frank right next to me laughing his head off. He saw my evil glare and continued with his laughter until I pushed a handful of water to his face.
I laughed as he gave me an evil smirk and we continued our splashing game. I finally grew tired and decided to float in the pond. Frank swam up to me and we soon joined our feet and kept floating together.
“Wanna go under the waterfall, Amelie?” Frank asked.
“Sure let’s go,” I replied.
We swam to the waterfall’s edge and Frank pulled himself out first and extended his hand to help me up. He guided me through the side of the waterfall and into a cave hidden by the rushing water.
I sat down with my heavy, wet clothes and watched the forest through the water. I gave a content sigh and felt Frank’s hand cover mine. I turned and he sheepishly blushed as he took his hand away. I tried to hide my embarrassment but I found my courage and scooted closer to him and laid my head on his shoulder.
He, too, found his courage and wrapped his arms around my waist and felt him kiss my head as we sat surrounded by the noise of the water spilling down.
I started to shiver as the sun set and the wet clothes clung to me and I could see goose bumps forming on Frank.
“We should probably head back. It’s getting late Frank,” I said to him.
“Mkay. You probably must be freezing. Come on, I’ll take you home,” he said and I nodded.
We quickly grabbed our things and headed home. There wasn’t much use going back to school now that it ended half an hour ago, according to the time. We neared my home and Frank being so kind walked me to the front porch.
“Thanks for today, Frank. I had a really great time,”
“Yeah me too, Amelie. I am really glad to have met you,” He said shyly as his hair framed his adorable face. I smiled and feeling courageous I leaned over and gave him a quick kiss on his lips.
I blushed as I saw his surprised face but he smiled and returned the favor by giving me another kiss. This time though I didn’t pull away and this one showed me his growing love for me. I smiled into the kiss and we soon broke apart when I heard footsteps inside my house.
“I’ll see you around Amelie,” Frank said as he gave me another quick kiss on the lips and sprinted off into the direction of his house.
I waved him goodbye and stood on the porch for a couple of minutes trying to understand if this was happening to me.
I smiled as I still felt the tingle of the kiss on my lips and still smelled his faint scent of cigarettes on my clothing. I entered my home and saw my mom in the living room watching her shows. I quickly went up the stairs and into my room. I changed and sat by the window watching the sun set behind the trees. I watched as the sky turned into darkness and soon I felt my eyes slowly drop and I made my way to my bed and fell soundly asleep.
The next day, I was excited to see Frank again. I hurriedly showered and dressed. I raced downstairs and had a small bowl of oatmeal. I waved goodbye to my mother and soon found myself walking towards Frank’s house.
I opened the gate and knocked on the front door. Ms. Summers opened up after a few moments.
“Hello Ms. Summers, is Frank available?” I asked.
The old woman looked confused.
“No, my dear, I don’t know of any Frank. I’m sorry,” she said quickly closed the door. I tried talking to her again but she never came out.
I ran to school and soon asked the secretary of any students named Frank Iero.
“I’m sorry Amelie but I have no record of any Frank Iero attending this school. I do have one record though of a student by that same name but he graduated twelve years ago.
I was stunned and I quickly made my way to the library. I wasn’t imagining things. I wasn’t going crazy. I met a boy yesterday and I fell in love with him. He has to be real.
I searched through countless of articles and they all said the same thing.
“Boy, 18, found dead near Old Pine Falls."
“Frank Iero was found dead on September 12th near Old Pine Falls."
“The Iero funeral will take place at the Mills Church on September 15th 1999."
I can’t be going crazy. This isn’t the same boy I met. I finally found the one article with a picture of Frank. I nearly lost it. It was the same boy. It really was him. I fell down to the floor as I clutched the picture of him in my hands. I felt tears in my eyes and I read in the fine print where he was buried.
I ran out of the library and ran all the way to Cemetery Drive where the paper said his final resting place is located.
I found Frank’s gravestone by the majestic oak tree near the back of the cemetery.
Frank Anthony Iero Jr.
31st October 1981 – 15th September 1999
May he rest in peace.
I bent down and kissed his headstone and I soon felt the presence of someone next to me.
“I didn’t think I needed to tell you,” I heard Frank say as I looked over and saw his ghost form next to me. “I didn’t think I would have any feelings for someone. You showed me love, Amelie. I wish we could have met in different circumstances.”
“I wish so too, Frank. I don’t know how this happened and why I can see, feel, touch you but you brought me your love. I thank you for that. I truly do love you Frank but you need to move on. We can’t have anymore girls swooning after ghosts.”
At this he laughed and I gave a small laugh too. He grabbed my hands and looked me in the eyes.
“It doesn’t matter the shape I’m in love. I’ll keep you safe tonight and I mean this forever,” he said as he cupped my face in his hands.
“You are so cold,” I said through my tears and he lean down and kissed me with all the passion and love he could muster.
“I love you Amelie. Don’t you forget that. I will always keep you in my heart.”
“I love you too Frank,” I whispered as he kissed my forehead and soon felt the emptiness of his presence as he disappeared from this world.