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The sun beat down on the tiny park located in the middle of Edmonds, Washington. The residents were used to summer lasting barely two months and winter being almost year round so the sun’s early appearance was more than welcomed. It seemed that every resident had emerged from their little homes: parents lazily basked in the sunshine while their children chased each other around their picnic blankets littered with food remains they had yet to clean up. Teenagers inhabited the playground, hanging out on the swings, scowling at any child that dared get too close. A dog and his owner strolled around, stopping every few feet to sniff out a new scent. The whole town seemed to be connected, except for the dark haired girl sitting alone reading near the woods. She didn’t seem to notice the controlled chaos around her and seemed to be perfectly happy to be by herself.
Her long hair covered her face, hiding her from the rest of the world. She was like a tiny porcelain doll sitting there, it seemed if the wind even blew slightly harder she would be picked up and carried away. One hand held the pages down while the other pulled nervously at her faded floral skirt. All of a sudden a small smile played across her lips, her preference for her imaginary world to the real world obvious. She let out a small sigh and shut the tattered book, and looked up. Her skin was a creamy white, making her almost translucent to anyone who would give her a second glance. As the smile slipped from her face she looked around the park slowly, taking everything in.
She placed the well-worn book next to her on the bench and leaned forward. The peeling gold letters barely still read Emma by Jane Austen. The spine had many creases and one of the corners seemed to have gone missing. It had seen all the highs and lows; always there to grab and thumb to the familiar passages she could almost recite at this point, for some sort of comfort.
The wind began to pick up once again, and tossed her dark hair around her face. She absent mindedly tucked a few of the strands behind her ear and looked around. Her skin contrasted magnificently against her black hair that cascaded halfway down her back. Her almond shaped eyes were a celery green color that seemed to lack luster, as though she wasn’t to be bothered putting a lot of effort into existing outside her own head. Her nose was slightly upturned with a light dusting of freckles across the bridge. From afar, she appeared to perfect. But when closer examined, her skin was marked with spidery scars that turned her flawless porcelain skin into broken china that had been clumsily repaired after a particularly bad fall.
The girl seemed nervous, even being hidden as far away as she was, the fact she was surrounded by other people seemed to unnerve her. Her hands kept playing with the fringe of her skirt and every muscle was tensed prepared to run with any sign of noise. A twig cracked nearby followed by heavy footprints. She froze; her eyes became saucers and she turned to stone. After a few long minutes, she dared to turn her head to see what had caused the noise.
It was a boy around her age who had been jogging. His gray shirt was stretched taut acrossed his chest while his black mesh shorts fell right to his knees with Edmonds High School track team’s insignia on the bottom of them and his running shoes were blue and silver; Edmonds colors. A tight black band was wrapped around his bicep and headphones trailed from it which explained why he probably hadn’t noticed her yet. His sandy brown hair kept falling into his eyes no matter how many times he carelessly flicked it. Despite being sweaty, he had the Golden Boy vibe about him. His step was on the verge of being considered cocky; this boy knew exactly how most females felt about him. Every move was deliberately planned to accentuate his best features though he believed to be alone. He then stopped, and leaned over placing his hands on his thighs trying to recapture his breath.
He began to inhale and exhale rhythmically, and stood up again and stretched. He, still, had yet to notice the girl residing on the bench and she had every intention of keeping it that way. After all if he did notice her that meant he would feel obligated to make conversation because that’s just how people in Edmonds were; friendly to a fault. They always had to know everything about everyone, which just added to the small town feel but it meant abandoning any and all privacy.
She quietly picked up her book, and wrapped her brown leather jacket tighter around her shoulders. She moved as quickly as she could without making noise. She rose to her feet and straightened her skirt, but now she was faced with the inevitable conclusion she was going to have to walk past him in order to get home.
She quickly took a shaky breath, put her head down and started walking forward. Maybe he wouldn’t notice her. After all he had his headphones in and seemed to be completely out of it, so there was a good chance she could get past without him ever knowing she was ever there. She tightened her grip on her book and kept on walking.
Almost there. She thought. I’m so close just a few more feet…
“Hey! Wait a sec you forgot something!” her voice boomed through her thoughts.
She stopped in her tracks and quickly inhaled, he had seen her and actually spoken to her; but why? It hit her then: how could she have been so stupid? She had forgotten her own iPod she had brought with her to prevent a situation like this one and now had to decide if she should just keep going and just let it go or turn around and take it from him. He seemed friendly enough and would probably forget about her the second she turned away.
She turned towards him. “Di-did I?”
“Well I’m assuming so, since I didn’t see anyone else sitting here. Actually to be honest I didn’t see you sitting here. Were you here the entire time…?”
He was met with silence. Did he have to make this so difficult? All she wanted was her iPod and they could both be on their way.
“Are you alright? You seem a little tense.” He began walking towards her. He was at least six feet tall up close and towered over her petite frame. He flicked his hair once again to reveal he had bright blue eyes with a little green in them. Even up close he was stunning.
“Hello? Anybody home?” He half smiled and stopped once he was right in front of her. He held the iPod out to her in his giant palm.
“I believe this is yours? I, uh, have the same one actually. Skips like crazy when I jog but it’s better than nothing right?”
Once again he was met with silence. He could just stop trying to be friendly and put them both out of their misery.
“So, do you go to Edmonds? I don’t think I’ve ever seen you around. I definitely would have remembered you.”
So he had noticed. She snatched her iPod and turned around. To her horror he bounded up next to her. This boy wasn’t going to let this go.
“Hey please don’t go, I didn’t mean to insult you. Your face is really uh, different. I’ve never seen anything like it before. Must have been some accident you were in.”
She stopped dead in her tracks and averted her gaze to the pavement. She figured silence was going to be her only defense with this boy. He was apparently used to girls falling all over themselves when he spoke to them. Well he could count this as his charity act for the month; talking to the weird girl with the scars all over her face.
“Okay fine. Don’t talk to me. Could you at least tell me what your name is?” His tone was slightly playful, and almost tinged with desperation. This must have been a whole new ball game for him. She turned around slowly and tilted her head to meet his eyes.
“Emiko? That’s different,” He smiled, now this he could work with. “Well Emiko it’s nice to meet you, my name is Gideon.”
“It’s just Emi.” She held his gaze for a few moments later and turned on her heel, exiting the park leaving a confused Gideon in her wake.