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Swallows

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My hands found his shoulders, and slowly we began to make our way around the room, our feet stepping in time. I wondered if this was how I was supposed to feel; was I supposed to feel joy or excitement? Did my face show it? I blushed as he looked down at me and smiled, and I forced myself to smile back. This night is supposed to be perfect, I told myself. Don’t ruin it.

I had only met him a couple weeks ago, but we had become fast friends. He reminded me of one of those boys on TV that all the girls want- tall and olive colored skin, short dark hair, eyes that were the most interesting color. They reminded me of chocolate, even though I hadn’t looked into his eyes this whole dance. I quickly glanced up at him to find him looking down at me, a smirk etched across his face.

“You haven’t looked at me once,” he whispered in my ear, chuckling.

“Sorry,” I whispered back, mentally kicking myself for not coming up with anything other than that.

“You’ve been on edge this week,” he said to me. “Is something wrong?”

Of course something is wrong, how can you not see that? I wanted to say to him so badly. But I didn’t. I just looked at him, hoping my face looked innocent enough.

“No, nothing’s wrong.”

Everything was wrong. My mother had never been right after my father died from lung cancer a couple years ago, and my family was slowly being torn apart. She was the shell of a woman, going through the motions but finding happiness in nothing. Luke, my older brother, had left the house in a rage after he found that she wouldn’t speak to him, or anybody. I hadn’t seen him since, although there are signs that he’s nearby. An emerald stone on the steps to the porch. A whittling of a sparrow on my bed when I come home from school.

School was my escape. I immersed myself in afterschool activities, avoiding the inevitable fifteen minute drive home. Scholastic Bowl, National Honor Society, Journalism, SCA, anything. I even was part of the team that decorated the gym for the homecoming dance. We decided that a theme wasn’t needed this year, and I personally thought it was for the best. The soft light was given off by candles on various tables and chandeliers were hung, casting shadows over the ensemble. It didn’t even look like a gym anymore. The lighting and soft cream colored tablecloths gave a feeling of class that wasn’t present at past homecoming dances. I even noticed a change in the dresses the girls were wearing. No more short-short dresses, or excess glitter. They were replaced by slightly longer, classy pieces that made them look like goddesses. I even felt magical in a light blue beauty that had an embroidered bodice and hit right at my knee.

And him. This mysterious boy that continued to twirl me around, not caring that I wasn’t looking at him. I realized that I didn’t know much about him. Where he had come from, his family, even his favorite color.

“Blue,” he whispered.

I paused, trying to remember if I had asked him a question.

“I didn’t say anything,” I replied slowly, trying to understand.

“I know. But you thought it.”

I stopped dancing, and stared at his amused face. A million questions floated through my head.

“I wouldn’t call it ‘reading minds’,” he said. “It’s more like reading ‘flavors’ from people. You, you remind me of strawberries. When you think something, I can’t pick up distinctive words, it’s more like the general idea. You know how everyone has a different smell? Everyone's mind has a different feel to me. Hence the flavors.”

He laughed nervously as he finished, and I realized I was still staring at him, right into those chocolate eyes. What was I supposed to think of this boy, the one who can essentially read my mind? I realized that this song was going on for too long, and looked around me. My hand left his shoulders as I realized that everyone had disappeared, and we were the only ones on the dance floor.

“Wait, what happened?” I asked, confused as to what was going on.

The corners of his mouth turned up a bit, and told me that illusions were another of his specialties.

“So what else is fake?” I asked him bluntly, stepping away from him.

“Nothing else, I swear,” he replied. I could see in his eyes that he was ashamed that he deceived me, but I hadn’t fully understood this yet.

“So why did you do this? And why did you tell me?” If I sounded angry, I didn’t care.

“So you would understand!” he cried, exasperated. “To know what I go through every day in the hallways, in my daily life! I needed someone who could understand, someone who had an open mind," he said, trailing off. "Someone who needed someone too.”

So he knew, I thought. Knew about my brother, my mother, my whole situation.

“And why should I trust you, after everything that you’ve said?” I asked, my arms crossed over my light blue dress.

“Because I need you to,” he said in a small voice, looking at the floor. As I looked at his ashamed form, I realized why his secret hurt so much. I had come to love this boy, the one I had shared a sandwich with his first day of school because he forgot his lunch, the one who had burned be seven cd's of alternative music because he thought I wasn't 'exposed' enough, the one who had listened when no one else would. What was I supposed to think now?

Chirping seemed to come from above me, and as I looked up, two swallows swooped down and landed in his hands. I gasped as he clapped and they disappeared into smoke that swirled up to the ceiling.

“Do that again,” I asked him.

“Of course,” he said, smiling as a nightingale landed on my shoulder.

And that’s how we finished our dance. Not swaying to slow pop music, but to the sweet songs of the birds he had conjured. As our faces leaned in, the last thing I saw before we kissed was his chocolate eyes. I wonder if he tasted strawberries.





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RachelFord2068 said...
Nov. 23, 2010 at 7:32 pm
Amazing! I love it !! <3
 
kweena replied...
Dec. 10, 2010 at 12:16 pm
thanks so much :)
 
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