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?It was the thing he coveted the most. It bordered precariously along fairytale fantasies and the kind of wish you make on that last fleeting second of 11:11. Most people wouldn’t even dare declare it tangible or worse; vow to say it out loud… Except for Cade Williams.
?Ivory watched her fellow classmate with ascending curiosity as he shuffled his feet nervously and stared intently at the floor as if it were made of gold meant to enchant greedy pirate eyes. The whole class was waiting patiently for Cade to speak, to utter at least a single syllable, but his gaze remained transfixed to the tiled floor. Ivory felt pity for the brown-haired boy. If it were her in front of the classroom, with everybody’s eyes piercing her, she wouldn’t render all too well either. Then again, she would at least say something.
“Well?” Professor Masion inquired gruffly, his voice carrying an edge of annoyance as it usually did. Seeing that Cade continued to stand quietly, the professor repeated his question again, drawling out the words slowly as if Cade was an incompetent fool.
“What is your ultimate goal in life, young man?”
Ivory scrutinized Cade with a slightly amused expression. Quiet Cade, silent Cade… Mysterious Cade. He was a seemingly normal, average boy of medium height with light, sandy brown hair, sad-looking hazel eyes, and lips that always seemed to be set in a stiff straight line. Cade would only speak if spoken to, never look anybody in the eye, and Ivory was sure he wasn’t the kind of person who would normally stand in front of a large group of people, much less speak to them. Yet, despite his rigid and withdrawn demeanor, Ivory thought he seemed… intriguing. She couldn’t quite put her finger on it. Suddenly, in the midst of Ivory’s examination of the young man, Cade abruptly tilted his head upwards and locked his hazel orbs with Ivory’s dark brown ones, as if he sensed her gaze trailing over his pale skin. Ivory averted her gaze with lightning speed, a soft blush crawling up her neck and into her cheeks as she saw from her peripheral vision that Cade was still looking at her. She could have sworn she saw his eyes glimmer the tiniest bit and his lips curve upwards into a pretentious smile. Ivory frowned at that; was he making fun of her… silently? She wouldn’t have that, especially from a stranger. Ivory lifted her chin up and clenched her jaw, finding herself staring directly into Cade’s eyes. As if that were his incentive to begin, he smiled shyly and opened his mouth to speak, his hazel orbs never straying from Ivory’s eyes.
“My goal in life is not to have money, it’s not to find true love, it isn’t to be the greatest in the world, and it certainly isn’t to simply be ‘happy’”.
Cade continued, his gaze on Ivory only strengthening with each passing word, “In fact, what I want is what you all would call impossible, stupid, and possibly naïve. It’s not something any of you can or will ever be able to understand.”
Professor Masion cleared his throat loudly, shooting a hard look at Cade, who wasn’t fazed at all, “Please get to the point, Mr. Williams; the class is going to end soon.”
Cade’s lips twitched upwards again before he let out a faint breath of air, “My goal in life is… to feel infinite.”
Do you know of those awkward silences after somebody tells a really corny joke and expects everyone to laugh? Yeah, well, this was one of those kinds of moments. Only, except not for Cade, because his goal in life certainly wasn’t a joke. No, it was what he lived for; it was what he wished for on every shooting star and stray eyelash. And Ivory knew that. She didn’t know how, but she just knew that it was the only thing he desired. Maybe it was by the way his eyes gleamed when he daydreamed during class, his pupils dilated by the anticipation of an infinite moment that surely would never really come.
Ivory’s thoughts became distorted into a blur of bodies as the bell, signaling the end of class, rang and all the students began to rise. They all rushed to the exit in a hurry, eager to escape the silent and awkward confinement of the classroom. Even Professor Masion ceased to remain in the room, for he too left, muttering a curt goodbye to Ivory and Cade, who were still looking at each other from across the room. Ivory only let her eyes stray form Cade’s as she nodded to the professor and mumbled a quick farewell. When she looked back at Cade after the professor had exited the room, he was still staring at her, now with a sheepish smile adorning his lips. Ivory couldn’t help but to let the corners of her mouth pull up into a small smile. Even the glimmer of happiness in his eyes was contagious, Ivory noted as a feeling of fulfillment welled up inside her chest and a sense of calm washed over her. She wondered if he had that effect on everyone.
“Has it happened to you?”
Cade tilted his head to the side and grinned, his sandy brown hair grazing his forehead as he did so, “What do you mean?” His grin obviously contradicted his words because he did in fact know what she was asking of.
“Have you ever… felt infinite?”
She felt silly asking, but she needed to know for a reason she couldn’t quite comprehend.
Cade closed his eyes and sighed peacefully, his shoulders dropping slightly. He opened his eyes again and smiled sadly, his hazel eyes lacking its previous gleam, “If I had, I wouldn’t be a goal any more, would it?”
Ivory felt her ears turn hot at the evident stupidity of her question. Cade must have noticed, for he walked over to her side swiftly and placed a gentle hand on her shoulder, “Though in a way, I have…” Ivory felt her body relax under his touch and she let out a breath of air she didn’t realize she was holding.
“Really? How… how did it feel like?”
Cade let his hand trail down Ivory’s arm, causing goose bumps to appear in rows along her soft skin. He grasped her hand and tugged it gently, motioning to the windows of the classroom. “Come.”
She couldn’t quite understand what compelled her to get up and follow Cade, but before she knew it, she was by his side, watching in fear as he unlatched the window and raised it. Cade waved his hand and motioned for Ivory to exit through the opening.
She laughed skeptically, eyeing Cade rather suspiciously, “You’re joking?”
Cade snickered at her apprehension and just shook his head. “Do you want to know the first step in feeling infinite?”
Ivory looked to the exit of the classroom and the back at Cade, deliberating. It was hardly a choice. “Of course.”
“Step number one: live a little. Now jump out the window. We’re only on the first floor, in case you forgot.”
Ivory laughed nervously, finding Cade and herself out of the window within seconds. Immediately, she felt a weight lift off her shoulders and she breathed in the cool pine-scented air. It was a beautiful day. Cade held Ivory’s hand a lead her to a part of a nearby hill where it suddenly cut off into a steep cliff, the bottom housing a kingdom of pine giants. “Sit down,” Cade said as he sat down on the edge of the cliff, his legs dangling in the air. Ivory remained rooted to the spot.
“Sit down,” Cade repeated soothingly, flashing her encouraging smile, “You won’t fall…I promise.” Gulping nervously, Ivory ignored the turmoil in her stomach, aching and spinning with fear. She willed herself to sit beside him, slowly lowering herself to
the soft grass. “Good,” Cade murmured quietly, “Now close your eyes.”
Ivory obeyed willingly; she’d rather not be aware of her impending doom that was the sheer drop of the cliff. She felt Cade reach for her hand and their fingers intertwined.
“Feeling infinite isn’t just the result of one emotion or one object,” Cade explained in a soft voice, “It’s a combination of emotions and objects and people and nature and experiences. The more times you feel infinite during your life, the more infinite your last moment of life will be.”
Ivory’s eyebrows furrowed, “How so?”
“I’m searching for infinite moments, Ivory, so that when it’s my time to leave this world and die, I’ll think about those moments and how amazing they were. During those last seconds of my life, I theorize, the combination of all those moments will result in the quintessence of infinity. Do you understand?"
Ivory nodded even though she knew he couldn’t see, “So, you won’t know if this theory of yours is true until you die?”
“I live day to day, searching for moments, because yes, I really do believe it’ll happen.”
“Is it easy to feel infinite?”
She waited. He sighed.
“Take a deep breath, let the cool air sink into your lungs, let your body relax and feel the sun’s rays warm your skin...” Cade whispered and his grip on her hand tightened almost imperceptibly. “Just think: You’re a bird; you have no limits. No one can stop you. You’re not bound to the earth anymoree and you have no worries… no anxieties… just the air around you with everywhere and nowhere to go… You’re unbidden, beautiful, and free…”
Ivory did all of this as she felt Cade shift next to her, his breath caressing her cheek. Words couldn’t explain the emotions coursing through her veins. She wondered if this was what it felt like to feel…
“How do you feel?”
Ivory was sure, as soon as she replied, that when it was her time to leave this world as well, that she would in fact remember this moment as the jewel of all her memories.
“I feel infinite.”