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Can people fade away without being noticed? Can one person never know the feeling of being loved, and simply fade away from the rest of society without ever being noticed? This was what she was wishing, hoping, that she could do. She wanted to just go to the corner of the room and morph with the wall, never to be mentioned again.
The classroom in which she sat was dark and cold. The teacher droned on about the congruence of triangles and the students around her took their notes. It was the first day back from Christmas vacation and others were loud and happy to be back with friends. She was different though. She didn’t have friends. Her life was lived in fairy tales and books. Ever since she was little her life had been this way. Now she was sixteen and she couldn’t wait to get out of this dumb town. She hated everyone in it and they all ignored her.
No one knew her name, no one knew her favorite color, book, food, subject in school. It was like they didn’t even know she was there. Like she didn’t exist. She took her notes and as the bell rang she jumped up grabbing her bag and headed for the door. The others looked after her before getting up themselves.
The other students found her weird and a little frightening to be truthful. She only spoke if she had to and she often zoned out in class as if she were somewhere else entirely. The other kids found this odd and they tended to make her feel unwanted with their stares and mindless whispering.
She left the room and went around the corner only to fall backwards. A hand caught onto her and pulled her back up from falling into the other students who were now piling out of the class. They all stopped and looked as the saw him with his hand around her waist holding her up. She quickly tried to regain her footing and when she did he gently released her to stand by herself.
She looked up at him and felt her stomach turn and her insides felt like mush. His eyes stared intently into hers and they seemed to reach to her very heart. “Are you okay?” He asked her quietly. She opened her mouth to speak, but quickly closed it, silently turning away from him. She went to walk away, but he reached for her hand. Fire flew up her skin and she couldn’t hold in the breath she had been any longer. “Who are you?”
“She’s the freak.” A boy behind her yelled. Others around them laughed . He met her eyes and then looked behind her to the boy who had spoken.
“Well, I don’t think it’s very nice to call names.” He said. Some of them laughed while others remained silent, agreeing with him but not wanting to ruin their high school lives. She was looking at him in awe. No one had ever stood up for her before. He looked back to her and met her eyes again.
“Do you have lunch this period?” He asked. She nodded still awe-struck. “Would you eat with me? I’m new here and I don’t really know anyone.”
“She doesn’t talk.” The same boy from before said.
“Not unless she wants to cast a spell.” A girl joked, making the others laugh around her. The boy kept her eye through it though.
“What’s your name?” She asked. The others fell into silence as her voice echoed through the hall.
“Jamie.” He said with a smile. “And you are?”
“Fade.” She said quietly.
“So, Fade, will you eat with me today?” He asked and she looked back to the class who all stared at her with mocking smiles. Expecting her to say no and run off because she was nervous. She took a deep breath and then looked up to him.
“I’d like that.” She said and the others all gaped. He nodded and then they both began to walk to the lunch room.
There he asked her about who she was. He asked her favorite color, book, food, subject in school. She was very quiet with her answers, but as he kept asking she soon began to lighten up. She asked him the same questions and they had almost nothing in common but somehow it all tied together.
“Two more questions before we go.” He stated looking at her with a weird expression. She nodded quietly. “The first one I don’t expect you to be able to answer now, but hopefully you can answer if you say yes to the second one.”
“Okay.” She said quietly.
“What’s one thing that changed your life?”
“That’s kind of deep?” She said.
He shrugged. “Yeah. But we all have something that has.”
She thought for a long moment. Her life had always been the same. She woke up in her small apartment that she shared with her dad, who she never could talk to about anything, went to school, sat in the back of the classroom, got ignored, and then went home to an empty apartment until her dad got home from work at ten.
Every day the same, everyday another reason for sinking back into those walls, everyday another chance to just disappear from life and run. She knew the answer but didn’t want to say it. It was too soon. They had just met.
“I don’t know how to answer.” She said quietly looking down, afraid he would see her eyes.
“Okay.” He said nodding. “My second question…” He froze up.
She looked up at him. He was nervous and had paled. “What is it?” She asked confused.
“Do you want to go out on Friday? Maybe have a picnic at the park; the one by my house has a lake. If you don’t want to, I get it. I… I just wanted to get to know you more.”
She did the only thing she could think of. She smiled. He looked up at her and met her eyes. She tried to collect herself before he could say anything. “Um… I think… I…”
The bell rang loudly, echoing off the walls.
“Can I take the stuttering as a yes?” He asked standing. She nodded. He nodded then turned to go to class.
“Same time, tomorrow?” She called after him.
He turned with a smile. “Um… I think… I…”
She rolled her eyes. “Can I take the stuttering as a yes?”
He only smiled and walked away.
Five Days Later
Friday evening after school she rushed home and quickly showered and changed into her jeans and warmest sweatshirt. She put on some make-up then made a quick grab for her sneakers, before the knock on the door came. She slipped the shoes on over her socks then ran for the door. She went to open it but then paused, taking a deep breath. She had been looking forward to this all week, and she knew that this was going to be one of the best days of her life. She opened the door.
There he was, standing there with a single white rose held out to her. She smiled before taking it gently. “You remembered from Monday?” She asked looking up to him. He smiled. One of the last things he had asked her was what her favorite flower was. She answered a white rose. When he asked why she told him that she thought that it was because it represented purity and innocence. “That’s what love should be,” She had answered. “Innocent and pure.”
She smiled as she clicked off the light of the apartment, and grabbed her keys. He led her down to the sidewalk outside of the building and then to his car. It was a nice black sports car. She didn’t know what kind, or if it was expensive. She wasn’t into cars.
They drove for a while in silence and then finally he pulled into an almost empty parking lot. The park before them was big and beautiful. It had a small lake and tall grass around it, perfect for a picnic dinner. She took the basket out of the back seat and he took the blanket. They walked over to the lake and found a good spot where they could sit. He laid out the blanket and they both sat down. They talked while bringing out the food. They had sandwiches and sodas, nothing fancy.
They talk for a long time, just sitting and enjoying the other’s company. Her rose sat on the side of the blanket, and she kept looking to it, thinking how pure the moment felt. He caught her looking at it when they had a moment of silence. The stars were beginning to come out along with the moon, as the sun finally set down below the horizon.
“Can I ask you something?” He asked her. She looked back to him slowly with a nod. “What’s one thing that’s changed your life?” He met her eyes.
Her mind raced while thinking over the past few days. It was like she was a completely different person lately. She talked more, and wasn’t afraid to answer things in class. She wasn’t hurt when the other kids made fun of her either. She had even stood up for herself earlier that day to a girl who had called her quiet monster hiding in the corner. And after she had defended herself, saying that she wasn’t and that she deserved some respect, she wondered what had brought it on.
Why were the past few days so different from the rest? Why hadn’t she been thinking of fading away anymore? She didn’t want to fade, she wanted bloom. She wanted to be someone and stand out for it. She wanted to be like her rose, she wanted to mean something to someone.
“Something that changed my life?” She asked taking a shaky breath. He nodded.
“You don’t have to answer.”
“But I sort of have to.” She said quietly with a meaning she didn’t even know. They sat in silence for a few seconds.
“What’s something that changed your life?” He asked again, his fingers only a small space away from hers.
“The day I ran into you.” She whispered, and then fire flew up her arm. His hand wrapped around hers.
“Mine too, Fade. Mine too.” He whispered before leaning in to kiss her.