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If you’re wondering why I’m writing all this down instead of telling you, it’s because, once this is all over, I won’t be here to tell you anything. And you have to know.
To start, I just want to tell you that I love you. That’s the reason for all of this – for everything. I love you so much, it’s ridiculous. I mean, I knew it would happen, but I had no idea my feelings would be so strong.
Anyway, if you’ve read past my sappy love paragraph, I’m assuming you’ll read through the rest of this letter. I really hope you do.
So with that, I guess this is where my letter – where it all – begins.
The first time I saw you, you were wearing your favorite green sweater.
I was told to move to Helena, Montana, and it was my first – post-human – day of high school there. I had no idea that that day, three hundred years after my creation, would become the day that would replay in my head thousands of times. It would be the day I had finally met you – the day I’d been waiting for.
As I was saying, you were wearing green. It was the first thing I noticed about you – the fact that your sweater stood out in an incredibly subtle way – when I saw you, your back turned to me. It fit you nicely, I had to admit, and though I was easily three centuries older than you, I still felt an immediate attraction to you.
I’d never felt that before.
I suppose I should mention that even though I’ve lived the equivalent of nearly four human lives, I’ve still had the emotional maturity of a seventeen year old boy. The only thing that has changed about me is the way I talk and the way I dress. That made me feel slightly better about feeling so attracted to you.
I found myself watching you sort papers in the front office, stacking them into piles and placing them in small boxes. I was mesmerized by your subtle puffs of air that blew your chestnut-colored bangs away from your face.
“Catcher Eversol?” a woman from the office called, looking around expectantly.
I was annoyed that I had to leave your presence – that I had to stop admiring your every move – but, on the plus side, her saying my name caused you to turn around. And there was no way I could have been expecting the emotions that overcame me.
Have you ever fallen from a tree, Emma? Have you ever landed on your back so hard, so painfully, that all of the air rushed out of your lungs and you couldn’t breathe anymore? That was the sensation that pulsed throughout my entire body, coursing through my veins uncontrollably. I could barely stand up straight, once our eyes met for that split, minute second, and the woman at the desk had to call my name another time for me to actually fully make my way over to her.
“Catcher Eversol?” she repeated slowly, looking at me like I was insane.
“Yes, that’s me.” I tried to smile at her to reassure her of my sanity, but all I could think of was your face and the feeling that had overwhelmed me when I first saw it.
“Your schedule and parking permit are in this packet,” she said, pushing a plain white envelope over the desk towards me. “You’ll need to put the permit sticker on the driver’s side of the windshield, facing out.”
I nodded in understanding – though I wouldn’t even be taking a car to school – and picked up the packet. “Thank you,” I replied halfheartedly. My mind was still on your face.
“Emma,” the woman said, catching your attention, “would you mind showing him to his locker? It’s right next to your second period.”
You flashed the woman a dazzling smile – making my chest explode even more – and began to walk over to me. You gently took the packet out of my hands while I stared at you and looked over the first piece of paper quickly.
“I can most definitely do that,” you replied, your tone sincere and kind. The woman smiled, just as charmed by you as I was, and said some form of thanks as we walked out of the main office.
“So,” you began as we walked around the first corner, “what school did you transfer from?” You looked at me while we walked and it took everything in me to keep myself from sweeping you up in my arms and carrying you away. It was a bit pathetic, actually, how strong that desire really was.
“I went to a boarding school in England,” I said, forcing myself to lie to you. What could I tell you, the truth? That the last time I was told to enroll myself in a school, you weren’t even born yet?
“England?” you said, astonished. “What was that like?”
“It was… old,” I answered, still star struck by you and not able to form complete, coherent sentences.
We rounded another corner, this time stopping at the third locker on the left. You smiled interestedly and asked, “Did you get homesick often? Personally, I don’t think I’d be able to go to school away from my family. I would miss them too much.”
I smiled dumbly in response and mentally noted the first thing I’d learned about you – you loved your family. Small, relatively useless information: Check.
“It wasn’t too hard. My parents were allowed to visit and my brothers were at the school with me, so I had my own sense of family there.” My mouth twitched at that lie, too. I couldn’t wait for the day I could tell you the truth about me – the truth about everything.
“That must’ve been an adventure,” you commented, smiling again. Damn, I wished your smile could have followed me around for all the years before I actually met you. It would’ve made the days where I questioned my existence much easier to get through.
I nodded and half-smiled, raising one corner of my mouth higher than the other. I knew it looked ridiculous – I’d seen myself in mirrors before – but it was one of those habits that was impossible to break.
There was a brief moment of silence before you explained, “Your first class period is Physics, with Mr. Newton.” I laughed internally at the coincidence of that name matching that profession. You smiled a little bit more before you finished explaining. “That’s in Room 278, which is all the way down in the science pod.” You made a large gesture with your hands, pointing in the opposite direction.
“Do I have to go to my first period today?” I asked, not wanting to ruin my pleasant morning by spending it in an unpleasant science class.
“I don’t think so,” you answered, looking over my shoulder. “I think you’ll have to go to your second period, though.” You shrugged and smiled, understanding – somewhat – that I didn’t exactly have the strong desire to spend my day in a confined classroom.
“What should I do for the rest of the period, then?” Of course, I’d hoped you would suggest something to the effect of me telling you everything about me and confessing my – though very sudden – undying love for you. Unfortunately, you looked distracted by something behind me and didn’t seem to hear my question.
I turned around, reluctant to tear my eyes away from you, only to see what appeared to be nothing of significance. There were two boys about your age walking down the hall, wearing jackets that matched the school’s colors. They were laughing loudly and jokingly hitting each other, but that didn’t seem to be what had you troubled.
I assumed you had a reason to be staring at those boys – a reason I most likely would not like.
Of course, my assumptions were again correct. One of the boys stopped beside you to put his arm around your waist, and you flinched as his fingers touched your side. He planted a kiss on your cheek and you winced a little bit more.
I felt my hands ball up into fists, and I wanted to kill the boy next to you. I’d never felt that much… envy. The way I wanted to rip his fingers away from your waist one by one until he screamed bloody murder was not only not natural, it wasn’t healthy.
So this was what people felt when they saw someone they cared about with someone else.
I could’ve lived with never feeling that emotion, easily.
“Sam, this is Catcher,” you said, pointing from the boy with his arm around your waist to me, and back to him. “Catcher, this is Sam, my… boyfriend.”
Was that hesitation I heard in your voice? Was it possible that you didn’t want to marry this boy and have his children like I’d first assumed you did?
“It’s nice to meet you, Catcher,” Sam said, snapping me out of my thoughts and shaking my hand firmly. I involuntarily began to squeeze his hand harder and harder while I pretended to smile, and it soon became a competition between the two of us – who could crush the other person’s fingers first.
Sam smiled through clenched teeth as he realized I had won and quickly released my hand from his grip. I clenched the muscles in my hand a little tighter before letting go, enjoying his small wince in pain.
I hope you know, it was because of you that I was turning into a sadist – I wasn’t always like that.
I glared slightly at Sam, trying to keep you from noticing my sudden furiousness. I didn’t want your first memory of me to be tainted by my jealousy.
“I ‘gotta get back to class,” he mumbled, looking around for his friend that had left him after he’d decided to stop. “Baker’s gonna kill me if I’m late again.” He laughed sarcastically and released his grip from around your waist. “I’ll see you at lunch, Em.” He paused, annoyed that he had to acknowledge my existence when you were around, and curtly muttered, “Catcher.” He nodded in my general direction and turned the opposite way, his footsteps quickly fading away down the empty hallway.
You sighed bitterly and looked at my schedule, though I could tell you didn’t really see anything interesting on that piece of paper. Your mind was elsewhere.
“Is everything okay?” I tried to ask casually, attempting to keep my heart from beating out of my chest.
“Yeah, it’s just–” you paused, realizing that you – unfortunately – didn’t know me well enough to be exchanging secrets, “– It’s just a long story, I guess.” You sighed again, your breath gently flinging a wisp of your hair out of your face. The air coming out of your lungs smelled like vanilla.
“I’ve got time.” I tried to smile interestedly but it came out more like a smirk. I groaned and quickly wiped it off of my face, shaking the brown hair that went a little past my ears out of my eyes. I needed a haircut.
You laughed a little, gesturing for me to follow you as you left the building through one of the doors in the hallway. The sun made me squint, but aside from that it was a beautiful day – even more beautiful once you were in it.
“Can I ask you something?” you asked, sitting on one of the benches outside.
“Sure,” I replied, trying to sound unenthusiastic but failing. I mean, you’d basically just invited me to know every tiny detail that your life contained… right?
“If you were going to be broken up with by your girlfriend, how would you want her to do it?” You stared at me, forcing me to take a deep breath to calm my breathing down again.
Of course, I had no idea how a normal human boy would want to be broken up with – I was a Guardian; I didn’t have girlfriends – but I gave my best guess for how I would’ve answered if I was human.
“I… would want her to be honest with me. Just tell me how it is.”
If you’re going to break up with Sam, however, I wanted to say, I think it would do him some good if you also punched him in the face. But maybe that’s just my opinion.
You smiled halfheartedly and said, “That’s good advice.”
I nodded and looked around at the scenery surrounding us. The sunlight filtered through the trees in rays of orange and yellow, making your hair look almost red, instead of the dark honey color it was indoors. There were picnic benches spread around the area, most of them clean but some of them with trash on them, and several types of trees – ranging from aspen to juniper – scattered about. Two rows of pine trees parallel to each other created a pathway to what I assumed was another part of the school.
This place was more like a college than a high school, but it was beautiful.
“So there’s trouble in paradise, then?” I asked, trying not to allow the happiness I felt seep into my voice. I wanted to hear you speak again, because your voice was like a melody to me. It played the strings of my heart. (And yes, Emma, that was me trying to be romantic, only because you used to make fun of me for never being able to tell you I loved you. That was me attempting to only remotely describe the way I feel when I hear your voice.)
You laughed softly, making my heart thump in my chest. “Yeah, I guess you could say that.” You paused for a second and added, under your breath, “He’s just not the guy I fell in love with anymore.” You glanced up at me and shrugged, using one of your hands to grip your other wrist and twist it around. It seemed that was one of your nervous habits.
“People change, though,” I replied almost silently. “Sometimes things just aren’t meant to be.”
We sat there in a relatively comfortable silence until the quiet beep of my watch marking the hour interrupted the quiet.
“We should probably get back to class,” you said suddenly, standing up from where we sat. “The bell’s going to ring any minute now.” I nodded, trying to be as enthusiastic as you were. “Your second period is Photo 3, in Room 66,” you explained, leading me into the hallway we’d left from that had become populated with students. “You’re going to want to follow this hall until you see the bathrooms, and then turn left. It’ll be the second or third door on your right.” I nodded, trying to smile as I thanked you, but I knew that it didn’t come out right. It seemed I couldn’t do anything right when I was around you.
You were just so beautiful.
I spent the rest of the day thinking about you.
To my delight, we had two classes together – Calculus and U.S. History – and a free period at the same time. Fortunately for me, it was the start of a new unit in both Calculus and Physics, so I didn’t have any more work to do than the students who had been in the class since the beginning of the year. Thankfully it was only November, so school had only been in session for about three months, which meant that I wasn’t coming in towards the end of the year. That was always uncomfortable.
Unfortunately, I had your boyfriend in four of my eight classes. I had to look at his smug face for hours on end. I wanted to rip that grin right off his lips so that he could never smile again.
And I experienced that emotion on an hourly basis.
After my first day was over and I had nothing left but a free period, I walked a few blocks away from the school and into the forest. I looked around cautiously as I pulled off my shirt. I didn’t want anyone to see what I was about to do.
As I closed my eyes and breathed in the scent of the trees, listened for the noise of footsteps, I felt the expanding of energy rushing out of my back. The giant wings of light that had been forever hidden near my spine for my post-human life opened freely, twisting gently in the wind. Eyes still closed I jumped into the air, feeling the rush of the cool breeze around my entire body, and when I opened my eyes, I could not see any of my limbs.
Because I was invisible.
It only took me a few minutes to get back to the place I’d learned to call home – a secluded house that rested almost directly on top of a crystal lake. It had been given to me by the Master Guardian, my leader, and I slept in it with great honor. Only a few of his Guardians were given permanent homes, and I was lucky to be one of them. I felt like a prince in a castle.
My feet touched the ground easily and my Lights – my “wings” as you might want to call them – folded gently against my back, dissolving into my skin. I put my shirt back on and peacefully walked up to the porch, stopping abruptly as I saw a small package resting against the front doorframe. It was wrapped in a red ribbon – the Master Guardian’s signature – and was addressed to me.
I opened it hungrily, desperate to see what was inside. The Master Guardian only sent his gifts when a Guardian really needed one. And they were always full of wonderful and extremely helpful things.
I peeled the tape away from the edges of the box and tore it open, only to find an envelope inside. When I reached for the envelope, it burst into flames and disintegrated almost immediately.
Is that it? I found myself wondering. Is that really all he sent?
I felt around the now-empty box delicately, and within a matter of seconds a new envelope appeared. I hesitantly touched it, not wanting more flames to emerge, but this time it stayed in its solid envelope form. I tore open the edge of the new envelope and poured its contents into my hand.
A pen. A piece of notebook paper. One blank piece of printer paper and another one with the words write me a story written on it.
I felt myself looking up to the sky, silently asking the Master Guardian why he would send me something like that. Why did he want me to write him a story? I wasn’t creative enough to even begin to come up with a fictitious plot, nonetheless create an entire world where I could imagine different scenarios or outcomes. I was a logical, rational Guardian. Why did he want a story?
It then clicked in my head that the story didn’t have to be written. It could’ve been told. It could’ve been me telling the story as I created it – as I lived it – and he might have just wanted to watch it unfold.
He was telling me to make something happen, in his own complicated way.
“Is that what you want?” I asked, looking up towards the sky. “Do you just want to watch me do this?”
A small crack – like the sound of thunder, except shorter and quieter – echoed around me and almost immediately after the sound was finished a slip of paper landed in my hands delicately. It only bore one word.
I nodded my head determinedly and walked inside the house, turning on the heater. It was getting chilly. You have to realize that even though I’m not human, Emma, I’m still an angel – though I’m nothing religious – and I still get affected by the weather and my surroundings. I still have blood pulsing through my veins, a heart that’s constantly beating, and oxygen flowing throughout my lungs. The only difference between me and a normal human boy is, well, the obvious – the giant things protruding from my back. My Lights.
The words write me a story ran through my head over and over again. I couldn’t think of anything but them, and it killed me to know that there was nothing I could do to begin it. I had to get to know you first, before I could get you to fall in love with me. It would take time and patience – the latter I didn’t really possess much of – and, most importantly, it would take you. Without you, there would be nothing for me to even write.
I laid my head down against the pillow and tried to relax. I only had to wait a few more hours and school would start again. The process would continue on. Sleep, eat, school, see you. Lather, rinse, repeat.
All that was left to do was wait.
I woke around five the next morning to the sound of a storm.
I wasn’t sure what had woken me up – was it the lightning or the thunder? – but either way I was awake and ready to start the day.
Too bad the ‘day’ didn’t start until eight thirty.
I cursed silently. Why couldn’t I have been given more patience in the afterlife? I mean, every Guardian was given something. Some were given weapons, some were given good looks, some were given wings – like myself – and others were given every other gift imaginable. What I would’ve done to disown my wings and receive patience instead.
I stared up at the ceiling, glaring at the Master Guardian. It was his fault the rain was coming and I was awake. He controlled the weather. He controlled everything.
In a land with no religion, he was god.
It then clicked in my head that the rain must have been sent down for a reason. So I sat up in bed and began to think.
Why would he wake me up? Was there something wrong? Were you hurt?
I felt my legs immediately throw themselves out of bed so I was standing up and panting. If you were hurt, I would have to be there. There was no other option for me.
I pulled on a shirt and some pants, hastily running out the door and into the cold wind. The sun had barely started to rise so there was little light, but I was used to running blind.
For the first forty years of my existence, I couldn’t see. ‘Part of the training,’ they said it was. So I could learn to adapt to my surroundings without needing to use my eyes.
It seemed more like torture rather than training, but I endured anyways. Because of you. Because I knew I would one day get to meet you, and that would make it all worth it in the end.
I quickly spread my Lights and went invisible, searching the forest for you. I made my way through the trees, across the lakes, and over mountains, but I never found you. Thoughts raced through my head that I was too late, that you were already gone, but the Master Guardian soon entered my head and whispered, “Go back to sleep, Catcher. All is well.”
I found myself shouting at him, yelling, “Was this just some sort of test, then? To see what she meant to me?!”
But there was no response from him, only silence. So I clenched my hands into fists and headed back for home.
A few hours later, I felt the sun’s rays hit my face and I awoke from my slumber gently.
What time is it? I asked myself as I felt around my nightstand for the clock I’d only just started paying attention to. It was eight. Perfect. I ran a comb through my hair and changed my shirt, telling myself that I needed to look my best for you at all times. It was no secret that humans – hell, even Guardians – were superficial creatures. I felt that the better I looked, the better my chances of having you notice me would be.
So it didn’t bother me when I remembered that Guardians were naturally meant to be appealing to humans – it was why we were created in the first place: so humans would be attracted to us and confide in us and feel like we could save them. It was our job.
I use the word ‘job’ lightly, Emma. I never thought of being a Guardian as a job, like it was a chore or something. It was my life. And I loved it.
Within a few minutes I was at the school. But you were nowhere to be found.
I found myself searching for you, hoping that I would see you around one of the school’s many corners or waiting for me by my locker. Even though I knew you had no reason to want to talk to me, there was still a desperate, irrational part of me pleading for you to approach me from wherever you were.
I’d only known you for twenty-four hours, but I was already lost without you. I’d say that was only a cheesy metaphor, but I can’t because I couldn’t remember where my Physics class was and needed you to show me where it was.
The day passed by, nothing significant happening until my free period arrived at the end of the day. I sighed bitterly, silently begging you to come to school the next day. As strange and pathetic as it sounds, I missed you horribly. I didn’t know how I was supposed to function without you there.
I wished I could’ve slapped myself in the face without having the entire school think I was insane. I didn’t want to be so dependent on you – to need you so much. I knew, without a doubt, that you were my One. What I didn’t know was whether or not it was normal for Guardians to feel such an immediate and overwhelming need for that person.
I only personally knew two Guardians that had already had the same experience I was currently going through. One of them was my non-biological sister. The other was dead.
Yes, Emma, Guardians can die.
But there was one that still existed, and even though she lived on the other side of the country, I felt a sudden urge to talk to her, to confide in her every single emotion that I’d been feeling ever since the day I’d met you. Or since yesterday, if I was going to be more specific.
I threw the rest of my books in my bag and slammed my locker shut. I attempted to walk out of the school, but in my haste I ended up going the wrong direction. Eventually, I found my way out of the maze and into the forest, but I didn’t feel like flying. I felt like running.
Even though running was ridiculously slower than flying, I felt content with the rush of the wind in my hair and the burn in my legs as I ran. I could only run as fast as any regular boy, but whenever I ran, I felt like I was more than just Catcher Eversol. I felt like I was more than a simple Guardian who had finally met his One. I felt like I was so much more than that.
Within twenty minutes or so, I was at my house. To my relief, there was no package awaiting me, so I was able to walk into the kitchen without any fear of exploding letters or cryptic messages. For some odd reason, I felt at peace.
Until I thought about you again, that is.
I reached for the phone that hung on the wall and dialed the number I’d memorized a long time ago. On the days I felt completely alone, I would call it and feel better. This time should’ve been no different.
“Hey, Catch,” Emily said cheerfully, answering on the second ring.
I smiled at hearing her voice. She was my older sister in the afterlife, and I missed her since she’d retired. Her job was over – she’d found her One, which meant that she was able to retire and act as if she was normal – and she seemed so much more peaceful since she was able to live a relatively normal human life with the man she was desperately in love with. I had to admit that I was jealous of her happiness, but I was glad that she was feeling so content with her life. Even though it was what I wanted more than anything and didn’t have, I loved her and was happy for her.
“Emily,” I said, smiling again. “I’m sorry I haven’t called you in a while.”
“No worries,” she replied, and I could tell she was shrugging nonchalantly. “Things are busy being a Guardian. Believe me, I understand.” She laughed dryly. “So what’s up?”
I paused and took in a breath, feeling the pain of not seeing you today overwhelming me again.
“I think I found my One,” I whispered, waiting for her reaction. I knew it would be loud, filled with giggles and all the other things that women do, so I held the phone away from my face. I was surprised at how loud her screams of joy really were.
“What’s her name?!” she shouted after she’d finished squealing annoyingly. Even though I loved Emily like a sister, her feminine ways would often make me want to shoot myself. In the foot, but still. It was annoying.
“Her name’s Emma,” I answered, waiting for another giggle or squeal.
“That’s fantastic!” Emily shouted. “I’m so happy for you, Catcher!”
I shrugged, wanting to get to the real reason for calling.
“Thanks,” I muttered, hoping she would pick up on my hint.
She sighed. “I’m sorry, Catch. That’s not why you called. What’s the problem.” It didn’t even sound like a question. It was more like a statement.
I was incredibly happy that she’d been given the gift of insight, which allowed her to tell how a person was feeling only by hearing their voice. It came in handy more than a few times.
“She has a boyfriend,” I blurted, my voice speeding up anxiously. “And she wasn’t at school today. And I don’t know how to talk to her, and I think she thinks I’m insane, and–”
“Catch, take a breath. I’m not going to make you pay the long distance fee if you talk for more than a few minutes, okay?” Emily sighed and attempted to make her voice more soothing. “One thing at a time, alright?”
“Okay,” I muttered, irritated by the fact that you were turning me into a teenage boy again. I’d never felt so different before. “The main problem is that I don’t know what I’m doing anymore, Em.” I sighed, still annoyed with myself. I hated that I was becoming so unlike myself. “I’ve never felt so… human. I haven’t felt like this, ever. And it’s scaring the crap out of me.” I shook my head. Ever since I’d met you, Emma, I was turning into more and more of a girl. It was really starting to become a problem.
“That’s just what love is,” Emily answered softly after a few seconds. “I know it doesn’t help much, but trust me – you’re going to feel like that for a while. When I first met John, it was like I was a whole new person. I still feel like that. Love is something that changes you. Finding your One changes you.”
“It sure happened easy for you,” I groaned, frustrated that she’d had it so simply while I was torn to pieces inside.
“Believe me, Catch. It wasn’t easy.” She sighed. “Look. I love you, Catcher, but there’s nothing I can do besides listen. If you want to talk, I’m all ears, but I think you and I both know that I’m not the one you want to talk to.”
I groaned painfully. She was referring to Jacob, the other Guardian I’d just mentioned.
The one who was dead.
“Em…” I began, feeling my heart crush under the weight of my grief.
“Catch, I know this is tough. I really do. But you have to understand that he wanted to do what he did. He loved her.”
“I really don’t want to talk about this right now.” I felt my teeth clench, trying to keep myself from crying. I had never cried over anyone – mostly because I’d never really had a reason to – until the day Jacob died. He was the only person I’d ever shed a tear for.
“Come on, Catch,” Emily whispered. “Talk to me. Please.”
“Sorry, Em. I have to go. Lots of homework.” I shook my head at the horrible excuse but followed through with it anyways, sighing. “I’ll talk to you later, okay?”
I didn’t give her a chance to respond before I hung up the phone and slouched against the wall.
You have to understand, Emma – Jacob was my best friend. And within a matter of seconds he was gone and his life was over. He’d given it up for her, to save her.
She was going to die, but he took her place.
And there was a part of me that would always hate him for it.
Why did you let him do it? I silently asked the Master Guardian, furious at myself and the world. I was angry that my best friend was gone. I was angry that the man that was supposed to take care of Jacob – the Master Guardian – could have let him do something so stupid.
I can’t cheat death, he murmured softly, feeling my pain. When someone is going to die, they are going to die. I have to take a soul. You know that, Catcher.
You shouldn’t have taken him, I shouted in my head.
It was his life to give. Honor his wishes.
I tuned the rest of the Master Guardian’s words out then, too frustrated to allow him to speak to me any longer. It didn’t matter that it was his choice. It was stupid of him. It was suicide. He may have felt that he was doing some heroic deed, but he was stupid. I hated him for it.
There was a part of me that knew I couldn’t hate him, but I shoved it in the back of my mind before it could get the best of me. I couldn’t think of him anymore. I had to think of you.
I felt soothed just by picturing your face – the small scar just above your left eyebrow, the dimples in your cheeks. It relaxed me.
I wondered where you were. Were you thinking of me? Were you lonely? Were you scared?
But most importantly, had you left Sam?