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Who is Elliot Swan
He’s eighteen years old. I am just sixteen and invisible to his lonely eyes. They’re the color of the sea, and whenever I look into them, I see desperation. He’s living on the edge and floating from one moment to the next, never knowing which way to go. He’s had a rough life, like an ocean, but he can be as calm as a stream when he’s by himself singing the most delicate music. He writes the lyrics and practices at the school’s piano after school. Sometimes after my flute lessons I’ll stay and just hear him play. I wonder what kind of mood he’s in when he’s singing, because I know what he’s feeling when he’s not: despair.
There are plenty of rumors about him, but I only believe the truth. I’ve talked to him a few times, murmurs really, trying to understand him. He’s pale as a ghost and is as quiet as one too. That might be why he’s so intriguing, and the pain he feels I can relate to.
He says his family abandoned him when he was thirteen—first his mother died when he was seven from cancer, and his dad brought his three older siblings to New York or Philadelphia or wherever, leaving him and his sister Melody in his late aunt’s home, which he inherited. He demanded for me to keep it a secret, for he lives right across the street from me. I knew his aunt when she was living. Beatrice was her name. A frightful old bat who died from a mental disorder, but all the same, he was close to her.
The boy I’ve been observing from a distance is named Elliot Swan. I feel dirty watching him but I cannot stop. I do not believe in stalking, just helping. I want to help Elliot move on from his terrible past.
He doesn’t go to college but works day and night for his sister Melody, who is the same age as me. We are great friends but she is very reluctant to give out information about her brother. She doesn’t know how amazing I think he is, or how I know his secrets. That won’t be told unless she allows me to see him.
We sat at lunch together during school once. The band had gone on a field trip, leaving both of us with empty tables. That started our bond. We didn’t know how much we truly had in common. It was wonderful to know someone who understood you.
I asked about Elliot. Her eyes darted to me. She had different eyes. Hers were muddy and restless, constantly darting. I couldn’t determine her past, for she covered it up delicately. She was never peaceful, even when she smiled genuinely. There was always something on her mind—something negative.
“How do you know about Elliot?” she demanded, peering over her shoulder to make sure nobody was within hearing distance.
“It isn’t as if he is a phantom,” I replied innocently. “He went to this school and just graduated.”
“How do you know that?”
“He was in basketball junior year, and I was a manager with my older sister. Perhaps you know her. Ginger Banks?”
At first, Melody’s eyes sparkled with acknowledgment, but they turned dull almost immediately. “I have no idea who she is, sorry.”
“Well, that’s okay. You weren’t the one playing basketball. Do you live with Elliot?”
She shrugged. “On and off. We…have a tricky living situation.”
What she didn’t know was that every question I asked I already had the most detailed, complex answer formatted in my head. I knew every secret of hers and Elliot’s. I hoped our fates would intertwine perfectly.
“You know, you seem really nice. Why don’t we ever hang out?”
Melody flinched. I knew she hadn’t ever been invited to a party of any kind—graduation, birthday, or just a plain teenage bash. It made me sick to think about. She shook her head. “I’m afraid I’m too busy. I work whenever I’m not studying or at school, which takes up all of my free time. I mean, it is nothing personal. You seem like a great girl. What was your name again?”
“Oh, I forget you’ve never met me before! My name is Aria Banks.”
She looked at me strangely. Perhaps her brain was finally molding my use of my sentence. “Did you say I’ve never met you before? Does that mean that you’ve met me previously then this encounter?”
“I’ve just seen you around, that’s all. Our class has seventy-two students in it; you’ve lived in this town since you were born like ninety percent of us.”
“I suppose,” she mumbled after a moment of thought.
“Say, why do you seem so tense? It’s like you’ve never talked to a human being before.”
“You seem awfully fond of my brother.”
“Is that a poor decision?”
“He is college-age. I suggest you stay away from him as much as possible. He does everything he can to give me a decent life he hardly ever thinks about himself. We’ve been forced to work for everything we’ve got. You’d never understand what we’ve been through.”
I smiled. “Oh, but Melody, I think I do.”
She eyed me defensively and got up to dump her tray. “Again, it was nice meeting you.”
“Ah, the pleasure was all mine!”
I walked home that day after school. Right when I got to my house I saw Elliot drive into his driveway. I decide to investigate further.
He answers the door and my heart stops. I no longer feel guilty for all the times I’ve seen him hurt and haven’t done a thing. I’ve seen him moping and grumbling and dying with fear and I’ve just watched from afar. This was my chance to prove myself worthy to assist him with his future.
His eyes put chills down my back, sending me to the cruise I went on at the age of nine around the Gulf of Mexico. A calm, precious cruise that only lasted for one night, but was still one of the best experiences of my life. I will remember it forever.
“I’ve seen you before,” he says, judging me instantly. I just waited for a fog horn to ignite in his steel brain. “You are in my sister’s grade, aren’t you? Your name is Arianna, correct?”
I smiled politely, but inside, I am screaming with happiness. My soul mate knows my name!
“Yeah, that’s me. You are Elliot Swan. I’ve seen you around a lot.”
His eyes flicker on and off like a dull bulb. The warning bells from the lighthouse in his head go off. He whispers, “you’ve been watching me?”
I laugh this off. “No, silly, not like that. You live right across the street from me. It’s bound to happen once in awhile. Besides, I sat next to Melody at school today. She’s a very nice girl. Is she home?”
“No, but I think she’ll be home in a few minutes. Do you want me to call her?”
“If it’s okay, I’d like to just wait inside.”
His eyes widen as big as a cruise ship with all the bells and whistles. “You cannot come in.”
“But why not? I’d just be waiting for Melody.”
He shoos me out of the door quickly and we sit in the rickety, unfinished playground with a swing and monkey bars. “You cannot stay because you are not the only person watching us.”
“You know I didn’t mean it like that—”
“But I do, Arianna, and this is serious. I cannot drag you into this.”
All of a sudden, I heard the reload of a pistol, and footsteps from the porch. “GET ON THE GROUND!” screamed a man, jumping down and landing in Elliot’s yard with a military rifle in his hand.
“What’s your name?” he asked me. I gulped, knowing what I had to do. “I’m Melody Swan.”