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Adrian was trying to decide if he could manage to skip Cultural Geography, for the third time that week, when he saw her. She was sitting by the fountain, staring at him.
‘She’s not wearing a uniform.’ He noted vaguely, the first indication of the girl’s foreign presence at his high school.
She smiled and he couldn’t help but look away, now painfully aware that he had been gawking at her. And then, this beautiful girl was in front of him. He glanced up, confused, and froze. A lovely oval face was framed by black, mildly unkempt hair. But it was her eyes that caught him. Such a dark shade of blue, but then again, the glaring sunlight probably wasn’t the best environment for assessing colors. Her lips parted and she asked, “Would you mind walking with me?”
“No, not at all,” He whispered, then repeated the statement loudly. She smiled again and turned to glide away, pausing once to make sure he was coming. He didn’t care where they went, as long as he could be next to her. She asked him about school, his interests, and his family, all he answered without hesitation. Finally they paused on the DuSable Bridge.
“Adrian, I came here today because I know you already in a way no other human will ever know.”
This statement finally shocked him out of his haze and his sharp, analytical mind went into overdrive. He opened his mouth and she swiftly cut him off.
“You’ve never felt normal, always a heartbeat ahead of others, always palced apart for your talents. But recently the gap has grown. Before this disparity was a feeling you could brush off. But now it eclipses all other sensations and rare are the moments you don’t feel alone. Why is that, do you think?”
He had no words and jerkily cast his gaze out over the water, dredging up recent conversations with the school counselor. Conversations involving the same feelings this stranger just affirmed. Many enjoyed attributing them to the recent loss of his parents, and before that, Adrian had chalked it up to his natural reservation in all social arenas. It didn’t help that he transferred or that immediately his teachers consistenyl praised his intelligence, ostracizing him to his new classmates. Following his parents’ decease, he was relocated to live with his aunt, who had little time for the quiet, gangly blond boy, but immediately enrolled him in private school and therapy.
She had been waiting for quite some time now. He was pulled out of his misery when she spoke again.
“You’ve never felt fully happy in the human world because you are not human.”
Again, he opened his mouth to retort, but he had no words. Something within him stilled and he sighed deeply, wondering if this was what true peace felt like. His mind viciously rejected her nonsensical words, but his soul embraced them, as though it had always known but only needed to hear.
“I’m not human either.” He snorted at the mischievous tilt to her lips.
“I don’t believe you.” Saying the words aloud only heightened his internal battle. She rolled her eyes and brushed her bangs away.
“Like I haven’t heard that 76 times.” Then she moved, faster than he had ever seen anyone move. She had jumped to the farthest column on the bridge and was calmly standing inches from the edge.
“What the hell are you doing?” He wildly glanced around for other people, but for the moment, they were alone.
“You said you didn’t believe me so I thought I’d show you evidence. Only fair.”
“Evidence? No! I believe you, get back over here!”
“I don’t know, you look quite unconvinced.” She dangled a foot over the edge.
“I do believe you, I do,” he coolly replied. “Or at least, I want to.”
“Good enough for me!” she practically chirped and leaped over the gap to land next to him.
She held out her hand to him. “Come with me and I’ll make you a believer.”
A hand outstretched. The supplicating gesture typically was used in moments of guidance, aid, or compromise. It requires knowledge and compassion in the one offering. And calls for trust in the one who decides to answer the appeal. Courage in both.
Adrian reached forward with both hands, giving no signals as to his decision. He clasped the petite, pale appendage, turning it over, as though in studying its fragile form, the skin would whisper secrets and he would know its owner well. His eyes flickered to hers, restless and uncertain, but betrayed his inner yearning. Her response was a smile that rivaled the legendary beauty of Greek queens long dead.
“I know you’re afraid. I can’t promise that if you come with me, all fear will be erased from your life. But if you come with me, I promise you will never be alone.”