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  1. My Friend from the Dark (A Dark Souls/Kingdom Hearts story) Sora stared at the blue, swirling portal. Fog emanated from the centre and out to the portal's edges, where it dissipated into the air. “Whart d’yeh reckon’s in there, Sora?” questioned Goofy, who sounded like he was perpetually tripping over his own words. “I d’know,” replied Sora, thoughtfully sucking on an ice cream stick. He stared at it distantly, entranced by its unique magnificence. In a way, the portal reminded him of the sea of skies. The deep blue expanse, vast and lined with hundreds of stars, was a sight to behold from the Gummi Ship; indeed, Sora noticed that the occasional twinkle of light glittered among the fog, perhaps not in the hundreds, but like stars nevertheless. In another thought, Sora believed it to be a great, ethereal sapphire. “Looks dangerous, Sora!” squawked Donald, who knew full well that his hints would never be registered. It wasn’t that Donald Duck was a coward. Quite the opposite, in fact, as he was known for his intermittent feats of heroism. Even Donald might admit on a good day that these feats were by-products of his exceptionally plucky ineptitude. Still, it got the job done, and had earned him the rank of court wizard. However, behind his surprising career as an officiated wizard, he was more popularly known for his emphatic investment in avoiding a premature death. To him, diving feet first into rips along the fabric of space and time was pure madness. Dip a toe in and test the waters, maybe, but throw yourself into it? What if it was suspended above lava? A pool of sharks? An empty void of nothingness? In theory, Donald was a master of self-preservation in these matters. In practice, not so much. Sora lacked the cynicism to be truly afraid, which made Donald wonder whether he was the stupidest or the bravest individual he’d ever met. “I think we should have a look,” Sora eventually decided. “Y’know, just in case.” “In case of what?” Donald muttered to himself. There was no point in arguing. Sora flicked the stick out of his mouth, and inspected it closely. Whatever he was looking for did not reveal itself today, for he appeared slightly disappointed, and put it into a satchel on his belt – right next to his ‘emergency’ sea salt ice cream, which was concealed by a cloth. It was unlikely to melt anytime soon, as the bag was ice cold. Sora knew that food preservation was not a totally conventional use of Blizzarga, but, as far as Sora was concerned, he was merely pioneering. Besides, he had to satiate his sweet-tooth somehow. As soon Sora stepped into the portal, the blue fog enveloped him. The blue turned to black, and Sora felt the sensation of falling, and then nothing. He coughed himself awake, and spat out some ashes. He pushed himself up, brushed off some residual ash, and nearly fell over flat at the sight that lay before him. Impossible geometry surrounded Sora. Above and below him were brick buildings, a veritable city of sorts, and the narrow land he stood upon connected to a path, which led up to what appeared to be a plateau. The jagged buildings rose and fell around Sora like a static sea, most of them protruding out of an unseen ground at awkward angles. Some of the closer buildings seemed to sit horizontally; they loomed over him as a tidal wave of brick and mortar. The city landscape stretched for what appeared to be an infinity, and Sora thought each building to be blackened primarily by soot, until he realised that they were also silhouetted by an enormous, eclipsed sun. Donald and Goofy were nowhere to be found. Sora walked up the stone path, noting its smooth, ashen appearance. It looked slightly melted, as if the pebbles or the gravel you’d expect to find had been forged back into the stone it had once fallen from. Before the plateau was a crumbled gate, and as Sora stepped through it, he was greeted by a sight of warped beauty; a field of blooming flowers, and among them, hundreds of tarnished swords plunged deep into the ground. At the centre of the field, an armoured figure sat. It stared at a pile of black objects, and seemed indifferent to Sora’s approach. A few cinders burned among the ashes of the pile. Sora wondered whether the thing was a statue, until its head slowly turned to acknowledge him. The being remained silent, the shine of its steel armour and the white fur adorning its shoulders stood in stark contrast to the charred backdrop. Sora could not see the eyes through the T-shaped slit of the helmet, but above it he could just make out the etching a warrior. It seemed to be fighting a serpent – no, a dragon. Where the being had sat in the smut and powder, the once, Sora assumed, light cerulean cloth that draped over each leg from the hip was now stained and thus darker, so that little of the original colour remained. “I was not expecting anyone at this time,” it rumbled. Sora was struck by the voice. He could not discern a gender, nor even a species. It looked human, it probably was human, and yet… Its voice was deep and guttural, and yet somehow gentle. “Where am I?” Sora eventually decided to question. “A kiln. Quite open-air, one must admit, but a fire burneth here all the same.” Sora peered at the flame the armoured being spoke of, and was not impressed. “It looks like it’s all burnt out,” laughed Sora, who then had an idea. “Hey, you want me to light it up for you?” “Doth thou know what you must do to ignite this fading flame?” croaked the bemused being. He did not, but Sora was an optimist. He summoned his keyblade, preparing to cast Firaga upon the dull flame. “What a peculiar weapon thou has; a foolishly blunt one indeed. Doth the weight of the teeth not throw off your strikes?” “What? Uh… No, not really…” “Hm. Well, if thou canst truly reignite the flame, then be my guest.” Sora stood closer to the pile. He noticed that that the black heap itself was not comprised of traditional fuel, such as wood or coal, but rather of bones, and that a dark, almost camouflaged, coiled sword impaled it vertically. Although he was disconcerted by the sight, he held his hand above the sword and, through the power of the keyblade, cast a fire spell. The flames coiled about him, and through the directing of his hands they bounced into the embers. Nothing. Sora tried again, two, three more times. The armour chuckled. “As I suspected. It is a little more complicated than that.” Sora felt a little embarrassed, but brushed it off. “Yeah, well, maybe you need better fuel.” “Alas the fuel thou sees is irrelevant. This fire is not the fire thou knows. It feeds not upon wood or coal or kindle, but upon souls. It is the Flame - the power of the Gods. It is the beacon that both warms and guides us undead, but ultimately burns us all to ashes. Thou should’st recognise it, if thou art undead.” He gazed at the tiny embers that smouldered among the bones. Could such a thing so small be as powerful as the being described? For a moment he wondered whether it could be the physical manifestation of Light. Sora realised something the being had said. “Undead?” The armour pondered for a few moments. “One suspects that thou art not of this world. One is far too young. Too full of life.” “I’ve been to other worlds before, but I’ve never been to one like this.” From the moment Sora had arrived, he’d felt grounded. Not heavier, or weaker, but as though his ability to glide or perform an aerial dodge had been stripped from him. Elsewhere he’d have no qualms with leaping from mountains, but now… Is this what it’s like to be afraid of heights? “Really? And what doeth thou do upon the arrival in a new… world, didst thou call it?” “Well, that depends really. I help people, and help people help themselves. I fight the Darkness, and the Heartless. Oh, and the Nobodies.” “I assume these ‘Heartless’ and ‘Nobodies’ are of the dark?” “Eh… Sorta.” “And what about men?” Sora was confused. “What about ‘em?” “Doth thou not fight man?” “No, why would I do that?” “Thou figheth the Dark, did not thou just say? So, doeth thou fight Humanity?” The question seemed odd to Sora, so he decided to answer with what his Heart told him. “Our Hearts may have darkness in them, but they were born from the Light.” “Ah. Noble sentiment. We sing from a different hymn sheet, for thou must not know that humanity is of the Dark. No matter. So thou art something of an Abyss Watcher?” “Abyss Watcher? You’re gonna have to explain a little more.” “In this… world, the Watchers rooted out all signs of the manifest darkness - the Abyss. They were quite effective, the Undead Legion. Purging the Abyss, to them, was no different to preventing the spread of a disease, for they would slaughter whole cities if they had reason to believe the area was infected.” Sora was horrified. “But surely-“ “The Watchers have no mercy for creatures of the Abyss, boy. Anyone could be infected by it, and, right or wrong, they controlled it exceptionally.” “But you can’t just do that…” “It is ancient history, I am afraid. Anyway, if it is any consolation, I put those dogs down.” These concepts were new to Sora. The thought of someone who fought for the Light massacring innocents… it made him physically sick. But then for a moment he felt stupid. Just because someone fights the Darkness, or the Abyss as it called it, then it doesn’t mean they fight for the Light. Sora believed the Light and the Darkness to be liminal opposites. To be with one is to oppose the other, and vice versa. Could this notion be different here? He stared at the eclipse, in deep thought. You fight for the Light for so long, you try to help as many as you can… And yet it all feels for nothing when you know that the Darkness isn’t your only enemy. Would he be like that? Would he destroy the dark at all costs, forsaking innocents along the way? Another, darker thought came to Sora. Would Riku, or Mickey, or even Kairi have to destroy him, if he went down that path? “I would not think too much on it, if I were thou. Light and Dark are not… well, they are not black and white. None of it is. Not here.” The being, having noticed the boy’s disconcertion, decided to change the flow of the conversation. “Ah, I do not even know your name.” “… Sora. It’s Sora. Yours?” The being was silent for a few moments. It drew a name from memories of regret. “Anri. Why art thou here, Sora?” “I came through a portal with- Oh, you didn’t see anyone else, did you?” “Just thou, I am afraid.” Sora stared at the sun once again, and realised he was sweltering from it. Reaching into his bag he pulled out his ice cream, removed the cloth, and stared at it thoughtfully. As he removed it from the bag, it began to thaw instantly. “Aren’t you hot under all that armour?” he asked Anri. “Not as much as I should be. We undead feel less, after dying time and time again.” This intrigued Sora. “It’s happened more than once? Then surely… then surely you can’t die.” “In a manner of speaking, we can, and cannot. When it happens, we get up again sooner or later, brought back by this fire, so we can continue on with our journey.” Anri’s attention turned to the melting ice cream, which sat neglected in Sora’s hand. “What a peculiar thing. Tell me, what is that?” “Oh. Sea salt ice cream.” “And what doth thou do with such a thing?” “You eat it, silly,” laughed Sora. Anri humoured the boy, and let out a raspy chuckle. “Forgive my ignorance, it has been a long while since I have done that.” Sora realised the being would never taste such a treat, so he offered it to Anri. “You are kind,” it said, taking the ice cream. Anri turned away from Sora, and lifted its helmet up slightly. Sora couldn’t see what it did to the ice cream or what it looked like, but when it turned back to him, all that was left was the stick. “How’s your head?” asked Sora, impressed by its ability to eat an ice cream in so quickly. Surely Anri had brain-freeze? Sora could remember his first experience with ice-cream vividly because of it. “Quite fine. Hm. Sweet, and yet salty. My friend, I could not remember these tastes before this. I have not had such a joy in so long, and to hark back to our previous life is pleasure few are privy to. Thank you. We undead do not get to enjoy taste. Oh, and apparently I am a ‘Winner’,” Anri mused, holding the stick aloft. “What? I’ve been looking for one of those for a while now!” Anri offered the stick back to Sora, but he declined. “It’s yours. Keep it.” Putting it into its belt, it sat back a little, and then had a thought. “Ah, one moment.” It reached into its own pouch, and pulled out a small, handled barrel. “It might not be as flavoursome as your gift...” Anri passed it to Sora, who had to hold it in both hands, as it was surprisingly heavy. He heard liquid slosh around inside. “What is it?” he asked. “Siegbrau. An old friend brewed it.” He opened the top, sniffed it, and recoiled slightly. “Urgh… It smells a little off.” “Indeed, as it supposed to.” Sora could sense Anri’s invisible gaze, and, not wishing to be rude, decided to give the ‘Siegbrau’ a swig. He gulped half a mouthful before he realised how bitter it was. Acrid, he could go as far as saying He swallowed, and shivered slightly. He felt slightly light headed, hiccupped, and began to splutter slightly. Anri burst out laughing. “Perhaps when you are older, friend!” “Thank you, but no thank you,” Sora gasped as he handed back the mug. It had a frankly awful taste, Sora knew as much, but, strangely, he felt better for having it. He felt warm inside. Not the overbearing warmth generated by the eclipse, but the kind of friendly warmth that makes anything possible. Sora sat down next to Anri happily. The sun remained static in the orange sky as if time itself had halted. Around him the flowers, almost pinkish in appearance up close, did not stir, for there was no wind. Sora had many questions, but knew he would get no clear answers. He decided to ask one final question regardless. “Why are you here?” Anri did not immediately answer, because the being itself was not entirely sure. “I am here to make a decision,” it eventually answered. “Need any help with it?” “A second opinion would not hurt, I imagine.” It sighed heavily. “I have four choices. To give myself to the Flame, to let it burn out, to take it for myself, or to usurp it for Humanity. If I give myself to it, humanity will no longer be undead, and humans may die in peace once again. However, it is doubtful I myself will survive the sacrifice. Possible, but doubtful. I’ll just burn to ashes, and become another one of these bones.” “Is that such a bad thing?” “Unfortunately the cure to our ailment is also the cause. Every time the Flame begins to fade, humans are cursed with undying existence. The Flame was claimed by the Gods, and we are punished for basking in its warmth. Humans are of the dark, meaning our very presence puts the Flame at risk. I’ve wondered whether we our both the fuel that bolsters it, and the gust of wind that smoothers it, in the same way that it warms and burns us. Regardless, undead have had to make this same decision many times before now. This awful cycle will go on and on, because no matter how many times an undead chooses to let the Flame fade, eventually another will come along and give themselves to it. But unlike my predecessors, I am Unkindled. I have… other choices. I have already failed this task once before.” Sora had no idea what ‘Unkindled’ meant, but decided to press on with the other choices. “And what if you leave the Light to burn out?” “Then the Age of Dark, the Age of Humans, will finally come as it should have millenniums ago. The Gods will fade away, and man will reign. Or perhaps it will not come at all. Perhaps, without the guidance of the Flame, we will destroy ourselves, and the world with it. Maybe the Flame will never burn out, for its powers are so great it can convolute time, and thus it seems able to prevent its own natural extinguishment.” “That’s quite risky then,” Sora muttered. Giving up on the Light seemed unthinkable to Sora, and yet… The Light here caused suffering. Was it truly the Light? Sora had no desire to sit by and allow a world to be swallowed by Darkness, but now he was reluctantly considering it. Yet he couldn’t simply accept all that Anri said as true. “Are you sure the Light is causing this?” “The Flame, thou means. Yes, I am certain. Now, tell me, why do you assume that the Flame and this ‘Light’ are one and the same?” “Are the Flame and the Light not the same thing?” “When the Age of Dark comes, the sun will rise at dawn and set at dusk, as it has since the Age of Ancients ended. But, conceivably, I misunderstand also. Explain ‘Light’ to me.” “It’s… the determination of the Heart. Worlds have hearts, and the Light is what makes it pure. But in people, it’s the will to do right when wrong seems like the easy choice…” Sora was not entirely convinced by his own definition. The Light was something you felt, like an instinct, rather than something that was explainable. Sora decided that a visual aid might help. “This keyblade,” he said, brandishing it to Anri. “The strength of my heart allows me to summon it.” “A strong heart, like a great soul. Can thou summon such a weapon for might, or for virtue?” “Both, I guess.” Anri peered at the strange weapon. Even it could admit that it felt power radiating from the so-called ‘keyblade’. “What locks does this key open?” Anri queried. “Any. Chests, doors… safes,” he added, recalling an instance in Traverse Town. “Have you ever used it to access places you should not go?” “Well… yeah, but for the right reasons.” “Oh, well, as long as you say it was for the right reasons.” “Er… What about the other choices?” “Hm. I have the choice to take it for myself, or to take it for my fellow undead. To rule as a God, or to rule as an equal. To fill myself with Flame, or fill the Flame with Dark. I do believe that either would end the suffering of humanity at the hands of the curse.” Everything Sora had once believed began to crumble about him. The Darkness was the best option, even Sora had to concede that for once. As for Anri taking the Flame for itself, Sora had a competitive nature, but had always believed it was better to be part of something greater, rather than being the greatest. Even then, Sora did not trust the Darkness. Who’s to say it isn’t the Darkness causing this curse, anyway? He only had Anri’s word to trust. “The Age of Dark must come to pass, Sora,” continued Anri. “The Dark must shine our way, lest we lose ourselves in it.” “You’ve already made your choice, haven’t you?” Sora realised. “I have, and you have opened my eyes. I understand that the Light is precious to you, and in thine realm I hope you never lose sight of it. Thou must understand that the Dark must always be stronger than the Light, if the Light is to prevail. Otherwise this, everything I have told you, comes to pass. The Light becomes the new Dark, so to speak.” “Is there any Light left in this world?” Sora murmured, as he did not know how to feel about Anri's choice. The being held up its hands. From one, fire sprouted, and from the other, a blood red vortex. “Fire. Cold. Light. Dark. If you look for it, you shall find it. Because of this I have witnessed acts of evil the likes of which thou would not believe. Acts by the mad, the brave, the stupid, and even those who would call themselves ‘pious’. Some committed these crimes for the Light, some for the Dark, and others for themselves. For all this I sincerely believe that the first and last true Light of this world rests within you, Sora. As the Flame departs this land, so must you. I wish you the best in your battle against the Darkness, and I pray that we do not meet on separate sides.” Anri’s attention turned to the entrance of the plateau. “I think it is time for you to leave.” The blue portal had appeared silently. Sora stood, and turned back to Anri. “Are you sure you’ll be okay?” “I got this far without thou, did not I?” Sora smiled at the being, and felt that it was reciprocated. “Goodbye, Sora, my friend from the Light.” “Goodbye, Anri… my friend from the Dark.” Sora walked right up to the portal, and turned to look at Anri one last time. It was staring at something in its hand. Sora could not see it, but knew in his Heart that it was the ice cream stick. He smiled, turned back, and entered the portal. As soon Sora stepped through, the blue fog enveloped him. The blue turned to black, and Sora felt the sensation of falling, and then nothing. In an instant found himself walking upon dry, cracked earth, with Donald and Goofy at his side, as if nothing had happened. They looked about the barren landscape, silently aghast, as a gentle wind pressed against their faces. Sora sensed a change in the air and, soon after, those gentle winds picked up into a howling gale. Before him, a dust cloud formed. It cleared within seconds, and before them a caped suit of armour stood, clutching what looked like a keyblade. “Aqua… Ven…”
  2. For a bit of backstory to this...well, story, I decided to enter a short story contest where I needed to make a story, 1,000 words or less, regarding a picture that was provided. The outcome of that was this story. I hope you all like it! Any constructive criticism would be nice, too! It was a quiet day on Goldenglow Lake. The sun was reflecting off the murky water as the bugs in the air were buzzing. The only thing disturbing the peace were two boys carrying a kayak, the boy in the back also carrying a backpack, and a girl carrying some nets and a fishing pole. “Come on, you two,” said the girl, “We’ve got to find it!” “Hey, you’re the one that stuck us with carrying this kayak, Leslie,” said the smaller boy in front. “It’s heavy, even for both me and Bruce.” The quiet Bruce behind him nodded in agreement. “Oh, suck it up Zeke. This is to get our wish granted from the spirit of the lake!” “We don’t even know if that’s true,” said Zeke. “And even if it is, don’t you think somebody would have already claimed this wish or whatever?” Leslie thought about for only a few seconds before giving a short, simple reply. “Nope. That’s why it’s still a rumor, don’t you know?” Zeke gave a sigh in response. “That’s just like you, Leslie.” “So, Zeke. What are you gonna wish for?” Zeke gave a moment to think on it, just to play along with Leslie’s wild imagination. “Probably money. Not a lot of money, but at least a bit. Hey, what about you, Bruce?” “Oh, uh, do you two promise not to laugh?” After the two others spoke in agreement to Bruce’s pleadings, he started. “I’d honestly like to date the girl that I like.” “Aw, that’s sweet, Bruce.” Said Leslie. “Honestly, I’d really like to go out with somebody myself...Yeah, that’s my wish!” Zeke gave a small laugh in response to Leslie. “Weird wish you two got there. But hey, at least it isn’t world domination or whatever. Ah, we’re here!” The three got to their destination, setting up what they needed. As soon as they did, Leslie began giving orders. “Alright! Zeke, take the kayak and this fishing pole. You’ll be fishing out in the lake. Meanwhile, Bruce and I will be scooping up bugs at the lakeside.” “Wait, so you think that this ‘spirit’ is a fish? Or even worse, a bug?” Asked Zeke, a questioning look on his face. “Sure,” Leslie replied, “there are several stories where fish or bugs grant wishes. Now get to it, Zeke!” “Alright, alright.” After Bruce helped Zeke get the kayak into the lake, Zeke paddled off onto the lake. “Alright, Bruce! Let’s get to it!” Bruce nodded in response to Leslie’s energetic comment. Several hours had passed. It was getting to be nighttime, as indicated by not only the dark sky, but the large amount of fireflies as well. These fireflies were everywhere, and were what gave Goldenglow Lake its name. Bruce and Leslie were still searching for the bug-spirit, while Zeke was barely visible in the distance looking for the fish-spirit. Suddenly, Bruce struck up a conversation. “The fireflies are beautiful, aren’t they?” Leslie jumped a bit in response, not used to somebody breaking the silence after so long. “Oh, yeah! I used to come here all the time when I was little, just to see these guys. Ah, and it’s just as beautiful now as it was back then.” “Yeah, yeah, it is. This is my first time seeing this lake at night, actually.” “Heh, I see. Yeah, this place is great at night! Ah...it’s so romantic...” Leslie gave off a whimsical sigh. “Yeah, I agree,” replied Bruce, “very romantic...uh, Leslie, can I ask you something?” “Yeah, sure. What is it?” Bruce hesitated a bit before asking. “When you said that your wish was to date somebody...was that true?” “Yeah, of course! I’ve never had a boyfriend, so I’ve always wondered what it would be like. What about you, Bruce? Was your wish really to date the girl you like?” “Oh, uh, yeah. Yeah.” “Really? So...who is she? You don’t have to tell me, though.” Despite clearly wanting to know, Leslie’s tone indicated that she was serious with Bruce not having to say it. “Well…” Bruce, once again, hesitated before speaking. “It’s you, Leslie.” “Wh-what?” Leslie sputtered in surprise. “Are you serious?” “Dead serious. So, uh, if it’s alright with you...Will you go out with me?” In response to Bruce’s question, Leslie smiled brightly. “Yes, of course!” Said Leslie. “I’d love to go out with you!” Bruce, in return, smiled brightly. “Thank you so much, Leslie! I promise, I’ll--” Bruce was interrupted by a voice in the distance. “Hey, you guys! You’ll never believe what I found!” It was Zeke, nearing them before getting out of the kayak and walking up to them, showing them a small, yellow rock in his hand. “This is gold, guys! I know it is!” Said Zeke, an excited tone in his voice. “It isn’t much, but I could easily trade this in for at least fifty bucks!” Leslie and Bruce turned to look at each other, a smile across both of their faces. “Good on you, Zeke!” Said Leslie. “Now, let’s go home. It’s getting late.” “What?” Asked Zeke. “Knowing you, we would be out here for at least through the night until we found that spirit thing. Or at least until we gave up on it.” Leslie gave a small laugh. “Oh, don’t worry. I think we’ve found what we were looking for. Come on, let’s go!” The three kids left that lake shortly thereafter. No spirit was found that night. However, some might say that the spirit found them. Goldenglow Lake’s fireflies continued to glow a brilliant light all across the body of water, eagerly awaiting their next visitors.
  3. So when I have a large block of free time during classes (generally English) I like to write. This is the only completed product of those writing sessions. Whether you see more or not depends on how many more end up halfway decent. Criticism is very very welcome, and very very appreciated. Do not hold back. But it is worth noting that this is only the second draft. So it is still pretty bad with continuity at an all time low. Also worth noting that this story is more of a set-up for an eventual larger series of stories. So look forward to the conclusion of the conflict in those, or never read anything I put up every again ~~~~~ I came in through the front door of the gym. They had already begun playing music, though the lights were still on. In the back were two tables with drinks and snacks available. They had already cordoned off the area for dancing with walls of those mobile bleachers. The scene was familiar. This was what all the dances looked like. Once I had wondered aloud why they created that dancing cage instead of just using the entire gym. The answer had been logical. Since so few people came, only 50 some even available and much less than that actually attend, a smaller area creates a more crowded and full atmosphere. I strode through the gym, the heels of my shoes clacking against the ground. I looked up, my gaze attracted by the calls of my classmates. I smiled slightly at them, brushing a lock of auburn hair behind my ear self-consciously. I made it to them eventually, my pace not being too quick considering I didn't want to trip. My dress and shoes looked pretty, but were subpar when it came to moving quickly. My best friend sidled over to me and smiled widely. "You look so good! I'm glad you came!" Amelia exclaimed excitedly. "Thanks, you too." I said, though my tone was as always, notably quieter. I don't know why I come to these dances. I'm not crushing on any of the boys, nor do I enjoy dancing. I would say that it was because I like spending time with my friends, but sometimes I feel left out. An extraneous addition to my group of friends. For example, the conversation I had just joined went on without stop, as if I had not appeared. That alone would not be cause for concern, but weeks and months and years of it, well, it got a bit old. Supposedly they wanted me around, yet I rarely added anything. An occasional sarcastic comment, a correction, a laugh at someone else's joke. That was it. Amelia says they like my honesty. I suppose that could be true. I tend to be blunt about things. Sugarcoating things is a pointless act that occurs simply too often. She also claims that they enjoy the fact that I'm always calm and true, like a mountain lake. I doubt that image remained intact after the events of that dance. People continued to arrive in the gym. The conversation continued. It touched on our outfits for the night for a bit. Amelia's knee-length dark blue dress with a golden rope around the waist was as usual stunning in its simple beauty. I really hate to admit it, but I envy her fashion sense. My own dress was not nearly so trendy or pretty, but it was functional in it's deep orange and brown. The conversation drifted away towards some anecdote from Lindy. I glanced towards the clock. It was nearly time. Of course, as soon as I thought that, someone turned off the lights. That was the cue for the party to begin. Everyone moved into the bleacher prison, and the music was turned up to eleven. With the pop songs loud enough to make you forget your name and the strobe lights was turned on so that no epileptic would dare come within a mile, people could officially start dancing. Only one or two people had any semblance of dancing talent or skills, so everyone else just moved their bodies in miserable imitations of actual dancers. But everyone knew that was the fun of it. If we limited dancing only to those who knew what they were doing, well, the party would become more like a spectator sport. So we all dance, and we all laugh at each other. Well, most of us do. As usual, I stood close to the walls of our cage, arms across my chest conservatively. Amelia stood next to me, though I knew she could just as easily be dancing with everybody else. Across the way were a few guys doing the same, chatting and laughing at each other but not dancing. This scene was familiar. Of course it was. It was the same thing every time. Every three or four songs was a slow dance. Slow dances were awkward little events. A guy asks a girl to dance. The girl says yes. Guy puts his hand on the girl's waist (or below, but those go generally unmentioned and unpunished and unrewarded). Girl places her hands around the guy's neck or on his shoulders. And don't forget that there needs to be enough room between the two for two or three grown adults to have tea in the middle. After all, who knows what the world might come to if we're closer than three feet away from each other. Amelia was quickly asked by Ray (who had the most obvious secret crush on her), leaving me by myself. I wasn't expecting to be asked really. I was just me. I wouldn't say I'm unattractive (especially considering I was all dressed up), but I don't put myself out there as much as the others. I'm quiet, never much for socializing with people outside my friend circle, or even with people inside my friend circle. But lo and behold, a guy was approaching me. Easton, a wide white smile on his lips. The closest thing to a cliche jock in the school. "Can I have a dance?" He asked, hand outstretched. I didn't answer at first, not trusting him. He had a reputation for being a general jerk and selfish person. I did step closer to him, interlocking my fingers behind his neck. His hands held my waist as we began the casual swaying motion. I looked into his eyes, trying to figure out what those shining blue peepers were up to. He laughed suddenly. "What are you doing?" He inquired. My face must have looked rather severe. "Nothing." I muttered, eyes darting to my shoes, my cheeks turning red. We continued for a few moments in silence, my embarrassment at being so judgmental filling my thoughts. "So how has your night been so far?" Easton asked in a very clear attempt to strike up some form of conversation. It was doubtful he wanted to spend these minutes in silence. "Fine I guess," I responded quietly. "Only fine? Tonight's a dance! You came to mess around and hang out right?" I shrugged. Why I had come was still a mystery. I felt some sort of obligation to my peers. "And surely your night has become better since I'm dancing with you right?" I looked up at him in shock. What kind of ego causes a person to say something like that? "Aren't you the one that asked me?" I said in reply, my anger leaking into the words. "Hm?" "Since you asked me, aren't you the lucky one? I didn't have to say yes." These words were coming from somewhere beyond my normal mind. It felt like an entirely different person had taken me over and was spitting these words out. Easton looked shocked. Apparently he didn't think this was like me either. "Yeah, but, y'know," He trailed off, still not quite sure what he wanted to say. The song was nearly over. I wanted to know what his thought process was. We continued to dance, the swaying motion like a small boat in a big storm. He took a deep breath. Here it was. What kind of excuse had he come up with? Or perhaps he was actually going to apologize. "I'm me, and you're you." The song ended. I stormed off, leaving the confined area. It was like the encounter with Easton had been a trigger. I felt like a hotbed of emotions. I breathed shallowly, attempting to make sense of the endless stream of thoughts in my head. Yes, sense. That was what I needed. My anchor, my rock, my lighthouse. Everything can be made into logical sense if you break it down. Except for people. Of course. That was always the exception, and the one time I needed the sense I always rely on, is when the exception applies. I reached the snack tables. I grabbed a plastic cup. Filled it up. Sipped and swallowed. Repeat. Now here I was acting like a child, trying to drown the feelings. As a bit more time and water passed, I began to feel a bit more in control. Why did I care what he said? He was no boss of me. Easton was trying to get through life on basketball and a smile, certainly no superior to me. But that didn't make me feel better. "Hey! I saw you dancing with Easton. How was that?" I whipped around, surprised by the sudden voice. Amelia leaned away, startled by my sudden movement. Should I tell her the truth? I could. I really should. "Fine." I lied. "How was yours?" I asked, shifting focus away from me. She looked to me suspiciously. I couldn't hope to keep my emotional breakdown from her. She was my oldest, closest friend. I met her gaze and sipped my water. Letting it go for the moment, she turned back to the snacks. "Just as always. Too shy to look me in the eyes, let alone hold a conversation. He confuses me. I don't know if he's the shyest guy or the most self-confident. Probably both." She began talking about Ray, though I was half listening. My own storm of emotions had priority for now. Why had I lied? Once again, why did I care enough about something a dumb jock had said to lie to my best friend? Over five words I had just lied to the most important person in my life right now. "Hey, are you sure you're okay?" Amelia asked. I looked over to her. I didn't know what she was talking about until I realized that tears had run down my cheeks. I wiped the water from my face and nodded. I was fine. Wasn't I? I set the cup of water back down on the table and gestured towards the dancing arena. "Let's go." I suggested. Amelia reluctantly nodded and joined me as we strolled back towards everyone else. As we left the snacks, some small part of me, maybe the same part that started all this with those words to Easton, piped up. I cared because I felt like it was true. We entered the small square. Only a few moments passed before I was swarmed by the other girls, like flies to honey. They began to berate me with questions about Easton. I remember being confused as to why until I made the connection. Easton never danced with anybody, and half the girls in front of me had a bad crush for him. I remained quiet until the rapid stream of questions slowed. "He's a dumb jerk, a narcissistic egomaniac, and above all, a mediocre dancer." I managed to say in an attempt to sum up their questions. Silence followed for a few seconds. "Well yeah." Lindy said. I looked to her. I hated her. She was shallow and gossipy. "We all knew that. We just wanna know the good stuff." The good stuff. The shallow stuff. Stuff that didn't matter. I ran away. Like Cinderella at midnight, I ran from the ball. Except if Cinderella had danced with the least magical prince ever. Open. Shut. A breeze. The stars, the flowers, the moon. I could still hear the echoing, the pounding of the horrendously loud music inside. Suddenly, standing out there surrounded by an empty school campus and the night sky, I thought about my actions so far. I was normally a reasonable, well-mannered, and quiet girl. But tonight, I had lied, I had run away, I had pushed Easton into giving me the truth that I didn't want to hear. The truth? When had those words become the truth? When that little voice in my head had told me it was? Probably. Standing there, with the muffled music, the bright stars, and a waning moon, I guess everything clicked into place. I was soft-spoken, passive, a dying candle outshone by bright fluorescent lightbulbs. Almost no one ever asked about my day, my feelings. I was just a given, a single raindrop in an entire storm. I was lucky to be noticed, fortunate to be given a second thought. That was what Easton had said, though he was too dumb to say it so clearly. And since Easton hadn't made it clear enough, Lindy had given me a second chance to understand. No one cares about me, or my deep philosophical view on life. No one ever would, not when I'm surrounded by bigger, louder things and bigger, louder people. I had suddenly come to this realization, standing there in the night, a withering moon enveloped by the light of the stars. Open. Shut. I knew it was Amelia without looking. Silence. "What are you doing out here?" She asked. I replied quickly and with a hostile tone. "Why would you care?" "Because I'm your friend?" "Are you sure? Because all you are is drowning me out." "What are you talking about?" "I want to be my own person, be given my own chance to shine as bright as you." "Then come back inside. Partying and dancing sounds like a good start to that goal." "You don't get it." "Get what?" "I can't do it with you around Amelia. No one will ever see me if you're standing next to me." And then I walked away, paying no heed to her calls, her arguments. I gritted my teeth and clenched my fists. She could never understand, not the way she is. I would never get anywhere with her beauty, with her smarts, with her outgoing personality. A single teardrop hit the sidewalk. ~~~ That's all I have for now. I feel like my main problem is not really getting across how she is interpreting everything that is said to her, but if you have something else please tell me. And if you want to read more about these characters, my story Him will probably be a part of this series of stories that I am creating, go read it if you want to! If you can figure out who the two characters in that story are, you'll be my new favorite! And above all, thanks for reading!
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