Categories > Original > Drama0 Reviews
What happens when the wallflower refuses to bloom? A short story I wrote for my creative writing class. Set in Glen Burnie, MD as that is where I live.
A pale girl of fourteen leaned against the brick wall outside of the doors and watched the people arriving. Teenagers walking from the B and A bike trail, some middle school kids getting dropped off by their parents and told to behave, and some adults smoking around the half-circle stone benches. Sometimes she would pick someone interesting out of the crowd and follow them around for a while until she felt like she knew them like an uncle you only see every Christmas and birthday. It was her own little project on human nature and so far she had found no one worth speaking with. She gave herself an A+ and a sad nod of approval.
Ellen was a wallflower and participated when necessary, which in her laid-back nature was rare. She liked the paranoid moments in movies where the character questions his sanity and how the shards of broken glass shine brightest on those moonlit strolls along the beach alone. She valued how a person can run so far away and when they finally come to a stop and place their hands over their ears to block out the noise, they can hear that their heartbeat has been keeping up with them. Ellen was a wallflower and participated when necessary.
She glanced up at the darkening sky as a glint of something caught her eye from above. Signing it away as the faulty lighting, Ellen resumed watching the characters in her own little story. A boy who appeared about her height and age seemed to materialize out of the foggy air from behind a trio of boys passing an object between them. He stepped out more into the open and dusted some of what seemed to be tiny water droplets from his shoulders. Getting a better look at him, Ellen noticed how much he really stood out from the rest of the people around them.
Rather than sporting heavy dark clothing and harsh eyeliner as the others picked as their poison, a simple flannel jacket and blue jeans adorned his thin frame. Old Adidas shoes under him and short blond, almost white hair atop his head, he had a sickly glow about him. He lingered only a brief moment before taking off swiftly through the automatic sliding glass doors.
Ellen stood rooted to the spot against the cold wall in bewilderment at this new test subject before she too entered the mall in pursuit of the boy. She knew she was not being very subtle as she continued on his trail but he seemed to take no notice of her as he strode to some life or death destination of which Ellen had no clue. Leave it to a young girl with an imagination to think up something epic like that.
Many shoulders swung sideways in a weak effort not to clip the hurried girl as she looked on in amazement as the boy walked right through the crowds without any acknowledgment from the passer-bys. It was as if he was a ghost, his color-drained features not holding back the impression. She started to wonder, slightly concerned, if she was the only one that could see him.
The boy appeared to wander aimlessly around the mall for a time, making Ellen question if this "life or death destination" was just something her mind had made up for herself in a weird desperation call to get her to believe in something more. Reading too deep into a simple concept was what she did best and annoyed the many teachers she'd gone through over the years and herself at times when she took home the C and the scribbled note about how the answer isn't always some fable moral. After the sixth grade, she stopped reading them countless times trying to figure out where she went wrong and simply threw them into the electric blue trashcan in the corner of her bedroom where she also tossed all her religious curiosities.
Maybe this boy wasn't anything. Maybe he was just like everybody else she'd ever found the slightest bit interesting. Maybe her abstract thoughts always meant nothing. Maybe she didn't care anymore.
At the split second this thought blossomed into her mind, the boy stopped. He halted directly in front of a particularly strong scented candle shop and time stopped. Nobody moved, nothing made a sound, and time stood still. A baby stopped dead in the air from where she was tossed a few inches from her grinning dad, waiting to catch her as she was paused in mid-giggle. A cash register didn't even have the chance to ring the total up before the air turned to concrete and began to feel a lot heavier than Ellen remembered it ever being. She almost got so caught up in the moment that she froze until she found that her muscles could relax into the stillness.
The boy turned on her.
"You're Ellen." He rather stated from a few feet in front of her. His voice wasn't very deep like most of the boys she went to school with and it held a scratchy note in each word he spoke.
"Yes," she replied almost questioningly as he took a few steps toward her.
"My name doesn't matter. I come from far away from here and I don't think you'd ever be able to recognize me." The scratchy note hindered his speech for a second and a choking noise escaped his mouth. "I'm sorry, I'm rather sick at the moment." He tried a weak smile and she fell for the warmth in his eyes to believe him.
"No, don't worry. I mean, it'll be okay, a little cough never hurt anyone." Ellen responded, feeling an odd sense of compassion toward someone she'd never met before.
"True, coughs don't." The unnamed boy replied with a smile and an open-ended air to his sentence that made her think it wasn't just a cough. "But that is not why I am here."
Ellen regarded him for a second before asking, "Why are you here? I don't understand how all this is happening."
"I'm sure you could think up a few good ideas as to why I'm here," he said with a wink. "Unless of course you truly do desire to give up your gift." A painfully sounding, strained cough was emitted.
"My gift?" She almost scoffed at the feeble boy. "I could hardly call it a gift."
"I imagine that's why I have to." He replied with another knowing smile. "Imagination is not a bad thing. It is what creates new things that people who live without are regarded as crazy over time."
"No, it doesn't always make sense at first." He added quickly, seeing her about to protest about her grades. "But it doesn't have to make sense to anyone else but you. Once you have this idea in your mind, you have to introduce it to someone who all their life has listened and observed. A wallflower, perhaps. Then as they begin to understand, they can pass it on to a public speaker to distribute it to the masses."
There was a silence as Ellen processed this.
"You have an imagination, Ellen, you are that wallflower. But you are not that public speaker. Without these three components inside of you, you are trapped in world that only you understand. And that does no one else any good." The boy who now felt so much older and wiser to Ellen finished, one last small cough slipping out before he nodded toward a group of friends frozen in mid-laugh across from them.
And time started again. Ellen felt as if she had been slammed back to Earth at a hundred miles an hour and struggled not to let her legs collapse underneath her. Her eyes darted all around the newly alive mall as a baby fell into a father's arms and a cash register rang up a price a family could barely pay and all the ideas stopped spiraling around in her head and everything made sense.
She walked over with a smile.
"Hey, I'm Ellen."