This story is about a girl, who has spent most of her time alone, due to feeling older than her years and having little time other than her stdies. Until one special day, her birthday, she meets Luke. A boy that will change her life forever..
I started the day early - Ignoring my phone alarm that protested 7:30 when I had already had breakfast and had completed the washing and ironing. I dropped the pile of ironing onto my bed and picked up the phone. It vibrated exuberantly in the palm of my hand and revealed a picture of my mother and me as I pressed “stop”. My mother was still asleep, getting up early was not something she ever did.
After hanging up the clothes I walked to the other side of the house, shielding my face from the sun that glared through the window, lighting up the entire corridor. I put the kettle on and received a pat on the backside from my two year brother - Josh; he beamed up at me, his blonde curls in disarray.
“Emily, put kettle on” he shouted and bobbed his head assuring himself he was right.
“Yes, darling” I replied, brushing the curls from his forehead. I reached into the cupboard and pulled out a bottle, filled it with milk and watched it rotate in the microwave. It “pinged” and I handed it to him.
“Thanks” he slurred, running and jumping onto the sofa, I watched him drink quickly and stare at the blank TV.
“Any minute now...” I whispered to myself. The kettle bubbled over, and I heard Josh’s feet patter across the tiled floor
“Emily put in the night garden on” he said, as I washed up the bottle. He patted my backside twice before I turned to put it on. The programme started and he jumped up excitedly. I smiled, clapped and laughed encouragingly looking back at the clock – checking I wasn’t late to catch the bus.
I made my mother a strong cup of tea, and crept into her bedroom. She had both the fan, and the hair dryer on – the fan directed at her face and the hair dryer towards her feet – she slept this way ever since I can remember, and the whirling noise of the hairdryer even made my eyes a little heavy.
“Mum” I whispered, trying not to make too much noise as to startle her. She turned over, but otherwise remained unresponsive.
“Mum” I repeated, nudging her slightly and putting the cup onto the porcelain coaster – it clanked and she sat up. “Morning” I winced “sorry, but you didn’t answer me” I explained and she sunk back onto the pillow, closing her eyes.
“Morning darling” she whispered, she lifted her hand to smooth her dark hair away from her face.
“I got you tea – I’m leaving now, so have a good day” I said, and all but ran out of her room. I skipped to Josh’s side and kissed his cheek. He slapped mine in reply and giggled as I walked off, rubbing it.
I grabbed my bag and ran down my drive, not even looking back at the house. My house was situated in a village around eight miles from town, which required me to take a bus – as I still hadn’t passed my driving test. The bus cost me £1.45 everyday and I was barely managing to pay for it. I applied for jobs and stuff, but with the credit crunch, employers just don’t the need the extra employment – which sucks for me.
The bus shot half way down my road, before realising there were people waiting to get onto it. I walked slowly, behind a girl not much older than me – pushing her child in a bright pink pram. She turned back at me, smiling and letting me go ahead, I smiled and got onto the bus swiftly. I had to watch my feet, my memory flashed back to the day before when my foot got wedged between the pavement and the door of the bus and the driver had to come out and help me – embarrassing.
I took two steps at a time, and sat myself upstairs – there were less people, so less noise. I put my iPod on and Paramore erupted from my headphones.
I stared out of the window, breathing in the sweet scent of freedom as the beautiful green fields disappeared behind me, and I was able to see the sky from behind the grey morning clouds. I paid attention to the music, forgetting I was surrounded by strangers, I relished on soon being able to drive to town myself – I loved the journey, surrounded by green fields and music what could be better?
I loved living in the countryside – the green; it was my favourite sight in the world. Many people like construction, buildings, and towns - things like that. Not me, I don’t like the fact that soon my gorgeous green fields will be grey buildings or estates.
The bus jolted forward suddenly – knocking me out of my own little daydream. Somewhere behind me, a window opened and I hated that reality can so easily interrupt a dream.
I stared down at my pale fingers, my stubby finger nails – that I can’t stop biting. I wonder, often, what I did to take out my nerves before I realized biting my nails did the job? My mother always rolls her eyes and laughs, claiming that I’m a child and have nothing to be nervous or worried about. She’s right – not about the child part (I’m 17) but what do I feel nervous about?
The chorus kicked in louder and I all put forgot what I was thinking. The guitar solo is the best; I leaned my head back and listened.
“Hey” I heard a muffled voice, and then felt a sudden slap across my cheek. I pulled my headphone out – completely dazed. There were sniggers behind me and I focused my eyes to see Chloe.
“Ah...why?” I thought, “Why of all days does she decide to come to school?”
“Hey” I smiled, wanting to jump from the bus. Chloe was my oldest probably best friend, but when you aren’t in a sociable mood she is the worst person to be around. She talks and talks.
“Hey babe, how’re you? – Oh my god! I didn’t tell you! Me and Josh got back together isn’t that great? He told me he loved me last night” she smiled, and her orange foundation began to cake around her eyes and in the dimple of her chin.
I suppressed a groan. Josh was one of many “boyfriends” Chloe had. When I first met him I thought he was a homosexual – but apparently not. Their relationship consists of hours and hours of “msn” conversations which are made up of “I love you baby” and “you’re my everything” – they aren’t actually able to say it in public – because apparently Josh is shy.
I feel bad for Chloe sometimes, Josh isn’t shy – he’s embarrassed of Chloe because she is utterly absurd in front of people. She pulls the seams of her school blazer so that it reveals her cleavage and wears miniskirts with no tights.
She smiled back at me waiting for my response. I try to be enthusiastic about her love life – it is her life and I’m pretty sure she thinks that I am bitter and cynical because I’m jealous of her.
“That’s great Chlo” I smiled and she nodded.
“I know, I’m so happy – he makes me so happy” she elongated her syllables emphasizing the words as much as she could.
“That’s great Chlo” I repeated.
The rest of the journey commenced with her telling the entire bus about Josh and their conversation last night – obviously the people on the bus had no choice but to listen, she shouted at me as if I still had headphones on – I wish I did. She finally left me, with a smoke smelling hug and a lip gloss kiss on the cheek.
The next few minutes on the bus were better – quiet. Paramore still played loudly in my ears but my head was quieter. Chloe reminded me of reality – I liked to escape it as much as possible. The bus finally stopped at the bus station and turning off my iPod and shoving it into my bag I got up.
The people behind me were frustrated when I slipped and fell down two steps of the stairs and my iPod headphones that were coming out of the back of my bag got twisted into the handrail – “Murphy’s law” I thought grimacing.
The air outside was bitter cold, but I didn’t care. The bus station was full of people – miserable in the freezing weather and impatient – waiting for their bus. I walked briskly forward, ignoring the group of intimating chavs that stood smoking around the exit of the station. I kept my eyes to the ground – one thing I knew for certain about myself was that I attracted trouble.
I crossed the street after waiting for what seemed like a life time and more. My heart raced – I got the same anticipating feeling I always did before entering a library – the smell of old books and the quiet, the respect that you make NO noise.
I put my cold hand onto the gold hand press of the red oak door and pushed. I was greeted with overwhelming silence and the gust of heat that came from the heating system. The wrinkly librarian sat pulling pencils out of her white hair as I walked over.
“Hello Emily Dear” She whispered, and took the three large books I was beginning to pull out of my bag.
“Hi” I whispered in reply, blushing that she knew my name.
I handed her my library card. The computer beeped as the librarian swiped the card, and the screen illuminated on her wide glasses.
“Happy birthday dear” She croaked, and her wrinkly face cracked a smile.
“Thanks” I whispered back and tried to smile. I turned around quickly and headed for my usual seat. I had been with the two people who have known me the longest and neither of them had remembered it was my birthday. Was I being a little self-obsessed in expecting they should remember?
I had specifically come to the library today, because I have an exam tomorrow so grabbing the European reformation history journal I sat in my usual seat. I didn’t look up from the text for a long time, memorising certain phrases. Hoping to use the journal as an extra reference in my exam, History was an important subject to me. I truly enjoyed it. Today the library was quieter than usual, I glanced around the room quickly, meeting the eyes of teachers I recognized from my school. Normally, on a Tuesday there were children’s readings. I remember them specifically because I had once stood on a bean bag, falling on my backside in front of the entire group.
Suddenly my phone warbled in my bag. I glanced towards the librarian who was glaring at me and fished through my bag to find it. There was a text from my mother, which said “HAPPY BIRTHDAY BABE! WILL SEE YOU WHEN YOU GET HOME. LOVE YA X” I rolled my eyes and threw the phone back into my bag, as I mouthed an apology to the librarian.
I pushed the thoughts of my ignorant mother out of my head and repeated specific dates over and over. I wrote most of them down and after exercising the journal out of its knowledge I went to return it. When I reached the corner I had found it on, I realized it was the wrong place alphabetically. I didn’t have to look far for the correct place; I scanned the shelves, using my finger to glide across the cello taped letters on the side.
“P,O,N,M,L,K,J,I,H,G,F,E...” I whispered to myself. With my fingers, I created a gap to wedge the book in, but before I could I saw a dark brown eye peering back at me throw the gap.
I jumped back with fright, but the eye didn’t move. The person looking through the gap continued to watch me. I leaned forward looking into the brown iris.
“Hello?” I whispered after a moment. I was intrigued. But immediately the eye disappeared. Did I just imagine that? I thought to myself, maybe I am crazy. I shook my head at myself and placing the book back where it belongs I turned to search the poetry section of the library.
I turned slowly, my instincts warning me I was being watched. My eyes met the same liquid brown I had seen before, only this time I saw the rest of the face. His skin was thin, almost translucent, the brown eyes warming as I gazed over him. The boy I saw, was tall and his hair smooth – pushed away from his face. He was surrounded in almost a hazing aura like a black and white photograph or a sepia photograph effect.
“His face is like an angel” I thought, taking in his long features. He stared back at me; amazement was all I could decipher but obviously for a different reason.
“You scared me” I breathed. His eyes still watched mine in amazement and after a moment of him not answering I glanced around the library, leaving his gaze for a short moment. The library – the part that I could see from in between shelves was empty.
I looked back at him; he still hadn’t replied or changed his expression, so I walked forward hoping to break his gaze - It didn’t. Bored – I walked over towards my desk turning back to glance at him between the shelves as I went. My body shivered involuntarily. “What was it about this boy that frightened me so much?” I thought, sitting down, and glancing again towards the darkness.
Why didn’t he reply? I thought, looking down at my book. My thoughts were so loud reading wasn’t optional. I could still feel him watching me somewhere from within the darkness. Why wouldn’t he walk forward? I ached to see his face once more, there was no way my imagination was so creative to imagine that face. His countenance too, unlike any presence I had ever felt. Ghostly, was the only word fitting.
I refused to look again, and focused on my book. - paying extra attention to the words until I had almost forgotten him. I was reading eagerly and quickly when a crackling noise disturbed me. I glanced up to a man standing on a wooden ladder, opening the window. I watched him until the cool February air filled my lungs.
I closed my eyes breathing in again. When I opened them, my heart almost stopped with fright. The same boy was now sitting in the chair opposite me. His hands gently folded before him, the same hazy aura surrounding him. His eyes watched mine, hesitatingly.
I flinched back with fright as he sat calmly in front of me. “Oh my-“I gasped standing up. I felt eyes hawk in on my frightened expression, some people whispered as I continued to watch two brown eyes calmly watching mine.
After a moment I resumed my seat, hoping that he would talk to me.
“What do you want?” I whispered glancing around the room and meeting some confused faces; some people looked at me as though I was insane. Others looked at the boy opposite me as if he wasn’t there.
He didn’t answer me for a long time, his eyes still amazed.
“You can see me?” he finally said, his voice sounded far away as though he was talking from across the room rather than sitting opposite me. He leaned forward awaiting my reply.
After I made sense of his question, I answered loudly.
“Yes, of course I can”
Every person sitting near me turned and eyed me rudely - looking around to see who I was talking to. I looked back at the boy, waiting.
“Follow me” he ordered and when my eyes opened from an innocent blink he was gone. - The chair empty.
I was both, confused and intrigued. Why would he ask such a stupid question like that? I thought, getting up and grabbing my bag. How was I supposed to follow him when he wouldn’t want to show me where he was going? Why was everyone staring at me? How did he get up so quickly?
I walked to the quietest part of the library. The oldest books were stored here, I loved the musky smell and after reading a few book titles I began to regret not coming and looking in here earlier.
I began to feel very stupid as I waited for him, had I imagined him or not? No one else seemed to count for his presence. There were plenty of women in here; surely they would have noticed him. I turned my head from left to right, waiting until I saw him – almost glide to a stop in front of me.
In shock I jumped back, the back of my head hitting the shelf with a thud. His eyes were still amazed and his mouth curled into a slight smile as I stumbled. “What are you?” I hissed at him, half embarrassed and frightened.
“My name is Luke” he replied, again his voice sounded so far away. If the room had not been so quiet, I wouldn’t have heard him at all. I noticed he was almost floating and I tried to remain conscious.
“You didn’t answer my question” I whispered again, heads turned to watch me. Some were evidently bored with my theatrics. I saw him hesitate and he lifted his feet to float backwards.
“I am a ghost” he voice was so quiet I wasn’t sure whether I had heard him correct or not.
“You’re a ghost?” I repeated louder.
He nodded, his blonde hair falling forward. “But you can see me” he said the words with triumph.
I realised why people were looking at me funny, I had been speaking to a chair. My brain finally kicked in to over drive, get a hold of yourself I thought bitterly. He’s not there.
“No way” I denied stepping around him, I tried to walk past him but he didn’t move - I stumbled walking through his body. My skin felt almost cold as I felt my body pull away from his – I gasped my hand flying over my mouth in shock.
The entire attention of the library was now projected at me. The librarian raised her eyebrows and other’s just stared in horror and amusement. I looked back at Luke, his eyes ashamed. His feet glided backwards.
“I'm sorry” his voice echoed and his body floated backwards until all I could see was his body disappear within the shelves.
Shock kept my feet planted to the burgundy carpet. I contemplated my own sanity, was I insane? I stared at the dark shelves, waiting for him to return.
When he didn’t, I walked about the aisle, looking through older, dusty books. My skin still felt cold from what I guessed was walking through his ghostly figure. Why did I feel so intrigued by him?
From the corner of my eye I could feel people glancing at me. I felt nervous and excited at the same time. What was going to happen next?
I was engrossed in a 19th century classic when my skin suddenly shivered in the unnatural air. I turned, and Luke was floating before me.
In the darker light, he looked more real. No sunlight to surround him in a haze. His skin looked solid, his eyes like stones.
“What do you want?” I said - I could speak louder. There were no people around this section of the library.
“It is extraordinary” he replied triumphantly, his voice sounded older, almost archaic. Every syllable pronounced to perfection. “You can truly see me?”
“Would I be talking to you if I couldn’t?” I replied. He just smiled at me, watching my eyes look him over again and again. My guess would be that he has not been seen by another human before. I indulged his queries, I instantly felt more intrigued by him, warmer – despite the shivers that rippled under my skin.
“What is your name?” he almost purred, his voice still muffled.
“Emily” I replied, smiling back at him. For a second, I almost forgot he was a ghost. The fact that I might be going insane had become irrelevant to me. I was intrigued more than anything, so many questions bubbling in my mouth to ask him.
“How old are you?” he asked, making me lose my train of thought.
“Sixteen...no wait - seventeen. Sorry, I'm not used to being seventeen. I haven’t even had a whole day to practice” I replied, laughing at myself. He frowned at my reply, leaning his head to one side. Maybe, he too was questioning my sanity. “It’s my birthday” I explained after a moment.
“Oh, well happy birthday Emily” he said, and bowed lowering his head and shoulders. I watched him stand up straight and smiled in gratitude. I wanted to know how old he was; I wanted to know what awful accident had occurred for him to become a ghost. I wanted to know his history.
“So, come here often?” I asked, looking around to make sure no one had come around the corner. He laughed, again it was muffled but still contagious – I smiled.
He floated forward and sat down cross legged on the floor. I followed eager to have answers. I sat opposite and picked up a large book that lay underneath the shelf. If anyone were to come around the corner, they would think I was reading to myself.
“Usually, on a Sunday I am at church. But yes, I do come here often” he answered. In a blurred motion he lifted his hand and lent his chin on it. He smiled waiting for my next question. I tucked my hair behind my ears.
“How old are you?” I asked, leaning forward. There was no air or smell around him. All I could feel in the air was dust.
“How old do I look?” He asked, looking down at himself.
I thought about that for a moment, I wanted to say 17 like me, but he seemed older. I could answer, I shook my head and shrugged.
“952” he answered, after what I would have guessed was him, contemplating whether it would shock me. It did, after a moment I did the math.
“You were born 1057?” I squeaked. I continued to convince myself that my imagination was not good enough to create this person in my head. He smiled in agreement. When he smiled he looked alive, his eyes sparkled and his skin solidified.
“What – what happened...to you?” I asked, hesitantly. I didn’t want to hurt his feelings and his reaction was exactly what I expected.
“Let’s not talk of that...” he said, trying to hide to horror that evaded his features. “What are you doing here?” he asked. His eyes scanned the shelves for a moment.
“I have a history exam tomorrow morning, and I can’t revise at home” I explained.
“Ahh excellent” he replied enthusiastically. “What history are you to be examined on?”
I smiled at his sentence syntax and answered “European reformation”
“Oh...not the greatest of histories but I know somewhat about that. Would you like to hear about the institutes of the Christian religion...or Martin Luther?” he asked, his enthusiasm increased, and so did mine. What a great way to revise - to have a tutor who had probably met every significant individual in history.