Neither my mother nor Mark was home yet when I reached the apartment building. It didn’t bother me, though, or surprise me. They usually weren’t.
As I grabbed an orange from the fridge and sliced it, I couldn’t help but think of the strange boy from English. I’d been in New York for a while now, but I really hadn’t made any friends. In fact, I hardly even talked to anyone. I pretty much just went on my merry way, trying to avoid trouble.
But this boy had caused me to feel something new- a longing to know him, know everything about him. And I didn’t even know his name. I was sure he didn’t even notice me. Hell, he probably hadn’t given me a second thought. To him, I was probably just another girl wearing too much eyeliner.
“Arielle?” My mother’s voice startled me. I hadn’t expected her home till at least five.
“Yeah?” I replied. She entered the kitchen.
“How was your day?”
I shrugged indifferently. I hardly remembered anything besides the boy, and I couldn’t very well tell her that- not without some weird mother-daughter-hormone talk. My mother had never felt it necessary to talk to me about sex, since I’d never even liked a guy too much. And these were the kinds of things that moms went all mushy-gushy about.
“Boring,” I said instead. It was true; it had been- except for English. “How was yours?”
I knew that my mother could talk for hours about whatever case she was working on currently. And it was better to have the topic be her instead of me. She shot into some one-sided arguement about the latest case she'd been working on. She gave more attention to criminals than to her own daughter. On and on she went, although I knew she knew I wasn’t listening. Finally, I rose to my feet and excused myself from the kitchen.
Once I was within the walls of my own room, the one place I was allowed some space, my thoughts returned to the boy. Something about him had ensnared me, allured me beyond explanation. Inside I had the unshakable feeling that something was coming, something big. Something that would either save me or shatter me. But how could some random person I didn’t even know consume my thoughts? It was illogical and pointless to think of him so. Yet the image of his messy black hair and brilliant green eyes was still strong in my mind. It was senseless, I knew. But it was true.
There is laughter in the distance, or perhaps it is just the memory of laughter. Who would be laughing in this place? I am vaguely aware of a figure standing over me, gazing down at my broken body, bloodied and torn. The shadow seems to be crying. Grieving. I want to tell them to stop, but my voice is lodged in my throat. Words will not leave my lips.
I only then become aware of how thirsty I am. My brain tells my arm to reach for the cup of water beside the bed, but the arm does not respond.
The shadow figure moves, bends over me and kisses my forehead gently. For but a fleeting moment, the pain seems to fade. Somehow, I feel relieved. I only wish I could see who the person is. I wish to know who is grieving for me when I am still alive. Or perhaps I have died, and this was all a vision. Or a test. Or both.
No. I do not believe myself to be dead. I am asleep, maybe, but I am alive.
The figure disappears.
I practically ran to English the next morning, not even stopping at my locker for the things I’d need for the next classes. My hope was that the boy would be there early, and maybe we would even exchange a few words. I thought that maybe I was becoming pitiful. Or that i'd always been pitiful, and it was only now starting to reveal itself in the most pathetically desperate of ways.
Just as I had hoped, he was there, in my desk, leaning far over his paper, just the same as yesterday. My heart did a tiny flip in my chest at the sight of him, so breathtakingly beautiful was he. And broken. There was a darkness in his eyes, one I very much doubted he could shake. I tried not to stare as I slid in beside him.
“You’re early,” he mused, his eyes never leaving the paper. I shrugged indifferently, unsure if he saw or not.
“What is that you’re working on?” I asked, hoping I sounded merely curious and not too nosy. Or wishful. Yes, I was wishful, and I hated myself for it.
The boy looked up. “It’s just a drawing,” he told me. “Nothing too good.” He held up the sheet of paper, and I found myself looking upon the most beautiful piece of art I’d ever seen. It was a drawing of a girl, with alabaster skin and dark hair, lying asleep in a hospital bed. Or perhaps she was dead. She had a pair of massive angel wings draped around and beside her, and she was gripping onto a bouquet of wilting black roses.
“Who is she?” I breathed, only then realizing that a drawing was a drawing, and sometimes that was all there was too it. In my head I cursed myself for always searching for meanings and answers I was too sure I didnt want to hear. The boy held up his hands to say ‘I don’t know’.
“I dream about her, though,” he murmured. “I dream that I am crying over her hospital bed, mourning her.” I shivered. So the angel was dead. And he had struck sort of close to home with the dream comment.
“I’m Arielle, by the way,” I said, partially to change the subject, and partially to see if he would give me his name.
“Griffin,” he replied absently. I tried to convince myself that there was some sort of emotion there.
Griffin. The name rang through my head, sending shivers up my spine. It was so unique and unheard of. Just like Arielle. Only his was much more tolerable.
Griffin turned back to his drawing, then, and I adverted my eyes so that he wouldn’t catch me staring again. However, when I peeked a glance in his direction, I found him not looking down at the paper, but at me. His expression was merely curious, his head resting on his hand, which was propped up on his elbow. I noticed a small, black cross tattooed onto the inner part of his forearm.
Griffin must have known I was going to ask about it when he caught me looking at it; a smile crossed his face briefly. “That move got me in some serious trouble.”
His smile was contagious, and I couldn’t help but join in. But I didn’t get a chance to say more, because Mr. Norton entered at that moment.