~All that is Unseen~
Gwenneth Taylor was a contented girl who had many friends. She loved to play the cello, and spent her spare time playing it. She seemed to float away as she felt her bow slide over the strings. Her life was bliss.
But Gwenn was never the same after her parents were consumed in that car crash. It was like a part of her died. Her laughing sapphire eyes found nothing to chuckle about, and her dark brown hair fell limp across her shoulders. She herself may as well have died, because now that she had no family, just an empty house to live in, she had nothing to live for.
Gwenn's friends didn't understand. To them she was horribly depressed and needed to get on with her life. But Gwenn didn't care. All she wanted to do was be alone.
And then one day, two people from Social Services came to Gwenn's house. They used a key that they must have acquired somehow and came into the Taylor household. Gwenn had just gotten home from school, her backpack was lying in the hallway, and she herself was sitting at the kitchen table. The two that came for her saw the backpack and went into the kitchen, calling her name. But when they walked into the kitchen, they saw no one. Gwenn had silenced her breaths, and realized that no one could see her. Gwenn smiled to herself as the Social Services people shrugged to themselves and left.
And so it went on like that until one day, everyone that had known of or personally known Gwenn forgot about her. Soon she faded off of attendance lists anywhere she went. Gwenn fended for herself, going to school each day, learning but not doing anything, just so she could have some purpose, becoming a shadow, a breeze, slowly falling into obscurity…
Mr. Robert Schmidt looked around his sophomore homeroom, taking attendance. He glanced at the note on the desk. There was a new student today. His eyes scoured the classroom, looking for a desk. He found one at the back. Perfect. He his eyes made a double take, almost seeing a girl sitting at the desk. Nope, there was nothing seen besides the shadows. He looked at the name again. Alex Brians. A strange feeling came over him as he looked at the empty desk again. No matter, he thought, and went on with the attendance.
Alex Brians had just moved into Westeville that weekend. Despite his objections, his mother insisted that he go to school that next Monday. As it was, he was late getting to school. He walked through the unfamiliar halls towards room 2010, and stopped before the door. He adjusted his backpack, ran his fingers through his hair, took a deep breath, and stepped in.
The class hushed as Alex walked in. As he walked forward to give the tardy slip to Mr. Schmidt, his fellow classmates sized him up. He was tall, about six foot two. They couldn't determine whether his hair was black or a very dark brown, and it stretched down just past his earlobes, one of which had a gold hoop in it. His green eyes glinted impishly, and his teeth were straight and white. The girls sighed as the jocks glared.
"Mr. Brians," the teacher said. "Please, take the seat at the back. We at Grover High do not accept tardiness. You'd be well to mind that."
Alex nodded and advanced towards the seat. He was about a foot from the desk when the sun shone through the window onto his seat. Alex saw a girl there; more beautiful than words could describe, and she was looking at him, terrified. At that moment, the bell rung, and he blinked. A sudden breeze blew past him, which smelled of lilacs, and the girl disappeared.
When lunchtime came around, many people called over the new kid, especially the girls, seeing a challenge in that stubborn chin, full mouth, and ready smile. Alex himself would rather be alone, for all that he did like company, too many people made him nervous.
He took his lunch outside, into the bright sunlight. He squinted around the courtyard, looking for a good place to sit down. He saw a tree, and plopped down under it and attempted to eat his "lunch". After he gave up three times on the sandwich, he got up, tossed out the remains of his death-on-a-tray, as he soon came to call it. Alex sauntered over to the tree again, not in any rush.
When he was ten feet away from the tree, he blinked. He smelled lilacs. And there was the girl, sitting under the tree. Her dark brown hair fell midway down her back. She was sitting there, eyes closed, breathing in the clean air of the courtyard. Alex came up behind her and said, "Hey."
She stood up quickly, alarmed. She turned to run. "Wait," Alex pleaded. "Just wait…"
Gwenn turned slowly around. For a second she could make no noise whatsoever; she hadn't talked in such a long time. "You can see me?"
Alex was amazed at the question. "See you? How could I miss you?"
"Why would you want to see me? I'm of no importance to anybody." Gwenn said quietly, averting her eyes so she did not have to look up at this boy.
Alex took a step closer. Her sapphire eyes held a sorrow deeper than he could see, like a dark pond. He was amazed at her beauty and at how terrified she truly was. "I think you're going to be of great importance to somebody in the near future."
Gwenn, frightened, looked up at Alex. Fear making her heart race, she ran. Alex, dejected, let her go.
Trey Whitman, the school jock and the pitcher on the Grover High School's baseball team, saw Alex go outside. He was in the same homeroom as Alex, and Trey's girlfriend was one of the sighing girls that had waved to Alex at lunch. Trey was a guy who seldom appreciated his girlfriends, but he still saw them as his possessions, and any person who challenged that needed to be punished.
Trey, with his fellow junkies behind, stormed up to Alex. He was standing with one arm out towards the wind, and heard Trey storming up behind him. Turning around, Alex faced Trey bravely, for all that he was three inches shorter. Apparently this person had some important status in this school, and something about Alex had infuriated him.
This angered Trey to see someone new not be intimidated by his height or the bulk of his muscles showing through his letterman jacket. Alex, curious and slightly annoyed, threw his dark hair back, looked into Trey's face, and simply said, "Yes?"
If Trey was angry before, he was certainly more so now. Not able to say anything, Trey grunted exasperatedly before turning around and storming away. Alex shook his head. Trey was not the biggest of his problems. The beautiful girl was gone, and he had yet to find out her name.
Alex walked into gym class late. Someone had changed the lock on his locker, and, looking at Trey and his friends snickering as he walked in while the gym teacher, Mr. Byrd, glared at him, he had a pretty good idea who.
"Mr. Brians," Mr. Byrd barked, "please see me after class." Alex nodded and stood a few feet away from the rest of the class.
"Today," the gym teacher continued, "we will be playing baseball. Not the sissy softball that just got into season that you play with your little sister. The real, you better believe it bubba, baseball. Trey, you're pitching." Trey smirked and strutted off to the mound. "Ben, right field, Travis, left, Tim, center, Steve, first base, Thom, second, Chris, third, Kevin, shortstop, and Justin, catcher. Everyone else bats. Any groaning and you'll all be running laps under my watch." Everyone scattered. Alex learned quickly that no one in their right minds wanted to get Mr. Byrd mad unless you wanted your arm shoved through your ear and pulled out through your nose.
Alex was the first to bat. Trey smirked and fingered the ball in his hands. He threw a curveball – so fast! – Alex ducked before the ball broke his nose. Again Trey sneered and caught the ball that Justin threw back to him. He threw a fastball and it smacked into the catcher's mitt so audibly that you could have heard it miles away.
Trey signaled that he needed to talk to the catcher, so Mr. Byrd let him while he went to go talk to Will about his grade.
Trey walked up to home plate and snickered at Alex. "You'll never hit anything, Brians. I didn't slip up last season, and we won state."
Alex smiled. "Congratulations."
Trey glared at Alex before continuing. "I don't expect to give you anything to hit. I suggest you watch that perfect nose of yours. I can't guarantee that everything I pitch will go into the catcher's mitt."
"Mr. Whitman, are you finished?" Mr. Byrd called across the field.
"Yes, sir!" Trey yelled back and ran to the mound.
Alex gripped the bat and wiped sweat off of his forehead. He watched everything in slow motion as the ball speeded toward him. Alex swung and smiled as the bat connected. He watched it soar over the fence and yelled to Trey, "I can't promise that everything I hit will be that far! I suggest you watch your balls!" Laughing, he jogged around the outside of the field.
Gwenn was confused. No one had noticed her since she had stopped trying to get them to. Now enter this… "Alex Brians." Her whole life would turn upside down if she allowed him to be in it. Then again, her traitorous mind thought, it may not be so bad…
She walked outside the woods surrounding Grover High School, thoughts tumbling around her head.
Alex had just come out of detention ("someone" – three guesses who – claimed that he had filled his gym locker with shaving cream) when he saw her. The girl was walking in the meadow, her dark hair spilling off of her shoulders and glinting in the sunlight. He broke into a run.
"Hey!" he yelled. Gwenn turned around, surprised. Fear turned into anger as she instantly became irritated.
"Do you always know where I am?" she asked irritably.
Alex smiled. He had finally got her talking. Furtively he stated, "I maintain a radar on all of the mysterious girls who I don't know the name of."
Gwenn half-smiled and walked away, calling over her shoulder, "Gwenn."
"What?" Alex asked, not hearing her speak clearly.
Gwenn stopped and turned around. "My name is Gwenn."
Gwenn had gotten a block away from the school when she finally caught her breath. Her heart was beating so fast that she could only imagine that it was triggered by something big. And, thinking of the way her stomach dropped when she looked into Alex's eyes, she realized it was this crazy little thing called love.
Alex stood there for a long time after Gwenn was gone. After he came back to earth, he realized he didn't want to go home from school yet. He ran from the meadow straight to the library, breathlessly asking the librarian, "Whereareyourstudentdirectories?"
"The directories?" The librarian cluelessly questioned. "They are at the back next to the encyclopedias."
Alex breathed out. "Thankyou." He quickly walked over to the reference section and found the student directories. He found the sophomore class and looked in Schmidt's homeroom. There she was. Gwenneth Taylor. 3747 Thompson Road. He put the directory back on the shelf and ran out of the library, repeating to himself, "3747 Thompson. 3747 Thompson.,,"
Gwenn was sitting on the swing on her front porch, basking in the sunlight. Her eyes were closed when she heard footsteps. She opened her eyes and saw Alex standing there. "Hey," he meekly said. He seemed out of breath.
"Hi," she replied, looking down.
"Do you mind if I sit down?" Alex asked.
Gwenn smiled. It had been a long time since she last had. "Go ahead."
Alex grinned back and sat down next to her. "You know, you always run out on me before I can get to know you."
Gwenn laughed softly. To Alex, her laugh sounded like chimes in the wind. "I would have thought that your radar would have helped you there."
Now it was Alex's turn to laugh. "Well," he said, "I definitely would like to upgrade it…"
Gwenn looked into his eyes and was almost blinded by the shade of green they were. She was frozen in place as his head came closer to hers. When their lips touched, she felt a warmth that she hadn't ever felt before. She was flying, and she was still on the ground. Gwenn, for the first time in a while, felt safe.
Alex was the first to break the kiss for air, and he smiled. She grinned back, and put her hand behind his neck to bring his lips towards hers again.
Mr. Schmidt's classroom silenced itself immediately the next day as the new kid, Alex, walked in. The gorgeous guy was enough to silence the girls alone, but the entire class quieted down when they saw him holding the hand of a medium-sized girl with dark brown hair hanging down to her mid-back and sapphire eyes shining out from a nervous face. The girls of the class glared jealously at the new arrival, while the guys sighed in relief that they didn't have Alex Brians for competition any more.
Mr. Schmidt walked up to the two, who were still standing in the doorway. "Who might you be, young lady?" He asked Gwenn.
"I'm Gwenn Taylor," she replied quietly, not looking up at her teacher, who had known her perfectly well at the beginning of the year. Alex squeezed her hand. Gwenn glanced up at him and grinned shyly. I'm so lucky, she thought.
"Well, Miss Taylor, I'm afraid that we have no more desks, and the custodian will not be able to get you one until tomorrow, so I believe you might have to stand," said Mr. Schmidt with a touch of contempt.
"It's okay, Mr. Schmidt," Alex interrupted, "Gwenn can have my seat."
The squat old man looked at Alex suspiciously. "All right, Mr. Brians, if that is what you want…" Mr. Schmidt walked over to his desk, muttering about young love. Meanwhile, Trey was eyeing Gwenn's and Alex's still-connected hands with utter dislike. Brians had gone too far this time.
That night, Alex took Gwenn for a walk in the park. Gwenn hugged Alex's jacket close to her; it was a chilly night. Alex put his arm around Gwenn's shoulders and led her to a bench off to their right.
So caught up in their world, they didn't notice a black Corvette with no headlights on pull into the park and park not too far from them, or the empty beer bottle that was dropped out the window.
Gwenn moved closer to Alex, partly for warmth, and partly just to be in his arms. She could hear the beating of his heart, and it soothed her. Alex lifted her chin up, and she met his eyes. Alex moved his head in to kiss her, but he noticed the revving of an engine, and a black car speeding toward them. He realized that it wasn't going to stop.
"Gwenn, get out of the way!" Alex bellowed, shoving her to the side seconds before the car connected with him. Other people in the park came running, having heard the car and Alex's shout. Gwenn got up onto her feet and ran over to the limp form that was her boyfriend. Her Alex. Her everything.
"Alex!" Gwenn cried. "Alex, don't be dead! Please, don't be dead!" She turned to the people standing around. "Somebody call for help!"
Minutes later an ambulance came and paramedics came running. First they ran to the car and pulled out a bloody form. Gwenn tore her eyes away from Alex to see who it was – Trey. Anger boiled up inside of her. One of the paramedics bent down over Trey and shook his head. "Dead," he muttered.
"Move out-" one of the paramedics started to say to Gwenn, but, looking at the worry and despair in her face, he stopped. Another bent over Alex. "He's still alive!" she shouted. "He's in a coma, but he's still alive!"
"Take him to the ambulance!" another EMT called.
"Why don't you come along with us, girl," one paramedic said, noticing that she didn't want to let go of Alex's hand. Gwenn, numb with fear for Alex, nodded.
She climbed into the back of the ambulance, and crawled over to the stretcher where Alex was laying. "Don't die, Alex," she whispered. "Hang on…"
Gwenn tossed and turned in her bed. She didn't dare sleep. Not when Alex was lying there in the hospital. She had been there for hours, standing by Alex's side, murmuring words to him. The doctor had come in around one o' clock, saying that she should go home, that there was nothing more that she could do for him, and that even if he did live, there was little chance he'd be able to walk again.
Gwenn didn't like the if in the doctor's words. She turned over and went back into a fitful sleep.
Gwenn did not go to school the next day. She sat on the bench where her love had been only two days before. Has it really been two days? Gwenn thought. It seems like we've been in love for our entire lives. She still had his jacket on, and held it close to her, feeling as if her life would end if she loosened her grip.
She looked out at the surrounding fog and sighed with worry. She jumped as she heard a twig snap and noticed a form coming her way out of the mist. Gwenn cried when she saw that it was Alex. Jumping up, she ran to him and leaped into his arms. He stumbled but stayed upright.
"Alex! Alex, you're okay! The doctors said that you wouldn't be able to walk anymore, but here you are!" Gwenn exclaimed.
"I'm fine, I'm fine," Alex said. "I'm here now."
"Oh, thank God that you're alive," she whispered, breathing in his scent. "I love you so much, Alex."
Alex hugged her closer. "I love you too."
"Alex," Gwenn said. "I don't think I could have taken it if you had died. I don't think I could have lived."
"Don't say that," Alex said sharply. "They told me I wasn't allowed to stay long. I just came-"
"Who are you talking-" Gwenn started to say, but Alex held a hand out, motioning not to interrupt him.
"Gwenn," Alex continued, "you have to promise me that whatever happens to me or anyone else, you won't disappear again. You will miss out on life if you vanish, and I love you too much for you to do that. Promise me, Gwenn."
Gwenn nodded. "I promise. I wouldn't think of it." She smiled, and Alex grinned back, the love in his eyes so powerful that it would have amazed her if she hadn't felt the same way. She moved closer to him and he kissed her. Alex kissed Gwenn so long and hard that it seemed he was putting every emotion he had ever felt into that one expression of love. Anyone walking by could have noticed that the love that they shared was so strong that no one would ever be able to come in their way.
When they broke the kiss, Alex said, "I have to go, but just remember that I will always be here for you. Even if you don't see me, I'll be here. I will not leave you. I love you, never forget it." Alex kissed her again, swiftly, and went off into the fog again, leaving Gwenn whispering, "I love you too, Alex."
Gwenn went inside and was about to practice the cello when the phone rang. "Hello?" she asked.
"Is this Gwenn Taylor?" a voice on the other end questioned.
"Yes it is. Who is this?" Gwenn replied.
"Hello. This is Wendy Colfax, Alex Brians' doctor."
"Yes, I just saw-" Gwenn began to say. Dr. Colfax interrupted her.
"I regret this, Miss Taylor. Alex didn't make it through the night."
"I'm sorry," was all Dr. Colfax said before she hung up.
The next couple of days passed in a blur for Gwenn. She went to Alex's funeral, but did not cry. Her grief was far beyond. She was numb to most of the ceremony. Gwenn was supposed make a speech for the eulogy, so when the minister was done talking, she stood up and walked over to the podium.
She tried a couple of times, looking out over the sad faces, to say something, but nothing came out. Finally she was able to start. "Alex was my everything. He was smart, funny, handsome, athletic, and loving. He noticed me when no one else did. He was the kind of person who could make you fly and stay on the ground at the same time. He was everything I could have wanted to love and more."
Gwenn swallowed at this time and looked over at the grieving faces of his mother and his brother, who, looking up at her through his black hair with tearful green eyes, was already starting to show a stubborn chin and full mouth. Suddenly something that Alex said clicked into her mind. Gwenn opened her mouth and said, "But I don't think that Alex would have wanted us to grieve for him. He wouldn't have wanted us to miss out on life. He would have wanted us to live, even when he couldn't. That's Alex for you. He was always caring for someone else other than himself." Gwenn thought of how he pushed her out of the way that fateful night.
"Even though loved ones die, they never really leave us. Alex is here, even now. We may not be able to see him, but he is here. And Alex will never leave us, if we remember him. Seasons may change, the leaves may turn to brown, but our love for Alex, and his love for us, will never fade, as long as we remember. So I ask you all to never forget Alex Brians. Our friend. Our love. Our everything."
And so she stepped down, amid claps and sobs from the people in the audience. Gwenn smiled, and looked down shyly, and did not stay for the luncheon afterwards, but instead went straight home.
She got out her cello and began to play a show tune that she had always liked, Love Lifts Us Up Where We Belong. And while playing it, she imagined herself floating up into the air, above the houses and the trees, above the sky, where Alex was. They swirled around each other, lost in their love.