Unblinking Eyes

Chapter Three

Saturday June 14th 2003: Evelyn's POV
7:20pm


Seth and I sat on my window seat, a blanket on my legs because I was getting colder with the night. It was still light outside, though

I knew it was getting darker. The shadows in the forest were evident of that. I glanced to him, to his bright brown eyes which traced over the trees and the lake in the distance. I suddenly had the burning desire to tell him why I had left the house that morning. To tell him about the great black wolf.

I decided against it at the last moment, and that was when my grandma came in with two mugs of hot chocolate. She sighed as I greedily took mine. Three marshmallows were melting in the hot brew.

"You silly girl." She huffed, sitting on the end of my bed. "Thank goodness Seth here was there, otherwise you'd be done for! Didn't your grandfather ever tell you that the forest can be dangerous?"
I know, I thought, but I ducked my head. "I'm sorry grandma. It won't happen again."

"No, it won't. Because every time you go out now, somebody will be with you."

My head snapped up. "Aw-"

She stood. "No objections." She looked to Seth. "Jonathan will drive you home, Seth. I called your mother." She sighed. "Thank you for bringing my granddaughter home."

"That's okay Mrs Hund." Seth said quietly next to me before sipping his drink. Grandma then left, closing the door behind her.

He caught my eye. "I think you should listen to her."

I pouted. "I know."
"How about I take you into the forest? I know it like the back of my hand."
"Really? You'd do that?"
"Yeah." He then pressed his lips together, a smile forming on his face.

"What?"

He snorted, and pointed to his upper lip. I brought up my hand and realised I had marshmallow fluff all over it. I let out a laugh, and so did he, and then we were both laughing together.

I stood in the doorway as my grandpa's Ford backed up. Seth had his window down and we waved at each other. He had his friendly grin on his face- a smile I couldn't not return. When they were away I let out a small sigh. The sounds of nightlife gently eased into my mind- owls, crickets, the tweeting of birds before they settled down for bed. I then turned and slammed right into my grandma. Her arms were crossed, her eyes narrowed.

I ducked past her, making my way up the stairs.

"Evelyn, we need to talk about this. You don't know the dangers-"

"It won't happen again, because now Seth's going to show me the forest, and he knows it very well." I told her, turning around slightly.

She let out a breath, uncrossing her arms. Her eyes grew soft.

"You met him at the funeral?"

"Yes." I mumbled.

"It's good you have a friend, I suppose."

I nodded, turning from her. "Goodnight."

"Goodnight." She said quietly behind me. I reached my room and thumped down on my bed, my heart racing from the memories of today. I had been so lucky Seth was there to take me home. I didn't like to admit that I was in fact very lost, and very afraid.

I had been trying to find my way to the river. I knew it was a long shot- it was so far away- but I hadn't been able to sleep all last night. I was exhausted, my eyes red rimmed from tears, and all I kept thinking of was the doe and her fawns. She had been killed, and now her children were possibly out there fending for themselves. I couldn't help but make the connection between the deer and my brother and I. He was barely talking anymore, mainly staying in his room and hiding away from the world. He only really let me in, and he would read books to me. I think he wanted to take mom and dad's place in a way that grandma and grandpa couldn't. He had promised that we would stick together through anything, but it seemed to me that he was slowly leaving me.

I wanted to find the wolf. To see if it would kill me, too. To see if anything any more had any humanity.

Instead, I found Seth. I had heard somebody whistling a happy tune, and since I was lost, I would've taken any help. But then Seth's warm brown eyes met mine, and the sleepiness went away, as did the fear.

I slept well for the first time in weeks that night. Dreams still made their way to me, but for once they were kind. I laid in a bed of violets, the sounds of crickets and moving water surrounding me. There was nothing but the soft breeze and the gentle, warm rays of sun on my skin, the grass swaying around me.

When I awoke, it wasn't raining. Instead, the world was misted, and I remembered my mom telling me that the weather would be good if there was fog. It curled around the trees, making me unable to see the sky and the forest. The grass was dewy, and the parts of the lake that I could see were utterly still. I pulled open my window, the welcoming scent of rain wafting into my room, blowing out the cobwebs.

I had barely gotten dressed when the doorbell made me jump, and I heard the muffled voice of Seth greeting my grandpa. For a moment, I couldn't believe he had come back.

But then I remembered him promising to show me the forest, and I pulled my socks on quicker.

"G'mornin'." Seth grinned at me. His dark hair was all ruffled and windswept, and he wore khaki army shorts and a thin black shirt with Japanese symbols printed on it with a ninja chibi character.

"Don't you two want breakfast first?" My grandpa asked as I made my way to the door. I looked to Seth, and he shrugged.

"Yeah, that would be great, Mr Hund."

My grandpa was a skilled cook. He had taught my dad, who taught my brother in return. It must have been part of the male genetics because I was rubbish at it. He kneaded the dough for the pretzels as he told us the ways that our family cooked.

"They would use an oven that the whole community used." He said as he prepared a baking tray. "They all had to share one because if everyone had their own oven, then their houses would burn down because they were usually made of wood."

"Didn't it get crowded?" Seth asked beside me. We were both sitting at the island, and I could hear his stomach growling.

"I expect so." Said grandpa as he twirled the pretzels expertly.

"Usually families shared cooking times. The oven room was quite big." He then glanced to me. "Would you put the kettle on, dear? I can hear your grandma moving around upstairs."

"Okay." I said, jumping up and filling the kettle, flicking it on and trying to get back on the stool. Seth grabbed my hand and helped me up, and I let out a giggle. He grinned.

"Have you ever been to Germany, Evelyn?"

"No." I mumbled. "We always wanted to, but never had the money. But grandpa and grandma have."

Grandpa nodded as he pushed the pretzels in the oven. "We went when we were forty-eight."

"It was their thirtieth wedding anniversary." I smiled, crossing my arms and letting my legs sway off the stool.

Seth pushed up his eyebrows and my grandpa laughed at his expression. "Yes, most couples would want to go to somewhere like… Greece, or Hawaii. But Evelyn's grandmother and I… we're different."

"They had the best time though, didn't you grandpa? You went into Austria and saw Salzburg and climbed a big mountain-"

"Tried to, at least." He said, leaning on the counter. I saw Seth retract a little at his size. My grandpa was a tall man, and he towered over me. He had a full head of white hair and clear blue eyes, and he always wore casual clothes that brought out his tanned skin.

"My mom and dad went to a big lake for their fifteenth." Seth told us. He must've been anxious around my grandfather, right? But he just didn't look it. He looked as if this was utterly normal, as if he belonged here.

"Well, we had been saving up for many years." Said grandpa, and he glanced up to see my grandma come in. She saw Seth sitting there and gave me a smile. "I was telling them about our trip to Europe, darling." Grandpa said as he began making her some tea- which she drank as if it was water.

"Oh? What a wonderful time that was." She sighed sadly. She was dressed in her usual jeans and pale blouse, her grey-blonde and white hair falling to her shoulders in waves. "Making pretzels?"

"Mm hmm." I rubbed my eyes. "I-is Logan coming down?"

She caught my eye. "No. He was still asleep when I looked in his room."

"I bet he wasn't asleep." I mumbled, ducking my head into my arms.

Ten minutes later, Seth and I were chewing sugar sprinkled pretzels and drinking cocoa, looking over the backyard as the fog gently lifted.

"Where are we going?" I asked him.

"To wondrous places never seen by the likes of outsiders!" He exclaimed in triumph. I couldn't help but laugh. "I'm gonna show you around the rez, silly." He rolled his eyes.

"Oh. Okay."

We were preparing to go out- taking lunch with us in the form of pretzels, twisty bread, ham and cheese- when I heard my brother move around upstairs. I paused when I heard him come out of his room and look down to us.

"Evelyn?" He whispered. His pale hair was pushed up, his blue eyes bleary, wearing a white shirt and pyjama pants. "Who's that?" He asked, looking to Seth.

"That's Seth." I told him. "He's, uh-"

"I'm her friend." Seth smiled. Logan breathed out, and shot a look at me.

"Please be safe? I didn't see you at all yesterday."

I smiled sadly at him. "Of course I'll keep safe."

"I'll look after her." Seth assured him.

Logan looked uncomfortable by Seth's presence. "Thanks." He mumbled, retreating back to his room. I slouched.

"He'll be okay eventually." Seth tried to assure me as he opened the door.

I walked past him, breathing in the fresh air. "I hope so."
That day we walked through the forest and Seth pointed out different birds and bugs, stopped by rivers and splashed each other, talked about the weight of the world and living, discussed music and films that were coming out and raced against the clouds. He took me to First Beach, which I remembered going to a few years ago, and brought me to the place where the Quileute's have their bonfires. We sat by the driftwood tree and munched on sandwiches as he told me about the tribe. His voice was comforting and almost like a lullaby, but instead it kept me awake.

We began to tread to the reservation when out of nowhere I heard someone exclaim his name. His head jolted up and he grimaced.
Two boys- both looking remarkably alike though one of them had cut their hair short- came running up to us. They both stopped abruptly when they saw me.

"Oh-ho-ho!" The boy with the longer hair laughed. "She's the reason why you were gone completely yesterday?"

"Hi Brady." Seth mumbled. "Collin."

"Who's this?" The other boy- Collin- asked, looking at me.

"Evelyn." Seth smiled nervously. "You know, Mr and Mrs Hund's granddaughter?" He gave them a glare, and they both took a step back.

"Oh right. Well…" Brady gave me a sad look. "Nice to meet you, Evelyn."

"Yeah. Take, um, care of yourself." Collin said awkwardly, moving past me to the beach.

"Thanks?" I whispered, and Seth laughed.

"See you later?" Brady asked Seth, who nodded. Brady gave me a sad smile before following Collin.

"You told them about me?" I asked Seth, looking to him with wide eyes. He stared down to his shoes as we began to walk again.

"Uh… Well there had to be a reason when I got back, and they were staying for dinner…"

I breathed in deeply, knowing what they were thinking about me. I lapsed into silence, flashing back to when I saw my brother in the kitchen with his head in his hands and my grandpa's hand on his shoulder. That sad smile my gran gave me was the same Brady and Collin had. It said: I'm so sorry that your parents died so suddenly. You can be sad for however long you want.

The thing is, I hated that smile. Kids lost their parents all the time in third world countries and they coped with it fine. Why couldn't my brother and I? I knew he was dying inside. The grief was too much, overwhelming, destroying us though we stayed cheerful on the outside. Greif was a silent killer. It ate at your soul until there is nothing left but a swallowing abyss.

I looked at Seth with tears in my eyes. He would never understand such pain. Not many people my age would. He looked utterly mortified. We continued to walk until he looked up and took my hand.

"I'm sorry for telling them, Evelyn. It's not my place. Please forgive me?"

My eyes flickered to his, seeing they were large and the soft brown. It melted me. I tightened my grip on his hand. "Okay. Don't worry about it."

He let out a sigh of relief, and we continued to hold hands, neither of us wanting to let go.

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