Unblinking Eyes

Chapter Four

Friday 20th June 2003

8:09pm

5 days later

"Would you like some more pasta, Evelyn?" My mom asked at the dining table. Evelyn nodded nervously next to me and I couldn't help but grin. She was at my house, at my dinner table, eating food my mom had made. I had brought her over a few hours ago and shown her around, but mostly we played Zelda on my PlayStation 2. She was brilliant at it- telling me her brother had one and she was allowed to play on it sometimes. I had listened to her soft voice and let out a small sigh, knowing that being with her was better than being with Brady or Collin. She was smart and funny and genuine and kind.

To be honest, she was the best person I had ever met.

"Thank you." She said quietly as my mom gave her some more.

"I hope it tastes alright. Seth told me your family are quite the cooks." My mom smiled at her and I was so glad she liked her. I suppose Evelyn was an influence of the good kind.

Evelyn nodded, still shyly ducking her head. "All the men are, anyway."

My dad chuckled at the head of the table, looking to my mom. "Isn't that the way, Sue? Men-"

"Burn cornflakes in this house." My mom smiled, looking to me.

"What?" I asked, offended that she didn't think I could cook. Evelyn laughed a little beside me.

"You didn't even know what baking powder was."

At that, my parents laughed and I slid down in my seat. "It could be anything." I mumbled sulkily.

Evelyn caught my eye and I smiled at her, showing that I wasn't mad. I had caught on quite early that she was sensitive and could shut off at the slightest bad remark.

"Oh, by the way-"my dad said before lifting some spaghetti into his mouth. "I'm very sorry about Leah. She was in one of her moods again…"

"It's Sam. He won't talk to her." I told him. My father nodded wearily before continuing his meal. Evelyn answered questions about herself that my parents asked, and I noticed her become more relaxed in their presence. She stopped being hunched in her chair with her head ducked, and was actually looking them in the eye now. I liked to think I was helping, but I knew this was a tough experience for her. To see actual parents- to see what she no longer had.

When it was done, and the dessert was scraped away, Evelyn and I were preparing for the walk to her house. We enjoyed hiking together, and had ambled all the way near the Olympic Park two days ago. She told me she wanted to find a river close to her home, and when I saw it- the small, two story cube of a house with wooden shackled walls- she had blushed deeply in embarrassment.

"We didn't have much money." She told me as she climbed up on a fallen tree, lifting her arms out to balance herself as she walked along it. "My mom and dad both worked in an office- my dad selling fish over the phone and my mom proofreading children's books."

We both looked at the house at the same time. She hopped down next to me. "They married very young. My mom had turned eighteen the week before their wedding day."

"But they were happy?" I glanced to her, seeing she was now watching a bird swoop down to the feeder.

She let out a small sigh, gazing to the house and the glinting windows. "Yes." She murmured, looking to me with sad eyes. "They were happy."

I remembered that as we walked under the moonlight, the flashlight twirling in my hands. My parents trusted me at night- our neighbourhood was a very safe one. Thankfully, her grandparents did too.

I also remembered that she had not once cried in my presence. There had been moments when I thought she would- when tears were in her eyes that threatened to spill over her pale cheeks- but they never did. She was brave. She was braver than me.

"Your parents are lovely." She murmured suddenly.

I swiped my eyes over to her, seeing she was already looking at me. "Yeah?"

"Yeah." She replied.

"You know… they think you are too."

She smiled as her eyes brightened. "Really?! You think so?"

"Of course!" I laughed. "You really do doubt yourself, Eve."

Her smile faltered and her head fell, but I saw her cheeks flush a brilliant red.

"Wh-what did I say?" I asked anxiously.

"Nobody's called me Eve before." She said softly, looking back up to me.

"Do you not like it?"

"No, I like it." She gave me a small smile before skipping ahead on the road, the moonlight spilling around her and illuminating her pale skin and hair.

That summer I came to realise Evelyn was my best friend. I could think of anything- whether it be absurd or sentimental- and say it to her without fear. She understood, is what I'm trying to say. She understood me and I understood her- well, as much as I could. Of course, there were moments when she would have that far-off look in her eyes that meant she was thinking about her parents, and in those moments I could do nothing but wait for her to come back to me.

It was also the best summer I had yet. Sure, I missed out on some bonfires and camping trips, but it was totally worth it. Eve and I would spend hours in the forest, making up games and fairy tales, pretending the trees around us were somehow enchanted. Her mind was vast and she could come up with a character in seconds. We spent days as pirates, built camps and slept in them overnight (though they were always close to her grandparent's house) and treasured every sunset we spent together. We even invited Collin and Brady to come with us on some of our walks, and Brady would pick Eve up and she would squeal, begging me to tell him to put him down between bursts of giggles. We laughed together and spoke about the coming gloom of school. Collin had to do a couple extra lessons with Ms Aberwite, but he was completely fine with that. Evelyn even helped him in history- which she was very good at. And when Collin, Brady and I were walking back to the reservation at night, they'd tell me that she was one of the best people they had ever met.

Of course, some of the tribal leaders didn't understand. They just saw Evelyn as one of them- as a pale face- and not a kind spirit I knew she was. My father, thankfully, understood that, and tried to reason with them. Whenever Eve and I were out and we saw one of the elders, we'd hide away and pretend they were overlords trying to make the world grey.

I didn't like telling her that they thought she wasn't good for me. That she'd taint my views wrongly and- heaven forbid- make me leave the tribe. She saw right though me though, and I knewshe would never do that. I never confronted the elders. It was disrespectful. But I did glance their way and stare at them coldly behind their backs. No one had to know that.

It was a time nearing to school when Evelyn didn't want to go outside as much. Her grandma told me she was sick, that all she wanted to do was stay in bed and sleep, but I knew that she was afraid. Afraid of school, of what everyone of think, of being alone. She had never told me such things, but whenever someone mentioned school over the summer break, her eyes grew clouded.

A week before I knew she would start school, she showed up abruptly at my house. It was early in the morning and my family was still asleep. I was usually the one to get up and see who was bothering us at such an ungodly hour, but when I saw her in the doorway, my tiredness melted away.

She was wearing a thick coat that I remembered from the funeral, and her skin was as pale as milk, dark shadows under her eyes. She twisted her palms in front of her, and she looked down instantly when I opened the door.

"Um…" She bit her bottom lip. "I'm-"

"Eve." I cut her off. She looked up to me with wide, afraid eyes. I gave her a smile. "Want some breakfast?"

"Wh-"She began, but I grabbed her hand and pulled her inside.

"Do your grandparents know you're here?" I asked her as I closed the door and began down the hallway.

"Uh, I left a note-"

"Oh, cool." I opened the fridge and got out a carton of orange juice, grabbing two glasses and pouring it in swiftly- thankfully making no sticky messes.

"Seth?" She whispered worriedly when I turned around to give her the glass.

"Hmm?" I murmured after sipping some.

Then, she smiled. "Nothing."

I tried my best at making breakfast. Obviously, I wasn't a Picasso like her grandfather, but I prepared buttered toast and fried eggs pretty easily. She ate happily as we sat at the table, and I could feel her legs swinging.

"What do you want to do today?" I questioned as if it was any normal day.

"Can we play Zelda?"

"Yeah!" I grinned. "Of course. You do know I've got other games, right?"

"I know that. But I like Zelda."

"Seth!" Came a familiar shriek from the hallway. I let out a deep sigh, looking to Eve who was sitting cross-legged on the floor next to me as she watched me play SSX. I paused the game and she pouted. "Seth!" The door exploded open and Leah appeared, pink cell phone in hand. Her eyes were bloodshot as they flickered from me to Eve back to me again.

"Yeah?" I asked calmly. She growled deep in her throat.

"You didn't do your chores! Now I have to do them." She glanced quickly at Eve- nervously- and then back to me. "Just this once. Okay?"

Then her phone made a sound and she turned quickly away, shutting the door behind her.

I looked to Evelyn when I un-paused the game. Her eyes were wide as they stared at the door. I let out a laugh.

"Hey- you gotta get used to that."

She looked to me, shuffling closer. "You're right. She is scary."

I chuckled as I desperately tried to do a hard snowboarding trick. "I'll protect you little Evie." Grinning, I looked to her, and a smile brightened her face as she laid her head on my shoulder.

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