Wednesday August 27th 2003
I sat by myself at lunch, in the very corner of the school cafeteria, watching my old friends laugh with each other. Food tasted bland. I tried to breathe in fully, but it hurt. School had never been like this before. I had never been afraid of it. I knew the reason why. People had been giving me strange looks all day. It was as if I was an outsider now, no longer a girl that people would come and talk to or laugh with. I was alone as I sat. I felt oddly sick, a kind of numbing nausea that tightened in my throat and made my voice barely above a whisper. I couldn't imagine how Logan was feeling. He was in his senior year now, and we both begrudgingly left the house this morning, Logan dropping me off here in grandpa's Ford. He had that far off look in his eyes as we said goodbye. I had given him a tight hug, trying to make him feel better, but his face was the same blank slate when he drove away.
The bell sounded, and I gathered myself up, quickly moving past the throng of people to my next class. The teacher gave me that sad smile, and all lesson he kept coming past me and asking if I needed help. My classmates sneered silently at me and I began hiding deeper in myself.
When it was finally over, I ran from the school with my backpack swinging, waiting for Logan on the edge of the parking lot. My heart was beating like a hummingbirds wings. A couple of my past friends glanced my way and I ducked my head. I felt ashamed for being this way- for being this frightened little mouse. I tried to remember Seth and how my spirit shone through when I was with him, but all I could think of was the fawns and their black eyes wide and afraid.
It felt like that happened a lifetime ago.
Finally, Logan appeared and I hopped into the dark blue car, breathing out a sigh of relief. He was silent as we pulled away, and I glanced to him, seeing his cool blue eyes were trained on the road.
"Hello?" I asked him.
"Hi." He murmured blankly, turning down the road to La Push. "How was… school?" He asked in a controlled voice. I looked down to my lap.
"I don't have any friends anymore." I told him quietly. "At least, not at school."
"Were they mean to you?" He questioned in a low voice.
"No. But their eyes said it all."
"Hm." He mumbled, and that was where the conversation ended. I didn't like Logan being so distant. I wanted to know if school went okay for him. Honestly, I would've listened to him jabber on about cooking cod correctly if it meant there was something there other than this blankness which I hated.
I missed him. He had been gone for so long.
When we got home, I rushed into the house and ran up to my room, dumping my bag right in the corner and grabbing a book to read. It was one Auntie Abby had got me before she went back to Canada. It was called 'The Ghost Child' and so far I loved it. But I had read only a small sliver because of the active summer I had been on.
Seth. I wanted to tell him how much I hated school, but it felt like I was always complaining. He had promised he would come over as soon as I finished school. What would I say to him when he asked about it? I let the worries tinge my surroundings as I waited for him.
As my dad and I were walking home from the small fishing trip we had been on we heard a familiar voice calling for us. I knew who it was instantly. That voice had told stories over camp fires.
Old Quil. My dad pushed me slightly behind him as the worn, thin man came forward. His long grey hair was pulled into a band and a baseball cap with a picture of a carp on it was on his head.
"Harry." He greeted in his warm, crackled voice.
"Mr Artera," my dad smiled, and they shook hands.
"Catch anything good?" He asked, peering at the ice box I was carrying.
"A trout." I grinned with pride.
"Oh brilliant." Old Quil commented. Then his face subtly changed to something more serious, and I realised why my dad had placed me slightly behind him. "Now, I wanted to talk to you about what's been going on." My dad was about to talk, but Old Quil cut him off before he could even utter a syllable.
"Seth, a boy of your calibre must know that the tribe is the most important thing to you. That the blood that runs through your veins is… special… and must be protected. So you must stop being with that poor Hund child. She seems perfectly fine, now, Seth, but what would happen in the future? She could lead you to wander away."
"That wouldn't happen, Mr Artera, you don't know her like I do-"
"He knows about that." My dad said coldly, cutting me off quickly. "It's been taught into him since he was a baby, Mr Artera, or do you not think that I teach my children of tribal law?"
"Of course not." Old Quil murmured.
"Good. Then, we'll be on our way." He turned me sharply in the direction I knew our house was in. "Keep walking." He hissed in my ear, gripping my arm painfully.
"Dad, do they really hate Eve that much?" I asked quietly when I knew we were far enough away.
"The old timers don't trust outsiders like we do, son. They have been taught to repel them, to be stuck in the thoughts of times gone by. But your great grandfather changed things, and more and more people are catching on that being isolated is not the best thing in the world, even if it calls to our ancestors."
He wrapped an arm around my shoulders as we walked home, talking about school and what I should do about Evelyn. When we got home, I called Brady and then Collin, telling them what had happened and what we should do. They knew Evelyn was different- that she wasn't like the guy that took Rachel Black away to Hawaii- but none of the elders would believe that. My parents understood. Brady and Collin, too. I wasn't sure about Leah, but she was so wrapped up in herself that I didn't think she was really part of the family, let alone the tribe.
"We're not to talk about her in front of our families, or the elders, okay?" I asked Brady, biting my bottom lip. This just seemed wrong to me. Evelyn was now a part of my family. She was mybest friend. I would scream it to the world if I could.
Finally, when it was all done, I wandered to her house by the forest. It seemed greyer now she wasn't with me, telling me about flowers and the worlds she had made up in her mind. I began to walk with more vigour, anxious that one of the elders would spot me and try to tell me Evelyn was bad news.
It made me angry. Like, really angry. I didn't completely understand the feeling. I didn't usually get this mad, even when Leah was shouting at me for no good reason.
After what seemed like a walk that lasted for centuries, I made it to her house by Lake Ozette. I knew the path like the back of my hand now, and I noticed the beaten down roads we had made by our scurrying feet.
I knocked on the door, eager to see her, and it opened to her grandpa, who smiled kindly at me.
"Good afternoon, sir." I greeted.
"Oh, away with that. Call me Jon. Evelyn's upstairs… being very quiet, actually. Take it easy, alright?" He moved to the side to let me in.
"Okay." I took my shoes off and ran up the stairs, finding her room and knocking on the door.
"Come in." Came her soft voice, and I opened up, expecting to see her drawing or sitting on the window seat with a carton of juice, however, she was on the floor by her bed. An open book was on the neat purple covers of her bed, and she sat with her legs crossed, her blonde hair falling in messy waves around her.
I closed the door silently behind me and sat down next to her.
After a while, she whispered: "I hate school."
I wrapped an arm around her, realising she was freezing, and we sat in the comfortable silence for a long time. I was just glad to have her back. It was getting increasingly hard to be away from her. She leaned into my side and breathed out. I wanted to comfort her, to tell her I knew how she felt, but I didn't. I had never hated school. I had… never lost my parents. There was always going to be that distance between us, and I needed to learn how to deal with it.
So, instead, I listened to her soft breathing and felt her heart beat through her back. She laid her head on my shoulder like she so often did and was so quiet that I wondered if she was asleep. But I knew she was like me- watching the dust motes circle in the white sunlight that travelled through her large window, feel the cold breeze come from the barely see-able gap in it, relish the silence that drifted our way rarely. We were so unlike children in most ways- she had to grow up a lot, and I had many responsibilities. However, there were moments, like this past summer, when the kids in us would be free, and the forest would be a canvas we would paint on without fear. I feared nothing when Evelyn was with me, or when I could look into her sea-green eyes, or if her palm was in mine. I was beginning to hope she felt the same way.
Finally, I decided it would be best to tell her about my encounter with Old Quil. She listened silently as I spoke about the tribe feeling ridiculously uncomfortable with her being my friend. I knew she would rather know than be in the dark about it.
When I had finished, and my blood was boiling with silent rage, she leant back and looked at me.
"Maybe… Maybe we shouldn't be friends, Seth."
My eyes widened.
"No! What? No way Eve, I'm not giving up that easily- I, I wouldn't give up at all. You're my best friend. You're in my life now and they're just going to learn to deal with it." I huffed, pulling my legs up to my chest and wrapping my arms around them.
"I'm your best friend?" She asked in a voice barely above a whisper. I looked around to her, seeing she was less sorrowful now.
I laughed. "Of course you are!"
A grin brightened on her face and she jumped over to me, giving me a hug. I smiled, looking down to her fair locks and realising that it was all worth it for this. She laughed and I began tickling her, the children jumping inside of us once again as she squealed and tried to run away from me. I grabbed her waist and pulled her back and she laughed loudly as we both landed on her bed, the laughter erupting from deep inside our chests, making me the best sort of breathless.
As the days past, and I saw less and less of Evelyn due to her being at school and myself helping the tribe get ready for the next season, that breathless laughter subtly lifted as it was replaced by the stern glare of school. Usually, I would look forward to it, but now it seemed like a different world. A world where Evelyn didn't exist.