The Secret of Ella and MichaBy: Jessica Sorensen
I wonder if I can fly? With the wind and rain in my hair and my arms out to the side of me, it feels like it might be possible. Perhaps if I can get enough courage to jump off the thin ledge, I’ll soar away into the night, like a bird with powerful wings.
Maybe then I could reunite with her.
“What are you doing?” Micha says, his voice higher than normal. “Get down from there. You’re going to hurt yourself.” His aqua eyes pierce me through the rain and his hands are on the beams above his head, hesitant to climb out onto the ledge.
“I don’t think I will,” I say. “I think I might be able to fly… just like her.”
“Your mom couldn’t fly.” He balances onto the railing and glances down at the murky water far below our feet. “What are you on?”
“I took one of her old pills.” I tip my head back and bask my face in the rain. “I just wanted to see what it was like for her. Why she thought she was invincible.”
He steps down on the beam with his arms spanned out to the side and his clunky boots slip on the wet metal. The lightning flashes above our heads and collides with the earth.
“Your mother didn’t know better, but you do.” Bracing one hand on the metal wire above our heads, he extends his other hand toward me. “Now come over here. You’re scaring the shit out of me.”
“I don’t know if I can,” I say softly, raising my head back up as I rotate to face him. “I’m not sure if I want to.”
He dares a step closer and his thick eyelashes blink fiercely against the down pour. “Yes, you do. You’re stronger than that.” His hand begs me closer. “Please, just get over here.”
Staring down at the black water, my body starts to drift.
“I swear to God, Ella!” Micha shouts, his tone sharp, his muscles tense. “Give me your hand!”
I snap out of my daze and tangle my fingers with his. His other hand captures my waist and he leads us swiftly back to the railing, lifting me over it. My feet settle onto the concrete of the bridge that is pooled with puddles. Lights on the beams illuminate the night and Micha’s car is parked in the middle of the bridge with the driver’s door open and the engine and headlights on.
He hops over the railing and then his arms are around me, embracing me securely, like he’s afraid to let go. For a second, it feels okay, weightless and uncontrolled. I tuck my face into his chest, the wet fabric damp against my chilled skin. The scent of him takes me to a place I wish I could go back to—my childhood. Back when things weren’t as heavy because I was too immature to grasp the full reality of life.
Micha pulls back and smoothes my wet hair out of my eyes. “Don’t you ever do that to me again. I can’t do this without you.”
But he needs to figure out life without this perception of me, because I don’t know how long I can keep doing it without drowning.
“Micha, I…” The look on his face silences my lips.
He knows what I’m about to say—he always does. He is my best friend, my soul mate. In a perfect world, full of roses and sunshine we’d be together, but this world is full of broken homes, drunken fathers, and mothers who give up easily.
“I’m sorry.” I cling to him as I say my final good-bye. “I didn’t want to think anymore. It was just too much and my mind wouldn’t slow down. But it’s alright now. I can think clearly again.”
He cups my cheek, his thumb searing hot as he traces the pad lightly across my cheekbone. “Next time come to me—don’t just run. Please. I know things are hard right now, but it’ll get better. We’ve always made it through every single bad thing thrown at us.” Beads of water trickle in his eyelashes, along his cheeks, over his full lips. There’s a shift in the air, one I’ve felt coming for a long time.
His lips part. “Ella, I love—”
I crush my lips against his, hushing him and melting our bodies together. I allow his tongue to caress mine, letting him suck the rain from my bottom lip and savor the taste of me. We arc into each other, like we can’t get enough and heat flows through our drenched clothes, warming my skin. I could let it go on forever, but that would be wrong.
The girl he thinks he loves needs to disappear. I don’t want tonight to be irreversible, so I pull away, breathing him in one last time. Then I walk away, leaving him on the bridge in the rain, along with the old Ella.
8 months later…
I despise mirrors. Not because I hate my reflection or that I suffer from Eisoptrophobia. Mirrors see straight through my façade. They know who I used to be; a loud spoken, reckless girl, who showed what she felt to the world. There were no secrets with me.
But now secrets define me.
If a reflection revealed what was on the outside, I’d be okay. My long auburn hair goes well with my pale complexion. My legs are extensively long and with heels, I’m taller than most of the guys I know. But I’m comfortable with it. It’s what’s buried deep inside that frightens me because it’s broken, like a shattered mirror.
I tape one of my old sketches over the mirror on the dorm wall. It’s almost completely concealed by drawings and obscures all of my reflection except for my green eyes, which are frosted with infinite pain and secrets.
I pull my hair into a messy bun and place my charcoaled pencils into a box on my bed, packing them with my other art supplies.
Lila skips into the room with a cheery smile on her face and a drink in her hand. “Oh my God! Oh my God! I’m so glad it’s over.”
I pick up a roll of packing tape off the dresser. “Oh my God! Oh my god!” I joke. “What are you drinking?”
She tips the cup at me and winks. “Juice, silly. I’m just really excited to be getting a break. Even if it does mean I have to go home.” She tucks strands of her hair behind her ear and tosses a makeup bag into her purse. “Have you seen my perfume?”
I point at the boxes on her bed. “I think you packed them in one of those. Not sure which one, though, since you didn’t label them.”
She pulls a face at me. “Not all of us can be neat freaks. Honestly, Ella, sometimes I think you have OCD.”
I write “Art Supplies” neatly on the box and click the cap back on the sharpie. “I think you might be on to me,” I joke.
“Dang it.” She smells herself. “I really need it. All this heat is making me sweat.” She rips some photos off her dresser mirror and throws them into an open box. “I swear it’s like a hundred and ten outside.”
“I think it’s actually hotter than that.” I set my school work in the trash, all marked with A’s. Back in High School, I used to be a C student. I hadn’t really planned on going to college, but life changes—people change.
Lila narrows her blue eyes at my mirror. “You do know that we’re not going to have the same dorm when we come back in the fall, so unless you take all your artwork off, it’s just going to be thrown out by the next person.”
They’re just a bunch of doodles; sketches of haunting eyes, black roses entwined by a bed of thorns, my name woven in an intricate pattern. None of them matter except one: a sketch of an old friend, playing his guitar. I peel that one off, careful not to tear the corners.
“I’ll leave them for the next person,” I say and add a smile. “They’ll have a predecorated room.”
“I’m sure the next person will actually want to look in the mirror.” She folds up a pink shirt. “Although, I don’t know why you want to cover up the mirror. You’re not ugly, El.”
“It’s not about that.” I stare at the drawing that captures the intensity in Micha’s eyes.
Lila snatches the drawing from my hands, crinkling the edges a little. “One day you’re going to have to tell me who this gorgeous guy is.”
“He’s just some guy I used to know.” I steal the drawing back. “But we don’t talk anymore.”