Saturday, 9 July 2011
11:55:35 AM (GMT)
Though I had lived for thousands of days, not one of them prepared me for those that
were yet to come. It was September; I had just started at a new school again and had
too much work to think about my surroundings, the people there.
Two seconds can give you a lot of time. In that time, you can judge a person, meet
a person, leave a person. There was one girl who I seemed to see everywhere; her name
was Ophelia, I think? Something odd. She looked too young to be in my grade, but was
in my math class. I'd only spoken to her briefly, but I couldn't exactly understand
her in those initial few seconds. I couldn't pin her down as a specific type of
person. She didn't talk too much, and if she did her words seemed to have flown like
a river; it was almost like anyone around her would lean in and listen to the small
girl's voice, her words that came out so easily but really must have been thought of
countless times in her mind before she said them. The more I tried to figure her out,
the further I got. First she was smart. I mean, she was in my math class, and she
looked young. Then she was just small, as I found from friends that she was our age.
Then she was weak. Then she was the girl everyone was wondering about. Then she was
the girl that everyone was talking about. What went hand in hand with that was that
she was also the girl that rose above it all, until the one event happened that
Apparently she had been to many foster homes after spending her childhood in an
orphanage, and was currently living with a family in my neighborhood. This was her
first year at this school. I felt we shared at least that, if nothing else; I was new
She tended to avoid people; well, not quite avoid. She didn't seem to need them, at
least not in the way I did, not in the way the rest of the world did. I don't know
what it was that drew me to her. She obviously didn't need me, or anyone else for
that matter. Maybe growing up without a family had some effect on her, had hardened
her. Ophelia was independent and alone, and she seemed to be content with that. The
other children didn't approach her. Or maybe they did, and I wasn't paying enough
attention. Everyone seemed to enjoy watching her, the short girl with black hair and
blue eyes, live her life with no intention of ever letting anyone in. Somehow, I
thought, maybe she'd let me in. To this day I have no clue what made me think I
could, but I was determined to open her up.
I started subtly acknowledging her in the hall, or at lunch. I'd smile as I passed
her, but she would only glance my way and keep walking. It was like she didn't want
to give her key to anyone, because they would leave her like everyone else had. One
day, however, she gave me the first hint that she would be willing to let me in. I
flashed her a shy smile on my way to English, and she held my gaze for a few crucial
seconds. It wasn't much, but her cerulean blue eyes made it seem longer.
My bag that I lugged around with me to each class was jam-packed with notebooks, and
I hastily pulled one out and ripped a page. I glanced at the clock and, seeing that
it was a little while before class would start, I scribbled down the words, 'My name
is Lucas'. I must have looked like an idiot, getting up and looking around to see
where she sat. When I saw that she sat a few seats behind me, I folded the paper in
half and hastily wrote 'Ophelia'. When I handed it to the boy between Ophelia and me,
he gave me a puzzled look before dropping it on her desk. She hesitantly opened it,
scribbled something, and gave it back to him. He gave it to me hastily, surprise
evident in his eyes
I don't know what I was expecting from her handwriting. Maybe I expected it sloppy
and boxy like mine, or maybe I didn't expect anything at all. Her handwriting was
actually cursive, I guess I thought it was pretty. I stared at for a few minutes,
first in shock. Then I actually read the note.
'Hello Lucas. I'm Ophelia, but I guess you already knew that.'
The dark purple ink was stained into my mind now. After weeks, this was the first
time she'd ever spoken to me. Well, communicated. My mouth felt dry. I wrote, ‘It's
a very pretty name. Where are you from?’ Our new messenger gave her the message,
and she opened it up less hesitantly this time
I thought I saw a smile play along her lips, disappear just as fast. It was replaced
with her bottom lip being bitten, then being pursed off to the side, then another
small smile. She wrote something in the purple pen and handed it forward.
‘I'm from Neverland,’ the note read. ‘Where the kids never get any
I smiled shyly at her again. She returned the gesture, but only for a fraction of a
second. It was enough though. I wasn't sure how she would respond to this, but I
wrote," So, you've met Peter Pan?"
I passed it back, and when she opened it she immdiately started scribbling down
more words. When it came back to me, it said, 'of course I do. How else would I have
learned to fly?'
I never thought this girl, the one who was willingly exiled by everyone, would be
so intriguing. She had something in her that I could name. Maybe it was a cute sense
of humor, or maybe she just liked to imagine things. I wasn't sure, but I wanted to
The bell rang, signaling the start of our class. I snuck one last look at Ophelia,
smiled, saw our messenger boy raise an eyebrow, and turned back around.
I searched for her as I bought my lunch; at first I couldn't find her small frame
among the noticeably larger kids. Then, after a moment or two, I saw her raven-black
hair draping down and shielding her face. At least, it looked that way from my
perspective. She didn't have a lunch and had her head bent over a thick book. At
first I wasn't sure if I should have approach her; the book she was reading must have
been interesting, if she'd preferred it over lunch. I'd been planning to buy more
than the small apple in my hand, but I thought she might be gone by the time I'd
gotten through the line. I had absolutely no idea what I was going to say to her, or
if I'd say anything. As I approached the table (she was the only one there), she
glanced up at me with those oceanic eyes and actually gave me a quick smile. That's a
good sign, right?
I tried to move my mouth, to form words. Instead, I stammered, "I- My- You're-
It's-" She laughed softly, holding my gaze, and smiled.
Jokingly, she asked, "Are you always this articulate?”
Here voice was soft, not exactly the shrill tone I had expected of her. It wasn't
deep, but wasn't too high. It was beautiful, but you had to listen closely to catch
everything she said. A smile escaped my lips, and I think I probably didn't look like
I had a plan. Without thinking, I sat down next to her and said, "Are you always this
She laughed, pulled some of her dark hair from her eyes. She put the book down next
to her and turned to me. "Why no, sir. I'd never be sarcastic," she said, faux
sincerity in her eyes. Her smile gave it away, bringing her cheeks up.
Her smiles were so contagious. Seeing her lips curl up and that look in her eyes
immediately created the same feeling in me. My head filled with questions. Without
knowing which one to choose and hating the silence, I said, "So, you're really from
She laughed softly. "Of course I am," she began, "I already told you that. Do you
believe me?" Maybe. Well -- no. I knew she must be making this up; Neverland was from
a Disney movie. Walt Disney didn't write stories about real places, only magical
lands you would dream about.
"It's a pretty out-there idea," I said without thinking. When I looked at her, she
"You don't believe me, then, do you?"
She seemed to be reading me, trying to see if I believed her. I guess she noticed
that I had no clue, and a slight smile curled up the sides of her mouth again. Relief
flooded my body as I said, "Yes, I do."
She smiled broader; she seemed to always smile when she talked to people. Though
she didn't talk to many people in the first place. I remembered the messenger boy's
face as he read Ophelia's name on the note. She seemed to disappear just as easily as
she showed up. I stole a glance away, looking at the other kids on campus, some
staring at us. Feeling awkward, I bit into the apple I'd brought.
"So, do you have a lunch?”
"No, not today."
I smiled. She returned it, and the next silence fell over us softly. It wasn't
awkward. It was... peaceful.
What about you?" She asked, gesturing to the apple in my hand, which I'd only taken
a bite of.
Knowing that it would seem silly if I told her I wanted to be with her instead of
waiting to get food, I said, "I'm not hungry either, really."
"Well I am. Would you like to go get something with me?"
As I stood behind her in line, my mind was going crazy. I couldn't believe I had
gotten this far in conversation with her. Ophelia, the girl exiled by everyone.
I briefly wondered about her talking to me. Was it that she didn't want to talk to
anyone, or that they didn't want to talk to her? Or maybe it was both. I wondered why
she talked to me if she didn't talk to anyone else, or why I talked to her when
nobody else did. Maybe she only talked to people who wanted to talk to her. It makes
sense, if you think about it. Why talk to people if they aren't willing to talk to
you? They aren't worth her time. Somehow, I was, and I was very grateful for this.
As soon as I'd sat next to her, I could feel the stares again. I heard someone ask
a friend who I was sitting with. Strangely, Ophelia didn't seem to notice. She picked
up her plastic fork, unwrapped it, and began to eat her salad.
"Aren't those peppers hot?" I was curious; I'd never seen someone eat those in a
"Not really. I love spicy things, so I'm kind of used to it." Her eyes caught the
light of the fluorescent cafeteria lights perfectly from this angle, and she looked
almost mystical. I felt ordinary with my single slice of pizza, but bit into it
She took a drink of her water, and I noticed her hands were shaking. Of course they
were, I thought. She was small, probably couldn't support much physical strength.
When she set her glass back down, she looked up at me, probably noticing that I was
watching her eat.
Not wanting her to think I was some stalker, I looked down and bit into my ordinary
slice of pizza. When I looked back up, here eyes were focused on my face. We briefly
made eye contact before she turned her attention back to her salad.
"So this is your first year here." I said it without thinking. "Have you made any
friends yet?" I almost expected her to frown, to be hurt. Somehow, testing her limits
seemed like something that naturally came to me. Instead, her face lit up and she
lowered her fork.
"Of course I have. There are two doves in a nest on the roof that sit with me
outside sometimes, and there's a squirrel family in the oak tree outside of our
building. And there are some stray cats around campus that enjoy eating my leftovers.
And, I've met you." I was shocked. She hadn't met anyone, and she didn't care. She
held a sarcastic, yet up-beat tone in her voice. Like she was saying, 'no, I don't
have any friends yet. And I don't care.'
I felt a tap on my shoulder, throwing me back into reality. I turned around to see
a very tall girl with pink cheeks and wavy blonde hair. I'd never talked to he, but
I'd seen her. Her name was Brooke, I think. The look on her face told me she had
something offensive to say. The girl tossed her hair back over her shoulder in a
gesture that I personally found annoying. She opened her mouth to speak, but before
she could, Ophelia quickly spoke.
“I'm sorry you've nothing better to do than to say whatever you were going to." A
faux polite smile played upon her lips, and I knew that they'd already met.
"Shut up, mouse." The girl snapped. Ophelia rolled her eyes. "You're lucky I don't
cut that uneven hair of yours."
"Yes, I am lucky. I wouldn't ever want YOUR haircut." Ophelia grinned
The bell promptly rang, snapping me back to reality once again. Ophelia hurriedly
picked up the container from her salad and tossed it in the trash can, and I
followed. "Well, I guess I should get going. I have theater next period."
As much as I hated hearing her say this, my only reply was, "Okay, see you
tomorrow." We exchanged smiles again and she turned around to walk away. I watched
her until she was gone, and turned in the opposite direction to go to my gym class.
The afternoon passed swiftly. Apart from the few stares and laughs, I got by fine.
There was one comment that was particularly bothering me, about how I'd hung out with
Ophelia to get attention. Well, I guess I did, but it was her attention that I
wanted, not theirs. The oddest thing was that I never ran into Brooke or her posse,
nor did I see Ophelia. I admit that, when I thought about her small size, I honestly
hoped Brooke hadn't harmed her in any way. It honestly seemed kind of silly, the
thought, but my head had been full of silly thoughts since meeting her.
The fact that she'd told me she was from Neverland was definitely one of those
thoughts, but I decided this kind of thing came with a girl as interesting as she
was. I would have never guessed that she was so interesting. I mean, I knew she was,
but not in the way that she had turned out to be. What kind of small-framed,
black-haired girl from Neverland ate Chile peppers on a salad? Not Wendy, that's for
sure. As interesting as she was, I couldn't help but wonder why she was so… I'm not
sure what word would fit her, in truth. Awkward? Odd? Different? Sure, she was all of
those things, but she was something else, too, in the kind of word that you can't pin
There is no true definition for Ophelia. She's not in any books, because who would
record such a girl as fact? She's a mysterious person, but it made her even more
interesting to me. I didn't know what she was, but I made it my mission to find out.
The bus was always tricky to be on. Picking either the back or front, and then
ignoring the ignorant people that said rude things or were too loud. When I saw her
get on my bus, I held my breath. I waited until some of the other kids had got on,
and then got on myself. The bus smelled of dirt and sweat. She was sitting in one of
the seats that were in the middle-- not in the very back, but not in the very front.
She smiled at me when I got on, or at least pulled her face into what I thought was a
smile. I made my way past the seats, trying my best to ignore that the bus had gone
somewhat quieter, and I could feel people's stares. She pulled a smile I knew was
real when I asked her if I could sit with her. I actually wasn't too surprised when
she smiled and replied with a simple "yes." We seemed to have gotten along well at
lunch, and I hadn't screwed up too badly. She pulled her backpack off the seat and
slid it to the floor as I sat down next to her. I didn't move in too close to her, I
didn't want it to be awkward. She smiled another soft smile and briefly looked out
She sat with her ankles crossed, and I guess that might have made think she was
smaller than she was, but with her sitting next to me, I felt sort of tall. She saw
me looking at her feet and pulled them under the seat. She looked up at me laughed
I shyly smiled back, and asked her how the rest of her day had been. "Well, it was
pretty good, but nothing compared to Neverland. People here are so boring." My cheeks
burned as I thought about how boring I was. "Well, that is, aside from you. You’re
pretty cool." This girl is ridiculous, I thought. I'm the most boring kid I know.
"Well," I said lamely, "I'm glad you think that." She giggled, covering her mouth
when she did so.
"So how was your day?" She asked me, looking at me eagerly.
I hesitated. "It was fine. Some stares though. They bothered me a bit."
"Apparently, people don't know what to think of me. If they wanted to talk to me,
like you, then they would be more accepting. People here aren't the same as the
people in Neverland, like I said. They're not accepting of the unknown."
I wanted to tell her that that wasn't true, but I couldn't. She and I both knew
that she was completely right. All I could think of was, "they'll come around."
“Well, if they want to, but if they don't it's their choice. Only the truly
adventurous explore the unknown, and it's often rewarding." I felt a smile curling up
the corners of my lips, and saw her grinning too.
"So," I said. "Tell me what it's like in Neverland."
She had told me a few stories of her friends in Neverland, specifically Peter, and
I ended up inviting her over for dinner on that Saturday. She accepted, saying she
had nothing better to do. I wasn't sure what I was going to do, but I was excited for
her to come over.
I guess now would be a good time to mention that I live in a small house with my
older sister Jaycee and my mom. Our dad died in a car crash, so it's just us. I’m
sort of surprised our mom can still pay for the house, to be honest. I'll mention one
other thing right now: it's cleaner than you can imagine, but extremely small. So
when she finally found our room on Saturday, Jaycee was quick to run to the door, and
though I was sure I hadn't mentioned Ophelia around her, the look on her face told me
she knew. I'm not sure how Ophelia felt about her answering the door, but I knew she
must have felt shorter than usual. Jaycee was 6'2"
I didn't have much time to ponder about how Ophelia would feel before Jaycee
shouted, "Lucas, some kid is here to see you."
Sometimes my sister was the kind of person you'd love to be around. This wasn't one
of those times. "Ugh. Coming." I opened the door to see Ophelia with that gentle
smile I had grown used to in the past few days. I realized then that it had only been
that: a few days. I had only written her that note days before. She was now at my
house for dinner. After briefly greeting me, she stepped in the door.
Jaycee rolled her eyes, afterwards letting them sit on my mother's face. "Is it
staying for dinner?" I cringed at the word 'it', but Ophelia didn't. She stood there
with a polite smile, maybe somewhat sympathetic for Jaycee. I kind of wondered why
that hadn't bothered Ophelia. Or maybe it had, and she didn't show it. Although not
much seemed to bother her. Well, unless you denied the fact that she was indeed from
My mom ran a hand through her hair, looking at Jaycee. She sighed, then looked at
Ophelia and tried to force a smile. "That was tonight, was it? Nice to meet you
Ophelia." Somewhere along those words, she had walked towards us. She held out a
hand, which Ophelia shook without hesitation.
"Nice to meet you too, Mrs...” she paused, looking at me, and I realized I hadn't
told her my last name.
"Whitney. Mrs. Whitney. And it's nice to meet you too." Just kill me now, I
thought. My mother likely wasn't sure what to do right now, and I'll give her credit
for trying, but Ophelia was probably afraid of my family by now.
At that point I could see Jaycee's mouth turning into a smirk as realization
dawned. Later, I knew she'd give me hell for being friends with a girl my age, half
my size. To make matters worse, then Ophelia turned on her heels -- actually turned
-- and held a hand out towards Jaycee.
s**t. Didn't she realize-- oh, wait. Of course she did.
Jaycee let her smirk grow wider. Ophelia dropped her hand and smiled, then said,
"It’s very nice to meet you, as well