Saturday, January 26, 2019

Short Story: Shadow on the Sun

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By: Lime Green Giraffe Webmaster, Meghan K.  

I was not the only child born during the solar eclipse, so chances were good that I was not the only one who could do things that others could not. 
The day I was born, people all over the country gathered outside to watch the eclipse. It was supposed to be the biggest event of the century, as it was the first time since 1918 that the entire contiguous United States had seen the sun go totally dark. It was almost a hundred-year occurrence: of course that was when I decided to be born. Yes, even the infant Andromeda Peters (because my parents decided that being born during a major astronomical event meant I needed a major astronomical name) could not stop being overdramatic for one minute. 
Because of this, I was different. Even as a young child, I remember wincing in pain at light that my parents found unobjectionable, and I could pick my way through a room the instant the lights went out without bumping into or tripping over anything, mostly because I never really found “lights out” to be too different from “lights on” except it was less uncomfortable. But as I got older, the things that came with being an “eclipse baby,” as we were often called, became harder to deal with. See, the light and sun problems can be dealt with—even if it meant I had to wear dark sunglasses both indoors and out, and even though it meant that when I got stressed, it got worse—but the sheer amount of noise that comes from hearing people’s thoughts can’t exactly be covered by earmuffs, and seeing the future through dreams isn’t exactly conducive to a good night’s sleep. Add in the fact that everyone seemed uneasy around me—my best friend in sixth grade, Jane, once told me that she always got the feeling that something bad was going to happen when we hung out—and you can probably understand why I didn’t make a lot of friends. 
The odd kids were good to me, I must admit. Fiona, the loudmouth from the drama department, agreed that sunlight was terrible and should be avoided at all costs; Opal, the girl who spent more time than most in the library, always kept her thoughts at the same incredibly soft volume as her speech; and Harry, the kid that everyone avoided, never seemed too bothered by the fact that I seemed to give off an ominous vibe. But everyone else? Oh no, they were not about to be seen with Andromeda the weirdo. 
But everything changed the day I quite literally bumped into Pearl Sheppard. 
“Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry,” she exclaimed. “I wasn’t looking where I was going.” 
“This is my chance,” I could hear her thinking. “Now I don’t have to hunt her down after school.” 
“You’re fine.” I pushed my sunglasses back up onto my face before the fluorescent lights could blind me and give me my third headache this week. “At least you don’t have to hunt me down after school for whatever reason.” 
It was only when Pearl gave me an odd look that I realized what I’d said. 
“Sorry, sorry!” I exclaimed. “It’s… To be honest, I can’t explain it without sounding completely and utterly insane. It’s kind of a part of the weirdness. Don’t mind me.” 
She shrugged. 
“Okay,” she replied. “Then I have something for you. I’d stop to explain what it is and why Fiona thought it was important, but I have to be across campus at biology in about five minutes and the walk normally takes me ten.” 
She thrust a piece of paper into my hand. 
In a nutshell,” she explained, “it’s contact information for someone that Fiona thinks you’ll want to know. Name, phone number, the address of a coffee shop, and a time.” 
“Okay…” 
“Is she giving off weird vibes or am I just going crazy?” I could hear her ask inside her head. 
Just... Just consider it, okay?” she begged, beginning to back away already. “Fiona said it was important. She said you’d understand when you got there.” 
I nodded. 
“I have to go,” Pearl said. “I have biology. Just…just promise me you’ll think about it.” 
“Okay, she’s definitely giving me weird vibes.”  
“I promise,” I said, although I didn’t know why I was suddenly agreeing to this. 
“Cool.” 
And then she turned on her heel and walked away. But before she disappeared around the corner and out of sight, I heard one last thought. 
“Fiona found someone like her. I should’ve told her that Fiona found someone like her.” 
This last sentiment was jarring. What did she mean Fiona had found someone like me? Sure, Fiona could’ve found someone who was light-sensitive and wore sunglasses indoors the way I did, or someone who found noise to be overwhelming the way I seemed to. Maybe she could’ve even found someone who had insomnia or someone who made people uncomfortable. But the odds of her finding someone who was just like me? Impossible. 
But it had also gotten my attention. 
I glanced down at the paper.  
“Hera McIntyre. Joe’s Cup, 1935 Copernicus Blvd. 4:00. She’s like you.” 
In that moment, I made a decision  
The rest of the day passed painfully slowly. As I waited eagerly for the last bell, I kept drifting off into the never-ending stream of other people’s thoughts—the usual things I usually hear when I’m nearby, things along the lines of “Something really bad is about to happen, or, “Oh my gosh, I just got the weirdest feeling like someone was going to jump out at me, and, “I don’t trust her, something about her doesn’t sit right with me, along with some interesting new ones in class: “Was this really Shakespeare?” and, “How do people think Romeo and Juliet is romantic?” in English; “Who in this school doesn’t have the basic human decency to put their banana peels in the trashcan instead of on the floor around it?” randomly in the hallway; “I really wish I was at home, taking a bubble bath, in history, and the highlight of the day, “Oh my gosh, I thought seven was less than six, in math—and I found myself watching the clock more than once. That’s the thing with waiting; the more you do it, the more you feel like you’re doing it. 
Or something. 
Anyways, as soon as the last bell rang, I was out of my seat. Forgetting about the thoughts of the people around me for once in my life and already bracing myself for the bright sunlight outside, I raced through the halls and down the front steps of the school, out onto the sidewalk. In fact, I didn’t stop running until I had made it to the little café on Copernicus Boulevard. 
As soon as I had crossed the threshold, I saw her. She was sitting in the back, wearing a pair of sunglasses just like mine, her bright purple hair tied up in a thick, wavy ponytail. I wouldn’t have noticed her ordinarily, but when I tried to muddle my way through the onslaught of other people’s thoughts, I found that I couldn’t hear a voice tied to her. 
For the first time in my life, I was shielded from the internal monologue of a stranger. 
I summoned my courage and walked over to her table. 
“Excuse me,” I said, “are you Hera McIntyre?” 
She nodded. “I am.” 
“I’m Andromeda Peters. I was sent to meet with you by a friend. I was told we might be the same.” 
When was your birthday?” 
“August 21st, 2017. Yours?” 
“The same.” She raised her eyebrows. “Born at the point of totality?” 
“Yes. You?” 
“Same. Can you see the future?” 
“Yes.” I found myself growing more and more excited. “Can you hear the thoughts of everyone around us?” 
“Yes.” 
So Fiona had found someone like me. This was going to be interesting. 
We stared at each other in silence for a while, both struggling to process what we had just discovered, until Hera finally spoke. 
“You know, Andromeda,” she said finally, “there are others like us out there. There have to be.” 
“Given the odds, I’d be inclined to agree with you.” 
“Should we go seek them out?” 
“Let’s.” 

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