The Elements
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The Elements

Chapter 2 — The Girl

The same routine repeated everyday. I would think about the box, decide I needed it back in my life, sneak into the garden, but then convince myself it wasn’t worth the risk. Until she broke it.

As I approached the garden once again, I stared at the hard ground, my mind racing. Suddenly, I spotted a girl of about twelve. Her long, brown hair cascaded down like a waterfall, her black eyes shining in the sunlight. It was weird because I didn’t recognise her, and all the girls were squeezed into the same dormitory as me. But that might be a good thing, too. Maybe she would be my first friend.

Pitter, patter, pitter, patter…” This was the worst time ever to rain! Now this girl was going to know I’m a freak and never talk to me again! But before I had time to think much about it, it happened again.

Please, let me out!

No, let me out!

Can you just let me out, pretty pretty please?

Soon they grew wild, more and more voices adding to my worsening headache. I covered my ears, trying to block them out, but I couldn’t. Just couldn’t. Then I saw a sight that made me rub my eyes in disbelief. The girl had a pained expression on her face that mirrored my own, her hands at both sides of her ears. Could it be — no. I shut off the thought immediately. It had to be the rain. The raindrops made quite a din themselves, like kids chatting nineteen to the dozen.

But then her eyes met mine and I saw something in her eyes that I had never seen before — resonance. Then she stared at me, her gaze so intense the voices almost didn’t bother me so much anymore. Much as I was relieved someone was similar to me (I wasn’t even sure about that, since the girl might as well have had sensitive hearing and did not like the loud sounds of the rain, just like she assumed I did), how it had happened bothered me. Who was this girl, and why did she have this uncommon similarity with me? As far as I knew, there was no one in the world, except for me, that is, that heard voices when it was raining.

I tried to make contact with her — see whether she knew more about this than I did. “Umm, hi, I guess,” I said, “Sooo… I’m Pearl. Who are you?” But apparently, this girl got straight to the point.

“I’m Olivia. Do you ever experience hearing voices during rain? ’Cause it looked like you did just now.” All I could do was gape at Olivia.

“I — I do,” I stammered, “But why — how — what — ?” I had already sort of known that she could do that, but it was just weird having that said out loud in front of me. Hearing what I had said, the mood in Olivia’s eyes changed. From pain to resonance to… sympathy. She gave a long sigh.

“I guess… Well, I don’t know. But I had no idea you were at this orphanage too. I mean, someone like me, of course.” Olivia looked at me with a puzzled expression, “I never understood this. Why everyone didn’t hear the voices, but I did. I thought I was a freak.” Oh, this girl had no idea how similar we were.

“Well, Olivia,” I said, “I… had no idea there was someone like me here too. Sooooo… What are you doing here anyways? The garden is gone.”

“Umm… Well… I like this place. Sort of gives me space to think, ya know?” I was so engrossed chatting — if you could call it that — with Olivia I had forgotten what my whole purpose to come here was. But once I remembered it, I didn’t hesitate to tell Olivia about it. All of it. No more lies, no more hiding. It felt good to just… tell everything to someone like you. Someone who will understand, who won’t start asking you weird questions or call the ambulance to conduct a brain test on you.

In the end, it was Olivia who said what I needed to hear most: “What are you waiting for? Let’s dig up the box!” Encouragement. In fact that was all I needed to convince myself that I needed to go to that world, see for myself how different things were there. With only a second’s hesitation, I got a spade for both Oliver and I, and we started digging.

It was well in the evening when my spade hit something hard. I scooped it out, hoping it was the box, but instead found a key with a red satin ribbon.

“Olivia, do you have any idea what this is?” I asked, holding the key up.

“Whatever it is, it isn’t the box. So let’s continue digging, shall we?” But I kept it in my pocket anyways, for some reason or another.

An hour passed. Then another. And then another. The day was almost over, and we had found nothing. Simply nothing.

“Are you sure you didn’t, like, imagine it or something?” Olivia asked. At that time I shook my head vigorously. How could I have imagined that? But when the first stars came out in the ever-darkening sky, I started having doubts. I could’ve imagined it in my hopes to get out of the orphanage, right?

“Maybe we should… wait until tomorrow?” I asked, unsure. Olivia just shrugged. In the end, we decided to go back and get some sleep and meet up the next day.

On my way back through the garden, my foot hit something hard. My first reaction was pain. It seared through my foot, through my ankle, like balls of fire shooting out. The pain worked its way up through my leg, seemingly burning everything it touched. “STOP!” I screamed, unable to stand it anymore. And it did stop. Everything stopped. My foot felt nice and cool, like it was wrapped in a bandage. I looked up.

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