A short story I wrote for my English class, then edited for a contest my Writer's Workshop teacher asked me to enter. Behold, symbolism galore... Enjoy!

- Adi


Thirteen years ago, flames ripped through the rafters of the small home of number twelve, Dagon Drive. The candle next to the window had been only slightly too close to the curtains, the flame licking the decadent cloth and quickly climbing up its delicate composition.

The family of four were still inside of the house, not noticing at first the dangerous position they were now in. The flames danced along the walls, devouring all of the books and photos and memories the family had kept and created there. It reached the kitchen where the four sat, mother, father, sister, and brother, sending them in a spiraling downward panic as they scrambled for the doors and windows in an effort to escape.

The fire jumped from one house of ashes to the next, continuing its path of destruction and bringing the house next door to the same, terrible fate.

As the two houses crumbled to the ground, they left four children in their wake – two from each household. Leon Winters held onto his younger sister, Cherette, as they watched the first home – their now former home – collapse.

Not too far away, Danny Eyal and his younger brother Daren watched in awe as the second home, number fourteen Dagon Drive, also perished and fell to the ground in a heap of ashes.

The four banded together until Danny mysteriously disappeared not long after the tragic incident, leaving only Leon, Cherette, and Daren to fend for themselves.

Now, thirty-one year old Leon works multiple jobs in order to support the three of them. Daren, now twenty-one, entered the work force once he was of age, due to their desperate financial situation.

Cherette is now eighteen, the girl with kaleidoscope eyes. She is a tall, thin and leggy young woman with indigo eyes. Her long, dark hair is like a raven's wing, kept in a braid that trails down her spine, cream-colored skin making her features stand out in a mysterious, alluring sort of way.

Daren and Cherette had always been close friends, but now that friendship had blossomed into young love – one that they both hope will last. At first, Leon had been hesitant, but he later realized that Daren had only good intentions. Sure, Daren was a giant who stood at a good six feet, five inches and towered over everyone around him, but he was harmless. He was the sort of person who would stop at nothing to protect those he loved – Leon and Cherette.

Daren and Cherette now walk along a set of railroad tracks near their home. The area surrounding is deserted, as the tracks are nearly abandoned and rarely used. The land is almost barren and dusty from the dry, parched earth, a thick fog enveloping the entire area. Some trees pepper the land, most of them having been used to create the now ancient and decrepit tracks on which they walk.

Cherette walks along the tracks, balancing, as Daren walks on the dirt beside her.

"So," he starts, pushing some of his golden lochs behind his ear, but still leaving some of it to cover one azure eye, "I have a question for you."

She does not look at him, still concentrating only on placing one foot in front of the other and maintaining her balance. "Shoot."

"Do you… remember Danny?" he asks, quite timidly.

She slows her pace, now facing ahead rather than looking towards her feet. "Danny… your brother?"
Daren nods. "Yeah, that Danny. Do you think he might still, you know, be alive?"

She shrugs her shoulders, unsure. "I have no idea."

"I want to look for him. I think he's still out there."

"But he's been – "

"Missing for thirteen years, I know. But we never found his body, Cher! We never found out what happened to him all those years ago!"

"For all we know – "

"Cher, he's my brother – what if he really is still alive out there?"
"And what if he's not, Daren?" she turns to look at him, "What if your little 'adventure' is all in vain?"

Daren is silent for a moment, looking down. "But I know it won't be in vain. I'll know if he's gone or not."

"And if he is?"

"Then I can rest in peace knowing that he's really gone!"

"So… you're going to look for Danny?"

Daren stops walking, suddenly facing his girlfriend and speaking excitedly, "Why don't you come with me?"

Her jaw drops as she looks at him, shocked, "What?"
"Come with me! I want to go find Danny, Cher – more than anything!"

"I can't do that, Daren."

His enthusiastic aura fades to disappointment in the blink of an eye. "W-why not?"
"Are you crazy? I need to finish high school!"

"After!"

"Daren… my dad's still out there. If I'm going to go out and look for anyone, it's going to be him."

"But – "

"It's important to me – not to say Danny isn't – but it's something I need to do."

"But Jack's supposed to be dead!"

She nods and starts to walk again, glancing over shoulder. "That's what I thought, too, until Leon and I looked into it – there's no death certificate. He's still out there, sailing like he always has, Dar."

Daren sighs, looking at the ground as he walks. "But what about Danny? You've had your brother your entire life – I have no one!"

"What are you talking about? You have us!"

"But no one with the same last name as me! There are no other Eyals left anymore, Cher!"

She shakes her head and keeps on walking, crossing her arms over her chest. Daren glowers at her as he continues fuming, his face a bright shade of crimson.

"I hate being all alone!"

Cherette exhales, her eyes closed. She opens them quickly, sending shards of ice at him through her eyes. "You're being insensitive, Daren. Finding my dad is as important to me as your finding Danny."

"Insensitive? Really?" he asks sarcastically, "Really?"

She snaps right back at him, "The world doesn't revolve around you, Daren Eyal! I exist, too!"

"I never said – "

"You're being immature! You're a grown man – "

"I'm only twenty-one!"

"Grow up already!"

"Why don't you, Cher? All I'm asking is that you help me find Danny!"

"And I'm telling you that I can't! I need to finish high school and find my dad!"

"Danny's important to me!"

"And so is finding my dad!"

"To – "

"There's no evidence that Danny's even alive! We have that evidence for Jack!"

Daren clenches his fists, held at his sides as his knuckles turned to snow.

She sighs, "Just… give me a hand, Dar. I don't know how to help you, but… I'm trying the best I can. I know you miss Danny – believe me, I do – but you'd only be searching blindly for him! Get more information before you look for him, otherwise, this is just going to be a ridiculous, wild goose chase."

"There's something… missing without him here, you know? There's a hole in my heart that'll always be here," he pokes his chest, "since Danny's been gone. I don't get it – it's been thirteen years, why can't I just move on? It doesn't make any sense!" he sounds frustrated and perplexed, unsure of the very words flowing from his vocal chords and out of his lips.

Cherette places a hand on his shoulder, looking right into his pale, cyan eyes. "It's your choice, Daren – yourself or me. I'll go to find Jack no matter what you choose, but… if you want, you can go find Danny on your own."

He looks down at the ground and places one hand on top of her delicate one. "I can't stop until I find him, Cher. I'm sorry."

She sighs and kisses him on the cheek, "Goodbye, then, Dar."

Daren watches as his dark, angelic beauty walks away from him. His feet are glued to the dirt, his mind a tangled, wandering mess. He's full of irrationality, now doubting if what he's decided to do is the right choice.

Was it worth it, choosing his own desires over that of his beaux?

At the last possible moment, he races back towards Cherette, yelling, "Wait!" She stops and turns towards him, raising a brow skeptically.

"I'm coming with you!"

"Really?" she asks cynically.

"Yes! I promise you, I'm not leaving!"

Cherette grins at Daren, her entire being seeming to glow with excitement. "You passed."

"I… passed?" he stutters. "Passed what?"
"My test."

"What test?"

"Well, you're usually very selfish and self-centered. What you're doing now is the exact opposite."

He mumbles under his breath.

"I knew you'd come back," she declared.

"Did you?"

She nods. "Yes, I did," She hops down onto the dirt beside Daren, allowing him to tower over her once again, "We'll find Jack and Danny, I promise."

The two lovers walk along the racks all the way to the ocean, miles and miles away. They reach the tiny, coastal town in which they had previously lived before the accident, and head to the sand at the shore.

Daren and his dark beauty wander the shore until nightfall, where they collapse into the sand and look up at the night's sky. They watch the waves until they're startled, noticing an older, middle-aged man sitting not far from them.

The older man looks stressed, deep-set wrinkles covering his face as he sits in the sand. His dark, brown eyes twinkle in the starlight as he constantly looks down at the compass he holds in his shaking, bony and arthritis-ridden hands.

Cherette gasps, scrambling to her feet. Before Daren can even ask, she is already making her way towards the older man.

She kneels by him, the man giving her a puzzled look.

"Jack?"