Chasing Shadows

Elliot has always dreamed of the day he could meet his one true love, again. Having never known her name, when Elliot finally finds the girl he has been searching the whole world for, he may be in for a shock... - Short story, my entry for the Picture Competition. This is the first competition I've entered, so any likes and favourites are welcome!

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2. Destiny

Elliot moodily swung his legs out from beneath him and kicked the paper off the foot stool. Hiding underneath was his mobile, which, after scooping up and seeing no new messages, he threw back across his flat. It landed somewhere in the shadows with a dull thud and Elliot let out a sadistic laugh. The harsh sound quickly penetrated him and he fell promptly silent, bending down to pick up the local paper,

"Young Girl Still in Critical Condition" one of the side headlines read.

"Maddy Smith, 23 of Tor Court, is still in a critical condition after being knocked down by a drunk driver last Thursday on her way to visit an old friend. She is being held in Great West Hospital whilst the driver in question has been detained under several charges of driving under the influence of alcohol and being in possession of illegal drugs. He (who cannot legally be named) is due to attend court in two weeks whilst relatives of Maddy have given emotional statements, describing Maddy as a 'Best friend and companion to anyone who knows her'."

Elliot let out a pained groan and pummelled the paper against the arm of his chair. Another young girl. Someone else whose heart was going to be broken. 

His heart had never been broken. He had always been convinced it was still in the making,

Elliot was often described as odd or pathetic. The truth was, he cared too much. 

"but my heart ain't satisfied," he hummed, as a distant memory crawled across his mind, making his heart swell. That one young girl who had meant so much to him. Some had said it was proof he was homosexual, having only ever "had" one girl. But what they had never thought of was whether Elliot was waiting for that one girl to come back some day, and he was happy to wait his whole life. As she had often sang about, Elliot had tried to find her. Her. He had crossed the seas, tried to trace her whereabouts, track down old friends or use old photographs. The truth was, he had never known her real name. They had been young, naive: they had believed that their love would remain unchanged, living in a fantasy.  They had thought they would never have to leave each other.

Was it wrong?

Whatever it was, he wasn't going to get stuck in his own stupid teenage desires. Elliot had a job, Elliot had a normal, respectable life. There was no reason for him to live in the past, all that was left now was to wait in hope, that maybe one day they would meet once more. He would let that little hope live in the walls of his gut, but not let it take him over. Elliot was in love, but he was certainly not senseless.

He strode through to his bedroom and scooped the laptop off his bed. He followed a link through to Facebook and typed "Maddy Smith" into the search bar. It took a few seconds to load before coming up with a long list of girls named Maddy Smith. Elliot scrolled lightly down the list until one particular profile picture caught his eye. It took a few seconds further for the two ends in his brain to meet and the improbable become reality.

There were no words for the girl named Maddy Smith.

It was her. There was no question about it. Maddy's Facebook wall, covered in messages of love and encouragement, messages for the girl stuck in hospital in a critical condition, who had been on her way to visit him, who had, ironically found him.

The girl that he loved. The girl that still loved him.

Before he could think, Elliot found himself running through the car park of the hospital, rushing effortlessly up to the reception desk and screaming her name is if it was the easiest thing in the world. 

"Not usually irrational," a sensible voice said in his head,

"But still not senseless," replied the lover in Elliot, as he slowed down, approaching the ICU unit where she was lying. 

To his utter surprise, no one was around. A nurse was bustling around her drip and several machines whirring busily away, doing all they could to keep Maddy alive. But, it was her.

Elliot sat down by her motionless head and closed his eyes,

"I have crossed the open sea," he sang, almost a whisper, after a minute of unsure silence,

"I have climbed up every tree." his voice was growing in confidence and presence,

"I've chased the shadows in the breeze," he no longer sounded panicked. She was here, with him, everything seemed calm, it was just them. Her soft, almost mournful presence. With his eyes still shut, Elliot forgot to sing the last line of the song as the image of Maddy, sat behind the bush, strumming at her Ukulele came flashing into his mind. His fingers tingled as they moved aside the branches and as she turned, her large eyes greeting his as her lips slowly grew to a halt, the music ceasing, only carrying on in the heavy air around them. The words they spoke did not matter. As their lips met, music burst out of Elliot, a feeling of ease and freedom flowing around his veins. Now Elliot knew why he did not sing the last line of the song. At this moment in time, his heart was complete, he was satisfied. With Maddy, by his side, her lips pressed against his, what more could he ask for?

The beeps and shouts answered Elliot's question as his eyes snapped open, awakened from his trance by the bustle of people surrounding him. They grew in frequency and pitch. A few yells and sobs. 

Elliot adjusted his sight to connect with what was going on around him. He didn't need to see the doctors and nurses to know. He didn't need to hear the cries and heart-wrenching laments. He should have known. 

In his mind, Maddy pulled away from Elliot,smiling sweetly, humming a new tune. She was going away, she said, she had no choice. She didn't seem sad, just expectant. Her eyes looked down as she walked away, not as though watching her feet disappear, but to see the material ground beneath her, to know that they were no longer one thing. Just before Maddy had gone she looked back up to Elliot and let a tear fall down her cheek. A single, soft, loving tear.

Behind her fading outline, the ghostly strum of a Ukulele sang her final farewell.

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