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By: Sunnie Gao

Amelia was a cautious girl. This was within reason, as she had been deceived her whole life. She still could remember the lies that had been told to her from the second she was born.

“Welcome to this wonderful world, my baby.”

“Why, of course, we are a happy family!”

“Your sister? Oh, you never had one. Who told you that nonsense?”

“Charlie? Your friend? Why would we do something to her?”

“Come, my darling. Mommy and Daddy are sending you to sleepaway camp!”

“See you in 3 days, sweetie!”

And the lies were still going on, even to this day in her life. Everybody had secret, hidden intentions, and Amelia knew. She knew very well. After all, didn’t she? Hidden behind that facade, that cover, and those words were a shadow. It was everywhere, in everything. A plague. And Amelia could see it. Everybody carried around a shadow, varying in size of the secrets they carried. And everyone had one. So, Amelia never trusted anybody. But after so long, she became lonely. Who wouldn’t, after trusting no one. And this yearning for comfort, happiness, friendship, love, and trust caused her to open up to someone she shouldn’t have ever had. Someone… that …

Amelia woke up at 7:30, as usual. She then brushed her teeth, combed her hair, changed into her uniform, and ate scrambled eggs and fruit, with some milk, as usual. But when she walked down the pure glass stairs, light reflecting everywhere around them and blinding her eyes ( as usual ), something unusual happened. A boy, black and blue, scratches and blood covering his scarred face, stumbled into the hallway. He collapsed, gasping and wheezing, and coughed out his last words. “A-me-lia…” Amelia looked at his body calmly and then walked away, shouting over her shoulder, “Someone clean the body up!” But as she walked on the cracked and broken cement steps, with an occasional weed growing in one, a tear splashed into a step, causing her to stop abruptly. She quickly wiped it away, muttering, “Stupid. Stupid stupid stupid. “ A voice snapped her out of her self-despise, filled with sympathy. “Are you ok?” And before she could help it, she lifted her head and found herself gazing into the emerald green eyes of a stranger. Upon a closer look, she realized that it was a tall boy with wavy brown hair and tan skin. And he didn’t have a shadow. When she realized that, she blanked out. How, how was this possible? Was there really somebody who didn’t carry any hidden thoughts or secrets?. His voice snapped her back into reality again. “Are you ok?” Amelia turned back and smiled, saying, “Of course,” while thinking on the inside, “He doesn’t have a shadow. He doesn’t have a shadow. He doesn’t have a shadow. But hmm… he came exactly as that tear fell, what a coincidence. : “If Amelia had her way, this would be the last time that they’d ever meet, but after a while, she and the boy, whose name was Cameron(but she always called Cam), started getting closer and closer. Amelia just wanted to finally open up and talk to someone she knew she could trust, someone who seemed 100% genuine. Of course, she was still cautious, and that caused her to notice several “interesting” things. One, Cam always carried around a shimmering teal handkerchief. Two. He never talked about his family and was very close-tipped about his life. Three. She never saw him outside of school. Four. He had a habit of touching a skinny, silver beaded necklace whenever they spoke. Amelia didn’t think much about it though, until one day…

“Hey, Ema!”

“I told you to stop calling me that! My name is Amelia! A - me - li -a!”

“OK, Ema.”

“Cam, I swear….”

“But why? You call me by my nickname, instead of Cameron!”

“ I told you a gazillion times already, it’s different!”

“Ok, ok. Anyway, the reason I called you here is that I found this UBER cool hiking trail!”

Amelia looked at some blue and gray pigeons flying into the clear blue sky, uninterested. “So?” Cameron whined. “Plu-easse? I promise it’s going to be super fun and exciting!”

“No way. Why waste time?”, Amelia said, shrugging. But Cameron didn’t give up. He nagged Amelia the whole entire day, until…

“FINE! We can go! Happy?” Cameron grinned. “Promise you won’t regret it!”Amelia studied his smile, and her mouth lifted up a bit at the corners. “Yeah. How funny.” Cam cocked his head questioningly. “What?” Amelia smiled. “Nothing. Let’s go now.”

They walked off into the distance, Cameron’s teal handkerchief fluttering in the wind behind them, seemingly blood red in the bright sunlight.

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