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The Secret of Ella and Micha, Page 2

Jessica Sorensen

Chapter 1


  8 months later. . .


  I despise mirrors. Not because I hate my reflection or that I suffer from Eisoptrophobia. Mirrors see straight through my fa├žade. They know who I used to be; a loud spoken, reckless girl, who showed what she felt to the world. There were no secrets with me.

  But now secrets define me.

  If a reflection revealed what was on the outside, I'd be okay. My long auburn hair goes well with my pale complexion. My legs are extensively long and with heels, I'm taller than most of the guys I know. But I'm comfortable with it. It's what's buried deep inside that frightens me because it's broken, like a shattered mirror.

  I tape one of my old sketches over the mirror on the dorm wall. It's almost completely concealed by drawings and obscures all of my reflection except for my green eyes, which are frosted with infinite pain and secrets.

  I pull my hair into a messy bun and place my charcoaled pencils into a box on my bed, packing them with my other art supplies.

  Lila skips into the room with a cheery smile on her face and a drink in her hand. "Oh my God! Oh my God! I'm so glad it's over. "

  I pick up a roll of packing tape off the dresser. "Oh my God! Oh my god!" I joke. "What are you drinking?"

  She tips the cup at me and winks. "Juice, silly. I'm just really excited to be getting a break. Even if it does mean I have to go home. " She tucks strands of her hair behind her ear and tosses a makeup bag into her purse. "Have you seen my perfume?"

  I point at the boxes on her bed. "I think you packed them in one of those. Not sure which one, though, since you didn't label them. "

  She pulls a face at me. "Not all of us can be neat freaks. Honestly, Ella, sometimes I think you have OCD. "

  I write "Art Supplies" neatly on the box and click the cap back on the sharpie. "I think you might be on to me," I joke.

  "Dang it. " She smells herself. "I really need it. All this heat is making me sweat. " She rips some photos off her dresser mirror and throws them into an open box. "I swear it's like a hundred and ten outside. "

  "I think it's actually hotter than that. " I set my school work in the trash, all marked with A's. Back in High School, I used to be a C student. I hadn't really planned on going to college, but life changes - people change.

  Lila narrows her blue eyes at my mirror. "You do know that we're not going to have the same dorm when we come back in the fall, so unless you take all your artwork off, it's just going to be thrown out by the next person. "

  They're just a bunch of doodles; sketches of haunting eyes, black roses entwined by a bed of thorns, my name woven in an intricate pattern. None of them matter except one: a sketch of an old friend, playing his guitar. I peel that one off, careful not to tear the corners.

  "I'll leave them for the next person," I say and add a smile. "They'll have a predecorated room. "

  "I'm sure the next person will actually want to look in the mirror. " She folds up a pink shirt. "Although, I don't know why you want to cover up the mirror. You're not ugly, El. "

  "It's not about that. " I stare at the drawing that captures the intensity in Micha's eyes.

  Lila snatches the drawing from my hands, crinkling the edges a little. "One day you're going to have to tell me who this gorgeous guy is. "

  "He's just some guy I used to know. " I steal the drawing back. "But we don't talk anymore. "

  "What's his name?" She stacks a box next to the door.

  I place the drawing into the box and seal it with a strip of tape. "Why?"

  She shrugs. "Just wondering. "

  "His name is Micha. " It's the first time I've said his name aloud, since I left home. It hurts, like a rock lodged in my throat. "Micha Scott. "

  She glances over my shoulder as she piles the rest of her clothes into a box. "There's a lot of passion in that drawing. I just don't see him as being some guy. Is he like an old boyfriend or something?"

  I drop my duffel bag, packed with my clothes, next to the door. "No, we never dated. "

  She eyes me over with doubt. "But you came close to dating? Right?"

  "No. I told you we were just friends. " But only because I wouldn't let us be anything more. Micha saw too much of me and it scared me too much to let him in all the way.

  She twists her strawberry blonde hair into a ponytail and fans her face. "Micha is an interesting name. I think a name really says a lot about a person. " She taps her manicured finger on her chin, thoughtfully. "I bet he's hot. "

  "You make that bet on every guy," I tease, piling my makeup into a bag.

  She grins, but there's sadness in her eyes. "Yeah, you're probably right. " She sighs. "Will I at least get to see this mysterious Micha - who you've refused to speak about our whole eight months of sharing a dorm together - when I drop you off at your house?"

  "I hope not," I mutter and her face sinks. "I'm sorry, but Micha and I. . . we didn't leave on a good note and I haven't talked to him since I left for school in August. " Micha doesn't even know where I am.

  She heaves an overly stuffed pink duffle bag over her shoulder. "That sounds like a perfect story for our twelve hour road trip back home. "

  "Back home. . . " My eyes widen at the empty room that's been my home for the last eight months. I'm not ready to go back home and face everyone I bailed on. Especially Micha. He can see through me better than a mirror.

  "Are you okay?" Lila asks with concern.

  My lips bend upward into a stiff smile as I stuff my panicked feeling in a box hidden deep inside my heart. "I'm great. Let's go. "

  We head out the door, with the last of our boxes in our hands. I pat my empty pockets, realizing I forgot my phone.

  "Hold on. I think I forgot my phone. " Setting my box on the ground, I run back to the room and glance around at the garbage bag, a few empty plastic cups on the bed, and the mirror. "Where is it?" I check under the bed and in the closet.

  The soft tune of Pink's "Funhouse" sings underneath the trash bag - my unknown ID ringtone. I pick up the bag and there is my phone with the screen lit up. I scoop it up and my heart stops. It's not an unknown number, just one that was never programmed into my phone when I switched carriers.

  "Micha. " My hands tremble, unable to answer, yet powerless to silence it.

  "Aren't you going to answer that?" Lila enters the room, her face twisted in confusion. "What's up? You look like you just saw a ghost or something. "

  The phone stops ringing and I tuck it into the back pocket of my shorts. "We should get going. We have a long trip ahead of us. "

  Lila salutes me. "Yes, ma'am. "

  She links arms with me and we head out to the parking lot. When we reach the car, my phone beeps.



  "Why is Ella Daniels such a common name," Ethan grunts from the computer chair. His legs are kicked up on the desk as he lazily scrolls the internet. "The list is freaking endless, man. I can't even see straight anymore. " He rubs his eyes. "Can I take a break?"

  Shaking my head, I pace my room with the phone to my ear, kicking the clothes and other shit on my floor out of the way. I'm on hold with the main office at Indiana University, waiting for answers that probably aren't there. But I have to try - I've been trying ever since the day Ella vanished from my life. The day I promised myself that I'd find her no matter what.

  "Are you sure her dad doesn't know where she is?" Ethan flops his head back against the headrest of the office chair. "I swear that old man knows more than he's letting on. "

  "If he does, he's not telling me," I say. "Or his trashed mind has misplaced the information. "

  Ethan swivels the chair around. "Have you ever considered that maybe she doesn't want to be found?"

  "Every single day," I mutter. "Which makes me even more determined to find her. "

  Ethan refocuses his attention to the computer and continues his search through the endless
amount of Ella Daniels in the country. But I'm not even sure if she's still in the country.

  The secretary returns to the phone and gives me the answer I was expecting. This isn't the Ella Daniels I'm looking for.

  I hang up and throw my phone onto the bed. "God Dammit!"

  Ethan glances over his shoulder. "No luck?"

  I sink down on my bed and let my head fall into my hands. "It was another dead end. "

  "Look, I know you miss her and everything," he says, typing on the keyboard. "But you need to get your crap together. All this whining is giving me a headache. "

  He's right. I shake my pity party off, slip on a black hoodie, and a pair of black boots. "I've got to go down to the shop to pick up a part. You staying or going?"

  He drops his feet to the floor and gratefully shoves away from the desk. "Yeah, but can we stop by my house. I need to pick up my drums for tonight's practice. Are you going to that or are you still on strike?"

  Pulling my hood over my head, I head for the door. "Nah, I got some stuff to do tonight. "

  "That's bull. " He reaches to shut off the computer screen. "Everyone knows the only reason you don't play anymore is because of Ella. But you need to quit being a pussy and get over her. "

  "I think I'm going to. . . " I smack his hand away from the off button and squint at a picture of a girl on the screen. She has the same dark green eyes and long auburn hair as Ella. But she has on a dress and there isn't any heavy black liner around her eyes. She also looks fake, like she's pretending to be happy. The Ella I knew never pretended.

  But it has to be her.

  "Dude, what are you doing?" Ethan complains as I snatch my phone off my bed. "I thought we were giving up for the day. "

  I tap the screen and call information. "Yeah, can I get a number for Ella Daniels in Las Vegas, Nevada. " I wait, worried she's not going to be listed.

  "She's been down in Vegas. " Ethan peers at the photo on the screen of Ella standing next to a girl with blonde hair and blue eyes in front of the UNLV campus. "She looks weird, but kinda hot. So is the girl she's with. "

  "Yeah, but she's not your type. "

  "Everyone's my type. Besides, she could be a stripper and that's definitely my type. "

  The operator comes back on and she gives me a few numbers listed, one of the numbers belongs to a girl living on the campus. I dial that number and walk out into the hall to get some privacy. It rings and rings and rings and then Ella's voice comes on the voicemail. She still sounds the same, only a little unemotional, like she's pretending to be happy, but can't quite get there.

  When it beeps, I take a deep breath and pour my heart out to the voicemail.