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chicks, pants, showing it all, dancing


See the Shadows of Innocence and Sanity

a shadow of the day

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chicks, pants, showing it all, dancing
About Nix.

He graduated in the middle of his class, just slightly above average. His grades were nowhere near recommending, unless the college focused on his upperclassman years. He performed dismally in Boston, where he barely went to class and even more rarely did homework. He played catch up for the next two years, excelling in class only with many nights of fighting to stay awake. The result? A two-point-seven-nine grade point average. Not valedictorian, but nearly worthy of it, given the effort it took.

The graduation was fairly uneventful. Unlike the graduations he could remember, awards and scholarships were announced as each student received a diploma. So many names were called -— especially the top ten percent of the class —- that had the honor of several scholarships and awards. Of the over three hundred that were graduating, Phoenix felt less than likely to be awarded anything. Imagine his surprise.

“Phoenix James Cordell. Two years, perfect attendance. Recognition of 400 hours of volunteer service. Full tuition scholarship to the Kunst School of Arts.” Phoenix’s hand stalled as he reached for the flat booklet that held his future.

“Mr. Cordell?” the principal whispered softly, finally drawing his attention.

“Sorry,” he mumbled, shaking the principal’s outstretched hand and collecting his diploma. And his ticket back to Boston. He was dazed for the rest of the ceremony, the rituals of sitting and standing only requiring half a thought. He stared at the letter certifying acceptance into and tuition paid for KSA. KSA, where he had never applied or thought to do so.

After the final bit of pomp dissolved into raucous applause, he sought out his art teacher, the one man he had trusted in the recent span of time. Caudill Ramos was standing in a ramp to the side of the stage, waiting. He knew, of course, that Phoenix would never have applied to KSA, though that was where he was headed all along. The caliber of his work, his aspirations —- everything begged entrance to the most prestigious academy of the arts that the nation could offer. The answer to the French and their Ecole de Beaux Arts and the Sorbonne.


Grinning softly, he began obeisance, teasingly bowing to the angry teen. “Phoebus Apollo. God of music and arts. Prophet, poet, physician. God of the sun... gets to go to college after all.”

Phoenix refused to laugh at the joke Dill made on his name so often. “You know I was not going to college. And I was not going back to Boston.”

The man folded his arms, leaning on the wall for a long moment before walking towards the outside. “Come with me, Apollo. You have much to learn from me still.”

Phoenix ripped off his mortarboard in frustration, hair rushing free of its constraints as he wished to do as well. He followed the betraying teacher to the side of the building, arriving just as he lit up a cigarette. The pack offered and denied, Phoenix saw no reason to stall.


“Patience, Phoenix. Just be patient. You have all the time in the world.” He took another surly drag, blowing it out into the heavens, like a sacrifice to God or a snub in his face. “Yes, I wrote to KSA. And, yes, I supplied some of your class work as a portfolio. You are too talented to just waste this opportunity.”

“It is mine to waste!” Phoenix yelled petulantly. Dill shot him a look before puffing again on the cylindrical death trap. “You had no right, Dill.”

All lightness left his voice. “I had no right? Who are you to say it? The principal, the counselors, the entire art department saw what you have been doing the two years you have been here. You were beyond anything we could teach you artistically, beyond what classes we offered. No student has ever had two years of independent study at university levels here. No one.” He sighed, took a thoughtful smoke, and looked down at the ground.

“Look. I could not let you waste a golden talent, a wonderful opportunity, just because you cannot go back to Boston. I know you are stronger than that. I have seen you in a full upper body cast because you were not afraid to try to skateboard in a gapped full pipe. Foolish, yes. Downright idiotic if you ask me. But not afraid.” Phoenix grinned, remembering with an ache how his collarbone had broken and how long it took to reknit the bones.

“Take a chance, Apollo. Two years of being the top of the class. Two years in a place you did not know and two years of great strength. Can you really hide from your past forever?”

The logic in that, of course, was undeniable. His psychologist agreed with Dill. There was no way he could hide from Boston, from Rachil, from his past -— not forever.

It was nearly dark by the time Ailis found him, sprawled on the beach with his graduation robe flung out beside him. Bright yellow robe, sea-slick and crumpled on the tawny silt, hollows creating black holes to other worlds. Somewhere along the way, he had lost the mortarboard and tassel he was supposed to treasure. All that was left was the tie, loose around his neck and a letter nearly falling from his grasp. Though she was only a sophomore, she knew this was not the way a senior celebrated graduation.

She sat gently beside him on the sand, watching the waves crest only yards away. “Nicky?” she asked softly, feeling the bank suck her in like a downy pillow. He did not answer, or acknowledge her presence. “Phoenix?”

“He left me, Lissy. Said I was too insecure.” The folded page drifted down to the gathering tide. She caught a glimpse of the two words there, just as the ocean leeched away the ink. I’m sorry.

He did not speak again, though she waited for some sign her cousin still knew she was beside him. Nothing. No explanation of the boy’s actions, or why he was sitting in the dark with the sea surrounding his feet. Eventually, when the ocean’s roar washed away the sounds of his breathing, she began to stand, bracing a hand on the grating sand beneath her fingers.

She felt the bite of glass before she saw the blood on her hand. Before she saw the tears in his eyes.