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Note: I'm kind of liking the idea behind my prior share "Ellie's Fireflies." You all may be seeing more about Ellie & Martha. In the meantime, here's the next installation for this week's prompt.

An Impossible Love
By: Callie Wise

Her laugh broke the silence weighting heavy in the darkness. It was odd and misplaced, but it took a pressure from my chest as the joy she emitted made me join in, even if it was against my will.

“Can you believe Jonathan said that?” Ellie asked. She didn’t really expect an answer. When she was nervous she always talked too much and tonight she was nervous. I could feel it roll off of her as we rested under the big oak tree by the pond watching the light fall breeze shake the leaves above us. Occasionally, one would fall near my face and I’d have to brush it away.

She giggled again. “I mean, really. What in the world makes him think that I want to be courted by the likes of him? He’s not even that good looking. I don’t care if his daddy owns twenty plantations I still won’t go out with him.”

She grew silent then. Something weighed heavy on her mind even as she tried to laugh it all away. I loved her laugh, but not when she was trying to pretend it was real. I knew better. I had known Ellie all her life. I know when she’s faking a laugh, and tonight she was definitely faking it.

“Gloria June says that I must be crazy to turn down Jonathan’s offer. I know she’d give anything to date him, but he won’t pay her any attention.” There was a long pause. “Do you think something’s wrong with me, Martha? Any girl would give her right arm to date Jonathan, and everyone assumes he and I are meant to be but…I…I’m just not interested in him. Not like that. That’s strange, isn’t it?”

She leaned up on her elbow then and looked down at me with bright eyes shining in the light of the full moon. Tears. Hanging precariously from her thick eyelashes. I reached up with my calloused hand, noting the contrast of my dark skin against her creamy white, and my heart clenched as I felt the wetness of her tears against the heat of my finger.

“I think you’re perfect, Ellie Mae,” my voice was raspy from not talking. I wasn’t much of a talker, but I said what needed to be said when it was important. This was important. Ellie needed to know this. Needed to be reassured.

Her hand reached up and took mine as it cupped her cheek, her eyes squeezing shut forcing the tears to fall.

“Why can’t you be him?” Her voice trembled with the ghost of a whisper, asking an impossible to answer question.

My heart raced as she turned her head slightly to brush her lips across the palm of my hand. I was suddenly self-conscious of their roughness and tried to pull away. She held tight though as she opened her eyes. The happy, playful light that usually danced in them was replaced by a haunting awareness that I had seen in my own dark eyes.

“Ellie?” I questioned, not from my own fear, because that’s a feeling I live with day in and day out, but because I hated to see that haunting sadness on her face. As much as I was loath to admit it, happiness with me would be fleeting, even stolen, and I didn’t want that for her.

She leaned closer though, either not heeding my warning tone or not caring. “I don’t love him. I never will.”

With that, she closed the distance, fusing our bodies together and ultimately our shared fate.
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