Illusions: A blast from the past


photo by Alex Schroeder

Ashley Tanner

To view the the first chapter of Illusions, click here.
Illusions is a novella written by Nicole Schroeder and Ashley Tanner, about a girl named Gemma who has the ability to see people’s true character at a single glance. Each post in the following blog series is one chapter of Illusions. 
Elijah pulled out his phone with a sigh, knowing it was most likely his arrogant boss asking him to pick up his dry cleaning for him again. Before he unlocked his phone, he glanced through one of the shop windows as he passed. That was when he saw her.
Her long, thick auburn brown hair was unmistakable. It followed her movements effortlessly as she was glancing around at her surroundings waiting for her coffee. He noticed her shy smile hiding behind the wall of hair she had famously worn since high school.
Elijah’s phone buzzed again, bringing him back to reality.
‘Pick me up a medium with 2 shots of espresso and 3 creams. –Theo’
Elijah promptly opened the cafe door, excited for his opportunity to see Gemma.
“Gemma Abbott?” Elijah said, trying his best to hide his excitement.
She stood there for a moment, staring at him. The confused look in her eyes worried him. Did she not recognize him?
“Elijah Beckett?”
The last time he had seen her was in 2009 at his high school graduation. Gemma was a sophomore his senior year. Their lives didn’t intertwine much because he was a popular athlete and she was a silent genius except for one class: journalism.
“I haven’t seen you since you graduated,” Gemma said. “That was like six years ago, right?”
Elijah flashed his classic smile.
“Yeah, I can’t believe it’s been that long!”
Elijah began to walk towards the counter, Gemma followed.
“So what have you been up to since high school?” Gemma said intently.
Elijah paused for a moment after ordering Theo’s coffee to think about what he had done in the last six years. He attended Harvard for four years and went on to get his masters in preparation to become a lawyer. He began working at a lawfirm as a paralegal where he running errands for his hot-shot boss, the lawyer Theo Wolf.
“I went to Harvard to study pre law. Now I’m a paralegal at a law firm down the street,” he replied as the barista handed him the coffee cup. “What about you?”
She flashed a nervous smile. “Oh you know…I went to college and majored in graphic design. I work for New Perspectives—the magazine,” she clarified.
Elijah could sense she was seemed uncomfortable as they awkwardly stood in silence in the middle of the cafe.
“I work down the street a bit, would you like to come and see my office?” He was hoping to get to spend a little more time with her.
Her brows furrowed as she pondered her options.
“Uh, yeah. Sure.”
Elijah motioned towards to door, he stepped out first so he could hold the door open for her. The sun was bright compared to the dim lighting of the cafe. As his eyes began to adjust the light, he noticed how much more beautiful she looked out in the sun. A slight breeze picked up her hair and the sun glistened on her skin. She was wearing very little makeup, but she didn’t need any. She had sculpted cheekbones, a delicate nose and the soft dimples. Her lips were a natural shade of pink that fit her heart shaped face perfectly. She had matured immensely from the last time he had seen her six years ago.
They walked down the sidewalk in silence for a while. Gemma continued to look uncomfortable and he couldn’t figure out why. Almost as if she could read his thoughts, she looks at him and smiles weakly.
“So…do you enjoy being a paralegal?”
Elijah hated being a paralegal. It was the bottom of the justice food-chain. He was more of an errand boy than anything else.
“Oh. I run a lot of errands.” He lifted up the coffee cup to emphasize his point. “Well, I am just paying my dues I suppose.”
“What do you hope to do as a lawyer?” She seemed intrigued.
“I don’t know yet. I guess at this point I uphold the law, but I haven’t experienced enough to know where I want to go. Personally, it’s easier for me to think about the next goal, which for me is passing the Bar.”
She nodded her head acknowledgingly.
“I think it would be cool to be a lawyer. You essentially try to prove people wrong for a living. It’s like a puzzle for every case, trying to figure out whether or not your client is innocent or not. Even if they are guilty, you try and lessen their punishment. I guess that’s the hard part, defending someone you know has done something wrong, huh?”
Elijah thought about what she had said for a moment.
“I hope I never have to defend a man who claims to be innocent of a crime a horrid as murder, but is truly guilty. I guess it just all depends on what kind of law I decide to go into.”
As soon as he finished her sentence they had arrived to his office.
“This is where I work.”
Gemma had a stunned look on her face.
She walked to the door and he followed, a smirk spreading across his face.