Illusions: Happy New Year


photo by Alex Schroeder

Ashley Tanner

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. 
This is a special New Years Eve post from both Elijah and Gemma’s point of views. It is the final chapter in part one of Illusions, stay tuned next semester for part two.[vc_empty_space]


Elijah opened the car door for Gemma and helped her out. He couldn’t believe how beautiful she looked; she was wearing a full length dark teal gown, it’s skirt ruffling slightly in the breeze. Her dark brown hair was pinned back, revealing her caramel-colored eyes. Elijah couldn’t help but smile when he looked at her, but at the same time he felt guilty for how he was deceiving her.
He escorted her towards the law firm, hand in hand. The closer they got, the louder the music was.
“Wow, not quite what I would expect at a party full of lawyers,” she said laughing.
“Didn’t you know lawyers could party?” Elijah opened the door as he finished his sentence and it was like a light show. It wasn’t the average work New Year’s party for sure.
They spotted Theo Wolf and walked over to him.
“Gemma! I am so glad you could make it!” Theo said enthusiastically.
“Yeah! It’s quite the party,” she said as she scanned the room.
“Many of the lawyers at the firm are young, so why throw a boring party?” and on that note, Theo disappeared into the crowd of dancing people.
Gemma and Elijah stood where they had met Theo for a few minutes, taking in the party. The desks had been pushed off to the sides of the room, leaving a large space in the center of the room. There was a DJ in the far right corner, where the source of most of the light show was. There was a table right as you walked in with plastic hats and glasses displaying ‘2016’ in various ways as well as beads in gold and silver white feather boas.
Elijah led Gemma to the table, he picked up a hat and sunglasses and put them on. Then he grabbed a feather boa and wrapped it around Gemma’s neck. She picked up a pair of sunglasses and a hat and put them on as well. They both began laughing.
“I’m gonna go get us some drinks,” Elijah said with a wink.
He scanned the room for the open bar he had been promised. He made his way towards the left far corner and picked up two champagne glasses. The bartender had wavy, short red hair and smiled at him.
“Happy New Year!” he said cheerily and handed Elijah the drinks.
Before he even made it a foot away from the bar, Theo cornered him.
“Hello Elijah,” he sounded frustrated.
“Hi Wolfgang,” he said trying to keep a look of concern off his face so Gemma wouldn’t get suspicious.
“Has she told you anything?”
“No, but I am hoping she will tonight. Maybe with a drink or t-,” Wolfgang cut him off and put his hand on Elijah’s shoulder.
“You are putting us behind schedule and I am growing impatient,” he squeezed Elijah’s shoulder hard and then walked away.
Elijah had been unable to keep the concern off of his face because Gemma looked worried.
He made his way back to her and handed her the glass.
“Is everything alright?” she asked worriedly.
“Yeah, everything is fine. Just a problem on a case,” he said with a smile.
Elijah put his arm on her back and pulled her into him, and gently kissed her forehead. He could hear a sweet sigh of relief from Gemma.
They both walked into the crowd of people and started to dance. Elijah had never seen Gemma let go and have as much fun as she was right now. Her hat had fallen off and her curled hair was bouncing all over place. She was signing and laughing, she had never been more beautiful.
Elijah got close to her and before he knew what was happening, it was too late.
“I love you.”
She stopped dancing, and just stood there. Elijah’s heart was racing, he could feel his face turning red.
Gemma didn’t say anything, she just stared at him; first she looked confused, then she looked frustrated. He couldn’t read her.
“I love you too,” she said as she put her hand delicately on his face.
They stood still for what seemed like an eternity. He felt horrible for saying he loved her, not because he didn’t mean it, because he did. But because she didn’t know who he was and what he was doing. He wished he had never agreed to spy on her; he wished he could quit and run away with her.
Gemma began to dance again, happier than ever. Elijah forced himself to look happy, because it should have been the happiest moment of his life thus far. But, he felt more disgusting than he had ever felt before.
story by Ashley Tanner


As the night wore on, the songs playing over the speakers in each corner seemed to blur together, blending into an endless cacophony of sound and excitement. Gemma could barely remember which songs she danced to and when she stole away with Elijah to meet someone, much less who she was meeting and why they were important.
Of course, there were a few that stuck out in her mind, like the man who had proudly demonstrated his unique dancing abilities — much to Gemma’s amusement — or the girl who she’d been sure could’ve been the president with the way she carried herself. There were many others, of course, but between the glass of champagne she’d been sipping on and the commotion of the others around you, she barely remembered them. Even the Labels slipped her mind, swirling into a mix of beautiful colors that was hard to imagine and even harder to describe.
As the clock inched closer to midnight, though, she found herself noticing Elijah more and more. Of course, it wasn’t that she hadn’t noticed him before, but something seemed … different tonight. She couldn’t quite put her finger on it, but it was almost as if he was conflicted somehow, like being near her made him nervous or sad. She frowned, watching him make small talk with one of his coworkers nearby from her seat at the bar. Her brown curls bounced as she tilted her head, watching him and trying to read him. Aside from his Label, though, there was nothing more to the mystery, nothing more than the pained look in his eyes that clashed with the dazzling smile he shot her way.
Sending him back a smile of her own, she got up, her skirt trailing behind her as she made her way to him.
“I’m gonna go get some air real quick,” she whispered in answer to his raised eyebrows.
“As long as you’re back before midnight,” he murmured.
“Of course I will be.” She grinned, her eyes dancing up to meet his as she slipped away into the crowd.
It took a little bit, but she finally made her way to the door that led out to the staircase they had come from, slipping out easily into the bright, harsh light of the hall. She slipped her heels off in her hands before making her way to the staircase, heading down one floor to the only other place in the building she knew: Elijah’s floor.
Just as she had suspected, the floor was empty, the only sound around her the faint hum of the party above mixing with the sound of the lights buzzing in the ceiling above. Her feet were nearly silent as she padded across the rows of cubicles to Elijah’s desk, knowing his chair would be the nicest one around for her to take some weight off of her sore heels for a couple minutes or so. Finally, she found it, recognizing the picture he’d tacked up of him on his senior trip to Europe, posing in front of the Eiffel Tower.
Shaking her head, she ducked into the small grey box, practically collapsing into his chair with a sigh. Holding the devilish heels in one hand, she rubbed her sore feet with the other, letting her eyes glance around absentmindedly as she waited. Most of it seemed foreign to her anyway — legal jargon that she didn’t understand, random files and court cases stacked beside his keyboard. Suddenly, though, she stopped, a stray word sticking out on one of the papers from the corner of her eye.
She dropped her shoes without warning, turning instead to the paper in the stack, the corner just peeking out. Her eyes had to have been playing tricks on her, but no, this was no trick. She took the paper and, careful not to disturb the rest of the stack, pulled it out to study it more.
There it was. On the footer of the paper, beside the page number. “Gemma Caroline Abbott.” Her name, and not just as a doodle on a notebook but as a case file. Her mouth fell open as she scanned the rest of the paper, each word stinging like the slicing of paper against skin. Suddenly, she couldn’t be here anymore, couldn’t be in this room, couldn’t be in this building with the man who just before had told her he loved her.
Not bothering to slip her shoes back on, Gemma picked them up hurriedly from the floor, fighting back tears as she headed toward the stairwell. Elijah stood on the landing just above her as she made her way back out into the hall, calling her name as she left, but she didn’t hear him above the pounding in her head and the echoing of his Label in her ears. It had been a warning, and she hadn’t listened, hadn’t trusted it….
It was only a minute or so before she was outside, the tears finally breaking through and cascading down her cheeks. Her chest tightened and she gasped for air as the clock struck midnight, and an all-too familiar chorus sounded from the voices of those in the office building above her:
“Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne.”
story by Nicole Schroeder
End of part one
What do you think will become of Elijah and Gemma? Leave comments below. [vc_empty_space][vc_basic_grid post_type=”post” max_items=”10″ grid_id=”vc_gid:1451684181713-45d70171-97c5-0″ taxonomies=”12779″]