I’m going to tell you a story. It may seem far-fetched, but believe me, it’s true. It’s about a girl. A girl named Ellie Lane and how she brought me back to life.
Sometimes I lie awake at night and wonder where my life will lead me. One night about 6 months ago, I was lying in my bed and thinking just that. I thought about all the bad choices I made that year. For example, in year 10, as a naïve 15 year old, I got involved with the wrong crowd, the drinking and smoking type of people. I was so influenced by them and I eventually dropped out of school. In my head I knew what I was doing was wrong but I wanted to be part of a group or belong to something so I ignored my good nature.
That morning, Dylan and the rest of the gang were in the shed, which was an abandoned shack down the road near the park. We were drinking our beer and smoking pot when suddenly there was a knock on the roller door. We don’t usually get visitors so understandably we were rather wary. All of us quickly threw stuff around to remove evidence of our illegality. Then Dylan, the leader of our gang, shushed us and went to open the door. We were stunned to see who was on the other side.
It was Ellie Lane, a girl we all knew from school. She had her long dark brown hair out and her bangs all messed up. She stood there looking at us while we just stood there staring at her with dumbfounded expressions. The awkward silence lasted for a good ten seconds. Then Ellie ducked under Dylan’s arm he was using to hold up the roller door and walked straight in. She then walked up to our tattered couch, brushed off some cigarette butts and sat down. We were all utterly speechless. Dylan broke the silence by saying (rather rudely),
“What a’ya doing’ here?”
All she said in reply was,
“I’m just here to help”
Thinking back, that’s all she did, she just helped, but so much that we will never even begin to be able to thank her.
She sat down with us for two hours and explained how we were wasting our lives by sitting around drinking and smoking when life is short and how we have the potential to be amazing people who do amazing things. When she finished her lecture, we again just stared at her in complete silence for about five seconds. Then she asked us how we were going to be those people. We continued to stare at her with blank expressions. She then she rolled her eyes and gave a half laugh, half sigh. She told us we were going to go back to school and explained how it would benefit us. She told that we were going to graduate next year and the majority of the boys scoffed at that thought but I was intent on seeing how she was going to follows it through. After trying to help everyone she stood up and headed back towards the roller door, lifted it up and turned towards us and cheerfully said,
“See you at eight o’clock tomorrow boys”
Then walked out and let the roller door close behind her. For the nth time we were silent. Dylan again broke the silence by turning the television on and then everyone continued to go on with their drinking and smoking until we were all asleep, scattered around the shed.
I lay awake that night thinking about what she said and how much I wished I could do what she asked but how I just couldn’t. I couldn’t because I was scared that I wouldn’t fit in and I would let people down – let Ellie down. I thought about it for a long time and then fell into a restless sleep.
I was awoken by knocking on the roller door. It was still dark and I had a really bad hangover. I got up into a sitting position and heard the knocking again. Nobody stirred so I carefully got up and groggily stumbled over to the door to open it.
There she was again. Her long hair tied into a neat ponytail and her bangs sitting neatly on her forehead. She had her school shirt on and was wearing a skirt and black shoes. She was carrying her school bag but also had a large garbage bag with her. She enthusiastically greeted me and searched the walls for the light switch. They flickered on and I snapped my hand up to cover my eyes. The boys start to wake up which was accompanied with cursing directed to the person who turned the lights on. Multiple groans echoed the room when the culprit was identified. When everyone was up she opened the garbage bag and threw everyone a school, shirt and told us to change. At first we resisted but she gave us a look that for some reason changed our minds. While we changed, Ellie tried to clean the room but gave up when she saw behind the couch. Ehen we were finished getting ready, she proceeded us out the door and walk us to school happily chatting away to us.
At school she showed us around, introduced us to people and directed us to our classes. At the end of the day she walked us home urging us to do our homework and said goodbye. We all talked about our day at school and for some reason, one by one – I don’t know who started first – we began our homework.
Early next morning, Ellie was back again but we ready, waiting for her this time. This routine continued for the next few months during which we became close with Ellie and couldn’t remember a time when she was not there and we didn’t go to school. Some of us, including my self had even started enjoying going to school.
One day, Ellie didn’t show up in the morning and we assumed something important must have come up so we walked to school without her expecting to meet her there. She didn’t come to school that day and or for the next week. We were worried and tried asking a few people about her nobody seemed to know or were unwilling to talk about it.
That Friday as we gathered for an assembly in the school gym, the principal, Mr. Roberts, a normally cheerful man, walked in looking very serious and grim. As Mr. Roberts tapped on the microphone the hall went quiet and he began to as speak.
“ I have asked you all to gather here today, to convey some very sad and distressing news. One of our most talented and valued students lost her long fight with leukemia late last night.”
There were confused and shocked faces as the students began whispering. A girl from our grade burst into tears. She obviously knew who it was and I was anxious to find out who it was because I had a bad feeling in my stomach. Mr. Roberts then continued,
“ Ellie Lane was an amazing student who was dedicated to her studies but was also a young woman with a bubbly and joyful personality which rubbed off in those around her. Her aim in life was to change the world one step at a time and to make others appreciate the life that they have. She has been with us, at this school, from kindergarten and stayed until the very end. So would everyone please join me for a minute silence for Ellie Lane the girl with a big heart who will be dearly missed.
He stepped back from the podium and bowed his head, the student body followed. The news hit me so hard, I had to sit down. I felt like I was going to be sick. Dylan bent down and patted my shoulder. I lay my head in my hands.
How could this be happening? Ellie, the angel that came to us and pulled us out of our ditch was taken from Earth and we were left behind.
I was pulled out of my dream-like sate by Mr. Roberts calling out my name.
“I would like Dylan Cooper, Bradley Smith, Ryan Murphy, Jacob Stone and Logan Carter to please meet me at my office after the assembly.” He than officially closed the assembly and dismissed everyone. I couldn’t move, I was too shocked to do anything. Dylan grabbed my arm and whispered in my ear.
“Come on Logan, get up, it’s going to be alright.”
I got up in a daze and he almost dragged me to Mr. Roberts’s office. There the principal awkwardly greeted us and presented us with an envelope. It had ‘The Boys’ written on it in cursive calligraphy. We were told it was from Ellie and we were sent home for the day. The walk home was quiet and you could feel the grief in the air. When we reached the shed we gathered around to read the letter. It read:
Sorry for not telling you and sorry you had to find out this way.
I found out I had leukemia when I was ten years old. The doctor said that I might not live until my 18th birthday. So I made it my life mission to show others how amazing the life they have is and how not to waste it.
I wanted to make a change in our community and I figured I could start with you boys.
I know you probably resented me at first but I’m thankful I did this because we became such good friends and I will definitely miss our time together and I hope you will too.
Please keep going to school and I know you will graduate next year.
Stay happy + treasure life,
Ellie Lane ❤
* ~ * ~ *
Sometime I lie awake at night and think about Ellie and everything she did. One person did so much for all of us and we will never be able to thank her properly. Hopefully following in her footsteps is good enough thanks.