The Truth about Secrets


Morgan Champion

Everyone carries their own secrets, and Ali Nicole Ellison sees them all. Freshmen Jordan Coppedge, Elizabeth Poisson, and Tyler Miranda hold emotions and traits that almost every teenager may experience.

Morgan Champion, Staff Writer

I ran through an open field. The knee high grass slapped my calves until there was hardly any bare skin left, just scabs and bruises and sopping wet blood. The sun beat against my head, and warmth spread throughout my entire body, like someone had dumped gallons of boiling water onto my scalp. I was screaming, no, crying, desperately attempting to get away from whoever was hunting me. And someone was hunting me. I knew it. He was an older man with freckles dotting his cheeks and a warm, kind smile. Except he wasn’t kind.  He was mortifyingly evil. This man murdered my brother, and now he wanted me. He craved me with the poisoned passion that a caged animal craves freedom.  Like he was locked out of a room full of riches, and I was his key. This man had a problem beyond all repair, and I was his solution. I was his only answer. Me. Ali Nicole Ellison, with brown hair and a raging spirit, held the answer to a problem that could change the world. And I didn’t even know until a few hours ago. I was oblivious to the entire history of my family, to our secrets. I wanted to hate my parents for not telling me, for putting me in this situation, but my parents were my parents, and I could never conjure up any hatred toward them. I just couldn’t believe that, through all those nights of tears, of my mother tucking me in, and my father kissing my forehead, I didn’t know.

I pushed the thought out of my mind and focused on what was ahead of me. The green grass disappeared beneath my feet, and all of a sudden, the old man jumped in front of me. Smiling. How dare he? How could he? After murdering innocent people, he still had the nerve to smile. I lunged at him, my knees sinking into the soft dirt. I could see it in his eyes, his lies, his betrayal. I could see the truth. I could see through him, just like I could see through everyone. But, isn’t that what got me here in the first place? Isn’t that what yanked me away from everything I ever knew, killed my brother, and tossed me into a world full of danger and violence?

I glared into his eyes, which were swimming with betrayal. He heaved one foul smelling breath, revealing sickeningly yellow teeth, and everything went black…


I woke with sweat soaking my mattress. Of course I’d had the dream again. It was like a wound that never stopped bleeding.  Like an animal that constantly gnawed on my shoulder. The dream reoccurred every night, with the same man, the same outcome. I hated it. When I was little, I thought that being able to see the truth in everyone was a good thing, and for a while, it was. I could tell if my parents were hiding something, or if my friends were lying. And once, in the tenth grade, my brother was dating a girl who had a secret. She cheated on him with the captain of the football team. Of course, I knew. I could see it in her eyes. The guilt. The sorrow. But I didn’t say anything. I couldn’t say anything. So, as months passed, my brother fell madly in love with a girl who didn’t even have the decency to stay loyal.

And finally, when snow covered the ground, I told him. I told him that I could see the truth, that the girl wasn’t who he thought she was. My brother was furious, not at her, but at me for getting involved. He disappeared into his room, and the next day, died from a car accident. Then, as I stared at his tombstone at the funeral, I vowed that I would never tell anyone about my powers again.

So, I’ve held back, and now every time I see an anchor on the news, or a celebrity on television, or my best friend in the school hallways, all I see are their deepest, darkest secrets. Their mistakes. Their reality. Their truth. I can see past the filters, past the scripts, the daily routines, the motions, and the lies. I hate it with every fiber in my body. I hate judging people. I hate seeing things for what they really are because the truth ruins everything.

I walk into school in the mornings and think, “That kid over there is failing his classes and cheats on exams. I can’t possibly be friends with him. And that girl is lying to her boyfriend. How could she?” It’s a state of mind, and I despise myself for it.

But I’ll start my story at the one moment where everything changed. It was a rainy Monday, and students swarmed into the school cafeteria like bears searching for dinner: loudly and angrily. I just sat in a dusty corner, my eyes glued to a library book, desperately attempting not to look at anyone else because I knew what would happen. Suddenly, I felt a gentle tap on my left shoulder. “What do you want?” I said without glancing up.

“My name is Gavin Holbrook. I’m new here and could use a tour.” The voice sounded gentle but deep. Masculine.

“Sorry,” I replied, turning a page in my book, “but I don’t give tours to random people I’ve never met. Go talk to the counselor.”

Soon, the room grew relatively silent, and, after a while, I thought he had left because he was repulsed by my rude manners. I glanced upward. Gavin Holbrook was staring at me. One hand half in a pocket of dark jeans, he was abnormally tall, so that even if I stood on my tip-toes, I’d probably only reach his chin. I sat there staring at his features in confusion, as if there was something missing. And then it hit me.  He had no secrets. I saw nothing. I saw nothing.

“So,” he smirked, “how about that tour?”

And for some reason, I decided to trust him. He’d given me no reason not to. I’d given me no reason not to. “Sure,” I smiled, “my name’s Ali.”

Over the next few months, Gavin and I grew closer. We did everything together and were inseparable. He became my best friend, although everyone knew we were something more. Occasionally, he’d sneak a glance at me from across the room or try to impress me in front of his parents. Then one day when the rain pelted the windows of the living room and lighting struck the power lines, he asked me the one question I prayed he wouldn’t: “What are your secrets?”

“What are yours?” I narrowed my eyes and fidgeted a few inches closer to him on the couch, praying that he wouldn’t notice the nervousness on my face.

“Well,” he sighed, draping an arm across my shoulder, “I’m a pretty open book; you know everything about me.”

“I can’t possibly know everything.” I tilted my head toward his, smirking and inhaling his familiar scent: soap and detergent.

“I’m serious,” he laughed.

“Fine,” I crossed my arms teasingly and turned away. I knew he wasn’t lying, but I was enjoying pestering him.

“Okay then, Sherlock, do you have any deep, dark secrets lurking within the depths of your soul?”

More than anyone can ever know.

“Actually, yes,” I spat, “Gavin Holbrook is a dork.”

The corners of his mouth tilted upward until finally returning to their first location, “True, but not a secret.”

“What do you mean? I haven’t told anyone about your immensely high level of dorkiness.”

He smirked, “Alright then. I guess you wouldn’t want to go on a picnic with a dork like me.”

“I’d love to go on a picnic with you.” I felt the heat rushing to my cheeks, and a huge smile began to spread across my lips.

He just sort of stared at me for a while. I didn’t know what to do except to stare back, because maybe boys like that sort of thing. I didn’t know,  “Okay. I’ll meet you at the field across from Berkonsin’s Road tomorrow.”


He pushed himself off of the couch, gave me one last hug, and opened the front door, revealing the thunderstorm beyond, “See you later, Ali.”

“I never said you had to go!” I protested, “At least wait until the rain stops!”

“I’ll be fine. I’m a big boy.” He smirked. And then he was gone.


In the morning, I debated whether to get out of bed as I grew more and more nervous about this afternoon. We’d been friends for almost a year now, and this was the first time he’d actually wanted to do something remotely out of his comfort zone. Out of our comfort zones. But, I didn’t see anything suspicious in his eyes last night, so I decided to trust my gut. It was just Gavin, after all. What could go wrong?

I ripped myself away from the mass array of pillows and blankets and climbed out of bed. Then,  I threw on the outfit I’d laid out the night before and texted him, attempting to keep all of my butterflies to a minimum:

Hey dork. What’s up?

I pressed send and ran down the stairs to find my parents talking amongst each other very seriously, “I just don’t understand it,” Dad said, “I want this man behind bars as soon as possible. This is an outrage!”

“Honey, listen to me. The police just found out a few hours ago; you can’t be angry with them. We’re both upset that this happened, but it’s nobody’s fault.” Mom replied, her voice cracking.

“Of course it’s somebody’s fault! That man! He’s the one that murdered him!”

“Wait, what murder? Who murdered someone?” I broke in.

“Oh honey,” Mom turned away from Dad and wiped away a tear, “Nothing. It’s absolutely nothing. Go have fun with Gavin.” But I already knew. I could see it in their faces. My brother didn’t die in a car crash. He was murdered. Someone threw his car off course into the woods, and no one ever found him. There was no casket at the funeral because no one ever found his body.

“Please,” I cried, “Tell me what happened. Tell me who did it.” They proceeded to explain what I’d figured out, though very slowly. And near the end of the story, my father dug three mug shots from a briefcase—a young man whom I’d never seen before, a guy with black hair and tattoos lining his arms, and an old man with freckled cheeks and a warm, kind smile.

“These are the suspects.” He said.

I’d decided that I didn’t want to hear any more, “I have to head to the field.”


I began to sob as soon as I saw the grass of the field. Tears streamed down my cheeks, and I didn’t even know why. My brother had been dead for two years now; I’d grown accustomed to the fact, but knowing that another human being was responsible for his death was a different story.  I parked my family’s van next to the entrance and began to sprint. Maybe if I could just make it to Gavin fast enough, the news wouldn’t be so painful.

I sprinted through the grass so quickly that the skin ripped off of my legs and blood poured from the wounds. Then it hit me. The situation looked all too familiar. The running, the sobbing, the field, the bleeding. Where had I seen it before? My dream. I was living my nightmare of all nightmares, and I couldn’t wake up. The only thing that was missing was the old man himself, the one who committed crime.

And there he stood. In all of his glory, Gavin Holbrook stood amongst the daisies, picnic basket in hand. “We have to get out of here!” I heaved, still running.

“I’m afraid that’s not possible.” And just like that, he dropped everything, his skin transforming into its true form. Within seconds, the boy I thought I knew was the old man with a warm, kind smile. I cringed. He betrayed me. He betrayed me. Without thinking, I lunged. My knees sank into the soft dirt, and suddenly, I woke up.


“Ali, Ali! Earth to Ali! Hello!” When I opened my eyes, my brother was standing above me, alive and new. I looked around. I was in the nurse’s office. Images came flowing back to my memory faster than an avalanche. Of course. I was performing with the marching band in our big half-time show when someone dropped a flag on my head. I’d been knocked unconscious, “Hey,” I murmured.

“You took a pretty hard blow out there. You alright?” He asked, eyebrows raised in question.

“I just had a weird dream.” And with that, I sat up, feeling light headed.

My brother half dragged me out of the room, and there he stood. In all his jaw-dropping sinfulness, my arch-enemy, Gavin Holbrook eyed us from across the room.

Gavin Holbrook: marching band captain by day, murderer by night.