Welcome to another installment of the Through the Balustrade character sketches. Today’s character plays a small, but important part toward the end of Through the Balustrade. In the book, he’s not named, just mentioned as the boy with a frown on his pearl-like face. Do you know what he did to help Roxan? I hope you enjoy a little more of his story.
Elias ran around the trees as if he were guided by an unseen force. But nothing was guiding him. Instead fear and a warm feeling inside his gut propelled him through the leaf strewn forest. The tingling diminished the farther away he got from Liza. She thought he hated his new cover-up. Grown-ups. They think they know everything.
As he slowed to heave in some gulps of air, a breeze blew past him, and he knew without checking that Chaz had been called on to follow him. The older boy leaned against the big tree with a grin on his face, as if he’d been waiting there instead of just zipping his way through the forest.
“Leave me alone.” Elias put on his mean face, but Chaz didn’t flinch. “I don’t need no babysitter.”
“Nobody said you did. Liza just told me I should come find you. You okay?”
Elias played with the beads on his birth bracelet. Bekah had made it on his tenth turn, and he hadn’t taken it off since. It made him feel safe. “I’m fine.”
“You’re not acting fine. What’s up with you? I heard last roll you moved that big rock over near the shallows. The one they called Grouper to get. How’d you do that?” Chaz left the tree and crossed the five meters in a flash. A trail of leaves flew into the air as he passed and hadn’t made it back to the ground before Chaz was kneeling in front of Elias. “Listen, we’re almost like brothers, right? What’s going on?”
Wiping his tears with his scratchy sleeve, Elias shook his head and hoped his eyes conveyed the question in his heart. Something was wrong with him. Something was different.
Chaz didn’t seem like his normal, pranking self. There was something big about him, something like Ixon and Grouper. More like smart and strong. “It’s okay, kid.” Even his voice sounded older. “Whatever it is, you’re not alone. We’re all here, and the Leader’s got a special eye on you, and it’s going to work out just fine.”
“I talked to the Leader about it, but he didn’t say anything ‘cept I had a way with people, and it wouldn’t be easy, but he knew I could do it.”
“That’s just it,” Elias said. “He didn’t say. I thought I was getting my gift, but then nothing happened. I don’t know.”
“Well, something’s going on.” Chaz plopped backwards and screwed up his mouth and narrowed his eyes. “Let’s just think about this.”
Elias scooted down next to him, but didn’t bother thinking anymore. “I’ve done thought all I want to about it. I just want to ignore it all and leave it alone.”
“What good will that do? You got to figure this out.”
Elias shrugged. Sometimes ignoring stuff had to be best. Right?
Chaz turned to face him. “Okay, tell me about each time something weird’s happened.”
“Ugh.” Elias thought about running off. With anyone else, he stood a fair chance of making a getaway, but Chaz had the gift of speed. There would be no out running him. Might as well tell him what he wanted to know. “Well, with Liza just now was the third time. She was holding a coverup top to my back to see if it would fit, and I got this warm feeling in my stomach like light or something, and then I took off out of there. And then the other roll with Grouper, we were arm wrestling on that big rock before he took it to the camp, and I don’t know how, but I knew I could move it, and I did.”
“Anything else?” Chaz seemed unmoved.
“And then I was with Date and Bekah and you gathering those nuts, and I got this sensation in my head, and I could almost see how you was feeling about Bekah.” That should shut him up.
“You could see that?” Chaz didn’t deny it. It actually didn’t take a sensation in the head to tell he liked Bekah. She was the best big sister ever and beautiful too. Chaz was still all business. “What happened right before you got this sensation?”
“Date was putting my bracelet back on. It had fallen off.”
Chaz’s face lit up and he jumped to his feet. “I got it!”
“You got your gift, kid. And it’s a doosey. I can see why the Leader said it wouldn’t be easy. I sure wouldn’t want it. Me running around like lightning’s plenty fine with me.”
Elias took Chaz’s hand and bounded up. “What do you mean?”
“Well, I think you’ve got the gift of everybody’s gift.” He paused, as if to let his epiphany sink in. “With Liza, you were about to be transported somewhere. Good thing you got out of there. Only the Leader knows where you would’ve ended up. And with Grouper, you got his strength. And you got Date’s ability to see feelings. You understand?”
Elias shook his head, though there was a definite part of him agreeing with every single word.
“You got their gift when they touched you. So you must have to be able to have physical contact. Here let’s try it.” He held up his hand, but Elias stepped back. “C’mon. All you’re going to be able to do with me is get back to camp faster.”
“Or away from you.” Elias grabbed Chaz’s hand. A knowing flowed into him. He smiled, and then took off.
Chaz chased him down as he ran out of steam.
“Whoa. Cool, eh?”
Elias reached out for Chaz’s hand, but the older boy zipped about five feet away. “Oh no you don’t. That’s where this is going to be tricky.” He shook his finger like Miss Anna does when she’s teaching. “You can’t just go ripping off people’s gifts like that when you want. It doesn’t seem right.
The joy left Elias’s face, and he moved back to the place where he wished he could just ignore stuff. Chaz flew back to him.
“No, don’t get all sad. This is good Elias. There’s a purpose for it. You’ll see. Why maybe one day, you’ll be the one to show us to freedom. Maybe one day, your special gift will be just what the Outcasts need, and it will be only you who can do it. So don’t lose heart, kid. I’m proud of you, and I know you must be something extra special to be able to carry that gift.”
A grin spread across Elias’s little face.
“Now what do you say we go and tell that pretty sister of yours our news. You’ll be sure to tell her it was me that figured this all out, won’t you?”
Elias didn’t answer. He had already squeezed Chaz’s hand and taken off for Pocket.