Navy blue eyes.

Navy blue eyes.

A Chapter by Katherine Van Hook



The first time we’re introduced all I can think is that I hate the name Colin. I think of the character in the Secret Garden who was conditioned to believe he was weak and it makes me so angry I could hit something. People who love that book talk about how wonderful and empowering it is when he finally realizes his own strength, but I hate it. All I can think of is, why didn’t he figure it out sooner? When I’m sick the first thing I do is test my limits. Can I stand up? Can I take out the trash? Can I walk to the corner store with the shady Irish owner? Can I run? Can I protest loudly when my mother tells me not to do any of these things?

The one time I complain about this to Elizabeth she says, “Well you were raised to question. You grew up in a time when it was okay to push the limits. He wasn’t.” Maybe she’s right. But I really think if I’d been born into the world of the story I would have been like the main character, breaking all the rules.

The second time we’re introduced is a few days after I see the man on the bus (I haven’t found a name for it yet so when I think of it, I emphasize word see). This time, I study him more carefully. He has eyes that always seem to be smiling. I hate when they use that line in books, but looking at him I know what it means. His eyes are deep, dark almost navy blue, framed by thick, beautiful, entirely unfair eyelashes. I’ll never understand why boys get lashes like that, and we wear mascara.

We are sitting on the grass at the beginning of practice, awaiting another one of Coach’s pep talks. Mom isn’t happy that I’m at school, let alone practice, after last night, but I can’t be alone with my memories of the bus ride.  when I realize Colin is so pale his skin looks almost blue. My own skin is golden brown from summer, my fingernails emerald green.

“Well you’re certainly not Scottish,” Colin says, and I’m confused until I realize I am leaned towards him, holding my arm next to his.

“Oh my God, sorry!” I sputter. I sit up straight, holding my arms by the elbows. “I’m…” I look around, biting my lip. “I’m.. just tired… and oh God sorry.” What is this? Since when am I unable to form complete sentences? His eyebrows raise and he turns to face me. His right arm catches my left shoulder, pulling me towards him. He squints at me and I try to look anywhere but into those navy blue eyes.

“You’re dehydrated, maybe?” He grabs his water bottle. “Lilly?”

I jump a bit at the sound of my own name.

“Yeah, I remember your name.” He smiles, looking down. “You hate my name, how could I forget?”

My mouth drops open. Was he there when I said that, did he hear my anti-Secret Garden rant? Colin’s eyes (which I’m still trying not to look at), glance at Elizabeth sitting on the other side of me. His guilty face answers my question.

“E-liz-a-BETH!” I try to look mad but a smile creeps onto my face.

“What?” she asks, feigning ignorance. I whack her in the shoulder with my visor, then turn back to Coach, who is (surprisingly) still talking: “You. Will. Know. This. Hill. like you know every creaky board in the basement stairs that you use to sneak out of your house in the middle of the night!” Well okay then.

Five minutes later we do hill repeats on Green Street and I feel him watching me. I start out too fast, of course, because you always run faster when you know someone’s watching, especially someone with navy blue eyes. After the fourth repetition, I sit one out and my eyes follow him up the hill. His gait is fluid, smooth, strong. Coach yells, “Throw pebbles at your feet, throw pebbles at your feet!” and his arms pump harder, yet he still glides. On the way down I swear to God he’s flying, and it’s so beautiful and captivating that I stop trying to pretend I’m not watching. I look straight at him. The girls around me poke each other, pointing at me, and I keep staring. When he’s striding twenty feet from me I plant my feet firmly, bit my lip, and look into those navy eyes. He looks into my eyes and I wish I could say that time slows down but it doesn’t and it’s over much too fast. Then he’s standing in front of me, and we’re both out of breath. I hold my Nalgene out to him. “Water?”

© 2011 Katherine Van Hook

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Added on April 20, 2011
Last Updated on April 21, 2011
Tags: love, running, cross-country, hills


Katherine Van Hook
Katherine Van Hook


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