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Jon and Lilian

Jon Carlin was a quiet boy in 10th grade. He didn’t speak much unless first spoken to and most of the students at Whitman High School in Colorado knew him simply as the boy who sat alone on the basketball court eating the prunes his mother packed for him. Many assumed he was quiet because he was shy, but those who interacted with him would disagree. There was something… off about Jon. What it was, exactly, no one could put a finger on. He was weird and had a subtle arrogance that his classmates picked up on but were unsure of whether they were making it up in their heads or not. Many agreed that he lacked friends not because of an inability to connect with his peers, but rather because of a lack of interest in anyone at the school. Encounters with him would often follow with whispers this type of whisper:

“What’s up with that guy?”
“Jon? I don’t know but he creeps me out.”

After a few months Jon began spending all of his time with local social reject, and burnout-extraordinaire, Lilian Thomason. Lilian was a sweet girl and though she was strange and didn’t fit in with her peers, her classmates always spoke of her with fondness. As a girl who spent her time collecting the spiders in corners of the school hallways and drawing on the walls of the restroom, it was hard to believe that she came from a very conservative and well respected family – the type of people who attended church every Sunday and sent their friends and family Christmas cards with portraits of them wearing matching sweaters. How Lilian turned out the way that she did is a mystery. Years earlier when she was twelve years old, her family stopped dragging her to church with them when one day she decided to light a match and burn the crumbled up paper in her pants pocket during their mass’s concluding rites. She didn’t do it to offend anyone, she was simply bored and thought it would be a fun thing to do, she later explained to her family following their return home.

The two were inseparable. Every afternoon during lunch they would sit, away from everyone else, on the basketball court rolling up pieces of napkin, dipping them into water and throwing them at each other. Jon with his bag of prunes and Lilian with the veggie pizza from the cafeteria that she’d order every day for lunch, picking off the olives and placing them in a neat pile on her plate for Jon to enjoy. She was his first girlfriend and probably the only one he’d ever get, according to his classmates. No one could understand what she saw in him or why she spent so much time with the kid. Maybe she’s doing it out of pity, some of their classmates speculated.

And that was the extent of what everyone at school knew of him. Until the following autumn. All of the whispers and speculation surrounding the enigma that was Jon Carlin came to an abrupt halt when during 3rd period American History, two detectives entered Mrs. Stock’s class.

“Ma’am? Can we speak to you outside for a moment?”

Ms. Stock made the mistake of leaving the classroom door ajar and the students all strained their ears.

The following fragments were all they could make out.
“…responding to a call put out last night…”
“…not located…”
“…investigation is only begin-…”
“... Thomasons are very concerned…”

The students in class had witnessed this exact scenario play out in every high school crime drama they had ever seen and immediately began looking around the room, trying to figure out who could be the culprit.

“Jon’s desk is empty.” Laura Perez whispered excitedly.

Of course. Jon. Who else could it have been?

Later everyone discovered that the two young lovebirds had eloped during the night. Lilian’s mother called the police the next morning upon finding her bed empty. The Carlins had done the same. Jon had convinced Lilian that they could start a life together away from their responsibilities, free from the families that suffocated them, in Texas. Why Texas, no one knew. But the star-crossed lovers made it as far as Cimarron County in Oklahoma before going their separate ways. The county sheriff picked up Lilian just two days after their initial disappearance. And Jon was found in Wichita Falls, Texas five days after.

No one really knows what motivated the two of them to run away, or what had happened on their journey that inspired them to split up. Upon their return home, the two seemed to have drifted apart and were no longer seen talking to one another. Jon retreated to eating his dried fruit in the basketball court, content with his solitude. And Lilian returned to collecting bugs off the floor and releasing them in the safety of the world outside of Whitman High School.

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