I searched around my room for my favorite jeans. They were worn, ripped, and had coffee mug stains on it. I’d bought them when I was thirteen and amazingly they still fit.
I spotted them under my bed and stooped down to pick them up. My hand brushed briefly against the wooden box I kept under the bed. I snapped my arm back instantly, as if it had stung and quickly slipped on my jeans; nearly tripping in the process.
I ran a hand across my hair and felt my curly mess. It was tangled in its usual thick snarls ensnared within layer of dark hair that only a flame thrower or a battle ax had any chance at fixing.
I put it up in a sloppy bun not even bothering to make it look better. It was too much hassle that I really did not need.
As soon as I was somewhat acceptable, I half stumbled down the stairs, my eyes more asleep than awake. I had to reach out and feel my way to the kitchen. Flashes of red would creep up and cloud my vision. The creamy white walls would be replaced by gray ones when I would blink.
When I came into the kitchen my stomach gave a vicious growl when it spotted the pancakes my mother had made on the counter. Nothing sounded better than pancakes with butter and syrup. Not exactly healthy, but it was extremely delicious.
My stomach gave one last snarl before it turned upside down the second I stuffed a forkful of pancake in my mouth. I had to spit it out. I almost retched in the process. The food that looked so delicious thirty seconds ago looked grotesque now. All I saw was moldy pancakes and butter puss drowned in urine—which was syrup, but it looked like urine. My stomach heaved in protest at the sight of it. I threw it out in the trash. The rotting garbage filled my nostrils with its putrid smell and brought tears to my eyes. My appetite was completely gone.
“Why are you throwing perfectly good food in the trash?” Rebecca, my older sister, asked. It was just my luck that she happened to walk into the kitchen. She cocked her left, perfectly tweezed, eyebrow in question, and crossed her arms, waiting for my response.
What was I going to tell her, I saw rotting food, but it’s all in my head? I gave her the most plausible reason I could think of.
“There was a bug in it.”
“Eww. That’s disgusting.” She gagged. She always gagged. For Rebecca, everything that didn’t go with her perfectness was disgusting or gross and should be destroyed immediately.
“Well I’m not going to eat anything.” She decided. She gave me one last glance before leaving the kitchen, but I noticed that her eyes were wary.
Rebecca had brown hair the same medium shade as mine, but hers was silky and straight, totally tame unlike my curly mess. She had a twig skinny body with big boobs that every girl envied. But I think she secretly desired my curvier body, because she always seemed to hate it when our aunts complemented my hourglass figure.
I waited in the empty kitchen until I heard Rebecca’s voice call me. “Brianna hurry up we got to get to school.” She was already halfway out the front door, the lines of impatience visible on her face.
She was always in a hurry to get to school; too bad it was for the wrong reasons. She was most likely in a hurry to go suck face with Michael or Jeff or whoever was her latest snack of the weak.
I ran out of the house in time to see the rising sun glimmering over the top of the neighborhood trees. We lived next to a National Park, so our town held a lot of trees and plants. The trees were a beautiful sight, but its beauty was tarnished by the sight of my sister in the driver seat. She never lets me drive, even though the Toyota was technically for both of us.
“I’m coming, don’t worry, his saliva won’t dry out just because you’re not there to suck it.”
Rebecca answered by rolling her eyes and flipping me off. How classy.
“Just get in Bri Bri.”
I winced. Not that name, she knew that name was like the B word to me.
Her eyes looked me up and down when I got in before distain overtook her features. Her nose wrinkled up as if she smelled something bad.
“What?” I was tired of her complaining about my horrible outfits—her words not mine.
“You’re dressed like that and you still have to ask why I’m looking at you like this.” She sniffed. She pulled the car into reverse and started driving before she continued. “I think I should be asking how hard you got hit in the head when you were a baby, because something is clearly not normal.”
I could not understand what the big problem was. I mean sure I was not wearing short skirts and sparkly tank tops like Rebecca always does, but my black band shirt and combat boots weren’t completely odd, right?
“Just shut up and drive.” I told her.
“Will do sista, will do.”
The car elapsed into silence. Rebecca and I had drifted apart throughout the years. We used to be close. There was a time where you would find us leaping through trees and hanging on branches, like monkeys. We were best friends, but I guess blood thins and water thickens.
I stared out of the car window the remainder of the ride, so I would not be tempted to ignite another argument. Call it family problems, but I loved the sight of my sister with her nostrils flared ready to pitch a fit. It was funny.
Instead, I concentrated on the houses. That was safer. I watched the colors of each house blur together so that it looked like one giant paint tablet. The last of the streetlights was looming brightly against the rising sun, and the cracks from the plastered gray walls—
I tore my eyes open shocked, not aware that I had closed them to begin with.
“What the hell is a matter with you?” Rebecca asked. I saw the slightest bit of worry in her eyes before she turned them back to the road.
“I’m fine, just thinking.”
“Well don’t since you can’t seem to handle the simple action of thinking. You’ll probably fry your brain from the exertion.” She tried to joke, but I heard the concern laced in her words.
“Ha Ha. Very funny,” I replied dryly.
We elapsed back into silence and did not talk again for the remainder of the ride. It would have been excruciating if the radio was not there to fill up the silence.
Rebecca parked in her usual spot, which she insisted was the cool parking spot. Then, before anyone could see us together, she bolted out of the car. It was the same ritual she did every morning, even though we had the same first period. It would make sense for both of us to walk there together but she could not risk getting caught with me. It hurt at first, but I got used to it because with Rebecca it was all about doing things the “cool” way.
She sat on the “cool” tables. She went to the “cool” bathrooms—which I though was stupid, why would there be a cool bathroom if you are just going to empty your bowels into them—she hanged out with all the cool people.
She ran the school with her pretty face; every guy seemed to bend at her mercy when she fluttered her fake lashes. And the girls followed her around like lost puppies feeding on her crumbs, it was pathetic.
Which was why she could not jeopardize her “coolness” by being seen with me, the social leper who was dubbed a freak since middle school.
My relationship with Rebecca was perfect until a fateful moment in the sixth grade when everyone decided I was not normal.
It was not even my fault. I just never seemed to fit in with the “normal” crowd. Even Robert, my best and only friend in the world did not seem quite in tune with me. And he was a freak, just like me.
I took my time getting out of the car, exaggerating the movements. Rebecca shot me a glare, but I did not care, it was her social status at risk, mine could not get any lower.
I clutched my bag against my chest and braced myself for the hellhole I was about to enter—school.
The front of the school was swamped with people all waiting for the last minute to enjoy their bit of freedom. I walked to the front of the crowd and watched it part like the red sea.
Of course, no one would want to be pressed against the town freak.
I passed through like a criminal waiting to be judged. They all looked the other way when I made eye contact, like some unspoken rule that dictated against meeting my eye. It was times like these, when the air was so thick of tension it was clouding my vision, and when the silence was so loud my ears were ready to burst, that I felt like a true freak.
I pressed my nails so hard against my bag I thought I might have ripped it, but I had to relieve my tension somehow. My eyes searched around from person to person, my hands got clammy with perspiration. I never did like being surrounded by people. I always felt like at any moment a dog pile would happen, and they would suffocate me under the smell of dirty shirts and sweaty socks.
I barged in through the front doors, relieved for once to be in school. I bent over and put my hands against my knees to try and catch my breath.
I hated mornings.
My breathing slowly went back to normal and I was able to get up from my hunched position. Class would not start for another five minutes, so in true fashion I went to class the long way. I did not have any reason to worry; my seat was always empty.
I walked in three seconds before the bell rang and sat down next to my desk partner, Bradley. He had fiery red hair that stuck in every direction and freckles covering every inch of his skin. He was the only boy brave enough to sit next to me, but even then, he would not talk to me. He kept his face facing forward, not even deviating a centimeter.
I scanned the classroom in hopes of wasting time before class started. I hated this class—AP Calculus. The name alone made me want to barf, but the bright side was worth it. If I passed this class, then I would not have math my senior year. I was the only junior in this class, everyone else was seniors. I guess that should make me some sort of a math whiz, which according to my test scores I was. But I hardly studied for this class, so I had no idea how my scores got so high.
The class was cut up in its usual social ladder. The jocks, cheerleaders, and other “cool” people would sit in the back and everyone else that did not fit in that category sat towards the front. I actually never got that. The board was always harder to see from the back, so I could not see why the backseats were better, to all its own I guess.
My sister—a senior as well—sat in the back with her two best friends, Denise and Lily. Their heads were always inclined together in a huddle, and they talked loud enough for everyone to hear their conversation.Their giggling voices seemed louder today than usual. Try as I may, I could not block out their voices.
“Oh he’s so cute.”
“I know right.”
“Why doesn’t he look back here?”
Of course, I knew they would be talking about him. My head moved toward the subject in question as soon as I thought of him and met a pair of emerald green eyes.
It had to be him. The object of every girl’s fixation. The person whom my sister and her idiotic friends could not stop talking about, the new boy Daston.
We do not get a lot of new students, so when they do come it is kind of a big deal, but I think Daston would have been a big deal regardless.
He was hotness in the flesh—according to the girls in this school. And they made no secret how much they desperately fawned over him. But even I—the social leper—had to admit he was good looking.
He had dark brown locks and a chiseled body that was noticeable even with his clothes on. He was tall. I am not short, I have an average height of five foot three, but this guy had a good foot on me. By my estimations he was six foot five.
Not that I fawn over him, quite the opposite I completely ignore him. And that was hard to do considering that he goes to my school. You would have thought he was a celebrity by the amount of attention he was getting.
He would not have caused this much commotion among the school if he had followed its natural setting. But for all his looks, he did not quite follow the social ladder. He could easily sit in the back. He had been invited by every single girl there, but he always declined with a simple shake of his head. Here comes the kicker, I had never told anyone, even I did not quite believe it. Daston stares at me. He sits on the desk behind mine, and I always feel his eyes on the back of my head.
At first, I thought I might have something in my hair, but I checked, twice. He did the same thing the next day, to the point that I got fed up and stared right back at him. My brown eyes stared right into his green ones with an intensity that would make anyone else uncomfortable, but he did not flinch.
We would do the same thing every day like our own freaky form of conversation, and today was no different. I looked into his eyes and he did not look away, he merely cocked his eyebrow in challenge. He never looked embarrassed at having been caught staring. I had to break away first, I always break away first.
We never talk our staring is the only form of contact we share, which would be nothing if he did it to other girls, but he did not, he did not talk to anyone, boy or girl. All the girls who tried to approach him would get the cold shoulder. Even my sister was shut down by Daston. But for all his efforts, it seemed to have backfired. The girls seemed to be drawn to his aloofness. The mystery surrounding him made him sexy.
My sister—never one to back down—had already gone through four boyfriends to show Daston how much she was wanted. His answer was, well nothing. It was like he did not even notice her. No one had heard Daston talk, he would just sit quietly next to Derik, his desk partner, and stare into space or at me, not that anyone noticed the latter.
Daston’s handsome face was all business. His strong jaw was always set, he never smiled or looked pleased or showed any emotion. He was like stone.
If I were a normal girl, I would be ecstatic that Daston was staring at me, but this is where my weird paranoia set in. I did not trust Daston. There was something about him that struck a chord in me.
Daston arrived at this school right after Michelle disappeared. It could be merely a coincidence and I would have written it off if the dreams had not started on Dastons first day of school.