"There may be harm in risking, but remember... there can also be regrets in doing nothing."
Day 2 - Changed Day
Abruptly, I woke up, and despite the darkness, everything was wonderful.
Smile, blink, blink.
It was physically disorienting having to open your eyes when you fully expected to have breathed your last. The mere sound of my pounding heart was like precious music to my ears, although in the past it was as trivial as dirt under my nails.
I am still alive!
Last night, I was reluctant to sleep because I feared to discover that the entire day was a mere illusion, that in reality I was dead. My last memory was that of the truck hitting me, and it was kinda hard to ignore that stuff.
Sniff, yeah, I'm awfully hard to convince. That's normal, right? No, I'm not excited to die, and I'm not thinking of trying my luck again, but it was really difficult to absorb the fact that I'm truly alive. You'll understand when you're in my inexpensive shoes, and believe me, I always wear the same thing.
People used to say that when you die, you see a rerun of your life or you remember certain things about your past. But I guess they made some mistakes with that. Had they actually tried dying? Of course not.
Who wanted to see a rerun of my pathetic life, anyway?
This was the enhanced version of the rerun thing, I think.
I glanced at the digital clock on my side table. The bright, flashing green strokes said 4:44:44 am.
How long was I sleeping? Three hours? Two? I felt like I’ve slept for forever.
I stretched my muscles, enjoying the distinctive feel of my arms and legs. I was too hyper to sleep again, feeling more alive than I've ever felt in my every waking history. I realized that yesterday was pretty good stuff... not the hated day I initially had.
There was that shameful salad thing and that vicious Vanessa-witch, but all those were negated by the brief time I spent with Aethan West under detention.
I couldn't view detention with the same disgust now. Actually, who said it was bad at all? Maybe I should drive Ms. Jordan mad again...
A wheezy sound escaped my lips.
I wish I could repeat that moment again. It was such a treat for me to actually talk to him. Most of the time, I stole glances his way, but that was it. He had his circle of friends always with him, and I couldn't get any closer than ten feet. To me, they were like mothballs to insects. They drove me away.
But hey, I'm no insect, got that?
My eyes found the calendar despite the dim light. Today is Wednesday, my turn to cook breakfast so despite the early hour, I decided to go visit the kitchen. Maybe I could prepare something special.
After cleaning myself, I grabbed a plain white shirt and khaki pants, but laid it on my bed for later. Kitchen work is dirty and hot, so I’ll take a quick shower after cooking. I tied my hair in a tight ponytail, and with a quick smile, I ran downstairs.
To my surprise, the light was on. It's probably Cassy; her younger sister, was never a morning person.
Upon my entrance, I saw a brown-haired guy in black boxer shorts poking inside our refrigerator. Instead of screaming, I seized the nearest item – a giant wooden spatula – and hit him in the head. Hard.
"Oww," he muttered as his bluish eyes rolled, his all-too-big hands grasping the top of his head. "What the f*ck?"
"Who are you?" I asked in an unruffled voice the opposite of what I felt. My hands were trembling in front of me, clutching the spatula as if my life depended on it.
"What the –? " His pale blue eyes focused on me as he straightened. He checked me out from head to toe, making me feel thoroughly embarrassed. I was wearing a scanty purple evening gown, my robe still in my room. Heck, if only I knew, I should have brought it down with me. Good thing my glands in the cheeks were rather passive or else I would be blushing like crazy.
"Oh, it's you."
He knew me?
“What’s up, Veggie girl?”
Veggie girl? That meant he must be a student of our school and a first-hand witness of yesterday’s salad stunt. When he scratched his head as if he had fleas, I realized I was standing face to face with Derek Harrison, the football jock a.k.a Aethan's best friend.
"I didn't know Beth dumped Black," I said in a careful tone. Roderrick Black, another friend of Aethan, was Beth's last boy toy.
He grinned moronically, as if he had hit the instant jackpot. "We just hooked last night."
"Uh-huh," I replied as I slowly inched backward, trying to think of an excuse so that I could run back to my room and padlock my door. "So..."
Derek returned his attention back to the refrigerator. "I didn't know you stayed over here. Are you friend's with my Beth or the Queen?"
I didn't like the way he emphasized the last word. Queen used to be Cassy's title when she studied in our high school. She graduated last year, but she was a living legend. Cassandra Evans was known far and wide because she's the perfect girl every guy drooled over. If Beth was the slutty beauty, the Cassy was perfection incarnate.
She's beautiful. She's got attitude. She's sporty. She's smart. She's loved.
Yeah, one reason why the world is so unfair.
Beth was the watered down version. Where Cassy's beauty was spicy, hers was angelic. But she's really childish and exceedingly dim-witted. She partied a lot and liked to fight, but I guess that was her way of rebelling. Who wouldn't get a complex when you're around her goddess of a sister?
That aside, I realized that this guy was as dim-witted as her.
"I'm their cousin. I've been with those two for three years now."
His brows shot up like he was shot with ice in his veins. "You're Liliana?"
"Yeah," I frowned, "since I was born."
This was one reason why Aethan is different – he's not an airhead like the people hanging around him.
"Sorry," he muttered, quite distracted. He obviously didn't find what he wanted to eat so he relieved himself with our carton of milk. He chugged down half of the carton's contents.
I'm sooo throwing that in the trash later.
"What are you doing down here this early?" he asked with another idiotic grin. He crossed his arms across his broad chest in an inviting manner, but I wasn't interested in his body.
"Don't say my lines. I'm the one living here."
"Huh," he snorted as he walked away. "When I'm done with that Barbie doll, you'll be next, baby."
I stood still, too grossed to respond.
His laughter slowly faded. "I like girls who play hard to get."
I wish I could hit him in the head again, but this time with a frying pan. I ignored everything he said – was it possible to force-forget? – only focusing my energy on fixing the food. I was about to throw the half-empty carton of milk when I realized what I waste that would be. Instead, I placed it aside, making mental notes of using that to feed that sex-crazed pig. I might add some nasty things with it so that he would be too humiliated to ever set foot in this place.
Now, where's that bottle of laxative...?
As I worked, my thoughts wandered to the May 11 I remembered.
That time, I woke up six o'clock sharp – my usual time – and by six-thirty, I was down whipping tuna sandwiches. I remembered how it took Cassy forever to wake Beth. She knocked and knocked, but our slut wouldn't budge so I decided to leave her behind.
Ooh... so that blue mustang parked in front of the house belonged to Derek.
What would happen now?
I wasn't supposed to meet Derek while he stayed over. I was breaking the rules.
Would the effect be good or bad?
* * *
Cassy went down in record time.
I sighed in immediate relief. At least there's that, something that didn't change.
"Good morning, Lil," she greeted in her sweet, high-pitched voice. She was too busy brushing her natural curls to look at the table. "What's for breakfast?"
"Something not edible," I answered. Cassy laughed, but it sounded artificial. I could always count on that – she would respond no matter how lame my joke was.
She turned around with a funny 'o' shape as her mouth, eying the amount of food I made. "Wow. What's the occasion? You cooked so many... Wait, gosh, is it your birthday already? Oh my god! I'm so sorry I didn't – "
"No," I smiled half-heartedly, "it's in another week."
"Oh, but the food? I thought – "
She was interrupted by a loud phone call. She smiled in apology as she walked away. But I already knew what was to happen next. Her long-time boyfriend Drew would come around in half an hour so she would have to excuse herself and dress up. She would apologize not being able to eat the food I prepared. Then, before she leaves, she would try to wake Bethany without success.
That's one scenario I would love to change.
"Hey, Cassy, I'm going to school already."
She covered the receiver of the phone with her hand. "Why? It's still early."
"I have plans."
"Oh?" She frowned. "That's rare."
"And don't try disturbing Beth," I suggested. "She's asleep with her latest boyfriend."
Cassy only groaned, knowing the grim implications. "Okay, okay... hello babe? Sorry I was –”
I hurriedly left her and took my school bag. Silently, I closed the front door, but I knew that even if I play heavy metal music beside Beth's head, she still wouldn't wake up.
I was just being polite.
I was about to climb inside my black Ferrari when an annoying series of honks grabbed my attention. A red Lamborghini was parked in front of the gate. The noise continued on so I walked towards the unruly driver. I knocked at the tinted windows.
"Will you stop that?" I hissed.
The door slid up, and Aethan's piercing green eyes penetrated my soul. A genuine-looking grin broke across his face, like sunlight amidst the clouds.
I couldn't breathe.
"Hey," he greeted with a playful salute, "is the idiot still inside?"
"T-The idiot?" I stuttered, my knees shaking uncontrollably again. Good thing my hand was holding the car's sleek body, or else I would've fainted by now.
"Idiot. Derek. You know, the monkey?"
I couldn't help but laugh at his comparison. His hand swept the blonde locks of his hair away from his animated face.
"Yeah, he's inside," I replied with a steady voice. Whoa, I should give myself a round of applause.
He kept on staring at me. I fidgeted. Was there dirt on my face?
"I think you should smile some more," he commented offhandedly as he pulled his eyes away from me. "It fits you."
Now, I know those words. In books and movies, it was one of the gazillions of pick-up lines boys use to get girls, lines I knew he spoke to every other girl before me. Suddenly, I wasn't feeling very happy anymore. I guess, I couldn't blame Aethan. It was only I and my pathetic self who was imagining that something more was between us.
Who was I kidding?
To him, I was like every other girl – well, unlike most girls he flirted with, I'm not pretty. It's just that I'm not immune to his pheromones, and he knew it. He was simply trying to spend some lazy time making small talk with me while he waited for his best friend.
I forced to keep my smile intact.
Like I always said to myself before, he's just a dreamy guy. We belong to separate worlds and separate lives. Heaven and earth. Beauty and beast. Things like 'normal, boring girl dates hot, model-material guy' only happen in movies. There was no such thing existing in the real world.
Impossible to happen.
I knew it from the very start.
It made me want to cry.
"Can you call him out?" Aethan asked with an uncertain note in his tone. "My phone couldn't connect to his."
"I don't think he'll be coming to school on time," I replied. In fact, I was certain that Derek and Bethany wouldn't come to class. That was considering things would happen like they were supposed to. "You better leave him behind."
My eyes darted around the place, staring at anything aside from Aethan.
"Why are you here anyway? Where's his mustang?"
He shrugged, but I noticed that he knew the reason but simply didn't want to bring it up. "I'm acting as his driver for today, but if he's not up to it..."
Aethan slowly raised his eyes, taking in my expression, but he was a second too late. I had already put on my own blank mask.
"... I can drive you to school."
My heart skipped a beat.
"Thanks," I snapped all-too-quickly, balling my fists at my sides, "but no thanks."
With that, I marched back towards my own car, forcing my stupid knees to cooperate. As I sat down, I started hitting my head with my hands.
Stupid, stupid, stupid!
Why didn't I accept?
It was a chance of a lifetime!
But why should I?
Why shouldn't I?
Because the sooner I forget him, the easier it is for me...
My mind made vivid pictures of him making out with his girlfriend, Vanessa, and then me making out with him... but I could not imagine myself in his arms. I could not even picture myself beside him. It was impossible.
I might have the ability to change many things, to change my future, to correct mistakes, but this one was beyond my power.
I couldn't change people.
I couldn't change love.
I couldn't change fate.
I wanted to cry.