This dream again, was the first thing that crossed my mind when a blue hue began to cloud my vision. Before long, I was looking up to a wide grin which sent tingles up and down my spine. I could imagine this smile belonging on that of a model grinning for the cameras, or a lover whispering sweet nothings to their partner.
I looked down and saw the blue flame getting closer, just like always. The closer it got the bigger the grin grew, like it was excited about something. I felt my own excitement rise as my heart fluttered around in my chest.
The flame disappeared and filled my world with darkness. Panic quickly spread through my body, numbing everything I knew. I opened my mouth to scream but instead, I heard a beeping noise escape my mouth. Confused, I tried screaming again, except all I could hear was the annoying BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! of something nearby.
I opened my eyes and glared at the ceiling before reaching over to my desk to turn off the alarm. With a groan, I got up from the bed.
“Morning, Kevin,” I yawned as I walked over to the fish tank on my desk. I smiled as the little black fish swam around in rapid circles.
As soon as I lifted the lid to feed him, Kevin was flying.
I caught him in my hands and plopped him back into the tank, glaring down at him as I quickly sprinkled flakes into his water. He bumped into the glass, completely ignoring the food.
Sigh. That fish was going to be the death of me someday.
I looked at my reflection as soon as I stepped into the bathroom. A tangled heap of red hair greeted me.
“Good lord, you’re such a mess ,” I muttered to myself as I pulled up my hair into a bun. The bright red pillow marks were easier to see once my hair was out of the way.
I took a quick shower and finished getting ready for the day, poking out my head to make sure Kevin was eating his food. I nodded when I saw him picking at the remaining floating flakes in the water.
I stood in front of the door mirror and tilted my head, wondering if the green cardigan went with the tennis shoes. I bent down to roll up my jeans and switched the shoes for ankle boots. I shrugged and pulled my backpack towards me.
“Venus! Your buddies are here!”
I grinned as I heard the emphasis my mother put on the word “buddies.”
I rushed down the stairs. She was peeking out the living room window, glaring at the car in front of our house.
“You know, you don’t have to use that tone,” I accused, although a smile twitched at the corner of my lips.
“I don’t like them.” Mother sniffed and her long brown hair swished dramatically behind her as she turned her head and crossed her arms.
I rolled my eyes but went over to give her a hug anyway. “I’ll see you and dad later.”
“Study hard in school!” she said, closing the door behind me. I tried not to look suspicious as I walked to the car. She didn’t need to know that I wasn’t going to school. Not yet, anyway.
“Hey,” I said, looking around the car. Kimberly winked at me from the rearview mirror as she pulled away from the curb. Evelyn leaned back against the passenger door and did her best to ignore me.
I sighed, not believing that those two weirdos were my only friends. Not that I didn’t like them or anything, but sometimes Kim was too much for my personality. Evelyn didn’t even give me a chance— she seemed to hate me ever since we met two months ago.
“Remember the French guy I told you about? Well, he came over last night,” Kim broke through my inner thoughts with a smirk.
She nodded. “He messaged me out of nowhere and asked me to help him with his history homework.”
“And did you two…?”
Kim laughed. “Of course! Like I would miss that opportunity?”
“Sex? Right in your own parents’ home?” Evelyn judged. “I can’t believe you. Sex is supposed to be a special thing between two people and you just throw it around like it’s nothing.”
I agreed with her but I rolled my eyes anyway. There was no need to be so judgemental.
“It really must suck to be you, honestly believing that old-fashioned crap,” Kim teased.
I tensed. Evelyn glared through the side view mirror.
“Hey,” I interjected, “I’m hungry. Is there time to stop by the cafe before you guys have to be in class?”
“Depends,” Kim said. “Will there be coffee?”
“May I take your order?” I replied, taking my credit card out and waving it at her.
“In that case, lets go!”
We stopped by the cafe for coffees, teas, and snacks. I smiled as the girls bickered back and forth, Kim trying her hardest to get Evelyn to swear. So many times I was sure she was close to giving in— or close to murdering Kim. It was hard to distinguish Evelyn’s facial expressions.
We arrived at the university fifteen minutes later and got out.
“Do you need a ride back today?” Kim asked as she sipped from her iced coffee.
I shifted the cup holder in my arms filled with three drinks. “No thank you, I get out at five today.”
“Alright, see you tomorrow, then!”
“Bye!” I said.
Kim linked her arm through Evelyn’s and pulled her away. I waved and turned to cross the street. My eyes roamed the busy shops across from me as I waited for the light to change.
There was a pale man in ripped clothes running my way. His skin was a dull grey color and it clung to his bones.
I looked away, not wanting to be in the awkward situation of having to ignore him. Despite that, he stopped in front of me.
“Please, miss, you have to help me! I don’t know what happened, but—”
The light switched and I walked through the dead man. His ramblings stopping as I left him behind.
He followed me across the street. “Miss, please! Don’t ignore me!”
I opened the door to a little boutique at the corner of the strip mall and walked inside. The man moved on to another person, preferring (for unknown reasons) not to enter a building like most ghosts. I sighed in relief.
By the cash register, the store owner, Mr. Alan, looked up from his counts.
“Good morning, Venus,” he greeted in his gentle raspy voice. His eyes wrinkled even more as he smiled at me.
“Morning, Mr. Alan!” I raised the drinks in my hand. “I got our favorite iced blueberry teas today.”
“Oh, thank you! Millie will love it,” he said, taking his drinks from the carrier.
“I can finish the counts, Mr. Alan,” I offered.
He smiled at me in thanks, his teeth shining white against his brown skin. He took both drinks to the back of the store where his wife sat watching TV.
I took a sip from my drink and finished counting the money before placing it back into the cash register.
Just in time, too, as a black streak came to a halt in front of me.
“Hey, Dash!” I cooed.
Dash was a black cat I’d brought into the store during the winter last year. He’d been huddled under the bench on the sidewalk. One bowl of water and two fish sticks later, and he was our official store mascot.
Despite saving him from the cold he was still a jerk to me.
I dug into my backpack by my side and brought out a small bag of cat treats. I pulled out a piece and let Dash sniff it. His pink spotted nose wrinkled.
“Won’t you please accept me today?” I asked as I tried to give him the food.
Dash turned his head and stuck his nose in the air. I narrowed my eyes but the black cat wasn’t even looking at me.
“Well, screw you too,” I said. “I should’ve left you under that stupid bench.”
He meowed at me and curled up in a ball right where he was. I pouted as my heart filled with warmth.
With a sigh, I placed the treat next to his paw and rubbed his head.
I sat behind the counter and pulled out my phone as I waited for customers to come.