The Hidden World

Jason is just an ordinary, lazy, underachieving college student with nothing exiting in his life, and he likes it that way. There are no problems and no dramas in his life - and no girls either. Until one unremarkable day when he meets a mysterious red-haired girl and his entire world flips upside-down. Jason thinks he is being dragged into a world not his own, a world that he was no right or reason to be in, but he soon begins to realise that he is more tightly bound to the hidden world than he originally assumed.

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1. The girl with red hair

 

I was 18 when my world began to crumble.

I was in my final year of college - sixth-form actually, but I preferred to call it college. It was nearly the end of the year, Christmas just around the corner, and I was walking to my grandparent's house on a bitterly cold but otherwise unremarkable November day. My grandparents lived in the same town as my school and it was there that I would wait most days for a parent to pick me up and take me to my home, out of town. It was on this everyday journey that I first saw her. I was taking a short-cut down a lane between the houses, a gurgling stream to my right, when I noticed at the end of the lane a girl rushing in my direction. She had red hair, that was the first thing I noticed, and I do not mean that she was ‘a redhead’. No, her hair was red-red, deep red, a true rich crimson. The second thing I noticed was that she was beautiful, and when I say beautiful I mean b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l. In her I saw a beauty that even the greatest of clichés could not match: more gorgeous than a sunset and more graceful than a swan and curvier than- well, never mind. I realise that spouting cliché after cliché does not mean anything, but they are all I have. There are no words I know for the feelings she evoked in me, it was like going all your life knowing every mundane colour and then discovering, one day, a new colour that puts all other colours to shame. All I can say is that she was beautiful, and nothing compared to anyone I had ever seen before, or since. She was wearing a black, sleeveless tank top and jeans, and looked pretty much like a normal - if hot - girl, albeit poorly dressed for the fact that it was freezing cold. So struck was I with her that I had stopped walking as she rushed towards me, my mouth open in what I can only assume was the most idiotic expression I have ever managed to make. Her eyes seemed set behind me but I could not turn to see what she was looking at, my eyes were busy with other things - I was an 18 year-old teenager, remember. As she neared me and was about to pass, her eyes flicked and met mine. Huh, contacts, I thought detachedly as I saw the colour of her eyes: that same red. The expression on her face as her eyes met mine was one hard to describe, but it sent shivers down my spine. It was akin to the look a predatory animal gives another animal too small to warrant eating. It was a look you would give a fly on the wall that you can’t be bothered to swat: bored, uncaring, and pitiless. But what I also saw, although I did not understand it, was that underneath that gaze were two other emotions: a simmering anger and just a hint of hurt. And oddly, it felt directed at me. I had no more than a moment to consider this, as she then raced past me, and although I turned immediately to follow her progress (and absolutely not to have a look at her posterior), but by the time I turned there was no one there. She had vanished into thin air, with not a trace of her, nothing to mark her passing. I realised that I hadn't even heard her footsteps as she ran past me. I stood there for a few minutes, confused, then shook my head, decided I hadn't been getting enough sleep, and walked to my Nan’s, looking back the way I came every few seconds. It must have been my imagination, I told myself. I was wrong.

Now this is where I began, for the first - but not last - time in my life, to truly question my sanity. I kept seeing her. I would see her at my school, I would see her in the town, or in the nearby city. I would get glimpses of her as I walked from A to B. Just a flash of her long, crimson hair. I was sure I was mad, and my friends at school began to worry as the level of my distraction grew. It was like I was in another world entirely, they said. I once got a glimpse of her in the corridor and ran forwards wildly, shoving people out of my way in a frenzy. She always disappeared. No one ever saw her besides me. And, more frustratingly, she never seemed to notice me. She never seemed to realise that there was this person who she was inadvertently driving insane. Again, I was wrong.

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