Author Note: Here's another chapter. I'd really like to know what you think of the transition from the previous chapter and if it's too jarring.
If Terri had a pound for every time she wished she knew what a boy was thinking, she would be a millionaire. Ariel was different to most boys in many ways, but in this regard he was the same.
At the end of the media studies lesson, as everyone made their way to break time, he sat there for while staring outside of the window.
“Ariel, it’s break time. That means we have 20 minutes of freedom.” He blinked several times and the ghost of a smile flickered on his face for a moment, but it did not quite reaches eyes. Just as Terri wanted to ask if he wanted to talk about what was on his mind, he stood up abruptly and swung his bag of his back, flinging himself over the desk instead of walking around. Terri stood back in shock and he flashed a grin before placing his hand on the small of her back to lead her out. This carefree behaviour was more like him, but after watching that peculiarly lost expression on his face throughout the lesson, she couldn’t be certain that he was alright.
As they made their way out of the class, they bumped into Terri’s friend, Dana.
“Hi Terri,” Dana greeted. “Little Mermaid,” she said, addressing Ariel. He noticeably clenched his jaw but smiled pleasantly at her despite it.
“Dana, play nice,” Terri warned. “You know he doesn’t like you calling him that.”
“He knows I’m joking, don’t you Ariel?”
“Of course,” he replied.
“See?” But Terri remained less than convinced.
They made their way into the common room and Dana joined the line for the cafeteria, whilst Terri headed to her locker with Ariel followed close by.
“I’m sorry about her,” she told him as she fetched her snacks. “I’ve told her to stop calling you that numerous times but…"
“Don’t worry about it,” he said. “Do you want to sit outside? It looks very sunny."
“I’ll go tell your friend.” Terri sighed when she noticed the implication of the word ‘your’. Would those two ever get along?
The autumn wind was light and the sun was clear in view, for once deigning to show itself to British masses. Terri sat on the grass area behind the Sixth Form Centre. She could have sat on the benches but they were in the shade and she preferred to soak herself in as much sunlight as possible.
Opposite her, a little way away, she saw Mark O’Brien sat, reading a book, and eating a packet of crisps. There was a boy sat next to him, whispering in his ear, but Terri couldn’t quite make out his face. He must have noticed him staring because he turned to face her, and she was astounded by what she saw. The boy’s face was completely blackened, and his eyes were white orbs. Whoever he was, whatever he was, he didn’t seem human.
He smiled at her, and she was greeted by a set of sharp teeth. Glancing at Mark, Terri saw that he seemed to be completely unaware. Deciding that she was probably just seeing things that were not really there, she took out her cereal bar and started munching away. When she turned to face Mark again, he was still reading his novel, but the creature had disappeared.
Her vision went completely black and she screamed out, and involuntarily threw away her cereal bar.
“Calm down, it’s just me. Jeez!” The voice was familiar, so Terri slumped her rigid shoulders, uncovered the hands over her face, and turned to face Fabrice Daniels. “You’re usually more held together. Why so jumpy?” he asked.
“Oh, sorry,” Terri replied. He quirked an eyebrow as if to ask a question but the incident was forgotten as soon as Terri noticed that his short, dark hair was gelled stylishly. “Trying something new, are we?” She asked.
He brought his hand to touch his hair and turned his chin slightly, his face reddening slightly.
“Why, does it look silly?” He asked.
“Did you do this for Catherine?” Terri asked.
“Is it that obvious?” he huffed.
Terri shrugged. “I’ve known you for three years, Fabrice. When you fall for someone, you fall hard. But I’m sure she’ll like it.”
Terri fetched her lunch from her bag and by the time she looked up again, the creature was behind Fabrice, touching his hair. It looked right at her as it did this, as if challenging her. She couldn’t bring herself to look away from those moonlit orbs.
“What are you staring at?” Fabrice asked.
"Nothing,” Terri replied, shaking her head.
“Yo, Little Mermaid!” he yelled. Terri turned to see Ariel approach them. Something that is face looked in a comfortable, and he gave a shy smile.
“Febreeze,” Ariel answered.
Ariel only stared at him, his eyes narrowed, lips pursed. The silence drew out for a few uncomfortable minutes.
“You know, you’re meant to come out with a comeback. Like, I dunno, ‘dipshit’.”
“Why would I do that?” Ariel asked.
“Because your friendship is based on you two insulting each other,” Terri answered. “And of course, you both seem to enjoy my company.”
Perhaps Ariel was mocking Fabrice, or perhaps he truly had seemed to have forgotten as to why they constantly argued but at that moment, Terri’s concentration was on the creature. It kneeled beside Fabrice and then its face changed — black shadows twisting and shifting to become caramel skin. Its white orb eyes transformed into chocolate discs, and soon enough Terri was staring into the face of ex-boyfriend, Patrick.
Her eyes must have given her away, because Ariel looked at her in concern. “Are you okay, Terri?" He asked. Terri smiled feebly, but didn’t turn her gaze for even a moment. That was her mistake of course. “What is it?" He asked with a renewed intensity.
"Girl knows eye candy when she sees it," Fabrice stated. Of course, Terri had been looking through him. Ariel sniggered at that. “Dude, don’t hate. Appreciate.”
"I’m good thanks,” Ariel replied. He knelt in front of Terri, taking her hand in his. “You know you can tell me anything, right?" He asked her, seriously. Terri nodded, guilt already seeping through her. She still hadn’t told him about Patrick.
The creature that look like Patrick came close to Terri and stroked her cheek. Its hands were cold and it was all that she could do to stop herself from gasping. Unintentionally, she squeezed Ariel’s hand and he responded by brushing her hair out of her face, behind her ear.
“Terri?” He asked.
But she didn’t trust herself to speak without telling him everything. She wanted to tell the truth without making herself lookimg crazy. Why is it that I’m the only person who sees creature? she wondered.
"What’s up, my bitches?” Dana yelled. She approached the group and unceremoniously dumped her bag next to Terri’s, on her right hand side, near Fabrice.
"Terri was just checking me out,” Fabrice said. “You’re welcome to do the same.”
"In your dreams."
"Oh, my dreams are far more adventurous than that, if you know what I mean.” He winked at Dana and Terri couldn’t help but laugh. Dana just whacked him on the arm. All the while, the creature was still stroking Terri’s face.
It walked behind her and sniffed her neck slowly, inhaling deeply. Then it exhaled a hot breath in her ear. When it pulled back its face, Terri saw something glitter in its eyes. It was not quite lust, but more of an epiphany, as if it had just realised something that had not known before.
“Terri, why do you look like you’re about to cry?” Dana asked.
“I don’t know what you mean,” Terri said. “I’m fine.”
“Give the girl a break guys,” Fabrice states, exasperated. “She’s probably just on her period.” Terri’s eyes widened and she noticed Ariel’s jaw tense.
“I should smack you right now,” Dana snarled, venomously.
“Only if it’s my arse.” Terri didn’t hear Dana’s response though. A wave of fear came crashing down on her as Patrick’s eyes engulfed her, reminding her of that awful memory, two years ago. She remembered how a promising date had gone so wrong. Terri recalled how the taxi had taken the wrong turn, which had made her anxious to begin with because any self-respecting London cabbie should have known how to get to the theatre. Appearing at the deserted warehouse had terrified her, but not half as much as facing the barrel of a gun and noticing that her boyfriend was holding the instrument of death, ready to use it at any point in time.[WM1]
Somehow Terri was knocked out of the bad memory, and found herself gazing at Ariel. His usually twinkling and playful blue eyes seemed paler than normal, his eyes narrowed seriously and his brows furrowed. Even in his serious moments, he was never this serious looking.
Against her better judgement, Terri found herself verbalising her questions.
“Does something feel wrong to you?” she asked.
“What do you mean?” Dana asks.
“Do you get a sense of foreboding, like something isn’t quite right?”
“Yeah, I get it all the time when I see Fabrice. He’s a walking disaster.”
Fabrice sniggers at her, but Ariel doesn’t look away from me.
“Do you get it often?” He asks.
I want to be honest so I answer as fairly as I can. “No, but I feel it now. Do you feel it?”
“Yes,” he answered, and for a moment Terri’s hopes are lift as she straightened her shoulders. Perhaps I haven’t completely lost my senses, she thought. “But only because I’m worried for you. Something about you isn’t quite right at the moment.”
Terri sighed. It was not the answer she had wanted. But what had I expected? .She wanted someone to tell me her that they could see the creature too, or at the very least that they felt that something wasn’t right. She didn’t know what the creature was or what it wanted, but with no one to talk about it with, Terri felt as though enclosed in a tight box.
She had survived the ordeal with Patrick, for the most part, and the authorities had found him before he could do any serious damage— but what could anyone do about a mythical creature only she could see?