Aislinn was the last person out of the locker rooms since she was the one who went the hardest in try-outs. As the only junior with the guts to go out for the state champion varsity team, she had a lot of worth to prove. Tomorrow would reveal if her aching body was worth it.
She let her sports tote drag behind her while she zombie walked away from the building. She made it around to the back of the school when she spotted Hunter Morris and his group of darkly dressed pretty people standing right outside of the main entrance, all of them staring up. Aislinn rarely saw Hunter's college friends around town, and the only few times she had there had been something very important going on. Aislinn raised her eyes to see Naveah standing at the edge of the roof. Utter panic shot through Aislinn as her mind raced through a hundred different scenarios.
The small breeze carried the sound of chanting to her ears. Though she couldn't be certain, she thought that the ones at the bottom were encouraging Naveah to jump. She threw her bag down and ran as quickly as her body would allow. She knew that the fall would only break a few bones, but she still had to stop Naveah from doing it.
Just before Aislinn reached the cluster of black, Naveah reenacted Sherlock's demise. She broke her way through the group to see Naveah on the ground, completely fine and all smiles.
“What the actual fuck, Vey?” Aislinn yelled, anger rising from the stupidity of Naveah's actions.
“This doesn't concern you,” Hunter said from behind. All possible attraction Aislinn had ever had for Hunter now vanished.
“Are you kidding me right now? Naveah, if this is how you have to prove your worth to a guy, then he's probably not someone you want to be with. Girl's just don't randomly jump off buildings to prove things! Didn't your mother ever warn you about proverbial friends who do this shit?” Aislinn was furious at this point and wouldn't have been surprised if steam had begun exiting from her ears.
“I'm okay, Aislinn, I promise. I didn't mean to scare you. We didn't think anyone was still here,” Naveah got to her feet and immediately moved to Hunter's side.
“Whatever, I'm in pain, I'm going home,” Aislinn said. She made her way through the mass of nearly gothic people and continued walking home.
After a long soak in a hot bath and a quick shower, Aislinn worked her way into some yoga pants and a tank top in preparation for her 10 hour coma. The first day of school always drained the life from her, and it would take a few more days before she got back into the routine. She collapsed onto the bed and snuggled up for a good night's sleep.
“Hey, Aislinn!” she shot up with ridiculous speed and punched Adam as hard as she could in the stomach, causing him to fall to the floor.
“Oh my god! Adam! I'm so sorry! What the hell are you doing in here?” She asked, helping him to his feet. “You could have been like a rapist or something!”
“I thought it was sweet and romantic to hang out in girl's rooms while they're sleeping,” he managed, still holding onto his abdomen.
“No! It's creepy and stalkerish!” Aislinn began to giggle at the situation.
“I'll keep that in mind,” he said, smiling. She let him compose himself before further interrogations.
“So, why exactly are you in my bedroom?” she asked.
“I just wanted to see if you'd like to go for a walk,” he said, finally able to breathe like a normal person.
“Yeah, I think I could probably manage that,” a smile grew across her face.
They shimmied out of her window and headed in the direction of the one forested area in their town. The teens nicknamed it “The Enchanted Woods” because of it's special powers, the extent of them being that one could get black out drunk and not have a hangover the next day, unprotected sex never gave way to pregnancies, and true love often was discovered by being hit with the single moon beam crashing through the Tree of Love. It was all nonsense, but they enjoyed having their superstitions. Aislinn had never really believed any of it, but she did hope that tonight she'd find the Tree of Love and stand under it with Adam.
“How were try-outs?” Adam asked as he kicked a pebble about an inch further than where it had been.
“I'll be sore 'till Thanksgiving, but it'll be worth it... I think,” she was completely serious in her insecurities and fears for making the team, but he laughed as if she'd been joking.
“You're the best 11th grade spiker in the state, they'd be crazy to only let you shine for your senior year,” he put his arm around her and she smiled up at him.
“Well, best spiker in all of 1-A Texas,” she said.
“Doesn't matter. You'll be hard core scouted by every college in this state, but the only one that matters is A&M, of course.” The two had made plans in 5th grade to go to A&M together. She'd play volleyball, he'd play football, and everything would be perfect. It was still a solid future, but after her first college trip to Aggieland, she'd become disappointed. Sure, College Station was a cool college town, but it was still tiny, and Aislinn longed for a big city.
“Of course,” she replied, the hesitation in her voice going completely unnoticed by Adam.
The walk seemed to simultaneously last for hours and only moments. The conversation never wavered and touched on all the relevant topics like NCAA football rankings, how Mr. Everett was pretty much the thrid probation worker from Misfits, how Wayne's party next weekend would be the best of the year, the STARR tests, and the first dance of the year.
“Homecoming is a month away, Adam. What if you find someone you'd rather go with?” Aislinn was only joking. Even before she'd developed feelings for him, they'd always gone to school dances together. They hadn't missed one since the 4th grade Valentine's Dance where they'd Cupid Shuffled all night long.
“Well I was going to shake it up and bring Monica, but you asked first,” he teased, a grin spreading across his face.
“You asked me!” she replied breaking into a smile of her own.
“I guess I did, didn't I?” Aislinn had backed herself into a tree to lean on (partly because she was still exhausted), and Adam placed his hand by her head. He tilted his head so that he could really look at her, the girl he'd grown up with. Through the training bras and braces, the awkward phases and make-up experimentation, she'd always been the most beautiful thing he'd ever seen. They'd never kissed, but tonight, under the one moonbeam by this one tree, that was going to change.
Aislinn knew what was coming. She'd dreamt of this moment since 6th grade when her chance at Seven Minutes in Heaven was stolen by Ciara Fontes. This was the kiss that would seal their fate forever as high school sweethearts. At class reunions, people would still marvel at the fact that they were happily married after all this time. Sports announcers would mention their relationship while spouting off facts about Adam. They'd be prom king and queen! He inched forward, and she closed her eyes.
They were at the moment before impact when the blood curlding scream came from somewhere to their right.
“What the hell was that?” Aislinn asked.
“I don't know,” Adam instinctively moved between Aislinn and where the scream originated from. He crept forward, as did she. Another scream came, this time it was closer and followed by grunting.
“No, seriously, Adam, what's going on?” Aislinn grabbed his arm in fear while mentally preparing herself for the inevitable fight or flight.
“I don't know,” he repeated, “but this is how horror movies and episodes of Supernatural begin.”
“Then let's be smart and leave,” she said, pulling his arm in the opposite direction.
“I just want to see,” he said.
From the corner of her eye, Aislinn could see a blur or black run through the trees. She thought she caught a human form among them.
“Adam, there's something moving out there,” Aislinn's voice was small and strained.
A large gust of wind blew from the east, carrying with it a green scarf. It landed at Aislinn’s feet, and she bent over to get it.
“It looks like the scarf Mrs. B always wears,” she said, looking at Adam.
“You don’t think...” Adam couldn’t finish his sentence. The two looked back to where the screams had come from and decided to investigate. They made it about thirty feet before they saw the shredded remains of their English teacher.