I didn’t know what I was expecting, but I didn’t think the stairs would lead down into a massive cavern. There was a large pool of water on the far side, and the rock above me was high up. I had no idea how far underground I was, but the stairs had gone on for quite a bit. Sweeping the beam around, I noticed clumps of boulders lining the walls and a thin, steady stream of water feeding into the pool. It was both beautiful and unnerving. How could a place like this exist below our house?
Not wanting to leave, but knowing I had to before I started school the next day, I turned around and walked up the stairs. I’d just have to come back and explore more tomorrow.
Beep! Beep! Beep!
“Shut it!” I flung my arm out to turn off my alarm. Dragging myself out of bed I made my way to the bathroom. I looked in the mirror and jumped. Do you ever have those mornings where you wake up and you just look perfect? Yeah, me neither. My hair was sticking up all over the place and I had dirt streaking my face. Recollections of last night and the place I had discovered came back to me. What was that place? Why was it there? What was it used for? Those questions would have to wait until after school.
I showered and chose my clothes for the day – a long skirt and a t-shirt – before making my way downstairs to have breakfast.
“Hi sweetie, how was your sleep?” Mom questioned as she slid a slice of toast my way.
The toast was burnt to a crisp round the edges and still soft in the middle. My mom could cook the finest of dishes, but she’d never mastered the art of toast. This had never failed to amuse me, however today it did. Normally I can throw it in the bin without her knowing and claim it was delicious, but here Mom was, staring at me intently.
I gingerly brought the toast to my mouth and chewed, “It was alright, I guess.”
“Do you like the upstairs?”
I forced the mouthful down, “It’s incredible, but-”
“Oh good, I had it done up especially for you, before we moved. I was so hoping you’d like it. Now I know it’s not home yet but I was hoping-”
Oh God, Mom was rambling. It was a nice place, and yes I did like it, but given the choice I would still choose to move back home. I would give anything to see my friends again. Jane with her insane red hair and Mel with her goofy jokes...
“-and I just want you to be happy.”
I snapped out of it, “Right, of course Mom. Can we go now? I don’t want to be late.”
I picked up my bag and headed out to the car. Mom followed me with Dylan and Kip in tow.
Studying my timetable, I made my way through the halls of my new school. The students were bustling around, slamming lockers and heading to class. As I was navigating the halls, someone running round the corner barreled into me. Our belongings went flying.
“Christ, I am so sorry, uhh...Margaret,” the guy said as he handed me my timetable. His eyes met mine, “Whoa, wicked coloring. Are you wearing contacts?”
I exchanged it with his textbook, “It’s Maggie. And no, they’re natural.”
My eyes were brown, but they had unusual orange flecks in them, almost like fire. I secretly loved my eyes because of their unique appearance, but because they were so unnatural I normally looked down to avoid anyone noticing.
“Well, hey. It’s nice to meet you, Maggie,” he stood up and offered his hand to help me up, “I’m Tomas.”
I smiled and took his hand. And then the bell decided to be funny with its timing and rang throughout the school. Tomas looked up and closed his eyes, like he was saying a silent prayer. Then he looked back at me, saying, “Do you need a guide to your class? I can show you if you would like.”
“You’d be a lifesaver. Thank you.”
As we walked down the hall I expertly studied Tomas’ profile. His hair was short, black and gelled. He had a complexion the shade of chocolate and his eyes were grey. He was pretty good looking I guess. And so nice.
“Hey Maggie, when you get a minute can you stop checking me out?”
My cheeks flushed, but I recovered fast. Maybe “expertly” was the wrong adverb.
“Oh, so you’re a cocky guy, are you?” I internally kicked myself. Nice recovery, Maggie.
He grinned, “Nah, I’m just a highly intelligent species greater than human beings.”
“Right...” I looked at him skeptically.
“It’s true,” he stopped outside a door and I followed suit, “And you know what? I think you’re one too.”
Tomas smiled. He turned around and walked away, pulling out his phone in the process, leaving me at the door to my first class. Suddenly feeling nervous, I stood outside for a few seconds, just trying to summon the courage to enter the classroom. Finally I knocked and opened the door.
“Ah, Margaret Adams. Welcome to the class,” the teacher smiled. He seemed nice enough.
“Oh it’s just Maggie,” I corrected, which happened to be a frequent occurrence in my life.
“Well it’s nice to meet you Maggie. If you wouldn’t mind, I’ll just get you to sit next to Alice here.”
I nodded and moved towards the spare desk next to who I assumed was Alice. She scowled as I slid into the seat. She was quite intimidating with her thick makeup and a lightning bolt tattoo shooting down her arm. It looked so realistic.
I basically spent the lesson taking notes and trying not to let Alice know how uncomfortable I was. Whenever I didn’t know what to do I just looked at the notebook she was doodling in. She drew things like skulls and patterns and roses, but they were amazing.
She noticed me peering and I could feel her baby blue eyes as they bore into me before closing the notebook.
“I-I’m sorry,” I whispered, “They’re just so amazing.”
“Don’t talk to me.”
My cheeks burned and I looked down at my own work, which was nothing more than a few notes and a squiggle that I’d been intensely working on. What was this girl’s problem? Luckily the bell went and I didn’t have to stick around to find out. I was out of there faster than it took for her to dislike me.