TIK TOK. Tik tok. I can't sleep. My bed feels like its made of stone. Was last night real? I look at my hands. They're clean. I sit up with a sigh. Its still dark outside and the clock says 4:45. I get up and head toward the bathroom silently.
I hate this house. Everything is made out of wood and the floors creak. I can't do anything silently without waking up the whole neighborhood.
Once I'm in the bathroom I close the door softly wincing at the squeaks it makes. I stare at my reflection. Mother says I'm getting too thin, in the bad way. My cheeks look hollow and my eyes are filled with exhaustion. Dark bags are visible under them from lack of sleep.
I splash some water in my face and lean against the sink. I'm not mad. Right? Maybe.
I stare wide eyed at the mirror. Not me. Him...stars. It was real. Why cant I remember? Because you're not ready yet. No in between Serafina. What's my name? No, yours. His...Alek. I remember him....I think.
A beeping brings me back to reality. I run back to my room and look at the clock. How come its 6:30? I've only been in there for less than five minutes. I think, stars.
I rummage through my piles of clothes and grab a pair of jeans and a clean random shirt. I wince as I slip my shirt on. There's a bump in my head. That wasn't there a moment ago.
I rub my eyes shaking my head and run down stairs to see that everyone had already started eating. "Going somewhere?" Mother asks. I stare at her taking in her features. She has always been thin, but not like me. She has curves, not like me. Brilliant green eyes and soft blond hair. Not like me. She recently cut it above her shoulders, but even though she has a perfect figure, there are some visible wrinkles on her face marking her age. Wrinkles that not even make up can cover.
When I don't answer she snaps her fingers in front of my face. "Shoes Serafina. Shoes." I close my mouth even though I hadn't notice I was gaping. Lately it seems I have been spacing out a lot. I look down at my feet. Shoes. I forgot.
Someone kisses my cheek. I look up, my brother Ryder. He takes my hand and sits me on a stool. Ryder has always been the observant one, the caring one. Not like me. After he finishes placing my shoes on he smiles at me and holds his hands in front of my face. Tied to each finger there is a red ribbon. "Look what I got. Ribbons for my beautiful sister." Red. Red everywhere. I hate them and without thinking it through I blurt out the first thing that comes to mind. "I don't like red." I mumble, he tilts his head looking at me with brown puppy eyes.
'You could show a little gratitude Serafina." Mother's harsh voice says from behind me. She's preparing my breakfast I think. Ryder quickly interjects when I look down sadly. "Its okay I'll change them for blue ones." he gives me one of his big warm smiles and leans forward. "Are you okay?" he whispers before tucking a strand of dark hair behind my ear. "This past few weeks...you've changed." His eyes are full of concern, Ryder is the eldest and the one I'm closest to. he always takes care of me. My big brother.
I bobbed my head not really wanting to answer. He wouldn't understand, would he? He'll think I'm crazy, mad. Mother too. She'd sent me to an asylum. She wouldn't care, wouldn't understand. Ryder has already disappeared, I think I spaced out again. Stars.
"Serafina!" My head snaps to the side. My sister Evangeline is yelling at me. Not new. She's older than me too, right after Ryder. He's already in college, or is supposed to. Ryder had decided to travel but when Mother told him about my 'state', as Mother is calling it, he quickly flew back home. He feels more at ease if he has eyes on me. Then comes Evangeline. She's a Senior and Mother's favorite. She has her looks and is determined to be prom queen, just like Mother. She's the cheerleading squad captain. Miss popular.
Then comes me and then finally, but definitely not least are the twins. The two little rascals are just eight but big trouble makers. Still I love them.
"Oh my god Serafina!" Again. I sigh and stand up. Ryder was leaning against the table looking at me. Evangeline is fuming, probably because we're late. Ryder places my backpack over my shoulders and gives me a long hug. "I love you Ina. You know that right?" He pulls back slightly and cups my face. I frown "I know." he's acting weirdly "I love you too." I finally say.
THE Ride toward school is short. At least from my perspective. Eva rides me to school while Mother takes the twins. Ryder stays home. He always tries convincing Eva to let him ride us but she never lets anyone touch her car.
I stare at my reflection on the window. I would usually avoid any mirrors or anything that gives a reflection but lately he appears anyway. He. Him. Alek? I want to tell him, Ryder, about him, Alek. But I'm scared. What if he is real? He is real. I am real. No. Stars.
"Move it loser!" Evangeline grumbles as she exits the car. Slowly I open my door. This is the first day od school after the incident. I hadn't gone to school for over a week or two. Though it felt like yesterday I was sitting through a boring lecture of History.
The incident. It seems I had disappeared for a whole day. the next morning cops found me in an abandon chapel covered in cuts and bruises. Covered in red, but the red wasn't mine. Everyone was so worried about cleaning me up that they didn't even bother checking if the blood I was covered in was even mine. Other problem is I don't remember what I was doing there or how did I end up there. But I dreamt and I think it wasn't just a dream. It felt more like a memory than a dream. Just like the others. But how can I be sure.
I'm not the most popular at school and with my recent state let's same I'm down to the weirdos. My best and maybe only best friend is Kate. She may not be cheerleader popular but she's definitely arty popular. She throws the best parties in town, almost everyone goes, so that means I don't. I have gone to a few but I found out parties are not my thing.
Well, Kate is not my only friend. There's also Sasha. She's second on the popular chart, right after my sister. While Evangeline is the school's biash, Sasha could never hurt a fly. There's also Chase, my long time crush, of course I would never ever, ever, ever admit that, because he's Sasha's boyfriend. They're the school's sweethearts. Eva may be hot but Sasha is charming. I think charms count more than hotness, since we'll eventually grow old. Me on the other hand, have neither. I'm destined to stay on the bottom of the food chain. The party rebel, the princess, the hot jock and the loser. I stick out like a sore thumb.
As I walk to my locker people keep giving me odd looks. Did I mention my story was broadcast? Instead of turning me into a popular celebrity I've gone down from weirdo to freak. Still I prefer the name-calling than the pity.
And it seems I've done it again. "Hey, hey!' I blink a few times, slowly I come out of my daze. "You finished there?" some boy was loosing his patience and I was in the way. "Yeah..." I mumble. After 10 whole seconds I shuffle away. I need to get to my home room. Ms.Scarlet. Red. I already hate her.
Ms. Scarlet. She's new, I think. My home room teacher a week ago was Mr.Dunham. Without my knowing I was already at the door. Everyone had settled in. Kate was in my class and so was Chase, joy. Luckily the only empty desks left were in the back. My kind of place.
Ms. Scarlet hadn't arrived yet. So she likes to be late. I rest my chin on my hand.
While I entered I avoided Kate's or Chase's gaze. They probably have tons of questions. I sigh and stare at the window, something I quickly regret. He's there. But no smirk this time. Something else. Curiosity?
"Ina! We've been worried sick!" Kate gave me tight hug, a little too tight. She pulled back her hands still on my shoulders and raised an eyebrow. "Are you cold?" Is then I notice I'm shivering. Its his fault, I tell myself. Just before I answer warm embraced my shoulders. I look up to see Chase placing his jacket over my shoulders. His dark hair falls over concerned eyes. His lips are moving. Is he talking? "-know that we are here for you Ina."
I nod after they stare at me for what it seems like an eternity " I'm taking you out tonight. Seems like you need the pizza." Chase is beaming, is he asking me out? Don't be silly.
"I want to go!" Kate chirps. f course she wants pizza.
"Sorry Katey. It's just me and Ina." he winks and walks back to his desk. Instead of feeling all giddy and happy I frown. Isn't this inappropriate?
"Ooh someone's got a date!" she says happily. Is not like she's the one going out. I didn't even say yes. Kate is the only one who knows I like Chase. I never told her but seems she's going to be future CIA detective. And also she said I make it look very obvious.
"What about Sasha? Wouldn't this be...wrong?" I blurt out.
Kate's shoulders hunch "Didn't you hear? Sasha and Chase broke up." Those are news. I should feel good, right? I'm finally getting a chance with Chase. I really thought they would never break up. the high school sweethearts are no more.
"It seems your sister, Evangeline," she says her name with disgust "said that if her boyfriend came first than the squad, then she shouldn't be part of the team. Squad before boys. Ugh I hate that girl, how can you stand living with her? Chase has been devastated."
I shrug, my sister is really evil. But I know she did that because she was jealous of Sasha. If she couldn't have it then no one else could. I think that's her motto. I glance at Chase, he does look a little gloom. But why me? He never seemed to be interested in me before. If I were him I would have taken Kate out. He's probably not even interested in me. Pity. Just pity. the poor weird girl. Ever since I walked into school, those odd stares people were giving me were pity. I hate them. I hate them all. they don't really care because they don't really know. They don't really understand! Stop, stop, stop, stop! This isn't you. Its him. Is it? You're blaming me for everything. Not me, you! Him! Stars!
A loud tap brings me back to reality. Its not a tap, its me. My pencil. I'm tapping it on my desk. There's screams in the room. he lights are flickering.
"Now, now, kids its alright. Just a little electrical malfunction." A slim figure had entered the room. Ms. Scarlet I presume. just like her name she's covered in red. I hate her. She has fiery red hair, curly. Her skin is pale, really pale, more than His. She's kneeling by my desk. Why? She's talking. Why does everyone want to talk today?
"...if there's anything we can do to make you feel more at home, don't doubt to tell us. please call me Crimson. I hope we can be friends." Between her plush red lips a fine line of pearly white teeth smile at me. I look at her eyes and for a moment I swear they turned red. But it could have been her hair playing tricks with my vision. After all, I'm mad. I've already accepted that.
When I don't answer she walks back to the front of the class. I roll my eyes when the boys don't take their eyes off her. She's pretty. For her age, I guess. But not like Mother. Ms. Scarlet looks more like a whore. Crimson. Of course she had to be Crimson Scarlet. red everywhere.
Tik, tok, tik, tok. The clock above the chalk board seems to go so fast and its so loud. The class flew by. Or maybe I did. Soon the bell rang.
I waited for everyone to exit the classroom and then slowly stood up. When I exit, a wall of flesh collapses against me. I blink a few times and notice its Sasha hugging me. I stay still awkwardly. I'm not a hugger. "Its so good to see you're okay." Okay? Far from it. I'm a mess. A wreckless mistake. A loner. An in between?
When she pulls back her eyes drop sadly. I raise an eyebrow confused and then remember. Oh. I'm still wearing Chase's jacket. How can I have been so careless? I hurry to take it off but Sasha stops me. "Don't. You deserve it. You two would really make a great couple. Besides I know how much you like him." She knew? Does everyone know? My eyes widen, does Chase know?
"We're going out for pizza." I mumble a little embarrassed "Is that okay?"
Her eyes shine, the sadness they had is completely gone now. How does she do that? "That's great! But we'll need to get you all dolled up." Oh, oh. I don't like the sound of that.