Closing my eyes, I began to float into darkness. I could feel the soft forest floor. It was like sponge except for the tree roots which caught at my feet. I began to slow down, feeling tired and cold. I could see some smoke a few trees away like a dark cloud. How could I not see it? A branch snapped. A. The mysterious figure was standing right behind me, looking poised. A branch with new orange leaves, fell in front of me. A dark, gloved hand grabbed mine and began to pull me away from the fire.
'Why are you doing this?' I asked, trying to let go of the fingers wrapped around me. 'Why are you helping me?' The smoke was getting stronger but the flames were further away. My head began feeling faint as I fell towards the ground, landing on a few rocks below. I felt the softness of grass as the person placed me on the softest patch, then nothing.
I shuffled to the bathroom, switching on the light. My face filled the mirror. I had a black eye and a cut on my cheek. Some of my mascara had formed under my eyes but it seemed someone had washed most of my face clean. I tied up my blonde hair into a bun. A knock on the door stopped me. I scanned the room for some sort of help.
Then I saw her standing in the hospital room, a hoodie covering her hair. Alison. She was beaming and I envied her flawless face. 'So what have I missed?' She laughed, sitting down on the seat tucking into some toast which I didn't want. I shook my head, feeling like I was going to throw up. It had been a year. A year. 'Hanna, please stop gawking at me. You've lost weight, Hefty. Was it the grief of losing me?'
'Stop, Ali. How is this possible?' I asked, sitting on the bed next to her. A tug on my stitches made me wince. 'I can't keep this a secret forever. I can't lie.'
'Course you can. I can't give you answers yet, but let's just say it's far more complicated than you can believe. Please, pretend nothing happened, that I just went on a vacation to a distant island. How much have I missed? C'mon Han, you can't stay mad at me forever. How's the boyfriend, Sean, isn't it?'
I stared at the toast, looking at each crumb on the plate. I could hear the buzzing of the lamp before I gave in. 'We broke up,' I picked up my phone which Alison grabbed. She stared at the pictures on my phone, her eyes just as empty.
'I never thought you two would last. Maybe go for someone like Noel?' she mumbled quietly. I kept my mouth shut about Caleb. I turned back to face her. Her face froze as she showed a picture of me in my homecoming crown. 'I would probably have won both crowns, don't you think, Han?' she smiled, pushing one of her curls from her face. I missed her but then part of me didn't.
'When will you come back? I mean, when will you tell everyone about this game?' I asked, pulling my blonde hair into a twist around my finger. She shook her head putting a finger to her lips as if we were playing a game of hide and seek. Not a game of dead and alive.
'Game?' she said, going over to the mirror to apply some lipstick. 'This isn't a game. If it was, I would have won by now. But don't worry Hanna. You're getting warmer and one day we will defeat A. Anyways, glad you're doing better, darling.' With that, she turned towards the door, her high heels clicking on the tiled floor. She gave one last wave before shutting the door.
Five minutes passed and a knock on the door made me jump. Alison? Then my stomach dropped. A? I glanced up as the handle turned to see Caleb with a bunch of flowers and a hidden box of chocolate. 'I know it's late but I had to see you. I flew in from California a few hours ago when I heard the news. I bought your favourite!' He shouted, pulling me into an embrace which made my sides ache. I winced.
'You didn't have to do that,' I smiled, grabbing the chocolate and sniffing it like it was my favourite perfume.
'Are you okay?' He asked. I was about to point to my room and be like duh but I paused. 'That's a stupid question. I meant, you look scared? Worried?' He continued, staring deeply into my eyes.
Shaking my head, I held his hand with my chipped nails. 'I'm just a bit tired. I'm really glad you're here. Do you mind staying overnight?' I asked. He shook his head and pulled the chair over, his long hair covering his worried expression. I pulled him closer. 'I love you, Caleb.' He began to relax when I said that.
'I love you too, Han,' he whispered, stroking my hair as I felt my eyes get sleepier. 'Maybe you should talk to someone about last night. I'm here for you.' Speak to someone. Before I could fall asleep, I grabbed my phone, despite Caleb trying to peel it from me. I won. I quickly typed the message before closing my eyes once more.
I need to speak to you guys. It's important. Meet me - H