Iris Hale: HUNTER *NaNoWriMo Draft 2016*

*NaNoWriMo 2016*/
Periliares are a crafty bunch. You might know them as 'demons'. They hate that word. The idea that all of them are evil is idiotic. The same way all humans aren't evil, not all periliares are evil. Just top of the food chain. And a lot of them have superiority complexes. That's where I come in. Most of them view themselves as gods, which is fine, whatever. But the second they think they can kill more than their fill, I have an issue.
My name is Iris Hale, and I'm a hunter.
/©Molly Looby

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27. Twenty-Seven

Everyone was in good spirits on the bus home on Friday. It was half term next week, so we had a week off. Well, a week off for everyone else. Us year elevens had a stack of homework to do.

“Hey, Erin?” I asked as the bus pulled out of the school grounds. “Want to come over tonight?”

“Oh, now you pay attention to me.”

I blinked at her. “What? I always pay attention to you.”

“Oh, do you?”

“Erin, come on.” I crossed my arms. “What do you want me to say?”

She squeezed her bag tighter against her chest. “I feel like I’ve hardly spoken to you all week.”

“You’re exaggerating. We have like two lessons together every day. Plus registration and break and lunch and now.”

“Not always now,” she muttered.

I bit my tongue to stop the first thing on my mind jumping out. “I haven’t done anything wrong.”

She sighed and met my eye. “I just can’t believe you won’t admit it.”

“Huh?”

“I don’t care so much that you keep going to Corey’s, but you could at least tell me why.”

“I have told you why. He’s my friend.”

“That’s not enough. You’ve been there three times this week. We’ve never done that.”

“He’s got a gym in his house.” As I said it, I felt another layer of annoyance fall on her. I swear I could almost see it. “I’ve been using it. That’s what I’ve been doing.”

“Oh right. Yeah.”

“You can ask Cory if you don’t believe me.”

“I want to hear it from you.” Her voice dropped into something softer. “I tell you everything. I always have. Why can’t you do the same?”

“I’m not keeping anything from you, Erin.” Nothing that you think anyway.

She shook her head. “I always feel like you’re keeping something from me.”

I bit my lip. “I’m not.” The lie felt sour in my mouth. “What do you think’s going on here?”

“You and Corey.”

I screwed up my face. “What? No.”

“You must like him, Iris. And I can’t believe you don’t trust me.”

“No, Erin, really. I don’t. If I did, you would know. I would’ve said something to you.”

“Would you? I don’t think you would’ve. You always keep things to yourself.”

“Honestly, there’s nothing going on with me and Corey.”

“So I’m supposed to believe you’ve been going over there all the time for some other reason? For the gym?”

“It’s the truth.” I could hear in my voice that I was protesting too hard.

“Really? After however many weeks of watching him and pointing him out to me? After you two argued and then made up super-fast?”

“Okay, I admit, it looks bad.”

“It’s because it is. I’ve never seen you obsessed with a person like that. If you truly don’t think you’re lying to my face right now, you’re lying to yourself.”

I clenched my hands into fists. It would be so much easier if I could explain everything to her. I was getting tired of being accused. “I’m not, I swear to you. Please.”

She faced the front and huffed.

“Erin, I’m sorry you think something’s going on, but it isn’t.”

“Whatever, Iris.”

And no matter how much I tried, she didn’t say anything more to me the whole way home.

I dragged my feet back to the house. Sylvie wasn’t in, so I just moped around in my bedroom. Erin and I argued sometimes, that was normal. We were pretty much sisters in that way. Plus, I knew I was argumentative and struggled to keep my temper sometimes, which didn’t help. But it was strange to see her like this. There was another layer to her I hadn’t seen before, and I was terrified that layer was all Sam.

Sitting on the floor, I watched my mossy-seaweed-olive eyes in the mirror. My hair was wavy from the plaits, and it had more volume than usual. I liked the way it looked. Maybe I’d have to do it like that more often.

I raced down the stairs to meet Sylvie when she returned from work and threw my arms around her. She toppled back a step but hugged me back.

“Bad day?”

“I’ve had better.”

I followed her into the kitchen and wondered why we never had these sorts of conversations in the living room.

“Tell me.” Sylvie flicked the kettle on. “What’s on your mind?”

“Erin’s upset with me.”

She nodded for me to continue.

“She thinks I’m lying to her. She thinks I’m at Corey’s all the time because I like him. I’ve told her it’s not like that, but she doesn’t believe me because, I mean, it does look a lot like that.”

“Okay. Well, maybe the three of you should do something together. I imagine she’s feeling left out. You didn’t like it when she started going out with that Sam. She probably feels like you did then.”

“That’s not the same for so many reasons.”

She raised her eyebrows. “I think it’ll feel the same. I know Corey’s not your boyfriend, and I know that you think Erin’s boyfriend is dangerous, but it’ll feel the same. You were angry when she said yes to Sam, and she’s probably angry with you now.”

“I guess.” Why did Sylvie always make so much sense?

“I think you should all do something together. Then Erin can see how much you and Corey don’t feel that way for each other. But then she might feel left out because you’re spending a lot of time with him and not her.”

“But I have loads of lessons with Erin. I don’t have any with Corey. I’m probably spending the same amount of time with them.”

“But she won’t see it that way. Would you?”

Damn it. She was right. “Why are you always right?” I got up to hug her again, and she squeezed me tight.

“It’s my job.” She brushed some of my wavy hair behind my ear. “I’m sure Erin will come around.”

“You think?”

“Of course.”

I took a deep breath, and it hitched a little in my chest when I wasn’t expecting it. “It feels like I’m losing her. I don’t like it. I just want everything to go back to the way it was.”

“It will. Neither of you can stay angry at each other for more than a day anyway.”

Again, she was right.

I texted Corey and asked if it was okay if Erin came with us on this bike ride tomorrow.

Sure. You don’t want to talk periliare?

I’d rather have my best friend talking to me first.

Well, you know what I think.

Corey had asked me almost every day why I didn’t just tell Erin about periliares and what we’d been doing. It’d take away all the lying and the mess. But I didn’t want to tell Erin about it. I mean, I did, of course, but I didn’t. I wanted to keep her safe. Corey argued that she would be safer if she knew because then at least she could look out for them. But I didn’t want to scare her. That piece of information would change her life. She was paranoid at the best of times. If I told her that ‘demons’ existed, she would be looking for them everywhere. I didn’t want that for her. I wanted her to have a normal life.

But then again, Corey’s argument made sense. Maybe if I’d already told her about all this she wouldn’t have messaged Sam in the first place and we wouldn’t be in this mess.

I sent Erin a message asking if she wanted to come with us tomorrow and held my breath waiting for her answer.

I don’t know. I have a lot of work to do xx

My heart dropped. Please. I’m sorry about earlier. I want to make it up to you. I don’t want to fight again. Please xx

All right. I’ll come xx

You’re the best. I love you xx

I know xx

I decided to spend the evening playing on the PlayStation with Sylvie instead of getting a head-start on all my work. She was rubbish, but I felt like I needed the company. How could I have spent all week surrounded by people and yet feel this lonely?

I missed Erin. It was stupid because I’d seen her every day, but something was different. Something was off. And I had to fix it.

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