Undertone

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What haunts her dreams are not just imagined whispers: the voices, the faces, the nightmares are real!

Breanna Ora Aleathia, apart from hating her own name, loathes the situation she’s found herself in recently. Brea has (unwillingly) agreed to visit her dad’s house over the summer. If being on awkward terms with her dad didn’t make her feel uncomfortable enough, she’s started to have some crazy, vivid dreams of a cursed boy, a castle, and a forest. While avoiding her eccentric aunt and socially unequipped father, she begins to threat about how real the boy’s pain is to her. In a hazy walking daydream, she follows her visions through a forest to a castle where a cursed boy is trapped in self-hatred and misery.

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3. Chapter Two: What's Hiding Behind Thin Glass

Human skulls sat behind a window of an exhibit. Some of the skulls didn’t seem human at all, some were smaller with fangs like apes. Breanna’s face was on the shelf with them, or so the reflection made it seem. Her deep blue eyes glanced back at her like bright round orbs, and her loose, long, blond hair highlighted her pale face in the translucent surface. It would appear the only thing separating her and the fleshless was a thin pane of glass. If she could smash the glass, then she could touch the white of the bones. But, Brea wouldn’t do that: firstly, holding a human skull (or any skull for that matter) was gross; secondly, she didn’t feel like being arrested; and lastly, she thought it was best that they remained untouchable symbols of the past. Even if she could touch them, she could never know who they were. No, the glass wasn’t the only thing separating Breanna from the skulls. Time is the biggest barrier of all, one that can never be smashed. She wondered how likely it was that one of the skulls could have belonged to a man whose face had haunted her since she’d had that disturbing dream the night before. She knew it was impossible. After all, he dream was only that – a dream. But something told her that what she saw wasn’t that simple, it was feeling coming up from her stomach, swelling and turning her head like inside of her was a storm that would only get worse the more she denied it.

Breanna slowly moved her hand so it rested on the smooth surface of the glass. Her slender pale fingers slid down the cold shell and from somewhere inside her brain, a part she was still unconscious of, a symbol was traced. It was round a curved, swirling in oneself like a infinite line that would never be strait. What was that? She thought to herself. Time, another voice seemed to answer. Brea’s eyes snapped up to the lips of her own reflection, as if the young woman inside the glass was the one who had responded. But the image was just as stationary as the skulls imperfect teeth.

“I must be loosing my mind,” she murmured whilst glancing behind to make sure nobody else was nearby. There was only another set of dead animals confined by more glass. Breanna shuffled out from between the two exhibits, slowly placing the soles of her converse so they didn’t make a sound and peeked around the corner and–

                                                                                                                                           A cheeky whistling sound made her jump. Brea swore and laughed at herself after she realised that it was only her phone. Still smiling to herself, she pulled her Samsung out. “Where are you?” The new speech bubble on her screen asked. Above it clearly printed at the top of her screen was ‘Wicked Witch of the West,’ so it was Emily (her mum). Breanna changed the names in her contacts depending on how she felt about that person at the time. She knew it was a petty, childish thing to do, but it made her feel a little better, so she kept doing it ever since she was first given her brick-like Nokia.

She typed out “in town” and sent it off slowly, she hung on every letter she typed as if her fingers needed oiling. It wasn’t ten seconds before her phone whistled at her again. “Who are you with?” the new speech bubble asked. Breanna stepped further into the room of dead things. The only person there was her. “With friends,” she answered with a smirk. Well, it wasn’t a complete lie. Besides, she’d be joining the living soon enough. Her friends from high school, soon to be  friends from college, would meet her at Piccadilly in an hour. That left plenty of time for her to wander the past on her own just a little longer – Brea needed the silence to recover from the argument that her and the witch had the night before.

“Tell Sarah and Amy I said hi,” the witch’s bubble said. Breanna was just about to send a nonchalant “will do,” but then her phone whistled for the fourth time. “Have you finished packing yet?” Breanna put her phone back in her pocket without sending anything.

 

Flat number 233 was too quiet. Breanna stood outside her home listening out for any signs of life, and so far there were none. She had spent four hours with her friends. Breanna had met them at Piccadilly gardens. They all ate at KFC, because her friends didn’t like trying new places. Then they wandered around the Arndale shopping centre until Brea’s friends got tired. After her friends went home, Breanna bought a sandwich from a TESOCO express and walked over to Manchester central Library to have a mooch, a read, and ate her food (at the risk of receiving the disapproving glances of the librarians). It was now eight O’clock.  Normally, the witch (A.K.A. Breanna’s mum, Emily) would be either watching a loud TV, dancing around the flat to 80’s music as if she was still sixteen herself, or clattering around in the kitchen. Breanna pressed her head to the pine door to see if she could hear better. After concluding that the witch was probably lying in wait instead of her usual activities, Breanna stopped hesitating and just went in.

Breanna was right. Emily was visible from the hallway, sitting on the red leather couch in the living room. The TV was on but muted. It didn’t take Brea long to realize that her mum was watching Godzilla silently terrorize New York city. Quietly, Brea slid over to the coat-rack, placed her jacket down on one of the hands and-- 

“Hello, Bumble-bee.” Emily’s voice flowed like smooth honey, but it didn’t taste so sweet to the ears. Breanna turned to look at her mum smiling like she was Mephistopheles the day he found Faustus. Nobody but Brea would know that this sweet lady -- so young and innocent looking for a mother with a sixteen year old daughter – hid a devil in her smile. Her grey-blue eyes glowed like wildfire. Her short, dark blond hair was tied in a small pony tail ready for her morning run, even though it was night. Her slim, tan arms twitched in anticipation.

“Hi there…” Brea waited a whole three seconds before she ran for her room. She bounded past the living room, skidded on the laminate flooring as she passed the small but open kitchen space, and turned into the hallway that lead to their bedrooms and bathroom to find that her door had been barricaded by suitcases.

“Nice try, Bumble-bee.” Emily’s voice chimed from behind. The witch had cornered her. Slowly, Breanna turned to face her mum. The devils smile was still there, beaming at her, blinding her. “You’d left packing your suitcases a little late, so I packed them for you. Your welcome.”

Breanna gave a feeble laugh and ignored her mother’s glare while she mumbled “…Thank you."

“You wasn’t thinking that you could still get out of seeing your dad, were you?” Emily asked, leaning in with her arms crossed.

Breanna’s parents were divorced. It happened when she was seven, and she had no idea it was coming. She was so happy. Her mum and dad never seemed to argue, they’d go on days out all the time, and they always ate dinner together. It turned out that her parents had quiet arguments about how Richard, Brea’s dad, was a lying donkey (stronger words may also be applied). But it wasn’t the divorce that made Breanna so bitter towards her dad. No, she was more than happy to spend her weekends with the jerk. That was, until he moved hours away and he only came back to visit her once a year, for a week after Christmas day. He’d drive up, stay at a nice hotel, and leave on her birthday – January 1st. Recently, he’d been making a little more of an effort. Richard had been trying to invite her to his house over summer since she turned sixteen with constant phone calls and messages -- harassing her. Breanna would have found it all too easy to reply “NOT Going to happen” and ignore him. But Brea had one major problem: Emily was on his side.

“We made a deal: you go to your dad’s this summer and I’ll stop pestering you about visiting him.” Emily reminded Brea, her voice dropping so low it was a miracle it didn’t break. The night before Brea and her mum had an argument that Emily won, in the end. Three hours’ worth of slamming doors and red faces, and Emily still came out on top.

“I know. I know.” Breanna sighed defeatedly, pulling one of the suitcases down off the pile lazily. “I’ll go because I said I’d go, but –”

“But what?” Emily snapped, whipping her hands out to help move the pile.

“I just –“ It wasn’t a secret, but the words were still hard to say. “I’m still angry at him.” Brea mumbled the last part, it was so quiet Emily had to lean further in to hear. Breanna gulped as if she’d just swallowed something that had been lodged in her throat for a long time. She put the case down and stared at the handle while she slid her fingers along it’s smooth black surface. After a few moments of silence, Emily sighed.

“Come here, Bee.” Emily said softly and pulled her daughter into a hug so tight there was no room for escape.

“If you don’t find a way to tell him that yourself, you’ll just keep regretting it.”

“I know.”

 

After she had rearranged and checked the luggage Breanna would be taking with her on her unwelcome trip, she lay awake in her bed staring up at the all-consuming darkness that was the ceiling. She had been so consumed with avoiding thinking about her dad that she had also forgotten all about her lingering nightmare. Brea had hoped that the recollection of it would fade away during the day like every other dream that she had before, but now that she stopped resisting her oppressive dictator parents, she found it was festering like a burn underneath her skin. It had embedded itself onto her mind: it was a dream she remembered like it was memory. That night, Breanna had another restless sleep.

 

He smiles into a mirror, a little boy dressed in blue, with warm auburn hair and eyes. I can see myself standing behind him and look down at him, a pale expressionless figure with long slender limbs, hollow eyes, and long tangled hair. At least, I think it’s me. The boy pokes his cheek and sticks his tongue out, unaware that I’m here.

“Lawrence,” a women’s voice calls out from behind us. We both look to see a beautiful woman wearing a blue dress and white head linen come in from behind a heavy looking wooden door with carvings of forest embedded into the oak. She glides in with an adoring warm face directed at the little boy. “So this is where you’ve been hiding?” The woman grabs the little boy into a hug, resting her chin on his shoulder, while she looked up into his happy, laughing face in the reflection.

“Mummy, I was just waiting for you.” The boy chirps like a little spring bird while holding up a bloody dagger. His whole fist drips with a dark red. He is not smiling anymore. Lawrence’s face was as stoic as stone. But beneath the mask, the boy’s eyes lit big and bright with an electrifying horror, looking at the blood drenching his fingers. Without changing his face, the boy’s breathing is heavy, panting. He looks around for his mother. She is on the floor chocking, gurgling on blood that is escaping through a huge gaping slash on her neck. Her shaking hand reaches out to hold the little boys hand. He stumbles back, falling onto the grey stony floor and bumps his head into the mirror. Unsure of what he had fallen into, he tilts his head so he can see his reflection with bright, glowing, amber eyes. They are inhuman with huge, round pupils, so big that they would from hereon see everything, like those belonging to an owl. I kneel down to the quivering boy to take the knife out of his hands, but he tilts it towards me. Looking into my deep hollow holes in my cranium, his inhuman eyes start to tear. “Help me,” he pleads, before stabbing himself. As the boy’s dagger pierces his heart, everything else breaks apart like shards of glass, with the exception of the mirror holding my lonely reflection.

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