Chapter 1 : Dark Days
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New story so ANY FEEDBACK will be much appreciated! Thank you so much for reading!
Sometimes, all a person hopes for, is to survive.
I sat on my bed in my room with my knees pulled up to my chest and my arms wrapped around them. The dim light of the rainy day filtered into my upstairs bedroom slowly.
My alarm clock ticked slowly into 3.18pm.
I stayed still, my eyes transfixed on the little blue music box that sat oddly alone in the middle of the bookshelf otherwise packed with thick psychology volumes and several other text books. Most which haven’t been read by medical students till their third year.
I continued to stare at the music box, my eyes seeing nothing but that little blue box. On the duvet, my fingers moved as they would if I were to open a bottle cap.
The lid opened slowly and a blue fairy appeared with long wings that circled around her small frame/ It revolved again and again to the long gone music of my mother’s favourite song. Every time I listened to the melody a small fragment of her would come back to me in a vague memory. But the broken music box sang no more. So I simply watched the figurine turn.
I closed my eyes gently… almost hearing my mother's voice… before I opened them again.
My fist closed on my fingers upon the blanket and the lid closed slowly as I continued to gaze at the music box.
The lock fell back into place.
Since I turned thirteen, I'd been able to move objects with my mind…
Not everything and not always, but I could. It was a truth I had the hardest time understanding. It was the fact that sealed my solitude.
Bad things happened when my... ability... surfaced. I knew that much. With that I resolved to find a way to stop them. But nothing, no book, no man could tell me how I could possibly have such a power. Without knowing what caused it I couldn't possibly think of a way to cure it.
My story like any other story has its interesting twists. But realistically most of it was ordinary and bland… until now.
My mother was once an up and coming artist who loved working outdoors and travelling. She met a young and ambitious banker on a Seine river boat. I was born in an exotic coastal town in France. But mother died when I was just a few years old and my father brought me to England where we stayed with our aunt. My father had always worked late into the night so I rarely saw much of him.
He later married Aunt Karen, my mother’s sister who was a widow herself with two young boys. With the toddlers grabbing the grown up's attention often, I began to fade from the family picture. I was mostly left alone and I grew up learning to protect myself and my secret.
But hey, just when you are beginning to finally fit in, nature has a way of royally screwing it up.
Change… they say, it’s always a good thing. But I know for a fact that there is no possible way in hell that this sort of change was a “good thing”.
Thirteen years old. At first the signs were subtle. Headaches, unexplained ringing in my ears, on and off blurry vision and sometimes I felt a burning in my hands.
It distracted me constantly.
By the end of Year 9 I couldn’t concentrate in class and soon my grades began to fall. I was found skipping classes mostly because I wanted to find a quiet corner where I could rest and escape it all. The world became a noisy blur I wanted to shut away.
My worsening headaches kept me up at night where I tossed and turned trying to get some sleep. Each morning I killed the alarm a few times before I got up and each morning, I would invariably fall asleep on my desk by second period.
Most of my teachers thought I’d taken up a few bad habits and my parents were called to school. Everyone was beginning to think my home situation was affecting my studies, that I was becoming rebellious and was in need of attention.
Believe me, the last thing ever wanted was attention.
When I told them of my worsening headaches and blurry vision my parents ran a full set of tests to check what was happening. They discharged me from the hospital later with a clean bill of health and the “Rebellious Teenager Theory” became more and more convincing to them.
Even people I didn’t know, people to whom I’d been invisible so far began to whisper about me in the hallways. Soon I began to avoid the lunchroom, the courtyard, library and people in general. I was sinking slowly but surely into a dark abyss, the worst part being that I could see myself being engulfed in it.
I isolated myself day after day and often ate lunch in the quiet bathroom because the noise of the pre-school children next to the cafeteria made an ear splitting sound in my head that I realised was a potent trigger for my headaches.
I even got mad when I could hear them screaming. The anger I felt made my palms hot and that scared me. The rage that I had in me was overpowering and intimidating and I began to wonder why it affected me so much.
No matter how much I tried to control it the anger kept getting worse. I couldn’t explain it. I’d never been a violent person. I’d never even thought of hurting anyone. But when the headaches came I couldn’t control myself. After a detention received for slapping a girl across her face because her high-pitched laughter annoyed me, I learned to lock myself in the bathroom every day, away from shrewd glances during lunch.
But when something is brewing and you can feel it… you just know there is no place you can hide.
It was a Thursday when I first began to fear myself. I was 16.
I never knew what happened and I cannot in all honesty say I caused it. But on that day I couldn’t handle the throbbing headache that was hammering against the walls of my brain. So I pushed myself into one of the cubicles in the bathroom and locked the door behind me.
Thinking I might get violently sick because of the pulsing pain in my head, I bent double over the toilet. But it didn’t happen.
I could feel something gnawing on my brain. I thought the pain itself would make my ears bleed. As a last resort I squeezed my eyes shut against the burning torture I felt. When I couldn’t handle it and couldn’t bear it anymore I let the agony rip through my chest with a horrifying scream.
All I could remember though were my fingers feeling white hot. I pushed my hands against the side-walls of the cubicle to stop myself from collapsing and the next second the side walls burst into splinters and the cubicles on either side of me exploded into pieces of porcelain. Jets of water hit the ceiling and sprayed over me. But I couldn’t care… my headache had vanished immediately.
Mrs. Montgomery, the principle found me that day sitting on the wet floor of the bathroom among pieces of porcelain with the two blown up toilets shooting water on either side of me. Unsurprisingly, I arrived home with a two week suspension from school when I provided no argument when accused of executing a classic prank on school property.
In all honesty I couldn’t care less about what they thought or the punishment I received. I was too absorbed in trying to understand what I did, and how I did it.
Everyone from my parents to the school nurse to a counsellor thought I had a behavioural abnormality.
I reacted to the news indifferently. In fact there was only that incident playing repeatedly in my mind. Trying to filter each precise moment and provide an explanation that did not border on lunacy.
The next two weeks at home, I spent every waking moment looking for answers. I started with the old encyclopaedias and moved on to bigger and more complex books.
But I wouldn’t find the answers I searched for until much later.
The volumes I read offered little solace. There were many conditions to explain my headaches and lack of concentration, but none to prove my ability to blast objects to pieces.
Rejected, I began to wonder whether I had imagined it all in a great big delusion. The further I dissected the more clouded the answers became. Yet I never allowed my frustration to get the better of me.
I was forced to accept that maybe this was something I couldn’t escape. I wondered sadly if there was a switch in my head I could turn off or if I’d have to take Valium everyday just to be normal for the rest of my life.
I was quiet, withdrawn and more than anything else, afraid.
Afraid of what could happen next… What I might do next…
Fear overwhelmed me and crippled me. I slept on my bed curled into a ball on the last night of my suspension dreading the return to school.
The halls buzzed with whispers as I walked to class on the day I returned. But it was the opposite of what I had expected. No one whispered about me, in fact hardly anyone noticed my return. I was suddenly invisible. Now, people only ignore a perfectly good topic for gossip and criticism for one reason.
There was something even better in town.
As I passed the halls thankfully unnoticed, I caught enough of the on-going chatter around me to know there was a new student in school, a boy apparently with decent looks judging by how some girls were already staking their claim on him.
“He’s mine! You took Fisher from me last summer, this is payback!”
“You broke up with him!”
Most had judged by the fact that he drove a pretty expensive car to work that he was “rich and cool”.
Some boys on the other hand seemed to take offence at the new arrival.
“Great. Another new guy! Just what we need!”
“Seen him yet? He walks like he owns half the school.”
I would run into him soon but at that moment I only prayed that the boy’s arrival would stay a hot topic long enough for me to end the day unnoticed.
I entered the classroom quietly and made my way over to the locker at the back of the class and put my coat and bag in it. I pulled out my biology books and turned around.
We collided into each other, painfully. I hit my forehead again on his elbow as he tried to help me up and I tried to retrieve my books from the floor at the same time.
“Oh God! I’m so sorry, are you alright?”
“Settle down!” Mr Foster entered the class, “Boris, off the desk. Now!”
I turned finally to actually look at the offender as he stood holding my books. A small smile, somewhat apologetic upon his lips, his clear blue eyes searched me in a way I wasn’t accustomed to. That coupled with my recent embarrassing collision with him made me blush instantly.
“Hi…. I’m Callum. So sorry about tackling you to the ground, that’s usually not how I say hello!”
I had to smile at his humour but couldn’t say anything more in reply. His glossy dark blonde hair was parted and loosely combed. Some of it fell over his eyes. I unconsciously studied him for a second, my own eyes rapidly moving from his iridescent clear blue ones, over his straight nose to his soft smile that showed just a little of his crooked two front teeth. I hadn’t expected to encounter the stranger quite so fast, but as I stared at him I couldn’t honestly begrudge the girls who already fawned over him.
Being a closet poet, and I knew right there… he was going to be catnip.
“Oh umm, your books…” He handed over my belongings since I wasn’t really responding.
“Oh! right umm… thanks! Bye?”
Yes, definitely socially awkward.
I closed my eyes in mortal humiliation as I left him behind me and found my seat.
Once I had my books out I barely had time to turn to the page we were to discuss that day before Lorraine Atkins turned in her seat and started ogling the Callum character.
“Don’t you think he is absolutely flawless?” She asked me randomly, as her glued eyes followed him to his seat.
“Umm…” was all I could really say again.
“I’d give him a ten” she decided on her own.
Lorraine had always been in my class since we’d been in kindergarten. The only things we had in common were that and the fact that we got picked last in gym.
She lived by her own rules, something I sort of respected in her and thus it wouldn’t have been surprising if she was the only one to talk to me since I returned to school. Except for… umm… Callum of course.
And sure enough,
“Welcome back, Daphne!” she said with a wink, her finger twirling away into her already tightly curled blonde hair.
“Thanks” I said softly with an unconscious smile.
“Alright, well as we discussed last Friday…” Mr Foster began. And so the day began.
I looked up suddenly from my math homework. It was Callum, again.
My expression could not have been positive because it was highly unlikely for a person like him to address me twice in one day. Especially since within a span of two hours he was already friends with everyone popular who were likely to warn him against befriending me.
“Umm… hi,” I said unsure of what he wanted.
He smiled and sat beside me. “I would have never guessed this spot to be ideal for homework,” he said looking out at the field where some of the boys kicked a ball around.
I didn’t know what to reply to that, besides I was staring or rather ogling at his blue eyes. Not wanting to be caught doing such an embarrassing thing I returned to my homework.
He watched me work for a long minute. It made me nervous and I had to read the next question four times before getting it into my head.
“You don’t talk much do you?” he finally asked.
I simply smiled not looking up from my work. I wasn’t good at this talking stuff.
Out of the corner of my eyes I could see his head tilt a little, “Am I bothering you?”
“No…” I said a little too quickly. “Not really” I added.
I didn’t miss his lop-sided smile. My answer seemed to please him somehow.
“So why are here and not out there?” He asked pointing out to the field at the boys playing.
I glanced over at them and returned to my book.
“Not everything has a story behind it,” I said quietly.
“Hmm…. And yet I sense you do.”
“Me?” I raised my eyebrows.
“Yes. You.” He said looking at me as if I was a fascinating puzzle.
My eyes narrowed trying to make out his angle. His mask was immaculate from his soft gaze to his gentle smile. I couldn’t see beyond the person he seemed to be.
“Listen, don’t take this the wrong way but who the hell are you?”
He laughed openly.
“I’m just curious,” he said with a guilty smile, “you looked... interesting.”
So close, but as always, too good to be true.
I clenched my teeth not wanting to lose myself again. The deep cool breath calmed me as I inhaled.
With a loud snap and I closed my book shut and stood up turning to face him.
“Look…” I said in anger, “First of all, you don’t know me, anything about me. So don’t pretend like you do just because someone who can’t keep their mouth shut told you tales, alright? Second of all, what you call interesting, I call hell. So if you don’t want me to sign your face with my fist, take my advice and piss off. Got it?”
His smile did not change the slightest, “Understood.”
“Wow, you really can go from 0-60 is less than 10 seconds, can’t you?”
I ignored him and pulled my bag open, shoved my books roughly into it, closed the zipper, shouldered the bag and turned to walk away.
“Daphne,” he said in a quiet voice.
I turned back to him for an unknown reason with a frown on my face. I wasn’t really interested in anything else he had to say but there was something about the way he said my name that stopped me from walking away. How did he know my name anyway?
Callum straightened up on his seat and glanced swiftly at the boys out on the field once before turning to me.
“I have learned from experience to not listen to what others say about a person. I prefer to find out on my own. I came here today to talk to you and you alone”
“You don’t even know me…”
“I know enough to know you need a friend who you can trust,” his eyes became more serious.
“Trust?” I scoffed. “With what exactly?”
“I believe you have a very unique talent?”
It was at that moment when my heart raced that I saw the slightest change of his expression. He seemed excited… even triumphant.
It was like he had finally found something he’d been looking for.
Like he had found me.