Chapter 2 part II
I feel bad, but my yawn silences it. I can’t help but wonder where he works, and why he has to go in so early. What time was it? It couldn’t possibly be that early could it? I glance at the clock – 5:36 a.m. it read, had we really been up that late? It’s never lied before. I yawn again, the Chinese food isn’t terribly appetizing anymore, cold and sitting by itself. I watch as Noah hesitates to go, I shrug. It’s not really that great of a story. “I’ll still be here when you come back.” He smiles, my eyes are fluttering shut – I want to stay up.
But it’s difficult.
“Go to bed,” he tells me. I can’t. I have to go home, I have to go home and live my life – because if I don’t, I fight the sleep. But it’s comfortable between Jared and Ollie, warm and safe.
“I don’t wanna,” I mumble softly. It’s the one lie I can’t hide, sleep was taking me out – the last thing I remember was Noah’s smile. And then I was out like a light.
◊ ◊ ◊
When I wake up, Ollie is gone.
I stretch my legs, kicking the blanket off of me, I blink a few times – my muscles ache as I sat up. Everything aches. I’m alone in the chaos one, and I can’t help but wonder where did everyone go? I make my way along the disengaged path of the boys room, scouting out for my shoes or even my socks. But, to my dismay they were gone – seventy bucks down the toilet.
I pushed open the door, the twins ran down the stairs with angry battle cries. I was curious why they were screaming so early in the morning, but I was more concerned with holding on to something I recognize – someone I knew. When I found her, she wasn’t too pleased with me – throwing a towel in my face before I could even get a hello out.
“Take a shower, you smell like cigarettes.” I didn’t ask to be here – I just wanted to find my shoes, find Jared and go back home. But Mar wouldn’t let me talk – she wouldn’t let me explain, like a scolded child I made my way to the bathroom. If I were to lay flat my feet would touch one end, and my head would touch the other. I turn the knobs, hot water mixing with cold – attempting the perfect temperature, I settle for what I got instead. I’m learning in the yellow house that’s something you just get used to – whether it be to being left alone with a house full of strangers, or being pushed aside without getting any answers. The natives of the yellow house all understand their part, but I’m just an outcast along for the ride.
I step into the shower, warm water runs down my back – aches in my bones drift away. But as I wash away the dirt and the smells from last night, the sins stick, replaying my head. And no matter how hard I scrubbed my worries, my fears - I couldn’t just wash them away. If Nate stopped paying me, my mother would die… my stomach churned. My mother, I wonder how she’s doing now, I hope she’s okay. There was no way to know. Nobody I could contact, talk to – I cringed. He would be furious, but the worse Nate would do is hit me, hit me for fucking with his image, for almost fucking everything up. Nate wasn’t cruel enough to let my mother die.
That’s how I got in this mess in the first place.
We had a nice life, the three of us. My father worked at the Collinwood lab, which was only a few blocks away. He usually walked to work in the early morning, preferring to observe as the stars tuck away when daylight broke out. My father was an astronomer, he loved his job; so much that I’m sure if it weren’t for my mother and I he would live at the lab. My mother had a less exciting job. I didn’t think so, but that’s what she always told people at parties. She often said her occupation was making people’s dreams come true, like a fairy godmother.
In reality, she was a wedding planner. She was damn good at her job too. She stayed at home more than my father, believing if the soon-to-weds could see what an actual fairytale romance bloomed into; the wedding jitters would disappear. I think it was an excuse to stay home with me, she discussed everything in the breakfast nook, from the color of the bridesmaid’s dress to the type of fabric for the table cloths. Unlike my father’s job, which all came down to numbers and the unknown, my mother often asked my opinion on her work.
“Ella, do you like this color for the flowers, or this one?” If we weren’t discussing wedding plans, we were talking about my life. My friends, my boyfriends, my dreams and hopes; I didn’t have a better friend than my mother. And maybe, maybe that’s really what took a toll on me, maybe that’s why I tried so hard to save her. I don’t think it would have made a difference if we had had the worse relationship in the world. I’d do anything for my mother.
When she was diagnosed with CNS Lymphoma, I was fifteen years old—a freshman in high school. She went in to get something for the massive headaches she was having, but when she came home that day – she told me that it was more serious than just a little migraine. They wanted to do a biopsy to make sure that their assumptions were correct. She had to take off for work, and that morning she kissed me on my forehead. My mother was a very strong woman. I thought nothing scared her, but I was wrong. So very wrong.
It took months for the biopsy to come back, meanwhile my father assured her it was nothing. But I think my mother knew all along; something was terribly wrong. The months were slow, but anyone could tell it worried my mother. It was on her mind constantly no matter how much she tried to hide it. I even asked her once or twice if she wanted to talk about it. She didn’t. I left it at that, even though I knew at night when my father and I were safe inside our beds she cried.
It must have been hard, facing an unknown monster inside of her. When she was finally diagnosed they told her that it was a brain tumor, no bigger than a nickel, and they told her the facts. That it was more common in people who had a weak immune system, I would be a liar if I said my mother was a strong as an ox. She wasn’t, she was constantly getting sick – but it wasn’t like the hospital was our second home or anything. Not before then at least.
Chapter 2 part I
It didn’t start with anything, not a girl being hidden from a witch or being mistreated by her stepmother. In fact, my parents were happily married. It just sort of happened, I was standing in the lunch line with my best friend Shannon talking about something stupid when he collided with me. One minute, I’m up and perfectly standing – the next, I fell face first onto the floor.
“Oh Nathan are you alright!” I heard a preppy girl squeak. Irritation spread through me; her friend had just slammed into me and she was worried about his well being. I wanted to point out I was the one who received most of the damage, instead I shoved him off me, ready to tell him off – but the moment I looked up at him, I melted. Shannon claimed she could have mopped me right up.
The first time I saw him, I was entranced.
I was swooned “I’m so so sorry.” He seemed sincere, but I was long lost in the green pool of orbs. He rattled off apologies and I didn’t even respond, I just sat there awestruck – and when he picked me up effortlessly, giving one more apology as he got his hot lunch and went off.
“Shannon, I think I’ve found my future husband.” She looked at me and laughed, we grabbed our plates, and began to walk back to the table. “I’m serious!” but she just shook her head, sending her brown locks moving from side to side. She sat next to Wyatt, handing him one of her potato triangles. He kissed her on the cheek, mumbling a thank you into her ear, and I stopped and envied her. Shannon was so lucky. As soon as he went messily back to eating, she turned back to me, sighing once again as if I was a child who said the moon was made out of cheese.
“That was Nate Hunter, Ella, typical Prince Charming.”
“I could go for a Prince Charming.” I sighed.
Shannon nodded. “Completely, but maybe someone more… right under your nose.”
“I’m not going to homecoming with Allen.”
“I never said anything!” she rolled her eyes, pushing up her glasses as they drooped down on the bridge of her nose. “I’m just saying…” she bit her lip, I smiled. She was so full of concern. I just hugged her tightly.
“Oh c’mon Shannon, he probably doesn’t even know my name.”
“He ought to, the way he fell on top of you – I mean, get a room Ella.” We both laughed, and the bell rang shortly after. We all went back to our daily programs, as if that day had been just another day – as far as we knew, it was. I went to English, then study hall and called it a day. Woke up, repeat the cycle.
Wyatt sat listening to music, Shannon on his shoulder waiting for me – the rest of our group slowly trudging over to them, I had my hot lunch in hand, but instead of heading over to Shannon and Wyatt, someone looped arms with me and pulled me away from my normal paradise. It was the preppy girl from the other day—Gemma Rees. She was homecoming queen, and she had her arm wrapped tightly around mine. Under any other circumstances she wouldn’t associate with me, except to bribe me with candy to vote for her. She lead me away from my table, away from my friends. Shannon popped up from her comfortable position searching for me.
“Ella, right?” Gemma spoke as we turned the corner. I nodded, in far too much shock to even comprehend what was going on. My hands were full so I couldn’t defend myself from her pull, or even take my arm back. I was being kidnapped, and nobody even bothered to help me. “Nate wants you to sit with us.”
“But—“ she put her fingers to my mouth shushing me, I seriously considered biting them. Bite and run. But that seemed a little dramatic. I would just say hello to Nate then be on my way back to my table. Simple enough, that is until my eyes met his – they captivated me. I was a puddle, a walking talking puddle.
“Hey Ella.” He smiled.
Scratch that, I was a stammering idiot. “H-Hi.”
“Wanna sit with us?” I glance around the faces at the table. They had all stopped in dead silence, waiting for my answer – hoping it was a flat no, but they knew better than I, just a silly little puddle. Nathan Hunter always got what he wanted. And I was just along for the ride. I smile and nodded not knowing what I agreed to. I couldn’t see his friend’s faces of disappointment, all I could see was his smile. That flawless perfect smile. I was doomed from the day I stayed.
As weeks past, I fell into the swing of things. Gemma and her blonde, tall, quiet Ken boyfriend would catch me fourth period and pull me in to stand with them in line. She would talk about her day, which put me up to date on the latest gossip and tons of other things I didn’t care about, but I would smile and laugh at all the right places. It wasn’t so much a trick with her, she would pause just a second long enough for me to understand; “oh, that’s funny.”
She would leave me for her table of real friends, not people she would have to endure just because Nate says so. Nate would take me into the lunch line and we would chat. Anything and everything, sometimes I can’t even remember the crap that spewed out of his mouth – the crap I used to cherish, every single word. We would walk and talk, eat and talk; on and on. Then after our trays were empty we’d go out to the Student lounge. It was a safe haven from the loud and hot cafeteria. Nobody hung out in the student lounge during lunch, we were safely hidden in the house of our fathers, and their fathers. What used it be their house of smoking weed and rebelling against the man, was now my very own hideaway.
He stops what he was saying mid-sentence, something stupid about what he and Ken boyfriend did that past weekend. He holds my gaze, with those alluring green eyes of his. I knew what was coming next, the very thing that ends every fairytale – with a happily ever after. He presses his mouth gently on mine, cautious and curious, and I lean into it. Tasting the mint and coffee flavor of his mouth, his tongue brushes mine – and I can’t help but break the kiss with a smile. He plays with locks of my hair as I pull myself to his chest, he cradles me in his embrace. And so it was an unwritten agreement – I became Nate Hunter’s girlfriend.
When we started dating, Nate followed me everywhere; taking me to class, carrying my books, picking me up from school and home. He was the perfect person, a baseball star, a community lover, and popular at school. Not surprisingly, he was also the perfect boyfriend. Whoever said chivalry was dead never met Nate. I felt like a princess, from the morning when I woke up to the time I went to bed. Everyone knew me, everyone loved me – or pretend to. Slowly I got caught up in my new role of Nate’s girlfriend. I stop calling Shannon to tell her all my Nate news and I wouldn’t take any of my old friends’ calls – I convinced myself I would get to it later. I was too busy going to Nate’s party this weekend or Nate’s friend’s party that weekend. I would get to it, I told myself. But I never really did.
Things had changed; I was beginning to change. I didn’t do much to stop it, I saw myself becoming a monster. Just like Gemma and her friends, I would trade in my cute shirts for something with a little more cleavage, something that would make me stand out rather than blend in. I would go shopping with the girls, who I knew only put up with me because I was Nate’s girlfriend. We would take pictures for our memories, which I’m sure were only for show. But I enjoyed it, as much I hate to admit it. I loved the limelight.
I lived for it, I breathed in it – and then suddenly one day out of the blue, Nate wasn’t at lunch. It left me in confusion, our simple cycle vanished like smoke. Poof! I look towards my usual table, Gemma and her friends continuing their lives without me, and I had a pain. A pain for my true friends, and before I could stop myself, I sat down next to Shannon. She stared blankly at me before returning to her resting spot on Wyatt’s shoulder and closing her eyes. Ignoring me. Wyatt looped his hand around his wrist, tapping his fingers on the table – like a call our table began to assemble together.
First came Monica, who even after four years still got everyone’s attention, she was a tall six two. Short choppy brown hair hid her beautiful brown eyes. On her arm was Courtney, short compared to Monica just like everyone else. She was a pale skinned red head with freckles and beautiful blue eyes. It something I always envied about her, her eyes – tucked deeply into a book. Ivory would take it, teasing her into frustration. But the red Mohawk boy never faltered, always pushing someone to their very limit. Ivory was the skinniest boy I ever had the chance to meet – but that meant nothing, he was a great friend.Even if sometimes he got on my last nerve, then finally completing the circle came Sam. Sam was perhaps the most apathetic of us all, or maybe his relationship with Courtney had open him up a little more. Who knew? It was something I heard one of Gemma’s clones bring up, something about taking Gemma and Ken boyfriend’s cutest couple title. She didn’t come back to our group after that, some friends.
As mine glanced with me with such alien stares – what choices did I have. Monica was doing her best to keep the tension to a minimum, but her efforts were in vain. I had left them all without even a measly goodbye, the girl they knew since middle school – this wasn’t her. The one they loved, she was gone. I sat there, knowing that this was all just for show. It was all just out of courtesy – nothing more, I listen to what they had to say – but there wasn’t much after that small plastic chit chat that had become my life.
The bells rings—
Noah’s alarm clock or maybe Duncan’s began to blare music, Noah shot up; still stuck in the same trance like stare he had been giving me since I started talking. He yawns, and walks over to it – slamming it off. A body shifts on the bottom bunk of the bed, he doesn’t move, making sure nobody awakes. I look over at Ollie, but he didn’t stir. I run my hand through his hair fondly, watching steadily as he breathes. In and out, in and out, his small chest slowly moving up and down with such content look on his face. I wish I could return to that time in my childhood; pleasant dreams keeping reality at bay. But now, they’re entwined – so well that I can hardly tell one from the other, just like everything else these days.
Noah’s sigh brings my attention back to him. “I’m sorry Ella,” he whispers. He looks so tired, dark circles and blood shot eyes stare back at me. He begins to button up his shirt, picking a tie off the dresser and attempting to tie it; the sloppy loop would make Nate cringe. It even begins to bother me, I try to sit up – but I don’t get anywhere with that, my body had fallen asleep telling my story and I wasn’t anywhere near done. “I have to go to work.” White shirt, black tie – he runs a hand through his hair, I smile, he must be late for it.
I feel bad, but my yawn silences it. I can’t help but wonder where he works, and why he has to go in so early. What time was it? It couldn’t possibly be that early could it? I glance at the clock – 5:36 a.m. it read, had we really been up that late?
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Oh an update
Finished chapter three :)
Which means posts of chapter two are coming soon!
Jared Warren: Character development/ sketch. II
A short unfinished fiction piece. Again just character development for Jared. Um it’s unedited. It’s never going to be finished, but I feel it gives you a good idea of Jared and his friends. No perspective from characters. Just 3rd person.
The new kid.
That’s what they called him when he walked through those doors, and it was true – to them that’s all he was. Not Jared Warren, guy who’s dad died – not Jared Warren little brother of Noah and Duncan; the best and worse student at his previous school. Not Jared Warren, shitty drummer – hell, not even Jared Warren. Just the new kid. As soon as they saw him however, they gave him a new nickname.
He prefer both to his actual name, the mystery following him wherever he went; the whispering faces blurred past him. At first it was unnerving, but then he became accustomed to it. Here, nobody knew his name. And he was okay with that….because he could be anything, or anyone with nothing holding him back.
They always lived in the same yellow house, behind the same apartment (though, back when he was younger it was vacant) and he always went to the same schools as his brothers and sister before him. He only lagged a few years behind them, but they always left a trail of expectations to live up to. Some he met, others he didn’t. He grew tired of it quickly, and maybe that’s how he ended up at Colebrook Academy….it didn’t have anything to do with their great school system, or new fine young crowd. And sure, he started to shape his future, and work harder, and this prestigious school would provide him a good career and a better life , but it was so much more than that…
Maybe that’s why he took the time to talk to his counselor, or why he worked so hard at that stupid take-out place for a year; started to do community service. He needed something, anyway to get out of the trap. He received the scholarship in the mail months later, and what long and hard months they had been. But by then, things were looking up.
If only for the moment. He knew he should have seriously thought it over, but he was only too happy to transfer mid-year.
Being the new kid was easy, it was the rest of high school that was hard. The material, though he had already covered some of it, was more in depth—intense. The teachers had know most of their kids since they were tiny middle school tots, there was a few transfers bobbing around in the sea, but they had all been there longer than Jared had. Making friends wasn’t an interest he had, but somehow he ended up making some.
The first of many was Elizabeth Baker; she was short much shorter than any of the girls that Jared had come accustom to being with. She had a certain air about her, that Jared couldn’t place…but she welcomed him with open arms, literally. After his British Literature class, she introduced herself, explaining her name and how she knew him. She then hooked arms with him, without a warning, and lead him over to the cafeteria. Elizabeth talked about the school, pointing out various things – but Jared wasn’t paying attention. He was stuck on how her aqua-gray eyes looked when she was really excited, talking about something a teacher did to a student. And her hair, how it was neither ebony or sky blue, but a mixture of both—he wondered if that her was natural hair color. He forced himself to listen to every word, but part of his mind was wandering…
“Liz!” called a boy from a table near them. “Are you coming?” he eyes Jared suspiciously and she shrugged at him.
“I’m showing Warren around!” she shouted back, that was another thing – she never said his first name. Or anyone’s first name for that matter, she had greeted plenty of people on the way to the cafeteria , but not one of them could Jared tell you their first name. Jared shook his head, not wanting to be the reason she missed out on her group time.
“You should go, really I’ll be fi—“
“Nope, I’m good.” She stopped him mid-sentence, dragging him past her friends. She smiled at them, the kind that made her whole face light up…if she was pretty before, she was beautiful now. “Lemme show you the courtyard.”
And that’s how the day went on.
Elizabeth, Liz, Baker, Lizzie—these were the names that they called her, and some she waved to and others she just nodded. But she never left Jared’s side more than a moment, or a class period or a time…somehow she had made her way to his side, class period, after class period until it was finally over. “How was your first day?” She even volunteered to walk him to his car, and even though he protested; she followed him anyways, hands up and walking with one foot on the other trying to hold her balance on an invisible line.
“It was okay.” He answered absent-mindedly. Jared walked on with his hands in his pockets, trying to remember where exactly it was he parked.
“Just okay?” She confirmed, there was something in her voice that made him stop and turn around to look at him.
“It was great.” She nodded, as she knew it all along. “We should do this again, tomorrow.” He suggested watching her spin around in a circle, she stopped mid-way; a grin wide on her face.
“Yeah, maybe you’ll get a few words in this time.”
Though she did most of the talking, (which was fine with him—he wasn’t very outgoing to begin with) they got along well. In the past few days, Jared knew more about Liz then he ever knew about any girl, even his previous girlfriends. She had a lot to say, and would just continue their conversation no matter what interrupt her. (Whether it be her friends, the fact that they shared different classes even eating; which was the single time she was completely quiet.) She was just pick right back up again, her eyes bright—which were sometimes blue, sometimes grey and sometimes both—and filled with excitement.
Her ebony-blue pixie style hair was held back by two purple butterfly hair clips, it was the only thing that stayed the same about Liz. Whether it was her outfits, which if she wore it once he never saw it again, or her hairstyle (ever changing) the purple butterflies were something that he could always use to identify her in a crowd. He doubts he would need to; it was hard to miss her. She would jump out of the crowd, and he often got used to her small arms wrapping around him in a surprise hug. The first time she did it almost gave him a heart attack, but he gradually got used to it. And after that, that’s when it started.
That’s how Matthew May came into his life.
Jared had made his first month into school without any complications, in fact – thanks to Liz, he was all caught up on the curriculum. Life was good, until it wasn’t. Liz has just told him goodbye and told him to remind her to remind him about tomorrow’s surprise…knowing Liz—God only knows what she was planning. And that’s just when it happened he heard a thunk…and then something rolled past his shoe. At first he just shrugged it off, making his way to his car when another one flew past him landing on the hood of his car. Jared watched as it rolled off his hood, and he realized what it was; a small blue golf ball.
He ignored it again, which sent another one his way nearly hitting his ear. “What the hell!” He turned around, to see the kid from so many weeks ago staring at him tossing an orange golf ball up and catching it. He had shaggy black hair, and a piercing on the left side of his lower lip—lips twisted in an odd grin-smirk, and brown eyes stared at him seriously. What stuck out wasn’t the golf ball he was holding, but the clip on tie he was wearing over a worn band t-shirt called Alixir.
Jared took a deep breath. “Did you just throw a golf ball at my head?” It was a stupid question—the kid was holding a golf ball, but it’s the only thing he could come up with. Seriously, who just throws golf balls?
The kid shrugged, putting his hands in his pockets. “Hey. I missed, didn’t I?”
“You still threw it at my head!”
“Yeah, well you’re an asshole.” He replied, picking a piece of lint off him. Calm as calm could be, Jared shook his head turning back to his car – this nut case wasn’t worth his time.
“I don’t even know you.”
“Matt, Matt May.” He ignored him instead, digging his keys out of his pocket. “I’m goddamn music to your ears.”
“We’re sworn enemies, you and I.”
“No, No, No, don’t try and trick me like you did the princess. No I won’t have it you, you fucking monster!”
“Filth! Do not speak her name!”
“Are you on drugs?”
“Okay, you…obviously like Liz—the princess.”
“I am courting her.”
“…I’m going to, she just doesn’t know about it.”
Jared couldn’t help but smile.
Jared Warren: Character development/ sketch. I
FIRST: This is an essay I did my freshmen year of college. The only difference is that The Warren Mommy is still alive. It’s from the pov of someone who will become one of his best friends. Not Ella’s.
Edit the Sad Parts.
Every dog has their day, but for Jared Warren, it’s everyday. I cannot say I knew this when I first met him, he was just some kid in my Literature class. In fact, when I first met Jared, I could not say much about him; I knew he was tall (about 6’5 give or take), had light blond hair that covered his dark and intense blue eyes. When he sat down next to me, I knew a little more—such as his first and last name, that he doodled on his notebook with pencil and took his notes in pen, he did not really look at the teacher – but he was listening. On the car windows it says; “Warning; objects may be closer than they appear.” For Jared it was the closer he got the taller he was, making his title, The Giant, quite fitting.
He was many things; new kid, Giant, and other titles that people gave him – but did anyone stop naming him, and start to dig under the Lego exterior of his? No they did not. They were not assigned to him for their Literature class as I was, truth be told I could have picked someone else – but really I have known everyone at Colebrook since grade school. It was the unknown Jared Warren that captivated my interest. When I asked if I could be his partner he seemed genially surprised, he was caught off guard, his usual stoic expression broke out with a smile. It softened his features, and rather than looking intimating as he normally did, he looked almost inviting. And with his, “Sure,” I set off on my adventure to learn everything I could about Jared Warren.
Believe it or not, there is much more to “The Giant” than most people would expect. In fact, when asked about his various nicknames his eyebrows fixed upward, his eyes questioning me. He said, “It’s better than just being the little brother.” Siblings; the boy had siblings out the kazoo! He was the fourth oldest of eight, count them eight children! I could not even fathom having one sibling let alone seven other ones and being stuck in the awkward middle bit. When I asked him about his family, he just shaked his head, “You’d have to meet them to understand.” And so that next Friday, I invited myself over to the Warren house. Meeting Warren’s family was similar to going to a circus; there was never any down time to absorb anything. I watched, carefully, as Jared makes his way through the door – opening up a brand new world.
Chaos, that’s the first word that popped into my mind as I made my way through the yellow house. While most families like having clean living rooms, with spotless floors – the Warren’s house was complete and total opposite. Heapings of trash stood in tall towers, Jared walked passed them as if they were nothing. I, however, cringed. I swear there was a roach crawling up one of those mountains. The first thing I learned about the Warren family is that they were all loud, which was surprising, since Jared was so quiet, calm, even collective. His household was nothing like that at all. I saw children upon children run in and out of the room.
Two girls giggled loudly jumping over a pile, knocking over things in their wake – a younger boy, perhaps two or three, followed them his laughter filled the room. But then suddenly he tripped, and before anyone could do anything about it – he was face first into a tower of trash. The two girls ran on, yet to realized their pursuer had fallen and was done for the count; the young boy let out a wail. His sobs quickly covered all the noise within the Warren home, but Jared rushed to his aid. It reminded me of the times I would fall and my mother would make a big deal about it, he made sure his younger brother on his way lingering an extra minute to make sure he made it through the jungles of the living room. Satisfied he turned back to me, held his arms out with a sheepish grin. “Here it is.” He gave me the full tour, all the ups and downs of his household, stopping at a picture in the wall. Black and white, faded grins and with happy faces. He and his two brothers (Duncan and Noah), he pointed to them and then to his mother. Next, he pointed out the two young ladies at her side (Mar, the taller of the two, and Keira.) The children were sprawl in front of her (Emma and Halley, Ollie; the young boy who had fell.) It was one of the most beautiful family portraits I had ever seen.
“Where are your parents?” I wondered if his mother was as beautiful in person as she was in the photograph. Jared’s facial expression changed instantly; it went from a calm – almost peaceful expression to tense and anxious, everything seemed to slow down after that, the children who had been running up and down the stairs, just stopped and stared at the two of us. He took a big deep breath in. “They’re not with us anymore.” He explained, he said throwing his hands up in a way that was dismissive; the children stared at me, and then back at Jared and then carried on their merry ways.
We had made our way to the kitchen away from the children, Jared began to tell me about his parents. His dad was a deadbeat, leaving his mother for some sort of new adventure as it popped up. Every time his father would disappear, his mother would find the sheer solace in working. “She was always working, I mean you give birth to eight kids and you think you’re done…but not Mom, she just kept trucking.” His green eyes sparkled with pride as he talked about his mother, and the flash of resentment only flickered as he spoke about his father.
“…My dad passed away in 2004, heart attack. The last thing I ever told my father was to drop dead, and he did.” He paused for a moment letting out a sigh, I wondered if he ever told anyone about this. Jared rubbed his temples, then his forehead burying his head in his hands. “I hated him so much, you know, he kept breaking my mom’s heart. And as a kid, you do anything for your parent’s attention…but when it wasn’t there to give, I began to resent him. Gradually hate him. But when I had found out he died…it all didn’t matter anymore, nothing really mattered. He was dead.” I never lost anyone close to me, in fact the closest person I had lost was a gold fish that I flushed down the toilet when I was six.
I could not imagine the pain, let alone the guilt that Jared must have fell and still possibly feeling. He said,“How do I deal with it? When I was a kid, my Old man told me; one man can move a mountain…he asked me if I can move my mountain. For a long time, I had forgot all about that – but then there was this girl; Marie who lost her mom at the mall and I stayed with her and helped Marie find her mom. And that’s when it hit me, my mountain; helping people, I can move it with my heart and my words…and it makes it easier to deal with, day by day.”
It was beautiful, beyond beautiful, Jared’s words honestly touched the bottom of my heart. Here was a kid who had spent his whole life hating his father and instead of letting the guilt destroy him – he worked it out, day by day – moment by moment, small steps at a time, gradually growing. He had gone from teenage wasteland to a hero, not for himself – but for others. All he wanted to do was help others, not because he had to – but he wanted to. He wanted to help them because it made him feel good about himself, rather than bullying smaller kids, robbing a store or doing something stupid to deal with his grief. He is very big about the whole thing.
Jared did not act like this was a big deal at all, in fact quite the opposite, he just did things for people. Usually he initiated it, because people are usually too caught up in their daily lives to even realize it. He showed me examples going up to people, and just helping them out; picking up their groceries, giving them a ride to anywhere, and even just lending them a few bucks. I watched as he did it with a smile, or a worry expression on his face; he never pushed his help, because not everyone accepted it. Nor did he get angry when people did not thank him, I would be peeved, but Jared just shrugged it off like it was nothing.
He was special that way, in just doing things with a smile rather than a complaint from his mouth, like most teenagers our age. Even I always had something to complain about every once in awhile, but not Jared. He just took the role that his broken hearted mother, and his deadbeat father had left him and his three older siblings. Without a word. I had never met a kid like Jared; one who consider helping people a selfish act, or someone who just dealt with death like it was a daily thing. I have seen kids who lost parents and just watched them fall apart; getting in to drugs, gangs and other bad news. But Jared was the first person I had met to just take things one step at a time, instead of drinking or smoking, he helped people.
Maybe that’s why his nickname was so fitting, not because he was tall that much was obvious, but because he had such a big heart. It takes an awfully selfless person to do good things for people all the time, without expecting anything in return. I do not think I could handle that, constantly doing things for other people and expecting nothing I return, there just had to be a reason behind my actions. That’s what made Jared unique, unlike any person I have ever met.
Truthfully, when I had started my English project I did not expect to learn as much about Jared as I did, I thought he would just be other teenage guy. Video games, girls, maybe even a job for college. I guess that is what we always think, our first judgment is not always (if ever) right. Who would have knew “The Giant” was such a kind and selfless person, or that he had lost his father? I did not – nor did anyone at the school, and maybe that is the way Jared wanted it. A fresh new start, a nameless face in the crowd, instead of a poor boy who lost his father – he was Jared Warren, “The Giant.”
Wrote four pages in an hour last night.
Chapter 3 draft is coming up beautifully.
Chapter I part III
In the next few hours, sitting on Jared’s couch, I learn much about him. He has seven other siblings: two older brothers, one older sister, three younger sisters, and one little brother. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting the twins, and then Ollie, the youngest of the bunch at two. He spends his time scribbling on the floor with his sister’s crayons. He looks at me every so often with Jared’s smile and beckons me over to look at his masterpiece. I’m sure he isn’t supposed to do this, but it makes him so happy.
“Jawid,” he declares after finishing a scribble on the floor, and I can only smile, nodding. He bobs his head, then attacks the next piece of wood. I just sit, amused by his scribbles.
The yellow house is booming with life, from the twins running and laughing to the television bursting with life and announcing each level the boys on the couch had achieved. A character sends rockets into a green creature’s small, furry little body. I assume that the players on the couch are Jared’s older brothers. Doritos powder stains their fingers, and both are screaming profanities at the TV, completely unaware of their brother’s coloring adventures and my unexplained presence.
Crashing comes from the kitchen, which I can’t see past the big canvas blocking the view. But every so often I catch a glimpse of the bustling legs of someone cooking. The stereo booms from upstairs. It’s all much different from my quiet home. There, I can drop a pen, and everyone can hear it. Here, I’m lucky if I can hear myself speak.
“Bitchtard!” The brother on the right roars with laughter as the other throws the controller across the room. “You fucking cheated!”
“I beat you every time,” he replies, tossing down the controller. He smirks at his sore loser of a brother. “It’s laundry day, Duncan.”
“What the fuck ever,” he replies sourly. He’s tall like Jared, but his hair is darker, browner than his younger brother’s. His eyes are dark with anger as he gets up. Ollie scoots into my lap before Duncan walks over his crayon masterpiece.
“Language, Duncan. There are children present…and quite a pretty lady.” I roll my eyes, wishing they just continue to ignore me. Duncan turns around, realizing my presence for the first time. He scratches his head, and he gives me a sheepish smile – he face turning pink with embarrassment. Unlike his less-angry brother, who sits with a dress shirt untucked and tie undone, Duncan sports a lovely undershirt and boxers. I shrug it off, focusing solely on Ollie’s small hands.
“How long have you been here?” Duncan asks as he disappears behind a pile of junk. I continue to play with Ollie’s hands, so small compared to mine – but one day they’d be bigger, I know it.
“Since Jared came home,” I shrug. Ollie begins to color at the bottom of my jeans. My legs twitch, but it doesn’t discourage him. He begins to ignore his older brothers and instead just colors away. I wonder what it’s like to be at that age when nothing but coloring matters.
“Oh. You’re his girlfriend,” Duncan says with an eye roll, wearing fresh pants and no longer interested in my presence. “I thought he was dating that…Marla…Marley?”
“Mary,” his brother says with a shake of his head. He’s still staring at me. It’s unnerving to see those olive eyes watching me. He’s different from his brothers. Where they stand at a freakishly tall point of 6’7”, he’s more normal. It doesn’t hurt my neck to look at him, at least. It’s not just that, though – his hair is dyed red with tints of blond at the roots, and his nose is pierced. He comes across as a black sheep to me. Jared has taken me in but ignored me, and Duncan has ignored me, but since this guy has become aware of my presence, he hasn’t taken his eyes off of me.
“Whatserface.” Duncan ignores him. “But I got to say, you’re much prettier.”
“I’m not his girlfriend,” I reply, realizing I have to be if I want to get a word in. I flinch when Duncan grabs my hand, shaking it hard and making my whole arm dance up and down. He’s going to dislodge it if he shakes any harder.
“Duncan Warren. And you are?” Talk about eager beaver. How many seconds have passed since I declared that I’m not Jared’s girlfriend? Two? Three at the most. I smile, shaking my head.
“Not interested.” His eyes narrow, and he drops my arm. “I have a boyfriend.” I add, and then he nods, his self-esteem already recovering from the blow. He’s smiling, as friendly as can be. I look down at Ollie, who has worked his magic on one pant leg and is now in the process of moving to the other. Reds, oranges, and yellows are swirled and scribbled onto the bottom of my pant leg. I smile when he looks up at me, finally aware of everything and everyone.
“Oliver, no.” He squirms in the grasp of his older brother. I feel lonely without Ollie sitting in my lap. He isn’t doing anyone any good up there away from me. “Sorry about that. He’s obsessed.” He says, referring to the crayons Ollie is dropping to the ground. I shrug. “I’m Noah, the oldest of the Warren Tribe,” he says, introducing himself.
“Ella Pierce.” I gaze at Ollie reaching out for me, determined to finish his masterpiece. I want to take him from Noah, but I know that’d be a little odd, considering I’m a complete stranger and all. Ollie is my safety net in this big house, and without him I’m shark meat.
“Is Ella short for anything?”
“No. Just Ella.”
“Well, just Ella, dinner should be here soon.” As if to contradict that, another crash comes from the kitchen. We both attempt to peer in, but to no avail. Noah smiles, ignoring it. “Or not.”
“Hope you like Chinese, because that’s probably what we’ll end up getting,” Duncan tells me, holding a basket of laundry. Noah looks at it with a pained expression as Duncan begins to head toward the kitchen.
“Make sure to separate the colors from the whites,” Noah says. “I don’t want pink—” but Duncan holds up his hand, stopping whatever it is that Noah is about to say.
“You shouldn’t have white boxers then. Besides, that wasn’t part of the deal.” He smirks as Noah grimaces and has a bounce in his step as he makes his way to the laundry room. Noah sighs, rubbing his temples with his free hand as he sits down on the couch and leaves me to stand awkwardly.
Another crash from the kitchen. Noah sighs again. “Mar, is everything okay in there?” Ollie squirms out of his arm, sitting down by my pant leg and getting back to business. At least my standing has a purpose now. Noah looks unsure as he gazes into the kitchen.
“Peachy!” replies a voice, which I assume belongs to the feet bustling along in the kitchen. He doesn’t seem reassured by Mar’s response. I look down at Ollie, who’s busting out the blues and purples, making a nice contrast to the other pant leg.
He is interrupted by Mar’s irritated cursing, which is followed by a less enthusiastic, “Peachy.”
“Marianna?” he calls out for her. A hiss, and then the smoke alarm goes off. She comes out, her hands on her hips, lips twisted into a frown. Her blonde hair is tied up in a bun, and she stares at Noah with furious blue eyes.
“What?!” she snaps huffily. He smiles, though I can’t imagine why. Her white apron is filthy, and there’s sweat on her brow. It’s obvious to anyone – even to someone like me, who doesn’t know her at all – that she’s upset. Smiling is just mockery at this point.
“Are you going to get the food, or should I?” he asks sweetly.
Her eyes narrow, and she points at him accusingly. “You have no faith in my cooking ability.”
“Two words: pork roast,” he scoffs. But she’s already walking over to him, hands placed firmly on hips.
“It was one time!”
“Yucky.” Ollie says from the ground, and Mar shoots him a death glare. But he ignores her, continuing to color my pants.
“Why can’t Duncan do it?” Her hands are up in the air as she speaks, and it reminds me of Jared speaking with his hands. With every accusation or statement she makes, her hands move along to emphasize it.
“Laundry,” he replies, looking at me now. I meet his gaze from the corner of my eye, and he winks.
“Keira?” she persists.
“She’s sixteen, Mar.” His head turns, giving her his full attention. She sighs loudly, already picking up the car keys.
“She can drive,” she complains with a shrug.
“She can take your car.”
“Mar!” That ends it. Mar shoves the keys into her pocket with an annoyed expression. At that very moment, Ollie stands up and tosses the crayons aside, finished with my pant legs. I look down – how odd the crayon looks on the fabric, yet the red, orange, and yellow designs on the right leg contrast well with the blues, purples, and greens on my left.
“Fine. C’mon, Ollie — and you too, Malibu Skipper.” Me? She’s referring to me? I watch as Ollie jumps up into Mar’s arms. He doesn’t understand the insult, nor does he care. Noah, on the other hand, has a different view on it.
“Mar!” he yells. She rolls her eyes, and I take it that her rude remarks aren’t uncommon in the Warren household.
So I dress well. What’s so wrong with that?
“Well, look at the getup. She sparkles, for Pete’s sake. She’s just asking for it.” I look down at the blue top that falls down to my waist, which I had bought earlier this morning. It glistens, but doesn’t sparkle – though she could be talking about my makeup. I have no idea what it looks like, but I had fit in fine at Nate’s house. Here, though, it’s a totally different world. “C’mon, if you’re going with us you’re going to look like a normal person, not a fairy princess.” She grabs my arm and tugs me along, past the big canvas and their kitchen then up the stairs.
Up, up, and away.
The first thing I notice about Mar’s room is that it’s the cleanest thing I’ve seen in the yellow house. The white walls are covered with thousands of pictures. On one side, there are various photographs of people in various poses. People making faces, people making peace signs and flipping the camera off, people laughing at something out of the shot and even people in those photo booth shots. I stare in awe, remembering my own room that had a similar motif.
On a bulletin board back home, I had pictures just like these. Pictures of the people I loved, but they’re stuck in a different time. Moments frozen in time forever. The picture on these walls that caught my eye is a picture of Mar laughing, with a stranger wrapping his arms around her waist. It’s pasted in the middle of all the people. I can’t help but wonder who he is, and where could I find him again – to make that Mar come back. The one I was with was scary. But in the photo, she looked so much happier than the scowling one I was with.
I turn to look at the other walls; it’s a mixture of teenage boy bands and supermodels. I smile, plastered in big letters were the names; Halley and Emma – I assume those were the twins. I smile at the white gaps sticking out in random places, unlike their older sister who had completely covered her side of the wall. Not a spec of white anywhere. There was a big bed, two bunk beds, and a small twin. My eyes follow Mar as she went passed the twin bed, I assume that she shares a room with this Keira character. Towards the window, which is the farthest from Mar’s bed, there hangs a mirror. Beside it, a bed in the dark. This wall has no pictures on it – just that mirror staring back at me.
“You share a room with everyone?” I ask, staring at the girl in the mirror. A brown-eyed monster stares back at me. Apart from the straight brown hair and the familiar trail of freckles that cover her nose, I don’t know her at all, but she doesn’t seem to mind that. I can’t stand to look at her, so I turn around. Mar is digging through the small closet furiously.
“I have to. God forbid the prodigy would have to share a—” She stops mid-sentence. Whirling around suddenly, she yells out the door. “Ringo, where’s your hoodie?”
“In my room,” Jared replies, muffled by the door. Ollie is already getting up as his sister grabs my arm and drags me out with her. The trip is quick – we go across the hallway and into a whole other world. Jared’s room, unlike Mar’s, is a mess: clothes on the floor, pizza boxes in the dressers. There’s a bunk bed and a single bed, on which he resides now. There’s a computer desk near it and a drum set on the other side of the room. The sticks lay on the television, and I just stare at this havoc. I want to make for the door, but I’m afraid that Mar might get mad.
“Ringo?” I ask, as she let go of my arm, effortlessly making her way through the room while I stand uselessly at the door. Sighing, she throws the pizza boxes aside, searching for a hoodie.
“It’s her pet name for me,” Jared answers as she rummages around the dresser. I turn to him, who has looked at for the first time since he’d left me there. “You know. Like the drummer?” I shrug, vaguely remembering the band. He shakes his head, but it’s too late. I’ve already made my mistake.
“Great! She’s musically deprived, too!” complains Mar as she digs through the dresser. “Why would you bring a musically-deprived girl home?” Jared rolls his eyes, turning his attention back to me.
“So, how’s anywhere but here?” he asks, hands clasped behind his head as he looks directly at me.
“Pleasant.” He grinned, and I feel myself blush. How can such a little gesture make him so happy? Nate isn’t nearly as easy to please.
“Are the natives friendly?”
“They have their charm,” I say, thinking of Duncan and Noah downstairs, Ollie sitting on the bed, and Mar going through all this trouble for a hoodie. “Is she always so—?”
“The next word out of your mouth better be friendly, or I’ll leave you here, Skipper,” she snaps, not even turning around.
“Outspoken,” I finish.
“Marianna? Outspoken?” He looks both ways in faux shock. “No!” Mar turns, eyes narrowed and hands on her hips.
“Ollie, c’mon!” Mar’s loud voice rings through the house. Noah can probably hear her from downstairs… or maybe the noise drowns her out. Ollie follows his sister obediently, jumping up into her arms and laying his head on her shoulder with a yawn.
“What about my hoodie?” Jared says. I noticed he’s been holding one this whole time. Confusion hits me like a load of bricks, but this isn’t my territory. I don’t know anything here.
“Screw it. She can stay here.” She slams the door behind her. Seconds pass after she storms out of the room and down the stairs, and silence covers us like a blanket.
“You can sit down, you know,” he tells me, slipping on his headphones. It amazes me how easily he ignores the silence, filling it with something else – something much safer. I walk away from the door and over to where the drum sticks lay. I pick one up, smiling fondly, remembering that Wyatt has ones just like this – light brown and smooth. I have always been fascinated by music – how letters and notes make up a secret language, one recognizable by everyone.
The thought of Wyatt makes my heart plunge. I haven’t talked to him since last year. Each one of their faces begins to pop into my mind, and I wondered what my group of friends has been up to since the last time I spoke to them. “Do you play?” I ask, trying to shake off the thoughts – instead, they go on.
Jared looks up at me, sliding his headphones off. “A bit.”
He sits up, his hand fiddling with the back of his neck. He drums them along the nape slowly as he makes his way towards me. His calloused fingers brush along my hand, and it makes me shiver as he plucks the drum stick from my grasp. I don’t move as he picks up the other one and goes over to the drum set, pushing the clothes off the drums themselves. The motion makes a clanging sound as they fall off the cymbals and onto the floor. Two taps on the rim of the drums, and the music begins. He’s good. It doesn’t sound like noise, like when Wyatt played. It’s music. Real music.
I don’t notice when Noah comes in. I’m too busy being entranced by the sound – it’s different from anything I have ever heard before. But then he stops mid-song beat thing, and the beauty is gone, just like that. Poof. Smoke. “You’re getting better,” Noah tells him, and I suddenly become very aware of how close he is to me. Close enough to touch. I move a step over.
“I still need a lot of practice. Did you like it, Ella?” His eyes flicker to me – staring, so serious. It’s odd, getting asked your opinion when you’re so used to being told what to think and how to think it.
“It was better than silence,” I shrug. Noah chuckles, and Jared grimaces. What am I supposed to say? Jared goes back to the bed, slipping on his headphones. He doesn’t take his eyes off me.
“He’s never played for anyone else before,” Noah whispers into my ear, and his breath feels hot on the back of my neck. Every hair is standing up, and I don’t move – the whisper is very familiar, but the boy behind it is not. “He’s sulking.” My eyes widen – I realize I have just offended the person who brought me to this safe haven. Dandy.
“Oh. I didn’t mean that… it was bad,” I say out loud, but I doubt that Jared can hear me. He’s tapping his fingers on his knee, mouthing words, and he has his eyes closed. “It was actually pretty. I just…I’m not into drums.” I explain to Noah, who looks at me curiously.
“Drums aren’t your cup of tea?” He looks over to Jared, and my eyes try to follow what he sees, but I’m lost. “So what is?”
“Piano,” I reply without thinking. It’s very easy to talk to Noah, though he’s still a nerve-wracking person. “But…you’re going to think I’m weird…”
“Like, the stuff from the elevator music.” His eyebrows raise, and I just nod. “I really like the pieces they play.” I’ve never told anyone this, and I’m not surprised. I never tell anyone anything. I’m the doll. I’ve always been the doll – the one in the corner the child get too old to play with. Neglected. Wounded. It reminds me that I’ll have to go back home soon, back to the pool house… back to Nate. Back to the life I live and hate. It’s not his laugh I hear, but Duncan’s, loud and clear, as Noah picks up a dirty shirt and throws it at him.
I smile all the same. I couldn’t live like this even if I wanted to. “You look dead,” Jared tells his brother. Duncan throws a glare, cutting his laugh midway.
“Well you look fat. But do you know why we don’t go around pointing out stuff like that? Because it’s not nice. So shame on you.” Noah rolls his eyes, taking the laundry basket from him. Jared flips him the bird, and Duncan just comes over to me. His hands around my shoulders, he leads me toward the bed. We collide with Jared. They’re arguing, but I’m only half-listening, and not very well. Their voices sound far away, and I’m somewhere else entirely. It has been a long night of fights and rescuing, and my head is finally getting my body’s memo about being exhausted.
Chapter one: part II.
He doesn’t talk, and I don’t talk. It’s a long drive, so I play with the radio dial. He doesn’t bother me about it. I put my legs on his dashboard – not even the smallest complaint leaves his mouth. It’s strange. “So, where are we headed?” I look at him, but he doesn’t falter, his eyes unmoving from the road in front of him. I open my mouth to answer him, but then I snap it back shut – my thoughts are stuck somewhere else. I wonder why this night, of all nights, he decided to grab me and I can’t help but wonder who he is, and what he wants from me.
“Anywhere.” I reply finally, waiting for his response. Anything from him, a sign that he isn’t going to murder me or something. He gives me no hope, not a single bit of it. I need to fight these thoughts, so I take a deep breath, tapping my fingers on my knees. “So.”
“So,” he replies. Then nothing. Silence fills all the nooks and crannies of his beat up Honda, nothing like the cars I was used to being chauffeured around in. But it had its charm, I think while taking a look around. It’s soft covered floors are covered with things everywhere, and it was too dark to make anything out – so instead I take a moment to look at him, really look at him. The most obvious thing about him was that he is huge. He seems to be twice my height and body size. He has blond hair, his bangs falling into his face and the ends curling in the back. In the dark I can’t really tell if it’s light or dark…but it doesn’t matter. As he drives, he doesn’t look at me. His fingers occasionally tap on the steering wheel as if they can’t stand to be still.
I stare at his hands, ike the rest of him they are huge, and I can’t help but think of how they just pulled me away from Nate like it was no task at all. I look up from his hands, and see that he’s caught me starring at him; my face flushes and I turn my gaze towards the window, watching the road pass by. For a few more moments he lets the silence reside, but then he lets out a sigh and I turn back to him. “What’s your name?”
“What?” I ask, surprised that with everything that has happened, he was the one asking me the questions. I think it should be the other way around.
But he just shrugs. “Your name. Everyone just calls you ‘Nate’s girl.’”
“Ella.” The sound of my name sounds odd in my mouth. When was the last time I got to introduce myself? Nate does all the talking, he does all the laughing and says all the right things, while I smile and nod – staying under the radar just enough to become invisible in his world. I’m invisible, yet everything to these people – and they don’t even know me. “Ella Pierce.”
“Ella,” he repeats slowly. “I like that.”
“Thanks.” He takes a sudden turn onto a brick road, making the car bump and jiggle a bit, and that’s when I realize I have no idea where I am. It’s an odd feeling, being lost with a stranger who knows where you’re going while you don’t. It’s one I wouldn’t like getting used to. “So, do you just go around saving people every Saturday night, or is this a onetime thing?” He chuckles, but I’m serious.
“You just looked like you needed help.” He answers honestly, looking at me head on. His eyes are a very light blue – the kind of blue the ocean should be. His expressions are like an open book. That bothers me, so I turn away from him and look out the window. I pretend to not feel the heat of his stare on the back of my neck as I take in the sights. There isn’t much to see, I decide to pick our conversation back up.
“But you don’t even know me.” It’s just flat out weird, didn’t he get the memo? Chivalry is dead, and not to mention creepy. It was one thing to rescue someone you know, even help out a child – but a complete stranger?
He waves it off with his hand. “If someone needs help, I do my best to help.” The concept is foreign to me. Even before Nate infected me, I think this would have been hard to grasp.
“Get a cape, and you can make millions off this.” He smiles at my joke, and again his face just glows. It’s strange how a single movement can change everything about him.
“So, if someone was about to get hit, you’d…?” I trail off.
“Do my best to get them out of the situation.” Even when he doesn’t need to, he speaks with his hands. He just can’t keep them still – one hand on the wheel, the other explaining his point.
“You’re fucked up,” I say, lighting up a cigarette. He rolls down the windows, and the breeze sends chills down my spine.
“Would you like to go back to your adoring boyfriend?” Nate’s face flashes in my head, and suddenly I’m not laughing anymore. I sink into the car seat, dumping my cigarette out the window losing my appetite for a smoke. He looks over at me, but I focus on the scenery outside the car. We drive in silence, until the engine finally cuts off. “We’re here,” he says softly.
I look up, and we’re parked outside an abandoned apartment. I blink. We certainly got to the other side of town quickly. I look over at him, but he’s already getting out, so I follow suit. “Where’s here?”
“It’s a surprise,” he says, and all I can think is go back to the car. Run screaming back to the car. This whole scene has danger written all over it. But I’ve trusted him so far, and nothing bad has happened. I decide to run with it.
It’s freezing outside. I wish I’d been smart enough to grab my coat, which was back at Nate’s house – flung over some chair, or worse. Within in five minutes we had gone from the suburbs to the ghetto. My skin crawls. I want to go home. “We’re almost there,” he said, seeming to misunderstand my fear for cold. I power-walk after him, making sure there is zero distance between us. If I’m going down, he’s coming right after me.
He makes me feel unbelievably short. He has to look down at me when he’s speaking, and I have to force my neck up when I speak. It’s not that difficult in a car, but on a silent sidewalk it’s impossible. It isn’t like that with Nate – he’s much shorter than this person, and I’m generally in his lap anyways. It doesn’t matter how short I am – all that matters is how much I can improve his image.
The thought of Nate makes my stomach churn. He’s going to be very angry. Not only had I left his party, but I left his party withanother guy. The truth doesn’t matter. All that matters is Nate’s image – and I am ruining it single-handed. I look over – well, I had some help.
What am I supposed to call him, anyway? I can’t keep referring to him as ‘my giant hero.’ I don’t even know his name. Yet, strangely enough, I feel much safer on the street with a complete stranger than I do with my own boyfriend.
My cell phone begins to shriek, ending the silence that we were working so hard on.
“Where the fuck are you?” Speak of the devil. I don’t even get a chance to finish my greeting before his voice is blasting into the phone. I’m surprised that he’s waited this long to call. Generally he’s on top of these things faster than he is on me. He stops for a brief moment to speak to someone – he’s still at his party. My eyes narrow. Of course he’s busy protecting his image. Why should he care that I have gone off with a stranger? I could’ve been raped, or murdered, but that would have been all the better for him. Improve his image, all for the cost of my life.
Sometimes I mistake his concern for his image for concern for me, and sometimes I’m so out of it I actually think we’re in love. “Nate?” I ask. Stupid. Of course it’s Nate. Giant Hero turns to me, surprised to hear his name out of my mouth. At least, he looks surprised. I’m trying to concentrate on the noise, on the phone. People and music. I hear another voice speak to him, which he responds to cheerfully, and then the party music in the background just goes dead. Oh great. Now he’s alone.
“No, it’s the tooth fairy. Who were you expecting? Mommy?” It stings a little bit to hear him talk about her. I bite the insides of my cheeks. How long has it been since I’ve last seen my mom? Two months? Six months? Eight? Nine? Ten? I’ve lost count. How long has it been since life before Nate – yes, I did have one before him. It’s just covered up now, underneath all my lies.
“Ella?” I turn to Giant Hero again. I need to ask him his damn name. He kicks the sidewalk with his shoes. I have to get off the phone. Nate’s speaking, and I’m just tuning him out.
“Look Nate, I have to—” But before I can finish, he cuts me off once more.
“Remember, Ella. We have a deal.” His voice is threatening. I take a deep breath, and then do something crazy. I hang up on him. Snap. Shut. Over and done. I turn off my phone, and slowly make my way over to the Giant. I take a deep breath, and marvel about what I’d just done.
“Is everything okay?” I turn to Giant Hero. Concern fills his features, and I wonder about the kind of person that he is. He’s someone who wears his heart on his sleeve and would do anything to help people – a knight in shining armor. I nod, and slowly we start to move forward.
When I asked for anywhere, I didn’t have this is mind. The first thing I notice about the yellow house is that it’s surrounded by a broken chain-link fence. He carefully walks past it, onto the dying grass of the front yard. The house is faded and old – the front window is gone, and the door just hangs open. He doesn’t look back or wait. He just walks, expecting me to follow. I could have turned back. I could have walked away. But, instead, I followed him.
When I enter the yellow house, I’m more than surprised. The house is cluttered with random items – books, papers, clothes, what look like finger paintings. There are things everywhere. But this doesn’t seem to faze the hero at all – he walks through the yellow house with ease. I scurry after him, afraid to get lost in the sea of clutter. Two little girls run past us, laughing. Blonde curls dance behind them, followed soon by a cry of dismay.
“Gib it back!” cries a little boy, running after the pair. My hero picks the little boy up with ease, and he sniffles. His black hair sags in his face, covering his eyes. His thumb is in his mouth as he looks up at my hero with a sad face. It morphs into a demented smile, his face becoming all wrinkled as he begins to cry.
“Give Ollie back his teddy,” he tells one of the two little girls as he pats the head of the little boy. They race back to his side. I feel better in their presence – I’m taller than someone, finally. They’re twins, with blonde curls falling to their shoulders. Sparkling green eyes look up at him, both in exasperation.
“But Jared—” the girl on the right starts complain, but Jared won’t hear it. I hold back a smile. It feels nice, hearing his name. ‘My giant hero’ gets a little cliché after a while. But Jared – that fits him well.
“Now,” he tells them with authority. She sighs, handing it up to him, and her sister rolls her eyes.
“Cry baby,” she mumbles, loud enough for Ollie to start sniveling again. Jared shoots her a look, and she just shrugs.
“Watch it,” he warns her.
“It’s the truth,” she answers honestly, locking arms with her sister, who watches Jared carefully. I was invisible to the both of them, they’re more concerned with their brother. He sighs. Hero he may be, but he’s no match for two adorable little girls. After all, he’s only human.
He turns around, looking at me, and I can’t help but notice that he and Ollie look nothing alike. “Make yourself at home.”
And with these strange, foreign words, my whole world changes.
This is where all my writing stuff related to Six Feet under the stars will go. Oh, but Brittni what is six feet under the stars? AWESOME QUESTION. Six feet under the stars is a novel I started when I was a senior in High School - three years later it hasn’t grown very much (life does that,) but it gets worked on from time to time. It was something I really wanted to get published, but I think realistically that won’t happen at this point. So I’m going to open a blog for it, and post all my things here. All products of six feet under the stars: (ie: concepts, characters, plotholes :p) belong to me. And I would really appreciate if you wouldn’t use them without my permission, because they’re mine. This is my baby.
Because it is a work in progress novel, I think it’ll be interesting to post all the in progress work I do too. I’ll only post a certain amount of chapter (once a week, maybe a few times a month - depending on how college and stuff works for me.) but this doesn’t include: character shorts, descriptions, quotes, or etc which will be posted periodically as I do them. (Or as I feel like posting them.) I hope this is something - you the reader - will really enjoy. I’m open to feedback forever, so please please please criticize me.
Thank you, and enjoy!
Chapter one: part I.
author’s note: this is pre-content editing. So for that I apologize, it has been edited once so far. Thanks to Carol for that. Mmmm… so yeah. Enjoy. All characters, plot concepts, belong to me. Thanks.
[ [ chapter I ] ]
“Put on a show,” he tells me. “Take your clothes off and give me some pleasure tonight.” He teases, and they flash their silver smiles snickering. If only they knew. I know that sometime tonight he’s going to pull me aside, as a completely different boy, and that’s going to be the case. He’s prince charming on the outside, but underneath it all – he’s a monster. I smile politely side stepping them, and I’m on my way out.
“Boo,” call his friends, and out of the corner of my eye they’re pushing him playfully towards me. He stumbles, laughing, and they go back to their booze and fun. I’m done, and I continue to make my escape.
I attempt to make it past the people in the crowd, but it’s impossible, and soon I find myself trapped between him and them. He grabs my hand, yanking me back to him, and I wince. Too hard, too soon. I force myself to smile for a few onlookers as they pass, if only to reassure them that everything is okay. They smile back and move on. To them everything is fine, but as I yank back my arm, it’s clear to me it’s miles away from okay. For a moment he’s surprised, but it flickers away and he wraps his hand around my wrist, tightening his hold on me. I try to push him away, but he’s a rock and doesn’t budge. I meet his gaze, his dark green eyes filled with malice and delight, and I realize that instead of making my escape I only seem to be provoking the beast inside.
He pulls me closer to him, I flinch at the sudden contact. But I’m not surprised, I was supposed to do what I’m told – it’s what he paid me to do. And had it been any other night, maybe…just maybe, I would have went along with it. I’d tease him with alluring words, and overused phrases; the ones he used to feed into my mouth, he would get his half hour of fame then we would return to our flamboyant game. That’s the way it would end until the next morning, when the sun would rise and I would have to start all over again. I’m just Nate’s girl, Nate’s fucktoy, and any other night that would have been fine. But tonight wasn’t any other night, and I wasn’t dealing with it. I wanted out, and I didn’t care. I’m there for one reason and one reason only – to add to Nate’s image. But it’s not worth what he pays, and so I’ve decided that I’m done. Behind Nate’s image, it isn’t a pretty sight. Behind his image he’s like something out of a horror movie, what a fairytale morphs into when his door shuts every night.
Before I can open my mouth to shove it in his face, to reveal to the world the monster underneath the prince charming – someone yanks me away from it. In one fell swoop my whole body is flung into another. Everything aches, hardly satisfied with another form of abuse. I fall into the person’s chest and I can’t help but look up at him. I was first struck by two things, for one – he was huge. The next was that he was saving me, a stranger was saving me. Nate is in shock, and so am I; we’re both staring at this outsider, and I couldn’t help but feel for him. He had no idea what he was getting into. He looks down at me with concerned blue eyes and opens his mouth to say something, but Nate stops him in his tracks.
“What the hell are you doing?” he hisses, and I can’t tell if he’s asking me or my savior; the outsider. He interrupted our game, his business and nobody does that –
this poor guy, I wish someone would inform him that I’m Nate’s whore and nothing more. But nobody does, they’re too busy dancing to music that never stopped, even though my whole world has come to halting stop. “Back off,” he hisses through his teeth, his jaw clenched and his eyes flaring. But this man, my hero, isn’t bothered – he turns on his heels, pushing me through the crowd.
“Don’t look back,” he tells me, but, despite this, I do. Nate isn’t happy – not happy at all. One hand goes through his brown locks, and another reaches for his beer bottle so that he can take a swig. He isn’t going to make a scene—not yet, at least.
“You’ll regret that.” I say softly glancing over my shoulder, looking into Nate’s dark green eyes that seemed to spell out my demise. He stops, causing me to run into him, taking my attention away from the one person who I should be worried about.
“You can always go back.” A life of Nate, his stupid parties, and his stupid image. The other option was to go with this stranger, where my fate has yet to be seen. He smiles, and his entire face lights up. “That’s what I thought.”