Author: louisedorr PM
Ness is an outcast, tormented daily by Autumn until she meets Ethan then the world she knew collapes around her as the fate of humanity rests on her fraile shoulders. Will she be strong enough to do what needs to be done and how does Ethan play into this all.Rated: Fiction T - English - Fantasy - Chapters: 18 - Words: 58,535 - Reviews: 20 - Favs: 9 - Follows: 8 - Updated: 02-14-13 - Published: 07-04-12 - id: 3038686
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
I am running as fast as I can through a forest so thick and dense that there's no apparent path. Branches smack me as I run past them; it seems like they are reaching out for me, trying to slow me or even stop me from my escape. My clothing keeps getting snagged on them as I race by and I know there are tears from where I've wrenched myself free. My arms, legs and face are covered in scratches from the braches passing over my unprotected skin. I can't stop though; I can sense my pursuer behind me.
I run as fast as my legs will carry me, not thinking where I'm going just thinking that I have to get away. My mind's fuzzy, I can't seem to remember how this started but I know deep down in the pit of my being that whatever is chasing me is hell bent on destroying me. That thought sends a new round of adrenaline through my body and I run faster.
I try to look over my shoulder to catch a glimpse of my chaser but it's too dark. The trees are too dense that not even a sliver of moonlight shows through. I turn my head forward just in time to see a root; unable to stop myself my foot catches it and I fly into the brush. My leg pops as I land and I feel pain burst in my leg. I will not be running any farther; whatever is coming for me will find me hobbled, helpless, and unable to flee.
The hysteria that I've been trying to keep under control springs forth and I start hyperventilating. This is where I am going to die, my pursuer will find me and that'll be the end. I hope it ends swiftly and that the pain will be minimal.
I strain my ears to hear anything that will give away the position of whatever is following me but all I can hear is my own breathing and heartbeat; everything else is dead calm.
I know it was close though, I can feel—sense the evil that exudes from it. Whatever it is it's not human. Fear compels me to keep moving even though pain is shooting through my leg; tugging at my consciousness. I slowly pull myself along the ground; grasping and pulling anything that might get me an inch farther than I am.
It's pointless though, eventually it will find me. My only hope lay in hiding myself. I see dense bushes to my right and pull myself to them ignoring the pain now; survival is the only thing I am thinking of. I keep crawling, extending one hand and pulling myself closer and then extending the other hand. After what feels like hours, though is on minutes, I am able to settle myself under the bushes, my back propped against a tree. I'm fairly sure nothing can see me but it seems my body is determined to give me away.
My heart is beating like a drum thudding in my chest and my breathing is short gasps from the pain and the exertion of pulling myself. I try to regulate my breathing by taking slow deep breaths; this seems to at least help but my heart keeps pounding along. I sit there grinding my teeth against the pain for what felt like forever. Maybe I've lost it; maybe I was so fast that it gave up. My heart starts to settle down a little at this lie I am telling myself because I know it's still out there. It's searching for me, quietly; slowly…then I can feel it.
The minutes tick by slowly and just when I think I'll go insane from waiting I see it. At first my eyes almost miss it but I catch a glimpse of its movement as it pass in front of a tree. I want to scream, to call out for help but I know all I'll do is succeed in giving away my position that much quicker.
I watch it move among the trees, it's stalking me like a cat stalks its prey. I groan inwardly, it's following my scent. A scream dies in my chest before I released it; there is no escape, he would eventually find me no matter where I was hiding.
It starts towards where I am hiding, moving a little faster now as if it can sense that I was just a few yards away. I close my eyes so that I can't see the end come.
I gasp gulping in air as I sit up and the scream that resounds from me is cut off. There is a woman crouched protectively next to my bed, her back is turned from me. Her hair's white and hangs down her back. From the little I can see she's tiny—tinier than I am. Her head whips around as I start to scream again and her eyes lock with mine. The scream dies moments after it starts. Her eyes are like mine—exactly like mine.
I sit there stunned—staring at this being that is standing protectively by my bed. I know I should be afraid but there is something about this girl, something I cannot grasp but I feel safe with her. I close my eyes to gather my thoughts; a flash of light like lightening startles me and I open my eyes, she is gone and Mesi is sitting on my chest. I sigh and run my fingers through my hair, it was a dream and a not so pleasant one at that but that woman had seemed so real. It takes me a moment to realize I am still panting. I try to slow my breathing by taking a few deep breaths; trying to regain my where about. I am confused as to why I'm still in my clothes from earlier today; then I spot my English book lying next to me. I must have fallen asleep reading. I look at my clock and it shows four thirty eight. I stretch, thinking to myself that I'm too wound up to go back to sleep and seeing that I never got my shower before bed I might as well get up and do that, maybe it will help calm me. I still cannot get over how real that dream seemed.
Grabbing my towel I quietly open my door; trying not to wake my mom but as I step out we almost run into each other. I gasp loudly; my heart feels like it's in my throat and I have to swallow to push it back down.
"MOM, why are you up?" My voice is loud and shaky, filled with anxiety.
"Me? What about you? I can't remember the last time you were up before the sun." She looks just as shaken as I feel.
"I fell asleep reading last night and never got my shower, I figured I would get up early so that I wouldn't be late for school." I lie again for the second time in less than twenty four hours to my mom. I hate myself.
"Mm-hmmm" she responds, obviously not buying my story.
I sigh, how she knows when I am leaving something out I have no clue, "and I had a bad dream and couldn't get back to sleep." It sounds so childish and want to turn around and crawl back to my room.
She gives me a tiny smile and pats my cheek. "It's okay love. You need to talk?" She knows and understands because this is not a new occurrence. I've had night terrors from as long as I can remember. When I was little she would run into my room to hold me while they passed; usually fight with Mesi to see who could be closer to me. As I've gotten older she's stopped coming in when I scream. I guess she figures Mesi can comfort me.
I smiled at her, "I am okay mom."
"That's what I am here for Ness." She pauses as she reaches up and pats my cheek. "As for me being up early, I am headed in to the diner to work another double. Someone called out last night and they offered it to me. I was going to leave you a note but seeing that you are up I guess I don't have to." She sounds worn out and my heart is full with love for her, tears blind my vision. I have to blink to make them go away.
"I should be home just after school gets out today so don't worry about dinner I will take care of it." She leans in and kisses my cheek.
"K mom, have a good day." I smile as she walks down the stairs.
I turn and head to the bathroom; turning the shower on I give the hot water a chance to heat up. I examine myself in the mirror. I look like crap; my hair is tangled and matted from tossing and turning. My eyes are blood shot and I have purple circles under them from not sleeping well. My eyes are bright through, even for the amount of sleep I got. I focus on the pattern in them. It looks like a multipoint star drawn in a dazzling violet color. The points of the star extend out to the end of my iris with the pupil being the center of it. I can see how it could easily be missed if you were focused on my eye color like Dawn suggested.
I pull myself away from the mirror and jump in the shower. It feels so good, as if I am washing away all traces of the dream. After I wash I stand there just letting the water run over me; the heat relaxing my muscles, reminding me how tired I truly am. As the water turns from hot to warm and then from warm to cool reluctantly I turn the shower off and grab my towel. I step out of the tub and Mesi is there, sitting on the bath mat staring at me. I can't help laugh at her expression, almost like she had no clue as to why I would willing get wet. I step around her and head back to my room.
Mesi is right on my heels, following me into my room and jumping up on my bed to curl up and watch me. She's a beautiful cat with long white fur and bright yellow green eyes. We got her the same week I was born and even though she is at least sixteen years old she is still going strong. My mom said that she used to climb into the crib with me and no matter how many times my mom would shoo her out as soon as her back was turned she was right back in it. After a while my mom gave up and Mesi was the babysitter my mom never had. If I cried she was there comforting me, if I tried to climb out she meowed so loud my mom would come and see what the fuss was; it was almost as if she was sent just to watch over me.
I run my fingers through her fur and can feel her purring; she's happy…content. After a moment I turn to my closet grabbing something to wear; my wardrobe consists of t-shirts, jeans and hoodies. I am not one to care about what is in style or to fuss over how I look. Partly because I like looking so ordinary that people don't notice me and the other is that I think it is superficial to dress yourself up in an outfit that isn't comfortable just to have people like you; I can think of way better things to do with my time.
Glancing at the clock I still have almost two hours before I have to be at school. Stupid dream, I think to myself; I could still be sleeping. I eye my Emma book lying open on my bed and grab it. I didn't get far last night and though I've already read the book I want to re-read it in case I have forgotten something. I scoop up the rest of my books and my bag; I head down stairs to the living room and plop on the couch opening my book to page two. I start reading from the beginning and soon get caught up in my own little Jane Austin world.
Mesi jumps up in my lap and nudges my book aside. Slightly irritated at being disturbed I got to put her down as I peek at the clock; I have fifteen minutes until school starts. Letting out a curse under my breath I snatch my bag and book and run out the back door, slamming it behind me. I hop on my bike and peddle as fast as I can.
I make it to school with just a few minutes to spare and race to my English class; I am in such a hurry that the thought of Dawn waiting for me doesn't cross my mind until I run into the classroom and see her sitting there smiling.
All my emotions from yesterday flood my mind and I want to turn and bolt from the room but it's pointless, I'll eventually have to face her. I walk slowly to my seat and sit down without looking at her. She leans towards me.
"I was beginning to think you were not coming today." She says with sincerity in her voice.
"Just running late." I mutter back at her.
She giggles, "Been there before. So hey, we need to pick a time to hang out and do some of this work." There is a trace of insecurity in her voice.
I grumbled to myself, today is just not going to be a good day. This girl was not going give up. Fine, I think; I will meet with her once outside of school just to shut her up! Sighing, I turn to her and try to smile, "sure, are you free this afternoon?"
Dawn squeals with delight, "YES! Do you want to come over my house or meet at yours?"
I groan to myself but before I can answer she continues on, "my dad will be at work, my mom will be out and my brother will be at football practice so my house will be quiet if you want to meet there."
Perfect I think, my mom will not be hovering and Ethan will not be around to remind me about tackling him. "Your place sounds great."
She pulls out a piece of paper and writes her address on it. "How about we meet at three thirty, does that work for you?"
"That's fine." I grumble. I take the paper from her and stuff it in my book bag.
Before she can respond Mrs. Walton starts talking about Jane Austin and the book. I block her out as she drones on. My mind wanders and I find myself thinking of this afternoon; I've never had a friend, even as a child I kept to myself; preferring to play alone than to let others into my fantasies. I have managed to make it eleven years in school without having to work with a single person and now I not only have to work with Dawn but meet with her outside of school. The thought makes me nauseous and for a moment I think I might have to run to the bathroom but my nerves eventually settle. Class ends without me hearing a word Mrs. Walton said. I am still wallowing in my own thoughts when a bright voice brings me back to the present.
"See you after school Vanessa."
I shake my head slightly clearing away the thoughts milling around inside my head.
My day continues on to Algebra and then to Physics but no matter how hard I try to pay attention my mind keeps playing different scenarios about what the coming afternoon would entail.
In some of my thoughts we make it through the afternoon with no one interrupting us and me returning home; my mom none the wiser.
Other thoughts include my mom gushing over the fact I was hanging out with someone and making me promise to bring Dawn over for her to meet.
The last thought is the worst of all; Ethan is there and as soon as he sees me he starts laughing at proceeding to tell Dawn about our run in. This one terrifies me for so many reasons; some I was familiar with like embarrassment, having the focus on me but there is another one—a new one that I don't know how to respond to. The idea of Ethan laughing at me hurts and saddens me; I don't want him to laugh, I want him to smile at me—talk to me…I swallow hard.
The bell rings and I snap out of my day dream blushing then anxiety fills me; I am not ready to face Ethan yet. The humiliation from yesterday is still fresh in my mind along with these feeling of wanting him to notice me – talk to me. I rush through the halls being very careful not to repeat my experience from yesterday. As nervous as I am to face him there is a growing part of me that moves with anticipation of seeing him again almost as if some unseen force is tugging at my inner most being and pulling me to him. I am waging a war against myself as I walk to class, the part of me that wants to avoid him and the part that wants his attention. I am clueless as to which part of me is going to win this exhilarates and terrifies me.
I am among the first in the room and quickly slip into my seat, my eyes focus on the door, waiting for him to walk in and hoping that when he does that he will be looking for me.
My heart leas into my throat as he strolls through the door with that half smile, he had shown me yesterday, on his face. I sit waiting for him to glance at me, to acknowledge me but as the seconds pass my heart sinks; he never glances in my direction. He walks straight to the same group he had sat with yesterday; the very same group has Autumn Conley at its.
I am still watching him, hoping that he'll somehow tear his eyes of the beautiful face he's talking to so that he might just glance at me but I know that my hopes are in vain. There is none who can compete with Autumn.
She's beautiful—more than beautiful. She's tall for a woman; standing five feet ten inches at least. Her hair is a vivid red that cascades down her back in perfect curls. Her eyes are a deep, rich brown that seems to hold a depth to them. Her complexion is pristine, never a blemish and her cream complexion adds to her beauty. She excels at everything she does; captain of the cheer squad, class president, and top of the junior class…nothing is too difficult for her. Every guy wants her and every girl wants to be her—well every girl but one at least until this very second.
I am still starting at Ethan when Autumn turns around to talk to the girls sitting behind her she noticed me. A smile forms on her lips and she nudges Ethan.
"Hey E, the freak is staring at you."
You can hear the humor in her voice; she is going to have fun with this. I quickly lower my eyes but it is too late.
"I think maybe she might have a crush on you with the way she was willing you to look at her."
My face flushes a burning crimson and I wish that some random earth quake would cause the floor directly under me to open up and swallow me.
Ethan turns to look at Autumn, "Oh you mean Vanessa. Her and I had a run in yesterday, maybe she was thinking of tackling me again." There is no sarcasm in his voice but almost humor as if him and I were sharing an inside joke no one else got.
The guys surrounding him burst out laughing. They don't perceive it as a joke but as Ethan joining in to harass me.
"Maybe she is looking to join the football team." One jokes while laughing.
"Nah, she was just throwing herself at our star quarter back, guess you had better get used to it E." Another chides him.
I'm sure I am going to die from humiliation and then Autumn speaks loud and clear and I know it's directed at me.
"Well the freakazoid had better learn to watch where she is going because if she even thinks of touching my man again she will regret the day her momma had her."
The group bursts out in a roaring laugh and Autumn fixes her I'm going to kill you look on me.
"Guys stop, she wasn't paying attention" Ethan is trying to explain but it is lost in the howls of laughter.
There's no competing with Autumn and she made herself abundantly clear; I am to stay away…far away from Ethan. I can feel tears building up in me and it takes all my power to push them back.
By the time the bell rings I am fully in control of my emotions. I take my time gathering my stuff up and make sure I am the last one to leave the room. The hallway's empty as I slowly walk toward the back door. I think as I ride home that I am glad that Ethan has football practice today because the last thing I want is to chance running into him later.
I am pleased that my mom is home early today because that means I can use the car. I call to my mom as I walk in the door.
"Hey mom I'm home but I am going to the library for a bit, I need to do some research for English." I can't believe that I am lying to her again, I have to stop but there is no way I am telling her about my pending study time with Dawn.
She walks into the kitchen from the living room, "I don't think I have ever seen you willing leave the house for anything, must be an important assignment."
I nod, "yeah, a huge part of our grade and I can't get all the information off the internet."
"Know how long you'll be?"
I shake my head, "I have no clue but I'll call if I'm gonna be later than dinner."
"Okay, drive safe honey." She smiles at me and it feels like a knife is cutting my heart out; I really do hate lying to her.
"I will mom." I say quietly.
I grab the keys off the table by the front door and head out and down the front steps to the car in the driveway. A huge sigh of relief and disappointment escape me. I do not want to do this but I can't think of any way to get out of it.