|Running With Wolves
Author: Darknessinthevalley PM
Avery Parker had never been anything special. At least, that's what she'd always believed. It'd be easy to think that if you'd been bullied the way she was. All that changes though, the day that Avery violently discovers her family legacy, a secret she has no choice but to embrace. A secret with the power to make her stronger, or destroy everything and everyone she loves.Rated: Fiction T - English - Supernatural/Drama - Chapters: 3 - Words: 8,930 - Reviews: 4 - Favs: 2 - Follows: 2 - Updated: 01-24-13 - Published: 01-04-13 - id: 3089337
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
The day started out like any other. I got up, got dressed, threw my hair up into a pony tail and tried to spend as little time as possible in front of the mirror. It never helped to study myself, I never found what I was looking for, whatever that was. I ate breakfast alone at the kitchen bench while finishing off some homework I hadn't gotten done the night before. When I was done I put my bowl in the sink, grabbed my bag and walked out the door, not bothering to wait for my step-sister to finish applying her make-up. Caity never liked to walk with me anyway. I walked the five minutes to the bus stop as slowly as possible, as usual, and waited for the school bus on my own, tuning out the chatter of the students around me. When the bus came, I climbed on and took my usual seat in the middle, not too close to the younger kids in the front and not too close to the popular kids in the back. As was my habit, I curled up in my seat, hoping against hope that no one would notice me sitting there. But, as usual my hope was wasted as some of the popular girls boarded the bus at the next stop and parked themselves down next to me.
"Hey Ivy," Marnie Stevens, the ringleader said, using my nickname, the one I hated. "So we missed you at my pool party on Saturday, didn't we girls?" Her followers all murmured in fake agreement."That's okay though, we understand that all that sun and food would have been hard for an anorexic vampire such as yourself to endure." She continued with a sincerity as flimsy and transparent as cling wrap.
I wondered, not for the first time, whether they noticed how immature their insults were, how childish they sounded. After all they were the same ones they'd been using since we started high school. I suppose not though, since they were all just as unimaginative as they were a little over four years ago. I guess that was why Marnie always used the collective pronoun 'we', speaking for the whole group as if they all shared a brain or something. As if they had a hive mind and she was just the mouthpiece.
The girls went through the rest of their usual routine of taunts and jibes, calling me anorexic some more, saying I needed to get a tan, etc. Making it out to sound like innocent advice, as if they really cared about my well being. When they finally decided they weren't getting a reaction out of me, they left to sit at the back of the bus with the rest of the popular kids. Though it was far from over. The kids in the back continued their taunts as they threw bits of paper at me. It was a game they played everyday, see who could hit me the most, extra points if they got it down my shirt or stuck in my hair. I knew I could walk the distance to school and avoid all this, but the walk was almost an hour and, to me, it seemed like giving in to them. So I curled tighter into a ball and stared out the window, there was nothing I could do, a reaction was what they wanted and no matter what they did, I would not give them that. It was a small victory.
From where she sat with her friends and the other year nine kids, I saw Caity turn briefly and look at me with sympathy. I hated her for it. If there was one thing I hated more than being taunted, it was being pitied. A bully can make a person feel small, worthless, but pity makes a person feel weak and, for me, that was so much worse.
. . . . . .
At school I dumped my bag in my locker, grabbed my books and hurried to home-room. The lockers were new and so far there were only enough for the year twelve group, but I was grateful for them. I'd had my bag stolen so many times throughout year eight that I'd made a habit of taking my bag with me to every class. Teachers didn't usually allow it, but they'd made an exception. As hard as the other kids tried to hide it, teachers could see how they treated me. That didn't mean that they did much about it other than looking at me with the same kind of sympathy that Caity did. I hated them for it too.
As the day dragged on, I began to feel progressively worse. There was a pounding in my head and an ache had set into my muscles and bones. I sat in the front row of all of my classes so it wasn't long before my teachers began to notice something was wrong. None of them said anything though, until fifth period when my English teacher, Miss Baker, noticed something was wrong and insisted I go to the nurse. I tried to convince her that I was fine but she was adamant, she even made one of the other girls in the class, Amy Briant, go with me to make sure I got there okay.
Amy was a short girl who was pigeon-toed, wore thick glasses and spoke with a stutter. Basically, she embodied every nerdy stereotype you've seen in every bad American high school movie. Despite this though, even she avoided me like the plague. I guess she and her friends figured as long as I was being picked on, and as long as they stayed away from me, they were safe. As much as I tried to hate her, I couldn't. I couldn't blame them for wanting to avoid being treated as I was. I'll admit it stung though, as she hurried a few steps in front of me so as not to seem like we were walking together. When we reached the nurse's office, she left me at the door without a word.
The nurse's office was a demountable classroom that had been placed conveniently, or perhaps strategically, next to the basketball courts and the football oval. It contained a bed, a few couches, a water cooler, a refrigerator and a desk with an office chair behind it and, in front of it, one of the uncomfortable blue plastic chairs that we were forced to sit on in classes. Sitting in the office chair typing on her laptop was the school nurse, Mrs. Branwell. Mrs. Branwell was a kindly lady who'd worked as the school nurse since my Dad had been a student there. She looked up from whatever she was doing on her computer when she heard me enter.
"Hello," she greeted me cheerfully. "What can I do for you love?"
"Umm, I'm feeling a little off, I think I just need to lie down for a while." I lied, I was feeling much more than a little off, but I didn't want her to call my dad or send me home.
"Alright then love. Would you like some water?" she asked kindly.
"Please." I replied, hoping the water would ease the nausea that had begun rooting itself into the walls of my stomach.
Mrs. Branwell filled one of the plastic cups from the water cooler and handed it to me with a smile that I tried hard to return. I took it with me to where the bed was in the corner of the room. I drained it and placed the empty cup on the small table that was beside the bed. The cool water soothed the nausea a little, but not much. I lowered myself carefully onto the bed. It was comfortable in a way that only old furniture can be, the hard springs and lumps having been worn down by hundreds of sick or injured bodies. One would think that that would be gross, but somehow it wasn't.
I'd slung my arm over my eyes to block out the light and had almost fallen asleep when I was pulled back from the brink by the sound of familiar voices. I removed my arm and sat up slowly. Across the room I could see who the voices had come from. Mrs. Branwell had taken an ice pack from the fridge and was handing it to one of the boys in my year. He took it eagerly and placed it gingerly against his eyebrow.
"Now the bed is taken so you'll have to lie down on one of the couches." Mrs. Branwell was saying. The boy turned around to see who it was that had taken the bed and when his eyes found me, mine found the floor. It was Blake Johnson, one of the boys on the football team.
"Oh hey Ivy, what's the matter? Catch a little too much sun?" he jeered, hissing and flashing his canines in an exaggerated count Dracula impersonation.
"Hey! There will be none of that in here!" I'd been expecting the insult, but I hadn't been expecting that. Mrs. Branwell's typically soft voice became hard as nails and there was a ferocity in her expression that actually made Blake flinch and murmur a shocked apology. Whether it was meant for me or for her though I wasn't sure. The bewilderment on Blake's face mirrored my own. Teachers often saw me being teased by the other students, but more often than not they just buried their heads in the sand, as if they had simply accepted that bullying couldn't be helped. Most of them were really just cowards though. So the bullies at my school weren't used to being castigated.
"Stay as long as you'd like love. If he bothers you he can leave." Mrs. Branwell said, nodding in Blake's direction without looking at him and I noticed that I was already halfway to the door. Blake's brow furrowed, but he made no argument. The ferocity was gone from her expression, replaced by the familiar kindness.
"Oh no that's okay, I feel fine now." I lied. I felt far from fine, but I usually endeavoured to spend as little time as possible in the same room as any of the footy boys and Mrs. Branwell forcing Blake out would only lead to an increase in gibes for me at some point in the near future, her chiding him would be bad enough.
I didn't wait for a reply from Mrs. Branwell before I marched quickly from the room. I could feel Blake's eyes on me as I left and I refused to look up from the ground.
When I got outside, I found that I'd slept through the rest of fifth period and kids were sitting around eating lunch outside. A group of Blake's mates had come with him to the nurse's office, but they were already making their way back to the oval, eager to get back to their game. One of them lingered however, but I didn't look to see who it was, I knew who it was. Chace Andrews. I quickened my steps and ducked my head in the hope that he hadn't seen me. But it was only a few seconds before I heard his footsteps jogging to catch up with me.
"Oi Ivy, are you okay?" Chace was the only person at school who used my nickname without any malice. Unexpected anger boiled in the base of my chest at the sincerity of his simple question. The kindness in his voice reminded me of how we'd been friends once, but it also reminded me of how he'd abandoned me when our classmates had decided that I was a freak, of how he pretended not to care about me in front of them and of how he only seemed to want to associate himself with me as long as no one was looking. Normally I would murmur a one-word answer and keep walking, but today, with the aching in my bones, the pounding in my head and the nausea clawing at my stomach, I couldn't handle it. I snapped.
"Why don't you just cut the shit, Chace and stop pretending you care about me!" It was louder than I'd meant it, almost a scream. I'd whipped around so that I was facing him and I just caught the way he stopped in his tracks, his shocked expression and the way his head snapped back a little bit, as if I'd slapped him, before turning on my heal and almost running in the opposite direction.
"Ivy wait!" he called.
"Fuck off Chace! Just stay away from me!" I spat back at him only turning for a second before breaking into a full sprint. I don't really know why I ran, I knew he wouldn't follow me. I felt heat behind my eyes and I lifted my fingers to my face. To my horror, they came away wet.
. . . . . .
By the time I'd reached the girls bathroom, lunch was almost over and, mercifully, there was no one in there. I went to the sink and tried to dry my eyes with a paper towel only to have more tears leak out and stain my face. I desperately wiped them away once more but they wouldn't stop. If someone saw me like this, well, that would be my small victory gone.
I couldn't stop thinking about Chace. That was the problem, he had always been the problem. Ever since we met in grade one.
It was my first day at Jarrahwood Primary School and I knew no one. My parents had just gone through a nasty divorce and as soon as Dad had won full custody of me, we'd moved back down to his hometown where he married his high school sweetheart, Julie Preston. Jules had already had three kids before her husband walked out, so when we all moved in together it was hard for me to adjust to having a big family when it had always been just Mum, Dad and me.
New kids were rare in small, country schools like mine and so when my year one teacher sat me down in the empty seat next to Chace, he was more than a little curious.
"What's your name?" he'd asked me, talking with a slight lisp due to both his front teeth being missing.
"Avery Parker." I answered, my voice barely above a whisper.
"What? Ivory Barker? That's a funny name." He said innocently, his loud voice making me nervous.
"Avery Parker!" I repeated, a little bit louder.
"Oh." he said laughing hysterically. His carefree laughter dragged a smile out of me. He then explained to me that Ivory Barker suited me better as my skin was white like ivory and I had a pencil case that was decorated with cartoon pictures from my favourite movie, 101 Dalmatians.
I asked him how he knew a big word like ivory, as we were six years old and he had to explain to me that it was the stuff that made up elephant tusks, he explained that it was white, like me. He told me , in a hushed voice, that his Mum often read to him and that he knew lots of big words like that. I had thought that this was odd as the only time my Mother ever paid me attention was when I broke something, or spilled something on the couch.
Chace had continued to chat to me throughout the rest of that day, calling me Ivory and laughing when I corrected him. Somehow Ivory, which was later shortened to Ivy, became my nickname, and somehow Chace became my friend.
Chace had always been a little bigger than the other boys our age, a little taller, faster and stronger. So it was no surprise to anyone when he became part of the local kids football team. As we got older he grew closer to his footy mates, including my step-brother Adam, who was a year older than us. I made other friends too, nut we'd always had something different, something that can only come from being friends as long as we had been.
It was on the last day of the summer holidays before we started year eight that everything changed. Chace, Adam and I had walked down to the river and had spent the day swimming, as most kids in Jarrahwood did during the summer. The world had begun to take on that amber hue that was unique to sunsets in the country, which meant that it was time to head home before the mozzies started biting and our parents started worrying. Adam had needed to pee before we left and so he'd disappeared behind a bush, leaving Chace and I alone.
"Oi Ivy look, you're so white you're actually glowing!" he teased, pointing at me as he crawled out of the river.
"Piss off!" I told him, but I laughed as well because it was kind of true. As I stood in the fading sunlight in just my bikini and board shorts the sun lit up my pale skin in a way that made it look like I really was glowing. When Chace teased me, it was always light-hearted.
"Oi!" he exclaimed as I playfully kicked dirt in his direction while he dried himself with his towel. He was still laughing when he closed the short distance between us. I was still taller than most of the boys in our year, but Chace had grown recently and my forehead was just level with his nose. I didn't even realise what he was doing as he leaned down so that our noses touched. He kissed me then, quickly closing the distance between our lips. It was only a light peck, I mean, we were only twelve, but it still left me speechless and almost sad when he pulled away. I'd wanted him to kiss me again. Things seemed to snap back to normal a second later though as he punched me playfully on the shoulder, giving me a dead arm. I caught it though, just before he could turn away, that little blush in his cheeks.
Cute isn't it? So how did it all go so wrong? Well, the next day was the day we started high school. I still don't know what it is about high school that turns kids mean, but that's exactly what it does. Chace and I had been put in different classes and during recess and lunch he was playing sports on the oval with his mates, so I didn't see much of him that day. I didn't notice it then, but looking back I can see the scornful looks the so-called 'pretty' girls were giving me, I realise that they were jealous because I spent so much time with Chace while, despite their best efforts, he took no interest in them. They hated me for it.
The two periods we had after lunch were mandatory sport lessons and we all had to do swimming lessons at the rec centre in town. When we'd got there and I'd taken off my uniform to reveal the same bikini and board shorts I'd worn the day before, I noticed Marnie and her followers snickering at me from behind their hands. I'd thought maybe it was because my bathers were grungy and s little smelly from the murky river water, but then, so were the bathers of half the other kids in our class so I ignored them and got in the water with everyone else. It wasn't until after the lesson was over and we were getting off the bus back at school that I heard what they were laughing about. All the kids who were already establishing themselves as the 'popular' kids were standing in a big group by the change rooms and laughing obnoxiously about something, Chace was with them.
"Oh look, It's Avery Parker." Marnie called as I passed them, she said my name with particular spite. "Or should I say Ivory Barker." I stopped in my tracks at the poisonous use of Chace's nickname for me. My eyes flicked to him for a minute and I saw his smile falter a little, then they went back to Marnie. She scoffed. "I can see why you called her that now Chace," she said glancing at him, her voice saccharine when she addressed him. His face was guilty as she did and he wouldn't meet my gaze. "Ugh, look how pale she is." Marnie continued, "It's like you can see right through her, like she's nothing." That one hurt, and it made me realise what she was doing. She was turning them against me, turning my name, a mark of the friendship between Chace and me, into something ugly.
"And look, she's so skinny," One of the other girls piped up. "You can like, count all of her ribs." They were laughing at me now.
"And she's got like, nothing here." Marnie agreed, giving her boobs a quick squeeze. That got all the boys attention and they were all wolf-whistling as the girls giggled at the attention. I folded my arms self-consciously, I'd always been tall and thin, and yes, while the other girls had grown breasts, I was still noticeably flat-chested, but it had never been much of an issue to me before that day.
My eyes found Chace again, I'd honestly expected him to say something in my defence by now. But he didn't. Instead he laughed with the rest of them and said, "C'mon Ivy, it's just a joke." He may as well have punched me in the gut. It most certainly was not a joke, and I knew that he was smart enough to know that.
Before my eyes could fill with tears I turned and ran. I grabbed my bag from outside my home-room class and then ran the short way home, not bothering to wait for the bus, not caring that it took me at least forty minutes because I couldn't bare to face them again. I knew that I would have to tomorrow though, and when I went to bed that night, I buried my face in my pillow and sobbed until I fell asleep. From that day on, Chace wasn't my friend anymore, he wasn't the kid who'd innocently called me the wrong name in grade one, he wasn't the boy who'd kissed me and then blushed and gave me a dead arm. He had become just another bully out to break me.
The rest, as they say, is history. I continued to be taunted everyday and withdrew deeper and deeper into myself and Chace continued to look the other way while he became more and more popular. He had always been a cute kid, with his tanned skin, big, baby-blues and dusty brown hair that always fell in just the right way, no matter what he'd been doing. In high school, that cute kid grew into a hot teenager. Girls decided they liked him and he decided he liked them. He started getting invited to all the parties, started flirting with all the girls and, later on, started sleeping around, just because he could.
So when his friends weren't looking and he pretended nothing ever happened, that we were still friends, that the past four years hadn't happened and the damage hadn't been done, it was a fresh betrayal. It was reopening the knife wound he'd made on my back all over again.
Somehow reliving that day again in front of the bathroom mirror made the tears stop. I was done mourning my friendship with Chace, I'd finished being hurt. I was angry, cold, hard as I ferociously wiped the remaining tears from my cheeks and stood up straight. I held on to that anger as I marched out of the door and off to my sixth period class. Sometimes I felt like that anger was all that held me together.
. . . . . .
The bus ride home was usually much more peaceful than the one to school. Kids were lethargic and their taunts were usually exhausted for the day. So as I curled up in my usual seat, it was a little easier to ignore the fact that my body still hurt all over. I must be coming down with the flu, I thought.
When the bus came to our stop I stumbled off and had to lean against a tree while the black stars cleared from my vision and I regained my senses after the blood had rushed from my head. I walked slowly and painfully home, following Caity as she walked with her friends, careful not to get too close. When we reached the house we were the only ones home, everyone else was at work. I headed straight for my bedroom.
"Hey I heard you saw the nurse at lunch today, are you okay?" Caity's voice trailed down the hallway after me.
"Uh huh." Was the only answer I gave before shutting my bedroom door behind me.
Caity was as bad as Chace, she too only cared when no one was looking. She made a point of not talking to me at school, saying that it was bad enough that people knew we lived together. So I made a point of talking to her as little as possible at home. Childish? Maybe, but what else was there to do, I couldn't make her want to associate with me at school, but I couldn't pretend it was okay that she didn't either.
As soon as the door was closed I drooped my bag and flopped face down onto my bed. Within minutes I was asleep again.