Chapter One: Enter Untitled

No one noticed.

No one. Not my mother, who probably wouldn't have done so anyways if an Autumn had fallen through the roof (judging by the fact that she doesn't recognize her son, either), nor the old cantankerous woman who lives in our dark, thirty by thirty basement (we call her Grandma). What about my father? No, he was busy busting a couple hundred bucks on the latest cars in Henry Jo's Used Car Depot.

And my brother and sister? They were too busy with their social problems to worry about their fourteen-year old brother. I was alone. Maybe thinking she could save me, she just broke in and captured me like a convict with only dignity to lose; and no one knows why. I don't even think Autumn knows.

I was gone. And no one noticed.

It began, I suppose, when I was sitting on the front porch steps, waiting for the school bus to come and bring me to my last day in hell. Or at least my last day until winter break was over. How I dreamed of this day! No more assignments, no more worries, just my back to the front door and my face to the snow-capped mountains.

I wish, I thought bitterly. The image of mountains disappeared to be replaced with someone's garage bags. Lousy neighbors. Can't pick up after themselves.

Then, I stood up; the headline, "Teenage-boy sized ice cube discovered" had flashed through my mind. Feeling like my toes were about to fall off, I adjusted my scarf and paced the sidewalk, when –

I stopped, the hairs on the back of my neck prickling, and, using that sixth sense everyone seems to have, turned. A girl was standing right behind me. I tripped over her foot in surprise.

"Ah - Oof!"

I hit the floor with a resounding plomp noise. Sputtering, tasting what I hoped was not yellow snow, I got to my feet. My jacket was covered in ice, which I brushed off, and I stood there, face slightly pink. The girl, who I noticed was about my age, remained where she was, face impassive, looking up at me with an odd expression. I muttered indistinctly to cover up the silence.

"Sorry, mistake, didn't see your foot there - "

She said nothing.

"Um, I didn't hurt you, did I?"

More silence and blank looks. My voice faded and I twiddled my thumbs, not knowing what to do next. I wasn't good at this girl stuff; it was my brother who had those powers to know what every single girl wanted. I mean, how does he do that? Some of them like to be pampered, some talk, and talk, and talk forever, and ever, and never stop, and the rest, well. They shut up, say nothing, and make you feel highly discomforted. Like this girl. Figuring this would be a nice gesture, I stuck out my hand jovially.

"Hi, my name's Sky. Sky Castor. What's yours?"

She held out her hand and I grasped it. We shook hands.

"Autumn," she said curtly.

"Autumn ... ?"

Autumn gave me a hard look that made me withdraw my hand slowly, wondering if she had a gun or something hidden in her jacket that she'd pull out in any second and use to shoot me if I said something wrong. Instead, she (I flinched) blinked and said, "Just plain Autumn."

"Just plain Autumn," I repeated. I tried another act of friendliness and made a rather lame attempt at a joke. "Autumn. Well, hi, Autumn No-Last-Name."

I smiled. She didn't smile back.

I felt like an idiot.