Not Quite Normal

            She could vaguely feel wind—moving along the covers and toying with her hair—before she woke up. There had been the strangest dream…something icy cold touching against her mouth and eyelids and neck. And a voice that whispered her name in low and harsh tones. Dimly familiar, but she had forgotten it the moment she opened her eyes.

            As she brought up her fists to rub at her eyes, she found herself trying to remember…something. Something about unnatural silver eyes and a pendant. But the more she tried to think about it, it seemed, the more it eluded her until she could hardly recall the dream at all. Lowering her hand lazily, her fingers caught on the necklace—

            And she froze—something eerily familiar jolted along her nerve-endings when she touched it. Coursing through her blood in a way she somehow could remember… She laughed, voice still thick with sleep, over her paranoia. Of course. She must still be wearing the old antique necklace her mom had gotten her for her birthday last week.

            Must've forgotten to take it off last night.

            Yet, still. She could clearly remember unclasping it after a hard day at school and—

            I'm going delusional.

            Shaking her head sharply, she pulled herself out of bed. The wind attacked her body and, shivering, she went to close the window. She must have forgotten to close that last night too. Bending up and about, stretching her back, she then fumbled over to the closet—cursing loudly when her toe jammed against one of the numerous books that scattered on the floor. Picking it up, she took one look at the title, "Hamlet", before chucking it backwards onto her bed. She'd been reading that last night and forgotten to put it back. Ah well, she could do that after school.

            School.

            That particular thought was accompanied with a shudder and a sigh. There was no escaping it. It was as inevitable as continuing to breathe. She would have to go to school today, and she'd hate it. Coming up to the closet door, she took a moment to simply lean her head against the wooden sliding doors and watch her toes against the off-white carpet. Plain, with the remnants of some silvery nail polish chipping off in layers. Why bother? Did anyone care, really?

            There was something wrong with her. Something that made sure that she didn't quite fit in. Ever since she was young—the day she'd been in the park and he'd shown her magic. He'd never quite disappeared after that, and she had never quite been as normal. In the back of her mind, she knew it was because she saw him. Saw him when no-one else did. And he never really did anything. Just watched her.  It unnerved her, scared her, to the point where she thought she might be going mad. But she hadn't started talking to herself yet. And that had to be a sign she hadn't gotten that far. Right?

            She could remember the first time she had seen him and told somebody. The third grade and the second time she'd seen him in her life.

            Playing with one of the jump-ropes, Sally Midgens was taking her turn to jump while Cara and another girl named Eloise with the round glasses held the rope. Cara had always admired Sally with the childish admiration that one shows those that can do something they can't or have something they want. For Sally, it was her pretty hair and her boldness. Cara had always wanted hair as fine and blonde as hers. Cara's hair was a vivid red so bright that it seemed that it would hurt the eyes. Whereas Sally's was baby fine and the kind that mothers and teachers alike cooed and fawned over. It didn't take long for her to become excessively proud of her hair and she took great care with it. Often, when she was at home so no-one could see, Cara sometimes put pictures of blonde hair over her own hair in photographs just to admire the effect. If only…

            Cara had also always been the proverbial mouse. Cara Wimbleton. The last name teachers ever called and the one they always forgot.

            But of course, everyone always remembered Sally's name. When she was young, Cara had desperately wished to be outspoken like Sally. To be noticed and remembered. Then again, Sally fit in and Cara didn't.

            It was while holding the rope and singing along that something caught the corner of Cara's eye.

            "Cinderella dressed in yella went upstairs to meet her fella…"

            There. She could see him standing there—right under the great sprawling oak that stood in a corner of the playground. Just beyond the blacktop and in the expansive patch of grass.

            "Made a mistake and kissed a snake, how many doctors—"

            Something clicked in Cara's head and she knew who he was. The man from the park. She let go of the jump rope and heard Sally yell in protest.

            "Cara! What d'you think you're doing! I had eleven and—"

            "I—I'm sorry, I—"

            "Now I'm going to have to start all over again! Pick up the rope!"

            Timidly, "But I saw this man watching us and—"

            "What are you talking about?" Sally's voice was an impatient snap. Eloise simply stood there and looked uncertain, absently picking at the corners of her floral dress.

            Couldn't they see?

            "Over there!" I pointed in the direction of the oak tree. He still hadn't moved and appeared completely unaffected by my rude point.

            "What are you talking about—there's no-one there!" Despite his obvious presence, Sally seemed to be looking everywhere but him. Curiously, Eloise inclined her head and gave the tree a puzzled look.

            "But—but—" I was certain he was there! How could they not see him?

            "Jeez, Cara. You're weird." Sally's lips curled up and her arms crossed over a yellow dress.

            "Yea!" Eloise finally piped up. Fingers twitching in strands of her long brown hair and her eyes looking shifty.

            "My mom told me not to play with weirdos like you." Sally sneered, "You're not my friend anymore."

            And with that, both Sally left, Eloise following behind, taking the jump rope with them to walk to a bigger group of girls a short distance away playing the same thing. Cara took a quick glance back at the oak tree, but he was already gone. Dejectedly, she took the jump rope, and went to go and watch the other girls play jump rope. Maybe they would let her join…

            "Cinderella, dressed in yella went upstairs to meet her fella…"

            "Cara!" a carrying voice echoed up the stairs and penetrated into her room and her thoughts.

            Blinking, Cara pushed herself up off the closet and shouted back down to her mom, "Yea? What is it!?"

            "It's almost time for school! What are you doing still up there? You need to leave in ten minutes!"

            Closing her eyes momentarily, Cara breathed deeply before opening them again. Turning with an air of finality to the closet, she pulled open the doors and simply stared. A disarray of multi-colored shirts and pants and sweaters blurred her vision until she reached in and pulled out a safe black t-shirt and jeans. Both were long and excessively loose, but no-one noticed anyways, right?

            Peeling out of her red plaid pajama set, she attempted to drag on her jeans at the same time. Flinging the pajamas on the bed, she reassured herself with: I'll do that as soon as I get home…

            While pulling on her t-shirt, she walked over to the vanity against the wall. There was a moment she couldn't see anything due to the t-shirt, but when she finally got her head and limbs poked out in the right places, she reached inside the shirt to pull out the necklace while observing in the mirror. She should have known the second she had touched it. It didn't feel right.

            Funny. I don't remember the chain being this thin…

            It was when she actually pulled it completely out that she jumped and gasped. Pale and almost ghostly strands that seemed entirely unable to support a pendant of that size rested against her neck, barely felt against her skin. The equally pale pendant was augmented starkly by the black of her shirt and made her lean forward to the mirror in awe. Despite the sinister positioning of the entwined snakes and the angry color of the pendant, she had to admit that it was the most beautiful design-work she'd seen. But where in the world had it come from?

            Stunned, she reached a finger tentatively to touch it. Something pulled at her when she saw it—a vision of wings, unkempt and black as a crow's wing. Icy cold and—

            "Cara!"

            Snapped out of her near trance with a jerk, Cara found that she was breathing hard and her fingers were mere millimeters from touching the stone clutched in the snakes' gaping jaws.

            My god! What's happening to me?

            Distinctly frightened, she pulled her hands away and called back down the stairs, "Coming! Jeez, wait, would you?!"

            Almost frantic, she immediately began to search around the fragile chain—searching for the clasp.

            Only to find there was none.

            "Cara?" her mom's voice, curious, was coming closer—accompanied by her footsteps up the stairs.

            Quickly, Cara stuffed the pendant back down her shirt and pulled a hair band out of the box on the vanity when her mom popped her head into the door. She looked at Cara curiously and with an air of one trying to sniff out a secret.

            "What's going on here, Cara? You're going to be five minutes late even if we go now." Her mother's eyes narrowed in suspicion. Her daughter wasn't telling her something.

            "Um…yea, sorry mom." Please don't let her see the chain, don't let her see…

            "Well! Come on then!"

            Letting out the breath she had been holding, Cara followed after, pulling her hair into a messy ponytail and pulled her backpack up with her.

            "Honestly, Cara. You'd think that, with all the time you were up there, you could have at least tried to make yourself decent—"

            "I—had homework, okay?" Cara snapped. She could have cared less how she looked, but it irritated her immensely when her mom had to point it out.

            An audible sigh. "Whatever you say, Cara."

            The pendant was cold and strangely detached on her skin. She itched to pull it back out and figure it out, but her mom had already gotten into the car and Cara climbed into the passenger seat.

            During the ride to school, the cell phone rang and Cara's mom picked it up with a muttered curse. Cara, however, took this moment to let her mind wander.

Who had given me that necklace? She was sure it wasn't her mom, or else she would have mentioned it by now. Her dad, quite frankly, didn't have that kind of taste and was the sort that would have just given it to her. She didn't have any siblings or—

Quite suddenly, she remembered that the window had been open when she had woken up. Hadn't she closed it last night? But her window was on the second floor…and there weren't any trees or pipes…

"Cara, dear?" her mother pulled her out of her musings with a honeyed tone. Cara silently prepared herself for the request. Her mom never used "dear" unless she wanted something.

"Yes?"

"Would you mind terribly if I asked you to stay home tonight and baby-sit Timmy for me? Dorothy here is in a fix and can't be home to take care of him."

Timmy. Tiny Terror. Do I mind? The hell yeah!

            "Course not…mom." Cara muttered. For a moment, it looked as if her mom was going to argue the lack of enthusiasm, but settled back instead as they were pulling up into the school.

            And all the while he watched.

A/N: *bangs head against wall* I cannot believe I'm continuing this…_…I'm doing too many things as it is!! Anyways, what I wanted to say is: Don't expect any quick updates with this one. Loki is still my first priority…that and, you know, school. ^_-

ALSO: found out that 'Cara' in Latin means Precious or Darling…^___^. Whee! I can do things with that!

I actually think that this would be one of my more…crappier…bits of writing. I dunno. For some reason, I don't quite think this chapter was up to par.

Bah.

Well, review and tell me what you think. And if you really want to discuss something, don't worry. Email me at limelemonlola@yahoo.com or find me on a.i.m. (coldfusion121). I'm on pretty much all day. The same applies for Loki, so don't worry…I want your help and opinions ^_^.

Responses:

Fate Thirteen: Yea, it is pretty…dark. I think that, if you read my stuff for long enough, I tend to tune into my dark side when I write…And some of the stuff that I wrote before fictionpress was pretty…scary o.o;;. Yes, yes. My mom worries too. ^_^. And no, Vengan is not some kind of vampire. If he were, I'd make him do…things in the first chapter…*evil grin*. All in all, thanks for reviewing and…*gives you the look* when are you going to update Untitled?…*taps foot* I'm waiting!

Kezkay: No, no. His name wasn't supposed to be Vegan, actually but…*bangs the key board* some of the stupid letters get stuck. Hehe. I tried to get through in the description how darkly sexy he is (in my head, anyways ^_-). But, don't worry. I'm a-gonna keep working on that until I get it right! I was kind of choppy the first time around, too, huh…bah. I think I was trying to test this new style of writing…but it didn't work :P. Pssh. Yea, Vengan depends on Cara (in particular). But the cold place isn't necessarily a place…more like a…a…*doesn't want to give it away* GAH!!! But yes, all will be revealed ^_^. Pssh, here's some chocolate ^_^ *gives a big, fat box of See's Candies* yuuuummm…..^_____^