ah. welcome to my second story in what i think is going to end up being a trilogy. the first story (if you don't already know) is called 'the V word' and while you don't have to read it, as i will probably be explaining a lot of it in this story (as the two main characters are new), i actually quite like it for one of my first works. you will also be witness to some dramatic irony, where the audience is privy to something the characters are not. (you didn't think that there'd be an english lesson in here somewhere, did ya?)
for all of you who reviewed my last story with 'you should do the next one with Calc and Jessica!' i'm... undecided about that, merely for the reason that Jessica is based quite a lot off of my own sister, and i'm not sure that i could write a story with her as the main character. but, (with her permission of course) i might just bite the bullet and turn her into a different person.
i know there might be some similarities between this one and the last one, but i'm trying to keep them far and few. what can i say? i'm a sucker for two lonely, tortured souls coming together to fight evil and find true love.
anywho, i'm sorry for the sucky title (i seriously had such a hard time coming up with this. and i'm so bad with puns, too) but i hope you like it anyway.
"Outta my way, freak," Candice Smitherson said, body checking me with her hip. She twirled to see the damage she caused, her honey blonde hair flying out behind her, her lip curled up in a cruel smile that was at odds with her angelic appearance.
Candi was part of the popular clique. Hell, she was head of the popular clique. She was president of the student body. If our school had a cheerleading team, she'd probably be in charge of that too. And as such, it was her right – no, her civic duty! – to make fun of the lesser people; namely, me. Honestly, I couldn't care less, and I wasn't the least bit scared of Candi, which irked her to no end.
I quickly regained my balance, as well as the upper hand. "Eat lead and die, bitch," I replied in a tone that rivalled the polar ice caps.
I watched with a sense of triumph as Candi's face turned a peculiar shade of cranberry that showed exactly how angry or upset she was. Call it my civic duty.
"I'd be careful, if I were you, Rosetti," Candi warned me, shaking a perfectly manicured finger in my face. Her gaggle of troops nodded.
"Why?" I asked sarcastically, rolling my black-rimmed eyes. "Will you send the football team after me? You've probably slept with half of them anyway."
If her face turned any redder, she would probably have been mistaken for a stoplight. Mission complete. With that final remark, I swept past her, shouldering my bag higher.
Ah, the typical high school day for Marla Rosetti, freak extrordinaire. Candice was the only one who typically challenged me outright, but I knew that I was known around the school as a weirdo. I saw it in people's eyes when I passed, that is, when they met my eyes. Mostly, they ignored me until I had walked by, then the whispers started.
There goes that Rosetti girl, the one who wears too many black clothes.
Geez, could she get her eyeliner on any thicker?
I can't believe she's Justin's sister.
Oddly enough, I found it all comforting. None of them really knew the truth, that I really was a freak. They simply saw the exterior, all the black. The big black zip hoodie, or the cut off socks that I wore over my hands, which reached to my elbows. They saw the thick black eyeliner and unnaturally vibrant lime green eyes, due to some sort of colour contact lenses. I could wear this apparel whenever I wanted, even in the middle of summer, and people just wrote it off to my freakishness.
They didn't know that while I did wear contacts, my eyes truly were that vibrant green, a colour that my brother says reminds him of new ends of pine trees, and that I had birthmarks in a matching colour crawling all up my wrists and inner arms.
It was far easier to be called a freak for something I know I'm not, then to be called a freak for something I know I am.
I turned, knowing only one person in the school who would call me by my given name.
"Hey Justin," I said, smiling at him and wading my way through the kids of the hall to his locker.
My twin brother Justin, is almost the complete opposite of me. Towering over my petite four-eleven frame, he really was my big brother, born ahead of me by a mere twenty minutes (which he repeatedly gloated over.) Other than that, we looked very much like siblings. The same high brow, same wide eyes, the same large nose, the same wide mouth.
The biggest difference between us was that Justin was popular. His dashing Italian good looks, goofy personality, and unique talents made sure of that. He was one of those rare popular people who were actually nice to everyone, unlike some other people I could mention.
"What's up?" he asked, placing his Chemistry book neatly beside his Physics. There was another difference between us. I could barely open up my locker without being buried beneath a mound of stuff, so I mostly carried my things around in my book bag.
"Nothing much," I said, shrugging. "I had another run in with my favourite sugary personality."
Justin winced slightly. "I'll talk to Candi and see if she would lay off you for a while."
"Don't bother, Justin," I said, shaking my head and rolling my eyes. "She has made it her personal goal to force me to cower before her, and nothing anyone says will counter that."
He pulled out his Biology text. "Still. You think she would know by now."
"Well, she's not as smart as some people," I said, giving him a friendly punch in the arm. I grasped the strap to my book bag, sliding it back up my shoulder again where it had slipped down with the movement. "I should get to lunch," I said.
"I'll walk you," Justin offered.
"That's sweet, really it is," I said, with a note of teasing my voice, "but I'm a big girl now. Well, I'm an older girl. I can make it on my own. Besides, you wouldn't want to be seen hanging out with me. Reputations might be ruined."
"You know I don't care about that, Marls," Justin said, his hazel eyes serious. "You're my sister."
"I was talking about my own," I replied lightly, inwardly smiling at his words. If no one else, I knew I could rely on my brother. "I mean, the Freak Queen hanging out with the Italian God? Some people would stop thinking I'm scary."
"You're too short to be scary," Justin said with a grin, ruffling my chin length brown-black hair.
"Bugger off," I said, whipping my arm upward to dislodge his hand. "You'll be late for Bio."
"Yeah. God forbid I miss a movie about Cnidaria," he replied, rolling his eyes.
"Nid-what-ia?" I asked.
"Ah. Well, enjoy that."
He gave me a charming grin and a last ruffle of the hair before he headed off to class.
I straightened the locks so that they again hung flat to my jaw and headed for the cafeteria. I stood in line for a couple minutes before buying a roast chicken sandwich. No one said hi. No one offered to have me come sit with them. While my brother saved me from being ridiculed, my own reputation saved me from having any friends. I convinced myself I liked it that way.
I walked outside. It was a sunny May day, very warm, especially on my black clothes. I wasn't about to remove my zip up hoodie, but I compromised by removing my shoes. As soon as my bare skin touched the grass, the images started in my head.
I've had them forever, and I still can't explain them. They weren't thoughts, per se, they were more like… impressions. All the plants had them.
This grass was very green, very healthy, and its 'thoughts' were much the same as any other plants.
As I said. Freak.
Through my own experimentation, I found that I could make flowers grow, bloom, and wither, although it was hard work, and made me tired. However, they seemed to respond quite well to my emotions. Once, when I was five, I had a temper tantrum that killed every plant within a twenty-foot radius. Since then, I have learned to control my emotions (most of the time), mostly so daisies don't pop up behind me when I'm in a good mood.
I blocked out the grass to a dull roar in my mind, and settled down to eat my chicken sandwich.
Justin once asked me why I still eat plants if I can understand them. I told him that plants still do not have regular thoughts and feelings like a person, or even an animal. They are not happy or sad, they simply are. They don't understand when something cuts them down or whatever. They simply stop being.
I almost dozed off, lying there with the sun on my face, but the sharp jar of the school bell jerked me awake.
"Shit," I muttered emphatically, racing to pull on my socks and shoes. I couldn't be late for next class. Mr. Doushanna, the calculus teacher, (whom most of the school populace referred to as Mr. Douche-cannon) would eat me alive. I was already barely passing his class.
The bell rang exactly when I placed my hand on the knob of the door.
"Shit," I muttered again, and turned the knob slowly, walking in nonchalantly, as if it was my purpose to be late all along.
"Miss Rosetti," he said. I hated that, emphasising the 'miss' as if I should be married by now or something. "Do you have a reason for being late?"
"Sorry," I said, keeping all the apologetic tone out of my voice. "The voodoo ceremony went longer than planned."
There were a few whispers at that, and I almost sighed in exasperation. Surely these people weren't that dumb.
"Well, then Miss Rosetti, I doubt you'll mind if I keep you after class then?"
"Whatev." I found my seat in the very back corner of the class and slumped into it, pulling a notebook out of my bag along with a pen. Despite my protestation, I really did want to pass this class. Just because I played the uncaring freak, didn't mean that I wanted to be the stupid uncaring freak. I cared about my grades, most of which were pretty good, except for calculus.
If I ever met the person who invented this stupid math, I would probably kick them in the shins.
Mr. Douche-cannon made me stay an extra thirty minutes after school to work on problems that he had written on the board. I chewed on my lower lip as I puzzled out the limits of the sums. Or was it the sums of the limits?
"Ack!" I said, when I felt a sting on my lip. I had pulled off too much skin again. I sighed and sucked the little bead of blood into my mouth. It was a bad habit of mine, chewing on my lip, and it wasn't about to get me any guys. Not that the male gender was flocking to me anyway.
I was, in probably all ways possible, a virgin. Never had sex, never had a boyfriend, never even been kissed. The only experience I had with romance was out of my romance novels. It sounded a little pathetic, even to me. I mean, I was a month away from turning eighteen and my guy experience was zippo.
I actually didn't think I was bad looking. I was short, really short, but no one ever mistook me for a child, mostly cause I wore a C cup. My nose was a little big, but it wasn't too bad. I had really nice collarbones, too.
Then again, I also had vibrant eyes and weird green birthmarks all over my inner wrists. That was why I had the tough girl act, so no one would make fun of my abnormalities. I shook my head at my own foolish daydreaming. I couldn't have it both ways.
"Who needs guys, anyway?" I said to my calculus notebook.
"That doesn't sound like math, Miss Rosetti," my teacher's voice called out from his office.
"Sorry, Mr. Doussshhhanna," I said, at the last moment remembering not to call him by his nickname.
I went back to work on my problems.
In all honesty, I was rather grateful for the time after school. It was almost like a private tutoring lesson, only without the money and without everyone knowing that I was being tutored. It wasn't as though I had anywhere else to be, either.
Plus, the schoolyard was remarkable empty when I finally escaped the classroom. I hitched my back higher onto my shoulder and made my way down to my dark blue '89 Fox, looking remarkable lonely in the big parking lot.
A couple of punks who thought they were pretty funny had at one time spray painted a giant penis onto my car in day-glo green. I knew I probably deserved it, but at the same time, it still hurt. That car was mine. I had earned the money to pay for it; I was still earning the money to pay for insurance and gas. To have something of mine so publicly defaced wounded me really deeply.
My brother, genius that he is, picked out the exact shade of green spray paint that the perpetrators had used, and turned the giant penis into one of the cross bones of a Jolly Roger.
Now we still jokingly refer to it as 'The Penis-mobile,' but no one else has tried to spray paint anything else of mine.
I climbed into the PM, and threw my bag into the passenger seat.
Strains of Rachmaninoff's Prelude in C minor filtered through my front door as I walked up our front walk. The flowers were looking pretty good, although the ferns seemed to be needing a little water. I paused a moment to set up the small sprinkler, and turned the tap on very lightly so that the sprinkler would just spray back and forth on the ferns and not anything else.
"I'm home," I yelled out as I opened the door, dumping my bag in its designated corner and toeing off my shoes.
"Hey, Marla," my dad yelled back. "I'm just in the kitchen."
"Hey, Dad," I said, coming up behind him. He turned and gave me a big smile.
Leon Rosetti was probably the best father one could ever have. He used to be a big corporate CEO of a huge company when he was in his early twenties, where he met my mother, who was junior vice-president or something. They fell in love (or so the story goes) and got married, despite my Nonna's insistence that she wasn't a good Italian girl.
When mother became pregnant with us, Dad quit the company in order to take care of the kids, as my mother was a higher ranking businesswoman, and didn't want to lose her position, even for maternity leave. Plus, she didn't think she would be the maternal type.
I think it was a last feint on my father's part, as two months after we were born, my mother filed for divorce. The last I heard, she had run off to the Bahamas with her male secretary. The irony does not escape me.
I think the only think that my mother has ever done for Justin and me is signed the alimony cheques. As bitter as it sounds, she didn't even give birth to us; she opted for a caesarean.
My father, however, took it all in stride. He took care of us, raised us with the help of his mother, and when we were old enough, he struggled back into the workforce. It was hard going, especially since he had to start again at one position above entry level. Through hard work and sheer determination, he's almost made it back to his old position. They send him away to a lot of seminars, but he still always seems to be around when we need him. He's just good that way.
"Look what I'm making," he said, sounding excited.
"What?" I asked. I peeked in the oven, but all I could see was the outline of the white casserole dish.
"Chicken and broccoli casserole," he replied proudly as I stood up. "Old family recipe."
My father had recently taken up cooking. His mother used to make us all sorts of weird (but usually really good) things, which we would freeze and then thaw out for dinner. But since Nonna was getting older, Dad thought that we should start returning the favour. He hasn't quite got the hang of it yet. Plus, to make Nonna happy, he's been trying out 'Old family recipes,' trying to make it authentic. And, like the gracious father he is, he's been experimenting on his children.
I made a face. "I hope it's better than that last old family recipe that you had us try. I'm not eager for another goat cheese and eggplant linguini."
My father ran his hand through his salt-and-pepper brown hair that looked remarkably like Justin's, with that hint of good Italian curl. Mine did that too, but only at the ends so I usually ended up flat ironing it out. My hair was also a touch darker in colour, closer to black than brown.
"Well, actually, it's not a family recipe. I pulled it off the internet."
I laughed. "Then it should be good."
"Nonna might not be pleased." He eyed the oven worriedly.
"We might not be poisoned," I countered.
"I might actually be able to eat a meal at home," Justin added from the den, not pausing in his practising.
My dad threw up his hands, laughing. "All right, all right, you kids win. Now, who's going to help me set the table?"
"Practising!" Justin crowed.
I gave a snort of disgust. "Like you need to practise."
One of my brother's many talents is the fact that he is an extremely gifted musician. I don't even know how he does it, but not only does he have perfect pitch, he can sight read songs to the note on practically the first try. He makes quite a deal of money accompanying other singers and musicals and things.
And what can I do? Oh yeah, grow plants.
"The company's sending me to Michigan on Friday," Dad announced after dinner while we were putting the plates into the dishwasher. "I should be home in about a week."
"Another seminar?" Justin asked, as we both looked at him with resigned disbelief.
"Yeah," my dad answered. "Sorry, kids."
I shook my head. "It's not your fault. I just don't see why always have to send you. It's like they think that you didn't ever work in the corporate world before."
"Just make sure to leave money," Justin said, running water in the casserole dish to soak. "I don't think I'll live through the week on only Marls' cooking."
I gave my brother a sock to the shoulder. "I'll be working most of the weekend anyway, so there," I replied, sticking my tongue out at him.
"Good," Justin replied, returning the punch to the arm. "It's about time you start giving back to the family that raised you."
"Children," my dad said, putting us both in a headlock. Even though Justin was taller than Dad by a couple of inches, Dad was still stronger. "You'll get along, right? There'll be no huge parties, no human sacrifices, no lighting the place on fire, okay? Don't make me send Nonna over to baby-sit."
"Can I have Alanna over?" Justin asked, referring to his girlfriend.
"Ew, like I want to watch the two of you make out," I said, gagging, holding onto my dad's arm where it was around my neck.
"You'll be working all weekend, remember?" Justin shot back with a smug expression.
"Shut up," I said, sticking my tongue out at him again. "There are still weeknights."
My dad let go of the both of us and threw his arms up in the air. "I give up. You kids are too wild for me."
Thus freed, my brother and I proceeded to have a slow motion boxing match in the middle of the kitchen.
"Don't worry, Dad," Justin said, giving me a pulled punch to the jaw. "We'll keep the sacrificing to a minimum."
"And the party will be restrained to one hundred kids," I added, landing my fist softly on the side of his ribs.
"And the fire will only burn down everything covered by insurance," my brother finished, catching my fist in his, and giving me an uppercut to the chin. I moved my head back as if I had been hit full speed.
"Why do I even worry?" my dad laughed, stepping between us as we straightened from our crouched positions.
"You shouldn't. I'm sure this week will be pretty typical," I said, as my brother and I pounded our fists together.