It still hurts to recall those events, but they must be recorded. I hate to think that my friends and I, who were all so innocent, had to go through the horror that we did. I suppose I'm getting a little ahead of myself.
My name is Alyssa, back then it was Alyssa Darker, and I was just thirteen when the war started. The war, the third world war, was more vicious and destructive than the first two, and I can only pray that nothing like it will ever happen again.
The things my friends and I went through are events I would never wish upon anyone. The story I am about to tell you started on my first day of year nine, when I was fourteen, the day I met the boy that changed my life forever. His name was Ashton… Ashton Mild.
He seemed so innocent, but then, didn't we all? There is a saying I have heard over the years… evil is incoherent in the human mind, no matter what innocence may cloak it. I now live my life by that motto. Never believe what you see straight away… it just might cost you your life.
"Mum! Where are my school shoes?" I called out, slamming the bottom draw of my wardrobe shut with a bang.
"They're down here by the door, I polished them for you last night!" answered a harried sounding voice downstairs. I slowly rose to my feet with a sigh, and headed towards the stairs. On the way, I passed an elegant, gold rimmed mirror, and surveyed my own reflection critically.
My straight, light brown hair was pulled back off of my face, and my fringe was hanging beside my green eyes in an attempted casual look, craftily fooling people into thinking that I hadn't spent at least half an hour that morning getting it exactly the way I wanted it.
I had applied mascara as well as eyeliner, which was strictly against the dress code at the school I went to. Not that I minded; I'd worn the stuff almost every day the year before!
"Where's my curling iron?" demanded a sour voice from the next room. I pulled a face. My twin sister, Melody, had to be the only person in the world who insisted on curling her naturally curly hair every morning.
"Lissy?" whispered a tiny voice. I looked away from the mirror and towards the door, where my five year old sister, Rose, sucking on a strand of dirty blonde hair. "What is it, Rose?" I sighed. "You memba' when Carrie came over?" Rose asked, tugging on her dress, nervously. "Yessss?" I asked, raising an eyebrow. "She wanted to borrow the curling iron for a few days…" Rose trailed off. I attempted a stern look, but couldn't help smiling slightly.
"MEL!" I screeched. Rose's eyes widened in horror. "What?" Melody's frustrated voice rang out. "Our dear little sister played charity with your curler!" I chirped, gleefully. There was a moment's pause, and then a strangled cry, as Melody appeared in the doorway, and lunged towards the five year old.
Rose squealed and dived to the side, letting Melody crash onto the bed. "Calm it, Mel," I ordered, as Rose grabbed tightly onto my hand, trembling. "What's going on here?" my Mum asked from the doorway, looking frazzled. She had scooped her brown hair up into a tight bun, but a few wisps of hair hung in her face, and she brushed them away impatiently.
"That little-" Melody began with clenched teeth. "Melody's in a huff because she can't find her curling iron," I cut in, with my hands on my hips. "Well, you won't even have time to fix it up now," Mum reasoned. "Just put it in a ponytail…"
Melody looked indignant as her mother walked away. "She just doesn't understand what it means to fit in! No ones going to ask me out if I go to school in a ponytail!"
I shook my head and began to head downstairs to retrieve my shoes. I jumped the last step out of habit, as to avoid Sunbeam, our white Persian cat. Sunbeam flinched warily as my socked feet narrowly missed colliding with her head.
I sat myself down on the plush white carpet of our lounge room and began to lace up my shoes. Sunbeam padded over and attempted to climb into my lap, but I pushed her off hurriedly. "Sunny, not on my new dress! Mum will kill me!"
Sunny looked offended, and huffily returned to her resting place at the bottom of the stairs. I stood up and began to brush off my dress, and looked up to see a toned and tanned boy slide down the banister.
He wore his white school shirt without the top two buttons done up, and his sleeves were rolled up to his elbows, his tie done in a slack knot. His dark hair was un-brushed, and it fell messily into his chocolate brown eyes.
"Mum's going to kill you if you let her see you like that, Tristin," I remarked, smiling wryly. My seventeen-year-old brother rolled his eyes, smirking. "Since when have I cared what Mum thinks?" he asked, picking up his school bag and slinging it over his shoulder. "Good point," I remarked.
"Mum! We have to go! We're picking up Bay, remember?" I called upstairs. Mum sounded impatient as she answered. "I'll be down in a minute! Rose found my firm-hold hair spray and used it on herself before I could brush her hair!"
I let out a groan of disbelief, and fell back against the front door. Melody came running downstairs, her curls bouncing wildly. "It sucks! I was sure they were going to stop school because of the war!" she exclaimed. I raised an eyebrow. "Umm… why would they close the school because of that?" I asked skeptically.
Melody's brown eyes were defiant. "It would make us easy targets," she explained, as though it was obvious. "Five thousand kids all crammed together in one place? It's suicidal!"
I laughed, despite myself. "I seriously doubt there's quite that many kids at our school, Mel," I reasoned. "Okay, five thousand give or take then, what difference does it make? The point is; it's way too dangerous!"
"Whatever, you just don't want any homework!" I argued. "So what if I don't?" Melody challenged. "I can't wait for homework!" Rose, who had just came charging downstairs, piped up. I gaped at my sister, speechlessly. Her two pigtails looked as though they'd been teased to the point of falling out and then held in place by… firm hold hairspray.
Mum arrived slowly downstairs, wiping away wisps of stray hair. "I tried, but I just made it worse," she sighed. "She might set a new fashion trend," Melody laughed. Rose didn't seem to be at all bothered by the fact that her hair resembled an untrimmed rose bush, and she enthusiastically grabbed her school bag, throwing open the door.
"She doesn't seem to realize she's about to start thirteen years of hell," Tristin remarked, bitterly. I walked over to the car, genuinely excited about going back to school, purely for the fact that I would be able to see all of my friends again daily, especially Baylee, who had been my best friend since year two.
Baylee was an incredible prankster, and was so much fun to be around. The kids piled into the car, and before I knew it, we had pulled up in front of Baylee's three-story house. Baylee was outside not even a second after their car pulled up. Her thick, short black hair was pulled into a side pony, and was secured by at least a pack of bobby pins to prevent it from tumbling out, and her hazel eyes were bright and energetic.
She sprinted over to the car and almost jumped inside. "Hey, Alyssa, oh my God, I can't wait for year nine, it's about time we aren't the babies anymore! I can't wait to see Ryan! I haven't seen him since, what? Well, ages ago!"
I laughed. "Do you think you'll have any luck with him this year?" I asked. Baylee had liked Ryan, one of the most popular guys in school, for over a year. "I don't know! I'm thinking of growing my hair out for him… do you think it would look nice?" she asked, eagerly.
"I'm not sure…" I murmured, doubtfully. I tried to picture Bay with long hair, but I simply couldn't manage it. Bay took the hint, and tightened her pony, satisfied. It was then that she first caught sight of Rose's hair.
"Did you do your hair all by yourself today, Rosie?" Bay asked cheerily, trying, to her credit, not to laugh. Rosie nodded enthusiastically.
"Yep, I helped Mummy do it. I can do my hair better than Mel, because I don't need a curler," she announced, oblivious to Mel's reddening face.
It wasn't long before we had arrived at school, and Bay and I clambered out of the car, shouting a quick goodbye to my mum.
We ran, giggling, to the front of the school, recklessly dodging cars, and ignoring the warning cries from Tristin. When we got there, our two other friends, Ammie Cardson and Mack Hasting approached us. I smiled at a sudden memory of how the four of us had become friends; we all got a lot of attention from the teachers because of our unusual names.
Baylee's name was old, as was everything about her parents. They listened to older music than Alyssa's parents did, ancient recordings like Blondie, and even Elvis! Baylee's entire house was decorated in antique furniture, and her mother could even occasionally be seen wearing bell-bottom pants from the olden days!
Ammie's name was really Amaranta, as on her mother's side of the family it was a long lasting tradition for the girls to be named after a flower. By the time Ammie joined the family, they were running out of flower names! Violet, Lily, Daisy and Tulip were Ammie's elder sisters, and her younger sister had actually been given the name Sunflower! Ammie had made sure that from a young age people called her Sunnie, as to save her the embarrassment.
Mack's full name was Makara. Her parents were very spiritual, and as Mack was born on the 30th of January, she was a Capricorn. Her name meant, of course, 'born under Capricorn". She was a bit of a tomboy at times, but I suppose that's what comes out of growing up with three brothers dominating the house.
I was named after some friend of my Mum's, who married a rock star in her twenties, and left all her money to Mum when she died. She died a fair while before I was born, so I never did meet my namesake.
"Alyssa, what took you two so long? We were waiting out here for ages!" Mack scolded me. "It wasn't my fault; my sister had a bad hair day!" I protested in my defense, which sent Bay into long held in hysterics. Mack and Ammie exchanged bewildered glances.
"I reckon we should be heading in now," Ammie decided. "Oh, by the way, Bay, Ryan's here. He was with Kale and another guy I've never seen before."
I noticed a cheeky look in Ammie's blue eyes when she said this. "Is he hot?" I asked. "Yeessss…" Ammie admitted. "He has blondie-brown hair, but more blonde… I didn't see his eyes, and he's a little bit taller than Ryan."
I nodded slowly, but Bay didn't even look like she'd heard a word that was spoken; she was on her tiptoes, scanning the sea of students for Ryan. I glanced at Ammie, and noticed something. "Ammie!" I exclaimed. "There's no way you'll be allowed to wear your skirt that short!"
Ammie glanced down innocently at the bottom of her light blue uniform, which ended at least seven centimeters above her knees, and shrugged, grinning mischievously. "I don't think they're even gonna go there this year; last year I just ignored them every time, and I think they got the message."
She was right. Ammie did her best to tweak the plain blue dress with a slit sailor-style collar to look as nice as possible. She always pulled her socks up to about mid-shin, and she let her light blonde hair hang loose. She always wore a pink and black headband to compliment it, though that was as much against uniform regulations as the length of her dress.
"There he is, he's right there!" Bay squealed, looking flustered as she caught sight of Ryan standing near the classroom door. "Well, go and-" I started to say, but I stopped as I caught sight of the unfamiliar boy standing next to him and Kale, looking nervous.
Of course, new arrivals in our school always attract attention from the students, but this boy was a different story altogether. All of the girls that passed him slowed down to get a better look, and they had a good reason to. He was gorgeous, with soft looking, sandy blonde hair that hung over his forehead, a toned, tall figure, and startling bright blue eyes.
"Come on, let's go and say hi," Mack chirped. Bay's head snapped up, her face wearing a horrified expression that I was sure resembled my own. "But, no, we can't, what if, oh God," Bay had turned into a stuttering mess as Mack grabbed her by the arm and dragged her over.
Ammie and I followed closely behind her, both looking interestedly at the boy. "Hey, Ryan," Ammie smiled flirtatiously. Ryan tossed his dark brown hair out of his brown eyes, where it hung persistently. "Hey, guys, this is my cousin, Ashton," he said casually, seemingly unaware that he was in the presence of the best-looking guy ever.
Ashton's smile was friendly as he greeted us. His eyes locked onto me for a second, before his attention was diverted by one of Ryan's friends, Toby; the most arrogant guy I've ever met in my life, approaching. "Hey, babes," he said, nodding towards us. Ashton looked at him strangely, and Toby realized he was standing there. He looked at Ryan pointedly.
"This is my cousin, Ashton, don't you remember him?" Ryan asked. "He lived in Australia till he was seven, but then he moved."
A light of recognition set in Toby's face, and he greeted Ashton warmly. I found my voice finally, and took a tiny step towards Ashton. "Whereabouts did you move to?" I asked, genuinely curious. "Well, I moved to America for about a year, and since then I've lived in Japan, Paris, Italy, Scotland, and the last few years I've lived in England. I moved here about a month ago…"
I was only half listening to what he said, however, I was too busy thinking about how cute his accent was; a nice mixture of British and Australian. Kale, who hadn't said a word since we arrived, asked him interestedly how he liked England. Ashton went on eagerly to explain the highlights about England, stressing on "the hot girls". My look of jealousy and disgust must have been pretty obvious, because upon catching sight of me, he quickly went on to add that the ones here weren't too bad either.
"Which girls do you like best so far?" Bay asked cheekily. Ashton shrugged. "I dunno," he admitted. "I don't even know any girls names yet, including all of you," he added to us.
"Alyssa," I said instantly, and the other girls followed to give their names. "What class do you have first?" I asked him, hoping that he would be in mine. "Today? Umm, I have English and Maths first," Ashton said, ticking the subjects off on his fingers as he went. Before I could reply, Ammie cut in. "Yeah, cool, why did you move away from England?" she asked.
Toby was beginning to look annoyed. "The way you four are acting, you'd think he was some sort of movie star," he sniffed. Ashton sensibly ignored him. "My house was bombed," he said, without missing a beat. It was obvious he was used to answering this question.
I was caught of guard by the unexpected answer. "Oh, that's awful!" I exclaimed. "Yeah, but we were all in the underground cellar, so my parents and I were fine," he said softly. The bell rang at that moment, and, stealing one last look at Ashton, I reluctantly returned to class.