Hey everyone! Sorry that this took forever. We'll call it a... New Year's Eve gift?
Review. Provide me with renewed motivation.
And so proceeded my Thursdays for the following two months.
I honestly thought that things were getting better... for my own personal health, that is. I didn't see the face anymore, and I had mostly recovered.
The summer ended pretty well, I suppose. It passed pretty uneventfully, filled with movie marathons and summer reading.
Today was the first day of school. I was officially going to be a junior, and I resigned myself to the fact that I would be throwing myself into one of the most hostile environments in the world: Gage Park High.
I had a new car and a new haircut – though not so much of a new outlook on life. I guess that I have an ally to vent to about it now – granted, she's an ally that my mom pretty much paid for – but I'll take what I can get, considering I don't have all that many friends.
I sighed, pulling myself away from idle thoughts, and glanced out the window. Something that I'd always loved about Chicago: the weather. I knew I was really weird for it, but I loved how often it rained and how clear it got at night. And right then, there was just the right amount of mist outside. Cloudy, but not drizzling.
I shoved my chair away from the table, shaking my barely-touched bowl of Lucky Charms. I slipped on my battered tennis shoes, opened the garage, and backed out of my driveway. I relaxed as I hit the accelerator and headed towards school.
My phone rang, and I glanced at the caller ID: Mom.
"You're going to school, right?"
"Yes, Mom. Go back to work. I love you."
"Okay. I love you sweetie!"
She hung up. It annoyed me that she didn't trust me. As much as it probably seemed like it to her, I wasn't crazy and I didn't really make bad decisions. Everything I had ever done I had completely thought through before-hand. Most of the time, I could predict the outcome of just about anything. It was hard-wired into my system – self-preservation. I planned everything. And, at the time, the suicide had seemed like the best option.
Driving to school was one of the things that I rarely ever had to think about. It was completely habitual and borderline robotic. I had made it within sight of the school before anything happened.
And then came the thud.
I pulled over, and climbed out of the front seat to look for what I had hit. I scanned my eyes across the faded yellow dashes, praying that I wouldn't see what I feared. But, to my dismay, there was a rabbit lying dead in the middle of the road. It was deathly still.
I burst into tears; it was so little and fluffy. It hadn't deserved to die so abruptly. It was probably only going to find food, or something. Just going about its daily rabbit a weird way, I empathized with the thing; it had died without getting any say in the matter. My guilt ate at my stomach as I leaned weakly against my car, not sure if I should just go ahead and ignore it or if I should go home for a shovel and a shoebox.
I stared contemplatively at the rabbit. Maybe it was an incarnate… Oh my God! What if I had just killed my father? I internally slapped myself. It was a rabbit. Besides, my father would not be reincarnated as a bunny. He'd be a salamander or something bizarre like that, just to enjoy the challenge of existence. But then again, I supposed that being a rabbit could be very challenging.
I tried to ease my guilt by looking at my situation from an outsider's perspective, like Dr. Seeter had once advised. That failed dismally; I felt worse. All I could see through someone else's eyes was an unhealthily thin girl, supporting herself against a little blue car, crying her eyes out over a stupid dead rabbit while getting soaked in the oncoming rain.
Ugh. How pathetic.
And then, to make matters worse, he showed up.
He was headed to school, judging by the battered messenger bag that was swung over his shoulder. His head wasn't bowed against the rain – rather, he kept his face up as if to welcome it. It looked like he hadn't ever felt the rain before, or at least, in a very long time. He saw me and came to a sudden, graceful stop.
That boy. The one that I had seen in my mirror, my window, and my drawing. But he was tangible this time: a bit over six feet, and handsome, but in an intimidating way. He carried himself as though he had seen far too much of the world, though he couldn't have been more than seventeen or so. This time, the intense anger that had always controlled his features was replaced by a smirk.
"What the hell?" Oops. I hadn't meant to think out loud, but this entire situation was ridiculous. It couldn't be happening.
He sauntered towards me, arrogance evident in every step.
"You know that you're standing there sobbing at nothing, right?"
That pissed me off. Of course I was sobbing at something. I wouldn't cry about nothing. Did he not see the bunny?
"What would you know? I just hit a – " I glanced back at that faded yellow stripe, expecting to see the sad little carcass, but there was no longer anything there.
"You hit a what? A speck of dust?" He was flat out laughing at me.
I crinkled my eyebrows in thought. And then I pinched myself, to make sure that it was happening.
"Did you just pinch yourself?" He laughed harder, with incredulity coloring his tone.
"No. But the rabbit… it was here – I swear..."
"Right. A rabbit. Sorry, Lena, but there's no furry rodent of any species here. Someone should warn you: hallucinogens are bad for you."
I shook my head.
"No, I'm not high. There was a rabbit. It just... whatever. I don't have to justify my actions to you. You don't know me. You're a total stranger."
"Stubborn, aren't you?"
"There was a rabbit. And it's none of your business if I'm stubborn or not. I am none of your business."
He shrugged and started walking towards the school again.
"A total stranger..." I thought I heard him mutter, his head now bowed against the rain.
I climbed back into my car, and just sat there for a minute, staring blankly ahead. That face belonged to a real person. A weird coincidence; this was the kind of thing that existed only in The Twilight Zone.
But how much of a coincidence was it that he knew my name?
I started shaking. I didn't know what was happening to me. But I didn't like it.