My sister and I walk the same route every day from school whenever we don't drive. Past Olliver's Bakery, the flower shop and the alley. It's usually an alright trip.
"I think Rocky Road will have the kitten today, Violet, I really do! She's fatter than ever and her teats are all big and pink. This is so awesome! I'm gonna be a grandma!" Emily jumps in the air and hugs me.
"Make sure she doesn't have them in my room," I say shortly.
Emily nods and prances ahead of me with her arms held out, singing, "Rocky Road is having a whelp!" over and over until –
Emily freezes, and so do I. We're in front of the flower shop and staring at each other blankly.
"What was that?" Emily asks stiffly.
I shrug and start to walk ahead. She waits for me to catch up so we can continue together. We pass the alley and glance in simultaneously.
There's some fat guy covered in blood and hunched over a twitching body, which is bleeding profusely. Standing to the side is a tall kid with bright red hair. He's got his arms crossed and when he sees us staring he suddenly looks pissed off.
"You goddamn idiot!" he shouts at his fat friend.
Emily grabs my arm and the next second we're sprinting down the street faster than an Olympic athlete on steroids.
"You saw a what?"
"Cannibals. A fat one and his friend."
My best friend, Bella, raises her eyebrows but I nod fervently.
"That's crazy," she says bluntly.
"How'd the cannibal look?"
"I didn't see the one who was… cannibalating, but his friend was tall and had red hair."
"Whoa. Was he hot?"
"I – I dunno, I was sorta distracted, Bell!"
Bella just shrugs and goes back to clipping her toenails. She's going to be staying with my family for a while because her mom is leaving tonight with her boyfriend on a 'business trip'; Bell doesn't like to admit it, but her mom's a groupie. Bella has long chestnut brown hair and a heart-shaped face that'd be really pretty if she didn't have a cleft chin. I like her – most of the time. But she's really co-dependent. Since she's single now, she's desperate for a boyfriend to boss her around. Now that there's nobody to do that, though, she's being a bit of a douche because she hasn't got anybody to obsess over.
"I think that's kinda hot, don't you? Cannibalism and such? If that ginger was sexy, you two could've, y'know, hooked up." Bella looks up dreamily. "He'd have no issues eating you out, too, now that I think about it."
"Yeah, I know. Where's the nail polish, Purp?"
That is honestly the worst nickname I've ever heard.
"On the dresser. Don't use the red one, alright? That's my sister's." Emily hates Bella and if she got wind of Bella using her nail polish she'd probably murder me.
Emily and I are identical twins. We don't look alike, though, but it's got nothing to do with genes. Emily hates being normal and hates that we got the 'pretty gene' from our mother. It's funny because when we were younger, Mom and Dad let her get into modeling. She loved it back then but suddenly stopped when we turned fourteen. Since then she's been trying to be rebellious – she dyes her hair black and pink to cover up being a platinum blonde, and buzzed it all off the day after she stopped modeling. It's grown back, but she keeps it short (for our family, shoulder-length is short) to piss off Mom. She was practically anorexic for a while to decimate her figure. She even went behind our parent's back to get four tattoos and a belly button ring.
I got a belly button ring with her, because she's my other half and I didn't want her to get the brunt of our parent's wrath. I hated getting it, though. I swear, I nearly passed out. She went on to get a nose ring and a lip ring, though. Sisterly love ends somewhere.
Emily's done almost everything possible that makes us look different except wear contacts.
"Not many of those motherfucking posers I met have eyes like ours," she told me after coming home from some crazy party or whatever those things she goes to are.
We both have blue eyes, which don't look too bad. But the bottom half of the left eye is brown. Emily loves it. She thinks it's alternative. I think it's a burden to explain.
"Why's Emily such an idiot?" Bella asks angrily, putting down the bright red that she adores.
"Because she's punk," I mumble. Bella laughs, which makes me a bit angry because it always sucks to have people laugh at the expense of my somewhat weird sister.
By ten o'clock we're both in bed. Bella is lying on the inflatable mattress with her sleeping mask on and earplugs in while Rocky Road, our pregnant cat, is creeping in and wobbling around like she can't stand to have those kittens in her anymore.
Judging by the onslaught of critical whispers I get when I wake up, I can assume that Bella didn't listen to me and woke up early to get something private done.
"Why is that bitch wearing my nail polish?"
When I learned that Bella would come to stay with us, I thought it'd be a bit more fun than this. They keep glaring at each other and make the drive in very tense. I only drive in when Mom can't take Percy to school.
"Get out, twerp." I tell him. "You're messing up the leather."
"Shut up, Vi. You're just jealous."
Having a little brother doesn't make the female-feuding any easier.
"Get out, Perce."
Percy does some weird sign with his hands that means 'fuck you' in Dork before getting out of the car and marching to his friends, who are all sitting on the front stoop of Great Scotts Middle reading some Japanese magazine.
I really hope my brother isn't gay.
"Percy is so weird," Bell mumbles.
"No, he's not," Emily snaps. "He's cool. Hey," she shoves her head out the window while I start to pull away, "Perce! You're cool!"
I can't see him that clearly in the rearview, but I think he's doing that 'fuck you' sign again.
Jeez, Mom and Dad really fucked up.
School – a safe haven nowadays. Bella can bug the rest of our friends so the brunt of her newly single attitude isn't focused on me, while Emily can hang out with her grumpy, scary friends who always wait outside for her to get there so they can meet up. They hate Bella and I know they're always asking Emily how hellish it is to be in the same house with her.
"'Cause dem preppy mudderfuckers piss me da fuck off," Emily's friend said once. He looked at me and smiled sort of so I could see his gross teeth. "But you're cool, Vi."
How can he call Bell a prep when he goes to the same school as us? It's a prep school, for Christ's sake.
Bella and I make our way to our first class and leave Emily with her freakish friends.
"I hate Physics!" Bell squeals angrily. "It's almost as bad as – I dunno," she looks at me melodramatically. "Being single! Ugh," she groans angrily. "And Ms. Bloom hates me! She's always picking on me, you know it! Grr!" She thinks those sounds are cute. She always has.
While Bella and I are going through the hallways someone bumps into me and nearly knocks me over; my books are all over the floor, too.
"Oh, goodness, I'm sorry!"
He catches me with a strong hand and stops my slow-motion fall.
"Oh my god, I'm so sorry! I'm such a klutz!" he cries. I get a good look and see that, aside from his hand, nothing else seems too muscular. A fat boy with hairy arms and gelled up hair is picking up my things and babbling apologies in a nasal, girlish voice.
"…always knocking things over, my mistake –," he hands me my things and once we make eye-contact, he gets startled and covers his mouth with a meaty hand.
"Thanks," I mumble.
"Oh – oh, oh yes… I'm going now," he says blankly. I frown at his demeanor, which is lightening a bit when he sees I'm not attacking him, something he apparently expected. "Um… I'm new here… do you… do you know where the World History classroom is?"
"That way," I say, pointing in the direction that Bella and I came from. "I have – my sister's in that class, her name's Emily, she can help you out. Room four-oh-nine. She's the one with the, um, pink in her hair." The bell rings so I start to leave him (mainly because Bella's pulling me and is deathly afraid of fat people). "Good luck," I add quickly.
"Thank you," he says, almost sounding emotional. I don't want to sound judgmental, but he seriously seems like he might be gay.
"Purp, c'mon, we gotta go!"
I walk away with her, whispering to not call me Purp in front of new kids.
Physics lab – not a nice place. Ms. Bloom is a bitch and, like Bella said, I wouldn't be surprised if she picks on her. She picks on everybody, and isn't subtle, not one bit.
"Barely made it!" she snaps when we get in a good two minutes before class begins. "Always cutting it close, Hawking. You too, Gootz!" she adds, practically spitting on Bella.
We shuffle away and sit at a table near the back of the room.
"She's so bitchy," Bella grumbles. I nod and pull out my book while she gets her things set up. Bella's a good classmate (again, most of the time) but when we have to divide table for two people, she takes it very literally. She spreads her things out so that they're practically forming a barrier. It's stupid.
"Oh my god, Purp, listen t'this," she nods for me to lean in. "Clementine hasn't washed her hair for four days." I raise my eyebrows while Bella nods to me in case I don't believe her. "She's always using that Head and Shoulders for her dandruff but she hasn't used it for about four days. I don't know why she thinks she doesn't need it."
Bella can smell shampoo off people, among other things.
"And Jamie had sex with her boyfriend this morning. I can smell her cunt."
What kind of demented people do I associate with?
The class bell rings when the door opens for the last time. I look up and feel my stomach clench itself.
It's the ginger kid from the alley.
"Holy shit," I tap Bella's thigh while the class hushes down and Ms. Bloom starts to introduce him. "It's him!"
It takes her a moment to understand what I'm talking about, and when she does her attentiveness to Ms. Bloom's introduction sharpens. Redhead looks a bit cross.
"This is the new addition to our joyous classroom," Bloom says dryly. She sounded bitter when she said 'joyous.' "He will hopefully be able to survive the unbearable flood of diseased minds that dwell in this school. What's his name?"
The redhead drops his scowl to look at Bloom queerly by the way she posed the question. She's staring at us as though we're supposed to know his name.
"What's his name?" she repeats shrewdly.
We all exchange quick glances and watch her strangely. Her veins seem to be near their stretching point, so the redhead speaks up first.
"Derek," he says quickly. "My name's Derek."
"Derek," Bloom says melodramatically. "I think I was speaking to the class, not you," she says this laughing maniacally. He looks surprised with her attitude. He's not used to the Bloom. "Where's the extra seat… there, next to Fat Tina, she's always alone –," Fat Tina starts to sob, something she does a lot. "Urm… you, Gootz, get next to Fat Tina." Bella shudders because her fear of fat people will make this a bad combination.
"Ms. Bloom, I've got my things spread out already, it'll be a –,"
"Fat Tina, get next to Gootz. Make her squirm," she mutters. Fat Tina gets up, still sobbing softly and puts her things where I am.
"Uh, ma'am, I –," I wave my hand and Bloom notices me.
"Get at the empty desk, Hawking, it's not rocket science! Damn!"
Bloom cursing openly is too natural. I get my things and go to the empty table where Derek will be. He puts his things down beside me and gives me a curt nod that doesn't affect the displeasure on his face.
"Hi," I mumble.
Derek doesn't say anything.
Bloom goes to the front of the room and tells us what we're supposed to be doing for our lab today. While she speaks I do my best to listen while Derek squirms beside me, obviously at unease about something. Whenever Ms. Bloom starts to get bitter and goes off topic, complaining to us about her husband or the principal, I look at Derek and see him biting his lip and clenching his fist.
"You alright?" I whisper.
He glances at me angrily and ignores my question.
Once Ms. Bloom is done explaining what we're supposed to do, she lets us work. All we have to do is fill out the worksheets she gave us with our results from the simple experiment; it's usually uncomplicated but time-consuming. It's her way of keeping us out of her hair.
"So… I'll go get the goggles and stuff," I say quickly, standing up. "You can…um… get the burners ready, I guess."
Derek nods in that same stiff way before standing up.
I walk over to the cart where our things are. Bella is standing there picking up the goggles for her station as well and looks at me miserably.
"Will Tina need, like, extra large goggles or something?"
I shake my head and pick out two for me and Derek.
"Has he tried to bite you?" Bella whispers, pulling me from the cart and other ears. We pretend to get measuring flasks while she goes on. "Mr. Cannibal?"
"No, he hasn't done anything. That's so creepy, though. Should I tell anybody what I saw?"
"No, Purp! Don't be a rat! Derek's kinda hot."
"He was watching some guy get cannibalated!"
"He's just a witness, like you and Emily!"
"No he's not!"
"Look at his hair, Purp!" Both of us look at Derek and I keep my eyes on his hair, which is so red it's unnatural. It seriously looks like he dyes it bright, cherry red. I think he might because his eyebrows are black and his eyelashes don't seem to be red, either. "Anybody with hair that color must be a great he-man."
She means 'a great controller.'
"Tall, ginger and handsome."
I raise my eyebrows while Bella giggles and pulls her goggles on.
"You're just lucky you got ginger and not Fat Tina."
She said this loudly and Fat Tina overhears it. I watch while she begins to sob again and Bella walks over as though she hadn't said anything.
When I get back to Derek, he's got the whole station set up and is about to strike the match when I hand him the goggles.
"Ms. Bloom always gets angry when we don't wear these," I say bracingly, trying my best to sound friendly and inviting. He holds them for a moment and glances up at me. I put on a smile and pull mine on, doing my best to ignore his staring. I usually never put them on while someone, especially a boy, is watching because I don't look too great trying to get a pair of ugly goggles on. When I've got them on, though, Derek is still staring.
"Um… you put them on," I say slowly.
I wait for him to comply while people around us start working. "Before the experiment," I add.
He raises his eyebrows and pulls the goggles on. Good. Step one – complete.
Now he holds up the match and is about to strike it on the box. I step back slowly so that he doesn't notice. He could be a bit screwy and being so close while he has something so deadly may be the end of me. He holds the match there for a long time and I stare, anticipating. And waiting. Holding my breath.
He's not doing anything.
I glance up at him and see him staring at me, like I'm the crazy one.
"You're scared of matches?" he asks me.
"No, I'm just, um… jumpy, that's all."
"You should be." I frown and look away from his face. "I oughta rip out your guts for what you saw. You know that?"
I shake my head stiffly, now looking at the thermometer we have in the flask over the burner that isn't even on fire yet.
"And chew on your fucking eyeballs. You and your sister. I should've killed you both last night, in your sleep."
I fidget even more and bite my lip to brace myself for what could be his attack. He gets closer and holds the matchbox up near my face.
"I should burn your goddamn face off and eat your liver. Make hotdogs with your intestine. I fucked your cat." What a creep! Oh, God. I start praying inside, over and over, saying the Our Father.
He lights the match and sets the burner finally. My insides, which had been knotted for the thirty seconds he spoke, loosen up considerably because he took a step back to throw the match away. I watch him busy himself with measuring the copper before taking a stirrer and stirring the plain water and salt we have in the flask. My hand is shaking, but for good reason! He's a nutcase!
I ran from the Physics lab, leaving Derek alone at our desk while most of the room was just beginning to pack up and held my breath until lunch, when Emily found me lingering by a water fountain.
"Guess who I saw," she says, grinning. "The ginger from the alley, Derek."
"He was in my Physics class."
"Oh. Well meet his brother," Emily jerks her thumb over her shoulder. I look up and see the fat, gay boy from earlier.
"Hi," he says neatly, holding out a fat hand and looking a bit sheepish. "Urm… my name is Shane."
"Hi," I say thoughtlessly. "You know… you know Derek?"
"Well, yeah, he's my brother."
"Tell me he's a kidder."
"Why? What'd he say?"
"That he oughta chew my eyeballs and he said he fucked our cat."
Emily puts her thin arm over Shane's shoulders while he puts on a scandalized expression.
"He's… a bit fries short of a Happy Meal," Shane says sympathetically.
The three of us look across the courtyard and see Derek, standing on a table with his fists clenched and a mad look on his face. The occupants of the table look shocked.
"You goddamn nutter! Get away from us!"
Derek smashes his foot through somebody's lunch, sending food flying everywhere. The boys at the table all stand up and look very pissed off.
"Who is this fuck? Why's he here? Someone get his ass on Dr. Phil!"
Derek opens his mouth and lets out a loud, low laugh that would be glorious if it didn't sound psychopathic.
"Whoa," Emily says, awed.
"Can't you stop him?" I whisper to Shane fervently.
"Mary's on it."
"Mary?" before the name leaves my mouth, a short girl appears at the table where Derek is raising hell and grabs his leg.
"Get down, you idiot!" she shouts. He glares at her, but she returns it determinately until he climbs down and lets her lead him from the courtyard, toward us. The group at the table that Derek had been standing on watch him until a soft hum of chatter grows and they can start gossiping about him peacefully, along with everyone else.
Derek and the girl reach us, both looking agitated. Mary is short and I'd honestly think she was twelve years old judging by the big bow in her hair and the baby doll look she has, but her boobs are really big and she looks disturbingly mature.
"Hey," Emily holds her stringy ring- and bracelet-clad arm out to Derek and Mary.
"Hello," Mary says politely.
"I'll fuck your sister while you watch," Derek says briskly.
"Twins are twice as fun," Emily quips, grinning. I watch, outraged, while he shakes her hand.
"Is she your sister?" I ask Shane, nodding at Mary.
"Hi," I say to her. She nods to me and crosses her arms.
"Is this all of you?" Emily asks, looking from Shane to Derek lightly.
"No, there's Vilmer. He's at home today, didn't want to come here. And Drew."
"Is Vilmer hot?" Emily asks.
"You could say that."
"Drew's a retard," Derek says shortly.
Emily and I both raise our eyebrows at the same time while Shane and Mary shoot their brother reproachful looks.
"He isn't retarded, Derek, he's slow, you goddamn idiot," Mary snaps.
"Fuck you!" Mary shouts.
Mary scowls and turns on her heel. "Shane, I'll see you later. I met some nice people and unlike others, I'd like to fit in here, thank you." She walks away after stressing the 'thank you' the same way our brother Percy does.
I'm still watching Mary when someone comes over and stops at Emily's side, out of breath. It's Bella.
"Hi," she says breathlessly, clutching Emily's shoulder as though they're best friends. "Isabella Gootz. Bella," she adds. "Vi – Violet, you didn't introduce me to your friends."
I freeze for a moment before nodding to Shane. "This is Shane. That's Derek."
"Hi," Shane says.
"Hey," Bella says cheerfully, beaming at Shane. "Hey, Derek," she gushes over his name and gives him her 'smoldering eyes' that beg to be dominated, complete with lip between teeth. Oh, God.
"Did you just have an orgasm?" he asks rudely. "'Cause I haven't even done anything yet."
Bella fakes an insulted look when I can tell she's turned on; it's obvious. I swear, some day this girl will be a big deal in the porn industry.
"Let's go," Derek says assertively. Bella just about jumps to his side and clutches his arm. "How easy are you?" Derek asks while they walk away. Bella giggles shrilly.
"Thar she blows," Emily says wisely, holding her hands over her eye like a telescope. "A whore! A landing strip!"
I frown at Emily while she snorts.
"That was just great," Shane mutters angrily, sighing. "Fabulous."
"Yep. C'mon, Shane, I gotta show you to my friends. They'll love you."
He nods and follows my sister away so he can sit with her weird friends. Now that I'm left alone I have to sigh and ask God why he does what he does.
Some girls walk by giggling, whispering (loudly, though), "Yeah, I know! I bet he only does it to get attention!"
Good job, big guy.