She was dreaming.
Like her dreams always were, she was running. Or better yet, she was being chased, chased through the never-ending darkness. A small beacon of light lay ahead, but as hard as she tried and as fast as she ran, it never grew closer. She jerked her head around, trying to spot her attacker. All was silent except for the pounding of her heart and her erratic breathing. She blinked away the beads of sweat that were sliding down into her eyes.
And that was when she saw it, a pair of large, menacing yellow eyes staring back at her. She screamed and sat up, terrified.
Glancing around, she noticed that her sister was still sleeping in her bed, and she was pleased to know that her nightmare had not woken her, like they did on many other occasions. Wynry felt horrible about them; they took all her fears and insecurities and threw them back in her face. Everyone had said that one could be safe in their dreams, but for the longest time, she could not tell which was worse – living in fear of humiliation during the day, or not being able to sleep because of the constant nightmares. Her family was there to help her, but they couldn't protect her from everything. There was only so much they could do.
Wiping her brow, Wynry turned over and felt around in the everlasting darkness for her bedside table. Finding it, her fingers came into contact with a small pill bottle. Her dream suppressants. She had them in case she had severe trouble sleeping, which was the case on most nights, but refused to take them. She had heard that taking pills every day would cause the user to become addicted, and that was something she did not want.
She placed them back on her night table, rolled onto her back and stared up at the ceiling. If only she had been born gorgeous like her older sister Alexa, or charming like her younger sister Kitara, maybe then no one would have minded the way she was.
She found herself wide awake when her dad sounded the foghorn, successfully waking everyone in the house up. Wynn sat up stiffly, glancing at her younger sister as she fell out of bed rolled up in her bourbon-colored sheets. "Ugh, what time is it?" Kitara groaned sleepily.
"Shortly before five a.m. It must be really important if Dad woke us up this early with that loud piece of equipment," Wynn said, removing the covers from her legs and sliding out of bed. "Better go see what he wants." She walked out of the bedroom and down the hall to where her dad was waiting for them patiently. Her mother and three older brothers, Alex, Matt and Mark, were already sitting on the couches drinking coffee and waiting for his news. She sat down on the end of the couch and was given a steaming cup of hot cocoa with miniature marshmallows bobbing in the cup. She took a gentle whiff and smiled, bringing the cup to her lips for an experimental sip. It was just the right temperature. Her mother knew her all too well.
The remaining family members soon joined them. "Now that you are all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed," began their father brightly, "I have some important news for you all, and I believe you will all be proud of me." He glanced around the room and said, "I have been signed with the Minneapolis All-Stars."
After a moment's pause, his family enveloped him in congratulations. "Finally our old man gets a break," Mark said, throwing up his hands in exasperation. Wynn stifled a smile. Old? Their father was not old. In fact, both he and his wife were only in their mid-thirties.
"Does this mean we're moving?" Alex asked.
Dad nodded. "We're moving. I already talked to your schools and everything is settled. All you have to do is retrieve your things from your lockers and return any books and we'll be set. So I suggest you all start packing." Wynn sat still as her siblings rushed back to their rooms to pack up their belongings. Moving. She was moving away from this place, and to the mainland no less. She didn't know whether to be happy or sad, to leap for joy or to sink even further into endless darkness.
She had always been the freak. All through grade school she was teased, being called 'Vampire', 'Cold One', 'Countess Dracula', and even 'Mutant Albino Creep.' No one liked her and instead chose her brothers and sisters for company. They sometimes even used her to get to her siblings, and as they got older, pretended to like her in order to win the affections of her three older brothers or her sister. It didn't matter where they were, it was always the same. When Wynry had found out, she withdrew from the world, refusing to trust any one person outside of her family ever again, much to the dismay of her loved ones. But even though she was used to it now, it still hurt and moving to a new place where people would gawk and stare and laugh at her behind her back was not on her list of things she wanted to face.
She weighed her options. She could always stay with her grandmother and home-school herself, become a recluse and never set foot outside her home again, or she could go with her family and try not to ruin their happiness, because if she did stay, it would only hurt her family more. Wynn didn't want that. Besides, the only thing she would miss besides her grandmother would be her tiny island. She would miss the foamy waves and the hot sand, the warm sun and their beach bungalow.
But if there was anything she truly hated and would never miss, it would be the natives, her classmates, the ones who acted as if she were lower than dirt. She was almost happy to be leaving them, even if it meant being tortured by others. Quietly, she walked back to her room to pack.
Two weeks later, on the day of their departure, it seemed as if every high school student had come to the already crowded airport to say goodbye. Wynn watched as the girls cried openly and begged her brothers not to go because Makai would never be the same without them. Even the friends of her younger brothers and sisters had not wanted them to leave. Just as she had expected, no one cried over her. No one cared.
Suddenly, a few of her classmates turned to her, wiping their eyes with floral scented tissues. "We're going to miss you, Wynn," said one.
"Yeah," agreed another. "We'll write you all the time. Maybe we could even come and visit you during the summer."
Wynn fought the urge to sneer. Liars. They were lying to her like they always did. But she nodded her head and told them that she would be waiting. Then she boarded the plane and never looked back.
The place they were moving to was called Wolf Lake. It was supposedly a few hours' drive north of Minneapolis, somewhere in between there and Duluth off highway thirty-five. The reason the family was not going to be living in Minneapolis was because their mother didn't want her children living where they could easily be struck down by a speeding vehicle or get lost. She still wanted them to have the quiet life they always did, and Minneapolis was not too far away for day trips, she reasoned when Kenny, Wynn's younger brother, had asked.
Wynry could not have cared less over where they were going to live, all that mattered was if she had to go to a public school or stay home and get a tutor. It was all she really wanted. But no matter how much she had begged, or pleaded, or even cried, her parents were adamant in their decision to send her to public school along with her siblings. There, they said, she would make new friends that actually appreciated her. It was a white lie meant to ease her pain, but failed. She knew she would never be more than a transparent sheet of film floating around in the glory that was her family. There was just no use denying it anymore.
The vans pulled up to the sidewalk in front of their home. Isabella squealed with delight. "It's so much bigger than our old home. We might even have our own rooms. It even has a tower! Wynnie, can you believe it? It's like a castle!" She described every detail to her in amazement, from the exterior, to the interior. She even described the way the floor panels were designed.
To her surprise, she received the tower behind the staircase at the end of the hall on the second floor. The door was usually locked because the original owners from when the house was first built in the eighteen-hundreds had once had paraplegic children who lived in the tower, and in order for them to roam the halls there was a service elevator right next to the locked door that went from the tower down into the kitchen. But as the years went by and new owners came in possession of the place, the door had been unlocked.
Behind the door was a staircase that led to the wide attic that would become Alexa's room when she returned from college at Virginia Commonwealth, where she was taking classes in order to become a famous designer. The attic was big enough, Wynn noticed, for her sister's many mannequins which she used as models for her clothing. Beyond the attic was another passageway and another door that lead to the tower.
Wynn couldn't help but be amazed at the splendor of her room. With two other floors that had been recently added to the first over the past few years, how could she not be? She had her bed set up against the window, and directly across from it, her library of books. She stood at one end of the room and walked to the other end, heel to toe, counting in her head. Twenty-three feet across, she thought. Quickly, she did the math in her head. Seventy-two point twenty-two feet of space. She took the small service elevator to the next floor, where her dresser lay resting against the wall. She placed her suitcase down and began to unpack before taking the small set of stairs up to the third floor because the elevator would not fit. The room was about half the size of the first floor, complete with windows that surrounded her in a funnel shape. She flicked the latch above her desk and opened the window, letting in the fresh air before going back down.
They had arrived at their new home late in the day, and by the time Wynry was done unpacking, her mother had finished cooking dinner, which she was too tired to eat. Instead, she slept until the next morning.
She managed to shower third when she woke up, after having fought tooth and nail against her older brother Alex for rights to one of the bathrooms, and raced back upstairs to her bedroom to change, pulling a pair of black jeans over her hips and a formfitting red shirt over her torso. Nothing she owned made her look pretty; everything enhanced the paleness of her skin, making her look even more sallow and dreary. On her way into the elevator shaft, she grabbed her backpack and her sunglasses, sliding them over her eyes.
Kitara was waiting for her when she reached the second floor. "Mornin'," she said excitedly. "Are you ready for our first day as new students?" Instead of taking the lift, which was big enough for the pair of them being three feet wide by six feet high, they walked down to the kitchen and took their respected seats beside each other at the table.
Wynn pulled a bowl of dry cereal towards her and added milk, taking a bite and chewing in thought as Kitara asked, "Well? Are you?" She nodded, swallowing. They were starting at a new school two months into the first semester. Was she really supposed to be excited?
"I hope we can make friends," said Midori quietly, tugging on her dark pigtails.
"Of course we will," Mark snorted. "I mean, we're all hot-"
Speak for yourself, she thought.
"-so we will. I'm just glad to leave the island and explore our wondrous country without the basis of a vacation." She snorted into her breakfast. Wondrous? Nothing in the world was wondrous; it was the same despicable, horrific place all over the world. If it wasn't famine, it was war, and if it wasn't that it was something just as bad. They were in 'Bumfuck, Arizona' as her older brother Mark would eloquently put it, not New York City. Or even Chicago. No, they were in Minnesota, land of the ten-inch mosquitoes and eight-foot snow. Not that there was anything wrong with Minnesota. It was a fine state to live in. She liked the cold well enough, and it was right across the border from Canada. If she wanted to, she could flee there and watch the Winter Olympics. "Don't you think so, Wynn?" her brother continued. Once again, she faked a smile and nodded. Another lie. They were sure adding up these days.
Her family had been everywhere from right after Alexa's birth, from China to Mexico to Ireland. This place, she reasoned glumly, is no different. It's just a vacation. A really long vacation where I have to show my face to the hateful world, but a vacation nonetheless.
Her father gave her a look of understanding. "Look, sweetie, I know you wanted stay home and not go to public school, but this is for your own good. Your mom and I are tired of seeing you stare blankly out your bedroom window every morning for the past four years. It's time, I think, for you to move on. There are plenty of people not like K-"
"Don't mention him! I'm over it, Dad. I have been over it for years," she said, her voice even. "Besides," she added with a tiny grin. "I always stare blankly at everything."
After breakfast, their mother drove the triplets and the younger set of twins, Yukito and Ryuho, down to the junior high while their father entrusted Matt, Mark and Alex to not kill anyone on their way to Madison High School, total student population - one thousand six hundred and seventy-nine. In Wynry's grade alone, there had to be at least four hundred students. If the grades had been divided equally, each year would have exactly four hundred nineteen point seven five students, way more than her old school had, which consisted of that many students total.
The drive to the school was short, too short for Wynn's liking, but only because Matt had been going faster than she would have liked. He had almost rammed into another car trying to edge into the nearest parking space. "Can I stay in the car, please?" she asked quietly, not really wanting to set foot on Madison High ground until she had to, to lessen her future humiliation, so to speak. Her older brothers shook their heads. "Nope. Come on, little sis." She allowed Matt to pull her from the car and into the front office a few yards away. She sneezed as the door shut behind them, her nose bombarded by the heady scents of eau de toilette and old people. She shuddered. It was not the greatest combination.
The receptionist was talking on the phone and typing on the computer as we approached the desk. "Can we get our schedules?" her little brother Kenny asked. The receptionist looked up from her work. "Can I help you dears?"
Alex took charge and spoke up first. "Our schedules? We're the Kinomotos." She nodded, turned back to her computer, and printed out our schedules. "Here is a map. You will let me know if there are any problems, won't you dearies? Have a nice day."
Abrupt. That was all she could think of to describe the way the receptionist had shooed them away. And with the way she was talking to the person on the other end of the line, Wynn could understand why.
They each picked up our schedules and locker numbers and were sent on their way. Wynn stumbled along through the hallway, trying to get used to the new sounds and smells. There had been a few mainlanders that had gone to her school or visited the island, bringing with them unique sounds and smell, but never before had she been engulfed by so much at once. Her head began to swim painfully. Alex leaned closer, gripping her upper arm through my jacket to steady her as she wavered. "Stay close to me. I can't have you crashing into a door or something, now can I?"
She growled. "That only happened once, Alex, and it was entirely your fault!" she said indignantly. "You threw the door open and nearly broke my nose." She remembered that day. It had happened not too long ago, only last year in fact. She had been walking back to her room when he had exited the bathroom as she walked by. Needless to say that she ended up with a black eye and a bruise on her forehead. He stopped in front of a classroom and led me inside. She winced as my ears adjusted to the noise level, but it did not last long because almost as soon as they had entered, the chatter began a rapid decline into total silence that had Wynn staring at the laces of her sneakers. Alex gave her teacher a slip and waited as he said, "Wynry Kinomoto, is it?"
She remained silent, unsure of what to say. It was obvious that had to be her name; she was the only new girl that he had seen, she figured. Her brother nudged her with his foot, snapping her out of her reverie. She nodded. "Just Wynn," she corrected. The man nodded, making an acknowledging sound in his throat.
Her brother quickly kissed her forehead and told her he would be back five minutes before the hour, and then he was gone, leaving her in a classroom full of strange people who would eat her alive. She swallowed, still refusing to look up.
Her new teacher was enthusiastic, she realized, as he opened his mouth to say, "Welcome to English. My name is Mr. Banner, and I'm sure you will have an amazing time in my class." Wynn blinked behind her shades, once again confused. His voice was louder than necessary. Did he think she was deaf? "I'm sure," he continued, "that someone form the sign language club will be more than willing to help you with your studies." He thought she was deaf. Slowly, carefully, she removed her sunglasses.
"That's a very kind offer," she said, "but that won't be necessary. I'm not deaf, but blind." The silence in the room grew to an even more impressive height. She shuffled from foot to foot uncomfortably. "Oh," said Mr. Banner. "I apologize for my mistake." She shrugged. "Where do I sit?"
His hand moved before he could realize his mistake, but by the time he did, she was already on the move, carefully edging her way to her seat, stepping over backpacks that littered the floor and resting her hand on the tables that passed her on her right, keeping track of where she was. Her hand grasped the back of the empty chair, and she sat down, placing her bag on the floor at her feet. Mr. Banner was stunned, to say the least. She could understand why. Blind people were not supposed to walk around like normal people did. She chuckled bitterly. They didn't call her a freak for nothing.
Mr. Banner tugged on his tie and cleared his throat. "Now, we have a new student here as you all know. Would you like to introduce yourself?"
She groaned. "Not really, no." She blinked as she shoved her sunglasses back on. Mr. Banner went back to his lecture on the Shakespearian play her class had just finished reading, The Twelfth Night. Wynn had already read it. When would teachers ever decide to give them something a little more interesting to read? No one spoke with words like 't'was' or 'cometh' anymore. And his many plays and poetry were difficult to understand, not to mention sveral ended up with the main characters lying in a pol of their own blood.
Alex came to retrieve her five minutes before eight-ten, as promised. Behind him were two girls on their way to the restroom giggling about his good looks and how they planned to form a club in his honor. If Alex has at least two girls after first period, then I can only imagine how many Matt and Mark have, she thought. Even Kenny would have a few fans. She figured Kitara had already made friends with any Decathlon members.
The truth about the new junior female and her gorgeous siblings had spread around the school by third period gym, a class she had with Matt and Mark since they were in the same year. Wynn was issued a uniform, this navy blue pair of shorts and a gray shirt, but instead chose to wear Matt's old basketball shorts and a navy long sleeved shirt. She felt dozens of eyes on me as she walked into the gym. They were whispering in various parts of the gymnasium, and she wanted them all to shut up. It was uncomfortable enough without the rumors added to the stares.
Standing beside her brothers, she lowered her voice to a bare whisper and said, "This is not good. People are staring at me. Why can't they leave me alone?" Mark ruffled her hair with a laugh. "Don't worry about it. They'll stop staring soon enough."
That wasn't convincing enough for her. Yeah, she agreed sullenly, but then they'll gab about me for the rest of eternity. She could already hear them.
"She's so bony, just look at her," one girl hissed to her friend.
"I know," her friend agreed. "It's sick, right? And are those scars what I think they are?" Wynn nervously pulled the sleeves of her shirt down more. She had thought no one would notice, but they had, and it made her feel worse.
After their five minute indoor warmup, they walked down to the track. "We're going to see which of you can complete one lap the fastest," said Coach Williams, flicking through the pages on her clipboard. "When I call your name, please take your positions." She began to call out the names of the boys in groups of four. While they were running, Wynry sat down and began to stretch her legs, and that was when a jumpy blonde girl came up to her. "Hi, I'm Zoey Harper. You must be Wynry."
"Wynn," she corrected. The girl nodded. "Right. Are you really from Hawaii?"
"Yes." She stretched her other leg.
"But you're so pale."
"I used to tan, but I stopped going to the beach."
"Because you're half-Japanese and you want to be lighter than your boyfriend?" Wynn stared up at the girl through her glasses, incredulous. How had she managed to come up with such a ludicrous idea?
"No," Wynn said after a moment's pause. "I'm not half-Japanese by birth. My dad was adopted by a Japanese couple. I'm of Hawaii and Irish-American decent."
"So, why stop tanning?" Zoey wanted to know. She pulled on a lock of hair while she waited for Wynn's response.
"It's….complicated." She stood up to her full height of five-ten. "Whoa, you're, like, model tall," Zoey said. She shrugged. Model? She was no model. Models were gorgeous and role models and were envied by the world. The world hated her. "It's no big deal. I'm only tall." Zoey was probably prettier than she was. Wynn's height only served as another handicap for her. She was very tall for her age, that was true, but because of her bone structure, she was quite thin too. She was like a bird that fished for other birds' leftovers.
"Kinomoto, Harper, Dale and Howard, you're up next. Take your places at the track, girls," said Coach Williams in her booming voice. Following behind Zoey and the other two girls, she took her place on the track, trying to ignore the Is the blind girl really gonna runs and She'll just trip and cause people to get hurts coming from her classmates. "On your mark."
"Get set…." Focus.
"Go!" She took off like a bullet, focusing on the sounds of her own heartbeat and her shoes slapping against the ground. She had always been sport-orientated, being the younger sister of a surfer, two wrestlers and a football player, and the daughter of a hockey player and a surfer. Her whole family was into sports, be it ice hockey like her father and Kenny, or swimming like Bella and Ryuho, or even basketball like Sam. Wynry preferred the ice and tack. And gymnastics. Sports that gave her an adrenaline rush or defied the laws of gravity had always intrigued her. Maybe it was because jumping in midair with no one to catch her gave her the one thrill in life she had to look forward to. Maybe it was because she prayed that one day she would be practicing a blind crossover and would slip and break her neck. Maybe she had a death wish. She just lived for the thrill of doing a sport that was dangerous for someone without their sight. She raced around the track, the wind whipping her hair around here. It felt so good to be running. It was the only time she could let go and forget.
And then it was over. She came to a stop at the end of her lap, far ahead of Zoey and the other runners. "She's as fast as Tristan," said someone in shock.
Wynn hung her head in shame, having given them another reason to call her Freak. Zoey, having finally caught up with her, grinned up at her, red-faced from her run. "You did so well. Not only are you tall, but you're fast, too. Quickly, what's the square root of Pi?"
"1.772523851," she answered automatically. Didn't everyone know that? "Whoa," she said, "you're like, the perfect woman. Sit with me at lunch next period?" Wynn paused. This girl wanted her to sit with her during lunch. Regarding her carefully, she gave a slow nod.
And that was how she found herself holding a plastic tray in the immensely large cafeteria, trying to find Zoey amongst the mass of students who all seemed to have lunch at the same time. It was crowded, and too loud, louder than she had ever witnessed. And it smelled like – Wynn took a sniff and gagged – meatloaf, pizza, curly fries and lime Jell-O. She hated meatloaf. Thank God she had chosen pizza instead. Taking deep breaths, she tuned them all out, smiling slightly once Zoey had been located. Her hearing was as perfect as ever. She was standing on a chair at her table near a window, waving her arms and yelling, "Over here, Wynn!" in all her pint-sized, blonde-haired glory. Wynn then began the always agonizing task of making it to her destination without causing an accident, aware of the stares and whispers she tried not to hear. She came to a stop at Zoey's side. "Everyone, this is Wynn," Zoey said. "Introduce yourselves one by one so she can distinguish you all." Huh, she thought, amusedly, so she isn't as dumb as I thought.
As they told me their names, she took a seat. "So, Wynn, what made you move here?" Bekah Carver asked. She was a chubby brunette who was in her Biology class. Wynn remembered her by her scent. She smelled like raspberries and honey. Her shampoo, most likely. "I mean, Hawaii is so much better than this stuffy school."
"My dad got a job here, so we all moved. Besides," Wynn added, "Hawaii gets boring after a while. Where I was, everyone knew each other. You couldn't walk outside to pick up your mail in your pajamas without your neighbor finding out and telling the whole town you wear duck boxers." That made them laugh. Wynn fought the urge to gasp. They were laughing at the things she had said, and not at her! Her lunch mates, at first glance, seemed like nice people. They all seemed truthful enough, that was for sure, but she knew from experience that it was always the truthful ones that caused the most damage. "What was it like in Hawaii?" Danny asked. "How many siblings do you have?"
She answered his second question first. It seemed more important than what it was like in Hawaii. Unless he planned to go there, and Wynn really did not want to talk about that place anyway. "There are twelve of us total."
"TWELVE?!" Zoey sputtered, flailing her arms around so much that her drink fell over onto the table. Wynn quickly slid away as Coke dripped onto the floor where her lap had been moments earlier. "Your parents were insane enough to have a dozen children? What are you, Amish?" Ryo snickered. "Way to go, Zo."
"I'll get some napkins," Wynn blurted, abruptly standing up. Without looking back, she walked toward the lunch line, grabbed a few handfuls of napkins, and headed back, wondering what had made her forget the promise she had made to herself earlier. She was not supposed to have friends. She was supposed to stay silent for the rest of my time here in Wolf Lake.
The next thing she knew, she had tripped over a chair leg, and went flying into the arms of a heavily muscled guy, napkin confetti and ketchup packets floating around them.
Okay, all. I tried taking Stooped's advice and wrote the first chapter in 3rd person. This is the first chapter of the second draft of HEHS. Enjoy, and please review. Your comments and insight are appeciated.
Please and Thank you's all around.....
and please review as well.....
Keep the Peace