"Ashlynn! Come help me set up the new table!" my mother squealed.

I sighed. I truly could not understand why my mother was excited about moving. I'm usually optimistic—really—but recent events have about stressed me out to my breaking point. I was currently feeling rather bleak; tearing away from California so suddenly has been tough, to say the least. I was going to miss my old routines, lifestyle, and even my friends. Okay, so my impressive collection of "friends"included, and was limited to, the following: a pen, a notebook, El Capitan, and Minette. The first two were inanimate objects, the third a mountain, and the fourth the only person. Sure, I had acquaintances, but Etta was really my only close friend. I tried to look on the bright side, but—try as I may—I couldn't convince myself that moving was for the best.

I stood up, easing part of my endless stress by slamming the door of our light purple Honda Accord. My mother has always had a fetish for strangely colored cars. From the school-bus yellow Pontiac Sunfire GT to the ladybug-style custom painted Toyota Yaris, I had seen my fair share of crazy cars in my seventeen years on Earth. Sure, the cars were fun to look at, but try to imagine pulling up next to the school bus in our Sunfire. Do you know how many teasing tots asked me if I rode the short bus? I swear, kids say the darnedest things! I chuckled, wondering why I thought such petty thoughts at such a crucial moment in my life.

I huffed, swiping a strand of my white-blonde hair out of my eyes. I dragged myself into our new "home." As matter of fact, this hellhole wasn't new at all. It was a two story house that had a dull, gray brick outside. The strangling, crusty brown vines were yanking at the wrought iron-barred windows, begging them to fall down with the rest of this place. I felt as if I were in the same position as they were; I was dangling on the edge of my sanity and wanting to take everything else down with me. I shivered, erasing these morbid thoughts from my head as I quickly walked into the slightly-cooler, yet, still icky inside of this—as my mother so extravagantly exaggerates—house. Compared to the outside, the inside was certainly not an improvement. A creaky staircase, squeaky doors, old slate tiles, cobwebs everywhere, and just about any other haunted-house-esque "luxuries" you could imagine. Oh joy.

As I wandered around my own personal Hell, searching for my mother, I wondered what color my eyes were today—they changed from blue to green daily. If I was lucky, my eyes might even be green and blue. I made a mental note to look later; I have a peculiar fascination with eyes.

"What do you need help with, Mom?" I asked, although I clearly remembered. I just wanted time to pass faster. Actually, just to keep Mom busy—one of the few tasks she needed no outside assistance for; a.k.a. me—I often asked to repeat herself unnecessarily; plus, it usually made her fly off the handle a bit. Trust me, it can be quite entertaining. I wanted to crash on my bed and sleep. I sighed, realizing I had to stay up and help my mother set the so-called house up, or else the house might become a pigsty—there I go again with underestimations—by tomorrow.

I walked past the hall with peeling, seventies-style bright orange lily wallpaper into the open living room to find what might soon—with outside assistance, of course—become a table on the ground. I looked around, noticing the instructions were, as always, nowhere to be found. Assuming my ever-harebrained mother, as she so often did, placed them in never-to-be-found-land in her haste. So, I headed toward the kitchen. I just hope the instructions aren't in the oven.

Just as I was walking out of a room that paid homage to That '70s Show, Mom walked into the bizarrely-themed room, drying off a dish. The black circles under her soft, loving caramel eyes only electrified her mid-life beauty. Her dimples and crow's feet on her ever-tired face outlined her complexion, evidencing her years of hard work and eternal stress. Luckily for mother, the only thing she has close to a physical imperfection was her hands. I glanced at her wrinkly hands, wondering why my hands were smooth. I had always winced at the sight of them; I felt bad that my hands were undoubtedly more favorable in appearance. She sighed, as if she heard my thoughts, she said gloomily, "I can't figure out this table. We just might need a man in this house."

She had jokingly grumbled the last six words, but I stiffened nonetheless. The last time that happened…well, that's a long, complicated story for later. Instinctively, I mouthed "I'll do it" to no one in particular and bent down, temporarily forgetting about the instructions. I positioned myself comfortably on the once-white carpet realizing whoever had lived in this house before us had not had much sense—both common and fashion.

"I'm going to go unload some more boxes out of the car, okay? It's getting dark, and I don't want the mosquitoes to come in. My petite mother could become a monster when bothered with too many questions if she was in the middle of doing something; so, as I had probably pushed enough buttons, I didn't bother asking for the missing instructions.

With my anger stirred up again, I slowly made a list of things I hated about stupid Louisiana, "Mosquitoes, humidity, heat, below sea-level-ness…"

My trail of thoughts was cut off by a soft, almost chiding chuckle from behind me. I dropped the screwdriver I had begun fiddling with when I saw the image in the mirror ahead of me. There I was, in all of my sweaty, exhausted glory, but someone else was there, too. The setting Sun painted pastel colors around this boy. He was stunning and radiant, far more gorgeous than anyone I had ever witnessed. In shock, I plopped down on my rear and spread my legs out in a stretch to avoid hitting the table. I cocked my head to the side, almost trying to answer the numerous questions that bounced inside my head. One was almost biting, but I had not quite intended it to appear that way. Why is he here now?

A husky, compelling voice answered, "I wish I could answer you," the voice cracked.

Instantly, I whirled around, realizing this beautiful creature was no mirage. A light smile danced on the creature's slender, pink lips, but it didn't reach his grey, grief-stricken eyes. Quickly, I took in every inch of him. His dark-wash boot cut jeans hugged his legs, revealing well-sculpted muscles. His shirt was a dark red color, which accented his chocolate brown eyes. He was breathtaking; I could have choked on air if I had not cleared my throat several times. He breathed in and out and ran a hand through his dark auburn hair. Methinks me likes. With another sad, almost reluctant smile, he began to walk away. Strangely enough, his entire body was slowly fading with each step.

Scared, yet, oh so invigorated, I croaked, "Wait! Come back! Turn around, fool! I can—" I trailed off, realizing I could not finish my panicked outcry.

He swung his torso around to gaze at me again, almost longingly. His voice seemed to envelope the air around my face, and his words seemed to resound eternally in my ears as he whispered my own thoughts aloud, "What can you do?" Then, he evaporated. Just like that.

I shrugged my shoulders and rubbed my eyes, wondering if I had fallen off of the edge of the windows like the vines inevitably would. Questioning my sanity, I tried to answer my own questions. Okay, where did he come from? Well, he certainly didn't just walk in the door like any normal human-like creature would. He just might have been a hallucination after all. Where did he even disappear to? No one just walks off into nothingness, right? He had to be a figment of my imagination. Yeah! Like the Disney character Figment—do I have to connect everything with Disney?

Just as I was pondering my crazy Disney-related thoughts, Mom came into the room with a troubling look painted on her ever-striking features. "Is everything all right—"

I cut her off, putting a hand to my forehead, checking for fever, "Everything's fine."

A raise of her eyebrows told me she was unconvinced. "Well, okay, if you say so, darling. I'll let you alone now," she softly said as she walked back into the kitchen.

Well, that was just a tad bit strange. I might as well go survey my new surroundings. I meandered up the whining steps to my room. I slowly opened the door a crack, not wanting it to fall off of its rusty hinges.

Great, just great. I swiped cobwebs off my bedroom mirror and grimaced at all of the dust. I looked at myself in the cracked mirror—yes it actually had an enormous crack down its middle. How cliché.

I plopped down on the brick that was to be my bed on the creaky second floor. The idiots that built this house decided to make the upstairs one room and one bathroom, and the same for the lower floor. They couldn't just make it all one floor, huh? Oh well. At least I have one floor to myself, no matter how squeaky and obnoxious.

As I prepared to go to sleep, I did my basic nighttime routine: bathing, face washing, et cetera. Before I went back into my room, I examined myself closely in the mirror. Unlike my mother, I had average skin, but at least I had enviable hair. My aunt Noemi always described herself as "attractive, yet approachable." That could just about describe my looks in a nutshell. I had a few of the little beauties Mother Nature gifted us unlucky females with monthly. I guess I'm lucky—my face could look far worse. To sum it up, I truly wasn't one to make jaws drop and heads turn, but I wasn't so repulsive that I could make the Incredible Hulk fall down dead at first sight. I silently wondered what the beautiful boy-creature thought of me in the short time we met. I shook off such unrealistic thoughts, realizing that, after all, he was a hallucination. I sighed, tired and bored of my self-examination, and settled down on my brick-like bed for my first night of sleepless dreams…