Chapter One: Regan
It was only three days away.
Only three days until the day I had been waiting for since I was twelve years old. Eight years ago. Had it really only been eight years? It had seemed like forever.
I kept my hands shoved resolutely in my pockets as I trudged down the sidewalk, avoiding the eyes of those around me. Even as I kept my eyes trained on the concrete under my black Converse, I could feel their gazes on my back: some friendly, some scary, and even more dangerous, some concerned. They stared pityingly after the girl with a permanent frown.
I didn't need their concern. I didn't need anything they could offer.
The frown deepening, I hunched my shoulders slightly, a sore attempt at appearing even smaller than I already was. Only three blocks away. Only three more blocks until I was home. My pace quickened, leaving the concerned souls behind even as I heard the quiet whispers. They were talking about me, that was for sure.
I was ready for it to just be over. I wanted nothing but silence. Pure, sweet, deafening silence. And in three short days, I would have it. Finally.
Darting up the three wooden steps to my front door, I ignored their almost crumbling state. It had been like that for a while, but there was nothing to be done about it. No money, no work force, and no time. I only had to put up with it for three more days.
I reached out to the faded wood of the door, resting my fingers on the tarnished brass knob for a moment before turning it, pushing the door in and slipping in as quickly as possible. Once inside, I fell back against the door and flipped the lock, grateful to be inside my own home, away from prying eyes.
The sun's rays slanted across the kitchen sink through the blinds, glaring in my eyes as I started for the refrigerator, anxious for a cold bottle of water. Nudging the door open with my toe, I grabbed the water bottle closest to me and kicked it shut again, untwisting the cap and taking a long swig before hoping up onto the counter behind me. A glance at the clock told me that dinner was still three longs hours away, but my stomach grumbled hungrily just as a soft mewling sounded from beneath my feet.
Glancing down, I saw Jasper looking up at me, his big green eyes begging for attention as he arched his back to rub my foot. Gently shoving him to the side, I jumped from the counter and set the water bottle down, leaning over to scoop the tiny kitten into my arms.
"Hey there, kitty." He purred appreciatively as I scratched under his chin, lifting his head and closing his eyes as he spread his paws against my chest. "I'm going to miss you in three days," I whispered.
I wandered back to my bedroom and to the far wall where a "To Do" list stood posted next to the window. Gripping the pen from where it hung attached to a chain from the clipboard, I quickly jotted down Find Jasper a good home. There were already eleven things on the list, and it just seemed to be getting longer. So many things to do and only three days to do them in.
My eyes quickly scanned the rest of the list, my heart sinking as I remembered the rest of my tasks. It seemed impossible, but I had no other choices. They all needed to be done.
Jasper protested loudly, squirming in my arms after a few moments of no attention. "Calm down," I scolded, slowly shifting him until I could set him on the bed where he immediately curled into my pillow, his little eyes drifting shut before I could tell him to sleep well.
I pulled the curtains shut across my window, leaving the room dark just the way I liked it, then left the room once more, leaving the door open behind me. Then I walked back to the kitchen, grabbed my water bottle and made my way over to the couch in my darkened, wood-paneled living room that only consisted of the couch, a coffee table and the medium size TV that sad on the coffee table opposite the couch. I curled myself into the corner and switched on the TV before flipping through its eight channels in search of something to pass the time with.
Then a knock at the door startled me into spilling my water bottle all over the couch. I sighed in frustration, realizing that water was the least offensive thing that had been spilled on this couch in the two years I had owned it. Just as I was contemplating retrieving a towel to soak up the excess liquid, the knocking I had almost forgotten about continued.
"I'm coming!" I called meekly, standing up and jogging to the door.
After flipping the lock once more, I swung the door open to see Sara standing on the other side.
"Oh! Sara," I bumbled, definitely flustered. "What are you doing here so early?"
She stepped through the door wordlessly, brushing me aside even though I had clearly not invited her in. Once inside, she turned and stared expectantly at me, waiting for the door to close. So, unable to decide on any other course of action, I let the door swing shut again and waited patiently for her to speak.
Apparently, however, she wasn't in an obliging mood today. She took the moment to glance around the house, taking in every inch as if it were her first time there. Far from it. She'd been there the day I bought it, the day I moved, and almost every day since.
She was my sister.
My older sister, to be exact. Twenty-seven, and with all the sophistication in the world to show for it. She'd helped me get the house, had helped me get the loan for it. And she'd been helping me along the way ever since. Nowadays, she usually just brought dinner, and the occasional random amount of money. But she was here at four in the afternoon, not seven, which had become the norm.
Finally, she turned back to me, her raven hair pulled away from her face to reveal her narrowed eyes. Concern. I loved her, but oh, how I hated the concern in her eyes.
"Regan, I haven't heard from you since Friday," she remarked. "What's going on with you?"
So that's what this was all about. The fact that I hadn't called her all weekend. She was simply worried. I tried not to imagine how worried she would be when I didn't call her this weekend either.
I rolled my eyes and strolled to the fridge to retrieve another bottle of water to replace the one I had just spilled. She was my sister; I was allowed to be combative.
"Sara, I really appreciate all of your help with everything, you know I do," I commented, avoiding eye contact as I leaned back against the counter. "But I don't need to call you every day. I am perfectly capable of taking care of myself for a weekend, at least."
She walked towards me, her black stilettos clicking on the linoleum tile of the kitchen floor. "I know that, I really do," she assured me, placing both her hands on my arms. "But it's Wednesday. What did you do for food for the last four days?"
I shrugged her hands off me, glaring at her from behind the veil of dark hair that fell haphazardly across my face. "I ate at Marty's."
Immediately, I saw her face harden and she glared back. "You know that's not right, Regan. You can't keep eating at the café and not paying for it. Eventually, someone's going to recognize you and they're going to turn you in."
I shoved past her, knowing I couldn't really get away from her. And sure enough, just moments later, her heels clicked after me. "It's not going to happen. Besides, you're here now, so I don't have to worry about it. You did bring food, right?"
Falling backwards onto the couch, I set the water bottle on the floor to avoid another spill while I watched Sara cross in front of me, standing between the couch and the TV with her arms crossed definitively across her chest.
"Of course, I did," she sighed. "I'll be right back."
She dumped her purse on the couch, insuring that she would have to come back, and left the house to retrieve the food. For a few blissful moments, all I could hear was the comforting dull roar of the TV in the background. Then the clicking returned. And although I would rather have had silence, the clicking also brought the promise of food. And the thought of food had my stomach grumbling even louder than before.
Sara didn't bother announcing her return; instead, she simply walked straight to the kitchen counter and began unloading the bag she carried in her arms. My mouth started watering just at the sight of the fried chicken.
"KFC?" I asked incredulously, walking towards the scent before I even knew I was moving.
She nodded. "I thought you could use something utterly delicious, if not the best for you." Stepping aside, she revealed the array of food laid out across the counter. There was not only fried chicken, but also corn on the cobs, beans, potato wedges, and biscuits. It was the most delicious-looking meal I had seen in a while.
I eagerly began to dole things out onto a plate, taking more than I would probably end up actually eating. But I didn't care. I would eat everything I could, and save the rest for Saturday. What a glorious last meal it would be.
Because Saturday was only three days away. Three days until I committed suicide.
But Sara didn't know that, of course. She didn't know that I had thought out every aspect of the plan, from the act itself to the repercussions that she would have to deal with. I hated to think of how she would react come Monday morning when she checked up on me, having not heard from me for the second weekend in a row.
I glanced sideways at her, realizing that while I had become lost in thought, I had slowly come to a stop with the plate full of food in my hand, the plate beginning to tilt dangerously towards the sink. I jerked the plate upright, sending some of the beans onto the counter, and took it to the tiny table in the corner, setting it there before going to retrieve my water bottle.
"Thanks," I said quietly as I sat down to the plate in front of me. Then I started shoveling food into my mouth, without bothering to say grace. It had never helped before, and it sure wasn't going to help three days before I left this world.
She quickly pressed a kiss to the top of my head, making me pause mid-chew. "You're welcome. Well, I have to go. Daycare will be over any second now, and I need to be there when Charles brings Chastity home." Walking towards the front door, she paused at the door, calling back to me softly. "I love you, Regan."
"Love you, too," I mumbled in reply, waiting for the door to close before resuming the meal.
But even as I chewed the last bite of biscuit twenty minutes later, I still found myself thinking about Sara's unexpected drop-in. I knew she was worried about me, and I knew she actually had reason to be. I would miss her. That, at least, was true.
But how much I would miss was in no way enough to keep me from carrying out the plan. Maybe I would leave Jasper on her doorstep. Then he would have a good home, and Sara would have a little piece of me to keep.
I silently rinsed the plate off and left it in the drainer before trudging back to my room, noticing the clock on the wall. More time had passed than I had realized. It was already six o' clock.
"Jasper, would you like that?" I asked, sitting on the edge of my bed next to him. "Would you like to go live with Sara and Charles and Chastity?"
He barely opened his eyes, mewling softly in reply. I smiled sadly, scratching behind his ear slowly. "I thought so. I'll miss you, too."
I stood and turned on the lamp in the corner behind the desk. It was getting darker earlier every day, and by the time I got out of the shower, it would be pitch black in the room. Walking into the tiny bathroom across from my bedroom, I flipped the light switch and caught my reflection. Was this the face of a girl discontent with her life? I hardly recognized her. The sadness in her eyes, the slight grimace to her lips, the furrow of her brow. I didn't want to be like this anymore. And in three days, I wouldn't be.
I shed the layers of clothes, letting them collect into a large pile in the corner next to the door. Then I glanced over my reflection once more, wincing as I twisted to see the bruise spreading across my side. Only another reason I was anxious to get out.
I turned on the water, waiting until it got nice and hot to step in under the stream, flipping the shower curtain closed after me. Steam rose all around me, letting the walls fall away until I was engulfed in the mist. It was perfect. Silent, save for the gentle sounds of water droplets hitting the tiled wall. Softly lathering the shampoo into my hair, I let my mind wander from task to task, trying to prioritize things to do before Saturday. Which things did I need to do now, and which ones had to wait until last second.
After a while, I came back to my senses, realizing that the shampoo had rinsed out of my hair long ago, so I quickly finished my shower and shut the water off, the sudden quiet a little deafening in my ears.
Toweling off, I remembered the one tiny thing that I had forgotten: clean clothes. So I gently wrapped the towel around my body, being hyperaware of the giant patch of blue and purple as I folded it closed before opening the door to pad back to my bedroom. But I didn't get too far. As soon as I stepped in my room, I nearly dropped the towel as I screamed.
All because a strange man was standing in the middle of my bedroom.
A/N: So this is my NaNoWriMo attempt of '09. I sadly did not win this year, but now I know what to expect for next year. However, I am still completely committed to this story! So expect this to be updated along with STR from now on. :) Enjoy! And please review.