Helena King never was one for psychos.
Plain brown hair, plain pale skin, plain brown eyes. Plain personality, as far as she could tell. Middling popularity. She was not noticeable, just another name to fill the class list and another face to crown the school's momentous population.
Of course, there were plenty of them to hang around with in school, psychos, that is. Methheads. Emos. Goths. Jesus freaks. All of those in plenty, but the biggest one of all, at least in tenth grade, was Rachael Mayer.
Rachael never talked to anyone. She worked alone, even when partners were required. She had not spoken once, only done her work quietly. When she was directly asked a question, she stared at the teacher with a disturbing intensity in her eyes, deep as a vat of chocolate, and eventually the teacher had to turn away and ask someone else.
That was Rachael, and that was what Helena knew about her. But what she didn't know is that there were other sides to the girl.
She knew she was dreaming, and she knew she was awake.
She was walking, between mist and shadow and flame. There was nothing in front or behind her; it was as if she treaded on air.
And suddenly there was something ahead.
Mist, shadow and flame were still there, but this time it was curling around the shape of a girl. With a jolt, Helena recognized Rachael Mayer. Her black hair, even more lustrous than normal and lacking the white strip at the front, whipped in cropped strands over her pale forehead; her eyes were wide and luminous. With a slender finger, Rachael beckoned Helena toward her. She turned, white robes whipping around her, and was gone.
Helena followed. She knew she had to.
Rachael led Helena through the shadows, although Helena could not see any distinct path. Helena did not know how long she walked, hours or moments, but suddenly the mist was gone and they were standing at a cliff.
They were both naked, but Helena felt no shame. She only had eyes for Rachael.
The girl was looking down at the waves crashing against the side of the cliff. Helena walked to Rachael's side, as slowly as if she were walking through water. She looked down over the cliff. She felt dizzy from the height; it must have been at least a hundred feet high.
Rachael and Helena turned toward each other. Helena felt as if she were looking into a mirror, staring at a reflection she did not want to see.
Rachael smiled a dead smile; her eyes blazed iridescent with hundreds of colors in shades that Helena had never seen. Seek, she said.
Rachael ignored Helena, turning her back to the cliff's edge. She spread her arms out, as if on a cross.
No, said Helena. She didn't know why--she had never talked to Rachael--but she did not want the other girl to die.
Rachael leaned backwards till she lay with her feel on the cliff's edge, her body spread-eagled, floating on the air. She gave Helena a deadly smile. You've realized.
Realized…? asked Helena, but Rachael had fallen.
Helena quickly looked down over the cliff's edge again. She saw nothing but the greenish waves, crashing violently against the wall, slowly wearing it down.
Helena…are you still here, or have you left me?
Helena looked around with a jolt. No one near her; no one over the cliff; no one coming out of the mist, and yet she could hear Rachael's voice as if she was right next to her.
I'm still here, Helena said, her voice shaking.
A sigh, a laugh, and then Rachael was standing beside her again. She was translucent, mist swirling inside her like a life force. She smiled once again, and this time her smile was sad, so terribly sad.
Oh, Helena. You've realized that if I die, a part of you will die with me.
Helena closed her eyes, corkscrewed them tightly, not wanting to accept the truth: that Rachael Mayer, a girl she had first spoken with in a dream, was a part of her, how impossible it may seem. When she opened them, looked around, no Rachael. Had she ever even been there?
A hole opened up and she was falling, falling, Rachael's laugh swirling in the air around her. She screamed--
And woke up, hands grasping at her chest, her hair wild and her skin sweaty. She sat for a moment with tears leaking out from under her eyelids.
She knew it was time.
She needed to do it. She needed to talk to the woman no one talked to.
And she needed to do it soon.