A Note From Your Author:
This is not, as you may be assuming, a new story- it is an old one, being re-uploaded by popular request for the debut of its sequel, 'Blind Faith'. I apologize in advance from the huge amount of alerts you're about to see in your Inbox if you have me on Author Alert, because 'Snow White' has well over a hundred chapters. Rejoice, however- this gives me some time to thrash out something new (and, yes, I AM thrashing out something new) and you some time to fill those sad and lonesome in-between days with even more Grade-A De Manriyette awesome!
If this is your first time with us 'Snow White'-r's, hope you love! If this is your second time around, either because you want a refresher for 'Blind Faith' or you just love the story that much, hope you enjoy! Many happy hours of reading,
Your Author, Always,
And now, on with the story:
The first day of school. A day exactly the same as every first day before it since the seventh grade. It was clinically obvious- painfully precise- the kind of thing you could have seen on camera if each day had been videotaped. Rayne had only just gotten onto the bus and she already knew that, this year, nothing would be different.
Even her morning had been predictable: up at six-thirty, shower done forty minutes after that, breakfast, lunch packed, and out the door at exactly seven forty-nine. Uncle Carson and Aunt Nadine had eaten breakfast with her, both a slight break from the norm and a refined form of torture since August twenty-second had apparently been declared 'Pep-talk Day' without her noticing. She bore the eighteen minutes of cheer wishing what they were saying was true- day-dreaming, even. What if? What if today was different? What if today people liked her, sat next to her, talked to her? Maybe she would make a friend. Maybe Mark Holswith would finally realize she was alive.
And maybe the money fairy would float down out of the clouds and give her a million dollars.
Uncle Carson and Aunt Nadine tried- God bless them, they tried- but this wasn't the kind of thing a pep-talk could change, and the pep-talk kind of spoiled the morning, usually her favorite time of the day. Morning was comforting, familiar, safe. It was the rest she wanted to change, the other half of the world she wanted to belong to. But the rest hadn't changed because she'd wished it to.
The rest hadn't changed at all.
There were twenty-one students from Jefferson Academy on the bus when she joined them at her stop. Two people had graduated in last years' class, and one had gotten her drivers' license. All three had been replaced by three new faces, all obviously freshmen. Rayne barely had time to note these changes when the looks began- the wary looks, the cautious looks, like she was the well-known carrier of a deadly plague that people caught if they made any friendly acknowledgment of her existence. The three freshmen, looking even smaller and younger than last years' had, stared at her in fear, and the unlucky one sitting alone in a two-person seat squeaked aloud when he realized that there was a chance (however slim) that she might actually sit next to him.
Rayne didn't, of course. She was naively hopeful, but she wasn't cruel. She walked past him, to the second-to-last seat on the left where she sat alone every year, staring out the window. The bus began to move with a jerk, and she felt her heart sink as she pretended not to notice the glances and whispers that always accompanied her wherever she went in this tiny town. She knew why, of course. Everyone did.
Six years earlier, when she had still been in fifth grade at her elementary school, she had miraculously survived a train-wreck outside of Chicago and been found near the explosion site, untouched. Everyone else had died, from the engineer at the front to the infant in the last sleeper car in the very back. The explosion had also claimed her parents, her two sisters and three brothers, her newborn twin nephews, her brother-in-law- everyone. Even the nearby countryside had been ripped apart by shockwaves that caused one very old man to have a fatal heart attack and one very young girl to fall off a ladder, breaking her leg. To the locals it had come to be known as the Mariposa Tragedy, and even at her age she soon knew every minute detail, but not because she had been there. She had no memories of what had happened beyond boarding the train, bound for all the mystery that was Chicago and her grandparents and vacation for a town-sized girl in a city-sized world.
The doctors called it a miracle that she had survived, even with her memory loss. They tried to fix that, too, with tests and pills and movie reels of the accident, the aftermath, the speculation of all the reporters. At the bidding of modern science and her new legal guardians, she watched computer-generated animations of the explosions in slow-motion until even her dreams relayed a mathematically-perfect nightmare of the deaths of everyone she'd ever cared about. Rayne couldn't remember anything, and the more she was shown, the more she didn't want to. When the doctors and psychoanalysts finally allowed her to go home, everything had changed. The house where she had grown up had been sold, and she had moved in with her aunt, uncle, and three cousins far from her old school. Almost everyone in the neighborhood seemed to have lost someone in the Mariposa Tragedy, and her survival was viewed as highly suspicious -unnatural -supernatural, even. Whether she'd been saved by the angels of the lord or denizens of 'that other place', townspeople crossed themselves when they spoke of 'the Doegon girl'.
Perhaps they were not to blame for their speculations and the cruelty it engendered- certainly, Rayne didn't hold it against them. Maybe they were right, how was she to know? But the accident had left its' mark on her to keep everyone from forgetting that she was different, including Rayne herself, and the hair that had once been blonde and curly still grew pin-straight and snow-white. It had been that way since she had been found a mile from the carnage, and deep in her sub-conscious she'd already guessed that it would be that way until the day she died.
Her aunt, however, was not so easily cowed by this phenomenon. In her mind, Raynes' hair was all that separated her from a normal life, and if it could just be dyed- hidden- got rid of, things would come right for everything else, too. Maybe she was right, and a change certainly couldn't have hurt, but Rayne refused a wig or a dye-and-perm. Two weeks before school, she and Aunt Nadine had their annual fight, and two weeks before school, year in and year out, she always conceded to cream-blondish highlights that at least made it seem possible her hair was white-blonde. Anything else was out of the question- if this was her hair, it was her hair- similar things had happened in the past, like to Jewish survivors of the Holocaust, and they had borne with much worse things than a train wreck.
So Rayne stared out the window of the bus, fingering her newly almost-normal hair and feeling sick. She would always be 'the Doegon girl'. Even a hair-dye couldn't change that.
The bus jerked to a stop and started again, traveling to the next stop. There were six between hers and the school, jerk, stop, start, and remembering what awaited her at the beginning of her third year, all Rayne wanted in the world was to get off at one- get off, and never look back.