Chapter 3: Epicaricasy
If there is one thing I'm proud of about this situation, it's that I somehow matched Abi's hateful laugh perfectly.
I caught the last three seconds of her cackle, adding mine to it. She looked up in surprise when she heard it, and her laugh choked off to a gasp. Her hate-filled eyes turned their full glare on me.
As I looked back at her, a bubble of excited energy made its way up my throat. This was going to be fun.
"I thought we were friends…" I said, adopting a hurt expression. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't keep the concealed sneer from my tone. When she spoke next, I realized that she hadn't even noticed its presence.
Her short bark of a laugh was bitter and sarcastic. "Uh, no." She tried to sound condescending, but I could see the smirk of pride that played at her lips. She must have been proud of herself for telling me in her own way that she didn't need a Descendant as a friend. Even she knew that it was what she really wanted, but it would mean that she wouldn't be popular, which was a price she wasn't willing to pay. If there was one thing that I learned about her, it was that nothing could get in the way of her need for popularity. She needed it like the "poor rejects of the world" need food and water.
I decided right then not to hold back my explosion one bit. I was leaving anyway. What could they do about it? "We all know you don't mean that. Everyone can tell that it's your biggest dream to be a Descendant. Too bad it won't happen." I then gave her a look of mock sympathy; we both knew that quip had hit her where it hurt.
Judging from the look on Abi's face, I could tell that what I'd said had the exact effect I was hoping for. Her eyes got really big and her teeth clenched together. She was mad, but she didn't know what to say.
One of the few things that Abi and I have in common is our fiery temperaments. We by no means express it in the same way though.
Judging from the look on Ashley's face, I'd definitely said something right—or wrong, depending on whose side you're on. She looked terrified and confused. If I could guess what she'd be saying right now, it would be something like, "You actually wish that you were a Descendant? Like, actually? Oh my God! That's ridiculous and, like, so wrong on so many levels!" My anger turned to satisfaction. I was being petty and I knew it but, for some sad reason, I got enjoyment from lighting metaphorical firecrackers and standing back to watch them blow.
Ashley turned to Abi, and I could see the fire in her eyes. Abi was about to get it. I grinned as I walked to the mirrors to see my reflection while simultaneously ignoring the impending fight between the two girls. My work here was done.
I gasped slightly when I saw my reflection. I still looked like myself, but my features were slightly refined. The first thing that popped out at me was the color of my eyes. They were the exact colors that I thought they'd be. A ring of brown rimmed the iris. Normally, brown wouldn't match well with the other colors, but somehow in this case it did. The silver was the ring that was closest to the pupil, and it spread out into the turquoise. It reminded me of when you squint at the sun and how it almost looks like there are streaks coming out of it from all sides. There were also flecks of white that looked like snowflakes that were spread out over the whole iris. My new eye color was quite pretty.
My other features had been enhanced as well. My thin lips had filled out a bit, my chocolate brown hair became more shiny and curly, and my figure seemed skinnier and more muscular. I'm not usually one to stare at my reflection, but I couldn't help it. I used to consider myself relatively pretty, but now I was gorgeous!
I only looked away from the mirror when I heard loud voices coming from behind me. It was only then that I remembered the two girls that were in the bathroom when I'd gone to the mirror about two minutes before. I immediately felt stupid for forgetting about them. I wasn't usually so vain as to not notice my surroundings when there was a mirror in front of me. That was Ashley's job. It sounded like a major fight, so I turned around to watch it unfold.
"I can't believe you actually want to, like, have anything to do with a descendant!" Ashley's shrill voice broke several times because she was shrieking so loudly.
Abi had her emotionless façade on, and I knew exactly what was coming. This is where her explosions of anger differ from mine. I would have gotten out of there as soon as possible if I knew that the hallways were empty. Unfortunately, the only way to find out was by passing the fighting girls and opening the door to the bathroom. I was unwilling to do either of those things.
Ashley paid no attention to Abi's expression as she continued. "I mean, they're, like, such fakes! Everyone knows there's no such thing as super pow—"
Abi's hand slapping across Ashley's face cut off the end of her sentence. Her calm façade dropped into a look of anger and distaste. "So you're ditching me from your stupid group because I said it might be cool to have a Descendant as a friend? Everyone who counts has the same opinion as I do!"
"Well, I don't care!" Ashley screamed right back. "Nobody else has ever said anything about it! How do I know you're not just saying that so I'll let you be popular again? HUH?" Oh, how much I wanted popcorn at that moment. A camera would have been nice as well. Nothing good ever comes of cat fights, but it's always amusing to watch them fight over things that anyone else would just leave unsaid.
Abi had nothing to say to that. Her expression would have made me laugh if it didn't mean that I would have two girls who hated my guts band together and attack me. Her mouth hung open like a gaping fish, and her eyes were darting around as if she was physically looking for something to say. This was an expression that she only had once in the two years I'd known her when a boy had resisted her charms.
Ashley wasted no time in getting the hell out of that bathroom. She knew as well as I did that Abi would blow up if one more thing was said against her.
As soon as Ashley was gone, Abi did something that totally confused and surprised me. She bowed her head, letting her long light-brown hair fall around her like it was a shield to separate her from the rest of the world. I could see little droplets of water falling onto her chest. She was crying!
There were two reasons that this surprised me. Firstly, I'd only known her as an airheaded, materialistic floozy. She cared about herself and only herself. The second reason was that I knew her to be the kind of person who would fight fire with fire. She always had something insulting to say to anyone who even looked at her as though she wasn't all that.
I was tempted to comfort her, but despite the two years we'd been "friends", I suddenly felt as if I really didn't know her that well. She may be someone like me for all I know—someone who was only trying to fit in. Maybe I'd really only caught a glimpse of who she was and cast my judgment too soon.
The next thing she said made me believe completely in the new side of her. "I'm sorry for the way I treated you a few minutes ago." She said with a voice thickened by genuine tears.
"Uh, it's… o…kay?" I said, but it came out as more of a question than a reassurance. I'll tell you right now, I CAN NOT I repeat CAN NOT deal with people crying. I just don't know how. I get really uncomfortable.
I tried to think of something to say as I pulled out the envelope and searched desperately for the plane ticket inside. It seemed like I was in luck today. Not only was there a plane ticket, but it also showed that my plane left in two hours. That gave me just enough time to go home, pack my stuff and make it to the airport an hour before the flight was scheduled to leave. I used that as my excuse, and I quickly slipped out of the bathroom.
Thankfully the hallways were empty—all the students were in their classes. Hopefully there would be nobody on my way out.
I went to my locker, quickly gathering my belongings and leaving the rest—textbooks, scribblers and miscellaneous school supplies—for someone else to find. With my belongings in hand, I jogged to the front doors of the school.
I pushed them opened and stepped into the dizzying heat of an unusually humid September day. For a moment, I stopped and squinted, getting my eyes used to the light. Then I continued the jog to my car.
A half hour later, I reached my house where my mum was home early like she was every Thursday. As I grabbed my stuff from the car and headed to the house, I mentally braced myself for the moment she saw me.
Taking a deep breath, I slipped my key into the door. It went in smoothly, and I heard the distinct clunk of the lock moving. I opened the door, trying to act as casual as possible.
As soon as I was in, I dropped my stuff and ran to my room. First, I went to the window, shutting the drapes and blocking off all the light that was coming into my room. I then grabbed the biggest suitcase I owned and started shoving everything and anything into it, checking things off on my mental list as I went.
About five minutes into my packing, my mum came up to see what the heck was going on. I knew it would happen eventually, which is precisely why I closed the drapes. I prayed to any god or goddess that would listen that it would be too dark for her to notice my eyes.
"…What are you doing?" mum asked, walking into my room.
"I'm leaving," Was my short and curt reply.
"What? Where? Why?" my mum asked. Obviously she hadn't been expecting my answer.
"Because I want to," I replied, only answering her last question. I could easily lie, but it was best to tell as much of the truth as possible in this situation. I'd had enough practice to master the skill of lying by omission.
Mum looked genuinely hurt. "What brought this on?" she asked. Her expression made what was left of my explosion melt away.
I sighed. "I'm a Descendant." I said shortly. "I have to leave."
She raised her eyebrows in shock for a moment. Then she reacted to my news in a way that I never would have expected. "At least let me drive you to the airport." I was surprised that she wasn't upset. Like I said, she had an image that she always protected, no matter what. Not only did she refrain from exploding at me, she also didn't tell me that it was my fault and that I had brought the whole mess on myself. Something was definitely up.
I looked at her suspiciously. "Are you feeling okay?" I asked slowly. I didn't mean for it to come out so rude, but she didn't seem to notice or care.
She heaved a sigh, coming to sit on the edge of my bed. "Well, you see… no… Zoey, you—no! Damn it!" She sighed again, this time in frustration. She started muttering to herself, something that sounded suspiciously like, "shouldn't have waited."
"I don't understand." I was frowning now.
Mum jumped as though she'd forgotten I was standing there. "I had this idea in my head that you wouldn't have to find this out. I don't know what I was thinking. Everything I've read says I should have done this sooner—way sooner." She was rambling. This couldn't be good.
"I still don't…"
Her eyes finally lifted from her hands. I jumped slightly when I noticed the tears glistening in their depths. When she finally started to explain, her sentences came out choppy and disjointed. I'd never seen her with so little composure. "I was nineteen. It was in the middle of summer. A lady came to my house one day; she was a Descendant. We looked really similar. She said she'd be having a baby soon. She wanted her kid to experience humanity. We arranged an adoption…" Her eyes met mine. I was about to tell her again that I didn't understand, but suddenly I did.
My body went numb as I stood there, staring at her blankly.
I was adopted.
She seemed to take my silence to mean that I needed time to absorb the information. She sighed, patted me on the shoulder and left me to my packing.