A/N: Ok, this is my only way of doing my ex justice. She may have gone to her watery grave, but her memory's ghost still haunts me. And to get it all off my chest, I decided to write this. As noted, it's a prequel to Drowning, but it's not a series. There shouldn't even be a series about my life.
IMPORTANT: ALL NAMES HAVE BEEN CHANGED TO PROTECT NAMES ARE FICTIONAL, BUT NOT THE CHARACTERS. ANY RESEMBLANCE TO PERSONS LIVING OR DEAD IS ENTIRELY COINCIDENTAL.
"Shard? The bell just rang..." Iris said to me. I continued to read, nose buried in the novel to even hear Iris.
"Are you OK, Shard?" she asked again.
"Huh? Who? What? Where?"
"You're just playing with me, aren't you?"
"N-No! I was just too engrossed reading that book."
A giggle. "I thought so. Now come on, we don't want to miss the bus, do we?"
"The bus?" I asked, confused. Iris placed her hands on her hips, and with an adorable pout, said, "We're taking the bus today because the train system shut down, remember? Try to be a little less absent-minded, please." "S-sorry." I mumbled, following her as she dashed out of the school compound.
Later, during lunchtime, Iris said the four words that struck fear in any couple's heart: "We need to talk."
Trying not to choke on my chicken fillet, I replied, "About what, Iris?"
"I can't see you like this much more, Shard."
"And why not?"
"Well, my mom insisted I start studying for the exams so I can get straight 'A's."
"Don't you already get straight 'A's?"
"Yes, but she wants me to get a hundred marks for every paper."
I swallowed the fillet, and let out a low whistle. "Man, her expectations are up in Heaven."
"Shard!" Iris exclaimed. I remembered she was a Christian, and quickly apologized.
"Sorry, screwed up there."
"It's OK. But seriously, this has to be our last date before exams, OK?"
"Alright, alright." I sighed. "See you at school next week." Iris nodded, and we left to our separate paths.
Monday came faster than I wanted it to, and on Monday, a ghastly sight greeted me. As I walked into the class, Iris looked at me with half-lidded eyes, not bright and open like they usually were. Her hair was no longer smooth and silky to touch, but rough, uncombed and generally dirty. Her uniform was also out of shape, one button on her top was undone, so if one looked closely, they could see her cotton white bra. "Iris!" I gasped, quickly buttoning up her blouse. A weak smile formed on her lips, and she replied, "Good morning, Shard." Grabbing her shoulders so she looked at me, I asked, "Iris, what happened to you?" She yawned, and said, "Stayed up all night studying." I shook my head in relief, thoughts of her being a rape victim dispelled. Just then, my friend, Larry pulled me aside, and said, "Congratulations, Shard!" A few other boys were there, grinning their stupid heads off. Without missing a beat, I asked, "What is it this time, Larry?" He said, "Who knew you'd be the first to get laid? Certainly not us!" I blinked, saying, "No! I did not sleep with Iris!" Larry gave me a knowing smile, and said, "Don't lie to us! If you didn't then why does she look so tired? I mean, she even forgot to button her shirt properly, man!" One boy among them said, "Not anymore, she buttoned it back up again." Trying not to yell in anger at my pervert classmates, I explained what had happened. Many left when they heard the explanation, and of course, allowed me to find Iris sitting at her seat, her head propped against her books. Taking my seat next to her, I whispered, "Iris, you really need to sleep."
"No," she mumbled, "Have to learn about this subject for exams."
"Iris, please. If you don't sleep, you won't be able to concentrate on your exams at all; you'll end up sleeping in the exams."
"Shard, I don't have a choice..." Iris turned to give me another weak smile, and said, "Besides, once the exams are over, we can sleep together..."
"Yes, yes, realized it the moment I said it..."
The days went by, and I watched worriedly as Iris' condition worsened. She began to cough violently, and her appetite shrunk dramatically. Even when I got her a cookie, one of her guilty pleasures, she gave me that frustrating weak smile and kindly refused. Her once slender figure became more and more haggard, and her clothes were even more atrocious. Once, when I saw her crumpled uniform, she said she had slept in her uniform for half an hour before rushing to school. Even taking her to the family doctor, who understood and gave her a three-day-leave, she still came back to school, with a note from her mother saying she was completely alright and fit for studies. And every time I tried to help her, she would always give me that weak smile, and say, "Thanks, Shard, but I still need to study." It was only when the exams truly loomed above us, did I back off to do my own revision.
"Alright students," said the invigilator. "You may leave." The final exam had finally ended, and of course, an armada of students rushed to their bags and the exit. No matter how old it got, somehow I always managed to end up in this sea of human bodies, desperately trying to find my surroundings and of course- "Iris!" I called. The eponymous girl looked at me; bag slung over her shoulder, and gave me another one of those goddamned weak smiles. "Sorry, Shard, but I have to go home for swimming practice." After a while of holding her hand, I said, "No." Iris stared at me, and asked. "'No' what?" I started walking towards the bus stop, and said, "I'm not letting you exert yourself anymore, Iris. You probably haven't eaten anything since you woke up!" "But Shard, I can't disobey my mother..." Iris said, downcast. However, my heart and mind had both agreed on getting Iris some well-deserved sleep. "I'll be able to get you some time to sleep, OK Iris? Just trust me." Giving me one of her usual, energetic smiles, the ones I welcomed with open arms, she nodded, and kissed my cheek. With that, she promptly fell asleep in my arms, leaving me to myself to brood as we approached her house.
I gently nudged Iris awake as we arrived at her house. Fumbling with her keys, Iris opened the door, and upon entrance, I saw what had to be the perfect household. Spick and span cupboards, a nice little doormat that said 'welcome', a well-polished cerulean table with two oak chairs all formed the image of a quaint little household. However, appearances can be deceiving. With all the abuse I had seen Iris take at school, I knew something darker loomed within the house. A woman, somewhere in her mid-forties, appeared, and exclaimed, "I see you've brought your boyfriend home, Iris. Why don't you go swim a few laps while I talk to him?" "Actually-" I started, before a huge blush appeared on my face as Iris slipped her top over her head. However, when I saw the white bikini top beneath, I slowly stopped blushing, only to heat up again when she stripped her skirt off, again to reveal the other part of her bikini. Please, oh God, please don't look at my pants. I thought desperately as she walked off to the pool, mentally killing myself for thinking about her like that. It was only when she dove into the pool, then did I snap out of my mental nightmare, and Iris' mother said, "As you can see, Iris has to practice swimming for the tournament later next week. So I'm sorry, but you'll have to leave. It's a mother-daughter sort of thing." "No." I said. Visibly surprised, the woman, Mrs Lee, said, "But Iris is swimming. Unless you wanted to be in my house, or if you wanted to swim with her, which is highly unlikely, there is no point in your staying here." I stared at her, my chestnut-brown eyes boring into her piggy, black eyes. Mentally swearing that Iris' bright big eyes came from her now-deceased father, I said, "Mrs Lee, I have seen Iris descend from a perky young girl into a haggard lady who has not eaten daily. This is all done so she would get a hundred marks for every paper." "So Iris is ambitious, so what? That doesn't mean anything." Mrs Lee scoffed. Once again I couldn't help myself but glare at her. "What I'm saying here, Mrs Lee, is that I think you have put Iris through harsh times, as of late." The woman backed away, saying, "Now I'm responsible for my daughter's ill health? That's crazy. If Iris fell sick, I would keep her at home until she was fine again!" An opening! "If so, then why did Iris come back to school with a violent cough? When she was asked out of the class, she produced a note from you stating she was completely alright and was allowed to stay in class for the rest of the day." I pulled out the note and said, "This is the note I am talking about. Do you deny its handwriting and signature to be yours, Mrs Lee?" A grimace formed on the woman's face. She knew I had her cornered, and after a brief staring contest, she grunted, "Give me your request and then get out of my Holy house. May God strike you down with lightning, you insolent swine." Ignoring the threat, I said, "Get Iris out of the pool, and give her some much-deserved sleep." Turning away from me, she used her motherly tone to call, "Iris! Please come out of the water, I want to give you something." Silence hung heavy, and I knew something was wrong.
"Mrs Lee, call an ambulance!" I shouted, as I took out my phone, wallet and other valuables, placing them on the floor before I dove into the water, clothes, glasses and all. The fabric instantly clung to my skin, but it was the least of my matters when I saw the unmoving Iris at the bottom of the pool's deep end. Ignoring the burning pain in my lungs, I swam, sight blurred but still focused on her. Grabbing her, I swam to the surface, making sure both our heads had burst into the life-giving atmosphere. Seconds later, a paramedic fished her out of my hands and gave her CPR, which normally would've caused a tinge of jealousy, but now it didn't matter. After the paramedic did a few more actions, her downcast expression told me all I needed to know.
A/N: ... and that's that. Please do not ask for a sequel or another prequel. Ever.