I slung my bookbag into the bed of my mom's truck and climbed into the passenger's seat, slamming the door behind me. I leaned back and closed my eyes, taking a deep breath of the cool air conditioner. It felt nice on my face after a long day.
"How was school, honey?" My mom asked as we pulled out of the parking lot of Miami Beach High School. I glanced back one more time at the school. It was probably the last time I would see it until August, thankfully.
"Fine." Of course it wasn't. Up until April, I had loved school. But every day had become a struggle for me, ever since I was dumped by Rick. That had caused me to go into a depression. That wasn't all that made me depressed, of course. That was just the trigger. Nothing I could do could make it go away.
Mom turned on her turn signal. "That's good." I took my iPhone out of my pocket and stuck an earbud in one of my ears, turning up Adele.
"Are you glad it's summer?" She asked.
I shrugged. "It's too hot."
"Well, if you would take off that jacket once in a while, Lina…" she said as she tugged at the sleeve of my Aéropostale hoodie. I pulled away. I wasn't going to take it off. She would see the cuts on my arms.
"Can't you just turn up the air conditioning?" I asked as I rolled down the window, looking past the hotels out at the beach. I hadn't been down to the beach in months. I just hadn't felt like it. Memories of the beach were some of the only ones that I hadn't yet tainted with my current feelings. The last time I went to the beach, I was giddy with joy. Now I would probably just sit in the sand and stare at the water.
Mom sighed. "Fine. But you do need to take that thing off more," she said. "It's summer."
"I know…" I muttered. "I just don't wanna."
She drove silently for a few moments. "Do you want to stop at Five Guys?" She asked quietly we neared the restaurant on Ocean Drive.
"Sure." I pressed the Home button on my iPhone and stared at the wallpaper. It was a picture I had taken when we had flown to New York to visit my grandparents. I took it out my window after the sun had risen. The sun shone through the clouds perfectly. Rays of light streamed from the sun and illuminated the clouds, causing them to be a bright white color that looked perfect. It felt like I was looking at Heaven. It was my favorite picture. It always gave me a brief feeling of happiness. And it reminded me of that flight. It was magical. Ever since then I had wanted to become a pilot. It sounded ridiculous, but I knew that was what I wanted to do. I would love to spend so much time experiencing what I did that day. Free in the clouds.
"Aceline!" I looked up, suddenly interrupted from my fantasy. Mom was staring at me, annoyed. We were in the Five Guys drive thru. "I asked, what do you want?!"
"Oh, um, a Bacon Burger with Cajun fries and Coke." I looked back down at my phone and gazed at the wallpaper some more. But then the music cut off, and the screen went black. I sighed. I had forgotten to charge it before school. I sat it down on the center console and reached out to grab my food from mom.
"Thanks, Mom." I smelled the bag. It smelled delicious. "Mmm."
For the rest of the ride home, I looked out the window at buildings and palm trees, wondering how I would spend the summer. I had no plans with friends, and we probably weren't going on vacation. I'd probably just sit at home on the internet most of the time, honestly. I never felt like doing anything very exciting. I just never had the energy or enthusiasm anymore.
"Did you get my medicine today?" I asked mom in our apartment's parking garage after our ride, remembering my antidepressants had ran out a week ago and still had to be refilled. I was really feeling the effects of not taking it. I needed to get back on it.
She groaned. "Oh, Lina, I'm so sorry, I was running errands all day around town and didn't get around to it. Do you want me to go get it now?" She stopped and took the truck keys out of her purse.
"You don't ha-"
"No, I'm going to get it. You need the medicine." She handed me the key to our apartment. "Here. Just go up to the apartment. I'll be back in fifteen minutes."
"Thanks." I started back to our building, grabbing a fry from my bag of food and eating it. I licked seasoning off my finger and kicked a pebble, stopping to listen to it echo through the parking garage. But the echo was interrupted by another sound. It was the sound of a child crying. I could also hear a low voice muttering something. Something was very wrong. I breathed in nervously and walked in the direction of the noise, pulling my pocket knife out of my bag.
"Hello?" I called out, looking around for the direction of the noise. I couldn't find it but I could still hear the man's low voice echoing through the long lanes of the parking garage.
"Hello?" I repeated, growing more tense. "Is someone there?"
Suddenly a man with a stubbled chin in a hoodie stepped out from behind a large black van and stepped in front of me. I yelped. "What do you want?" he grumbled.
I swallowed nervously and glanced at my knife. "I, uh…" He cracked his knuckles.
I heard light breathing and looked up. The boy I heard was peeking around the corner of the van. He looked really scared. He was only about nine. I knew something was wrong.
The man stepped in between me and the boy. "Get out of here."
I took a deep breath and looked him right in the eyes. "No." My eyes widened, surprised by the assertive tone in my voice.
The man looked appalled. "What was that?"
"I said no." I opened the knife behind my back, and my grip tightened on the handle. I shifted worriedly. "You need to leave that boy alone."
"Excuse me? You don't tell me what to do," he said, stepping towards me. His breath smelled strongly of beer.
My eyes narrowed and I breathed out, disgusted. "Well, I just did."
The man huffed and pulled out a revolver. I gasped and lunged my pocket knife out in front of me, terrified. "Just leave him alone," I said. I'd have expected my voice to have weakened, but it sounded even braver than before.
He put his finger on the trigger and stuck it on my chest, right over my heart. "Get out of here, little girl. Now!"
In an act of sheer courage, I grabbed his revolver and twisted it sharply, causing his face to twist in pain. The revolver clattered to the ground, and he grabbed his wrist and swore.
"Run!" I shouted, my voice strained. I glanced up long enough to see the boy run to the elevator and disappear behind its closing doors. I looked back down and quickly grabbed the revolver off the cement ground. He reached down to try to grab it before I did, but I simultaneously kicked him forcefully in the stomach and hit him in the head with the hilt of the gun, causing him to collapse on the ground. I put my foot on his chest and held both weapons up to his head.
He stared at me for a moment, shocked, and then pushed my foot off himself and ran up to his van. I took my phone out of my pocket to dial the police, but then I realized that it had no power. I sighed and looked back up at the van. He was already speeding away. I stared at the van as it grew smaller and eventually vanished behind the outer wall of the parking garage.
I stood there dumbly for a few seconds, trying to figure out what had just happened, and then realized I should put away the weapons before someone saw me standing there with them in my hands. I shoved them into my bookbag and walked up to the elevator in a daze. Leaning against the cool metal wall of the elevator, I pressed the "8" button. I looked at my hands. One was bleeding. I must have cut it with my pocket knife in the commotion and not noticed. Bright red blood oozed from the wound, and it stung. But I had a high pain tolerance. I would just put Band-Aids on it when I got home.
What on Earth had happened back there? I wasn't courageous, or daring, or even very brave at all. I had always considered myself to be a coward. But what I had done was dangerous, and I'd have never expected to have done that. It wasn't something I would do. It was almost as if there was someone else in my body doing it for me. Some kind of force inside me, pushing me to do it. It was abnormal, and it scared me thinking about it. But I wasn't ashamed. I had possibly saved that boy's life.
The elevator stopped on my floor, and I stepped out and walked up to Apartment 342. I stuck the key in the keyhole and turned it, feeling a sharp pain in my wrist that nearly made me drop the key. I gritted my teeth and breathed out from my mouth. It was probably caused when I twisted the man's arm. I took the key in my other hand and opened the door. My apartment was so quiet and peaceful, since my dad was at work. I didn't quite know what he did for a living, honestly. He'd told me that he worked for an organization for the government, but he never went into details about it. I didn't think he wanted me to know.
I went to the bathroom and opened the first aid drawer to get a bandage, but there weren't any left. I remembered that I had used up the last one a few nights ago. I sighed and held a washcloth to my hand for a few minutes. I also held one up to my arm, since the incident had also reopened a cut on my arm. Luckily, the bleeding eventually stopped. I made a mental note to be careful not to cause them to bleed again and went to my room, where I laid on my bed, staring out the window at the ocean, ignoring the food calling my name.
I yawned and glanced up from Tumblr at the clock. It was almost 11, and I was exhausted. I laid my laptop on my bed and got up, stretching. I was really hungry. The burger from earlier hadn't really filled me up, so I decided to go get a snack. I left my room and went to the kitchen, careful not to make noise. My parents were watching a movie, and it was turned down low. They never listened to movies loud.
I opened the fridge with my good wrist -I had bandaged up the injured one- and examined the contents, trying to find something to eat.
"Al?" I heard my mom say. That was my dad's name.
"Yes?" My dad replied.
"About Lina…" Hm. They were talking about me. I wasn't in trouble, was I? I froze in place, straining my ears to hear the conversation.
"Has it happened yet?" she asked him. Had what happened?
He sighed. "No, I don't believe so," he said, disappointment in his voice. I was confused.
"Do you think it will?" she asked. "I don't know as much as you do. I only know about because I married you."
I made a face. What in the world were they talking about?! It made absolutely no sense to me whatsoever! I kept listening.
"Well, it's supposed to, genetically. All her ancestors on my side have been in it. It's supposed to be impossible for this not to happen to her. But it should've happened years ago. I just…don't know. It's odd."
"It is." She sighed.
"I'll ask her about it again tomorrow." Again? So they've asked me about it before? …What?
Before I could further confuse myself, I grabbed a blueberry yogurt from the bottom drawer and slowly closed the refrigerator door, careful not to reveal myself. I didn't want them to know I had eavesdropped on their conversation. I walked noiselessly back to my room and ate the yogurt, thinking about what they could have meant. Was it a disease? That was the best I could come up with, and it scared me. But I didn't want to worry myself, so I went to bed soon afterwards. But I stayed awake a long time, thinking about what a day I had had and wondering about what, according to my dad, was destined to happen to me.
A/N: I hope you enjoyed this chapter! I've had this story idea for a long time, and I'm so glad to finally be writing it! Please let me know what you think of it in the review section, and follow if you're interested in what happens next. Thanks so much for reading. I appreciate it :)
Update 5/27/13: This chapter has been recently been edited in an effort to revamp the story a bit as I continue writing it :)