A/N: Last April I ventured to Whistler with my school band on a three day trip. But what struck me was not the music, nor the conductors, it was something completely different.
No, my name is not Aurora. No, I do not play flute. No, I was not stalked by a guy named Matt and not once in my life have I displayed any interest in drawing. But I saw. And I heard.
Perhaps it was an override of emotions, coke and music which pushed us over the edge, but I witnessed hearts being broken, friendships destroyed and trust dissolved in mere seconds.
Please read this, and please review it. And please learn from the mistakes I made. All of them.
Chapter One: Everything I'm Not
"We're leaving!" Jessica Parker pressed her nose against the window of the school bus, her breath misting the dirt-streaked glass before her. Beside me, Tanya Lokvic wrinked her button nose in disgust, muttering something about how dirty the window was.
I bit back a laugh and withdrew my sketchbook from my schoolbag, opting to ignore the argument that was sure to ignite any moment now. Clearly that was not what Tanya had in mind for me, though.
"Excited yet?" She ran her fingers carefully through her long dark red hair and smiled at me, her hazel eyes wide with anticipation.
Tanya Lokvic was more than my best friend—she was like my sister though it was true our appearances could not have been any more different. With dark red waves that nearly reached her waist, wide hazel eyes and an eager smile, I had at first been a bit apprehensive of approaching someone so unique. That had changed the moment I had talked to her, though, and now we were scarcely seen apart.
"A little, I guess." Mimicking Jess, I peered out my own window to see Eastern Secondary School vanish promptly behind a veil of trees as we rocked every further away. It was true that I had been anticipating our school band trip up to Whistler ever since our conductor had mentioned it at the beginning of Grade Eight, but now that I was actually on the bus I was finding it hard to conjure the level of excitement that everyone seemed to be expecting from me.
Tanya opened her mouth to say something else, but was interrupted before she had the chance.
"You guys, Oliver just looked this way!" Jess leaned across the aisle from where she and Laura Song were sharing a seat to mine and Tanya's. "See? He's sitting at the front of the bus with Cam!" Tanya typically rolled her eyes and withdrew her phone from her own bag, immersing herself in whatever text she had just received.
"Really? That's cool," I shot Tanya a pointed glare, telling her she was being cold, and turned back to Jess with a smile on my face. Jess had steadily developed a crush on our band's trombone player, Oliver, all year, and Tanya for one was sick to death of hearing Jess chatter on about him all the time.
"I know, right?" While Tanya and I were identical in personality but differed in appearances, Jess and I were exactly the opposite.
We both had round green eyes, straight blonde hair—though while hers fell just past her shoulders, mine was much longer—and were within an inch of each other in height. When we were younger we had always been mistaken as sisters, though all you would require was a simple conversation with Jess to notice that we were as different as night and day.
As Jess noticed Tanya's refusal to glance up from her phone and my reluctance to get in the middle of their ever-raging war, she leaned back over to whisper something to Laura. I briefly considered telling off Tanya for shutting down Jess so quickly, but pushed that impulse aside and flipped my sketchbook open, poising my pencil carefully atop the page.
I'm not exactly sure how long I sat curled up in the seat, fully submerged in my drawing, only that a dull amber glow had illuminated the inside of the bus as the sun dipped lower on the horizon and we wound our way ever farther on the Sea to Sky highway. I probably would've remained that way for the remainder of the ride if not for the two boys sitting directly behind us.
"That's really good," A voice said over my shoulder, jolting me out of my drawing and causing me to twist around in annoyance.
The speaker was a boy in Grade Nine who was presently peering over my shoulder at my sketchpad. He was probably an exchange student judging by his accent, with a round, cheerful face and glasses. I didn't know him by name only that he played the trumpet in the Intermediate Band with me.
"What?" Wow. My voice had come out way colder than my intentions, and his face reddened as he realized I was not too pleased that he had interrupted me.
"Um…that's just a good drawing…" His voice trailed off and he nodded to my sketchpad, where the page was open to a half-finished portrait of a young girl.
It was true that I had done a rather good job with the smudging—the crinkles around her eyes were particularly realistic—but did he really have to be so nosy?
"Why were you watching my draw?" I asked curiously, turning back up to the boy, who seemed relieved I hadn't gotten mad.
"Well he told me to!" The boy gestured to the boy sitting on his right and I also recognized him from our band, though he played the clarinet. I frowned as I attempted to recall his name…was it…Duncan? He had a mop of messy brown waves, a good helping of freckles and was rather tall and lanky.
"It's really good!" Maybe-Duncan exclaimed in defense. "Chill out, okay?" My eyes narrowed. Who was this guy? I opened my mouth to retort when Tanya leaned over.
"It's okay, Rory! And it's a good drawing, so shut up about it already!" Before I could tell her to back out, something caught my attention; Tanya's eyelashes. She was batting them fiercely and kept flipping her hair over her shoulder, while looking straight at Maybe-Duncan. Oh great, the first guy I pick a fight with Tanya ends up flirting with.
"Daniel and Seb didn't mean anything bad!" She added, giggling. Daniel—Duncan—at least I hadn't been far off with the names, though I would never have guessed 'Sebastian' for the exchange student. It was funny though, how I had never once seen Tanya speak to Sebastian before, and yet she already had a nickname for him.
"Whatever." I wasn't in the mood to fight, and being the center of attention had always been Tanya's thing, not mine. Sighing in resignation I turned back around, but not before I caught the eye of yet another Grade Nine boy seated a few rows behind Sebastian and Daniel.
He must have heard our conversation because he was clearly laughing at Tanya's obsessive flirting. Catching my eye, he mouthed, "Hi," and smiled, but I glared at him before turning away. I glared out the window for a few seconds, channeling my anger and aiming it at the setting sun before it ebbed away as expected and was replaced with boredom. Luckily Tanya had finished flirting and turned around to face me.
"You didn't have to be so rude, you know. I saw you just blow off Matt." The sharpness of her tone surprised me.
"What?" I asked incredulously. "Rude? I don't even know them, Tanya! Why were they spying on me?"
"Spying on you?" She laughed. "They're sitting right behind you, of course they saw your sketch!" It was plain that she wasn't about to understand.
"Look, they're Grade Nines, we're Grade Eights, why can't they just leave us alone?"
"Daniel's kind of cute," Giggled Tanya, a hundred miles away. "Don't you think?" I groaned and leaned back in my seat—there was no way I was going through another half-hour of Tanya gushing over Daniel.
Reaching down, I hauled my bag up and withdrew my iPod, turning on Adele's Set Fire to the Rain. Ignoring Tanya's overt disappointment, I turned towards the window and, amazingly enough, it actually began to rain—drops of water splattering the grimy window and obscuring my vision even more. Then it struck me that with the setting sun in the background, the rain was tinted a fiery orange…it was as though the rain was seriously on fire.
A sudden headache hit me, and I leaned my head against the cold window, looking out the glass and allowing myself to drift away, still watching the rain on fire and Set Fire to the Rain on repeat.
A/N: More coming soon I promise! Thank you so much for reading!