Chapter 1

Part 1

With a flourish, the girl finished signing her name on her paper before handing it to the frowning boy in front of her. His eyes were cold, as if he was mad at her. Puzzled by his attitude, she asked, "What?"

"I'm mad at you."

Huh?"Why? I didn't even do anything."

"Pshh. You know what you did."

"What's your problem? I mean, like, geez, Odin."

His mouth twitched suddenly before transforming quickly into a broad grin. "I really got you there, didn't I? Ha ha... gullible as always! You'll never learn, will you?"


Part 2

"Hey! Hey, Viv, wait a sec!"

"Shut up!"

"It was a joke! You can take a joke, right?" His eyes pleaded with hers. She turned away abruptly. He always does this. He does something stupid, I get mad, he gives me those stupid puppy-dog eyes, and I forgive him. Nope, not this time. I'm not going to let him off easy... no, not this time.

"Come on, just slow down for one minute? I have something I really want to tell you!"

Is he going to...?

Nah, he wouldn't ever go out with a girl like me. I'm not his type.

It's not like we've been friends since seventh grade and he hasn't gone out with anyone. It's not like he buys me a flower on my birthday. It's not like he hangs out with me more than any of his other friends.

She stopped and turned around. Putting her hands on her hips, she put on an annoyed face in an attempt to not show what was going through her head. "What is it?"

He got down on his knee.

What is he doing?

"Vivian, would you like to -"

Is this what I think it is?

"- get plastic surgery because that face is really making me nauseous. I mean, seriously – do you have no respect for your fellow human beings? Nobody wants to wake up every day and be like 'oh no now I have to go to school and see that ugly mug on that girl's face umm uh maybe I should pretend to be sick'."

Typical Odin. Why do I even like him? Besides the fact that he's cute, and smart, and funny, and strong, and nice (sometimes), and talented, and helpful, and -

WHAT AM I DOING? This is ODIN! This is the guy who makes fun of me on a daily basis, who steals my stuff when I'm not looking, who lost my spare key when I let him borrow it, who did this and who did that and blah blah blah I HATE HIM!

Err, I think I hate him.

Fine. Strongly dislike.

Indifferent towards?

Like on a friendly level?

Love passionately?

Struggling with her emotions, she slapped him and stomped home, leaving him snickering in the middle of the sidewalk.

Part 3

The key turned in the lock, and the door swung open. The house was empty and silent, giving Vivian a sense of foreboding.

This wasn't right. Usually her mom would be home at this time. But where was she?

Come to think of it, it was her dad's day off. She remember that because he had cooked pancakes in the morning. (He burnt them, as usual.)

Perhaps her parents went shopping?

A flashing light caught her eye. She approached the answering machine cautiously, since the situation did seem a bit off. Yet, all her fears would be forgotten if this missed call was from her mother (or father) explaining they were held up in traffic or something.

She pressed the 'REPLAY' button.

"This is Officer Steele, of the 1st Division in the Kettlehorn Police Department. We have some bad news for... um, Ms. Vivian Brown... if she could call back when she's able or stop by the police station... our number is 454-9545."

Well. That wasn't quite what she expected.

She wanted to cry. She already knew what they were going to tell her. Still, they might have important information. She picked up the phone and dialed the number.

But something caught her eye.

A box.

A black, metal box with a key lock on it.

What was that doing there?

Keeping her gaze focused on it, she listened to the man who was currently talking to her on the phone. He rambled on endlessly, the nervous chatter sometimes broken when he stuttered over words. Well. I don't think Officer Steele is made of steel.

And then she heard the words she was dreading.

She dropped the phone and crumbled to the floor, unable to use the muscles in her body. Tears streaked her cheeks as the sentence echoed in her head.

"Your parents are dead."

Part 4

And then she was calm.

Her body stopped shaking, and the tears stopped flowing. Her eyes went empty, glazed with lack of emotion. Something triggered in her mind and she pressed the 'END CALL' button, ignoring the questioning shouts that were asking her if she was okay. It was stupid to ask, since the answer was just so obvious.

Of course she wasn't okay.

But she made herself stop crying anyway. It wasn't doing any good, and she knew her parents – her dear, beloved parents – wouldn't want to see her lose herself in grief. It was for them alone that she kept her composure.

It felt as though the world had piled its problems upon her chest, and she heaved heavily, hugging herself as she rocked back and forth on the floor. There were so many things she had to do now – arrange the funerals, organize the money, figure out what to do with the house, find a place to live, etc, etc.

She paused her movement and was still on the floor. Closing her eyes, she let her exhaustion overtake her and she fell into a light sleep. Tomorrow she would deal with everything.

Tonight, she would rest.