Chapter 4


I didn't mean to be creepy, I swear.

It had started out like any other day, with the Headmaster (an old, tough woman with a grating voice and a temper to match her size) screaming at us to wake up, eat our crappy breakfast, and get to work.

Since it was Sunday, we didn't actually have official work, but some of the littler kids had to bring the trash bins back into the orphanage, since we always put them out on Saturday night, when the orphanage's personal trash guys collected it,

Groaning, I'd woken up like normal, tossing on a navy blue V-neck and cargo shorts, slipping on my vans and running a hand through my hopeless hair as I did so. I was always the first one up because I was the oldest orphan in the whole place, so the Headmaster made sure that I "knew my responsibilities", which was pretty much helping the younger kids adjust when I wasn't hauling shit and cleaning shit and moving shit for the orphanage.

And, since the stupid Headmaster knew I couldn't watch little kids and not help, she put me up to the task of waking up earlier than everyone else and helping the kids when they woke up. So, with much mental swearing, I'd walked down the stairs to the second floor, where the younger kids were kept. Even though I hate mornings, one thing always brightened my day- Roger.

Roger was a younger boy, around seven (he's never told me his actual age), with tousled blond hair, brown eyes, and the features of an angel. He begged for help without even intending to, and he was the closest thing to a little brother I'd ever had. We had bonded instantly when he'd come crying through the door (that was only two months ago) and I'd helped him adjust to life at the orphanage.

The only story I'd gotten out of him was that his parents had died in a car crash and none of his relatives had been willing to take him in. The second I heard that, I was outraged on Roger's behalf. What kind of relatives would abandon a kid like that? It was sick.

So the day had been normal, right up until I was taking my usual noon break on the roof. I'd felt something tugging at me, and I looked over the edge. The first thing I'd noticed was Roger walking out towards the trash cans, as was his requirement for today. The second thing I noticed was the girl.

She was tall and absolutely stunning. I couldn't tell very easily because of the distance, but I was reasonably sure that she was tan, had black hair, and was fairly skinny. From what I saw, she was eating some kind of candy, and making some pretty weird faces while she was. But she seemed so focused on the candy that it didn't even seem all that silly. Immediately, I knew that she wasn't from around here. Her appearance was too noticeable for me to miss seeing her at some earlier point.

It was weird. Even before she'd stopped to give Roger a piece of the candy that she was eating (pretty nice of her), I'd felt drawn to her. The best way to explain it is that I was one end of a magnet, and she was the other end of another magnet, and we were being pulled together. I'd been about to go down and maybe find out who she was when she had suddenly stood still, then quickly turned. I'd known immediately that she was looking for me and I had ducked out of sight. Hopefully, she didn't think that she had some kind of weird guy watching her. Though, technically, she did.

When I had gotten the courage to peek over the edge of the roof again, the girl had been walking down the street quickly, candy in one hand. She'd vanished into a house two doors down from the orphanage, which I found interesting. Normally, those were the houses that no one bought simply because of their proximity to the orphanage. Apparently, people didn't want to live with the constant reminder of a bunch of little kids abandoned or separated from their parents.

"Drake? Headmaster says that she needs t' talk t' you." Roger's soft, childish voice broke through my thoughts and I glanced up from where I'd been fiddling with a few bolts and screws for the past few minutes. He was standing about four feet away, twisting his hands together, eyes darting all around the roof. I stood up quickly, taking his hand and guiding him back to the door that led to the stairwell.

"Thanks for telling me, Roger," I said, seeing him visibly relax when he stepped inside. The Headmaster was a dick- Roger was deathly afraid of heights and she was making him (out of all of the people at the orphanage!) come up to the roof to get me! Despicable. "Do you know where she wanted me to meet her?" Roger paused in his descent, thinking with the focus only little kids could muster.

"Her office, I think," he stated after a pause.

The Headmaster's office was on the fourth floor, so I gave Roger a quick hug, then sent him on his way to the second floor. Then I turned, squared my shoulders, took a deep breath, and began walking through the small, cramped hallways toward the Headmaster's office.

Why had they painted the walls such an ugly shade of green? I wondered as I walked. I mean, it was like someone had puked and they'd spread it around. Even the floor was made of worn-out tile that had way too many suspicious stains of various colors.

After a few more turns and nearly running into another kid, I realized I was standing in front of an imposing oak door with the word "Headmaster" stenciled onto it in a blocky black font. Slowing my breathing (it was like the Headmaster smelled fear sometimes), I knocked firmly on the door.

"Come in," was the response, and I pushed open the door, stepping into the office and closing the door behind me.

The office was small, about ten feet square, with file cabinets to the left and right of the door, pictures of all of the kids tacked up on a board on the opposite wall with one small window letting in the pitiful light next to it, and a whiteboard on the right wall. The left wall was covered by a large painting, but I knew that there was a pretty full safe behind it (the lockpicks were totally not intentionally in my pockets when the Headmaster was conveniently out of her office on an errand that turned out to not exist). There was a desk in front of the far wall, a real ugly thing; it had too much detail, with swirly patterns covering the entire thing that confused the eye and even gave me a slight headache. The surface was covered by papers and a laptop, along with other miscellaneous items such as pens, pencils, rulers, etc.

And, behind the desk was a comfortable-looking office chair, and in that chair, was the Headmaster. I had to repress a shudder when I saw her.

The Headmaster was a giant of a woman, at five feet seven inches and well on her way to two hundred pounds, a lot of which was muscle. She was kind of pale, her skin a bit wrinkled. She always wore overly flower-patterned dresses that really didn't flatter her at all and made me wince. If you don't think it's that bad, you should know that the headmaster is over fifty years old.


She has graying hair that cuts off sharply at her neck, intense eyes that seem to dig into your skull when you make eye contact, a hooked nose, and a mouth that's set in a permanent scowl. Her face is lined, but none of those lines are from laughing or smiling.

"You wanted to see me, Headmaster?" I said, making it half into a question, making sure to speak clearly and carefully. She'd slapped a kid repeatedly just for "speaking improperly". She glanced up from a file that she was staring at and beckoned me over. I carefully moved up to her desk and she pointed out a line in the file. I recognized it as my file and felt my heart skip a beat.

"Read it," the Headmaster ordered. "Out loud." My eyes darted around the room and I felt my body temperature go up slightly. That was BAD BAD BADBADBAD. My body temperature only went up when my ability wanted out, and I forced myself to calm down and read my file slowly and methodically.

"Drake. Birth date: unknown. Country of origin: unknown. Parents: deceased. Family: unknown. Behavior: seems to be uncomfortable in crowds. Enjoys taking care of others. Afraid of extended physical contact. Avoids eye contact." My eyes looked up, to the point right above the Headmaster's. They were right about the avoidance of eye contact. That was too dangerous to risk. "May I ask what this is all about?" The Headmaster didn't respond for a loooong time, time I spent going over every possible scenario in my head and fretting about every single one.

"I was told not to look at your file," the Headmaster said, her voice way too conversational for the situation. "But I did anyway." I got the feeling that interrupting would not be the recommended course of action. "And guess what I found?" Rhetorical question. "Nothing." The Headmaster looked at me expectantly, but once more I avoided eye contact, looking at a spot just behind her eyes and directly over her left shoulder. "Do you know why they told me not to look at your file?" She asked, the briefest tone of seriousness entering her voice.

Because I'm a kid with an ancient curse that said I was destined to destroy everyone I loved and forces outside of anyone's control got rid of any of my connections so that nobody would ever figure out my story? I thought, but I knew that she would never believe me. "I- I don't know," I replied, barely stopping myself from saying the deadly "um".

"Really?!" The Headmaster asked, tone thunderous. I winced, stepping away, so that I was in front of the desk again. "Do you really have no idea why there is no information in your file at all?!"

"No," I said, struggling to remain calm. "No idea at all." The Headmaster abruptly calmed down.

"I understand that your parents were killed in a tragic accident-" I barely kept from wincing- "but this seems a bit excessive. Are you absolutely sure that there's nothing you know about that could cause something like this?"

"I'm sure," I replied, tone neutral. The Headmaster fixed me with a shrewd look, but once again I wasn't making eye contact.

"Drake, I know that you've live a traumatic life," she started, and I felt all expression in my face drain away. This was her favorite lecture. The "I'm only trying to help and being difficult is only hurting both of us" one, where she tried to put all of the blame on the person standing in front of her, where she made any kid who wasn't thinking straight feel like absolute and complete shit. It was annoying, sickening, and utterly stupid. She should've figured out by now that I was immune to stuff like this. I'd stopped caring about everyone's fake pity so long ago it was only a dim memory. "...So we're assigning you a therapist, and, to help you in developing healthy relationships with other young men your age, you will be attending the local high school."

"Wait, what?" I asked, confused and startled by the last bit I'd heard. The Headmaster looked me dead in the eyes, and even though we weren't making direct eye contact, I could tell that she was savoring the moment.

"You are going to attend high school, and get professional help to deal with your social difficulties," she repeated smugly, and I felt my world cave in around me.

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