It's said that one may choose to be like a star; burning dimly for a long time or brightly for just a moment. But stars cannot chose. They are named for how they'll die, separated and distinguished from how long they have left. If people were stars, would they call this unfair?
Jenny Thompson didn't much feel like waking up. She was warm and comfortable. Besides, her body had adjusted to several weeks of mid-day wake up calls.
She could have stayed in bed a while longer, but decided that she'd better make herself presentable and have a shower. She didn't want to put people off with her week-old smell. Although, she wasn't particularly interested in not putting them off. She'd just rather they think she was anti-social instead of anti-social and unhygienic.
Once Jenny was what she passed off as clean, she returned to her room. It still didn't feel completely her own yet, but having an en-suite bathroom was nice, and she had a garden-facing window seat that made it a wonderful place to read in the summer when the sun was out. Not that she'd had much of an opportunity to try; they'd only moved in just over a week ago and it had rained almost every day since. The day it hadn't had been so overcast it might as well have been raining.
She examined the sky outside as she dried her hair. The sound of the hair-dryer masked the sound of the rain lashing down on the windows which was thick enough to almost block the view of the world beyond, save for the greyness of the sky.
Jenny's father hadn't got around to putting up curtains in her room yet. He also hadn't got around to replacing her light bulb so the room was pretty dark. In fact, Jenny's father hadn't got around to much since they'd moved in. She didn't blame him; they'd moved because of his job, after all. Still, it would've been nice if his new boss had given him enough time off to settle into his new home. But, even if he had, Jenny doubted her father would spend any more time at home. He loved his work. He was a Doctor so he wasn't very highly paid or respected but he enjoyed it. Most people didn't bother visiting the Doctor. They usually let fate decide. 'If I die, so be it. It just means it's my time.'
Jenny hated that thought. Besides, Doctors and hospitals weren't about saving people's lives; they were about ending suffering. She'd had long debates about the subject with her classmates at her old school.
"Honey, I made you breakfast!"
Jenny blinked. She'd become distracted again. She glanced at her clock and then had to do it again because she realised that she hadn't really taken note of the time the first time.
Brilliant. That left forty five minutes for her to get dressed, eat breakfast, sort out her books, find her bag, find her books again because she'd most likely leave them somewhere, and then find out which of the boxes in her room was hiding her shoes. She hadn't bothered to unpack everything yet and hadn't found any of her shoes. All two of them. This hadn't bothered her, as she hadn't needed to leave the house. Now she realised that that may have been a mistake.
No thought went into the picking of her clothes. Well, one thought did. She made sure to wear a polo necked jumper. Scarves worked too, but there was always that gap between the scarf and her shirt…No, people would be on high alert today. The polo neck was necessary.
She rushed downstairs to find her mum waiting for her in the kitchen. The kitchen was the only part of the house that was fully unpacked. Jenny's mother was very adamant about having a tidy kitchen and so it was the first thing they'd sorted out when they'd moved in.
Her mum smiled. "Good morning. I made pancakes!"
Jenny sat down at the kitchen table, which faced the main part of the kitchen. Having two tables had been a new concept for her family, but they'd all adjusted pretty quickly. As her father worked long hours as a Doctor and her mother, a teacher, spent most of her time at home planning lessons they found that eating meals together was the only time they could bond properly. The first day they'd moved in they'd eaten dinner in the dining room, with its huge glass doors filling the room with a warm glow. They'd talked and laughed and had fun together as a family. By the evening of the next day the dining room table had been covered with Jenny's mum's lesson plans, her dad's research notes and Jenny's sketches and drawings. They'd decided to eat at the kitchen table and had done every night since. Jenny didn't mind. The rain kind of ruined the atmosphere of the dining room anyway.
The pancakes smelt good, and were dotted with small dark dots.
"Chocolate chips or raisins?" Jenny asked, poking gingerly at a pancake with her fork.
"Erm…" Her mum turned to frown at the pancakes. "I'm not really sure. Would you like me to wake up your father and ask him to check?"
"That's fine, I'll take the risk." She fished a pancake onto her plate and placed a small portion into her mouth. Luckily, they turned out to be chocolate chip pancakes. "Dad's still asleep then?"
"Yeah. Joe called him in for an emergency in the middle of the night. Of course, the hospital isn't counting it as an emergency and so isn't giving him overtime or the morning off. He has to be back in in about an hour."
Jenny scowled at her pancakes, which was perhaps at little unfair; they tasted amazing. It wasn't the pancakes she had a problem with.
"Because someone being in immense pain doesn't count as an emergency. Just because they won't die doesn't mean they won't be paralysed or go into a coma or something."
"I know, dear, but there's not much I can do about it." Her mother skilfully flipped a pancake and then turned to fill up a teapot with hot water. Their kitchen was small which meant that only one person could use it at a time, but it also meant you could reach everywhere without moving. And it wasn't much of a problem that no-one else could use the kitchen because Jenny's mum would never trust either Jenny's father or Jenny herself in the kitchen.
"We'll be leaving in about fifteen minutes. I'm taking this up to your dad. Help yourself to another pancake."
He hefted a tray laden with pancakes and tea and began to make her way out of the room. Jenny hurried to swallow her piece of pancake so that she could call after her.
"Wait! Have you seen my bag?"
Her mum rolled her eyes. "It's right there." She gestured with her foot. Sure enough, her bag was sitting on the floor amid a pile of shoes. Unfortunately, Jenny's shoes were not among them. "All your stuff should be in there. Why you have so many books when you haven't even been to any classes yet amazes me, but I'll disregard that. I packed your lunch as well."
"Oh." Jenny was surprised; her mum didn't usually make lunch for her. "Thanks."
Her mum turned to leave again.
Her mum turned back, her eyebrow raised. "Yes?"
"Have you seen my shoes? I can't find them. I don't even think I've unpacked them yet."
Her mum sighed and added another eye roll. "Can't you just wear the ones you wore when we moved in?"
"I wore flip-flops when we moved in."
"So, where are they?"
"I don't know, I lost them in the ten inches of mud that used to be our front garden."
"Then you'd better find your shoes."
With that, she turned and headed upstairs.
Jenny huffed and turned back to the stack of pancakes. She didn't really feel like eating another.
Instead, she headed upstairs and began searching through boxes. With each box she searched through she became more and more panicked. Where had all this stuff come from? It hadn't seemed like nearly this much when she'd put it all in the boxes. At the time her dad had suggested labelling the boxes and packing things systematically. She'd laughed and said she'd manage fine without.
She felt like punching her past self in the face right now.
At twenty five to nine she was close to tears. She'd been worried enough about today; going off to a new school, worrying that she wouldn't fit in and then worrying that she would fit in. She hadn't really decided whether she wanted people to like her or not.
Regardless, she didn't want to spend the first day of school without shoes.
Finally, at quarter to nine her mother came in.
"Jenny, we were meant to leave fifteen minutes ago!"
"I know, but I still can't find my damn shoes!" She pulled the last thing out of the latest box she'd been searching; a toy hamster. She yelled in frustration and threw the hamster at the wall. She then buried her face in her hands.
"These what you're looking for, by any chance?"
Jenny looked up to see her mother holding up a pair of long, black boots. She stared in amazement.
"Where the hell were they?"
"Right here, on the floor."
Jenny groaned and buried her face again. She must have found them but not noticed and thrown them aside.
She heard a creak and felt the bed move as her mum sat down next to her. She felt her mum's hand running through her hair and down her back.
"Just calm down, sweetie, okay? It'll be okay. You just need to relax."
Yeah right. Like she could relax.
But she took a few deep breaths and began to feel a little bit better. She sat up straight and then turned to look at her mum.
She didn't look convinced. "You don't have to do this you know. You can stay here. I could get time off work and look after you."
Jenny laughed bitterly. "I'm not dying, mum."
There was an edge in her mum's eyes. They both knew that wasn't true. Everyone was dying. It only really depended on how long it would take.
"Look, I'd much rather be spending my life living than cooped up here fearing the next day."
"But we could protect you here. You'd be safe." Her mother looked so worried that Jenny could feel herself caving in to her desires. But she forced herself to be strong.
"I'm sorry, mum. This is probably one of the last decisions I'll be able to make in my life. Let me decide."
Reluctantly, her mum nodded. She finally tore her eyes away from Jenny's face and stood up.
"Alright then, we should be leaving. You shouldn't be late for your first day of school, although I daresay it's too late for that."
It was. Jenny rushed in through the gates as the bell rang, but had no idea where she was going. She knew she had to find room 'Sc13', but that meant almost nothing to her. She considered asking another student for help but they were already disappearing through the doors. The few that were still within speaking distance were eyeing her warily and steering clear. She hung back to avoid the mob of people. She had to be careful in crowds; it was so difficult to avoid contact with other people.
She roamed the halls, desperately looking for clues, but still too shy to ask for help. The number of people in the corridors thinned as people entered their classrooms which made them safer to navigate but also meant she was running out of time. Eventually the halls became empty and she was left to run down the corridors alone, desperately looking for Sc13, or anything else that could give her some idea of where she was going.
She should have known not to run. She barely avoided running into someone. Nothing could have been worse.
The boy had just emerged from what were evidently the toilets, judging by the sign on the door. He was looking the other way and didn't seem to notice her coming. She hastily changed direction but slipped and crashed to the floor.
"Jesus! Are you all right?" He sounded startled.
Jenny flipped over and backed away from him. He was offering his hand out to help her up. She hated it when they did that.
"No, it was my fault, I shouldn't have been running." She couldn't make herself make eye contact.
She pushed herself to her feet, not accepting his offer of help. This was slightly awkward, but better than the alternative.
Hoisting her bag onto her shoulder, she finally looked at him properly.
He was good-looking, that was for sure. He had untidy, dark blonde hair and dark blue eyes. He was pretty tall too, which made Jenny wonder how she could possibly not have noticed him sooner.
But the most striking feature of his face was the mark that curled from under his left eye, down his jaw and ending at his neck. The mark was pure white in colour and that thought made Jenny unsure whether she wanted to congratulate this guy, or punch him.
A white mark was the best one someone could have. It showed that you'd live until an old age and pass away peacefully. People used to be jealous of these white-mark and some would even try to end their time early. It never worked. Like all the death-marks, they didn't lie.
The guy apparently noticed Jenny staring.
"Oh, yeah. Yeah, I'm a white mark."
Jenny started and the stared at her feet, embarrassed. "Sorry. I-I didn't mean to be rude."
He shrugged. "I get that a lot. I'm used to it by now. It's a bit of a pain sometimes, but I guess I shouldn't complain."
Jenny made a non-committal noise of agreement and then resumed her examination of her boots. She probably should have cleaned them before putting them on…
"Are you lost?"
Her eyes shot up to meet the white-marked guy's. She smiled, nervously.
"Maybe a little."
He smiled back. "Do you know where you're meant to be going?"
He laughed. "Mr Varner's class, hey? Good luck. It's this way."
He started off down the corridor and Jenny hurried to catch up.
"Why? Is he horrible?"
"No, he's great! Just a little…Weird…"
That didn't explain much, but Jenny didn't want to push the questions too much. She felt she could venture for one more though.
"Are you in your second year?"
"Yup." The guy walked with an easy grace, but he had long legs so Jenny still found it hard to keep up. "But you're first year, I take it?"
"Yeah." She couldn't think of much else to say so they drifted into an awkward silence. At least, it felt awkward to her. He didn't look all that bothered.
Finally, they reached the door of a science lab. The sign on the door read 'Sc13'.
"Thank you. I'd probably have spent my whole life looking if you hadn't helped." Jenny said sheepishly.
"You're welcome. Thank you for not running into me. Are you okay, by the way? You didn't hurt yourself?"
"I'm fine." She smiled to try and show her point but accidently shifted her weight at the same time. Pain seared up her side. She winced and then said, "Well, mostly."
He laughed. "Well, I'd better be going. I'm Daniel Watson by the way." He held out his hand for her to shake.
She looked away. "Jenny Thompson." She turned away from him and knocked on the door, not returning his handshake. Closing her eyes she heard the pause, and the sound of him turning and walking away. "Well, see you later Jenny."
She felt embarrassment flare up inside her. Why did people keep trying to be nice to her? She finally made her decision on the question she'd been pondering that morning; she definitely didn't want to fit in. In fact, the less contact she had with the other people in this school the better.
So, hi readers, old and new. This is my first story that would be categorised as 'Romance' even though later sections of my 'Legend' series are actually more romance-y than this will be.
The idea for this actually came to me during a physics lesson and it wouldn't leave so I thought I'd write it down. However, my main focus will be on Legend, so, other than the chapters of this which are already written, progress will be slow. I'll try though, and I get less writer's block with this (as it's shorter) so if I ever get stuck with Legend I'l probably come back to this for a while.
If you liked this check out my other series (which starts with The Legend of a Fighter). They're nothing alike, but check it out anyway.
Thanks for reading, drop a review if you want, they're always appreciated!