Chapter 1: Beating
Morning, Monday, 0800
Day 1

Audrey Collins II

The front doors seemed to eat me up as I entered through them into the school compound. The same old scene greeted me. Beverlyn High was like any other high school. We have the jocks, the cheerleaders, nerds, gamers and those who blended in with the background. I lowered my head, hoping to avoid any unnecessary attention towards my face. This was to no avail as the same crowd of cheerleaders, who would never fail to make my already-bad-morning worse, evoked me. "Pimple!"

The hallway erupted into chaos.

"Freak."

"Don't get me wrong Audrey. I like you but… ew."

"Audrey Pimple."

"Oh. My. God. Stay away from me."

"You say things to make me feel bad. That's not very nice." My voice came out calmer than expected, surprising myself. I would usually have an anxiety attack when it came to these types of things. Then I wondered again, why I could not muster up the courage to speak up like this when it came to family.

"grow up, not everyone has to be nice." one of them snickered, giving me a look of disgust.

"Grow up, the world doesn't revolve around you either." I shot back, feeling a rush of anger. My mind made weird images of me punching and beating up one of them to a mess. I quickly shook it off my head. I never liked violence, since it only creates more problems to come. The best attitude is no attitude.

The hallway was silent for a moment before erupting into chaos again.

Sighing, I briskly made my way back to class. I wasn't about to let bad vibes in. Never on an already bad day.

My classroom was located at the far end of the corridor, a clearly unwise strategic position for lazy students like me. So I took the time to wonder about life. I liked to wander about, in case you haven't noticed. Wandering was good, keeps me busy from the sad truths.

And this was how my head went headbutting a stranger's chest.

I rubbed my throbbing head and bowed profusely as I apologised. No reply came. So I looked up, only to lock a gaze with a pair of eyes. Russet brown eyes, to be exact. Jet black hair, clean face, wearing a whitewashed shirt. He appeared to be in a daze as well. Standing at an estimated five feet four, he's definitely a tall piece of meat.

I know I haven't met him before but he looked like someone familiar. My eyes scanned through every part of his face as I wrecked my brain, trying to remember.

Then, reality hit me.

It couldn't be possible, could it? It had been two years.

He was about ninety percent the exact look alike to the guy that was buried at the back of my mind.

"Dion." I whispered in fear. His name on the tip of my tongue tasted like poison and it had been a while since I last mentioned it.

His sketchbook fell onto the floor from the earlier collision and it flipped open. I came face to face with a blueprint and a name: Elliot Jahrl.

I let out an inaudible sigh of relief. You're scaring yourself Audrey. They're two separate people.

"You're mute?" I asked carefully, when I remembered again that he didn't respond to my apologies.

"No. I just don't talk much." He stared at my face for the longest time before answering.

It was probably my pimple.

Elliot Jahrl II

My headphones blasting music while I let my mind drift off as I walked. I was socially-challenged; hanging out was trying. I could never start a proper conversation because most of them barely lasted five minutes. The rejection was unbearable so i kept quiet most of the time. It's not that bad actually. I would rather say something smart than to spill rubbish from my mouth, like the bad kids do. And I prefer to think about others, not me.

Just then, someone's head knocked against my chest and a long series of apologies barraged me afterwards. My sketch book fell on the floor, and I raised my brows as I looked at the small-sized girl in front of me.

Ginger head. People with such hair colours were known to have a fiery temper likened to a dragon with fiery breaths and deadly strength.

She looked up.

Green eyes. People with green eyes always have a room of mystery and enigma around them.

She was probably about five-foot-three and looked rather malnutritioned. A pimple stuck to her face.

"You're mute?" Her eyes displayed careful curiosity as she asked. It was like as if she wanted to be friends but at the same time, she looked rather annoyed. There seemed to be an imaginary tall brick wall built in between the both of us and nothing could get through, in, out or around it. Now it's just up to me to break it.

"No. I just don't talk much." I kept at her face for what seemed like an eternity before answering. There was something mysterious about her. Something so extraordinary that even the pimple on her face could not hide the beauty that lurked underneath that human skin.

"I thought you were going to talk about my pimple."

"I was wishing to ask you that too." Taking out a tube of cream from my daypack, I passed it to her. "Here, use this."

"It's okay," her expression was one of confused amusement. I was certain she was thinking about the connections between being mute and her pimple.

"Let's talk about you. You look like you've got walls built around." I wanted to know more about her.

"It's easier when I shut people out. By the way, talk more. It'll do you good. You'll be okay."

I smiled. She looked like someone whom I could befriend and confide my problems in. She was interesting and I say that the world needs more of people like her.

"Could I be an exception?" I tried my luck to make friends.

"You're not my type. Piss off."

With that, she walked away. Maybe I warmed up to her too fast.

I walked towards my classroom and wished that I could see her again. It seems like I had settled on a crush I'd liked. She could be my getaway from my nightmares of Cleo. Then realising my missing sketchbook while thinking about her, I ran back to the corridor again. It was gone. She must have taken it. Feeling a wave of anxiety, I took in a deep breath and comforted myself, you can find her later after class and retrieve it.

I turned around and went back to class.

"Hey, El!" A person in class called. "What's up?"

"Nothing much." I said that, and nothing else.

"Good morning, class." As fast as I came in, my teacher came in as well. "Today, we're starting on a new chapter. Please flip your history textbooks to page hundred and four."

I obeyed: pulled out the book from my bag and slowly flipping it to the page. I held little liking for history. I find it scary to be dwelling in the past. They say it's good though as it helps you to gain insight; learn from the past mistakes people have made and not repeat them. But what about Cleo? She was the past too, and haunts me still. How do I forget her and move on? What is there to learn? The past is meant to be forgotten, not remembered.

"Miss Amber?" A face peeked into the classroom. Fear was obvious in her voice.

I studied the way her green eyes sparkled with mystery when she peered in and the way her brows furrowed as she asked. My eyes then was caught by the demanding attention of her ginger hair. And then the pimple. She looked distinctively familiar and it hit me. She was the girl from the corridor.

"Yes, Audrey."

Ah. So that's her name. Her name meant 'strong' or 'noble strength'. She should have the courage to ask that question.

"Mr Johnson is absent and I was sent to ask if we could join your class." She meekly asked, hoping the teacher accepted. The teacher looked at her incredulously. "Mr Johnson, absent? This is a first. Surprising. Tell your classmates to come in and take a seat. Then flip your history textbooks to page one hundred and four."

The class then noticed her pimple. "Hey - a pimple!" I'm sure Audrey looked away. They all started jeering, "Pimple! Pimple!" I could make out tears from her eyes.

I knew I had to save her. "That's not very polite." I summoned forth my rarely-seen leading-type demeanor, which was completely unexpected by the class. The words came off better than expected, and in my eerish voice, turned out to be extremely effective. There and then, everyone turned silent.

Miss Amber nodded at me. "Elliot is right."

Audrey glanced at me, her face relaxed. She mouthed a thank you before going off to call her class. Moments later, she returned with a few classmates. "The others had decided to go to the homeroom."

"Fine by me." Miss Amber gave her a reassuring smile.

She took the empty seat beside me and quietly followed the earlier instructions given by the teacher.

"Hey, Audrey…" I felt a rush of awkwardness. Initially, she wanted me to leave her sight, and now she was sitting beside me.

"Hey," she replied rather coldly, "Thank you, although I could have saved myself."

I frowned as I tried to figure her personality. She was weird-good, warm and then cold, and I had the great desire to know her better.

I pushed her questioning ability. "You could have decided to run to the homeroom. Why didn't you?"

"I don't know." Her eyes still fixated on her book.

"Do you have my sketchbook?"

She finally looked away from her book and into my eyes. "Yeah."

Pulling it out from her bag, she passed it to me, "I'm a nightmare dressed like a daydream. Don't be too nice to me."

I pulled out my small pencil case. It was also whitewashed. I like white. Fishing out a little pencil, I opened the book to the page where I drew my jet, and continued filling in the details.

"Wasting your time on those sketches. Why aren't you paying attention in History class?"

"I'm building this in my garage. Besides, I don't like History."

She rolled her eyes again and huffed, "Great waste of time."

"There's a seat there. If you don't like me, feel free to switch." I knew she was masking her feelings well. Not too well enough though.

"Whatever you say then, 'Prince Charming'." She rolled her eyes, not willing to look weak. The way she acted fascinated me somehow. She wasn't bitter, just sad. But it was a hopeful kind of sad. The kind that knew how the world works and why everything was in place but was also a one way ticket to disaster.

Then I realised something. I had crushes on people with extreme personalities.

Before she made her way to the other seat, she said, "You talked. Keep it up."

I instantly regretted the moment she sat somewhere else. We were getting somewhere and I was getting used to her presence. So much for making a possible good friend. I tried to distract myself from my thoughts.

It was to no avail.

I kept my sketchbook in my bag, forcing myself to pay attention to the lesson.

Throughout the lesson, I couldn't stop glancing in her direction. There was something about her that attracted me so badly. And when I was with her, for a moment, I had forgotten all about Cleo. I decided that I enjoyed her presence.

Class ended a little too soon as well. Before I knew it, Miss Amber had dismissed us and everyone was already on their way out. I tried looking for Audrey, wanting to apologise for my earlier rudeness but she was nowhere to be seen. I sighed and made a mental note to be nicer if I got to see her again.