Sam stretched out on her bed, hands laced behind her head. The contents of Alex’s box were strewn across her desk, illuminated by her desk lamp. She was too tired to paw through it all tonight – she wanted to get a good night’s sleep before school in the morning. She glanced over at her uniform hanging from her closet door and cringed. She hated having to wear that dreadful costume. One day, she’d love to go to school in her coat and scarf and black boots and see what everybody said. She could just imagine the looks on the girl’s faces when she strode past them twirling her fountain pen between her fingers. Laughing, Sam closed her eyes and smiled blissfully. A little twinge in the muscle on her face made her hesitate. She relaxed her face and reached up to massage the scar, feeling around at the scar tissue just beneath the skin. Occasionally the muscle directly beneath would seize up leaving her expressionless because of the pain. Sam rolled over on her side and curled herself into the tiniest ball possible, hugging her knees to her chest. Closing her eyes meant the nightmares would come. Then again, the nightmares reminded her she was still alive, still human.
Samantha sat bolt upright in bed, a strangled scream escaping her. She could feel the slice of the knife against her cheek all over again, the hot metal searing into her skin. Shuddering, she wrapped her arms around herself and rocked back and forth instinctively.
She saw the light flick on outside her bedroom door from the crack along the bottom.
“Sam, you alright?”
“Yes mother,” Sam groaned irritably, “Go back to bed,”
The light switched off. She could hear the scuff of her mother’s slippers on the wooden floor as she padded back to bed. Sighing, Sam threw off the sweaty covers that were tangled around her legs. Glancing at her alarm clock, she saw that she had about three hours before daylight. The red numbers glared at her in the dark, the minutes ticking by on the digital face. Not quite sure how to fall back asleep, the young detective rifled through a stack of books on her end table. Picking out a good mystery book, she read by the moonlight until dawn came.
Glancing over at her alarm clock, the red numbers glared five A.M. in the darkness. Groaning, she shut the book and swung her legs out of bed. Beyond her bedroom door, the phone rang shrilly. Knowing her mother would be asleep, Sam darted out of the room and made a bee line for the phone. The answering machine got it before she could.
'...You have reached the residence of Miss Hawk. Please leave you inquiry at the tone...'
'Hullo Sammy it's me Phillips,' Samantha stood at the machine, her hand poised to pick the phone up. She scowled at the inspector's use of the name 'Sammy'. 'Just thought I'd let you know before you popped off to school that there was some idiot wandering around the crime scene yesterday. May or may not be connected to the case,' There was a strange sound then that Sam identified as the sound of Phillips chewing something, 'Called himself the Doctor Doctor or something nutty. Could be that guy who pushed Alex out the window, yeah? Well, give us a call when you can. Over and out,' She listened to the sound of him hanging up on his end. The machine squealed the harsh tone again before dying away into silence. Sam unclenched her fingers from around the phone and crept back to her bedroom.
The breeze tossed her curls into the air, tangling them together. She kept her eyes focused on the pavement, her backpack slung over one shoulder. The wind rattled the mesh fence surrounding the school yard. Sam imagined a wind chime made of rusty tools and broken bottles.
“Hey look, it’s the freak!”
“How goes the day, psycho?”
Sam tucked her chin against her chest and plodded forward, wading through the taunting children near the entrance to the school.
“What’s the matter Sam, did they cut out your tongue this time?”
Rounds of laughter exploded around her. Face flushing crimson, Sam pushed her way past gawking onlookers into the school. The halls were wonderfully silent. Sam leaned against the wall and took a few shaky breaths.
Mrs. Boulstridge passed her, “Good morning Samantha,” She smiled cheerfully at the poor girl.
The teachers – thank God – allowed her to enter the school before the first bell to escape her torturers. They’d let her do that, but they wouldn’t speak to the student body about the abuse they inflicted upon her. It infuriated Sam to no end. However, she returned Mrs. Boulstridge's smile, curving the side of her face that did not bear the scar as not to scare the poor woman. Mrs. Boulstridge continued on her way, her red heels clicking away on the tiled floor.
The first bell rang, screaming through the halls. Sam took a deep breath and sprinted away from the doors as the flood of her schoolmates came inside.
She darted around the corner to the lockers and ran smack into the most handsome boy in the whole school – Adam Smith.
Sam was the only one who thought so however. Adam was something of a nerd, his nose always buried in a book. He had golden brown hair that hung in his eyes and square black glasses that framed his perfect sea-blue eyes. His high cheekbones and long eyelashes would make any girl swoon. But no one swooned for Adam, only Sam. He was oblivious to that though.
The books Adam had been holding were sent helter-skelter all over the floor, papers fluttering like startled birds.
“Oh my god, I’m so sorry,” Sam stammered, kneeling to help pick them up.
At the exact same time, Adam knelt also and they knocked heads together.
They pulled away from each other, “Oops, oh dear I’m making quite a mess of things aren’t I?” Sam moaned, gathering up the papers.
Adam grinned, “It’s alright – what were you doing flying around the corner like that?”
Sam blushed again, this time because she was in the presence of a boy. Adam. She reasoned that she couldn’t exactly say she was in a hurry when the bell had just rung. Unsure how to respond, she shrugged and handed him the papers. Adam balanced them on top of his stack of books, standing with them in his arms. Sam rose, brushing off her black skirt and straightening her tie, “Again, I’m terribly sorry about that,” She moved to step around him but Adam grasped her forearm. Sam looked up at him, puzzled.
“Sam, I said its fine. Don’t worry about it, okay?”
Sam bit her bottom lip and nodded. Adam released her and walked away.
He said my name! I can’t believe it, he said my name!
Sam drifted down the hall, lost in her own fantasies. That is, until a foot stuck out and tripped her. She fell onto the floor, sprawled out with her long dark hair splayed out around her head like a devilish halo.
“So the freak is a klutz as well!”
Sam scrambled to her feet, brushing the dirt of her white button down shirt. Stacy was leaning against the lockers, looking into a pocket mirror, primping.
She snapped it shut and tucked it into her jacket pocket, “You know Samantha, you really should learn how to use makeup so you can cover up that ghastly scar. Of course, you shouldn’t have cut yourself in the first place,”
Stacy sauntered away, joining a pack of giggling girls a little ways down the hall way, who were no doubt laughing about Sam.
Sam curled her hands into fists, her whole being trembling. No one had believed her the day she came in with half her face bandaged. She’d told them almost the whole truth and they still thought the injury was self inflicted. No one ever believed Samantha Holmes. She relaxed her stiff muscles and turned to her own locker, spinning the combination lock.
She had just been on Cloud 9 and now she was angrier than a nest of hornets.