The world could be a cruel place. That was one of the most basic facts known to man. It could be brutal, merciless and completely harsh. It was designed specifically to accompany the theory of 'Survival of the fittest.'
At least, that's what I was told. That saying was fed to me from such a young age, that it's almost become a part of me. I remember my parents always told me that I'd have to be tough to make it. If I wasn't going to be just as equally fierce as the world, then I might as well give up now cos I sure as hell wasn't going to make it any further.
I had always known there was something wrong with me though. It started when I was nine years old, the memory is still as clear as anything in my mind. My first crush being a delicate little thing that smelled of apples and roses. Her name was Amelia and I had taken an immense shine to her. It was as though she had this supernatural ability to brighten anyone's day, just by being there. She certainly had that effect on me anyway. It was astounding how taken by her I was. She had soft, glossy hair the colour of chestnuts and wide brown eyes depicting pure innocence.
To me, she was perfection.
Although there was something wrong. I knew it. It was like, whenever I was around her, I felt this...hunger. It was strange and unusual and it seriously made me question if I was different. It wasn't a normal hunger though. It was a sort of mental hunger. In my mind. I couldn't explain it to anyone, to put something like that into words would be impossible.
But then one day, everything changed. She had finally given me a second look and decided she liked what she saw. I had waited for her by the oak tree in the far corner of the school field for our first lunch together. I would be lying if I said I wasn't nervous. I kept asking myself, 'What if she doesn't like me?' All completely human reactions to a first 'date.'
'James,' she had spoken softly and my heart had burst with happiness. It was pointless really, considering what would happen next.
I didn't even get time to respond before she reached out to touch my hand. A simple gesture of affection that would cause a lifetime of regret. When her skin brushed against mine, it felt like a bolt of lightning had exploded inside of me, awakening something destructive in its path. The events next all seem a little hazy to me, but I remember grasping her fingers desperately. This hunger had just been intensified a thousand times.
Then she was dead.
It was as simple as that. I had finally been relieved of this mental, unexplained almost animalistic craving, but now I would have to deal with the consequences.
They couldn't send me to jail, I was too young. What I faced was worse though. My parents completely disowned me, they didn't even try to hear me out. But maybe I wanted that. I wanted to be punished. I had just killed a girl, unintentional or not. I was put in a juvenile detention centre, forced to serve only a pathetic eight years. When I was done, I was forced to live with a distant relative somewhere in California, never to see my mother or father again.
I've lived here ever since.
* * * * *
I didn't understand why I was now stood in a classroom of about thirty students all staring at me with keen enthusiasm. I would have thought that a public school would be the last place they wanted me to end up in, but what did I know?
I kept my expression impassive, my eyes cold. I knew how I looked to them all. A total stranger invading their classroom with eyes like glaciers and a personality as cold as ice.
'Would anyone like to, uh, offer to show James around the school?'
Only one girl raised her hand, in an almost reluctant manner. I sat in the chair beside her, glancing at her once out of nothing more than boredom.
And my heart stopped in my chest.
It can't be.
'I'm Diana,' she spoke, shattering my illusion. 'I hope you like it here.'
Of course it's not Amelia you idiot. You killed her.
Right there and then, I hated the girl sat beside me with everything I had. She resembled Amelia way too much which was just someone's sick way of torturing me. My past was coming back to haunt me in the form of this girl.
I wouldn't let it.
I didn't have to speak to her. I didn't even have to acknowledge her.