[Petals Fall, Book One]
Like most stories worth telling, it all began with a boy. It's funny how when everything around you is falling to pieces you don't even notice. You're completely oblivious to the settling dust. Or maybe you do notice. Maybe you just convince yourself that you didn’t because the thought of picking up the pieces is unbearable.
My own universe was so carefully constructed, so precariously balanced upon the edge of the razor I could never bring myself to push hard enough. And somewhere in the back of my mind I knew it wouldn’t be long until it had crashed. And I knew I would burn up right along with it.
I tried to tell myself it would be a good day on the basis that my locker opened on the first try. It was a rare feat indeed when the temperamental thing let me in so easily. The past summer had seemed so endless, so filled with vast possibilities. Too many days wasted sleeping away, too many nights filled with dreams that had long since proved hopeless. The summer was when I'd truly began to whither away. Only, nobody knew it. Not even myself.
Still, a part of me was happy to be back. Black Hills was as much a part of me as anything else. Freshman year had been none too kind to me. Sophomore year, I would change that. Somehow, I would alter my fate. I would take control.
The school's social universe was like a web, twisting until it trapped you in the entanglements of its gossamer web. Once you deciphered how it all linked together, it was fairly easy to figure out.
After I had gathered the neccessary books for my first three classes, I started off towards the main lobby. Diversity may have permeated the halls, but the front was strictly for us. The kids that gathered there, all shrouded in mystery, done up in chains and black with their faces painted white, claimed to be my friends. Even the ones I'd never spoken to. Perhaps it was a vain attempt to bring some order to their lives. After all, we were all bred in chaos. We reveled in it.
They all stood together there, protected under one solitary storm cloud, but they were still so divided. Too many lines had been drawn here to keep track of. I tried my hardest to smile at everyone as I passed, at Dallas and his long-haired friends discussing their post-punk horrid excuse of music, at Melissa and Loren, who hated each other just enough to love each other, at Lexi and her clones with their eyeliner and bright skinny jeans.
I waved to them all as I approached, glanced over my shoulder for no apparent reason. Xander Ocher stood a few feet back, working his magic on the crowds with his smile and devious personality. Xander was the sort of boy who broke hearts on impact.
The rest of Black Hills may have been dominated by its own social hierarchy. Here, everything was right.
Lexi rolled her eyes as I came up beside her. "Welcome back to Hell," she scowled. "Final destination."
I offered her a smile. "It's not that bad," I murmured. Lexi only shrugged. "Where's Dakota?" I asked then. Her boyfriend since the start of summer, I had my doubts about Dakota. Mostly I questioned how quickly they'd attached to each other. How much they controlled each other's emotions.
Not that I had room to talk. I could feel the anxiety setting in already. Because I too had allowed my emotions to be taken control of. I'd never admit how consumed I'd already become.
Lexi shrugged again, her trademark gesture of lack of caring. "Around," she said carelessly. Because that was just how she was. Indifferent. "Although if he was here, it might be easier to tone out those two." My black haired friend jabbed her finger over her shoulder to where Melissa and Loren stood. The dark-eyed boy had managed to successfully pin his girlfriend against the wall and was kissing her fiercely. Sometimes when watching them like that, I forgot that they spent every given moment fighting. Loren and Melissa were just sort of expected to be together forever.
I knew it would only be a matter of time. Then I felt the all too familiar arms snake around my waist. "Reina," my name came out in a single hot breathe that tickled my neck and gave me goosebumps. "I missed you so much."
Spinning around, my pale eyes met those of the most precise shade of blue. I smiled up at him, that beautifully broken boy I held so close. His eyes were like stars, his smile so pitiable it could have torn the heavens to shreds. He lived and breathed in a world of shattered dreams and memories worn thin, like tapes played on repeat too many times over.
Xander Ocher smiled back. All the while my heart was thudding away, and my walls kept on crumbling. Xander had been my best friend for the greater part of three years. He'd become my confident, the only person I truly trusted. He was my shoulder to cry on and the one who could always make me laugh when the mere thought of smiling seemed impossible.
"I missed you too," I replied, because I had. I hadnt seen him nearly enough that summer, between his work and my homelife and all the partying that fell in between.
Xander slung an arm around my waist and pulled me away from Lexi and the others. He paused only to give Loren a half-hearted wave. Their friendship ran deep, beyond most of our comprehension. Whatever dark secrets lay between them, I very much doubted I'd ever know.
"So tell me something," Xander asked once we were a measurable distance from any potential eavesdroppers. "You up for a little back-to-school celebration?" I grinned at him coyly before looking away. His overall persona of deviousness was entirely too contagious. "Only the important people, of course," he went on. Paused before he added, "I promise I'll make it worth your while."
His words sent a shiver up my spine. Xander knew entirely too well how to play me. I could only wonder if he was unaware of his power over me or if he knew that he had me in the palm of his hand. If he knew that I was so his for the taking.