Disclaimer: I do not own Donnie Darko or anything related, no matter how much I wish I did.
A/N: “I accidently burned down a house once…” Donnie tells Gretchen Ross. However, little about his past is ever truly explained. This is the story of Donnie Darko before Donnie Darko.
-August 12, 1987-
My name is Alyssa Hamilton, and I have seen the future.
I can only hope that what I have foreseen proves be false. I can only hope that there is a way for me to change it.
I don’t have long.
The sun broke over the horizon, and I breathed a sigh as the world was set aglow. Another morning and I hadn’t the slightest idea as to where I was.
It had been almost three days since I’d run away from home. Three days since the last time I’d had the shit beaten out of me for merely existing.
I’m not going to say that my life is any harder than the average person because I don’t want to sound like one of those pathetic self-pitying people. Maybe my parents were abusive. Maybe I’d spent the last ten years forced to see a shrink and the last four forced to choke down a Ritalin every night, but it wasn’t that bad.
You may be asking, why then, did I run away?
Because of the dreams. Every night they grew worse and worse. I was plagued by them, images of death, destruction, terror. I couldn’t escape it. Not even the medicine made them better.
I rose from where I was sitting upon the side of the road and starting walking in the opposite direction from which I’d come the night before. The road before me stretched on for miles, all those miles waiting for me, calling out with adventure.
As far as walking goes, as soon as I get where I’m going (wherever that may be) I don’t think I’ll ever do it again. I’d hitch a ride of take a bus, but the only money I had I’d spent the first day on some food. Now I just scrounged up what I could.
When I was little, I used to imagine that I’d been adopted, and that I was secretly a fairy princess or something. I called myself Princess Arialana, and I was absolutely certain that someday a prince was going to come and sweep me away and take me back to his palace under the clouds.
The closest I ever came to this fantasy was the first time I took acid. It was a halfway decent trip, or so I was told, not that I had anything to compare it to. I was flying high, higher than the clouds, touching the sky. Golden waves of sunlight were streaming through my hair and for the first time in my life I could just breathe without someone else choking me.
I guess a part of me was hoping that maybe now I would find my way to that kingdom.
“Hey? Are you going somewhere?”
I spun around to see a black Dodge Daytona idling on the side of the road. My gray eyes travelled over the length of the car and finally landed on the driver.
She couldn’t have been much older than my fifteen years- maybe seventeen or so, with curly brown hair and big brown eyes. Certainly she didn’t look like a kidnapper rapist.
“Yeah, sure,” I replied, going around to the other side to get in. “I’m Alyssa.”
She flashed a wide smile. “Elizabeth. Where are you going?” she added, pulling away and beginning to drive.
“Undetermined,” I muttered.
Elizabeth laughed a little, reaching over to turn up the radio. Duran Duran flooded the car. “Okay. I can take you to my house. You must be starving.” Elizabeth looked almost embarrassed at her generosity, like maybe I didn’t want her pity.
I tried to let her know how much it meant. “Thank you,” I said, because I didn’t know what else to say.
Aside from the music, the ride was mostly silent. Elizabeth seemed nice, but not very talkative. It worked in my favor since I was neither.
It seemed like hours, but then we were easing the car into a long driveway in front of a huge house. I don’t think I’d ever been to a big house before.
“Well, here it is,” Elizabeth said. “Home sweet home.”
I smiled a little. “where are we, anyway?”
Elizabeth rolled her eyes in my direction. “Most people call it Middlesex, Virginia. Me? I call it hell.”
I followed Elizabeth into the house, straight into the living room. “Hello? I’m home!” She shouted before dropping down onto the couch. I stood in the arch nervously.
“You can sit down,” she told me.
“Actually, uh, could I use a bathroom?”
“Oh. Sure.” Elizabeth gave me directions and I followed them up the stairs.
The bathroom door was closed. I raised my hand to knock, but just as my fist was about to collide with the door, it burst open, and a warm hand took hold of my wrist.
Looking up, my eyes locked with a pair of deep blue ones. My eyes travelled down his body and back up to his face, part of which was covered by the gray hood of his sweatshirt.
“hello,” he murmured. A shiver ran up my spine.
“Um, hi.”Oh, really great start to a conversation. I cleared my throat a little and tried to summon the courage of the girl who had run away from home. “You must be Elizabeth’s brother.”
He offered a tiny smile. “yeah. My name’s Donnie. Donnie Darko.”
We stood there for what seemed like hours, just staring into each other’s eyes. And I found myself getting lost.
I’d never been in love before. I found it hard to even believe that love existed, to tell the truth. Maybe it was because my parents had ruined it for me. Maybe I was destined to be one of those old cat ladies that never gets married and never has sex.
All of a sudden, Donnie stepped aside, breaking the trace. The magic fell around us, but I could still feel traces of it moving through the air, tantalizing me. My mouth was practically salivating.
“Sorry to block your way, Alyssa,” he murmured. My name fell from his lips like honey, like the sweetest lullaby whispered between lovers late at night. Oh, this guy was good.
“Not a problem,” I mumbled.
I couldn’t say the same about myself.
I stood there a few minutes longer, watched him retreat into the last room at the end of the hall, glancing around nervously before he closed the door behind him. I frowned. Paranoia, maybe?
Once I was secure in the bathroom, separated from the rest of the world by a heavy wooden door, I allowed a few tears to fall.
I’m not a crier, just for the record. I don’t see the point. I roll with the punches, take things as they come.
Honestly, I didn’t even know what I was crying about now. Here I was in a good home with some seemingly decent people, and I couldn’t even be appreciative.
Wiping my face on the back of my hand, I tried to force a feeble smile. I looked like hell; that was for sure. Maybe Elizabeth would let me take a shower before I went on my merry way.
With one last glance at the pitiful girl in the mirror, and then I turned out the lights.
“So what did you say your name was?” Mrs. Darko asked for about the third time. I smiled broadly as I reached for my third helping of Au Gratin potatoes. Food had never tasted so good in my life.
“Alyssa Hamilton. I’m from the Virginia Beach area,” I said between huge bites.
Mrs. Darko smiled warmly. Well, I’m terribly sorry about your house burning down.”
Yes, I’d lied. But the Darkos seemed like the kind of people who wouldn’t take pity on a poor little runaway.
Mr. Darko added, “You can stay here as long as you need before you continue on to your grandmother’s. And when you leave, we’ll give you some money.”
This time my smile was real.
“Well, I think she’s pretty”
We all turned our gazes on Samantha. She was the youngest of them, a mere nine years old. But her smile was enough to light up a room- and make you forget how annoying I’d already discovered she could get.
“Well, thank you, Samantha,” I replied.
Samantha turned to face Donnie. I’d been carefully avoiding his gaze the entire length of the meal, lest the magic reform and I get lost all over again. Still, I was sure that Elizabeth had noticed by now. And probably everyone else too.
“Donnie, don’t you think Alyssa is pretty?” She asked, her wide eyes shining with innocence.
Donnie glanced over at me, and for a moment, our gazes met. Something burned just beyond the surface, something magical, and almost dangerous. I quickly looked down in embarrassment, but I could still feel his eyes on me, burning holes through my skin, straight through to my soul. With Donnie’s eyes on me I felt raw and exposed.
“Yes. I do.”
They gave me an extra bed to sleep in, the one in their guest room. I thanked them repeatedly and asked Mrs. Darko for permission to use the shower. She laughed and told me to help myself to anything I wanted. I scolded myself for wondering if that included her son.
The hot water felt good, dripping down my body, easing some of the tension there. I closed my eyes and let the scorching droplets cascade down me, breathing in the steam. Already I felt myself relax. The stress of the past three days fell away.
I knew that my parents weren’t looking for me. They couldn’t have cared less about me. Hell, maybe they were celebrating.
But it didn’t really bother me. I was finally free! No more smothering rules or adults constantly telling me I wasn’t good enough. I was on my way to bigger, better things. And just maybe I would find my castle in the clouds along the way.
My eyelids fluttered open and a faint light flooded my eyes. The clock on the bedside table read 2:11 a.m.
Slowly, I rose from the queen-sized bed and started towards the door, following the soothing voice.
On and on I walked, down the stairs, out the front door, down the sidewalk. I didn’t know where I was; I didn’t know where I was going. All I knew was that I couldn’t stop. I had to reach that voice. I had to make it stop.
I don’t really know how long or far I walked. Out here in the cool night air, time seemed to have a mind of its own, going however fast or slow it desired. The constricting laws of the clock no longer applied when the sun went down.
But some time later, I found myself standing in front of an old, abandoned-looking house. The windows had long ago been boarded up and the lawn had long since gone wild. I shivered, whether from the slight breeze or the eerie-ness of the house I wasn’t sure.
“Come closer,” the voice urged again. I won’t hurt you.”
I didn’t need to be told twice. My feet led me up to the creaky porch, and I reached out to turn the handle.
The door opened loudly, and a sudden flash of light reached my eyes. I threw an arm up and squinted, looking for the source.
She was standing a few feet away, her hands folded gracefully in front of her like I always imagined. She wore a gown of the finest purples and reds, and her long brown curls cascaded down her back. She wasn’t smiling, but she looked beautiful nonetheless.
The fairy queen, I was sure.
“What do you want with me?” I shouted into the blinding light, thankful that my voice didn’t quaver with the fear I was feeling within.
There was a pause, and when she spoke, it was like a wind-chime made of ice being rattled.
“Thirteen days, three hours, seventeen minutes, and nine seconds. That is when the world will end.”