I never asked for any of this. Life was simple and totally satisfactory. Why it had to change I will never know. Was it some great and punishable crime that my life was perfect? I don't know. But the change was scary and irreversible. I never asked for any of this.
I always felt like there was some big mystery in my life. An unasked question somewhere that had resulted in a gradual deviation from ... completeness. Not that I wanted to solve this mystery. I was brilliantly happy with my life and I told myself daily that things were perfect as they were... Except for that mystery. Even though I had no desire to pull back the curtain behind which it was hidden, even though it didn't tug at my thoughts from the back of my mind, it was there. An omnipresent gaping hole in the centre of my universe. I knew it would be something dramatically life-changing when I stumbled upon it, and this was even more reason for me to ignore it, but it was something that lingered on my mind when I had time to think - as I said, not nagging me to figure it out, but instead, asking me ‘just to think about it', the way a guy who really likes you will ask you to think about going out with him after you've told him no.
It was Ross, I decided. Ross was the mystery. Phrased like that, it sounds like I fancied him. Like he was some kind of seriously cool guy to whom there was more than met the eye. What a thought. I was perfectly happy with my love life, thank you very much: I didn't need some supernatural forces interfering with it and telling me to date that slightly scary person who just happened to be my boyfriend's best friend. Oh yes, I had a boyfriend - which was why my life was very much what I had always wanted it to be. He was charming and friendly, and that's all I'd really wanted out of a guy. Oh, other girls seem to like a bit of mystery in their life, some sort of secretive guy with some deeper hidden aspect of his personality who could sweep you off your feet. Those were the girls who did fancy Ross. You could see it in their eyes every time he walked by, even though his expression was always one of cool indifference. I was content with Jack Smith, the simple, caring guy who was everything he appeared to be and all the better for it. I didn't really want much more than that. I was a simple person, grateful for what I had and never seeking more than what I saw in front of me. Life was good that way, life was great. Boy did it change.
So, Ross. Cool, short-tempered, unsympathetic. Basically, the total opposite of Jack. I didn't see what they could possibly have in common and I wasn't even sure if Jack was Ross's best friend, even if Ross was his. Perhaps the mystery was his coldness, but I had a feeling, like intuition, that the coldness was as a result of the mystery. The mystery was something deeper and darker than I could ever hope to imagine. And it frightened me that there was something more to him. Something unknown and unpredictable.
He was weird in another way too. He claimed to be 18 at the moment, but he looked younger. That sounds really strange, but it's true. He was older than Jack and he looked my age. Now, I was more than half a year younger than Jack so an 18 year old should definitely not look as if we could be in the same year group at school. Not that Ross goes to school. There was an odd thing. His guardians (Jack's parents) home-tutored him from when he was apparently three (which I thought was a little young) until last year. Now that doesn't sound too odd. 15 years of education is only one more than I'm getting, but why did he need home-schooling? Another queer thing is that he seemed to stop the day before his birthday instead of at the end of July like everyone else...
Anyway, the age thing. He did look older than Jack until he said he was about 12, but since then he'd been looking roughly the same age as Jack. Now, he definitely looked younger. It just freaked me out.
So, here we are at the beginning of the events that led up to the greatest change in my life. Hold on tight, I'd have liked to tell myself. It was going to be a very bumpy ride.