She decided that she must have cried herself to sleep, because the next thing she noticed, she was tucked in her own bed. Surely she hadn’t sleep-walked to her bed and tucked herself in? Either that or she was delusional after all. She couldn’t decide. She was confused.
The only reason that she had woken up was the fact that KE$HA was blaring in her ear, as her friend Sally was ringing her up.
“Where on earth are you? It’s second period already!” Sally screeched.
“Sorry; I guess I had a bit of a lie-in.” Emily mumbled.
“I’d say! What happened?” Sally wanted to know, not caring that Emily could hear Mr. Jackson breathing dragon fumes down Sally’s neck.
“I’ll tell you later.” Emily replied, still mumbling, not actually intending on telling Sally later.
“Sure thing; I’ve got to fly.” Sally laughed.
Emily dressed in a dazed rush, not caring what she threw on. It happened to be her school shirt, tie, blazer with the frayed cuffs, and the shorter skirt with the frayed hem. Her fish-net tights also went well with the whole death/Goth/emo mood.
She sprinted to the bus stop to find that the buses weren’t running at that time to her bus stop. She would have to run to the other side of town. This was not Emily’s day.
She got to school about half an hour later, to a detention from Miss. Rose. And a telephone call home. Much good that was going to do them, and she told them that, but they didn’t want to know.
“It seems that nobody is home.” Mr. Dragon-breath said in a defeated tone.
“Told you.” Emily shrugged.
“Okay, Emilia, tell me exactly what is wrong. You’ve never been late a day in your life, care a lot about what the teachers think about you, and are the best academic student in the year.” Mr. Dragon-breath reasoned.
“Don’t know.” She mumbled, knowing that she could never tell them the real reason. They’d put her in a children’s home. She was fifteen years old. She could look after herself.
She was eventually sent to class, after a strict warning from Dragon-breath and Miss. Rose. On a normal day, Miss. Rose was the person she would always confide in and she would be like the big sister that Emily had never had. But this was not a normal day. And Emily really couldn’t stand talking to anybody today. But that would be okay, because everybody ignored her anyway; the only good thing about being the nerdy girl in the class.
But when she arrived in the Form room, she was bombarded by Sally. Questions: she could handle those. Answers: the one thing that she wasn’t so sure about.
“So where were you?” Sally asked.
“In bed.” Short answers were good.
“Why?” Sally was not going to go away.
“I was tired; I don’t know. Why do you go to bed at night? How long’s a piece of string?” Emily gave her best friend the evil-eyes.
“Okay, chill, it’s not as if anyone’s died is it?” Sally held her hands up in surrender.
“Yeah, I suppose...” Emily trailed off. She had noticed Michael staring in through the classroom window.
“Ooh, do you think that Michael guy likes you?” Sally squeaked childishly.
“No; he’s so cryptic, but I don’t want to know him anyway. I’ve got enough on my plate right now.” Emily said, and then walked out. She was in a habit of that right now. The thing was, she didn’t even know why she walked out of the Form room; it was as if she felt a gravitational pull towards Michael. Something that hadn’t been there before her Mother’s death.
He gave her a knowing smile and she nodded in acknowledgement. They ran to the forest together, sitting cross-legged under the old oak tree at the heart of the forest.
The light filtered greenly through the leaves, casting dappled patterns over the rocks and boulders. It was like a whole new world. A happy distraction from the one Emily was living in at the moment.
“So… I heard your Mum had died. I’m so sorry.” Michael said with an empathetic voice, and an awkward, consoling hand on Emily’s shoulder.
“How did you know? I haven’t told anybody. And why do you even care?” She shrugged his hand away, so it flopped down by his side.
“Of course, it’ll be our little secret. Although I think you really should get someone to move in with you. I hate to see you alone in that house,” Michael wiped a tear from her cheek. “We could unlock some of my secrets if you would like.”
Emily gave Michael a weak smile. “Yeah; secret number one: Michael has a soft spot, deep inside his soul.”
“Secret number two: Michael has no soul.” He whispered beautifully, and she stored that secret away for pondering on later.
“Come on Michael, everybody has a soul.” She disagreed, her thoughts reflecting her Mother.
“Okay; some of us have clean souls… and some have not. I think that you know where I’m coming from, Emily,” A shiver ran up her spine when he said her name. Not a very encouraging thought. “Your Mother had a clean soul.” He kept looking her in the eye to dare her to take him seriously.
The talked like that, silly little things ‘secret number eighteen: Michael babysits’. Nothing serious, as they were only teenagers, so the serious things had to wait. Those things had to wait until tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after that…
There would come a time when Michael had to tell her the truth that would bond them closer, or if she repelled, send her running in the opposite direction with her hands in the air, screaming. But he had to choose the right time. And he had to choose it wisely.
From where they were, they could just hear the school bell, so they knew that it was lunch time, with a confirmation from all the rumbling going on in Emily’s stomach that sounded like a lion had taken up residence there.