I was startled awake from my nightmare, sitting up and all but throwing the burgandy comforter off of me. The dream hadnt been nearly as bad as some of the others. There hadnt been nearly as much blood, as much shrieking misery. The mysterious girl who haunted my sub-conscious had been alive and that was more than I hoped for most nights. I shook my head slowly, hoping the memories would fade. I knew that they would not.
Standing up and rubbing the sleep from my eyes, I took a deliberate look around my darkened bedroom. My eyes were beginning to adjust, enough so that I could make my way to the small desk on the wall parallel to my monstrous bed. The three-legged stool groaned a bit as I dropped down upon it. As reality set in, I let out a soft groan of my own. In but a few hours, I would be sent off to face my first day at Billiards Day School.
Pulling a match from the nearest pack, I used it to light the vanilla candles resting on the ebony desk's surface. Two weeks earlier, when I'd come to New York, there hadnt been a force on the earth that could have made me touch a match or lighter. Almost mechanically, I held up my wrist in the flickering light and ran my index finger over the tangle of scars that rested there. They crossed and crossed, blending until i could scarcely tell when they began or ended. I shivered, despite the warmth of the room. Two weeks ago, I'd still been dragging razors across my wrists.
Shaking the painful memories away, I searched my desk for a piece of charcoal. The feel of the smooth cynlinder between my fingers brought a rush of comfort to me, however small it may have been. There was already a blank sheet of paper before me, and so without a second thought I lowered the charcoal to it and began to draw. It was what I'd always done in moments of extreme emotion, be it anger or sorrow or joy. I poured all my thoughts and feelings onto the paper, finding solace in how effortlessly the lines fell from my fingertips.
"Griffin, dear, are you awake yet?"
At the sound of the gentle voice coming from the hall, I jumped in my seat. The charcoal slid from my fingers. As it rolled across the page, leaving a lovely black streak, I felt the gossamer tendrils of magic crumble around me. I yanked up the page and rolled it up into a ball. It hadnt been that good anyway.
I rose quickly, opening my bedroom door to reveal Cordelia Barrett. She was one of New York City's most treasured patron, a royalty from her generation ruling the city. With her long silver hair and stunning green eyes, she had taken the city by storm. To me, she was just my grandmother.
"Clearly, Cordelia," I replied, trying to keep all sarcasm from my tone. Cordelia had made it clear that she simply wouldnt tolerate it, and I knew she didnt deserve it either. If not for her, I probably would have been found dead days ago. I owed her my life. Cordelia offered me a small smile, one that said, I'm here for you because I care about you. I tried to return the gesture, but my own smile only came out hollow and fake. More of a grimace than anything.
"You should get ready, if you want to be on time," She told me. I did my best to remain emotionless. Something was burning within me, ever burning. A desperate cry for something so unbelievable it took me to my knees. "Billiards wont wait for you. Would you like me to make you breakfast?"
I shook my head. Eating was out of the question. "Thank you," I thought to add a second later, but she was already descending the spiral staircase. Already turning away.
For being so prestigious, there had to be at least three-thousand students at Billiards. After the initial overwhelming scene, I'd begun to decipher the layout. Younger grades were housed in a separate building. I could already see that the school was ruled by the standard heirarchy of cliques, with the dazzling, golden boys and girls at the top. People like me, the ones who shrouded themselves in shadows, were guarenteed to fall to the bottom.
There were only two secretaries behind the expansive desk of the main office, and both of them were on the phone. I took a seat in an available chair while I waited, impatient as ever. I figured that would be as good a time as ever to look over the schedule that had been mailed to Cordelia's manor on Fifth Avenue. Some dreams, I thought, were better left in one's head. Not that I'd been wasting much time envisioning a five-star life. I'd been happy. And that had been taken from me. No, I could not think of that house as home. It was but an empty, meaningless building.
"I can help you over here," one of the secretaries suddenly called out. I stood up slowly and sauntered to her desk."What can I do for you?" She asked in a gentle tone. A maternal smile was plastered upon her face. I had to wonder if this whole godforsaken town was made from celophane.
"I'm, uh, new here," I muttered, feeling incompetant as I pulled out the packet of papers Cordelia had sent with me. I watched mindlessly as she took them and typed a few things into her computer.
"Griffin Barrett?" She asked of me then. I could only nod. After she so kindly asked me to sign a few papers and gave me the basic rules, she welcomed me to Billiards and sent me to class.
By the time I reached my first hour, Mr. Norton's English, I had had my fill of Billiards. In just ten short minutes, I'd reccieved more angered stares than I had in my entire life. I told myself it was all due to the way I looked- the disarray of black hair and the standard black outfit that gave away nothing personal whatsoever. The mask I hid behind, right down to the thin tracery of eyeliner. An expression. An expression that there was a darkness in all of us threatening to spill out.
With a frustrated sigh, I dropped into the desk in the far back corner. Instantly I had out a sheet of paper and a regular pencil. I was dying to release my pent-up feelings in the best way I could. Time faded away the instant I set the tip to the paper, the world disappearing until their was nothing left but me. Alone.
Until someone intruded upon my non-existent paradise.I felt their presence long before I saw them, for I felt the shift in the atmosphere as a shadow was cast over my half-filled paper. I looked up slowly from under my lashes.
If I hadnt believed in angels before, I was sure that I did now. Before me stood a fragile little creature, staring at me helplessly with wide, gray eyes. Her expression was guarded, and she was clutching tightly to her books. Thick layers of black hair formed a makeshift shield around her mesmerizing face.
"You're staring at me," I said in a tone of utter indifference. The girl's hard eyes went wide, seeming to soften a little as her face turned a thousand shades of red.
"Oh, uh, you're in my desk," she mumbled, turning away. I silently cursed myself for seeming so cold.
She looked back too soon to be considered flirting. I spent what seemed like forever just looking at her, at her slender frame and pallid skin. I finally settled upon her eyes. Those eyes that were so thickly lined in kohl, that held the same caution they'd held since she;d first approached. Like she could see through me to a part even I was unaware of. Could she tell how very dangerous I really was, I wondered? Could she see the hairline fractures?
There's no reason to be afraid, I told her silently. I could only hope she would hear me, somehow.
"I dont see your name on it," I said instead, the slight trace of an entertained smile playing across my lips.
Her blush deepened, if that was possibly. "It's alright," she told me. "I can sit here." And so she slid into the desk beside me and didnt say another word about it. As a matter of fact, she didnt say another word, period, although I had to admit I was sort of waiting for her to lean over and whisper something soft and sweet. Something to make me forget.
But she never did. And so when the bell rang, I gathered up my books and left.