Chapter Four: Introductions
Marley stood over me, her eyes filled with years of tears she had hidden away inside her, to keep me from worrying. Her lips were moving very quickly, although, the only sound that escaped them to the refuge of my ears was a quiet whimpering of a name. I strained my hearing to get a clear shot at the word.
It was all she said, and as I reached out to comfort her she dematerialized before me. I felt my own eyes burn and the smell of salt filled my nose, clouding my senses.
MOM! I yelled in vain, just hoping for a second that she would come back to me and hold me. No reply came, but I could still hear her sobs; and I so desperately wanted to ask her what it all meant. I would follow her, I decided and as I went to turn I came face to face with Skylar.
‘Don’t be afraid. She cries for you.’ An evil look surfaced on her face, turning her expression demonic in so many ways and as if the world around me had seen it as well, someone screamed off into the distance and my body turned to ice.
I snapped up in my bed, my body and mind recoiling from the awful high-pitched scream that had frozen me in place. My body was covered in beads of sweat that caused my blankets and clothes to cling my skin and every curve of my body was covered with a transparent loop of material. My heart raced in my chest cavity, threatening to shatter my ribs with a single blow, but it never came and my body relaxed. I rolled over to check my alarm clock. The red numbers read out 7:09am.
Damn! Skylar just had to scare the shit out of me. My own personal wake up call.
I flipped over onto my back and lay there glaring at my ceiling covered in the early morning shadows. As I lay there, I tried to recall yesterday, fighting back an array of yawns and the urge to pee, but it over took me. I slipped out from under the covers, staring down at my knees. I was still dressed in my clothes from yesterday, my pants were wrinkled and rolled up my thigh.
I clambered off my bed with a groan and slinked down the dark hall to the bathroom. I flicked on the lights, at first they hurt my eyes and I struggled to keep them open. Finally, my pupils adjusted and I could see clearly, and it was worse than I’d thought. My make-up had been washed off, but new pimples had appeared over night from stress. Groaning again, I peeled off my clothes and slithered into the glass-walled shower. The hot water on my skin felt amazing, and I relaxed into my morning ritual. The steam rose around me, twisting against my body and up over the top of the shower filling my bathroom with a light haze, I shampooed instantly and the scent of my Herbal Essences shampoo brought life back to my thoughts. This was the only time of my day when my mind went completely blank, and for that I was thankful.
After my shower I sauntered back to my room in my housecoat; shivering slightly. I dug through my dresser and pulled out several items, a bra essentially. Over my underwear I tugged on black capris and a dark green t-shirt. The weather network had only predicted a 22°C day, and I knew that shorts would just be idiotic.
I brushed out my wet hair and shook my head only after it was neat. It fell into the same place, only it had more volume. And after that, I played up my eyes with black eyeliner and mascara, and covered my pale face with foundation: hiding the red blotches that I would have to take care of tonight before bed.
Taking a glance in my mirror, I looked like a broken china doll, who’d run into a red marker. I didn’t care, no one looked at me anyway.
Trudging upstairs, I found my Mom sitting at the kitchen table wearing a gray business suit drinking coffee. At the sound of my heavy footsteps she turned to look at me.
“Don’t you look nice.” She smiled, exposing perfectly aligned chompers.
She’s been up for a while. How did she get so pretty?
“Thanks.” I murmured, finishing my ascent and poured a mug of coffee for myself and popped a blueberry bagel in the toaster.
“How are you feeling this morning?” Just another check-up. I didn’t answer. “You were in tears when I checked on you around one. Nightmare?”
Yes. You starred in it. Who’s “Gabriel?” I said it aloud, just under my breath, but in all her maternal instincts, hearing was her strongest.
“Gabriel?” As she said the name, I detected a slight accent color her voice. Her eyes fell on my face, carefully tracing the line of my cheek. “Where did that come from?”
“It was just a name from my nightmare last night.” The toaster turned off and my bagel bounced up to greet my waiting hands. It was hot and I dropped half of it on the floor cursing under my breath, I left it there and ate the other half hungrily.
“How odd.” Her voice lingered.
“Why is it, odd?”
“Gabriel. That was you-”
The piercing sound of the phone ringing cut her off. I reached over the knife block to pick the black noisemaker off the tiled surface.
“Hello?” I asked annoyed, forgetting to check the caller ID.
“Hey Ollie!” Michael’s cheerful tone bubbled over the receiver.
“Oh, good morning.” I softened my tone, trying to force out the other voice I was hearing in my head.
“Do you want a ride to school this morning? I’m going to Tim Horton’s for breakfast, I thought you may want to come with.”
I glanced down at my warm bagel, my mouth watering. The coffee in my mug still steamed and its aroma was still potent as always. “Actually, I made my own Timmies, but I’d still love that ride.” I smiled, hoping that he could hear it in my voice.
“Alright. I’ll get my breakfast and I’ll see you at eight forty-five. Don’t forget to brush your teeth this time.” I swear I heard him laugh, but I couldn’t deny the humor.
“Okay. See you then.” I hung up and went back to ‘breakfast’.
“Michael?” Marley asked, though her eyes were on a thick book before her. It looked like something you’d see the president of a company doing.
“Yes. Do you have another interview today?”
“Then why are you dressed like that?”
Obviously the disgust in my voice had caught her attention and she peeled her eyes from the text she’d been reading over, only too look at me in a scrutinizing manner.
“Because, Olivia,” the way she said my name was almost painful, “Sabrine is coming to town today to discuss opening a shop uptown.”
My jaw dropped. “Aunt Sabrine? Why didn’t you tell me?”
“She’ll be gone before you get out of classes.” Marley said matter-of-factly.
I shuddered; I hadn’t seen my ‘Aunt’ Sabrine in years, I was sadly disappointed. “Will I ever get to see her?”
“Maybe at Thanksgiving.” She winked as she pulled her briefcase from the table and floated down the stairs into the porch. She called out a farewell and a good luck, but it went without a reply.
Why can’t I see Sabrine? Maybe she can be more helpful with the Déjà vu crap or at the very least; she can help me design my tattoo.
I scurried around: cleaning up my breakfast and brushed my teeth before gathering up my school things. When I was finished I looked up at my alarm clock. It was only 8:30 and I still had fifteen minutes before Michael would show up in his little Mazda wailing on the horn to make me hurry.
I should find a way to silence his horn. I wonder which cable it is? Well, I guess I should be thankful for the ride and just let the neighbors deal with the horn. Perhaps one will chase him down with a pitchfork. I laughed at the thought of Mrs. Derksen with a pitchfork, she was far too ‘up-kept’ to do such a thing.
I stumbled up the stairs with my messenger bag slung over my shoulder and slipped on my back and green flats. For once, my outfit matched. I stared down at my feet for the longest time, until the sound of a horn ripped my attention away. I shook my head and flew out the front door. He was grinning wildly in the driver’s seat, the bass of his CD audible to my ears and most likely the entire block’s.
The inside of his car smelled sweetly of a large triple-triple and a cheese croissant that had once been in the now empty, paper bag.
“Enjoying yourself?” I giggled.
“Yupp. It’s gonna be a good day.” He nodded, pulling out of my driveway and down Parkhill and up Nelson.
“Don’t you work tonight?” My eyes questioned. I do.
“Yes, but … so do you.”
“I don’t understand.” Tilting my head, I could see his complete face; it was flushed from the caffeine in his system, but still incredibly intense.
“I won’t miss anything.”
“Still not following …”
“You really are dense in the morning, aren’t you?”
I scowled, my eyes narrowing. “Just tell me.”
“Oh man. If you pass out, this time, I will be there in goodtime.”
“Why didn’t you just say that?”
“I thought you were smarter than that.”
He had parked across from the main doors now, staring at me with that same stupid grin on his face.
“Ya, well… I didn’t sleep too well. Gimme a break.”
“You only get to use that card once today. Is that your final answer?”
“Really? Sick or something?” His tone turned serious suddenly.
“Nightmares.” I flinched.
“Oh, that sucks. Well we should probably get to English before Mr. Samson lulls us to sleep with a ‘late’ lecture.”
I groaned. “We still have to finish watching that Michael Moore documentary today. I’ll fall asleep.”
“He wasn’t very happy when I fell asleep on Tuesday.”
“Maybe he’ll be sympathetic because of yesterday. C’mon, we’ll be late.”
The class buzzed with idle banter from all the tables, but as Michael and I sauntered into class some voices hushed. I cringed and slumped my shoulders as eyes poked out from under long lashes and shaggy bangs to leer at me. We pushed onward towards our table that seemed to be separated from the rest.
They were talking about me, I should have known. When an ambulance shows up at the school, the whole student body will be talking about it for the rest of the week. But with 500 students, I’m not really that surprised.
Michael’s arm crossed over my shoulders before I got to my seat. Obviously he knew what was going on. I made a mental note to ask him about it in gym, because as we sat down, Mr. Samson wandered in and O’ Canada began over the intercom. I felt my legs lock, so I didn’t topple over, and I hummed along with the familiar lyrics.
All class I concentrated on staying awake and I found that my coffee fix was working. Even Michael stayed alert for the remainder of the film, his one hand writing me notes.
Afterwards, we said that silent goodbye and I made my way to Art class, nervously thinking about how my classmates would react to my appearance. Would anyone even look at me? For once I was wishing that my power of invisibility would work for me.
Just as my English class had been, this one was louder. Chattering and squealing, their freedom extended in this particular room, and to my graciousness, it stayed at top volume when I slipped into the room. My eyes scanned the group closest to me, but someone was missing.
Ms. Riley confirmed it during roll call.
I couldn’t concentrate on my project, so I pulled out a pen and sketched out Skylar’s venomous glare from my nightmare. To my surprise I found that it looked something like a Vampire from a Dracula move. I furrowed my brows as I admired it, thinking hard about my nightmare and my Mom this morning.
“Hello Alex, how nice of you to join us.” Ms. Riley’s voice bit at my train of thought and I shot a glance upwards.
There he was, soft, tanned complexion against black hair and those alluring green eyes.
“Dentist appointment.” He added, simply flashing her a white smile.
I couldn’t breathe and I was wondering if I was about to pass out again, but it didn’t feel the same.
“Well, grab a chair. There’s one by Olivia.”
At the mention of my name, the whole class looked at me and then shot looks back to Alex. A few girls actually rolled their eyes, while others just watched intently. I brought my eyes back to my sketchbook, recalling how to breathe.
His name is Alex? Don’t look at him Ollie; your head can’t take another fall.
“Mind if I sit here?”
I knew that I should have just pretended to ignore him, but his voice was invigorating: rough and with a slight hint of a foreign accent.
“Sure.” I shocked myself. My voice was completely intact, and smooth as the table I sat at.
He smiled and I saw that he had some sort of silver cap on his eyetooth. Subconsciously I caught myself staring and forced my eyes back to my sketchbook. Skylar’s demonic eyes startled me, and I took in a sharp breath.
“You alright?” He asked smugly. Obviously he was willing to be humorous about yesterday.
“I’m fine.” I snapped, maybe a little more cruelly than I should have.
“Good. You hit me pretty hard yesterday.”
“What?” My eyes flew up to meet his. They were filled with unseen humor and smugness.
“You collapsed into my direction yesterday. My shoulder caught your eye.” He assured me, pointing at the still red markings around my right eye.
Dammit! He’s gorgeous; of course I had to collapse into him before I even know his name.
He read my expression. “I placed you on the floor immediately of course. I hate people hanging all over me.” That same smug grin lit up his face.
“It wasn’t like it was intentional.” I mumbled.
“Maybe not, but it was quite the first day.”
First day? Shit! So I was the first girl in the 500 other kids in the school to give him a crash course in fainting spells. Wonderful.
I rolled my eyes, silently cursing.
“What are you doing?” He peered over my sketchbook.
“Thinking. Can we start over?” I pleaded.
“Sure. Why not? I’m Alexander Teagues.”
“Olivia Jade Sommerland.”
His smile faded, and his jaw clenched. I watched his face mould into a mask of apprehension and confusion. “Sommerland?”
“Mmhmm.” I nodded, still watching. Do I have something in my teeth? I subconsciously ran my tongue along the smooth surfaces of my teeth.
“That sounds so, familiar.” Alex muttered, everything about him seeming distant and lost.
I really should just stick to Olivia Jade; maybe I’ll ask Marley to let me change it for graduation. Sighing outwardly, I went back to shading Skylar’s demonic features, her eyes jumping out of the pencil and paper sketch.
I turned, my face reddened. Skylar stood behind me, her smile approving. Why hadn’t I heard her? How long had she been there?
“Who is it?” She pressed.
“C’mon … tell me.” Skylar plopped down in the plastic chair next to me, her eyes pleading carelessly.
“You.” I winced.
“Really?” Her eyes retraced the vampiric face on the crisp paper. I measured her reaction, patiently waiting for her response. “Awesome.” She said it breathlessly.
“It’s from a nightmare I had last night. It’s not how I see you or anything.” I stammered, the last thing I wanted was to make an enemy out of her.
“That’s even better. I played a vileness role in your nightmares. Wait … was I at least the lead villain?”
Skeptical, I nodded and retraced Skylar’s expression breathing through my nose. “Well … you weren’t evil in so many words. You actually tried to reassure me. Told me not to be afraid. Where did you come from?” I blinked
Instantly Skylar’s expression changed, it was no longer proud and approving, but it was anxious and possibly unsettled. “I was … comforting you?” Skylar stammered.
“Weird. And I looked like that?” She double-checked.
I nodded, closing that particular page almost instantly, my stomach gurgled.
“Odd.” And with that she wandered back to her group of friends, just listening to them chatter.
You didn’t answer my question! I snapped.
I could see that Alex was laughing from the corner of my eye. I turned to glare. His face read me off, amused and it boiled over in his laughter.
“What is so funny?” I glowered.
“She’s not a friend, is she?”
“More or less a recently acquired acquaintance. Why?”
“I don’t think her friends like you very much.”
I allowed myself to steal a glance at the large group of girls all seated in one area. Three of them were bleached blondes, wearing skinny jeans and American Eagle tank tops, while A.J. and Skylar wore black t-shirts and loose jeans. The other three were brunettes, all dressed in mini skirts, short-shorts and light shirts. All but three had glared at me when Alex had sat with me.
“Gee. Whatever gave you that idea?” I clicked.
He just smiled, biting his tongue and any slick comment that he was tempted to use.
When the bell went to signal that Art was over, I packed up so quickly I was winded and I darted into the hallway. For once the crowded hall was welcome, there was too much noise for my mind to go on freely about the previous hour. I took up a deep breath and merged with the rest of the student body; that was until a tanned hand clasped my shoulder.
“What class do you have next?”
It was Alex, his lips pulled into a scowl at the overly packed corridor. My heart skipped a beat and I rolled my eyes at my reaction.
“Phys. Ed. You?” Stupid!
“Spare.” Alex exhaled with a light moan, pressing against me as the other classes emptied and it’s children tried to push past.
I could smell his body spray; it was extremely potent this close up, but I liked it. He smelt sweet, but with a hint of musk, very masculine.
“Lucky. I have all five blocks filled.” I glared up at him, but he wasn’t looking at me.
He looks so much more rugged than Michael, it’s hardly even fair to compare them.
It wasn’t long until we were passing the Grade 12 lobby and the front entrance, and standing by the change rooms, waiting there was Michael.
At first he was smiling until he saw Alex’s hand on my shoulder, then his face dropped. I glanced at Alex, his eyes were looking over the people in the lobby, searching.
I shrugged off his hand, he didn’t even notice, he just kept walking out of the North doors. Michael watched me and I couldn’t meet his stare.
Did I really just SMELL Alexander Teagues?
I bit my lower lip as I changed, lost in the thought of our Art conversation. The silence in the change room had doomed me the moment I’d walked in. I pulled my shirt over my head, the tag tickled my chin and I moaned. I’d put it on backwards.
Great. It’s going to be one of those days.
I had sulked my way out of playing flag football in class, begging for Michel to let me go and enjoy myself elsewhere. I went home, walking back to the house I believed to be empty. But as I got closer I saw the black, 1994 Chevy Impala in the driveway next to my Mom’s blue Ford.
My stomach jumped into my throat and I broke into a dead sprint and bolted through the front door.
“AUNTY SABRINE!” I pounced, happy that all gym units weren’t mandatory for my school.
Both Marley and Sabrine were surprised at my appearance, but not as much as I was. I wrapped my arms around Sabrine’s neck, holding on like I had when I was younger. Her body shook with silent laughter, and a bronze hand touched my ivory face.
“Hello Olivia. It’s a been a while.”