The dreams came back last night. Horrific, racking dreams that made me toss and turn all night. When I woke up, my sheets were singed and I smelled like smoke.
Her eyes kept flickering behind my eyelids every time I blinked. Red, evil, hungry. Every time I turned on a light my temperature would spike, and I was imagining the heat that almost killed me, and how I was powerless against it.
I hadn't told my parents anything about what happened last year in Carmichael. I figured there would be two outcomes:
1. Being the avid marine biologists they were, they would insist on testing me for mutations in my DNA that caused my supernatural powers, and my life would never be normal again. (Like it would be anyway.)
Or 2. Being the vaguely concerned parents they were, they would have me admitted to an institution for my obvious mental complications, insisting I was dangerous to society and myself with these crazy, improbable hallucinations.
No way would they listen and accept me for who I was. That's crazy talk. So I pushed it out of my mind and went on with my life, or at least the part of it that was left to go on with.
I sat with Jemima at lunch that day, avoiding the average high school lunch line for my comfortable PB&J. No one was really paying attention to me today, a big difference from this time last year. Oh yeah, I would see their heads snap for a double-take, and hear the hushed questions, "Is that the new girl?" Yep. That's me. Just plain old, normal, new girl.
"Jenn? Jenn?" Jemima repeated with an impatient look on her face.
"Oh, I'm sorry, I zoned out. What were you saying?"
She rolled her eyes playfully. "I said, that Josh is coming over, so prepare yourself." I looked around and, sure enough, Josh Mitchell was sauntering over to our table of two.
I sighed. Just what I needed today.
"Hey Jenn. Jemima," Josh nodded at us. Jemima simply nodded back.
"Hi Josh, what's up?" I replied, trying my best at politeness.
"Nothing much. I just wanted to ask you something."
"Yeah?" He grinned boyishly and met my eyes. I stared him down.
"So, I was wondering if you would want to go out sometime. Like, on a date. With me." His cheeks turned bright red, and I could tell he was getting flustered. Honestly, I wasn't feeling too steady either, but for completely different reasons.
Was this something I should do? I mean, for the past couple of months I had reallt tried to forget my time in Carmichael, the people I met there. One person in particular...
But was I ready to go ahead and open that part of me back up? The wound that I had so painstakingly stitched up, ripped open again? But then again, perhaps it wasn't something that had to be revisited. Surely I could continue to ignore that part of me that reminded me that I had already found love once, and probably never would again. Especially not with this guy.
But wasn't it worth a shot?
I decided to give him one last out. "But you haven't even known me two days. Are you sure about this?"
He grinned confidently. "Yup." Stupid boy.
"Sure, Josh, that sounds great," I shrugged. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Jemima's eyes pop. Even Josh seemed surprised.
"Alright then," he started, "how about Friday after the football game we can go out with the guys for pizza?" What an original idea for a first date, I complained in my head.
To Josh I said, "Okay. Friday it is." Without another word he got up and walked back across the cafeteria.
"I never would have guessed you one of those girls," Jemima uttered quietly.
"One of what girls?" I asked heatedly, my hands beginning to sweat. I quickly controlled my emotions, not to let them get the best of me.
She looked at me coldly. "One of those jock-loving, pizza-eating, peppy chicks. Next thing you know you'll be trying out for the cheerleading squad and painting your nails cherry red." As much as I wanted to say something back, something that would offend her equally, I had to laugh a bit.
"Whoa there, cherry red? Now you're going too far." She gave me a small smile. "And trust me," I continued, "that is not who I am. Besides, I really just wanted to make him squirm. I don't think he was expecting me to say yes."
"Me neither!" She shook her head and stabbed her salad simultaneously. "I gotta tell you, I have never seen Josh Mitchell so uncomfortable! And I've known him since preschool. Props, girl." We laughed together as the bell rang, and decided to meet up so she could drive me home.
"Hey, I was wondering, where did you get that bracelet from? It's beautiful." Jemima asked as we drove in her car towards my house. We had just been reminiscing over Josh Mitchell's beet-red face at lunch.
But now I looked down at my wrist and became silent. The pearls shone just as brightly as they had when the bracelet had been given to me. They were set in an elegant gold chain which hung limply on my arm. There was nothing really significant about the day I had gotten it, other than it was the first and only Valentine's day I had with him.
"If you don't want to tell me, it's fine." I realized that I hadn't said anything for a while, and now we were almost to my house.
"No it's okay. It was from my...boyfriend, I guess you could call him. We broke up before school ended. Then I moved here." And he moved to the Indian Ocean. Literally.
She nodded. "I see. I bet he wasn't a football player, was he?" I laughed, and she cracked a smile.
"No, more of a swimmer." I giggled some more at my inside joke.