It’s after one when I finally get to school. With everything that’s happened today, the heavy brick walls seem to be pulsing and made of blood. I’m starting to think it’s a mistake coming in today. My black heels, (the only pair of black shoes I own, and since the heels are made of sterling silver, no supernatural being will touch me…or at least my feet.) click-clack loudly against the laminate flooring. I’m the only one in the hallway, everyone else is in class. I stop at the third door on the right, my history class. With a deep breath and one look around me to make sure that there are no ghosts luring in shadows, I open the door and walk in. Desk by desk, the whole room falls silent. My shoes seem even louder as I walk to my desk in the middle of the room.
“My class has never been this quiet before. What’s going on in here?”Mr. Holt’s eyes slide across the room to me. “Oh, I see. Well Nikki, I knew your presence was breathtaking, but I never knew it could do this.” He laughs and I force a smile. I know he’s just trying to help cheer me up, but it’s really not helping.
He seems to notice his ‘jokes’ aren’t working, and he clears his throat and returns to his desk. “Right. So today we are starting a new unit. Now tell me, how many of you know what All Hallows Eve is?” Without looking up from a paper on his desk, he calls me.
“All Hallows Eve is what we call Halloween. It was originally a pagan holiday when spirits would come back to earth and finish their unfinished business or wreak havoc on the people. The Catholics turned it into a religious holiday, which later morphed into our Halloween.”
Mr. Holt nods. “Exactly.” He reaches into his desk and pulls out a rolled up paper. With a flourish, he unrolls it and pins it on the board. A tall woman with long blonde hair and green eyes is sitting on the Throne of Souls, a throne made of, well, souls of people who committed suicide. The woman is wearing a black dress that is fitted to the waist, then falls from a tight waistband to a full skirt. A black ornately carved crown is perched on her head. I know this woman. This is my mom.
“Now does anyone know who this is?”
The class stays silent.
“Anyone?” Mr. Holt asks as he finally turns around and faces the class.
“It kind of looks like Nikki,” says Alexia, one of the wannabes that follow The Clique.
Every eye turns my way. Thanks a lot, Alexia.
“Alexia is right, it does,” adds Grant, my best friend’s boyfriend.
I sink down in my seat. Why me? Why today?
“Maybe it is Nikki,” says Kendra, a girl who has never liked me. “I mean, she’s got the whole ‘old and gothic’ look going on today.”
Maybe it’s just grief, or maybe it’s because I can’t take anything else today, but I snap. “Kendra, if you knew anything, you would know that this outfit is called ‘vintage,’ and since my boyfriend died last night, I’m in mourning. But that’s not something you would know about, since you can’t hold onto a guy.” Judgment still clouded with anger and grief, I grab my bag and walk out of the room. I take a few steps down the hallway and then sink to the floor and lean against a wall and close my eyes.
“Maybe I should not have blackmailed thee into coming to school today, Shadow Princess.”
I open my eyes and see Wraith suddenly sitting beside me. “No, after you had changed your mind, I still wanted to come.”
Wraith opens his mouth like he’s about to say something, but can’t get it out before Mr. Holt’s door opens and Haley walks out.
“It’s okay, Nik. Kendra shouldn’t have pushed you like that, not after what you’ve been through. She’s such a jerk! But don’t worry, we’ll get her back for you.”
Her brown eyes finally catch sight of Wraith sitting beside me. “Who’s this, Nik?”
“Ciro. I’m her…”
“Cousin,” I blurt out.
Haley smiles and gets a flirtatious gleam in her eyes. “Nik, you never told me you had such a…good looking cousin that was coming to visit.”
I fight the sudden urge to smile. Wraith? Good looking? Well, weirder things have happened, I guess.
“She didn’t know I was coming. I didn’t even know until I heard about Ryan. I flew in to help take care of her.”
“Well, if you’re taking care of her, then who’s taking care of you? I’m free if you need someone to look after you,” she says with a wink.
Disgusted with her vulgar flirting, I grab Wraith’s hand and pull him to his feet. “He’ll have to call you later, he’s taking me home. I can’t make it any longer here.”
Haley pouts, her blood-red lips glistening under the fake lighting. “Okay. I’ll tell Mr. Holt.”
Wraith and I walk down the hallway and to the main office, where he signs me out. We get to the car, and I lean against the door.
“Shadow Princess, is everything okay?”
Finally, I let down my guard and cry. Wraith holds me and lets me cry. With my final shred of sanity not consumed by grief, I think that it’s a good thing that no one’s out here to see my tears fall through Wraith and in a puddle on the pavement.