The sound of an ambulance woke me from my sleep. I waited for it to fade away as the vehicle passed but it didn't.
"Sam! Turn your alarm off! You have a training day, remember?"
Oh. Right. "Sorry, Mum."
One of the annoying things about me was that once I was awake, there was no going back to sleep. I sighed and sat up. There was a huge black smudge on my pillow because I'd forgotten to remove my make-up the previous day.
I groaned as I collected various soaps and a razor from the bedside table and then shuffled to the bathroom. Panda eyes was an understatement. My eye shadow and mascara had managed to spread all across my cheeks and found its way into my eyebrows.
Half an hour later, I emerged from the shower, feeling all clean and smooth.
Back in my room, I remembered the notepad I'd retrieved from the lake. Once it was finally dry, it hadn't looked remotely like it had been wet. In fact, it looked brand new aside from the ruined sketches within and a little singeing on the sides. Jake had glued some random pages together when I'd visited the boarding house again, and slightly crinkled a good portion of them. But it still didn't look convincing.
I knelt down in my towel and flicked through it. It really was a shame that all those drawings had been ruined.
On the back, a name had been etched into the bottom left corner. Arlyn Pio.
"What an obscure name," I mumbled.
On flicking through it backwards, I discovered what appeared to be a school letter, which I hadn't noticed before. It had been folded twice and was somewhat stuck to the paper.
God knows what it had been about. The ink had almost been washed away. However, at the top of the page, a small piece of the school logo could be seen.
"Oh, I know what school that is!" I exclaimed to myself. My mum shushed me from the other room.
I looked at the clock. It was eight am. I figured that it'd be a nice gesture to give this Arlyn their book back.
I opened my wardrobe. All my non-black dresses were in the wash and I didn't have any colourful skirts. The best one I could find was a loose, knee-length cotton one. From the sun shining through the window, I could tell it would be to hot to also be wearing a black shirt. Besides, I didn't want to be too imposing and my make-up was already kind of odd. I'd already freaked out one stranger.
After some deliberation and a trip into my back garden to see exactly how hot it was outside, I swapped the skirt for a slightly shorter one and put on a black crop top which fastened at the front with press studs. I groaned. I needed more stuff that wasn't black.
"Excuse me, does Arlyn Pio go to this school?"
The reception lady looked at me with a raised eyebrow. "Yes, why?"
"Do you know what class he's in right now?"
"Yes but I can't tell you. We don't give out information about our students."
I sighed. "Come on, please, I just want to give him his art book back."
"You can hand it in here-"
"No. Sorry. It's just, I found it in some water and all his pictures are-"
"Excuse me, ma'am," the other receptionist piped up, pushing a pile of paper aside. "You know we have strict uniform policies at this school. You're not allowed to expose your midriff or chest area."
"I don't even go here. I don't have any 'chest area' to expose! Sorry. Please. I just want to give him the book back and then I'll leave."
"Are you a relative?"
"Yes," I responded impulsively. "I'm his cousin."
Arlyn's subject teacher was easier to reason with. He just let Arlyn out for five minutes because they were reading or something.
Arlyn was wearing a jacket which clearly used to have sleeves and what looked like swimming trunks. He was exactly the same height as me, but the boots I was wearing made me three inches taller than I actually was.
"This school doesn't have a uniform policy, does it?"
"No," he said slowly, looking me up and down. "They probably just didn't want to let you in. Did you say you were related to me?"
"Yeah, we're cousins. Look, I brought your art notepad back..." I stopped for a second because the guy was just kind of staring at me. I almost thought I hadn't done my hair or something stupid like that. "Anyway. It was in this really deep lake when I found it and all your drawings have been destroyed. I'm really sorry."
Arlyn didn't speak for a minute or so. "What's your name?"
"... It's Sam. Antha. Samantha. But anyway, I thought it'd be best you hear it from someone rather than just finding out for yourself..."
"Right," he said absently, running his eyes over my body and face again. "Thanks."
"Um... well... here you go. I'm gonna leave now." I shoved the book into his hands and started to make my way down the corridor. Just leave, he probably just thought I was dressed oddly, like everyone else. No. My brain wasn't having that. I quickly turned back around. "Is there a reason you were looking at me like I'm naked or something?"
But he wasn't looking at me. He had the book open on the first page. The page, I remembered with a grimace, that had my dried blood spattered on it.