I wake to the sunlight streaming through the windows. Time for me to keep up my human façade. I brush my teeth and brush my curls into a ponytail, trying to blend in. Dan has told me before about the effect I have on people. I don’t see why.
I have golden hair that tickles my shoulders with its curls and my eyes are turquoise, but Dan calls them tropical for the tropical seas they remind him of. I’m not tall, but I’m not short either. I’m pretty muscular, but not in a steroid girl way. I just work out. My skin has golden undertones, handed down from the Cherokee blood that ran through my mother’s veins. But my father gave me my light skin that tans beautifully in summer, making me feel even closer to my mother’s people. I hate the way I look. It invites people in, my face. They take one look and they want to talk, men especially. They don’t know that I keep them away to protect them from my enemies.
If I don’t hurry though, I’ll be late for my job. It would look bad if people were to know I made my money in the pit. I work at the Starbuck’s around the corner. I hate it and the people who frequent it as if it were a holy shrine. I feel like I’m in a foreign country when I step through the doors. Boho girls and uptown Poshes who speak fluent java bark their orders at me while I count down the moments until I can escape this urban hell hole. The calming world music makes me want to shoot myself. I have never been less calm in my life. I am more calm fighting for my life in the pits or killing any parasite unfortunate enough to run into me.
“Mochafrappachinoextracreamdashofcinnamondon’tforgetthewhippedcreamandmakethatatall. I’m keeping an eye on my figure,” a petite brunette tells me. I’m surprised she can even keep an eye on her figure, which is so thin that if she were to turn to the side, she would disappear completely.
“Coming right up,” I respond, faking a cheery smile like most of the other baristas I work with. I quickly make the brunette’s order and place it on the counter.
A guy, probably a student from the college nearby, comes in and instantly focuses his eyes on me. I hate it when this happens. He saunters up to the counter and orders a coffee, black, thinking it will impress me. Nobody in this place could impress me, especially not a human. I ignore his futile attempts at flirting and fix his drink and hand it to him. He smiles, hope obvious in his eyes. I turn away, killing any hopes he may have had. I don’t like shooting down people’s hopes. I’m not so heartless that I don’t remember what it felt like to have my own. I’m just experienced enough to know that hopes are fools’ dreams that do nothing but hurt when they don’t come true.
Four comes about, setting me free. I rush out, shouting goodbye to the few people I might consider friends if the war didn’t make it dangerous to have them. I walk down the street back to my loft, aware of the coffee scent clinging to me like an expensive perfume. It doesn’t bother me; I’ll smell worse after my fight tonight. Saturdays are always the best.
I get home and grab a quick bite from a bag of Doritos in my pantry. I pack a duffel bag with my black aerobic pants and purple cotton tank. They’re easier to move in than my usual jeans and tee. I change when I get home out of my work clothes and into a beat up pair of jeans that have been in countless fights, but still manage to stand up and a fitted black tee that is comfortable as hell. I throw on a pair of Nikes and grab my wallet, still full with last night’s cash, and head out to the lift.
I put my bag on the floor and try to fix my ponytail, which was falling apart. With my hair in my eyes I don’t notice Luke until the familiar scent of motor oil and vanilla shampoo hits my nose. I smile despite myself.
“Hey,” he says. I see him return my smile and realize I just invited him in.
“Hey.”I just need to keep up the conversation until we reach the bottom floor, than I can leave. It won’t be rude then.
“You’re the loft on the tenth floor, right?”
How did he know? I must not have been as invisible as I had been trying to be. “Yeah. You live somewhere below me right?” The eighth to be exact. I can’t ignore him as much as I try to.
“Yeah, on the eight floor. I see you around, but I’ve never gotten to know your name. Care to enlighten me?” He asked, his smile melting my usually cold exterior.
“My name’s Ideya. Luke?” I offer, as if I didn’t know. I’m surprised that I even told him my real name. Dan doesn’t even know it. I’m really slipping if I’m telling him this. The only other people who know are dead.
“Yeah. Well,” he says as the lift reaches the floor, “see you around Ideya.” He walks off into the day as I watch. Breakable, I remind myself.
I try to ignore the butterflies in my stomach when he says my name. I walk out into the sun and head to a Subway down the street. Double meat, I’ll need the protein tonight. The thought of my upcoming fight brings me back to myself. I can’t have butterflies in the ring. I eat my sandwich quickly. I need to get to the club, my home away from home. I need to spar with someone soon. My mind should not be thinking of Luke.