Her and I | Teen Ink

Her and I

March 16, 2016
By JustKeepFalling GOLD, Byron, New York
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JustKeepFalling GOLD, Byron, New York
18 articles 4 photos 12 comments

Favorite Quote:
“I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing, kissing a lot. I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles.”

It all start the year I went crazy. I had been taken out of school by my parents during the first week of senior year, the only place I had known all my life because my dad found some new accounting job in the northern mountains of North Dakota. The mountains. Of all the places in the world, he chose the mountains. That was their excuse anyways, I knew the real reason. 
My grandmother had recently fallen ill with dementia. It was actually pretty bad I guess because she would scream in the middle of the night but never remember why she was screaming. Her and I weren’t too close, but we had a mutual relationship. We both loved and respected each other like a grandmother and grandson should. She really loved my sister Julie though. Every year for Christmas, Julie could expect a large gift for her that usually cost at least one hundred dollars. My grandmother was not even rich, she just liked to spoil her only granddaughter.  
For Julie’s sake, my mother felt it was a bad idea to be around her. Julie got pretty upset because they used to talk every day on the phone and then one day she never called. Of course we got worried, but when we went over my grandmother acted like everything was normal and that she was expecting us. We picked up that something was wrong, all though my parents thought Julie and I knew nothing. One night I overheard my mother talking to my dad, telling him to search for jobs out of state and far enough away from my grandmother. I only figured that she wanted it far away because he left his browsing window open when I went to play World of Warcraft and I looked through the history. 
As I searched the page and scanned the information with my eyes, I heard a faint ‘ping’. I had heard the noise before as I stared at my ceiling in bed during the night. It took me a moment to realize that a small window had appeared on the screen I was looking at in the bottom right-hand corner. The name was only a username so I could not tell who it was. The message said something about how we will have fun in North Dakota with a smiley face. There were x’s and o’s after the message which is computer language for hugs and kisses. I closed the message and did not think anything of it at the time. 
Anyways, he finally found one, picked out family up, and moved us by the Killdeer Mountains out in North Dakota. I was seventeen when all of this happened, but by the time we finally reached our new place, I had already been eighteen for two days. Driving from Florida to the middle of nowhere in North Dakota takes a long time! We had to stop multiple times for my sister and each time we did my mother would turn to me saying, “You get out of this car, Carter Lions, and hold back your sister’s hair for her.” Of course every time I did, but she did not have to reiterate it so much. 
Pulling into the driveway, I could see a cozy, wooden house that looked as if only our family could fit in it and not one more person. Julie stuck her head out the window and stared at the cast mountains that were a couple of miles away from our small abode. I imagined a small avalanche coming down the steep slope, landing right on top of the fine wood and crushing the structure, along with us in the process. 
“Carter, come on out and help me with these boxes,” my dad was yelling outside the car window to me. When I glanced around my car, I realized everyone had gotten out and was walking into the meager building. The door handle felt oddly cold in my hand and I told myself that I would have to get used to this new temperature.  My natural Florida body was racked with a shiver as I used my force to open the metal door. 
The old door creaked under the pressure and made a sharp noise as I slammed it shut. I walked to the back of our car and grabbed a box labeled ‘dishes’. It did not seem like we had that many before but this box felt like it weighed almost as much as Julie. When I looked around, I did not see any of my family, so I figured they were all inside without me. They probably have the rooms figured out, too. I rolled my eyes and walked up the dirt path that led to the door screen door. 
I carried it inside the narrow doorway, the floorboards groaning from the weight that had just been place on it. The living room was the first think you saw as you walked in, to the side was a stairway leading up to the second floor. I walked down the hallway into the kitchen where I found my mother unpacking other dishes. 
“Mom,” I called to her from the doorway. “When did we get so many plates and bowls? Did we really have this many in Florida?” 
My mother chuckled a bit and nodded her head. “Carter you can never have too many plates! Besides, I think you have our bowls. Set them down by the sink on the floor and your father get more boxes.” 
I felt something sharp poke through the side of the box and after I set it down, I realized there was a crimson streak running down my palm towards my wrist. 
“Hey, where’s the bathroom?” 
“Upstairs and to the left. Go all the way down the hallway, it’s the last door.” 
I nodded and worked my way back to the stairway. The empty hallways didn’t feel like home yet. It was as if something was missing, but I couldn’t tell what it was yet. When I reached the top, I followed my mom’s instructions and found a sink inside the small bathroom. I rinsed my palm and momentarily stained the white porcelain a light red, almost pink color. I shook my hands in the air, since we had no towels out yet. Glancing out the small window next to the toilet, I noticed Julie outside play by a path that led into the dark woods that I now called my backyard. What once was a beach is now a barrier into the unknown. 
The upstairs hallway was narrow and had multiple doors on its sides. Making my way down the strip, I listen to how each step produced a different sounding cry and that the last room on the right side of the hallway connected at the top of the ceiling to form a triangle. It was small, but somehow comforting, so I decided that it would become my bedroom. There was a medium sized window that took up most of the tallest wall and outside there were more trees. 
I went back downstairs and out to the car to grab all the boxes with my name on it, which weren’t many. Only two actually held my essentials and the rest were in miscellaneous boxes stacked in the back of the car or already in the house. After I made sure all of my things were there and my dad brought up my bed, followed by a few dressers and a table, I began to unpack. The table was placed by my bed and after I pulled my record player out of the small box that protected it, I set it on the soft wood along with a small clock. The Mumford and Sons vinyl that my family had gotten me for Christmas slowly came out of the speakers as I continued to unpack the rest of my things. 
I could only fir one dresser into my room, so I unpacked my clothes next and placed them inside to hollow wood. The low voices of the singers kept coming out of the record playing and when I glanced out the window again, Julie was walking into the mouth of the woods. Downstairs I could hear my parents talking as my dad helped my mom unpack. No one was watching Julie and it was starting to get dark. I ran down the stairs and out the back door to the woods. When the cold air hit my face, tears welled in my eyes and I couldn’t see Julie. My breath hitched from the bite of the air and I coughed as I called for Julie. No one answered. 
“Julie!” I cupped my hands around my mouth to try and make my voice louder. 
“Carter,” Julie said coming out the woods. “Be quiet. You’re going to wake her up.” 
“Wake who up?” I glanced into the now black woods. There was no one insight. “Julie, there’s no one there.” 
“That’s because she just went to sleep.” Julie was whispering now and then she ran past me towards the house. A soft breeze blew on my face and rippled my hair. After staring at darkness for five minutes, looking for someone who wasn’t there, and listening to leaves tumble in the wind, I decided to head back inside. 
“- and there’s a lake! It’s so beautiful and the water does not move. It’s huge and so calm. Oh, mom you have to see it sometime.” Julie was explaining her adventures as I walked in the screen door. I watched as my dad paced around the kitchen, frantically looking for something and my mother put the last dish away. 
“Claudia, where did you put the glasses?” My father’s booming voice echoed through the house. 
“They’re right here,” Mom walked over to a small cabinet and pulled out a glass, handing it to my father. He filled it with water and then walked into a small room next to the kitchen. I’m guessing that’s his new computer room because he shut the door behind him so no one could come in or see what he was doing. 
“Can we go see the lake tomorrow?” Julie grabbed mom’s hand and started to whine. She twisted her arm around so she could crawl between her body and it. 
“Oh I don’t-” 
“I think it sounds nice,” I heard myself say. My mother glanced at me and I shrugged slightly. “We could all walk out to it tomorrow.” 
Mom glanced to the room where my dad had walked into. I wondered if she knew who told us we would have fun here. She sighed and agreed. “But you two need to go to bed! Tomorrow is the last day before you start school here.” 
We groaned, but trudged ourselves upstairs. Julie’s room had ended up being next to mine. Hers seemed a little more spacious than mine, but I didn’t mind. As I crawled into bed, I closed my eyes and head the faint ‘ping’ downstairs below my room that had become a steady lullaby. 

Julie came running in my room the next morning, obviously excited that she gets to take us to the lake today. She’s young enough where she won’t be able to go to it alone, so hopefully I’ll be able to snag it as my quiet study spot. When she came in my room, I had just got done getting dressed. 
“Carter, It’s eleven thirty, we need to go to the lake.” Julie grabbed my arm and started to tug me down the hall. When we reached the stairs, I shook away from her grip and she ran down the stairs without me. I made my way down them and looked at the wallpaper that coated the room. A light yellow that appeared to have small designs on it, I think they were small raindrops. As I walked into the kitchen, I made myself a cup of coffee and turned to face the eyes that were burning my skin. 
“Finally, he awakes!” My dad jokingly raised his arms to the sky and dramatically shook them as he said it.
I laughed and carried my cup outside. The morning air was fresh and natural compared to the morning air in Florida. The breeze from a thousand leaves greeted me instead of the oceans kiss. I could hear birds chirping from the woods and I decided that I could live with this change of scenery. 
Julie led the way into the woods and before I left the porch, I set my cup down. The opening to the woods was brighter in the morning light but still dark as you stared into it. The temperature wasn’t that high, but the sun’s rays left a warm feeling on your cheeks. We walked on a dirt path as Julie explained how pretty the lake was. I think she had more she wanted to say about it, but the vocabulary of a nine-year old girl isn’t that strong. 
As we walked, I listened to Julie’s soft voice and heard birds talk back to her. I’m not sure if she realized that part, but I sure did. Their chirps coincided with her voice. Their songs seemed welcoming at first, but then they grew urgent and louder. I figured there was some larger bird coming to prey on their small frames. When I looked up though, all I saw were bushed of tree leaves that were scarce in some areas, but full enough to block out the image of a bright sky. 
The opening to the area that held the lake was so calm that it almost felt as if you were transported to another world. The air changed, too. No breeze blew and the loud chirping of the birds had ceased. We were probably invading their land and that was why their songs grew forceful as we kept walking. 
The lake was large and stretched for at least a mile in each direction. You could still somehow see the bank of each part of the oblong circle where land met water. A small dock sat on the east side of the water that was wide enough for our people to sit side by side on, but only a few meters long. The water appeared to be clear and a crystal blue. 
My father let out a tiny hasp as my mother laced her fingers into his and pulled him towards the water. Julie was looking towards a patch of tall grass nervously and then started to run towards our parents. I stood idly in the opening still but then heard my brain tell my feet to start moving. The serenity of the scene made me never want to leave and as I made my way towards the water, I realized that Julie was right, the water didn’t move. 
“Julie, this place is beautiful!” My mother exclaimed. She had walked away from the rest of my family and was not walking up the dock. “I could stay out here all day and paint the scene. Wouldn’t that be a nice picture above the fireplace, Richard?” She pushed her short bangs out of her eyes, then turned to face us again. 
“Yes, Claudia,” My father stretched his arms up and then bent down to run her hands through the water. “If you can capture this beauty in a painting, which you have before, you can paint as many pictures of this lake as you’d like.” 
What my dad said was true because back in Florida, my mother’s paintings were auctioned off constantly. She had her own room, our back porch in our Florida home, that was dedicated solely to her art supplied. Easels of all different sizes held canvases both blank and bursting with color. I used to go in there when no one was home and thumb through her finished paintings. The larger ones sat on the floor while smaller canvases cluttered the two tiny desks she kept filled with drawers of paint and brushes. Part of me hopes she finds a new room in our house to make another crafting location. 
I made my way to the dock and dipped the tips of my fingers in the cool water to create a light ripple. The soft circle extended out to the lake, where as fast as it formed it also died. Julie was watching the trees across the lake and then her eyes were on me. A slight smile formed on her lips as she strode over to the docks to sit and dangle her shoeless feet in the water. She winced at first from the bitter chill of the water, but then she was used to it, swinging her feet lazily through it. 
“Isn’t it just wonderful out here?” I had joined her, dipping my feet in the water. The hair on my legs shot up and goosebumps formed. 
“Yeah,” I smiled and nodded at her. “It’s pretty nice. It’s like it’s too perfect to be in our backyard.” 
Julie nodded and laid her body onto the dock. I couldn’t believe we started school tomorrow and that it was almost the middle of September. When I checked my watch, it was almost five o’clock. Had we really been out here for five hours? I watched my dad check his, too, and then saw him stretch his arm in front of mom’s face so that she too could observe the watch that sat on his wrist. I could hear her whisper something in a surprised voice to my father. She got up and headed towards where we sat at the end of the dock. Shaking Julie’s shoulders to wake her from her short nap, I told her that mom was coming down here and that she had to get up. 
“It’s time to go back to the house. I have to cook dinner and you two have school tomorrow.” Mom waited for us to put our shoes back on our frozen feet and then turned back to where our father was already making his way to the path in the woods. 
Before I reached the opening that led back to our house, I turned back to the peacefulness of the still water. A tiny breeze finally blew over my face and I smiled as it lightly pushed my hair to the side. As another breeze came, a faint giggle came with it. My eyes grew big and my cheeks hot. I looked at Julie, but she was up ahead having a quiet conversation with dad. 
“Julie? Was that you?” She turned to me as I spoke the question and gave me a quizzical look. 
“That laugh. Was it you?” 
“Carter, what are you talking about? I’m talking to dad.” My face grew hotter and I picked my pace up so I was with everyone again. 
When we got back to the house, the sun was starting to set. As it fell behind the mountains, our house because a shadow lost in the trees. My stomach faintly rumbled and I realized how hungry I was. I hadn’t eaten all day. 
“What’s for dinner?” I hoped up onto the barstool that sat under our island in the kitchen. The island sat in front of the sink and the stools were drilled into the floor. It was pretty handy, at least if you fall the chair won’t land on top of you. 
“I was thinking a homemade peanut butter and jelly.” Mom clapped her hands as she pulled out the bread and supplies. I grabbed four plates, giving one to each member of the family. As we mad out sandwiches, Julie was telling us about how excited she was for school tomorrow. She was young enough where changing schools wasn’t such a big deal, but for me it was as if someone had burned a hole into my stomach. 
Being quiet has its perks and downfalls. I would never get called on in class, but I also wouldn’t make that many friends. I took my sandwich up to my room and looked over my school supplies. I emptied the backpack that I had bought for my senior year at my old school. As I took a bite of the crusted sandwich, I walked to the small table by my bed and lifted the record player slightly to grab the paper that awkwardly made a home under it. 
Staring at the mixed letters I began comprehending the words that told me what I needed for each subject. A binder for English, my calculator for math and physics, the new history book I found at the bookstore down the road from the school for Civil War. I had never transferred schools before and had gone to my last school my whole life. Part of me was nervous about the transition and as I packed my last book into my bag, I thought about eating alone during lunch. New kids usually aren’t welcomed to existing lunch tables. 
I shoved the last part of the peanut butter and jelly into my mouth, then rehearsed my schedule. Math, English, Study Hall, History, Lunch, Physics, Gym, Study Hall, Economics, Home I told myself over and over again. The room numbers were all foreign to me and I honestly had no idea where I was going. Julie only had to worry about one room and because of that, I envied her at the moment. 
“There must be other new people to the school, right?” I asked myself as I made my way to the bathroom to brush my teeth. Opening the cupboard above the sink, I grabbed my blue brush and began rinsing it with water. The toothpaste seemed hot in my mouth so I scrubbed fast. After I finished I made my way back to my bedroom, but before I made it to the stairs, I opened one of the rooms in the hallway. 
One wall had a shelf that reached up to the ceiling and it was filled with books. They appeared the color of a coffee stain, old with cobwebs on them. The rest of the room was bare, with burgundy colored walls. I envision a small couch with a desk or two inside the space and found myself walking over to the tall shelf with all the books. I grabbed one with leather binding and flipped to a random page. Most of the words had smeared together with light traces of ink in the corners of each page. The last owners must have left these. Or the first owners. 
As I exited the room next to this mystical library had a faint light shining from under the cracks. When I moved towards it, I saw that the door was slightly opened. Pushing the it open mire I realized that the light came from a lamp that was stationed in the corner. My mother was at the other wall, standing an easel up. At the sound of the squeak of the door opening, she turned her head slightly towards me. 
“Hi honey.” She smiled as she spoke and motioned with her head to come over to the easel. It was her biggest one, so I helped her stand it upright, pinching my finger in the process. I pulled my hand back quickly but made it look natural so my mother wouldn’t worry about it. “What do you think of this being my studio?” 
I smiled and nodded in approval. My mother unpacked the boxes and boxes of paint she had brought from Florida. I carried over a larger box that was sitting by the door which I presumed was full of canvases that had not learned what color was yet. 
“What about your desk? I mean where will you put all of your paints and brushes?” My mother gave me an odd look and began laughing. 
“Well I’m glad someone paid attention to my art!” She shook her head, still laughing. “While you’re at school tomorrow, I’m going to pick it up from the post office in town.” 
I silently sighed and then told my mom I was headed to bed. She kissed my cheek and closed the door behind me. When I walked past Julie’s tome, the light was off and she was already sleeping. Her small digital clock read 10:26 PM. 
Not realizing it was that late, I jumped a little and hurried to my room. I made sure my bad was in the corner still ready and I flicked off my light then pulled back my covers. When I looked out the window, the backyard was illuminated by the moon and it seemed like every star was out tonight. 

I awoke to the shrill buzzing of my alarm clock. Hurling my pillow over my head and at the damn thing, I realized I was running late. I ran down the hall to the bathroom and started brushing teeth. Julie came bouncing up the stairs, headed straight towards the bathroom.

“Come on slow poke!” She was dressed in jeans and a nice shirt, which reminded me that I still needed to get dressed. “We’re not getting your car until Saturday so we have to ride with daddy this week.”

I spit the toothpaste out and went back to my room, shutting the door behind me. Yanking my drawers open, I quickly grabbed a pair of jeans and a plain green sweater. After I threw on my clothes, straightened my hair, and grabbed my bag, I ran down the stairs to the kitchen.

“Here Carter,” My mother’s voice chirped gracefully. “I made you some toast.” She was standing by the toaster with two pieces of bread lightly browned. I grabbed them and kissed her cheer. Julie was waiting outside by the car for me, dad inside it chewing gum behind the steering wheel.

When I pulled the front sear door open, my father gave me a look and chuckled lowly. He started the car and backed out of the driveway. It only took about ten minutes to actually get to the school and then another two until you reached the town of Killdeer.

“Did Julie tell you about your car?” Dad sipped his coffee after he got the rushed words out. It was like they were burning his tongue as he said it judging by the speed of them.

“Yeah,” I turned slightly towards him as I spoke. “She said we were getting one on Saturday.”

My dad nodded as he drank his dink, silence falling over us. I guessed that the conversation was over, so I turned the volume up on the radio. A women’s voice echoed in our ears for the rest of the ride.

“Students, this is our new student. Would you like to tell us your name?”

‘What is this? Third grade?’ I thought to myself. If Mrs. Carlise wasn’t as old as she was, I would’ve refused. She seems nice though, so I told the class of fifteen people that my name was Carter Lions and that I moved here from Florida.

“Well Carter, welcome to advanced Calculus!” She clapped her hands together and her silver hair shook in its bun from the small movement. “If you’d like, you can take a seat over by Mr. Kraig.” She motioned her hand towards and empty seat in the middle of the classroom.

I kept my head down as I made my way to my seat. A kid with blonde hair sat by me so I figured that was ‘Mr. Kraig’. A guy sitting by the door kept eyeing the clock, which in turn made me glance in the objects direction. 8:15 is read, fifteen minutes had already gone by of Mrs. Carlise talking about limits. I realized that I didn’t even actually know what time class ended.

By the time the bell rang, my hand was cramped from writing so much and I looked at the clock, which read 8:40. It felt like hours had gone by. If this was how the whole day was going to go, I figured I’d be dead by lunch. I packed my notebook and calculator into my bag and stood from the wooden desk.

The hallway was full of loud students that pushed each other just to get where they were going. A glass cabinet was propped up against the wall that had been painted a light blue. Students were huddled around it, talking about two girls.

“I can’t believe it’s been five years all ready.”

“I know. It seems just like yesterday.”

“That red-head hooked up with my cousin once. He said she was really nice.”

“The other one just broke up with some guy from another school. Can’t believe she’d kill herself because of that.”

I never figured out who they were talking about, but I did know that if I didn’t get to class, I’d be late. That doesn’t look good if you’re late on your first day. After I sat down in English, Mr. Hunting passes out a book of poems and ‘Hamlet’. He told us to flip to a random page and copy the poem from our book down on a piece of paper. We had to have it memorized by next Friday.

Everyone in the class groaned, except me. I somehow had flipped to a short poem by Charles Bukowski. He was one of my favorite writers and at my old school I had to present a memorized speech, so I figured this would be easy. I smiled slightly in my seat, until I felt someone push me from the side.

“What are you smiling about, new kid?” The guy wore a letter jacket, so I figured her was on the football team. At least all the guys on the football team in the movies wear those, so why wouldn’t he?

“Nothing. I-” I spoke timidly It was my first day and the jocks were after me. Great start, Carter.

“Hey,” Another guy moved my body forwards. “He asked you a question, answer him!”

“Boys? Is there something you’d like to share with the class?” Mr. Hunting asked as he came around and got our books. I lowered my head and the other boys scuffed.

“No sir, just asking about his first day is all.” The first boy responded. Mr. Hunting eyed me and glanced at him. He turned and continued teaching his class.

By the time lunch finally came around, I was tired of this school. I walked in to get my food where everyone else was going. The hamburger looked fake, the soup was cold, and to be quite honest, I’m not even sure what the gunk was after the soup. I settled on a piece of pizza. I went to the cashier and gave her a five-dollar bill. I couldn’t believe how much lunch costs here. As I walked away, the guy from my history class walked up to me. He smiled so I figured I’d smile back.

“What do you got there, buddy?” He came closer to me and looked at my tray.

“I think it’s pizza.” I said chuckling a bit. The guy smirked, raised his hand, and then brought it crashing down on my tray. Everything went everywhere and the carton of milk I got exploded on the floor. The two boys went across the cafeteria, laughing their deep, snobbish howls while high fiving each other. I picked the spilled food off the ground while people continued to laugh at me. Throwing the food away and setting the tray in the tub for used trays, I made my way back to the pizza line.

After finally getting a new piece, paying another five dollars, I huffed and walked across the lunch room. I spotted an open seat in the back corner of the room that only had one person sitting at it. He looked familiar. I think he’s in my Calculus class, but his face was buried in a book so I’m guessing that he isn’t waiting for anyone special to sit with him. When I reached the table, I dropped my tray on the table, leaving an echoing plastic bang that flowed through the air and slumped into the seat.

“Let me guess,” Without looking up, the boy with small black framed glasses began to talk. I, on the other hand, was staring at the only person that had talked to me all day. “You went to go buy your lunch and Mr. High Almighty came up to you, slammed his hand onto your tray, leaving a perfectly good lunch to sit on the ground. You then in turn were left with no lunch and had to spend your last five dollars on another piece of cardboard our school calls pizza.”

“You were the new kid once, too?” I asked as I shoveled rice into my mouth and continued to stare at him.

He finally lifted his head and made eye contact with me. “No, but I suppose “nerds” aren’t as appealing to jocks either. I’m Marty Jacobs.”

“Carter Lions.” I said outstretching my hand. “You’re in my Calc class, right?”

Marty shut his book and set it down, giving me his full attention now. “Yes,” He chuckled a bit. “I was embarrassed for you when Mrs. Carlise made you introduce yourself like that in front of the class. It made you a perfect target for the wrong group of people, but she’s so old that that’s just how it was for her, I’m guess.”

I laughed and nodded my head. “Yeah, I mean at least it wasn’t twenty questions. You sit by the clock, right? You look at it a lot.” I laughed again.

He smiled and pushed his glasses up. “That class takes forever and it’s so early in the morning, too. Even physics doesn’t feel that long and Mr. Holland drones on…and on…” His voice trailed off, presumably mimicking the teacher.

“Did you already have that class today?” Part of me hope that he didn’t because it’s be nice to have a friend.

“No, I actually have it next.”

“So do I!” I might have just made a friend, but I’m not entirely sure. Marty seems like the kind of person that doesn’t have many friends.

“Well,” Marty studied the half eaten piece of pica on my tray as he spoke. “My lab partner just moved away if you would like to sit with me.”

“Sure,” I let out an inaudible sigh. “It doesn’t hurt making a friend on the first day.”

“Are you going to finish that?” Marty was pointing at the food on my tray. I slid it over to him and he began eating it. “You know,” His mouth was full of the doughy pizza that had to be cold by now. “Even though it’s disgusting, it sometimes tastes good.”

It’s a good thing Mr. Holland doesn’t notice much, because I got to sit right by Marty and he didn’t even give me a second glance. Marty said I could take his notebook after class to copy the notes from the three weeks I had missed all ready. Physics was going to be an interesting class I decided, but Mr. Holland needs to be more excited about it. His lecture but five of the nine kids in class to sleep today.

I spent my second study hall in the library where I heard more kids talking about the girls from earlier. This time I heard them talking about the red-head, who’s name I found out was Alyssa. No one said the name of the other girl. The only thing they said was that they couldn’t believe how fast time flew. ‘It seemed like yesterday,’ they kept repeating. I grabbed a book from the vast shelves and began reading it to distract myself from their heartbreaking stories of the two girls.

When the bell rang to go to the final class of the day, I set the book back on the shelf and noticed that one of the students left their browsing window open. The article on the two girls was open and I saw a picture of Alyssa. Her face was soft in the picture they chose to show the world and she was smiling. As I was about to scroll down to the other girl, a voice startled me. I jumped in my seat and closed the browser, thinking that the kid had come back.

“Hey, you’re going to be late if you don’t go now, kid.” The voice of one of the librarians said. She was stacking books from a box onto the shelf where there were empty spots.

“Okay,” I shut down the computer and acted like I was on my own account. “Thank you.” When I checked my schedule for the room number for my Economics class, I realized that it was down the hall from the library. By the time I got there it was early enough where there were still a multitude of open seats, so I chose whichever I wanted.

When I stepped into the door, the teacher was a young blonde female. She puckered her lips when she saw me. It looked like she had just eaten a sour candy, but it quickly turned into a smile as she checked her class list.

“Hello, Mr. Lions.” Her voice was crisp with a child-like sound. “Welcome to senior economics and to the school. Has your first day been good?”

I found my seat towards the back of the room and blinked at her. No teacher or anyone for that matter had asked me that today.

“Ah,” I cleared my throat. “Yeah. It’s been good, I guess.”

She smiled and passed me some papers. “If you could have each of your parents fill out these information sheets and bring them back tomorrow, that’d be great.”

I nodded and tucked the papers into my bag. Miss Andrews went right into her lesson, talking first about microeconomics. During her talk, she kept eyeing me and smiling. At first I thought she was being polite, but by the sixth time, it was just creepy. I glued my eyes to the clock and counted down the minutes until I could go home.

When the bell finally rang, I jumped from my seat and ran towards the door. I had never been happier to go home and once I found Julie waiting in my dad’s car, I hurried to it between the crowds of people. But before I got too far, I heard Miss Andrews call my name. When I turned around to face her, she seemed to be looking the direction of the pickup lot.

“Yes, Miss Andrews?” When I said her name, she looked down at me smiling again. She held something out towards me.

“You left your notebook on your desk.” I took the notebook from her, thanked her and ran towards my dad’s car. I felt her eyes on me the whole time I ran. When I got in, dad had a look that was a mix between him blushing or that he was going to be sick.

“What,” His voice cracked as he spoke. As he cleared it, he started the car. “What was that all about, Carter? Did you forget something?”

“Yeah,” I buckled my seatbelt and smiled at Julie. She smiled back and waved to me. “I forget my notebook in Miss Andrews class.” He gave me a blank look, so I continued. “It was economics. I guess I was in such a hurry to leave that I completely forgot about it and left it on my desk.”

“Well, Miss Andrews is it?” I nodded my head. “Miss Andrews was nice enough to come and find you to give that back. Most teachers would keep them and wait until you figured it out. You make sure you thank her tomorrow, okay?”

When I went to school the next day, Marty and I ended up sitting by each other in Calculus. He saved me a seat by the clock and I didn’t have to sit by Mr. Kraig, who I also learned was named Todd. He was also on the football team, but he didn’t seem as ruthless as the tray dumpers. That’s what Marty called them.

In lunch, a girl with light brown curls that reached to the middle of her back sat with us. She was Marty’s cousin or something, but she had just transferred here from a school in Southern North Dakota. Her name was Jacki and it turns out she’s in my study hall in the afternoon. I told her how I go to the library and invited her to come if she wanted to.

“Oh okay,” She was really excited for being new. “I love to read. Plus, everyone gossips in there.”

Marty rolled his eyes and made a groaning noise in his throat. “Seriously Jacki, can’t you be a normal person? No one cares about any of that stuff. People are actually civil here and keep to themselves.”

“Alright bozo, let me know when you meet a girl that isn’t somewhat remotely interested in someone else’s damn business.” Jacki snapped as she began to storm off. I blinked a few times and looked back at Marty.

“Uhm…” I scratched the back of my neck and then dropped my hand. “Has she won an Oscar yet?” Marty let out a real laugh and then got up to throw his garbage away.

By the time I had to go to economics I had heard every reason Jacki hated the color orange, why she moved her, and how she and Marty used to be really close before he “became weird” as she put it. Miss Andrews was standing by her desk again when I walked in. She seemed to be scribbling something in a notebook and then she sat down to start typing. I made my way over to her desk and when I said her name, she looked up at me.

“Yes, Carter?” She was smiling again and I decided that she was my favorite teacher.

“I just want to say thank you for finding me after class and returning my notebook.” I smiled at her and she politely took my hand in hers.

“Of course, Carter. Listen, I know changing schools can be hard, so if you ever need someone, know that I’m here. My door is always open.”

I took my seat and watched the clock tick by in a series of slides on a PowerPoint. When the final bell rang, I made my way out to my dad’s car. Today wasn’t as bad as yesterday, but it did feel excruciatingly long. My mother was in her painting room when I got home. I could hear the slow music playing through the thin walls that she always listened to when she painted.

Pushing open the door to the room with the bookshelf wall, I closed it behind me and listened to the hollow echo. Sad but somehow comforting. I heard the music gradually become louder as I began to do my homework on the floor. My textbooks were sprawled everywhere and I laid on my stomach, first completing the writing work, then working on my poem. I had it pretty much memorized, I just need to make sure I didn’t jumble small words up.

“Jane, who has been dead for 31 years,” I began as my mother’s music grew darker and louder. “Never could have imagined that I would write a screenplay of our drinking days together and…” I had to think for the next part. “That it would be made into a movie and that a beautiful movie star would play her part.” If I could recite that part, then I knew I was golden.

By the time it was time to present them to the class, I had had the poem known like the back of my hand. The first few people to go had to stop a few times in the middle of their poems. As I waited, I pulled at the loose string on my long-sleeved shirt.

“Mr. Lions?” My Hunting called out. When I stood, he smiled and gestured to the front of the class. “What poem will you be gracing us with today?”

My mouth felt dry as the jocks mockingly made faces at me. I cleared my throat and began speaking. “Barfly by Charles Bukowski, sir.” He nodded at me and I began. “Jane, who had been dead for 31 years,” As I spoke, the class fell quiet and began staring at me. I don’t think half of them have heard me talk before. Mr. Hunting watched me with hard eyes and when I finished the poem with, “And neither can I,” the whole classroom erupted into applause. My teacher stood and I returned to my seat.

“So?” The jocks turned to me. “You’re a nerd like that kid you sit with, too?” I kept quiet and waited for the next person to go.

When I finally got home, I asked Julie if she wanted to go to the lake. Having my own care definitely made it easier to get us home after school. We grabbed our bags and headed towards the path.

“Mom won’t care?” Julie pulled her backpack higher on her small shoulders.

“Mom won’t care as long as you’re with me. Got it? You can’t come here without an adult.” Julie nodded and we continued down the path. I heard Julie mumbling about some girl. They probably go to school together, so I didn’t ask.

When the trees opened up to the large lake, the air was still again. There was no breeze and a calm feeling came over me. It was October now, so the air became crisper and the Sun had lost some of its heat. We carried our bags towards the clock and made a study spot on the hard wood.

I pulled my books out of my bag. The serenity of the lake calmed my nerves after this week. Marty hadn’t been at school for the past two days so I was stuck with Jacki during lunch. You would think that with the amount of gossip that girl has she would make some friends that are girls. They would actually care, unlike me who just goes along with it. Somedays I think she’ll never shut up.

Julie had pulled headphones out of her bag and was doing her homework a few feet away from where I sat. After about an hour, I had gotten my math and physics homework done. The sun was getting low as I started packing up. I heard the wind blow and a chill racked my body. Julie began packing up, too, and when I turned away from her I heard the giggle that rang in my ears the first time I was here.

“Julie?” I shook her because she had her music turned up so loud she couldn’t hear me.


“What’s so funny?”

“Carter,” Julie took her earbuds out. “What are you talking about?”

I stared at her blank face. “You just laughed. What were you laughing at?”

“No I didn’t,” Julie put her headphones back in and continued packing her bag. I shrugged my shoulders and bent down to grab my notebook. The sky had turned to a light purple now and I knew if we didn’t hurry, it’d be pitch black by the time we got home.

As I stood, another gust of wind hit my face and I heard the soft laugh again. Whirling around I saw Julie had put her headphones away now. I gave her a hard look and began walking off the dock.

“Okay seriously, it’s not funny anymore.” I heard her trailing behind me as I made my way to the dark woods.

“You’re scaring me, Carter,” Julie ran to catch up to me. “I honestly don’t know what you’re talking about.” When I looked at her this time, I could tell how lost she was.

“The giggling? That’s not you?” When she shook her head, I felt my face become pale as all the blood left it. “Come on,” I whispered, grabbing her hand and pulling her behind me. “We need to leave.” I heard it one last time before I made the dark trek into the woods at night.

The time had escaped from us and when we got home, my mother wasn’t very happy with me or Julie. She didn’t seem too mad though because we were together, but Julie isn’t allowed to stay at the lake past five o’clock anymore. I could stay as long as I’d like as long as I had my phone.

When I tried to ask Julie about the giggling again later, she said that she hadn’t heard anything. I must really be going crazy, I though. If Julie wasn’t laughing, then there’s obviously no laughter. She was the only other person there.

As I crawled into my bed, I heard the front door close. My father just got home from some school event. Ever since my parents filled out these forms and the school found out her was an accountant, they’ve been calling about their financial problems non-stop. I heard him go into the computer room and shut the door. The now familiar sound of “pinging” could be heard. I checked my alarm clock and it read 12:42 AM. Guess it’s a good thing tomorrow is Saturday.

I made my way out to the lake, the snowfall starting to pick up. The once small flakes that were barely visible now started to stick to my eyelashes and found homes on my black coat. I let out a small shiver that shook my whole body and thrusted my hands into my pockets.

The lake drew closer to me as the trees cleared and I could see that it was now frozen over. A soft giggle rang in my ears and I spun around. Had Julie followed me? My feet continued to crunch over the soft layer of snow.

When I reached the dock, my breath short from the coldness hitting my lungs, I sat on the wood and stared at the trees that set a barrier between my view and the read of the woods. The snow blanketed the trees as if the natural green was a sin to the eyes. The chill of the air bit my skin, but comforted my racing feet. The heat rose from them and soon radiated on my skin, even though I was still ice cold.

The ice over the lake looked thick and snow piles formed in promiscuous patterns over it. I laid onto my back and looked up at the sky, watching the snowflakes land on my face where they soon formed a cool mist from melting.

As I pushed my body into a sitting position as strong gust of wind hit my face, which was odd because I’ve never felt wind here before. The giggling rand in my ears again. Looking around, I still couldn’t find anyone within a mile radius.

“Julie?” I stood now and started walking back towards the direction of our house. “Julie, is that you? You know you’re not supposed to be back here without telling anyone.”

My cautious footsteps continued to the mouth of the dark path leading back to our house. The giggle rang out through the open space and I ruined my body towards the noise.

“Hello?” I called out to the what seemed to be empty expanse of land surrounding the lake. No answer. My body grew tense and I could feel my heartbeat speeding up. When I got back to the dock, I sat back in my spot and hugged my knees tight to my chest. Since I had stood up snow had covered the spot again so I slowly felt my pants become cold and damp.

The volume of the giggle that I kept hearing grew louder and there wasn’t much time that passed between each one. I still couldn’t see anyone around me, so I soon became anxious. My palms were becoming sweaty and the snow couldn’t make the burning feeling on my skin stop.

The sound was radiating like music from a speaker in the direction of the lake. I got up and approached the end of the dock. It sounded as if the giggling was coming from the middle of the lake. I was wary about walking on the ice, but after I put some of my weight on it, it felt just like a concrete floor.

Still being careful of the ice, I made my way to the center of the ice. I couldn’t hear the giggling anymore, so I turned back to the dock. It was nowhere to be found through the blowing snow. I knew I didn’t walk too far out.

“Hello?” I heard myself say again. “Is anyone out there? Can you hear me?” Still walking, I felt my body start to shake from the cold. I stopped to look around, squinting at the brightness of the snow that surrounded me.

“Julie?” My voice became shaky now from being cold and of fright. “Julie, I’m serious! If that’s you, come out.”

I heard a tapping noise that sounded like it was coming from beneath me feet. When I looked down, there was nothing there. No crack or anything.

You’re just being paranoid, I told myself and I looked back up, then started walking again. The knocking, once again, came from beneath my feet. I ignored the noise, but it got louder as I kept going.

Finally looking down again, I saw a small red splotch. I quickly examined my skin for any signs of a cut but came up clean. Looking around, I saw no one. I bent down to touch it and after my finger made contact with the ice, I found that the red stain was frozen into the lake.

Still looking into the ice, I watched a shadow form. My curiosity got the best of me and I watched as the figure floated to the top. I was paralyzed with fear and I couldn’t find the strength to move. It was as if my body was glued to the exact spot it was in.

As I got closer to the ice for a better look, I saw a girl’s face appear at the surface under the ice layer. I let out a gasp because her eyes were closed and she appeared to be dead. I turned my head to make sure no one was behind me and when I looked back down the girl was still there, floating around.

Within a split second, her eyes shot open. They were a piercing blue and I felt my soul melt. I jumped to my feet and I heard a blood curdling scream. I could feel the ice cracking under me as I covered my ears from the shrieking that wouldn’t stop. I did the only think I could think of, I ran.

The ice was still cracking under me as I ran towards the land. My ears were still covered and the shrieking wasn’t stopping. The whole lake turned into water with floating ice shards within a minute. I was still running because the crack hasn’t reached my location yet and I hadn’t reached dry land. I’m so close to land, I can see the darkened snow. I took my hands away from my ears and right as I was about to step on to the safe ground, my foot gave weight to the now think ice under me and I felt my body plummet into the freezing water.

When I opened my eyes, I was engulfed by my blankets on the floor. I held my hand over my chest and told myself it was just a dream.

When I got to school, the December air made the hallway feel like a freezer. The icy touch of the lockers sent chills down my spine as I undid my lock. Marty was waiting by my locker with his phone in one hand while his other held the bag slung over his shoulder. I didn’t think I got to school late, but judging by the amount of people who has melted away their snow layer already, I knew it was later than usual.

“Dude, where have you been?” Marty finally looked up from his phone, slipped it into his backpack and then hoisted it up onto his shoulder further. “Did you miss the bus or something?”

“Ha-ha very funny,” I unloaded the contents of my bag into my locker. “I’ve been having these weird dreams that keep me up. I guess I slept in. No one bothered to wake me up though.”

Marty eyed me and I watched his glasses slip down his nose a little bit. “Don’t you have a sister? Justine?”


“Yeah, Julie. Didn’t she have to get to school on time? I mean, I thought I saw her a couple of minutes ago but I could have been confused. The paint fumes down the hall are pretty strong.” Marty pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose again.

“She’s sick,” I reached for my Calculus book, but it slipped out of my hands. A large, metallic bang rang through the hall. The talking dimmed a little bit as heads turned in my direction and then it grew again after the sound dissipated.

“Oh,” Marty nodded and cleared his throat. He rubbed his eyes under his glasses and blinked a few times. I wonder how much fumes he actually took in. Swooping his hand through his hair, he began to talk again, murmuring at first. “So, uh, what kind of dreams have you been having? Human spiders that eat your family kind of weird?” Marty’s hands were raised and he wiggled his fingers as he said this.

I laughed and shut my locker. “No,” We started walking towards out first class. “It’s nothing. The lake in the woods behind my house froze. Every night a girl under the water screams and breaks the ice. Right as I reach the land, I get pulled under because the ice breaks.” I watched Marty blink at my again and then sneering smirk appeared on his face.

“Was she hot?” Marty sarcastically asked.

I rolled my eyes. “You suck.”

Marty started laughing and as he was, his bag slipped off his arm. As it hit the ground I watched all his books scatter around his feet from the unzipped portion. Now I was the one laughing. He flew to the ground and began throwing his belongings back into his bag. After all the contents were picked up, he stood up and punched my arm.

“Hardy-har-har. Laugh it up.” We began to turn the corner, when I saw the jocks come from the other side. Marty and I turned to face the lockers so they wouldn’t see us, but it was too late. They made their way over to us, pulling our shirt collars on the back of our necks towards them as soon as they were an arm’s length away.

“Hey Tim” The taller of the two guys said to the other. “What should we do today?”

“Oh Romeo, oh Romeo, where for out thou Romeo! I don’t know Chuck but this is that kid from English that knows everything. What do you think?” I figured out that the chubbier of the two, Tim, was holding my collar. My heart sped up as I was suspended towards him.

“Well guys,” Marty cracked his fingers and spoke in a nonchalant tone. “Didn’t you hear about the new guy?”

Chuck flipped him around and blinked at him. “Are you stupid?

“Well you cheat on me in class so I don’t know if that’s a good question to ask me.” I stifled a laugh.

“He means,” Tim piped in. “That I’m holding Shakespeare, the new guy, in my freaking fist you dumb ass.”

“No, not Carter.” Marty must play a lot of poker because he was fooling me. I didn’t even know there was another new kid. “I’m talking about Grant.” The two jocks looked dumb-founded at each other. Marty continued his gamble. “He just moved here from…” Marty eyed me and I shot him a worried look. I had no clue where he was going with this. “England. He just moved her from England, so he has a funny accent. If I were you, I’d get to him before Damien does. You guys can’t lose your reputations.”

“Yeah! Let’s go Tim. We’ve got a kid to terrorize.” That jocks let go of our shirt collars and strode down the hall. I looked at Marty and saw a small smirk to form. I wasn’t going to ask about Damien because I didn’t care that much, but Grant?

“Who’s Grant?”

“My cousin that lives in North Carolina.” I stared at him doe-eyed and couldn’t believe that he just pulled that off. Marty was still laughing at his little stunt. “So this girl, what does she look like?”

“She had light brown hair and these piercing blue eyes. I had never seen that color before. It was icy, but somehow warm at the same time. I can never take my eyes off o them and that’s the only think that is always constant. They never dull even though the other colors might. Every single dream has the same colored eyes. The thing is she always looks dead when she floats the top.” I listened to myself talk. What was I even saying? I sounded like a mad man and I think North Dakota is making me go crazy.

Marty nodded his head as I talked and I realized that we were coming up to the glass cabinet that all the kids were huddled around before. It looked bigger up close and was filled with trophies. The football section had the most awards and underneath it there was the cheerleading section. A large space was between that section and the next one, but inside the space there was a dedication. I walked closer to it and then heard Marty ask me something.


“I said,” Marty walked up to the cabinet with me. “Can you describe her eyes in anyway?”

“I guess I can try,” I scanned the trophies as I talked. “The blue looked like clear water,” Two trophies for Matt McKormick. “Like the crayon no one could pronounce when they were little that always colored the best mixed with sky blue.” Lily Kraig won one in tennis. I’m guessing that’s Todd Kraig’s sister. “They’re-” My breath caught in my throat when I looked at the girls everyone had been talking about. Alyssa, the girl with the soft pale face and red hair, was on the left. She was smiling like she had been in her picture the news posted.

But on the left, a girl with light brown hair looked as if she was in mid-laugh. Her lips were parted and behind the pale pink color, shone white teeth. They were perfectly straight. Two diplomas sat on either side of the picture and when I read their dates, they were dated 2011, 5 years ago. The brown haired girl’s face didn’t look staged at all and I wondered if she always laughed like that. She looked so familiar, but she was a total stranger.

What really struck me were Alyssa’s eyes. They were green with flakes of yellow scattered around her pupil. I found myself getting lost in them. Looking at the other girl’s eyes is what caught my breath. They were the exact color of the eyes that were in my dream. Her eyes were so sharp and I felt that if I stared at them for too long, I’d be cut like a cake within a second.

“That’s them,” I barely whispered.

“What?” Marty turned towards me and looked where I was looking. He clinked a few times when he saw Alyssa. It seems like she put a spell on guys with her beauty.

“Those are the eyes. That’s the girl.” My hands started to shake and I shoved them in my pocket before Marty noticed.

“Carter,” He shook his head. “Dreaming about the dead girls from our school is a little messed up.”

“No, listen to me.” I knew I was late for Calculus, but I decided it was okay to miss one day. Besides, Marty didn’t say anything. I wondered if he’s ever missed a class before because I saw he casually glance towards the room we have class in. “I have never seen this girl before. I only saw Alyssa,” When he looked confused I said, “The red head.” He nodded and then turned back to me.

“But how can you dream about her countless nights in a row if you’ve never seen nor met her before? Are you sure that’s her?”

“Yes, I’m positive.” I wondered if she had any significance to the lake. The dream always takes place there. “How did they die?”

Marty shrugged and put his hands in his pockets, glancing down the hall again. “All I know is that they were at a party together. Probably alcohol poisoning or something. That’s what usually happens at those things. I mean, not that I’d know…” His voice trailed off and he had a look mixed between anger and disgust on his face. “Anyways, I have a test next period so I kind of have to go.”

I nodded and waved bye as he was walking down the hall. How was I dreaming about her? As far as I could tell she was nowhere near the lake when she died. There has to be a bunch of girls that look like that, right? I couldn’t have been dreaming about her. The bell for second period rang and I made my way towards my English class.

When lunch rolled around, I had told myself that my dream was purely a coincidence. I was surprised to see Jacki at our table and even more shocked to hear them having a comfortable conversation with each other when I got there. After sitting down though, I realized that whatever they were talking about was not for my ears. They were huddled close with their backs hunched over the table so no one would hear their words. I could barely hear their whispers, but figured they were talking about me. They didn’t even notice I was there until I said hello and set my tray down.

“Hey man,” Marty’s tone was sharp and higher pitched than normal. He was definitely hiding something.

Jacki smiled at me and then said, “I can’t keep Lila waiting. Good seeing you Carter.” Her voice was tense, too. I had to ask her what was going on, but before I had time to, she ran off. She turned and glanced at me again. At first her expression looked worried laced with concern, but then it quickly dissolved into a smile as she waved at me.

I had an unsettling feeling for the rest of the day. I knew that they had been talking about me and I wondered if they knew anything about the girl in my dream or the girl in the picture’s death. After Jacki left, I sat at the table and looked at Marty. His eyes were twitching slightly and he plastered a smile on his face.

“What?” I opened the bottle of water I got and took a sip of it. He had a book with him and there was an envelope sticking out of it. I started to eat the fruit salad I bought for lunch. It actually looked edible.

Marty held the book close to him as he ate his sandwich. Eventually we somehow started talking about World of Warcraft. As he spoke, he self-consciously fingered the envelope. I glanced at it a few times but told myself it was nothing. Just mail sent to the wrong Jacobs. Before the ball even rang, Marty got up with everything he had, threw his trash away and said he was going to Physics.

I was glad that today was the last day before break. By the time I got to economics, the school was so cold that we had to wear our jackets around. This weather reminded me that I definitely am not in Florida anymore. Pulling on my jacket, I thought I saw Miss Andrews computer screen on a chat website, but quickly ruled that out. Teacher’s aren’t allowed to be on those in a school environment.

When I saw in my seat, I swear I could’ve been sitting on a block of ice. The metal was so cold and the school felt like there was no heat on at all. The girl next to me put her hat and gloves on, the offered me her scarf.

“You can wear it if you’d like. I saw you shivering and I don’t mind.” Her voice was soft and she didn’t speak too loud. I had never heard her talk before so I don’t know if she’s sick of if her voice is really that soft. She’s smart, though. Whenever we get something back, her papers are always above a 95.

“Thank you.” I graciously accepted the navy blue scarf and wrapped it around my small throat.

“I’m Capri, by the way.” She blushed a little bit as she spoke.


“Carter, I know.” When I blinked at her, she chuckled and continued talking. “I sit behind you in history and am in your Calculus class.” Her ears were red at the bottom where they poked out from under her hat. I saw a small diamond stud on them.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t know all of that.” I suddenly felt terribly embarrassed to be talking to her.

“You’re still new,” she laughed as she spoke and somehow it was a comforting laugh. “It’s completely okay.”

“Mr. Lions?” Miss Andrews’ voice silenced the whole class. “Can you come here for a moment?” When I stood, she told the class to continue their conversations, but I knew they all kept one eye on me.

When I reached her desk, the loudness erupted again and Miss Andrews handed me a slip of paper. “Can you deliver that to your dad?” She whispered to me. Then she said it contained information about the schools’ money problem that was very private, I took the paper and sat at my desk. Could she really be who my dad is talking to online? My teacher?

“Hey,” Capri’s soft voice rang in my ears. “Are you okay? You look a little flushed.”

I gripped her scarf and could smell roses around my neck. Maybe that’s what she smalls like. Delicate roses to go with her fragile voice. I nodded my head at her and then class started.

What does Miss Andres need my dad for? Doesn’t the school have its own accountant for when they have money problems? I highly doubt he was their accountant all the way from Florida. Dad seems to be spending and awfully large amount of time at school lately. He has come home late for the past two weeks and only attends dinner maybe two nights a week. I guess he is pretty busy with work. He’s always locking himself in the computer room and I guess his company is working for the school now, too.

All throughout class I could feel Capri’s eyes on me. When I glanced over at her, there was a glint of sadness in her eyes. She had the same colored eyes as Alyssa, only the specks around her pupil were more of a golden color than a yellow. There was another pair of eyes staring at me during class. They belonged to Miss Andrews and hers were daggers. I could feel them scraping and burning my skin as she stared at me. The dark blue appearing to be a bottomless pit.

I found Marty waiting by my locker after the finally bell rang. He didn’t look as worried as he was during lunch, but there was still no sign of Jacki. I reached my locker and undid the lock, Mart just standing there watching me.

“Okay, what?” His eyes were swooping the halls, probably looking for Jacki so they can finish their conversation from earlier. I heard him grumble under his breath and I had to ask him again.

“Nothing. Are you going back to Florida over break?” Marty stopped fidgeting and was looking at me, full attention. When I shook my head, he nodded and clicked his tongue. “That’s cool, that’s cool.”

“Dude, what is your deal?” I punched his arm as we walked to the parking lot.

“Jacki’s brother has been in prison for a few years now and it turns out his sentence just got extended. She was pretty shaken up about it at lunch. I personally think the guy is a scumbag, he did some really bad stuff. So that’s why Jacki left after lunch. It’s not like she wants him out or anything, but that’s still upsetting.” Well I guess that explains why I didn’t see her after lunch.

“I’m sorry,” I place my hand on his shoulder. “I had no idea.”

“Don’t worry about it. Jacki will be okay by the time we come back from break.” Marty opened his car door which was parked next to my car. I opened my door, reached in and grabbed a snowbrush. After I shut the door I began to brush my small car’s window.

“If you need anything, call me and we can hang out over break.” The air seemed loud and I found myself yelling to my friend. “I don’t think we’re doing much of anything.”

“Thanks man. We’re actually going to Jacki’s for the holiday.” He made a grimace and then said, “It’s probably going to be so awkward. I mean, her dad pushed him to be on the football team and everything.” Marty got into his car and before he shut the door he yelled, “Have a good break! I’ll text you if anything happens.”

I waved to him and got into my car. While I drove down the road, my music blared through the speakers and snow began to fall again. The late December weather was a completely different experience in North Dakota than in Florida and North Dakota was beginning to grow on me. The clumps of snow were large on the side of the road and the flakes came down harder. I saw a car in the opposite lane swerve on the ice, sliding close to a snow bank but turned the wheel at the last moment to avoid it.

My mother’s car was in the driveway when I pulled in. She has just gotten in earlier in the week, but she doesn’t usually go anywhere other than the paint supply store or the grocery store. Dad thought it’d be a good idea for her to have one. I sometimes go to the store for her when she’s into a painting though.

“Mom?” I opened the front door and called from the narrow entrance. Walking down the hall, I grabbed a cookie from the plater on the counter. Peanut butter, my favorite. I turned back around and headed up the stairs.

I turned to head towards my room when I heard the familiar music that reminded me of my childhood. The tiny crack in the door with faint light flowing out revealed everything, my mother was finally painting again. Ever since that day I found her unpacking in there, she hasn’t touched any of her supplies. The brushes that she’s had since she first started painting sat in the drawers of her desk. The small glass jars of paint had begun to crust over with dried paint.

“Carter? Is that you?” I heard my mother’s voice call from the room and then the music dimmed to a low murmur. The crack got larger and soon my mother was standing in the now empty frame. Paint stained her clothes and smeared her face. She had a white towel splattered with colors in her hands.

“Hi, mom,” I set my bag down with my coat up against the wall, then followed her into the quaint room.

“How was school?” I heard her asking me as I made my way around the room. Three canvases were splashed with color and they were propped side-by-side next to each other on an easel. Brushes of all different sizes were scattered on her desk and the smell of acrylic paint wafted through the air.

“Fine,” I could tell her about Miss Andrews note for dad; Capri’s scarf that smelled like roses hugging my throat; Jacki’s brother being sentenced to jail for a longer period of time; the girl in my dream that kept me up all night and then how I found her picture in our school’s trophy case; or how Marty and I avoided being beaten up by jocks because we made up a new kid for them to hunt and terrorize. But I settled on ‘fine’. “We got our poem presentation analysis back today.”


“I got an A+.”

“Carter!” My mother came over and hugged me with her elbows to avoid getting paint on my clothes. “That’s great! You always were fond of poetry.”

I nodded my head and picked up her small fan brush. Part of me wanted to tell her how I applied to the Yale writing program, but I didn’t want to single one school out and have her worry about the price. I had made a short story in my notebook about me going to Yale and being a Bulldog, but most of what I write is complete fiction, so my hopes are not too high. Mom was working on a landscape of the lake when we heard Julie cough. She set down her brushes and I thought I heard a soft sigh.

“Don’t worry,” I motioned for her to sit back down. “I’ll go check on her.” I walked down the hallway past Julie’s room and threw my belongings onto my floor. Julie’s door was closed when I came back down the hall. Slowly, I opened the door and saw her sleeping on her bed. Her body was sprawled out and her blankets had slid off one side.

The pale blue fleece blanket Julie’s old friend Katherine had made for her was sticking out from under one of her legs while the rest was slowly falling to the floor. I picked the remaining blankets up off the floor and draped them over Julie’s petite body. Her skin had lost its color from her cold and from the soft sun in North Dakota. When I looked down at my hand holding the quilt our grandmother made when we were younger, I noticed that I was also becoming slightly pale also.

Julie’s door squeaked and moaned as I opened it again then hut it. I made my way back to my room and sat on my bed. It wasn’t large, but it was big enough for me. The notebook I had brought with me from Florida was laying on my lap and I clicked my tongue as the pencil in my hand bounced a beat off my head. I wanted to write about my dream, to include every detail and aspect of the frightening scene I saw every night. I just couldn’t figure out how.

The air in my room felt so tight and used. I needed to clear my head and go somewhere with fresh air. Somewhere like the lake. I checked the window to see if it was still light out and then checked my watch. 3:00 PM. I had an hour and a half before it would start to get dark.

Gathering my notebook, I stashed it into my book bag and sling it over my shoulder. I closed my curtain and turned the hear up in my room, shutting the door on the way out. My mother was still in her studio, so I yelled in that I was heading to the lake. She told me to dress warm and to take a picture of the sunset for her. My jacket! I know I was forgetting something.

I ran back to my room and grabbed the heavy fabric off of my bed. The curtain fluttered at my window and when I moved closer to it, someone the glasses had been opened on the bottom. My mother was singing loudly to a classical tune so I shut the window and ran out my door. I must’ve cracked it open before I left, I told myself.

The mouth of the woods was darker than any part of my yard. The way the trees shaded the path made the air seem cooler than it actually was and I shivered slightly as my shoes cracked the frosted dirt. I head the birds singing again and it followed the same pattern as when Julies was talking to my family when we first came to visit the lake. An anxious wave came over my body and I whipped my head in the other direction when I heard a stick break. Bundles of tree leaves above my head blocked some of the snow from falling.

As I approached the entrance to the lake the bird’s loudness had ceased. The air became still again, but not like in my room. It was a comforting feeling. I could feel it flowing through my body as I filled my lungs up. I made my way towards the dock, snow lightly falling on my jacket and hair. I had only been here twice, once with my family and then once with Julie. This time though, I brought my headphones.

I plugged them into my phone and after clicking play a Mumford and Sons song slowly drifted into my ears. The music was so soft that I could hear everything around me and I thought I heard footsteps. They came from behind me. I turned my head in all directions and surveyed my resources around me. When I saw a pile of leaves fly through the air I settled with the wind as my only culprit. I felt a small breeze greet my skin and as I continued walking, I felt another. This time when the wind stroked my face, I heard a light giggle. I pulled out one of my earbuds, cautiously glancing around again.

“Hello?” I called out trying to keep my voice steady. No one answered. Looking around one last time, I put my earbud back in and walked to the dock. The small bench that we placed towards the middle of the dock had a perfect view of the lake and where the sun will be setting. The height of the trees made a perfect horizon if the picture is timed right. I decided to inhabit the spot.

My notebook was poking out from the top of my bag, and it reminded me why I was there. There was a pencil hidden in the bag somewhere, so I searched for it. I found old homework assignments, a paper I was working on for Yale, and a scarf. Capri’s scarf. She was probably looking for it and I so idiotically held it in my clutch. Maybe Marty knew her and could give me some contact information.

I finally found my pencil and made a space for my notebook to sit on my lap. I began writing and tried to first get my dream down on paper. The hardest part was getting the details of the girl’s features. I started with her hair, which I hadn’t actually seen until the third night I had the dream. A cloud of brown hair surrounding her face as she floated in the chill biting water. Then her skin, a pasty white from being so cold.

Next I had to figure out how to actually describe her eyes so that it would make sense. The piercing blue, the mix of colors, the eyes that had been burned into my memory and I didn’t even know this girl. I tried to get it all down, but after I reread it, it felt as if a piece were lost. What am I missing? I continued to read it until I had to close my eyes, try to vision them again or conjure up and image from my subconscious of her floating at the ice barricade.

My eyes were still closed when I felt someone tap me. Unlocking my eyelids, I jumped up and almost flew off the dock. My heart was racing and I realized I still didn’t even know that the light pressure was.

“What the-” I whirled around, yelling from shock, but stopped short when my eyes found the source of the tap. She looked almost identical to the girl in my dream except for her eyes and hair. The iris of her eye was a subtler, dull blue and her hair appeared shorter and had curls in it. I guess I was right, there are a lot of girls that look similar to each other. Nevertheless, her eyes still core into my soul.

I pulled my eyes away and trailed down to her pink lips. They were full and looked almost like they had a faint trace of blue. Her frame was small and she wore a tattered dress that bung on her shoulders.

“Uh…I’m sorry.” I rubbed the back of my neck and extended my hand out to her. “I’m Carter. Carter Lions. I just moved here.”

“Hi,” Her voice was soft and calm, like the air around us. I watched snow gather on her eyelashes and handed her my jacket. “Thank you. I’m Fae Reynolds. I’ve lived here my whole life.” She placed her hand into mine, grasping so lightly I wasn’t even sure I held it, and giggled as she spoke.

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