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Angel-The First in the Angel Trilogy
Author's note: I was inspired to write this story because of the surplus in vampire, werewolf, and witch novels we have in the world. There aren't very many about other inhuman beings. I hope readers learn the beauty of love, friendship, and family.
I hated everything about this place.
The way it smells, the way it always looks gloomy. Even the way all the people there always acted. But mom said this would be good for us. We could meet new people, see new faces. Problem is, I had met enough people, and seen enough faces, to last me a life time.
This was our third move this year.
“This is what we do, Angelica,” my mom always told me. Every time we drove to a new place, she said the same speech in the car. “This is who we are. We buy a house, fix it up, sell it, and move on. That’s the way it’s always been, that’s the way it’ll always be.”
I wanted to shout at her every time, “Maybe I don’t want it to be this way! Maybe this isn’t who I am!” But I just kept my mouth shut and nodded my head yes. She was my mom, and I didn’t want her to be mad at me or upset with herself.
So, I took new classes at a new school, tried to make as few friends as possible, and helped mom fix up the house. Every single time. And then mom would send me off to bed each night in a new room giving me the same sob story about my father.
Oh yes, my father. He was gone, long gone. He left when I turned 3, saying that raising a kid was too difficult for him. I’d gone to see him once every month up until I was 5, when he stopped coming to pick me up. The child support money stopped coming when I was 8. Now I’m 17, nine years later, and mom has to do everything alone.
That was the story she told each night to keep me around. And it worked. Without that story, I’d be gone. I would have left my sorry excuse for a mother a long time ago, just like my dad.
Except, I wouldn’t hate me, like my dad did.
“Your father doesn’t hate you, Angelica,” my mother told me one day, while we were fixing the attack floor in house number two (that was when I was 10). “He just… Your father is just sick. He has a disease.”
“Mom,” I had said, in my correcting voice. “Alcoholism isn’t a disease. It’s a disorder. Get it straight.”
She cut me a side-long glance, but continued with her explanation. “Your father is an alcoholic, Angelica. He doesn’t know what to do with his life anymore, so he drowns himself in a bottle. He is sick, and he needs help. He just doesn’t want it. And one day, you’ll probably end up just like him; alone, depressed, and drunk. That is, if you don’t start getting yourself together and cleaning up your act.”
They were harsh words to tell a ten-year-old. And I didn’t talk to her for three days after that. That’s when she started to manipulate me. She made me mad one day, then she would paint a sad little picture for me, and I would have to forgive her.
And the “act” I had to clean up, that she talked about, wasn’t even that bad. Sure, I got detention a couple times at new schools. But that was only because the rules always changed from place to place. It wasn’t my fault that I didn’t know you weren’t allowed to play your DS in class at school number four. Or that you couldn’t eat lunch outside at school number six. I didn’t know.
But still, mom blamed me for the detentions. That was the way it was. I came home, did my homework, fought with mom, at dinner, fought with mom again, went to sleep, woke up the next day and did it all over again. New house, same routine.
Yet, as I sat there in the car on the way to 4295 South Boulevard (house number 18), listening to my iPod blare Led Zepplin, I couldn’t help remembering the good times.
There were four: going to the beach in Maryland, seeing the dolphins in Baltimore, the tour of the white house in D.C., and adopting the puppy in Brooklyn…
Did you buy any of that? None of it happened.
There weren’t any good times.
“What?” I pulled my earphones out of my ears and looked over at my mother.
“We’re here,” she said. “Help me unload.”
“What?” I asked sarcastically. “No, ‘Welcome to Jersey Angelica’?”
She stopped what she was doing, looked at me coldly, and put on the most fake smile I ever saw.
“Welcome to New Jersey, Angelica.”
“Angelica!” mom called. I was in my room hanging up posters of Led Zepplin, ACDC, and Aerosmith. I had just gotten the last item unpacked from my boxes. “Coming!” I yelled. I ran down the steps into the flimsy living room. Mom was there, unpacking the steamer we used to get wallpaper off. “What?” “Come help me unpack,” she said flatly. She never had enthusiasm when talking to me. I sighed and sat down on the ancient couch the previous owners had left there. This house was abandoned one day. The owners decided they didn’t want to live there anymore and just took off. Then we came into the picture. We bought this stupid old house, made a plan to fix it up, and we were going to follow through with it. That was what mom always said. I started to unpack a box full of pictures of me when I was little. I expected only silence, so when my mom spoke up I was shocked. “I don’t hate you, Angelica,” she said, making me look up from a picture of me at the zoo. “I know that,” I said finally, meeting her eyes. “No, I’m not sure you do.” Something about her tone and expression said this was serious, so I didn’t pick a fight. “Angelica, you’re my daughter-my only child. I love you.” “I know that mom. I do.” “But…you don’t love me…” “Yes I do.” “Look, Angelica, I’ve been a single mom since you were 3 years old, and-” “No!” I finally cracked. I couldn’t take it anymore! She gave me so much anger and hatred and…grief. Grief for being alive. “Don’t give me that!” “Angelica, I have done everything for you!” “Bull sh**!” “Angelica!” Mom looked at me with a shocked expression. “Do not curse at me.” “That’s all a load of bull. It’s all crap!” “How is it all crap? Tell me, Angelica! Huh? How is it all crap?” “Because it just is! You’re so fake! You try to put on this act of ‘Oh, we’re the happy mother-daughter couple’. Well, mom, I have a question for you. When was the last time you told me you loved me, before today?” My mother just stared at me, silent. Then she dropped her head in defeat. “Yea, I can’t remember either,” I said. I stuffed the picture back in the box and stood up. Making my way up the steps, I said, “You can unpack by yourself.” Then I was in my room, sleeping and dreaming. * * * “Angelica, get up. It’s your first day at school.” I woke up the next morning to see my mom’s face as she sat on my bed. “What do you want?” I asked her rudely. “Come on, Angelica. Up and at ‘em.” “Ugh!” I looked over at my clock and almost did a double take. “5:30? You woke me up 5:30 when school doesn’t even start ‘till 7:00?” “Well, think of it this way; at least now you won’t be late.” She got up and walked over to my door. Her final words before she left were, “If you don’t get up right now, you’re grounded.” I hate my life. I finally decided it would be best for me to get up, so I got in the shower and did my hair. Mom had made cinnamon roles, so I ate one of them. Then I brushed my teeth. Following the steps of my normal “new school” routine, I got out my book bag and loaded my binder with clean lined paper, put a book in there to read when I got bored, and stuck a million pencils in the front pocket. I looked over at my clock. There were ten minutes left until the bus got there at 6:45. Maybe I should get up at 5:30 like my mom wanted me to. I took my book bag and was about to walk out to my bus stop when mom walked in front of me. “I love you,” she said, taking my hands and looking into my eyes. “Have a good day at school.” Then she dropped my hands and walked away. The bus horn came from outside and I walked out to the curb. Getting on the bus, I barely noticed when the driver said hello and welcomed me to the neighborhood. I sat down in the front seat, trying to figure out what the hell my mom said that stuff for. She never said anything like that to me before. Usually I got “Bye” or “Whatever” when I said I was leaving. But never any “I love you”s or “Have a nice day”s. Never. “You’re in my seat.” I looked up to see a tall girl standing in the isle next to me. “I’m sorry,” I said. “But I don’t see your name on it.” She pointed to a spot on the seat that had some black writing on it. “Miranda,” she said slowly, running her finger across the word as she said it. “I stand corrected,” I murmured. I started to grab my stuff and move to another seat, but she stopped me. “No it’s okay. Really. I’ll just sit with you.” “Okay…” “What’s your name?” “Angelica.” “Angelica? Seriously?” “Yea…” “Wow. Your parents must hate you.” I laughed at how ironic that was. “Well, I’m Miranda. Spanish origin, lesbian freak of the school.” “Nice. Well, I’m Angelica, American origin, straight soon to be new girl freak of the school.” “Yea, I noticed you were new. Where did you come from?” “Ha! Where didn’t I come from?” “Not sure I follow you.” “Forget it. I moved here from Baltimore.” “Ah. Nice.” The bus came to a stop outside of the school. It was a brick building, shaped like a cube, with a green roof on it. The landscaping was poorly done and they didn’t have much grassy areas. Most of it was concrete. It almost looked like a prison. Great. This should be fun. I followed Miranda onto the campus sidewalk. She led me to a group of girls that looked just like me; average height, graphic t-shirt with a message on it, black hair, colored highlights, skinny jeans, and converse. And none of them had tans. “This is my posse,” Miranda said, as we reached a group of six. “Guys, this is Angelica.” “Angelica?” one girl asked. “Are you kidding me?” “No, that’s really her name.” “Wow.” “I’m sitting right here,” I said. The girl had blue highlights that looked way different than my red. “I’m Ashley,” she said. “But everyone calls me Ash.” “Nice,” I said, pointing to her shirt. It had the H.I.M logo on it-a heartogram. “Got this from Hot Topic a couple days ago. Do you know them?” “Yea. H.I.M is like the best band since Aerosmith.” “Yea, I completely agree!” I smiled at the thought that I wouldn’t be alone in this new place. I would have at least a couple friends. “This is Roar,” Miranda said, introducing me to someone else. “Her real name is Aurora, but she hates it.” “Hey,” Roar said, holding up her hand in what looked like a wave. I noticed she was wearing a Black Sabbath shirt. “This is Anna.” Another girl, with green highlights, raised her hand. “Crash, Sandra, and Luna.” Three other girls held up their hands. “Luna?” I asked, looking at the girl who had white-gray highlights, the color of the moon. “What made you pick that nickname?” “It’s not a nickname,” Luna said, smiling. “Luna is my real name.” “Cool.” “Yea.” A bell rang inside. “Time to go,” Miranda said. “Follow me; I’ll show you to the main office.” I followed her inside to a hallway that smelled like sweat. “This is the gym hallway,” Miranda said, making a face that said she smelled it too. We made our way into the main hall, as Miranda called it. There were people at their lockers, scrambling to get to class. “We only have 5 minutes at our locker after each bell, so it gets pretty hectic in here.” “Ah.” We came to a stop outside a room that had windows as walls. “This is the main office.” We stepped inside to smell breakfast sandwiches that the office ladies were eating and the smell of hot morning coffee. “Hey Ms. Sue,” Miranda said, smiling, to a woman at the front desk. She was blonde and looked like years of being a soccer mom had worn her out. She smiled up at Miranda, then saw me. The smile turned to a look of shock. Apparently, she wasn’t one who liked Led Zeppelin. “Miranda,” Ms. Sue said. “Who is this…child?” I scoffed at her, but Miranda put her hand up to stop my words. “Ms. Sue, this is Angelica,” Miranda told the old hag. “She’s our new student.” “Ah. Let me just…print out your schedule then.” She walked away into a room that had a sign on the door reading “COPY ROOM”. “What’s her problem?” I asked Miranda. “She doesn’t like the way you’re dressed,” Miranda said plainly, as if it were nothing in the world. “She thinks anyone who dresses like you and the Crew do is a delinquent.” “Oh.” That was when I really noticed what Miranda looked like, and why Ms. Sue liked her better. She was tall, had a good build, red hair-natural red hair-green eyes, tennis shoes, and a t-shirt that said, “I eat crackers…not animals,” with a picture of a half-eaten animal cracker on it. We looked nothing alike. “Alright,” Ms. Sue said, coming back to her desk and sitting down. She signed a piece of paper and handed it and my schedule over to me. “Get this paper signed by all of your teachers and bring it back to me.” She was looking down at more papers on her desk while saying all of this, smiling cheerily. She must have forgotten who she was talking to, because as soon as she looked up at me that bright smile faltered a little. “Thank you Ms. Sue,” Miranda said, smiling. We walked out of the office and she sighed. “What?” I asked. “Whenever I’m in there, I feel like a prisoner. So when I come out, I sigh and let it all out.” “Wow.” “Yep.” We started walking again. “You have some serious mental issues, my friend.” She chuckled and said, “Let me see your schedule.” I handed it to her and she read off my classes in order. “English Lit., Health, IAG 1, Physical Science, U.S. History, BFM, Study Hall, Computer Sciences.” I looked over her shoulder at my eight classes. “Well, you have my first, third, fourth, fifth, and seventh periods; Crash, Sandra, and Luna are in your first and fifth; Luna is in your second; Ash is in your sixth; and Stella is in your eighth.” “Stella?” I said. “I didn’t meet her.” “Oh, you will. She’ll notice you in her eighth, computer sciences, and go to talk to you. She’s very outgoing. But watch your back with Stella.” “Why?” “You’ll probably find out.” We were silent for a while, walking down the hall. “Okay,” she said after about 30 seconds. “Lunch is in your sixth, that’s BFM with Mr. Miller. Ash will show you to the cafeteria and our table. Let’s go get you to first period.”
“Ah Miranda,” a lady said, as Miranda and I walked into first period English Lit. “Nice of you to join us.” She had dark brown hair that was wavy, she was shorter than me, and she was wearing a very nice, preppy-looking tan cashmere sweater. Her voice was deep for a woman.
“Sorry Ms. Tut,” Miranda said, walking with me to stand in front of Ms. Tut’s desk. “I was showing our new student around campus.”
“Oh. So this is Angelica?” I heard snickers from the class behind me at my name, but I didn’t dare turn around. Ms. Tut looked behind me, sharply, and everyone shut up. “Yes well… Welcome to English Lit. Angelica. I believe you’re in luck-there’s one empty seat left. You can go sit over there.” She pointed to a seat behind me, and I finally let myself face the music of looking at the class.
There were only about fourteen people in the room. They were sitting in rows of desks. Most of them looked bored out of their mind. Others were on the verge of falling asleep. They all had an expression of utter shock at the sight of me. I guess I was a very large comparison-in my Led Zeppelin t-shirt, my red highlights, black skinny jeans, and converse-to the students in front of me in their expensive American Eagle outfits, combed hair, and white sneakers.
But the person I was paying the most attention to was the guy sitting right next to the seat Ms. Tut was pointing at.
He was…I don’t know. He was just so much like me-black hair, blue eyes, skinny jeans, converse, and a t-shirt that said “I HATE YOU”. His hair was that of a skater boy’s-bowl cut with a little flair, cut to just below the ears.
And he was staring right at me.
I followed Miranda and took my seat next to the boy. Miranda sat down at her seat, which was conveniently placed right in front of mine.
“Alright everyone,” Ms. Tut said. “Let’s start the day…” She walked out to the front of the class and stood right in front of the chalk board. “Can anyone tell me what great poet wrote these words?” She pointed to the board where the words “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and I, I took the one less traveled by” were written.
It was easy. Robert Frost wrote that poem. Without even thinking, I raised my hand. I was about to quickly put it down, but Ms. Tut saw it already and called on me to answer the question.
“Uh… I think it was Robert Frost?” I said, hesitant to answer.
“Correct,” Ms. Tut said, looking shocked. After she recovered, she said, “Alright, now who can tell me what they mean?” She waited a while, but no one raised their hand. “How about you, Riley?”
The boy next to me sighed and sat up straighter. I could tell he had still been staring at me up until then. I guessed he was Riley.
“I guess I could… He took the rode less traveled by, which means he did what hardly anyone else did. He didn’t follow the ‘in crowd’,” Riley said.
“Exactly,” Ms. Tut said, smiling. I noticed even his voice was hot. “Good job, Riley. Alright, this week we are…”
Ms. Tut went on and on about poetic analysis. Apparently, we were going to be using that process all week. But the only thing I noticed were Riley’s eyes on the side of my face. He was still staring at me! I wondered what his problem was.
When the bell rang, I followed Miranda out of the class room.
“Luna will meet you right here to take you to second period,” Miranda told me. “I have already texted her and made sure. I have to go, but I’ll see you later, okay?”
“Okay,” I told her.
“So, you’re new,” Riley said, walking up to me. It didn’t sound like a question so I didn’t answer. Plus, I was too stunned to speak. “You’re new, you’re shorter than me, you have black hair, and you’re pretty hot. Hm… Yea.”
“I’m sorry?” I asked, finally getting my voice back.
“It’s my analysis of you.”
“I figure I better start to practice analyzing poetry now.”
“Oh… I’m a human being though, not words on a page.”
“Yea, I know. But you’re poetry to me. Rhythmic, strong, and beautiful. That’s poetry.”
He walked away then. I stood there, staring after him. I had no idea what was going on, but I hoped it was something.
“Hey Angelica,” Luna said, walking up to me and breaking me out of my trance. “Let’s go.”
“Okay,” I said, falling in to walk next to her.
“Was that Riley Peirce you were talking to?”
“Yea. You know him?”
“Of course I know him.” I thought that was a little strange, but I didn’t say anything. “What did he want?”
“What makes you think he wanted something?”
“Riley doesn’t talk much-to anyone. So if he talked to you, he must have wanted something.”
“He just analyzed me. We’re doing poetic analysis in English Lit., and he said it was just for practice.”
“Is that it?”
“Well…he called me poetry. ‘Rhythmic, strong and beautiful.’”
“Riley? Riley called you poetry?”
“Can you please explain to me why all of this is such a big deal?”
“Angelica, Riley has had three girlfriends…in his entire life. They were all gorgeous, smart, and funny-perfect for any guy. But in the end, he left them all. And now he’s got his sights set on you!”
“What? No way. I barely said two words to the guy.”
“Angelica, Riley is totally into poetry. He called you poetry. Put two and two together and…”
“No… No. Definitely not. Riley is not into me. Let’s just drop it, okay?”
“Okay. Let’s talk about how boring health class is going to be. Especially since it’s right in the morning. Oh and…you might want to watch out for Ms. Dealer.”
“Ms. Dealer? Is that seriously her name? What does she deal?” I smiled and playfully elbowed Luna in the ribs.
She laughed and said, “Yes, that’s her real name. And she deals out loads of criticism and anger. So if I were you, the vulnerable new girl, I would watch my back.”
“Oh, okay. Anything else I should know?”
“Not that I can recall.”
We stopped in front of a classroom and Luna mouthed the words “Brace yourself” and we walked into the room.
It smelled like cinnamon and cherry. There were a couple girls running around the room chasing each other. Others were sitting at big round blue tables, fidgeting with their fingers and looking nervous and scared.
The bell rang and everyone rushed to their seats.
“Class,” a woman in a black dress said, smiling, as she walked into the classroom. “Good morning.”
“Good morning, Ms. Dealer,” the class said in unison. Ms. Dealer was tall, thin, and very pretty with brown hair and brown eyes.
“And who is this?” Ms. Dealer asked, looking over at me.
“This is Angelica, Ms. Dealer,” Luna said, taking her seat at an empty blue table.
“So this is our new student? Perfect! You have very strong eyes, Angelica. Sort of like mine…”
She seemed nice enough to me.
“Alright Angelica, you can take a seat next to Luna now.”
I sat down and someone else murmured, “Angelica looks like a freak,” and then there were some giggles from girls sitting next to her.
“Do you think I’m an idiot?!” Ms. Dealer was all the sudden standing up from her desk and yelling. “Do you think I’m hard of hearing?! You’re in detention for the next week Lindsay! You will be kind and courteous to your peers! Especially if they’re new and trying to actually learn something! Unlike some of you simpletons!” She paused and I could hear the silence in the air. I don’t think anyone even breathed. Then Ms. Dealer continued, “Now, open your books to page 436. Read from 436 to 448 and then answer the questions on page 449... Get to work!”
Honestly, I was now terrified.
Ms. Dealer left the class then, hopefully to go lower her blood pressure, and Luna turned to me.
“You see?” she asked me, as all the other girls in the room started talking. “Now do you see what I mean?”
“Yes! Why doesn’t anyone stop her?” I asked.
“What she just did wasn’t even the worst of it! Think of what she’d do if she’s caught!”
I thought about it for a little while, and I didn’t like what my mind imagined.
“Well, we should at least try to turn her in to the principal.”
“Ha! Principal Mills? Are you serious? He won’t do anything about it. Lazy bag of bones that one is.”
“Oh. Never mind then.”
We sat there quiet for a little while, trying to read an entire twelve boring text book pages in less than forty-five minutes. Then, a girl walked up to our table, flanked by two other girls. They were all blonde with blue eyes, and they were all thin. She just stood there, staring at me icily. The rest of the room grew quiet.
“Can I help you?” I asked. Luna elbowed me hard in the ribs, but I ignored her.
“Listen ‘Angelica’. You’re not going to ruin my school. You’re going to keep your mouth shut in all your classes and not make any friends. I’ll be damned if I’m letting you be Ms. Dealer’s favorite!”
“Angelica!” Luna whispered to me, but again I ignored her. All eyes were on us.
“What did you just say to me?”
“You heard me,” the girl said. “If you think you can just barge in here and steal my school from me, you’ve got another thing coming. You and those other loser freaks can go to your cult ceremonies or whatever it is you do, but stay away from me and my group. I run this school.”
“Lindsay,” Ms. Dealer’s harsh voice came from the doorway. She wasn’t yelling this time, but you could still hear the firmness. “Is there a problem here?”
“No Ms. Dealer, of course not,” Lindsay said, putting on a nice smile and voice.
“Good. Take your seat.” Lindsay and the other two girls sat down at one of the tables in the back. “Get back to work everyone.”
“Okay, so, this is the cafeteria,” Ash said, as we walked into a large room that smelled like chicken nuggets and milk. There were various gray tables that had benches attached laid out in neat and orderly lines in the back. And in the front of the room was a long counter that had food displayed on metal shelves encased in a glass surface.
We ate lunch every day at the end of sixth period. Or at least, that’s what Ash said.
Ash and I walked over to the lunch line to get our food. She chose a chicken patty with fries, and I chose a cheeseburger with tater-tots. We went into the checkout line-another counter with a cash register and a lady standing in front of it-and paid for our food. A dollar and forty cents isn’t bad for what I got.
We spotted Crash and Luna calling our names and waving, so we walked over to the table. We all got to talking, and soon Roar and Miranda sat down with us. The only three people from the Crew who weren’t there were Sandra, Anna, and Stella.
“Where’s everybody else?” I asked.
“Oh, you mean Sandra, Anna, and Stella?” Miranda said. “They already had lunch. They have C lunch, we have D lunch.”
The cheeseburger and tater-tots were really good!
Throughout the rest of lunch, we talked about stuff like band names and good songs. Then the bell rang and we left the cafeteria, Miranda and I heading toward seventh period study hall.
“Okay, so, Mr. Meister is our study hall teacher. We…pretty much do whatever we want in his class. He’s really nice. Oh, and, like once every other week, we have a TV class. He brings in bags of popcorn and we sit there watching cartoons or something,” Miranda said all of this while we headed to the auditorium, where study hall was. “But I have seen him mad before. Trust me, not a pretty picture.”
“Okay,” I said.
“Angelica I presume?”
We stopped in front of a tall black guy who had a bit of a pot belly. His hair was in dreadlocks, and he was wearing a pair of tan slacks, a white button-down shirt, and a dark green sweater vest.
“Yes,” I said, hesitantly.
“I’m Mr. Meister,” the man said. “Welcome.” He had a big, bright smile.
“Miranda, you’ll show her to a seat, won’t you?”
“Of course,” Miranda said, taking my arm and leading me to the first row of cushioned auditorium seats. The place was just like any other boring and plain school auditorium, with a stage set up in the front and a high ceiling with lights fixed all about.
We sat down and Miranda and I talked about Riley. My favorite subject.
“I can’t believe he actually called me poetry,” I said. “Luna thinks he’s into me.”
“That’s because he is,” Miranda said. “I may be same-sex oriented, but I can tell when a guy is in-like with someone. And Riley is definitely liking you. Did you notice him staring at you in English this morning?”
“Well, yea but… He could have been thinking the same as everybody else-oh look, it’s the new freaky girl.”
“I doubt it. You are right up his alley Angelica! You guys are both into the same music, you dress alike. Hell, you even have the exact same eye color!”
“Alright, alright. I’ll bite. But I only have one class with the guy!”
“No… He’s in your eighth.”
Seventh period went by entirely too slow. Or did it go by too fast? On one hand, I wanted to see Riley so badly. But on the other, I was dreading the idea of going to computer sciences.
Miranda showed me the way to the computer lab and sent me off with a “good luck”. I made it there in four minutes, with one left to find a seat where he couldn’t see me, but I could see him. That way both purposes of this class would be fulfilled.
My guess was it wasn’t going to work.
I looked over and saw a girl who looked just like me-my style, anyway-waving me over to her. My guess was she was Stella.
“Hey,” I said, walking over to her, looking around for Riley as I did so-just to make sure he hadn’t heard her call me and didn’t know I was here. The coast was clear.
“What’s up?” Stella asked me.
“Nothing,” I replied, sitting down in the seat next to her. “Just trying to avoid someone.”
“It’s not me, is it?”
“Oh, no! No, it’s not you at all. It’s just…someone from first period. Not that interesting. So what’s this class about anyway?”
“Oh, nothing really,” she said, logging into her school computer account. “We just learn to do stuff on Adobe programs, working out of this book.” She held up a thick paper-back text book with a spiral binding and put it back down again.
“Fun,” I said sarcastically, dragging out the word. Stella made a humored humming noise, which probably meant she felt the same way.
“You’re in my seat.”
“I’m sorry,” I said, turning around to see Riley standing behind the chair. I was about to get up, but he stopped me.
“No, that’s okay,” he said, in a charming voice. “I’ll just sit next to you.”
“Okay,” I agreed, and stopped reaching for my stuff. He sat down in the seat next to me, and the bell rang. In walked the teacher, a well-built, athletic-looking man with a tanned body and blond-brown hair and brown eyes. I tend to like guys who could be a guitarist in a band-typically scene, emo, or even just rockers. But boy, was this guy nice to look at. And I noticed when he talked, he even had an accent!
“Hello class,” he said.
“We will be working in the book today, as per usual. I understand we have a new student with us. Would Angelica Spires please raise your hand?” I raised my hand, despite the laughs of the students. “I’m Mr. Perry, Angelica.” He walked over to me and handed me a slip of paper. “This is your login information. Please don’t lose it. I’m terribly busy at the moment, but if you need any help, just ask Riley. He’s good with our computers.” Mr. Perry smiled and walked away. I turned around in my seat and tried-unsuccessfully-not to sigh.
Riley chuckled and said, “Okay, get signed on now kid.” I smiled at him and looked down at the piece of paper I had.
I typed in my username and password and got out the textbook. Riley told me the page number and I turned to page 105.
I guess eighth period wasn’t that bad. Riley helped me on the computer, and I got done three exercises in one class! After looking over at his computer, I noticed he hadn’t gotten anything done.
“Oh it’s okay, I’m ahead of the class, so I’m fine,” he said.
“Are you sure?” I asked him, biting my lip guiltily.
“Of course. Talking to you was more fun anyway.” He smiled at me and I smiled back. I looked at the clock.
Only five minutes left of the school day.
I didn’t want to leave Riley, but when the bell rang, I said goodbye and made myself go.
The first day of school turned out pretty good.
“I’m home,” I called through the house.
“Oh good,” my mother said. “How was your day?”
“Bet you’re pretty tired, huh?” I couldn’t tell which room she was in. But the smell of chocolate was wafting through the house like a thick blanket covering my nose.
“Kind of. It’s been a long day.” I walked into the kitchen and there she was.
She was leaning over the oven, which was open, and trying to pull out a pan of something.
Looking up at me with an embarrassed smile, she said, “Could you help me?”
I laughed despite myself.
You see, when I was about eight years old, my mother tried baking a cake for my birthday party. Of course, I only had two people coming, but she wanted to try her hand at the oven. So she sat there, for half an hour, trying to mix a bowl of batter. She had done something wrong and it was turning out too thick. So I was watching my mother get so mad at herself-and Betty Crocker-that, in the end, she threw it out, trashed all boxes of Betty Crocker cake mix we had, and went to Dairy Queen to buy an ice cream cake. She was afraid of the oven.
So as I sat there, pulling out a pan of brownies, I thought of that day. I thought of all my mother had sacrificed to drive to Dairy Queen and buy me a cake. She risked her own mental health to try to bake one for me!
“Why are you doing this?” I asked her.
“Doing what?” she replied, closing the oven and placing the pan of brownies on the counter.
“This?” I gestured with my arms at all the things she had cooked. She made, obviously, the brownies, ham-honey glazed-and corn. I could also see a large bowl of mashed potatoes to the right of the brownies-next to the fridge.
“It’s dinner,” Mom said plainly.
“You never make this big of a dinner.”
“I can’t cook if I want to, is that what you’re saying?”
“No, that’s not what I’m saying. It’s just weird to me, that’s all.” My mother exhaled and brought the food over to the kitchen table, which I now noticed was set with plates and silver wear.
She sat down and when I didn’t, she raised her eyebrows expectantly. It crept me out, so I sat down. She made me and herself a plate of food and poured me some iced tea. Then she did something she never, ever does.
She attempted small talk.
“So, how did your first day of school go?” she asked me.
“Like normal,” I replied, hesitating to take a bite of ham. When I did, I noticed it was delicious.
“What’s…normal?” She hesitated to ask this. She obviously wouldn’t know what a normal day of school is like for me; she barely ever talks to me.
“Well, people laughed at my name, as usual. I did make a couple friends.”
“Ash, Roar, Miranda, Luna, Stella, Sandra, Anna, Crash, and Riley.”
“That’s a lot of friends.”
“Yep. And all of them are gonna be tickled pink when we move again.”
Mom got this angry look on her face and used her arm to push all the food off the table.
“Don’t be a smart ass with me, Angelica,” Mom said with a fiery look in her eyes. “We have to move. How many times do I have to tell you that? I don’t have a job. This is how we make a living.”
“We? It’s not exactly a group decision, is it?”
“Get out.” She pointed to the door and I moved towards it without a word. My mother had never kicked me out of the house, but I was always anticipating it.
When I got outside I realized how cold it was. I was only wearing a pair of skinny jeans and my t-shirt.
I took out my cell and dialed Miranda’s number.
“Hello?” Miranda’s voice said over the receiver.
“Hey it’s me, Angelica,” I said.
“Oh hey Angelica.”
“Look, I know we don’t know each other all that well, but I need a place to stay tonight. My mom-”
“Say no more. Of course you can stay here.”
“Thanks. I really appreciate it.”
“You’re welcome. Where are you? I’ll have my mom come pick you up.”
I looked up at the street sign to my left-I had walked a couple blocks away from my house while I was talking to Miranda.
“I’m on South Boulevard.” There was a pause. “Hello?”
“I’m sorry, I think my heart just stopped,” Miranda said. “You said South Boulevard?”
“Angelica… Get out of there right now. That’s the worst part of town. You’re in gang territory.”
I moved quietly, stealthily, along the sidewalk. If what Miranda said was true, and this was gang territory, then the slightest bit of sound could cause a gun to be pointed at my forehead.
I was just rounding a corner of a bar and some run-down barber shop when I heard footsteps behind me. It scared me, but I kept moving at the same pace, so as not to draw attention to myself. When the footsteps didn’t stop, I took pepper-spray out of my purse-just in case.
Then I felt a hand on my shoulder.
I turned around with lightning quick reflexes. Aiming my pepper-spray at the person’s face, I felt shocked.
It was Riley.
“What the hell are you doing?” he asked in a frantic voice.
“I-I thought you were…” I stuttered. I could prepare myself to see him, but when he caught me off guard like that, I had a heart beating like a drum.
“Do not sneak up on me like that,” Riley said. I raised my eyebrows at him.
“Me sneak up on you? Ha! Try the other way around! You scared the crap out of me!”
“Oh sorry. You must know what this area is like.”
“Yea, Miranda filled me in.” Then a thought occurred to me. “Oh crap! Miranda!” I took out my phone, noticing that Riley was studying my face. I started to dial but he stopped me.
“Don’t bother,” he said, leaning up against the brick wall of a convenient store that was covered in graffiti. “She was the one that called me and told me to come find you.” A low growl escaped my lips, and Riley looked at me, puzzled.
My friend Miranda really needed to stop trying. Riley probably didn’t like me anyway! How could Miranda be so sure?
Then a smile spread on his soft, soft lips.
“You’re very easy to read you know,” he said, still smiling. “Exactly like poetry.”
“Why do you call me that?” I asked. “Poetry.”
“Well… Poetry doesn’t have to be just on a piece of paper. It can be in the form of music, dancing, or even humans. Poetry is anything that is strong, rhythmic, beautiful, and sometimes even wild. So…you pretty much are poetry.”
I stood there and stared at him. I had an idea, so crazy, so wild, that it just might work.
When I was little, I dreamed of my perfect guy. He would have creamy skin, black hair, blue eyes, and hands that fit perfectly with mine.
So without even thinking, I took Riley’s hand in mine and held it. I looked at the two hands-his and my own-locked together.
It was a perfect match.
I looked up at Riley’s face with excitement in my eyes, no doubt. And then he pulled away.
I was shocked and even a little bit hurt.
“Riley?” I said.
“What?” he replied.
“Why did you-”
“I got to go.”
“I’ll see you tomorrow.”
He left and I was standing all alone. It was cold, it was pitch dark, and I was in the worst part of town ever. Plus, I was a little sad and angry.
I dialed Miranda’s number for the third time that night.
“Hello?” she asked hopefully. Obviously, she was hoping things had gone okay between Riley and me.
“Its me again,” I said, my voice a little shaky. “I’m gonna need a ride.”
“Where are you guys?” She still thought-or wanted to think-that things had gone well with Riley.
I looked up at the street name. “2nd South Boulevard.”
“Thanks. Bye.” I closed my phone and sat down on the hard concrete sidewalk. I cried.
I don’t know why, but I’m not usually one to cry. So this was very unusual for me. But so many things had gone wrong tonight. Dinner with my mom, running into Riley… Things were just not looking up for me.
I heard footsteps and immediately I was cleaning myself up. I didn’t want Riley to see me like this-red nose, watery eyes, and running eyeliner. As the footsteps got closer, I finished up with my eye liner.
Looking up to meet his face, I said, “Riley, I’m sorry for-”
It wasn’t Riley.
I was staring up at the face of a man I hadn’t seen in a lifetime. A man who’s heart was as cold and ill-mannered as a hungry crocodile. A man I had hated since I was 5 years old, and who I definitely wasn’t giving any love to now.
I was staring at the face of my father.
Neither of us said anything to the other.
We were staring down at the sidewalk, on our way to some cheep diner. I had already called Miranda and told her to forget about the ride for good this time. Of course, she wanted to know what was going on, but I said I would tell her tomorrow. And now I was alone with my father. The horror.
He cleared his throat and said, “So how’s school going?”
“Fine,” I said, still looking down at my shoes.
“Got any friends?”
“What do you care?”
“I care.” We were silent for a little bit. “I do.”
“Sure you do.” He didn’t contradict me, so I took it as a sign of victory.
When we got to the diner, we sat at a booth table. The seat was a vomit-green color, and the table was red. So not matching interior, but what did I care?
“You shouldn’t have been there,” my father said after the waitress took our orders.
“Where?” I said, sipping my water.
“There, in that part of town. Why were you there anyway?”
“I had…to get away from the house for a little while.”
“How could your mother let you leave?” I started to say something but he continued like he hadn’t heard me. “She always was a dull one, your mother. I did try to help her with you, of course. But what could I do?”
“You could have stayed!” People started to stare at me for yelling, but I was in one of my moods; once I got started, there was no stopping me. “You could have continued ‘helping’ me. And if you really wanted to leave, the least you could have done was kept coming to pick me up on the weekends, or you could have still paid your child support! You just left and I never heard from you again. Do you know how hard that was for me?”
“I called you… Your mother… She said you didn’t want to talk to me.”
“Didn’t want to talk to you? Seriously? I wanted to talk to you every day of my life since then. And Mom told me you just left and never came back or tried to contact me. You just… You didn’t care.”
“Of course I cared. I just stopped coming. Your mother told me you didn’t want me anymore.”
“This is all her fault!” People started staring again. The waitress came with our orders and handed us our food.
“What do you mean?”
“If she would have never told us a one-sided story, this would have never happened!” I ate five fries and got up from the table.
“Wait, aren’t you hungry?” my dad asked me.
I just walked out of the diner and started retracing my steps home.
My father wasn’t really a bad guy. He just needed some guidance in child care. Dad was just like me-thin, black hair, blue eyes, and a rocker at heart. Some of his favorite bands were Aerosmith, Black Sabbath, and Pink Floyd. But rock didn’t really fit in with his career. He was a salesman who made $97,000 a year. At least, that’s what I found out when I burst in the door of my house screaming at Mom. She was cleaning up dinner-what was left of it anyway-and I came in yelling that she was a liar and a con. “You b****h!” I yelled. “You lied to me! How could you do this to me? He never wanted to leave me!” “What are you talking about?” Mom asked me, getting up from her place on the floor and chunking pieces of ham into the trash can. “I just saw him! Dad!” She stopped dead in her tracks and stared at me. “You saw him?” Her voice was hard now. “Yes. And he told me the truth.” “How did he look? Is he well?” She went back to cleaning up the floor as she said this. “Um…yea, I guess… Anyway! He told me what you did! It was wrong of you not to tell me he called for me. And you always told him I didn’t want to see him or speak to him.” “What was I supposed to do?” “All those nights… All those times I cried myself to sleep thinking he didn’t want me…” “He didn’t want you! He left you!” “No Mom. He left you.” I walked up to my room and laid down on my bed. Before I went to bed, I had one thought. This had been an interesting first day in a new place. * * * I woke up the next morning and it was Wednesday. Today was the second day of school for me. I got ready for school thinking of Riley. I wanted him to take one look at me today and hate himself. He had no right to walk away from me last night, especially in that horrible part of town. I didn’t know why I was upset. I guess I just wanted him to always want to be around me, like I did him. When the bus got there, I sprang out the door, without a word to or from my mother. She hadn’t even gotten out of bed yet. Oh well. “Hey,” Miranda said when she got on the bus. “Hey,” I replied. “Are you excited?” “About…?” “It’s your second day of school. Duh.” “Yea, well, I’m not excited about seeing Riley.” “Angelica… I’m sorry about last night. What happened anyway?” “I held his hand and he walked away. He left me in that place-cold and scared. In the dark no less!” “How did you get home?” “Well…I bumped into my dad.” I looked up at her sympathetic face. I had already told her all about my mom and dad. She knew everything. So, I also told her about the previous night-every last detail. “Sounds like you won that argument,” Miranda said when I finished telling her about the fight with my mom. “Yea… But I don’t like hurting her. It just seems like I automatically hurt her by being alive.” Miranda sighed and the bus pulled up to the school. On our way to first period I remembered something. Riley was in my English class. * * * “Hey Ms. Tut,” I said, sitting down in my seat next to Riley. I didn’t say a word to him. Miranda sat in front of me, in her seat. “Hello Angelica,” Ms. Tut replied with a smile. She was quickly becoming my favorite teacher. “Ready to learn today?” “Yes I am.” Ms. Tut walked out from the room and Riley, I noticed, was staring at me. When the bell rang and Ms. Tut came back into the class room, she turned off the lights and told us all to find a partner in the dark. The room had no windows and was pitch black. I felt a hand on my arm, so familiar. Then the lights came back on and it was Riley, smiling up at me. It was hard to resist smiling back at him, but I was mad enough not to smile. “Alright now find a secluded area in the class room,” Ms. Tut said. “We’re going to do a little partner activity today.” I sighed and Riley led me to the back corner of the room-the most secluded. “Now today, we’re practicing for our analyzing unit by analyzing the partners you’ve just chosen. I want you to look into your partner’s brain. See what they see, and feel what they feel. And…go.” Riley looked at me and said, “You’re mad.” “And you’re a jerk. Good analyzing, I think we’re done here.” “No, we’re not. You’re upset with me.” “Wow. That was fast. You’re good at this.” “This is no time for sarcasm, Angelica.” “This is the perfect time for sarcasm.” “Angelica… I’m sorry…” I looked into those big, pleading eyes. I was still mad at him, of course. But there was something there… “Why did you walk away from me?” I asked him. “Because you-” He stopped and sighed. “I don’t know.” “You don’t know?” I asked him, my voice cold and hard. “When I was three my dad left me, stopped coming to see me when I was eight, stopped financially helping me when I was nine. My mom and I move every couple of months to find ‘new opportunities’ and she never understands me, and we’re always fighting. I’ve never had more than one good friend anywhere I’ve been up and down the eastern shore. All my life, people have been walking away from me. And you don’t know why?” He was silent. “Typical.” I got up and sat back down in my seat. Riley did not talk to me the rest of first period. * * * “Hey,” Luna said to me as she walked into the Health room. She sat down, took one look at me, and sighed. “Okay, what’s wrong?” “You were right,” I said. “Riley is into me-into making me upset, angry, and just plain insane.” “What happened?” I told her everything-in the short version of course. About my mom and dad, about what happened with Riley the night before, I even told her about seeing my father for the first time in eleven years. When I was done the short version she didn’t have enough time to reply before the bell rang and Ms. Dealer walked in. “Good morning,” she said to us all, looking a lot cheerier than she had the day before. The class said good morning and she plunged into the day’s lesson. “Today we will be filling out a diagram on a cardiovascular disease…” I tuned her out after that. I needed some time to think. I thought about Riley, of course. About the look on his face when he walked away from me, about the look on his face when he said sorry to me… I hated chewing him out, hated every minute of it. When the bell rang I barely noticed it. Luna had to hit me in the forehead before I got my stuff and walked out of the room. I passed people in the hall that I knew; Luna and a few other people. But I didn’t say hi. I couldn’t stop thinking about Riley’s eyes… His all-knowing, caring, gentle eyes. “Hey Angelica,” Miranda said to me when I sat down in IAG1. “What’s up?” “I… I think I’m in love with Riley,” I replied, staring blankly at the wall. “What? When did you start to think that?” “Last night. His hand in mine just felt so…perfect. His eyes are like… I don’t know, it’s like they capture my soul.” “Well, not to open up old wounds or anything, but didn’t he walk away from you when you tried to hold his hand?” “Yea but… I don’t know. There was pain in those eyes.” “When you held his hand? That’s not a good thing, Angelica.” “No… When he walked away.” The bell rang and Ms. Fox walked into the room. She automatically gave us all-all seventeen of us-a work sheet and sat down in front of her laptop, typing away. That happened yesterday too. 1. How do you find the circumference of a circle? C=3.14d 2. Find the circumference of this circle. Show your work. 3.14(12) 3.14x12=37.68 cm 3. How do you find the area of a circle? A=3.14r² 4. Find the area of this circle. 3.14(3²) 3.14(9) 3.14x9=28.26 cm² I finished the first 4 questions-the only ones she told us to do-when Miranda leaned over and passed me a note. Okay, so, tell me about this Riley thing. I wrote back and said: You write really pretty cursive, you know that? Miranda: Stop trying to change the subject! Me: -sigh- There is nothing to tell anymore. I told you all of it. Miranda: Are you sure? Me: Yes, I’m sure! Now stop asking! Miranda crumpled up the note and put it under her chair. I hoped she wouldn’t forget to throw it away… The bell rang and Ms. Fox told us not to forget to finish the worksheet for homework. Miranda got up and threw the note away, walking out without a glance my way. * * * I went through 4th period thinking Miranda was mad at me; she wasn’t talking to me or even looking at me. Mr. Orr was talking about energy, something I knew enough about. And he was also getting GPE and KE mixed up in his words. So I tuned out a little to think up a reason for Riley walking away last night. Maybe he had to go to the bathroom? Maybe his mom was waiting for him at home? Maybe he had homework to do? If Riley was in fact like me, that last one would be impossible. I gave up trying to figure him out and Mr. Orr was getting suspicious of my attention span so I just listened to him mess up throughout the rest of class. When the bell rang Miranda walked right up to me and said, “So what’s new other than the Riley thing?” I was confused. “Aren’t you mad at me?” I asked hesitantly. “I get over stuff pretty quick.” “Well, not much is new.” “Okay, so really, tell me about the whole Riley thing. Why do you think you’re in love with him?” “Well, I just know. I mean, I know I’ve only known him for a day, but I feel like its been my entire life. I feel like…everything’s right in the world when I’m with him.” “Ah… I know how you feel.” “Miranda… Did you meet someone?” “I’m with someone.” “Who?” “Stella.” “No way! Miranda, she’s really pretty.” “I know. And she’s funny, sensitive, smart and sweet.” “Wait… Then why did you tell me to watch my back around her?” “Because she has a habit of taking things you say and twisting them around. Especially with people she doesn’t know very well.” “Oh.” We were now in front of the U.S. History classroom and when we walked in it was in chaos. There were chairs thrown across the room, desks turned upside down, and piles of bags stacked neatly in each corner. The students looked excited and when I looked up at our teacher-Mr. Briggs-I could see why. He was wearing an old-timely general’s war outfit and he had a wooden toy gun that looked like it could have been bought in a gift shop at some museum. “Hello everyone,” he said in his booming voice. “As you may have guessed, the class is set up as a war zone today. We are going to be reenacting the Great War or World War I today. You will get to pick your side. You are either with the Allies or the Central Powers. You choose, but I warn you; whosoever chooses the path of destruction will die in a slow, painful way…” Everyone was silent until he continued in a much happier voice, “Alright now place your book bags by the door and choose your side. Allies are on this side, Central Powers on the other.” Everyone set down their stuff and Miranda and I walked over to the Allies side. Pretty much three fourths of the class walked over to the same side. Mr. Briggs took a look at the Central side and frowned. “So no one else wants to parish?” he asked then sighed again. “Okay, well everyone take out your imaginary guns and helmets and I’ll be over here, taping. Oh yes, forgot to tell you… You’ll be featured in the slide show at the end of the first semester.” The class got excited then. “Alright now… Begin!” Throughout the rest of class we fought, died, were reborn, and screamed for theatrical effect. It was very strange but awesome to do. And of course, the Allies won the war with Miranda, John, and myself standing. We were the winners. “Alright class, all this fun does come with a price,” Mr. Briggs said, and the class groaned. “Your homework tonight is to write a paragraph about your ‘part’ in the war. And not a sissy paragraph either. Eight sentences, good organization, nice word usage. Make it the best paragraph you’ve ever written.” The bell rang and we all started to rush out the room. “See you tomorrow!”
“Hey Angelica,” Stella said to me as I walked into Computer Sciences last period. “Hey,” I replied, sitting down at the computer next to her and logging on. “What’s up?” “Not much just trying to enjoy the second day of school for me.” “Nice.” “Yep…” I looked next to me at the empty computer space. “Hey, do you know where Riley is?” She smiled for a split second and said, “I think he went home early today. He wasn’t feeling good in fifth period. He said his heart hurt.” She paused and looked at me. “Why do you wanna know where he is?” “Oh, just wondering,” I replied, not giving her any words to twist. Miranda had warned me, and Stella was now looking very upset… “Alright class,” Mr. Perry said when the bell rang. “Let’s get to work on those computer exercises.” * * * The vase shattered against the wall, coming so close to my head but missing. “I give you everything Angelica!” my mother yelled, drunk off her ass. “And you repay me by never talking to me and moping around the house all the time!” This was scaring me-she never threw things at me until that day. You see, when I got home from school that day my mom was drinking whisky out of the bottle. I knew immediately something was wrong. I walked up to her and she looked up from her bottle. “What are you doing here?” she had asked. “This is where I live,” I had replied. “Not anymore.” “What are you talking about?” “I kicked you out yesterday remember?” I had just stared at her. For the longest time, I thought she was going to look up and smile like she was kidding. When she didn’t, I stomped upstairs and packed most of my clothes, money, and important valuables into a bag. When I came back down, she was crying. I had sighed and walked over to the door, placing my bags on the floor so I had a free hand to open it with. And now here I was, listening to her scream at me and try to kill me with a powder blue vase. “Mom I’m sorry!” I yelled. “No you’re not!” she yelled back at me. “You never were! You pout, you mope and you get mad at me. But for what, Angelica? For what?” I didn’t say anything. I knew if I did, I’d regret it. “Leave.” “But mom-” “Leave you little b****!” She threw the whisky bottle and I could hear it shatter against the door as I stood outside, in the cold wind. I turned around and who else do I see but good old Dad, standing in front of the steps outside the door with a sad expression. “What do you want?” I asked him, wiping a stray tear from my cheek. “Come on,” he said. “I’ll get you something to eat.” “I’m not hungry.” “Then just go for a ride with me.” I hesitated, looking behind him at a shiny new GMC Sierra, parked on the side of the rode. Sighing, I said, “Whatever,” and took my bags to the truck. I put them in the back seat and got in as my dad started up the engine. At first, we didn’t say anything. Awkwardness seemed to be a big conversation topic for him. And then, when we were at a red light, I got fed up with the silence. “Why are you all the sudden showing up here?” I asked him. “What do you mean?” he asked. “I mean you never used to just show up wherever I moved, but now here you are. Tell me the story.” “When you turned eight and stopped taking my phone calls…I don’t know, my world just didn’t seem right. I wasn’t happy. I started drinking more, I got depressed, and soon I lost my job. It was when I heard from your mom in a letter that I started to sober up. She mailed me a letter saying you wanted no part of me. Saying you would rather die than see me again. For some reason, that letter helped me. It let me know that I needed to change. “I don’t know if you remember, but you used to come here to see me when you were five.” We were parked out front of the diner we had gone to last time, and he gestured towards it. “You…you used to live here…” I said, suddenly remembering laughing at the image of my father sitting in front of me, straws in his mouth, pretending to be a walrus. “I did. And I’ve never left,” he said, looking down at his hands. “I couldn’t bare to be apart from you, let alone the place that holds the most memories of you.” “So…you didn’t leave?” “No. I could never leave you.” * * * He dropped me off at home. We were parked out front of my house and he cut the engine. “Angelica,” he said. “You are special. Very special.” “Sure,” I said. “Okay.” “I mean it. I can’t explain it right now, but you’ll see one day. You’re almost 18... You’ll see.” “Okay Dad. I’m gonna go now… I love you, Daddy.” He stared at me, astonished, for a split second. Then he smiled and said, “I love you too, kiddo.” I smiled, grabbed my bag, and got out of the truck. Walking up to my door, I waved goodbye as he drove away. My dad… Not such a bad guy after all. “Angelica?” I turned around to see my mom, red-eyed and holding a tissue, standing at the door. “Hey,” I said, still holding my bag and standing on the sidewalk. My mom opened the door and stepped aside, letting me come in. I set my stuff down on the floor and sat on the couch. She just stared at me. “Mom, I-” “Stop,” she said, cutting me off. “I’m sorry. I’ve been a horrible mother and I haven’t meant to be. It’s just that you and your father used to have so strong a connection it was like I wasn’t even there. You guys used to go to ball games together and do all sorts of stuff every day. Soon, I began thinking he was married to you instead of me.” “Ew,” I said, making a face. “Not like that, Angelica. I meant it was like he loved you more than he’d ever loved me, instead of loving us equally.” “Oh. Okay. Go on.” “Like I was saying, I didn’t like that too much and he just didn’t want to share the attention he was giving you with me. Our relationship just started going down the drain. You were right, when you said he left me and not you. I should have never said something like that. I’m a horrible parent. Can you ever forgive me?” I thought hard about it for a few minutes. Then, I surprised myself. “No.” “No?” “No, I cannot forgive you. Mom, you lied to me, told me my father never wanted contact with me again, and let me cry all those nights without knowledge that my father was trying to call me and write to me and do whatever he could to keep seeing and talking to me. If you think one little confession and you telling me you love me once every couple years is going to make me forgive you, you’ve got another thing coming. I’d hate to break it to you Mom, but you can be a real b***h sometimes.” “Alright, I respect your decision,” she said, grabbing a mug from the end table that I assumed had had coffee in it before I got there. “No you don’t. You hate it that I don’t want to be your daughter.” “No, I really respect your decision. You don’t want to be my daughter any more? Fine. I’m going to treat you like you aren’t my daughter any more.” I was confused for about three seconds and then I knew what she was about to say. “Rent is $140 a month. You can either pay it or you have ten days to get all your sh** packed and get out of my house.” “Fine. I’ll be gone by the end of the week.” I got up and went upstairs. That was when I looked at my clock. It was already 10:30, so I decided to start packing my things the next day after school.
“Hey Angelica,” Miranda said to me after she got on the bus the next day. “Hey,” I said, half-heartedly. “What’s wrong?” “My mother officially kicked me out of the house last night.” “What?” “Mhm. She said, and I quote, ‘Rent is $140 a month. You can either pay it or you have ten days to get all your s**t packed and get out of my house’.” “Oh, Angelica, I’m so sorry. Where are you going to go?” “I have a feeling my dad would let me live with him.” “Wait, your dad?” “Yea. Apparently he lives here. It’s a long story and I’m still really tired. I barely got five hours of sleep. So I would rather not talk about it right now.” “Okay. That’s fine.” We got off the bus and went over towards our group. It was like I wasn’t really there. I don’t know, I heard their conversation, I just didn’t say anything or really respond when they talked to me. I was too out of it. The bell rang and we all walked into school. I still didn’t feel like even being there, but I tried to pay attention in English. The only problem was Riley wasn’t there. I wasn’t mad at him anymore, and I could have really used a nice talk with him that day. We used analyzing to determine the meaning of Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven. I did one question on the worksheet Ms. Tut gave us, and then I decided to do the rest for homework. I needed to think. What was I going to do? Mom had kicked me out of the house officially, and judging by her voice, she wasn’t going to take me back. I could get a job and pay rent at my own small apartment. Or I could move in with my dad. Living with “daddy” didn’t sound too great, but I was only seventeen. Who was going to hire me at a business that pays well enough to make rent? No one. So I decided to talk to my dad calmly about the situation. * * * Riley wasn’t at school that entire day. I looked for him in the hallway before every period, which made me late for some of my classes. I was having a Riley withdrawal. It was almost like I was addicted to him, like he was my drug after only a couple days. And now my brain was sending me signals saying I needed more of him. I left campus grounds; I wanted to walk home that day, to reflect on everything that happened. I walked slow to prolong seeing my mother. Maybe if I was lucky she’d show some sign of being human and actually be worried about me when I got there. That was one person I thought about; my mother. She really could be a b***h sometimes and it kinda got on my nerves. She would yell and scream and cuss at me, just because she was mad at someone-or something-else. She would manipulate me and put me down. And she was just plain mean! But she was my mom and I did love her, no matter how much I wanted to think otherwise. I was almost at the house-it became “the house” because it was no longer “my house”-when I heard something in the bushes. It was like the rattling sound you hear in horror movies, when the poor defenseless woman is walking home alone in the dark. Only, it wasn’t dark time, and I’m not defenseless. I pulled out my pepper-spray and walked over to the bushes. I held my breath as I pulled away each branch. “Ah!” I screamed. All the sudden I was being pulled into the bush by some unknown source. It was obviously a guy-he was very strong. His hand covered my mouth and wiped out my scream. “Shut up,” the guy whispered. I stopped struggling against him, confused, and he pulled his hand away from my mouth. “Riley?” I said, turning around and furrowing my eyebrows. “Hey Angelica.” Sure enough, there was Riley, a wide grin on his face. “You lunatic! This is the second time we’ve been in a situation where I’ve pulled out my spray on you. You really should get some morals!” “Angelica calm down.” I sighed and slowed my breathing. “What are you doing here?” I asked him, rubbing away at the headache in my forehead. “I had to tell you something. Tomorrow is your 18th birthday, right?” “Um…yea.” “Okay, I think there’s something you should know.” “What Riley? Would you just tell me?” “Don’t freak out and keep on open mind, okay?” “Jesus Riley, okay. Fine. Now tell me.” Riley took a deep breath and started talking… “There is a world called Carvalona. It…it’s not really a world more like a realm protected by magic so only…certain people…can see it. There are Angels in Carvalona.” “Angels? As in the almighty God kind of angels?” “No. As in immortal humans who have the power to visit the Otherworld.” I gave him a look and he said, “You promised to be open-minded.” I sighed and he continued. “The realm is only available to us.” “Us? So…you’re an angel too?” “Not angel, Angel. As in with a capital ‘A’. And yes, I am an Angel.” “Okay, so explain to me this ‘Otherworld’ business.” “It’s where your Soul-with a capital ‘S’-goes when it’s taken away.” “Taken away? Riley, you’re not making any sense.” We heard people walking by and Riley looked around frantically. “Look, all you need to know is that you are an Angel as well. I will explain everything else later. Right now we need to take you to your dad.” “What?” I looked at him suspiciously. “How do you know my dad is here?” “He’s your Trainer.” “Capital ‘T’?” “Mhm.” “God, there’s a lot of titles in that world.” Riley chuckled and grabbed my arm, pulling me out of the bushes. By this point I was okay with Riley being insane. I was just going along with it. It wasn’t until later that I started not being okay with it. When Riley disappeared. * * * “Grab your bags and throw them in the truck,” my dad said as he saw Riley and me walking up to my mom’s house. “My bags?” I asked, confused. “Yes. You’re moving in with me, aren’t you?” I nodded my head yes. “Well, go get your things. Riley, help her. Your mother is out, so when she gets back she’ll notice you’re gone.” I blew out a sigh. “That’s something we’ll deal with later.” “Okay, fine. I give up,” I said, throwing my hands in the air. “You guys win. What kind of joke are you trying to play?” They looked at each other then back at me. “Really. Come on, cat’s out of the bag. The game’s up. I’m not falling for this. You expect me to believe I’m some kind of immortal being who can go into a ghost world? Bull s**t!” “Angelica, you-” “No!” I cut off Riley’s words. “We’re done here.” I started to walk away, but Riley grabbed my shoulder. Then, all of a sudden, Riley’s hand was gone. I turned around and he wasn’t there. Riley had disappeared.
“Where did he go?” I asked my father, walking into the spot on the sidewalk where Riley had previously stood. “He was standing right there,” Dad said, pointing to the same spot. “Where did Riley go?” I repeated. “Oh no… Oh no, oh no, oh no.” “Dad. What?” “He was probably summoned.” “Summoned to what?” “A meeting in the Otherworld.” I shot my father a glare, then exploded. “Alright Riley, come out come out wherever you are! I know you’re here, this joke is not funny.” I started to look around in bushes-his favorite hiding spot-and my father’s head sunk. “Angelica… It’s not a joke.” “Come on Riley! Let’s go, the game is up!” I felt the tears before they were there. But once they were in my eyes, I let them fall. “This isn’t funny.” I gave up looking for him and sat on the ground, crying. “Riley…” Dad walked over and sat down next to me, pulling me into his arms. I cried for three minutes before he said, “I’ll be right back,” and went inside the house. Even then I continued to cry. Dad came back out of the house holding my bags, and he threw them in the back of the truck. “Come on,” Dad said, pulling me up to my feet. By then, the sobs had subsided. “Explain it to me,” I said. “Explain what?” “Everything.” I looked over at him from the passenger seat, and he started up the engine. “Well alright then.” * * * “Okay, so, let me see if I got all of this,” I said, placing a fry from the diner in my mouth. “The world Angels live in is called Carvalona, they are not children of God or anything like that, they are just immortal beings who have the power to go into the Otherworld-which is a place where Souls go when they are taken until they can move on.” “Yes, so far,” my father said, eating his burger. “Alright, and I am an Angel too?” “Mhm.” I stared at him for a while. “Why did Riley get summoned?” My father dropped his burger and looked at me. Sighing, he said, “I wasn’t supposed to say anything… Riley… Riley’s Soul is being taken away…” “What?” I dropped my food and looked at him, trying to process what was being said. “Riley is our Seeker-capital ‘S’. He finds Souls in the Otherworld-seeks them-and then records their dying story. He’s our last one, and Seekers are very, very valuable. We need them so we don’t make the same mistakes our other fellow immortals made to get themselves killed. “Now, you are Riley’s Keeper-capital ‘K’. Every Seeker has one, and you’re his.” “But what am I supposed to do for him?” I asked, feeling very useless. “Angelica, I’ve said too much already. I’m sorry, but Riley is supposed to tell you all of this.” “Well, Riley’s not here right now, so why don’t you just tell me?” “He can tell you when he gets back.” “He’s coming back?” I suddenly felt very confused again. Dad sighed and said, “Yes. Being summoned for a meeting does not mean you’re never coming back. He’ll be here by tonight.” Dad picked up his burger and started eating again. “You promise?” I asked, pointing a fry at him. “Yes, I promise.” I smiled and finished eating. “Come on. Hurry up so I can go move in.” * * * I was in my new room, just looking around. The walls were crimson red, the carpet was black. I had a mahogany bed, dresser, and book shelf-where I already stacked about 40 CDs. There was a walk-in closet that now had all of my clothes in it. Sitting on top of my dresser was a 30-inch flat screen TV, hooked up to a DVD player, a PS3, and Wii. I had Guitar Hero in my room! I guess my dad did well on his own… “Hey Angelica!” my dad called from the living room. “There’s someone here to see you.” He didn’t sound too happy. When I walked into the living room, I saw my mother sitting on the couch, holding a tissue with blurry red eyes. She’d been crying again. “Oh Angelica,” she said, in a scratchy voice. She got up from the couch and gave me a hug, though I was unresponsive and didn’t even move my arms. “My poor baby.” Her voice was muffled from having her head buried in my neck. I didn’t say anything, just took a step back. When I was arms length away from her, she looked at me with terribly sleep-less eyes. Eyes that held both hurt from me pulling away and shock from me not saying anything or immediately running to her like she probably expected I would. “What are you doing here?” I asked her in a cold voice. Even Dad was surprised at the accusation in it. I wasn’t, obviously. “Well, I-I came to get you of course,” she said in a pitiful, stuttering speech that didn’t make me feel any less angry towards her. “Get me?” “Yes. I came to take you home, darling.” She looked puzzled now, like she didn’t understand why I wasn’t jumping for joy at the sight of her. “I am home.” Her hand went to her heart and she gasped. “Angelica, you could hardly call this a home.” She made a show of looking at the walls and floors and other aspects of the house. “I mean, where’s the love in it?” “Oh, and the places you wanted me to call home before had love in them?” I folded my arms over my chest and leaned on my right leg. “Well, they had me.” She attempted to smile, but it was wiped from her face when she saw I didn’t return it. “Angelica, come home.” “I told you-I am home.” “No, home is with me. This place-just living here with some man you hardly know who didn’t even want to be a part of your life for about ten years? That’s not home.” Dad tensed, but I could see he wanted to stay out of it. He was just there to listen and help me if I asked for it. “How can you call living with you home? Hell, we were never in one place long enough to make it a home. Plus, with all the yelling and fighting? Oh yea, I’d say we were a real case of Brady Bunch fever.” I loaded on the sarcasm because I knew she hated when I used it against her, and I thought it might make her leave sooner. “Do not use that tone of voice with me, young lady. I am your mother, and you will listen to me.” “The hell I will! Why don’t you just go away? You’re wasting your time here, really.” Mom turned towards Dad and pounced on an opportunity. I can’t believe I hadn’t seen it coming until a split second before she said it. “I’m still her guardian.” Dammit. “And while I’m her legal guardian, the law requires her to be living with me and in my care. Now, I understand she doesn’t want to come home with me, and frankly I’m not too thrilled about having her lethal attitude around either. But if you don’t hand her over right now, I will sue you for everything you’re worth.” She was talking about me like I wasn’t even there. I hated not being acknowledged. “You are such a b***h!” I screamed. “Why can’t you just accept the fact that I hate you and move on with your life? Is it because you’re afraid of another rejection? Dad left you, now I’m leaving you. You just can’t catch a break can you?” “Angelica…” Dad warned me, but I didn’t listen to him. I was already fired up. “You always try to pry yourself into other people’s lives, thinking ‘Oh, well, they can’t reject me if I use open force’. Well you know what? That’s what people hate about you. People hate you because you’re an insufferable jackass and you choose to live like that. You always wondered why I turned out so ‘horrible’ and ‘wrong’.” “Angelica, don’t.” “Well, it was because of you Mom. Like you said, I’m a horrible, reckless, worthless child. I’m not qualified to live, or to work for myself, or to do anything even remotely fun because-for some reason or another-I am a bad seed. I am supposedly the wretched offspring of someone who was supposed to have her life put together from day one, but she couldn’t handle her job, her marriage, or her kid. So yea, I might be reckless, worthless, horrible, or wrong. But you know where I think I got it from?” I paused and, realizing my hands were in the air, dropped them back to my sides. “I think it’s a genetically transmitted wrongness, brought to me through the mother I so desperately needed attention from at eight, nine, ten years old and who I came to hate later on in life. So I may have those traits, but they must be in my lazy b***h of a mother’s family tree.” I leaned up against the wall, weak from the words I tore from my heart. Words that had been waiting to be said for over ten years. Words that now, as I looked at my mother’s hurt, defenseless, vulnerable face, I so hugely regretted. “Well…” my mother started, smoothing down her shirt and trying to smile through the tears that had begun to well up in her eyes. I looked over at Dad and his head was pointed down towards the floor. “I…I didn’t know you felt that way.” She started to wobble a little to the left and just as I was about to say sorry, she bolted out of the front door. I looked over at Dad and noticed-with some regret-that he was still staring down at the floor. Probably in shame. I hated it though. I could take a punishment, but purely ignoring something wrong that I did? I wasn’t used to that. “Aren’t you going to ground me or something?” I said, breaking the quiet. “Ground you for what?” Dad asked, finally looking up to meet my eyes. I didn’t see anything but a confused expression. “For what I just did to her. Did you see her face after I said it?” “Yea. I did… And, no I’m not going to ground you.” “You should. I’m a horrible person.” “No you’re not, Angelica.” “Yes I am! How could someone do that to their own mother? I am a bad seed.” “No. No, you’ve just had people telling you that for the past ten years, and you’ve begun to believe it. You are not a bad seed, Angelica.” I looked up at my father’s comforting, genuinely hopeful face, and smiled. “I’m going to bed.” “Okay.” “Wake me if Riley gets here before you turn in?” “Yea, sure.” “’K. Night Dad.” “Night kiddo.” I walked into my bedroom and got changed into sweat pants. It was only 8:00 but the exhausting events of the day had my eyelids closing before my head hit the pillow. It was about 9:30 when I heard it. The sharp rapping noise on my door. I got up, groggily, out of bed and almost tripped over a couple CD cases I had forgot to put away. I opened my door and there stood Riley, looking paler than usual, but smiling. “Hey,” he said, walking right into my room and making himself comfortable on my bed. “Sure Riley, you can come in,” I muttered sarcastically. I sat down next to him and locked my fingers on my lap, looking at him expectantly. He just stared back, a grin on his face. I raised my eyebrows. “What?” “Um… Is there a reason you’re coming into my room when I’m trying to sleep?” “Oh right, that. Well, we’re going on a trip tomorrow after we get home from school. And-” “Wait, after we get home from school? I think you mean after I get home from school, considering its only my home and my dad’s.” “Oh yea, I guess I should have told you that. I live here too. It’s easier for a Keeper to protect their Seeker if they live together.” “Oh… Okay. Continue.” “Well, we’re going to West Virginia.” “Whoa. What’s in West Virginia?” “Carvalona, my dear, is in West Virginia.” “Wait… I thought Carvalona was a world.” “No, I believe I corrected myself on that one and said realm instead. It is a place only Angels have access to and it is secretly located in a tunnel, one that isn’t on any maps or tourist booklets. The meeting I was summoned to was to brief me for what is to come when we get there tomorrow. You and your father have to accompany me to a Council judgment. The Council of Angels will determine whether you are…qualified enough to be my Keeper. Whatever they decide, I just want you to know that I won’t let them take you away from me.” Something stirred inside me when he took my hand just then. I think it was my heart… “I’m not going to let them say you aren’t good enough.” I smiled at him, and he looked up at me. “What?” “Nothing,” I said quickly, deliberately. “What?” he persisted. “You’re…you’re holding my hand.” I bit my lip at the corner and smiled again. He chuckled and said, “Yes, it seems to be very appropriate in young people who have feelings for each other.” My eyes darted up to his then and I said, “You have feelings for me?” He smiled a little and, as if to prove his point, took my chin in his hand and brought my lips up to meet his. It was gentle and yet still held all the passion of two lovers. I met his eyes and he kissed me again, moving his hand to the back of my neck this time. I grabbed his arm but didn’t move it; just held on to the sense of security there. “I do have feelings for you,” he said, pulling away. “Well, obviously,” I said, a little breathless. “Very strong feelings actually.” “Don’t say it.” “Why not?” “I’m not ready…” “I think you are.” “I’m not. You don’t want to… Believe me, if you saw what I did to my mother earlier, you wouldn’t want to.” “Your mother? She was here?” “Yes, and I blew up on her. You should have seen the look on her face. She looked so hurt… I’m not a good person, Riley.” “Yes you are. You’ve just had a lot of things thrown at you. Believe me, I understand… When I was ten my parents died. Eight years ago the two greatest people I know were taken away from me, and I never got to see them again. Believe me when I say I know-more than you can understand-what you’re going through right now. What you have been going through for a very long time.” He pulled me close and I just let the tears stain his Led Zepplin t-shirt. “I can’t…” “You can…” “Maybe…” “I know you can… Angelica, I love you.” I sighed and he pulled me in closer. Biting back any fears I had of letting someone know how vulnerable I was, I said, “I love you too, Riley.” This time it was his turn to sigh. He kissed the top of my forehead and I smiled up at him, thinking this was going to be the start of something beautiful. “Your dad already explained everything about Angels to you, right?” “Yes.” “And did he tell you about…me and you and our unique connection.” “That I’m your Keeper? Yea, he did.” “Okay. Good. Then I don’t have to say it again.” I laughed and kissed him. He pushed me-gently-back onto the pillows and leaned over me, kissing me passionately. He nipped at my lower lip a bit and I thought I would just melt right then. But then he pulled away, smiling. “Hey,” I said in protest. “What?” he asked. “Why did you move?” Chuckling, he said, “Honey, believe me, you don’t want this right now. You just want to be kissed and loved, but not violated.” “Violated? I just enjoyed making out with you.” He laughed and kissed me again. “I am kinda tired though.” “As am I. Well, I love you, Angel.” “Hey you wanna know what I just realized?” “Sure.” “Angel would be a good nickname for me. I mean, my real name does start with that root word and I am an Angel.” “Hm… Yea, okay. From now on, you’re Angel.” He smiled and kissed my forehead. “Good night my love.” “Night.” I smiled and watched him go out and close my door behind him. I sighed in content and for the first time in a long time, I went to bed happy.
“Okay so I am officially jealous of you,” Miranda said the next day after I told her about Riley and me the night before. We were just getting off the bus and she said, “I hate you. I absolutely hate you.” I just laughed.
“Why would you hate me?” I asked her.
“Because you’re dating the most insanely greatest guy in school! Do you know how many girls would kill to be in your position?”
“No, I don’t know.”
“Well, for one, that Lindsay girl in your health class. She was his last ex-girlfriend. They were together for about three months and people said she was desperately in love with him and she told him at the Winter Formal.”
“Well, what did he say?”
“He said he wasn’t ready to commit himself to her; she wasn’t the right girl for him and he said he’d been waiting for someone. He didn’t know who, but he’d been waiting for a while and was willing to wait forever. Those were his exact words; I was right next to them when he said it.”
“Oh wow. How did she take it?” We were almost to our group now.
“Well, she flipped out, of course. She started screaming at him that he would never find someone better than her and she was the best he would ever get. She said it wasn’t worth it to wait for someone he would never meet. But apparently he found the girl he’s been waiting for.”
I chuckled and bumped her rib cage with my elbow. She laughed.
“Hey guys,” Luna said as we got to The Crew. “What’s so funny?”
“Oh nothing,” I said.
“Yea, nothing,” Miranda said. “Just the fact that Angelica’s dating the hottest guy in the school.”
“What?” Ash said, excitedly.
“Yep. She’s dating Riley.”
“No way,” Sandra said.
“Holy crap!” Anna yelled.
“Guys, guys,” I said, trying-unsuccessfully-to calm everyone down.
“Do you know what this means?” Luna asked me.
“What?” I said, sighing in defeat.
“This means you’re the one. The one he was talking about at Formal.”
“Did he say it?” Ash asked me.
“Say what?” I said, trying to avoid it.
She smiled and said, “He said it. You can see it all over your face.”
“Oh my gosh,” Sandra said.
“Riley’s in love with you!” Anna screamed.
“Anna, will you please stop screaming?” I said, laughing.
“Oh my gosh, oh my gosh,” Luna said.
“What?” I said, hoping she wouldn’t make me say that again.
“Lindsay is not going to be happy about this. You know, that girl in our Health class? She was-”
“Riley’s last girlfriend? Yea, I know.”
“What are we gonna do?” Sandra asked.
“I don’t know yet. I’ll talk to Riley about it and if he doesn’t mind other people knowing, then I guess it won’t matter much.”
“Okay. But you do know that Riley doesn’t play around. If he says he’s in love with you, he means it.”
“Yea. I know.” I smiled and the bell rang. We walked into school and Riley immediately fell into step beside me.
“Whoa!” I said. “Where did you come from?”
“Well, when a man and a woman love each other-” Riley started, and I laughed. Smiling, he said, “So I see you’ve already told The Crew.”
“Hey, that wasn’t my fault. I only told Miranda. Blame the teenage gossip channel for the rest of it.”
“I don’t mind. Really, I want to flaunt you around.”
“Flaunt me, eh?” I smiled.
I was still smiling and he asked me, “What?”
“I’ve just never had someone actually want to embrace being close to me. I’ve never even had anyone be close to me.”
Riley smiled and kissed me and I immediately heard the onlookers around us start whispering about it.
“Well, if you’re lucky, word about us should be around by…oh, I want to say around 11:00,” I said.
“Good,” Riley exclaimed. “I won’t have to start telling people myself.” I smiled and then someone pulled on my book bag strap. I turned around and saw Lindsay standing behind me.
“Can I talk to you?” she asked me, looking away.
I looked at Riley and he nodded his head yes.
“Sure I guess,” I said, stepping aside with her.
“I just want to say that I am fully supportive of you and Riley. I don’t want to hurt him and if he thinks he’s in love with you, I give you both my blessing.”
“Your blessing? Well, thank you, but I wasn’t really asking for your blessing.”
“I know, I know. I just wanted you to know something about Riley.”
“Okay…” She looked around as if to check there weren’t any other people listening.
“He doesn’t just want to date you.”
“I’m not sure I follow you.”
“Riley… Riley is the kind of guy that doesn’t just like girls for their brains and personality. He likes them for…other reasons. Believe me, I know. You can ask the other girls he’s been with as well. Let me guess, he came into your room late at night and told you he was madly in love with you and you two shared a passionate kiss?” I was trying to hide the anger on my face when she went on. “That’s what I thought. Angelica, I’m only trying to protect you. He made us all feel special. And in the end, when we didn’t want to give him what he wanted, he dropped us all like hot potatoes.”
“You’re wrong about him.”
“Okay, if you want to live in denial. I just don’t want you to get hurt, Angelica.” I looked away from her and she repositioned her books and purse. “Well, I’ll let you get to class. Good luck with Riley.” She walked away and I started on the way to English class. When I got there I sat down next to Riley and he looked over at me and smiled. I didn’t smile back and his expression changed to confusion. He looked like he was about to say something but Ms. Tut cut him off before he could open his mouth.
“Alright, who has done the homework I assigned?” she asked the class. Most of the room raised their hands; I didn’t. Oh well. “Good, good. Just turn it in and we’ll get started with our lesson for today.” She walked over to the black board and wrote the words “Edgar Allen Poe Analysis” on it. My heart immediately quickened. It didn’t matter what was going on with Riley and me; I loved a good Poe story. “Who can tell me who Edgar Allen Poe was?” I raised my hand first and she pointed to me.
“He was a writer who was really creepy and mysterious. He wrote the poem ‘The Raven’ and the play ‘The Tell Tale Heart’. Those are probably his most noticed pieces of work,” I explained.
“Good job Angelica.”
“Well, I love Poe. He was brilliant.”
“He was probably your great great grandfather,” one of the kids muttered and a few others laughed.
“That’s enough of that,” Ms. Tut warned and everyone shut up. I didn’t really mind the teasing anymore; I was actually pretty used to it. “Alright well, we are going to be reading the play ‘The Tell Tale Heart’. Each of you will get a role in the play as we read it. Of course, since this is Angelica’s favorite play, she will play the role of Poe.” I smiled and thought Yes! This is my favorite assignment so far! “And the rest of you will be allowed to pick your parts when we start reading, which we will do next week. But to make sure you’re ready to act…everyone pick a partner right now.” She turned the lights out-yet again-and I felt someone’s hand on my arm. She turned them back on and yet again it was Riley. He smiled at me, but I still didn’t smile back. “Alright now go to a secluded area of the class room and do the voice acting exercise. To do this, just make your voice rise and settle in the appropriate places of conversation. This assignment should be easy; you all love to talk.” She chuckled and walked toward her desk to sit down. Riley took me back to our corner and we sat down.
“What’s wrong?” he asked me.
“Lindsay told me about you and her and the other two girls,” I said plainly.
“What are you talking about?”
“I’m talking about how you told each of them you loved them and made them feel special too. Just like you’re doing with me. And then you dropped them like a hot potato.”
“Angelica…what are you talking about?” He looked genuinely confused and I furrowed my brow.
“She said you made it seem like everything was fine between you two and then you just left her.” I paused and looked up at him. He was staring at me like I was crazy. “Don’t look at me like that.”
“Angelica, you do know Lindsay is a lying conniving person, right?’
“Yea… But she just seamed so convincing… I just thought that, well, I don‘t know…”
He chuckled and said, “I’m not trying to play you or anything like that. You shouldn’t let her get to you.”
“I’m sorry I just… I’m not used to caring about someone like I do about you. It’s scaring me and I guess I just wasn’t thinking straight.”
His expression changed and he took my chin in his hand, looking around before he did so. Then, when he was sure no one was looking, he kissed me. It wasn’t long but it held all the same passion from the night before.
“You’re not like Lindsay. You’re not like the other two girls I’ve dated. You’re unique and I can relate to you and what you’re going through. You are exactly what I have been waiting for.”
I smiled at him and he smiled back. Then the bell rang and we got up from the floor.
“Do you want me to walk you to your next class?”
“Sure, if you wanna.”
We started to walk to the other end of school.
“So when are we leaving?” I asked him. “For West Virginia?”
“This afternoon,” he said, looking ahead of us and taking my hand. “After we get packed and ready for the long flight.”
“Yea.” He looked at me with a confused expression. “Why, what’s wrong?”
“Um… I’m kind of afraid of flying…” My eyes found his and he squeezed my hand.
“Don’t worry. I’ll be next to you the entire time. And it’s not that long of a flight. It’s only about 7 or 8 hours, but that’s long to me.”
“Okay. As long as I have you with me, I should be fine.”
He smiled at me and kissed the top of my hand, making me blush like I was five years old. I really did love Riley, and I was completely afraid of losing him. Everything I’ve ever cared about in life had been snatched away from me; my dad, my mom’s sanity, my best friend, everything. I didn’t want that to happen with Riley, too. I mean, I knew we had a “special” connection ‘cause I was his Keeper and everything, but I couldn’t stand to lose him.
“Alright, this is you,” he said, letting go of my hand. We were standing outside the health room, my next class. “I love you Angel.” He smiled and kissed me and then he was gone, walking down the hallway as I stared after him.
“Angelica, are you gonna get in here, or just stand there?”
I turned around to see Luna sitting at our table smiling at me.
“Hey,” I said, taking a seat next to her.
“Hi,” she said. “I can’t believe you guys are together now. I mean, I just saw it with my own two eyes, but I can’t get over the fact that you’re dating the hottest guy in school!”
“Oh my gosh, is he a bad kisser?”
“Squid lips, sweaty hands, what? Wait, does he have a small-”
“Luna! No, it’s nothing like that. It’s just, why does everyone have to make a big deal about it? We’re just two ordinary people in love, can’t everybody see that? Why should it matter that the ‘freak girl’ and the hottest guy in school are a couple? Can’t it just be ‘hey look, Angelica and Riley are going out, that’s cool’?”
“Oh… I’m sorry, Angelica, I shouldn’t make that big a deal out if it.”
“No, it’s not your fault. It’s a small town, people talk, don’t worry about it. I shouldn’t have flipped out on you.”
“Well, all the same, I’m really happy for you guys.”
“Thanks.” I smiled and the bell rang.
Nothing too weird happened that day at school. A couple of people were caught drinking in the girl’s bathroom, including a boy named Gabriel, who’s door must have swung the wrong way because he was wearing a nice little pink dress when he was in there. Oh, and Luna got the lead role in a play Mrs. Parsons, the chorus teacher, was directing. It was originally called Wanderer in a Female’s Passions, but had to be changed because, evidently, that was the name of a romance novel she was writing and it had to be put into school-appropriate format. So now it was called The Female Mind, and consisted of a teen girl’s temptations to cheat on her boyfriend, something that happened often in high school. Also, Miranda and Stella broke up, for the second time in a month. It happened about 8 different times in one school year, and every time they both stayed away from each other and said they wouldn’t have anything to do with one another until they could no longer take being apart. It wasn’t anything to marvel at anymore, or so the rest of The Crew said.
Other than all of that, the rest of the school day was fine. It was what came after school that was almost unbearable for me.
Riley brought me my bag from the house. He had no trouble carrying it, even though it was loaded up with my clothes and stuff that I would need for the trip. And I do mean loaded, with all the trimmings. From underwear to my Spongebob Squarepants tooth brush (don’t you judge me). “Alright, this is the last of the stuff we’ll need,” he said, placing my stuff in the back seat for easy access instead of in the bed of the truck where the rest of the stuff was. We hadn’t packed much, just the essentials, or what Dad said were the essentials anyway. “How long are we staying there?” I asked. “For about a week or two,” Riley replied. And I remembered the Poe assignment in English and thought Oh well, this is better. “Long enough for you to meet all the important people you’ll be working with for the next couple years until the Evil comes,” Dad elaborated. “The Evil?” I asked, raising one eyebrow. They were holding back information from me, and I wanted to know what it was. “It’s nothing you need to worry ‘bout right now,” Dad said, and Riley gave me a look that meant “I’ll tell you later”. He always knew what I was thinking, every time. “Okay,” I said, and sat myself in the front seat of the truck. “Hey, I called shot gun,” Riley teased. “Oh well, I got here first.” “Fine then.” He pushed me over to the middle and sat down next to me, closing the passenger side door. “Ugh!” I pretended to be mad, but I really didn’t care. In fact, I was laughing. Dad started to pull out of the driveway and then we were on the road towards New Jersey airport. Miranda IMed me in that instant. Mirrrranda!! : hey, are u alright? Angel_Angelica123 : yea, im fine. y? Mirrrranda!! : u were supposed 2 meet me @ my house 4 emot. support. member? stella is comin ovr 2nite Angel_Angelica123 : o s**t! i completely 4got! im soooo srry Mirrrranda!! : its ok, ill just tell her we have 2 wait 4 u Angel_Angelica123 : ummm… im kinda on my way 2 the airport right now Mirrrranda!! : o.. ok. well, bye Angel_Angelica123 : i really am srry… bye I had completely forgotten that Stella was going over Miranda’s house that night. They were supposed to talk about their relationship and I was going to be there for emotional support. Of course, being my mother’s daughter, I forget everything important. The only difference is I care about the stuff I’m forgetting. “Alright, here we are,” Dad said as we pulled into the airport. It was raining at the moment, and the roads were slick and wet. I was afraid that Dad was going to crash because of how fast he was going, but we didn’t. We just slid a little here and there. “Okay, when we go to get out, I’m running,” I said. “Just to let you both know. I mean, normally I don’t care about that crap, but since we’re going to be on a flight for like seven hours, I don’t want to be all cold and wet the entire time.” “I’ll get your stuff,” Riley said, chuckling. “Thanks…” “Welcome.” He smiled at me and Dad made a gagging noise in the back of his throat. I just laughed and we parked in the C Wing of the airport parking lot. I ran out of the truck and waited for Dad and Riley to get to the covered entrance to the airport, out of the rain. They grabbed all of the stuff and I felt a little bad for leaving them out there to grab every piece of equipment so, against my better judgment, I ran back to the truck and helped them out. When we were safely in the airport, we checked in for our flight. The lady at the front desk had a lot of makeup on; she had short blonde hair, blue eyes with a little too much green eye shadow, red lipstick, and a name tag that said “Debby”. Also, she was popping a piece of Bazooka gum and blowing a big bubble with it as we were walking up to her. Riley and I exchanged a look of horror. “Hi,” Dad said, with a smile, trying his hardest not to make it look forced. Which only made it look more forced than usual. “We need to check in for our flight.” “Time?” the lady asked, and her voice was like pure nails. “4:45 PM.” “Where are you going sir?” “Claymont, West Virginia.” “Please take a seat over there and listen for the intercom to announce the departure of your flight.” She pointed with a lazy hand to the rows of chairs that were considered a “waiting area”. “Thank you very much,” Dad said ever so politely. “Uh huh.” She was starting to annoy me. “Um, do you guys have any place we can get food?” I asked, because my stomach was starting to growl so loud the people in Guatemala could hear it. The lady sighed and said, “To your left in that little hall over there.” Again, she gave us the lazy hand. “Thanks.” “Whatever.” Riley and Dad started to walk away, in the hopes that I would follow them because they could tell I was starting to get angry. “Okay, what is your problem?” I asked her. “What are you talking about?” she replied in that same annoying voice that was the equivalent of someone scraping their finger nails across a chalkboard. “You’ve been giving us that same non-caring attitude since we got here. I didn’t hear you doing that with the people that were in line before us. So I’ll ask you again, what is your problem?” “I don’t have a problem.” “Sure.” “Actually, you’re my problem.” I raised my eyebrows and said, “What?” “That’s right you heard me.” Dad and Riley were shaking their heads, as if they knew what was coming next. “Alright, look here ‘Debby’. I don’t know who the hell you think you are, but I am not going to stand for this. You don’t even know me, and already you think you can judge me?” “I don’t like people of your kind.” She looked me up and down, mostly paying attention to my clothes-black skinny jeans and a H.I.M form-fitting t-shirt. “So, you’re giving me attitude because of the way I dress?” “Yes, in a nutshell.” “I don’t have to put up with this! Where is your boss? Let me talk to him.” “Angelica-” Riley whispered in my ear, but I waved him off with a hand. This was the most excitement I had encountered all day. Soon the manager came out and said, “Can I help you miss?” “Yes, could you please explain to me why this young…this woman gets to judge me based on appearance?” I asked him. “She’s been giving my friend and I the evil look ever since we got here and she seems to think that she can look us up and down and immediately know us.” “I’m so sorry, ma’am,” the manager apologized. “Debby, say you’re sorry to these people.” “What?” Debby exclaimed, shocked. “You heard me.” “Whatever. I’m sorry. Can I go on my break now?” “Is there anything else ma’am?” the manager asked me. The wheels in my head started turning and I smiled. “Yes,” I said. “I would like her to get three ice cream cones, one for me, one for this young man, and one for the other dude, the older one. And make her hand deliver our free ice cream while she is on her knees begging for our forgiveness.” “Don’t you think that’s a little over the top?” the manager asked, eyeing me. “Fine. But I still want our free ice cream.” And about five minutes later, Riley, Dad, and I were all sitting in those rows of chairs, each licking our ice cream cone. “I got to hand it to you Angelica,” Riley began, “I had no idea you’d be able to pull that one off.” “Well, you obviously don’t know Angelica,” Dad said before I could get a word in. “She’s got a tongue like a snake.” I smiled and then an announcement came on over the intercom announcing the departure of all 4:45 flights, and listing the name of each one’s arrival state, including ours. We got up and slung our bags over our shoulders, throwing our ice cream away as we were not allowed to take it on the plane. We handed the lady at the gate our tickets and then passed another person on the way out who checked our passports and then handed them back to us. After all the trappings of the conventional, every-day U.S. airport were carried out, we boarded the plane and fastened our seat belts, waiting for takeoff.