* * *
Hues of red and orange brighten and fall with the passing days.
Each leaf a passing memory scattered to the wind.
Memories fading with time only to be replaced with the new...
* * *
I woke up with a start. It had just happened again. I just had the dream again. Lingering remnants of the broken vision scattered across my eyes as I remembered it. Voices, sights, smells, and pain all drifted away with the sand man. I was trembling and a cold sheen of sweat covered every inch of my exposed skin. I was sitting up; the covers were clinging to my clammy chest. My breath was coming out in small pants. Tears were slowly streaming down my face. I brought my hand up to my face and wiped them away. I let out a slow sigh. "Not again," I thought. I slowly stripped the covers from my body and stayed in the darkness for a few minutes. I stood up, letting the covers fall to the floor, and went to my window. The moon filtered through the curtains onto me. Outside was as cold as it was inside me.
I looked over at the glowing red numbers on the clock. It showed 3:48. I went and laid back down, leaving the sheets on the floor. Immediately visions of him came forth and crushed me once again. I started to have the dream not so long ago. It was horrible the first time I had to go through it. Now its visions wouldn't leave me alone. It wouldn't stop haunting me, making sleep almost impossible. I never knew when it would come. It was always the same thing, and it always destroyed a bit of me each time. All I know is that it was all because of him...
Puffs of moisture came out from my nose as I breathed in the crisp autumn air. I smiled to myself at all the things that were around me. It truly was a beautiful day. The sky was clear, letting anyone see that perfect shade of azure. The air was cool, children walking to school were playing and laughing, the slow passages of cars went with a soft hum of their engines, and leaves fell with every whisper of the wind. Leaves had always sparked a little interest in me. They grew, lived, and died, just like the rest of humanity. They passed us all the time, and we would never know it. Once they had spent their life living in a tree, they gracefully left in a picturesque ballet of silence. I loved watching it so much. The different vibrant colors always made the best show. It always made me think about people in the same terms. Did the person on the other end of the street live his or her own intricate little life just as I did? Would they ever remember me if I were to say hello right now? They lived their own lives, and would one day stop doing that. They would be remembered but soon forgotten, just like the leaves of autumn.
I walked out of my tree lined neighborhood and headed towards downtown. My school wasn't that far away from where I lived. I was already about halfway to my school, Church Hill High School. There wasn't much left to get there. I always took my time to get to school. I liked walking. It also gave me time to prepare myself for the day. I wasn't very popular. I was one of the few loners within my school. Even though I was able to interact with the kids in the school, they just never accepted me into any of their circles. It was pretty hard on me. This was always the hardest part of my day. Building, tuning, and putting on a mask of indifference was always easy. Keeping it on during the day was the hard part.
Fate has a funny way of dealing with people. It changes your path before you know it, and then you are on a fast paced ride to who knows where. Well, Fate was about to knock me against the head with a brick. What was to come later in the day would change me. I didn't know it at the time of course. Who does? I just proceeded on my way, thinking of what I had to do during that day.
I walked for a few more minutes and arrived at my school. It was a pretty nice school. It was built with the intention of it being a city hall. I don't know exactly what happened. All I know was that it somehow turned into a high school. It was three storied with an exterior made of a rust colored brick. It was very nice in my opinion. I finally reached the doors that would take me inside. I stopped briefly, making last minute adjustment for what was inside. I had to bury all the thoughts of pain, sadness, torture, anger, and depression that all the kids inside were ready to inflict on me. After a second, I reached out to the door and entered trough it.
I was immediately hit with wall of sound. I passed the court yard and walked down the hallways where I was surrounded by kids, surrounded by noise, surrounded by opportunities to make a hundred new friends each and every day. My first four classes went today without much of a hassle. I have lunch after those classes. I turned around a corner and entered the student filled labyrinth of hate, lust, and confusion. There were a couple of choices of food to choose from, and I chose the closest one. I went through the kiosk line, picked up a sandwich and a container of milk. "Don't make eye contact, they will only make trouble for you," I thought, moving along the line slowly. I punched in my student number into the number pad and gave the lady my money. I passed people by, making sure not to bump into any of them and went to the table that I have always sat at alone.
I then became a "spectator". I have always felt like a "spectator" to life in general. Always expected to watch, but never invited to play. I saw other people laugh. I saw them having fun. I saw them having serious conversations that I'm sure no one would ever have with me. I saw boys and girls kissing in plain sight of everybody else. I saw them sneak off into the bathrooms together for privacy. I even saw them borrow cigarettes from each other. Life was unfair and cruel.
I didn't even have one friend at this school. I tried my best to be amiable and make some, but all it seemed to bring was indifference at best and harassment at worst. I didn't deserve this treatment. I have not done anything to them. It was just so mind blowing to me. How can there be so much bullshit here? Moving here was the worst possible decision my mother had ever made. I just wish I was back where we were. I did have lots of friends. They accepted me and never made me feel this bad.
I knew that I shouldn't have been thinking that. I was just very annoyed and hurt by everyone. My mom had just got out of a bad relationship with my now ex-stepfather. He was abusive and hateful towards both my mother and me. I remember how my mother used to protect me by using her body whenever my stepfather wanted to beat me. She could not always be there of course. He would sometimes come home early from work to take his frustration out on me. I winced after remembering one painful moment. I took a break from thinking of the bad times and began to eat.
I felt a pressure fall upon me then. You know, the ones where you know that someone is looking at you. I waited a half a minute, hoping that whoever was looking at me would look else where. After some time, I looked up to find a boy looking my way. To say the least, I was terribly surprised. No one ever looked over in my direction. His sweet face showed something like pity or recognition. I felt like he was showing a bit of compassion and sincerity, but, unfortunately, he was one of the popular kids. He quickly turned away once he saw that I was looking.
The popular kids never associated with anyone they considered below them. They of course were from the upper crust. They lived in gated lake communities that had gigantic mansions that were not far from school. They all drove some sort of luxury car and wore the latest fashions. They were, for a lack for a better word, perfect. The only thing rotten in them was their personalities. They knew how to make anyone feel like a slave. I was, of course, at the end of their scorn often enough.
I once again felt that pressure again. I slowly raised my head and looked over in the popular kids' table. I was surprised to find him looking at me again. I didn't know what to think. He kept on looking at me this time without being shy. We made some eye contact, but it didn't last long. He turned back to the other popular kids when they wanted his attention again. I took this chance to take a closer look at him. I knew that his name was Cris Kurosaki. He was a really attractive guy with jaw length black hair, vibrant brown eyes, a great physique, not too muscled and not too scrawny, a great sense of style, and had an aura that attracted every person to him. All the people around him acted as if they were moths with the promise of light at the end of the tunnel. How sad.
"I wonder? Does he know that all his friends are fake? They feed off him like parasitic vacuums," I thought. I looked away after I noticed that I was staring. I ate the rest of my lunch without me feeling that pressure again and without much thought. I finished up as the bell rung. It caused the whole cafeteria to go into hysteria as everyone tried to get to their next class. Five minutes between bells was just too short of a time to be functional. I made sure that I had everything where it should be and went on my way. The rest of the day flew by with some trouble though. In my sixth period class, art, one of the popular kids decided it would be a great time to torture me a little.
I was getting some materials for the small sculptures that we were constructing. I had my arms full when one of the popular kids came up to me and pushed me really hard against the wall. Everything that was in my hands fell to the floor in loud crashes and bangs. I looked up to who pushed to see that they had a huge smile plastered on their face. I wanted to get the easel that was behind me and bash it against his head. Of course, I couldn't. The teacher looked at where we standing and told me to pick everything up. I did what I was told and bent down to start gathering everything when I heard the guy say to me under his breath, "That's a good little bitch. Do as you are told." He simply laughed to himself and went back to his friends where they high fived each other for being so "brilliant." I went back to my table afterwards with everything and brewed a bit. Thankfully after some time, the bell rang.
Four O'clock came and the final bell rang releasing every person into whatever activity they had planned to do. I knew what I was going to do, and that was absolutely nothing at all. I did the same thing everyday. I would always go home, go to the computer and talk to the friends from my old life. It made me feel a little bit better then when I was in school.
I slowly went back into the hallway and followed the last people out to the exit. I got to the stairs outside the main doors and stopped. I looked at all the people moving, going off into tangents. I saw friends meet with one another with laughs, hand shakes, and sometimes hugs. Buses left every few minutes with more and more people, all of who were probably friends. "Do they realize that I'm right here on the steps? I bet they don't," I thought. I slowly let out a sigh and looked up into the sky. The wispy clouds were slowly gliding with the wind. I looked back down and adjusted my backpack. I started my own little way back to my house. I went down the stairs and walked about 15 feet before a hand started to tap me on my shoulder. I ignored it, thinking it was a prankster of some sort, trying to make me look like a fool. It was a common thing. Ignoring it would be the easiest thing to do. I continued, but I felt the tap again. This was annoying. I turned around slowly and almost jumped out of my skin when I saw who it was. It was Cris Kurosaki. I thought immediately that he was there to make my life a little bit more hellish. I looked around to see if any more of his friends were there. Fortunately, there weren't any.
I never had noticed it before but he was about four inches taller than me. I gave him an annoyed look and saw that he had a slightly nervous look. I softened a bit after that and looked into his eyes.
"Umm... What do you want?" I asked.
He hesitated for a second and coughed. He put his hand on his neck and looked down. "I really don't know how to say this really, but I've been noticin ya lately. Don't take me wrong or anything, but ya seem lonely." He looked up a little and looked at me through his lashes and waited for me to respond. The slight breeze made his hair flutter a bit and brought his smell to me. He smelled really nice.
"I'm not lonely," I lied, "I don't know why you would think that about me. If that is why I somehow caught your interest, you are sadly wrong, but hey, I really do need to get home now. My mom will be waiting for me." I lied again. I felt really nervous. I didn't understand why he would come up to me really. Was he really telling the truth? In a way, I really wanted him to stop messing with me. I really didn't like the fact that this could be a huge joke on me.
"Umm... If you will excuse me, I will be leaving." I turned on the ball of my foot and went around him. My head was filled with tons of questions. I was terribly confused. One of the first people to come up to me and be nice was a popular kid. What was the world coming to? I started to head towards my house after jumping through the crowd. I didn't want to be hurt, to tell the truth. So, I didn't look back. I didn't because everyone knows that if you do, people will keep on bugging you.
I've heard stories of the popular sometime choosing a reject from school and making them their "service" project. I guess it was their sick version of charity. I knew that he sounded sincere. This could really be my chance to make a friend. Cris didn't seem like one of the kind of guys that would do that to someone. I just couldn't help but look back to the others that they have done this to. It's not a great thing. They all seemed really happy at first that they were finally being accepted. They all did. In the end though, they unusually ended up making huge fools of themselves. They would do very embarrassing thing at all the big parties, thinking that they had done something really cool. They were only burying themselves way down the social ladder just a few more rungs at a time.
Also, I heard that each one had to do something drastic to even get into the "circle" of the popular kids. "How horrible, I would never do anything like that," I thought. I went through the crowd, hoping I had lost him. I didn't want to be part of a vicious attempt at a horrible joke. I didn't want to be a charity case. If I were to start getting friends, I would want them to accept for me and not try to change me into their image. We never talked at the school about the past "charity" cases. Most of the kids moved to other schools to maybe get away from all the pain from before. We never heard from them ever again. It was the best for them, I think. Starting over from scratch can sometimes be good, if you go to the right place.
I had just got out of the masses of people when I heard my name being called. I didn't think I heard right at first. No one ever called my name out. This was very odd. I didn't think that anyone except for the teachers knew my name. To tell the truth, I was shocked. Was it Cris who was calling out my name? Why would a popular know my name in the first place? This was totally weird. Why would a popular ever want to get acquainted with or interact with a reject like myself? I stopped. I didn't know what made me do it, but I did. Maybe it was my sub-conscious trying to make me realize that this was a great opportunity to make a friend at this school. Maybe I really did want to get hurt, so that I could leave this place. Maybe it was me all the time, just me never noticing it. Maybe it was fate, but all in all, I slowly turned around, my backpack bumping into people as they passed by.
He was where he was last standing when he talked to me. He was waving his hands above his head, exposing a bit of his stomach as he jumped up and down to catch my attention. Once he saw me turn around, he stopped. He looked like he didn't really expect me to stop. After a few seconds, he smiled. It was a great smile. It glowed brightly, and it was directed at me. I felt a blush come from out of nowhere. My face felt hot, and I could tell that I was getting red. I looked away and took a deep breath. No one ever affected me like that. Why him? Now I knew why the girls would die just for one of those smiles.
He came my way and stopped right in front of me. I turned to look at him but dropped my eyes down almost immediately. I was feeling very nervous then. I looked up and noticed that he was trying to look at me. His slanted eyes bore right through me, looking in every unexplored crevice. The warm brown color of his eyes relaxed me as I looked into them. I felt open, as if I was telling him all my thoughts and needs with this one act. As some people say, good things must come to an end. A millisecond later it all ended with him blinking. I was drawn out from my reverie without even knowing I was ever in a trance. I coughed and looked down, feeling the blush raging over me once again. He giggled, and it sounded so sweet. I looked up slowly. I saw him smile and, in turn, made me smile a little too. I cleared my throat.
"You know my name... that is very surprising. How do you know it?" I looked into his face trying not show that I was going crazy inside. If this was what I thought it was, then I actually may be in some trouble. Did he know anything bad about me? Did he know my deepest secret?
"Well, Mark, I've been askin everyone for your name for a while now, but nobody seems to know what it is. I finally gave up askin all the kids and did the next best thing. I remember seein ya go in to the pre-cal room for first period, so I went in to see Coach Farley, and I asked for your name. He only told me your first name, but that is all I needed to know for now. I've been tryin to figure a way to get in contact with ya, but I couldn't think of a way. So, I just did what I do normally and came up to ya. I'm sorry if this is kinda weird. I wanna be your friend if ya don't mind. Trust me here, I'm not tryin to make you look bad or anything."
I was totally shocked by this. A popular wanted to be friends with me?! What in the world?! These things don't happen to me! To say the least, I was dumb struck. I just looked at him for a while. Was he trying to pick me to be the "charity" for the week? Was he really trying to be my friend? I had no clue. What could I do? What could I say? I could be nice and say yes. Would he take advantage of me? Maybe he needs someone to be his lackey. I won't be doing anything for anyone if I don't want to. This is totally weird. Why me? He was looking at me for a response.
"Well, to tell you the truth, this is crazy. No one ever comes up to me and asks me to be their friend. I'm going to have to think it over. Maybe I will. Maybe I won't." I then turned again, but he stopped me with his hand. I looked from his hand to his face. What did he really want with me?
"Yes? I need to be getting home."
He put his hand in his pocket, looking for something. He came out with a pen and said, "Here, let me give ya my number." He took his pen, reached for my free hand, and wrote "Cris 555-1369" on the palm of my hand.
"Give me a call sometime," he nervously said, "Tonight is good with me. I'm not doing much. Actually, ya can do call me at any time. I'm not like the other popular kids. I do care about people, ya know. I really do wanna become yo friend." And with that, I looked at my hand really quickly. I can't believe that he actually did that. I looked up at him after a few seconds.
I saw his eager face and said, "Are you really trying to be my friend? I've heard some things about you all and not all of it was good. I don't know if I could really trust you. I hate it when people lie to me. It's the worst. How am I supposed to know you're not trying to trick me into doing something for you? That would be."
He interrupted me, "That is something ya are going have to come up with yaself. Just trust me." I thought for a few seconds. I decided that I would give him a chance.
"Ok. We will see what will happen," I said. His face lit up once those words left my mouth. The wind shifted his hair a bit, and he used his hand to put it back into place.
"Ok. Cool. I'll talk to ya sometime." He repositioned his messenger bag, waved, and left towards the parking lot. I followed him with my eyes until he was out of sight. I didn't know what to think. I was subconsciously rubbing where he wrote his information down. I looked down at my palm. In a way, this was just too crazy. I slowly let out a sigh. I had all sorts of emotions running through me, to tell the truth. Fear, ecstasy, uncertainty, disbelief, joy, and most of all, a small glimmer of hope was flowing through me. I just couldn't believe that this was happening to me. Like I said before, these sorts of things never happen to people like me. Things like this only happen in fairy tales. This was reality. I stopped thinking for a second and giggled a bit. I had thought, "This must be how those girls must feel in those movies." A small grin started to spread across my lips.
I looked up into the same sky that I had this morning. Nothing had changed. There was no apocalyptic meteor heading towards Earth. No one was screaming bloody murder. Everything was the same. My eyes opened a bit more, and I breathed out slowly. This was a chance that I may have to take. It could all come out good. I then shook off any bad feelings I had. I did however wince after remembering what the popular did to the other rejects.
"I promise not get sucked into their world. I swear," I told myself. Then I slowly turned around and started my way back towards my house. The whole walk was a blur. The only thing I could remember the way back was the way he had held my hand gently as he wrote his name and number. I looked down at my palm and sighed. "Maybe, just maybe, my luck may actually change after all," I thought.
Author's Note: Hope you all enjoyed this! I know this has taken some time, but it has come out better than before. I would love to hear all of your feedback, so Please send me a word to firstname.lastname@example.org. I will appreciate it immensely. Please come back soon for the unveiling of Alone: Remix Extension 2!