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Author's note: I completed this novel last summer. I hope you enjoy it :)
A full snow colored moon rests peacefully in the sky, dotted elegantly against a sheet of darkness. I shiver involuntarily under the sharp gaze of the twinkling stars. How dare they dazzle my eyes and awaken my saddened heart when I cannot reach to touch their splendor? Why do they mock my very being, speckled against a dream, which cannot become reality?
I glance down, my eyes following the length of my arm and skimming over the crook of my elbow as I trace the dark pallor, which blends so naturally with the blanket of midnight cast over the world we call Earth.
My eyes must seem like saucers, I muse to myself thoughtfully. I can imagine how startling they must appear, practically glowing with their unnatural hue.
The stark beauty of the sky canvas before me baffles my mind. If only people could see this elegance in human form - without judgement, but understanding. If only the moon and midnight could co-exist on land, rather than as just a mere shadow in the night.
It was the year 2012 when they thought the world would end, and in a way it did. The Moon (pale appearance) and the Midnight (dark appearance) People became rivals, separated by past relations, which had resurfaced.
There is but one rule: Moon and Midnight people do not mix. It's that simple - only it isn't. Not when you're me.
Don’t look up.
Don’t even give them the satisfaction of seeing your face. It’s already clear. I can just imagine the cruel smile that would play about their lips, those narrowed eyes and snide remarks. They all flash across my mind as I think back to the last time that other teenagers had surrounded me.
So I keep my head low, refusing to surrender. Even though my hood frames my face and my hands are shoved deep down in my pockets, I can hear the buzz of murmured conversation. It engulfs me, filling the hallway and spreading like wildfire. I hurry on forward, gazing only at the tiled floor and glancing briefly at the numbers on the doors.
When my eyes finally catch sight of the number that I know will lead to somewhere less imposing, I let out a small breath and round the corner fully. Just as I think that I’m finally safe, a hand curls about my bag and jerks me back. Stumbling, I fight to regain my balance, my feet tripping over each other.
My hands automatically reach for my hood to ensure that I cover my skin and eyes, but my opponent’s fingers slide it back before I have the chance to grip the comforting gray fleece. My short, chin length black hair and deep brown skin are revealed all too soon. A firm hand spins me around. The guy is tall, lean and wearing baggy sweats. I am wearing sweats as well, covered head-to-toe with not a sliver of skin showing.
“Hey, girlie—Whoa,” he says, his mouth hanging open in an awkward position. His hand leaves me as he stares, brown eyes unblinking.
Before he can do anything more, I bolt around and toss my hood back over my head. I refuse to let myself look behind me. I know what will happen if I do. Don’t even think about that, I remind myself, shaking my head.
I quickly steal a glance around the room, finding an empty desk in the corner. Perfect. I slide into the seat and pay attention only to the wooden desktop, my eyes tracing shapes within the wood. My ears listen attentively to the muffled sounds of laughter in the hallway as the class slowly fills up with other students. Some place within me desperately yearns to join in that sacred laughter, to be free.
Within my mind, I imagine their faces as I listen to the quiet conversation within the room. I won’t look up, for then they may notice me.
One girl is speaking slightly louder than the others, the leader of the group I presume. The mildly, but not overly noticeably lower voice is that of her admirer. It’s a guy and probably a good-looking one too. I don’t see this, but I know it. It’s strange how much you can gather from a few specs of chatter when you’re used to always being the listener, the one on the sidelines. Of course, I could always just look up for I am not blind, but I also can’t let them see my eyes. They will give away my identity.
At present they’re discussing their summers–hot guys and sports–but as soon as they see me that will end. I’ve seen it a thousand times. It’s now only a matter of how long I can prolong it. I try to seem small, taking comfort in the corner, my side pressed up against the wall. With the best of luck, I’ll make it out of my first day as a senior alive.
“Settle down class,” a soprano voice rings out amongst the crowd. Instantly the woman has the students’ attention, their conversation cut off mid-sentence. The teacher, likely about five foot six (estimated by the sound of her footsteps) begins with a short speech about rules and regulations.
It’s very boring. I wish that she would talk about something else, anything at all. I don’t want to have to think, because if I do, I know that I will tear out of the room.
There are so many things that I’m always reminded of. Like, the fact that I’m different and shouldn’t be here, or the fact that I shouldn’t have been born because no one wants me. I just keep getting tossed around, shoved into one home after the next, and practically thrown into the hands of the first couple that asks without realizing exactly what they’re taking in ... a monster. I don’t even know who my real parents are. For all I know, they’re probably lying dead below the ground.
“ ... And Hope?” the voice exclaims, much louder than before. The name catches my attention and the teacher unfortunately notices my stir. I raise my hand slightly, hoping that she sees it and will just move on. I have totally forgotten about introductions. But what I completely don’t expect is her next question.
“Will you take off your hood, in order to properly introduce yourself?” she asks, her voice firm as if almost expecting me to disobey. She is darn right, too. There is no way that I’m going to do that. Even the thought of it sends my head reeling and my fists clenching inside my sleeves with fear. It isn’t the wonder of not knowing what will happen, but the thought of not knowing when the reaction will begin. Sometimes it’s hoots of laughter, other times a deafening silence, or worse, pointing fingers and hushed conversation that’s obviously and indefinitely aimed at me.
So without moving and barely breathing, I stand my ground and keep my fists clenched beneath the desk. “Did you not hear me?” the woman demands sharply. She pauses briefly. “If you do not cooperate you’ll have to go down to see principal Barkley,” she warns, her voice edgy like a blade slicing the air.
My thoughts race, indecision flooding me like a freezing cold stream. Now what? I know that her patience is growing thin. With a heavy sigh, I take one shallow breath and pull the fleece back from my head. It slides down and rests against the small of my back. I feel my neck prickle and I shiver, my skin sensitive to the exposure.
Whispers emerge without delay and the teacher blinks several times, her eyelashes fluttering like a frightened doe. I fight the gush of tears that I can feel brimming just below the surface and swallow hard. “Well,” the teacher whispers and turns away, forgetting the introduction all together.
It’s difficult to always keep your head low, but down here I know that it’s safer because I can’t actually see their faces. Shocked. Amazed. Startled. Afraid. I wager all of the above. All of the reactions lead up to one simple word: Different. That’s exactly what I am and no one likes that, because no one admires it. People only like what they know—what they can understand. And the worst part is that they don’t even know the half of it.
During that class and the following one I watch the clock, counting down the minutes until I can bolt to the door and slip into a dark hallway to be alone. Any other kid would go off in search of a friend, but that’s beyond me. I can’t face the rejection.
When the bell rings, my hood comes right back up, and I tear out of the room, racing into a deserted hallway, with my head carefully facing the floor. Sliding down against a wall, I curl up into the corner and drop my hood. I bite into my sandwich and stretch out my legs, wondering how I can possibly survive this kind of torture for another two hundred some odd days.
I’m too deep in thought to notice the guy who’s drawing near. Now it’s too late to run. Gazing up startled, I realize that my company is not one, but two guys.
“Over here! Check her out!” the guy calls to his buddy, a grin stretching across his face. Instantly, I recognize him as the guy who had stopped me earlier—Baggy-sweat guy. He has returned to humiliate me. I feel the walls of my throat narrow, my breath scraping past. Just as I stand, the other guy catches up to baggy-sweat-guy and gives me a shove into the corner with his hands striking just below my chest.
“Where you goin’ Midnight Girl? Or is Moon Girl?” he asks, his brow arched playfully.
“Freak,” baggy-sweat-guy mutters.
“Let. Me. Go,” I say, gathering up all of my courage.
“Hey, it speaks,” the friend mocks; leaning casually against the wall and so close that his breath is on my cheek. And just like that it starts to happen. That tingling sensation in my head, like a spark or a light switch flipped on. It grows and manifests so exponentially that before I can even try to conquer it, the immense urge to let it run wild overwhelms me.
Like a veil of power, it thrusts forward searching. Only there’s nothing to save me now, nothing in reach. It’s just me. All me. With one fleeting motion, my leg thrusts forward, squaring the guy. Not hard enough though. He stumbles while baggy-sweats-guy backs off. Wimp. Regarding an open path, I sprint through it, my hood back up.
The rest of the day is no better than the morning. I feel helplessly lost and vulnerable. I already have too many enemies to count and still no friends—not that I’d expected that anyway.
People brush by me like I’m invisible, nothing more than air. And those who do choose to see me thrust their hands out like I’m diseased, sending my body flailing into the wall. You’d think that with school security and all that, teens wouldn’t be able to get away with that kind of absurdity. But the truth is that they also don’t care. After getting pushed to the ground, I’d stammered upward to find a security guard staring blankly into my face as though what had just happened was not a concern to him. Jerk.
It’s like the whole world is against me just because I’m different. Who knew that being different would be treated as a crime? And it’s the same everywhere I go, which is absolutely ridiculous. There’s got to be somewhere that I belong, I always remind myself, but lately I’ve been having my doubts.
By the end of the day, I’m totally exhausted and my legs are cramped from the constant running. If only if I were to have two more legs, then maybe no one would be able to catch me. Or even better, wings to fly me to the stars where I could be alone forever. At least I’d be safe. But of course things like that are make believe.
When I hear the bell ring, I stagger limply out of the nearest door, holding my bag close just in case somebody gets a stupid idea. I can’t refrain from letting out a deep breath once I hit the wave of fresh air. Feeling reassured, I suck in a gulp of air, taking thrills in the rush of it down my dry throat as I hobble forward with my feet dragging tiredly.
I take the stairs one at a time, only wishing that I could go faster. Once my feet meet the paved drive, I make a sharp turn around the corner of the school in an effort to head to the gate that leads to the public walkways.
But before I get to the other side, a large and sweaty hand clamps around my mouth and jerks me around the corner with staggering force. My mind yells at me to scream, but with that thought an unusual statement passes through my mind: What for? ‘What is there for you to scream for?’ a small voice in my mind mocks me with a sneer. ‘To simply get to the other side, to just live?’ Life! I scream mentally. I want to live.
That’s when the struggle begins. I kick the guy with the … Oh no, not him again! It was the creep from this morning, and his buddy too. What do these guys have against me? Okay, so I have a pretty clear idea.
Before I can ponder any further, my leg winds up for a powerful thrust to Baggy-Sweats stomach. But he jolts back reflexively and his buddy leaps up from behind. It’s two-to-one and I’m obviously losing. I get a few good kicks in and a few nice punches, but it doesn’t do enough damage to knock them out. The baggy-sweat-guy has my shoulders and his buddy blocks any of my escape paths. They walk me over (more truthfully push me over) to the back of the school.
I determine that they have plans for me when I see that it’s deserted back there, our only company the silver gleaming garbage cans and a large green Dumpster. And that’s when everything gets out of control. Another guy, surprisingly lean, but with some hard muscle on his arms rounds the corner ahead of us and strides over with a silent hello to the leader of the group, which turns out be Baggy-Sweats.
“Take her, Dustin,” baggy-sweat-guy growls, chuckling lightly to himself. There is a moment of hesitation that I catch from the guy named Dustin, but then suddenly his green eyes flare with obedience to the command. With one long bound of his legs, he takes hold of me, his one hand pinned on my shoulder and the other locked on my hip, his fingers clasped tightly.
I try to yell once again, but my mouth is still covered and it sounds like nothing more than the squeak of a frightened mouse. “You know what to do,” Baggy-Sweats says. There’s a silent nod between the two guys and I brace myself for a punch, but it never comes. Instead, the leader’s buddy with the short black hair uses his newfound grip around my shoulders to slide me down to the ground.
At once I struggle to get up, but then Dustin’s hands catch my legs and with incredible strength he lifts me up, holding me upside down. I immediately panic, my mind searching for a suitable plan, but everything comes up blank and I feel disoriented. Blood rushes to my head like scorching flames, my heart sounding like a drum. “Search her,” Baggy-Sweats mutters casually. As if on cue, the guy’s buddy sweeps his hand over my body and through my pockets, pulling out—money? This was what it was all about?
“What do you know? Midnight Girl has got cash!” the buddy chuckles.
Suddenly enraged by the hands that are passing along my clothing, I experience the tingling sensation once again, my hands growing warm. They’re sparking with energy. Yes, I remember what I’d promised myself earlier. I wasn’t going to do this. But I’m unable to resist the painful urge to wipe their rude smirks off their faces. Nobody messes with someone like this. It’s not right and these jerks are going to pay big time for it.
The surge in my hands builds, increasing by the second, and that’s when I focus on my surroundings. Excellent, I think to myself. With a magnificent power of energy, the lid on the nearest garbage can thrusts upward, hovering in mid-air. Yes! This is going to work. With the use of my mind I direct the flow of energy, tossing the lid as if it were as lightless as a penny until it rests just above Baggy-Sweats’ buddy. It towers over him, looming like an unwanted ghost, and just mere inches away from his head. He leaps back shouting, “What the hell?” Baggy-Sweats looks up to glance over at his friend and stands blinking like a dumbstruck idiot. But Dustin’s grasp holding my legs just tightens around my calf, his hands frozen in place.
With an abrupt wash of uncontrollable anger, the lid of the garbage can hovers over to just above the skull of Baggy-Sweats’ friend and comes down forcefully on the awe struck guy. He yells a curse and darts away like a child, but I keep the lid perfectly balanced above his head. It crashes down a few times, clanking against his skull. It isn’t enough energy to physically hurt him, but it certainly frightens him. If only they were made of metal instead of flimsy plastic, I think to myself.
Baggy-Sweats, the guy with a buzz cut of blond hair laughs at his friend who’s suddenly darting off into the woods behind the school—but not for long. Still seething with penned up energy; I send a lid whirling after him. He runs after his pal, like a scared little boy, his blue eyes wide with shock and immediate fear. And before I know it, the tingling sensation in my hand has passed and I’m still dangling from the one guy’s grasp. I don’t know why, but for some reason Dustin fails to feel like an enemy. The flicker of hesitation that had resonated within his green eyes had kept him shielded from any of my attacks.
“Can you let me go now?” I ask, my tone kind of demanding. This is strange for me, as I do not usually speak my thoughts quite so clearly. I stare at the ground, which is inches away from my face, hoping that he won’t just drop me. The guy doesn’t say a word, but using his body he gently sets me back down on the ground. Just as I begin to walk away, his hand comes down firmly on my shoulder to spin me around so that his eyes are mere inches from mine. Instinctively, I look down.
“Look at me,” he commands, his voice stiff. I obey without reason. These are the first words that he has spoken. His voice is softer than I expect, almost like velvet, and I can hardly ignore the depth of his tone. “How did you do that?” he asks, his eyes hard.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go,” I fib, my blue eyes narrowing and hopefully fierce. I turn once again, but the guy pulls me back abruptly, his green eyes wild and darting.
“You know what I’m talking about,” he says with a dark fierceness. Oh God, he knows. But he doesn’t know what. And I sure as heck am not going to tell my deepest and darkest secret to a complete stranger. He will have to claw it out of me, or kill me first before I let my guard down to leave my soul naked. I start backwards, posed to escape, but his strong arms hold me tightly in place. His muscles feel thick and hard against my thin arms. So this is how he is going to play it, I muse.
I comprehend the tingling sensation as it rises, and then something unexpected freezes me in place.
“No!” the guy exclaims. “You’re doing it again! I can tell. Stop it! Stop it right now!” he demands.
“Doing what?” I shoot back innocently, a single eyebrow arched with false innocence.
“I can tell, your eyes get these strange rings of purple in them when you use your magic.” What? Do they? I shake off the thought and regain my focus. How does this guy know?
Suddenly I’m afraid. Terrified. I can feel my eyes wavering, my gaze no longer strong and hard. I don’t know what I’m scared of, but it sweeps through my body like acid. It’s a burning fear. What could happen if someone truly knew?
The need to escape overpowers everything and I shove Dustin. He tumbles back, obviously not expecting the impact. Then he raises, his head shaking slightly, a dazed expression etched on his pale face. That’s when I run. I don’t dare look behind me, just in case he’s within my reach. But the funny thing is that there are no footsteps sounding behind me. There is but a deep crumbling sound of the earth screaming. The earth tears open ahead of me, splintering as a crack in the ground.
I shriek like a wounded animal, surprised when a root bursts upward to twist around my torso like a snake. It’s long and thick and ... alive.
“Make it stop! STOP!”I yell, my voice strained and cracking with absolute fear. My hands frantically engage in the effort to pull at the roots, but they cling against me like wet clothes do after getting drenched in water.
Now I can hear footsteps, quick and strong bounds across the moaning ground. The guy with the crazy green eyes and brown silk hair stands before me, his mouth drawn into a firm line. “You! You’re doing this!” I realize. Looking at the pain that I’m struggling with, the desperation that’s surely present in my eyes, Dustin’s hard eyes soften slightly. A look of sincere worry washes over his features and he steps back. I gaze at him, not hiding my confusion.
Meanwhile, I can feel the roots tightening around me like an elastic band. It will only be so long before they snap—or I do. But then something incredible happens. Dustin’s eyes grow distant as if he can’t see me anymore, like he’s focusing on something on the other side of me—through me. A sharp gust of wind, like an intake of breath whips through me and sends his straight brown hair back into the breeze. The vines quiver and then slide back, falling into the damp earth. With a piercing wail the crack in the ground closes up tightly, appearing as naturally as it once had.
I find myself coughing and jumping out of the way. The vines had been mere inches from my throat. Gulping in air, I force down a swallow.
“Sorry,” Dustin murmurs, his eyes sincere. He leans forward. Wrong move.
“Get away from me!” I seethe, my teeth clenched. My hands are fisted at my sides and I seriously consider crunching his nose with them. But in seconds he has his hands clamped around my wrists. I automatically jerk at the sudden contact.
“I can’t let you go. I’ve never met anyone like me before.” His eyes grow wide as if analyzing me—almost as if I’m not even human.
“I am nothing like you,” I growl harshly, my gaze hard and furious.
“Maybe not. Tell me, what do you do?”
“I’m not telling you anything, so you might as well let me go. Before I, before you get seriously hurt.” In reality, I don’t think that I can hurt him. There’s something strange about him. Something almost interesting...
“You can’t run away because I’ll just grab you again. So give up. I don’t want to hurt you, but I will.” The look in his eyes is painfully truthful and I certainly don’t find him incapable of doing so.
“I move things. There. I told you. Satisfied?” I ask, rolling my eyes.
“I use my mind and my hands. But it only works under strong emotions.”
“Show me what you can do.” What? Wasn’t what I did back there evidence enough? He gazes around for but a moment and then gives me a sidelong glance. “There. Put that bag of garbage in the Dumpster.” His eyes narrow intently on mine. I stand immobilized, my feet planted. What is this? A test? “Well, do it,” he says. “For all I know, it could have just been a fluke.” He shrugs like he doubts me.
A fluke? My temper escalates. I have to show this guy up. I don’t like using my power, but he’s really making me lose it. A spasm of invisible energy shoots through my fingers and the garbage bag leaps into the Dumpster under the command of my mind. “Impressive,” the guy concludes his eyes alight with some strange expression that I can’t read, although I’m satisfied by the surprised twitch of his jaw.
“Now you,” I say, my lips curling up in a playful snarl.
“What?” he asks, his tone sarcastic and pretending to not comprehend.
“Show me what you got,” I command. “Embarrassed, are you? Think that you can’t outdo me?” I threaten with a sense of pride that I didn’t know I have. Dustin’s eyes blink and his lips form a crooked half smile.
I wait impatiently, my arms crossed over my chest. And then he gets that funny look on his face, almost as if he’s seeing nothing at all, and then that’s when it happens. I rise from the ground with the wind lifting me effortlessly, toying with me like a weightless feather.
“Whoa,” I gasp, looking down at his smiling face. An instant later, I’m on the ground and puzzled. “How?” I inquire.
“Elemental user,” he states casually as if we’re just discussing the weather or time of day.
“What?” I ask, totally baffled.
“Fire, water, earth and wind. Elements,” he repeats with a lazy smile.