Raven

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•Aeryn•

That demon! They remind me of Natalie so much. I'll never forget her. The smell of her mint shampoo, the feel of her soft, wavy brown hair, the–

"Aeryn? Can I talk to you?" Raven comes to my side, startling me.

"Sure," I turn away from my computer to face them. Now what?

"Who do I remind you of?"

That hurts. Now I have to answer.

"A friend."

"Who?"

"No one important," I roll my eyes.

"Obviously not. Tell me. Now." Their eyes turn fully black.

"You think that scares me? My friend is Natalie. She was a demon as well. She used her finisher on me so many times that it doesn't faze me," I stand. Raven doesn't move.

"What's a finisher?" they ask.

"What you call your super." I grab their choker and pull them to the loveseat.

"Hey! What are you doing?" they growl.

"You asked me who you remind me of, so I'm going to tell you. It started in the seventh grade..."

Flashback

I walk through the halls of the middle school, carefully planning each step so I don't trip and make a fool of myself. That's when I see her. Nathaniel Gordon. He's so hot. He looks more feminine, but acts like a jock. Everyone tends to pick on him because of it. I've only ever talked to him once, and it was only because he had saved me from a fistfight. He took a beating, but he saved me.

"Uh... Hello?" Nathaniel waves a hand in front of my face.

"Oh! Uh... Hi, Nathaniel! I didn't see you!" I stutter.

"Call me Nate. I wanted to know if I could talk to you during lunch?" he looks at his feet.

"Of course!" I smile, just before being pushed into his chest.

"Are you alright?" He looks down at me. My face gets hot instantly at his innocent face.

"Yeah! Are you? I'm so sorry! I didn't mean to! I'm so sorry!"

"I'm fine!" he grabs my shoulder. "I'll see you at lunch, nerd," he waves and walks away.

All day until lunch, I can't think straight. Finally, the time comes.

"Hey, nerd!" Nate playfully slaps me on the back of my shoulder. "Follow me."

I follow him off campus and start to believe this is a trick. Until he sits on a fallen log and pats the space next to him. I sit.

"So... Ugh. This is awkward. I... I know that you're... uh... transgender... and I just wanted some advice. I'm pretty sure I am, too. I've felt like this for a few months now. I understand that coming out isn't easy, but I figured you'd accept me. My parents are super transphobic."

"Of course I accept you! And as a plus, it's illegal for the school to out you to your parents." I wink at him. Her? Them. They aren't thinking of telling their parents, are they? He'd be disowned. The people at school are extremely homophobic. That would mean...

I'm all they have.


A Few Months Later

"Hey, you! Anorak! Get over here!" Zak yells from behind me. He always calls me Anorak because it translates to nerd. Every Zak, Zach, or Zack I've known has always been a bully. I keep walking. Zak pulls on the back of my binder.

"Hey!" I fall backwards. I don't hit the ground, though. I fall into someone.

"Hey, Aeryn," Nate–or Natalie, pushes me back onto my feet. She's amazing. She grew her hair out to be kind of long on one side, but shaved on the other. Every morning, she comes to my house to use the makeup I bought her.

"Hey. Thanks for catching me."

"No problem." She glares at Zak and he walks away. "I was wondering if you wanted to come with me after school? Toni's Kitchen?"

"Of course! I'd love to! What about your parents?" They still don't know she's transgender, and they're really controlling about curfews.

"I told them I was going to study with you. It'll be fine," she smiles.

When school ends, we go to Toni's and eat the pizza and oversized brownie. Then, the unexpected happens. We walk outside after paying, and Natalie pushes me against the wall.

"What was that for?" I almost yell. Then I see her soft green eyes, her red lips, her perfect face, and I forget the anger.

"I'm not trying to hurt you. I'm just trying something. Because I can't tell if I'm actually attracted to you or it's just the hair, why don't you let me kiss you and we'll find out?" She presses her lips to mine, sending a shock through my entire body. I put a hand on her shoulder while she pulls me closer. She pulls away. "I'm definitely attracted."

"So am I."

"So, will you be my date to the dance?" she asks, shocking me again. I forgot about that.

"Yes," I smile.

Flashback Over

"That's so adorable!" Raven exclaims genuinely.

"Until she died. She changed gender through surgery, then started getting bullied in college. I tried to convince her to stay, but she took her own life on March 14, 2019. After she left, I felt like following her, but then I'd see her in mirrors and reflections. We played this forbidden game that would let me see the dead, and it worked. She would always wear black, so I guess I know where she went."

"I'm so sorry," Raven adds sadly.

"It's not your fault." I get up and sit back down in front of my computer.

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