Moral of the Story
Dread filled her chest with each slow step Oaklyn took. Her heart raced with a type of anxiety she was plagued with throughout the entire year.
Just nine more months, she told herself.
Ever since the beginning of her junior year, Oaklyn had remained homeschooled.
Although she fought with the online formats and training strategies, she’d preferably go through all of the frustration again than to meet the pathetic gazes of her peers.
Keeping her blue-green eyes dropped to the ground, the melody enamoring from her headphones caressed her eardrums.
She bit her lip restlessly and clutched the nylon straps of her backpack with tight fists. She could feel the material beginning to pierce into her palms.
Oaklyn attempted to soothe her trembling nerves, but her thoughts did not divert from troubling recollections.
“It’s such a shame. Brian was such a talented boy,” she remembered one woman telling another on a bench in town.
“I heard he had set the fire himself. Too much pressure on such a young child,” another clamored back about the giant scandal.
Oaklyn gulped hard in disgust and pinched her eyes shut for a second.
The town had many things to say about her brother’s death, and not one person had left her family alone to mourn in peace.
As soon as the neighbors would notice the family members leaving the house after a prolonged time, it was a minefield of interviews and questionings for the news.
A young musical talent traumatically departing was not a common thing in such a small town. Everyone desired to know the official information of the story.
Her brother gifted in the keys of his piano, his notes painting the walls everywhere he played, and he quickly became the idol of the city.
At a young age, Brian traveled around other school theaters and obtained recognition from other local musicians.
“It had to have been a jealousy killing. Who wouldn’t try something in such a competitive industry?” another voice echoed through Oaklyn’s head.
The cause of the fire was still a puzzle, and the numerous theories were still unconfirmed almost a year later.
Oaklyn tugged at the edge of her skirt as the clothing quickly felt suffocating on her heated skin.
She wasn’t ready to emerge face-to-face with everyone in the hallways and welcome the stares approaching the back of her head.
She also wasn’t enthusiastic to formally declared her brother’s musical prodigy, the one to substitute his position in the art school she began to despise.
When a bus passed her by, her long, wavy brown hair flew around her flushed cheeks.
Scraping a small hand through the chaotic tendrils, she glanced up and froze in her steps when she regarded abnormally light grey eyes gawking back at her.
She gasped to herself as a young man with platinum blonde hair appeared to have caught her breath before the bus could turn the corner and proceed to venture toward the school.
Taking a deep sigh, she shifted her feet against the sidewalk and began walking again.
She was too jumpy, too nervous. She didn’t even want to envision everyone crowding around her to hear the latest news. She didn’t even want to imagine everyone honoring her as the new talented star.
Do not talk to anyone, Oaklyn cautioned herself.
Her narrow arms hugged her books tightly to her chest as she weaseled her way through the various friend groups gathered in the hallways.
She persistently kept her head low and only paid attention to the feet standing on top of the tiles to avoid colliding with anyone.
From the edge of her eye, she recognized a group of her old friends standing around a single desk in a classroom. Her heart sank when she watched them laugh and smile together.
It wasn’t so long ago when she had been sitting with them, but those days were over.
After her brother’s death, each friend vanished one by one as the tales began to grow around them in the suspicion that any of them had something to do with his passing.
She knew they were just rumors, but no one had the tolerance to keep up with their friendship, and they had all left her to mourn by herself.
“Oaklyn!” she suddenly heard a boy call out to her.
She paused and turned around to see Kyle Masonry standing at his opened locker. She was surprised to see a bright, kind smile decorating his handsome face.
Kyle’s brown hair was a twisted mess on top of his head but styled as if he were a modern Elvis.
Disordered strands of his hair fell against his forehead, and his blue eyes peered from beneath his bangs.
His jawline had matured more prominently since the last time she had seen him, a sharp chin inclined to slice paper, and his height had grown taller.
His build had become more athletic and toned but remained lean. His shoulders had broadened as the muscles of his pectorals strained against the t-shirt of his uniform.
She tried to ignore the way the pants of his uniform hugged his defined thighs.
Kyle had always been very handsome, and as the years had gone by, he was even more attractive. He had always been popular because of his charming, kind personality, and he was no outsider to the ladies.
He had checked off everything on a list that would make him the perfect guy.
“How have you been?” his voice was deep but soft, flowing past her earbuds like silk.
Chewing her lip, she shrugged her shoulders and gave no reply.
His bright smile seemed to dim as he noticed her once sociable personality had withered away.
He awkwardly stroked the back of his neck, “I’ll talk to you later, then. It was nice seeing you, Oaklyn.”
While nodding her head, she assembled a fake smile with closed lips, the best she could provide him.
She then spun around and began down the crowded hallway once more.
Oaklyn’s small feet scuffled around distracted bodies, and her shoulders lightly brushed a few backs.
However, nobody seemed to notice her withdrawn presence as she made her way to the doorway of her classroom.
As she was about to step into the room, she had taken a double-take when she noticed the same pair of light grey eyes following her closely.
She clutched her books tightly into the bends of her fingers. She gnawed on her bottom lip as the stranger proceeded to eye her without so much as blinking.
Platinum blond hair, just a couple of shades below white, was slicked back handsomely. His hair was in the same style as Kyle’s, but shorter around his ears.
Her attention became trained on a faint scar painted on his right eyebrow that went down to the tip of his cheek. His one pupil seemed to be elongated, almost like a feline, in perfect alignment with his scar.
His jawline was very prominent and sharp enough to cut her finger across the porcelain edges of his skin.
The desks around him looked empty, and she couldn’t decide if it was his personal choice or everyone else’s choice to stay away from him.
She didn’t want to imagine people being that rude to choose to stay away from anybody. She couldn’t deny he had more of a brooding, intimidating appearance to him than someone who would be sociable.
Oaklyn gulped hard as she became crimsoned underneath his everlasting gaze and eventually decided to jostle herself into the classroom.
Her feet immediately picked up their pace as she sought a vacant seat in the back. Her breathing was erratic when she finally sat down and kept her focus on the wooden surface of her desk.
She attempted to concentrate on the lesson at hand when her teacher began presenting a PowerPoint, but her mind had slipped.
She found herself gazing in the direction of the classroom the mysterious student remained in and couldn’t shake the sight of the eyes that seemed to haunt her core.
Who was he?
Even though she had been gone for almost a full year, she couldn’t imagine someone transferring to an art school in the middle of the semester.
She didn’t have anyone to ask, but she was sure she was to find out who he was one way or another.
She attempted to shake off her nerves, but his hard eyes penetrated her memory.
She tried to tell herself he had recognized her from the papers, but she couldn’t ignore the belief that there was something more profound.
However, she convinced herself differently that he was only watching her because he wanted to know the sister behind the stories and press.
I’m not that special, Oaklyn attempted to believe herself. He’s not that special.
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