Prologue • Normality
Normal. This was a word I once thought I was. Normal was the word I used to describe me. It described my look, my intelligence, my family, my friends, even my little town.
My life was normal. It was simple. Uncomplicated. Boring, but in a normal way.
I was okay with being normal.
I lived in a town of exactly 496 people. This was the type of place that if you were lucky enough to leave, you were able to cross your number off the "Welcome to Luxberg" sign on your way out.
Luxberg was a town where everyone knew everyone and their business (and not in the Gilmore Girls living in Stars Hollow sort of way). If you cut down your own tree, everyone in town knew and they had an opinion about it. You'd bitch about other people knowing your business, but if they cut down their own tree, you needed to know everything and form your own opinion of the tree-killer. Gossip was standard there, but there was an unsaid rule; if you heard a rumor three or more times, it became fact and you were now able to phone everyone you knew to spread it. Everyone in town was guilty of this form of petty gossiping.
Luxburg has one stoplight and it does nothing other than blink yellow. There is one gas station, one bank, a post office, a library, one school that houses grades K-12, and two bars (because priorities, people). There was once nothing drawing attention to this town other than the fact it surrounded a large lake, Lake Lux. Summers at the lake bring the wealthy folk from larger towns to live in their summer cabins. Hot days bring out paddle boats, pontoons and residents fishing from their docks. During the winter months, as the lake freezes over, the locals break out their winter gear for ice fishing or snowmobiling across the thick frozen water. Having the lake is what makes town bearable.
So, as I said, Luxberg is a somewhat normal town.
Then, there was my family. I have two very normal parents; at least, they were until life changed us. My father was an Iowa state police officer and my mother was a secretary for my school. I have one younger sister; Sydney was thirteen going on fourteen that summer. We didn't get along because she was a spoiled brat, but a brat I loved. I also have an older brother; Felix was twenty and had already crossed his number off the Luxberg welcome sign. He was blessed with a full-ride scholarship for football at a nearby university. Of everyone in my family, I was closest to Felix and I was devastated when he left for college.
We all lived together in a somewhat large, pale yellow, Victorian home that had a large white porch which wrapped around it, where my parents still reside today. The house sits at the end of a lane with a similar dark blue Victorian home adjacent from it. The lane ends with nothing other than a wooded area that is just off the lake. I loved living in our home (at the time). I loved that I could see Main Street, my school, and parts of the lake, but still feel secluded at the same time. Our lane was once peaceful.
My family was happy. We had a nice roof over our heads, we had no secrets for the town to gossip about (other than this one time, we cut down a damn tree and the town lost their minds for a day).
Friends? I had two of the very best friends a girl could ask for. Morgan and Cole are... well, I suppose they were once normal too. We were all just average, small town, teens. Morgan Richards had a crush on Cole. Cole Miller refused to tell us who he had a crush on, which drove Morgan crazy. I'm fairly certain he knew this and used it to his advantage, they bickered like a married couple constantly. Some may feel that two friends does not seem like many, but considering we had thirty people in our class, my best friend group made up ten percent. Not that this mattered, we were invisible. We were not popular and didn't want to be. We were not complete losers either. It's not like we spent all of our time half naked at the football games or playing World of Warcraft in our parent's basements (and before you go all pro-WoW on me, the only acceptable form of gaming is an old school Nintendo, which we happily played). Our ten percent blended right in. Our Friday nights consisted of buying a pizza from Kane's Bar & Grill and taking it to the lake to eat on an old, hidden, dock while listening to music blast from our car windows. If we knew the town cop, my dad, was out of town limits and patrolling the highways, these nights included some minor underage drinking.
I myself, Gabby Brooks, was as normal as they came. I did not stand out in any way and I did not want to. Off the radar is exactly where I intended to be. I received average marks in school without trying. I was nowhere near an A-student. I refused to dress in a trendy way and never, and I mean NEVER wore makeup. I had and still have no desire to wear a face that isn't mine. I didn't need it to impress anyone or myself with pallets and foundations, but to each their own. My blonde hair was always in a ponytail or messy bun on top of my head. If I did manage to let it down, it cascaded far below my shoulders. I'm not tall, but not really short either. I lived in jeans and tees. My wrists have always been filled with multi-colored rubber bands, which I subconsciously snap much to everyone's annoyance. My life would basically be complete with three things; music, books and a broke-in pair of Converse Chuck Taylors. I was once simple. I was a normal, eighteen-year-old, high school senior.
I'm not sure of the exact date when everything changed, when my life went from normal to completely fucked up. I know for a fact it wasn't until after the Luxberg welcome sign changed its population number to 500.
That was when I met Jax.