1 New Beginnings
1 New Beginnings
I watch the plume of smoke rising over the old abandoned factory, lowering my gaze to the flames that lick across the surface. Each flashes before my eyes, threatening to become a part of me. One would think I would feel guilt or fear, but the rage scorching through my veins is far more overpowering. After all the problems this place has caused me, I’m glad to see it in such disarray. In fact, I revel at the sight of the blaze destroying everything in its path. It beacons me, cheering me on and tempting me down a dark path.
I close my eyes and take a deep breath letting the smell of burning oil and dog food enter my lungs. This is what victory tastes like. It’s not sweet like a precious little strawberry. It’s fiery and powerful, able to take out entire city blocks without batting an eye. I turn the rock in my hands, a small token of how far I’ve come. A reminder that I am strong and that I can take down those who get in my way.
“Brann? Brann. I need you to snap out of this, okay? I need you to come back to me,” I cock my head to the side, lost in the flames before me. His cool arms wrap around my waist, pulling me into his familiar muscled chest. I lean into his embrace, and he immediately calms my erratic emotions, cooling me down and clearing the smoke from my mind. I’m no longer consumed by the inferno trying desperately to conceal the true me. In his arms, I gain sight of who I am.
“Thank god you’re okay,” I murmur, leaning back into his chest. It’s the one place where I feel like I belong, where there are no judgments or expectations. The one place where I can be myself and be loved for it.
“It’s okay, baby girl. I’m here now, and they can’t hurt you anymore,” His lips trail across my shoulder, sparking little electric shocks across my skin. His touch is more intoxicating than the flames. It ignites a different kind of fire inside me, built with lust and desire rather than wood or gasoline.
He knows me like the back of his hand, and he plays me like a puppet, pulling my strings and driving me wild. A fact that I cannot hide no matter how hard I try. As proof, a groan escapes my lips, and I curl my hand around his nape. His mouth moves up to my neck, and I gasp as his teeth graze across my pulse.
I know what people think when they look at us, but honestly, I could care less. In a crazy world where everything is changing, and nothing makes sense, he is my anchor. He keeps me steady, and he is always there even in the worst of times. With him by my side, I can sail through the nastiest storms as if they were nothing but calm waters.
His hands run down my sides, grasping me by the hips as he turns me around to face him. His lips press firmly against mine, crashing over me like waves against the shore. I can no longer fight the need within me, for if I do, it may detonate and take us both out with it. He lifts me into his arms, carrying me away from my own personal hell and taking me to better places, Nirvana, if I’m lucky, for nobody can take me like he can.
I shake my head back and forth, ridding myself of the image before me. I hold the steering wheel in a death grip as I slam on the break peddle, barely missing the car in front of me. My heart beats wildly in my chest, and my palms sweat against the leather of the steering wheel. Gone are the flames as well the arms that hold me still. I don’t know what any of it means except for the fact that I must be crazy.
I’m nowhere near that old factory, and I’m entirely alone, driving no less. But it felt so real. The heat of the fire against my skin, the smell of chaos thick in the air. I swear my lips still tingle from our kiss, and other parts still ache with a desperate need I have yet to experience. I don’t know who he is or why he gave me so much comfort either.
The daydreams started over the summer, getting stranger and more realistic throughout the year. It wasn’t until winter break that they began to feel like real life. They started like any ordinary dream that I watched, like movies on the back of my eyelids. However, over time they formed into something more lifelike, popping up at random points in the day and making me feel like I was actually in them.
The dreams vary in topic and location, but they always include this stranger with the electric shocks. I’ve tried mapping them out for clues to hidden messages, but I always come to the same conclusion in the end. They’re just dreams, and I’m crazy if I see them as anything more.
A horn blares behind me, bringing me fully back to reality. The light has turned green, and the cars ahead of me have left the intersection. Taking a deep breath, I ease on the gas, determined not to let this screw up my day. It’s the first day of the semester, and with graduation growing near, I can use every bit of class time I can get.
I pull into the already crowded lot, circling around until I find an empty space. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one who wanted to be early. I jump out of the car, snagging my backpack from the passenger seat as I go. Another car slides into the spot beside me, so close my butt scrapes across its window.
My cheeks burn with embarrassment, and I quickly stand a little straighter. You would think they could have at least waited until I got out of the way rather than running me over. I slam my door closed before turning to face the jerk who doesn’t have the patience to wait for pedestrians. Shayne Paune stares back at me, his blue-grey eyes pinning me to the spot.
He sits in the passenger seat of Jack’s car staring at me with an intense, unrelenting gaze. Chills run up my back, spreading goosebumps across my skin. Up until today, the basketball jock never gave me a second glance. Yet here he is, staring at me like I’m an animal about to eat him in the wild, rather than the nerd who sits behind him in Calculus.
But in his defense, he did just get a front seat view to my rear end. I know I should just ignore him and walk away, but there’s just something about his eyes that keeps me in my place. I’ve never seen gold specks like that before, and the sight is mesmerizing. Though just as they had shown up, they disappear, leaving nothing but his regular blue-greys.
God, I have one weird daydream, and I start to think the world around me is changing. Shaking my head, I break his gaze and hurry towards the school. Why would someone like Shayne Paune pay any attention to me? The guy is practically royalty around here and could have his pick of any girl he wants. So I, a lowly peasant, am not even on his radar.
I make my way up the concrete steps like any other school day, though something feels different this time. A tingle runs up my spine, causing the semi-warm weather to seem like the middle of an ice storm. It was almost like a warning of something terrible to come. I’m half tempted just to go home and pretend school starts tomorrow. But I know that’s no longer an option. My parents are a little strict about attendance, and to miss class requires a life or death situation.
Thus, I’m forced to admit these feelings are ridiculous, and there’s nothing different about this place than any other day. I pull open one of the many wooden doors, glancing around at the various cliques inside. The room is loud with chatter of everything from Christmas break to the potential of our basketball team. Nothing strange or new there. I stroll past them to find my first class, pausing as the room goes silent. Several pairs of eyes look back at me, much like Shayne’s had in the parking lot.
I’ve only been here for five minutes, and I already feel like this is one of the longest days of my life. The idea to go home is looking better and better by the second. Or maybe this is just another one of those strange daydreams. I give my arm a firm pinch though it doesn’t seem to change anything. Half the students still look back at me with odd glances, cocking their heads to the side as if they were trying to piece together a complex puzzle.
A girl changes her appearance just a little, and it’s like the world reverses its rotation. All I did was add a little makeup and straighten my hair. Yet these people act as if I walked in here with clown shoes and a coconut bra. I walk past the awkward gawkers staring forward as if I hadn’t noticed their poor manners. Some people must not have taught their children that it’s rude to stare.
The second I make it around the corner, the chatter picks back up, only not quite as loud as before. God only knows what they’re muttering about now. Rumors fly through this school faster than the speed of light, changing as they go from one person to another. I’ve never been on this side of them before, but I’ve witnessed how many grew from seedlings into tall trees.
I pop open my locker, changing out my books with high hopes that things will change. But I can’t shake the feeling in my bones that tells me that’s not going to happen. These small changes can’t be all in my head, can they? I slam the door shut and the clang of metal hitting metal echoes throughout the hall.
“What’s got your panties in a wad?” my best friend asks, coming out of nowhere.
“Damn it, Kylie, you scared the hell out of me!” I squeal, nearly jumping out of my skin. If there were ever a time I could use a chill pill, now would be just perfect. I toss the straps of my backpack over my shoulders and start to walk down the hall. “This place is a freaking zoo,” I mutter to her, only to find she hasn’t followed.
I turn to spot her standing in the exact same place, staring at me like a weird science experiment. She makes no motion to move or even say anything. She simply stares at me in the same freaky fashion. This is getting stranger by the second.
“Okay, now who’s acting weird?” I chuckle nervously.
“Did you get a haircut or something?” she asks, and I run a hand through my hair, feeling the healthy ends where a whole inch and a half was cut off. Not that she would notice such a minor difference.
“I got a trim and ran a flat iron through it if that’s what you mean,” her eyes look me up and down once again, slowly taking in every detail.
“No, that’s not it. There’s something different about you, though. I just can’t put my finger on it,” the random stares from half the student body were one thing, but the last person I expected to judge me is my best friend.
“There’s nothing different about me. Something crazy is happening here, and I don’t even know how to begin figuring out what it is. Maybe you just need to get your eyes checked,” I turn in the direction of my first class, pretending that I don’t care if she follows me or not.