Small Town Girl
Faye barged into the sun-lit lobby of the boarding house ten minutes later than she should have. The house mother - a tall, thin woman with a severe face and a clipboard clamped under her arm - was already giving orders, which meant she was already behind.
"So remember, it's meds, reds and beds," she said clearly at three other teenagers who stood with their backs to Faye. "Remember the basics, and we'll all get along fine."
Faye hurried to slip in behind the group. She was still trying to figure out whether she'd filled out the giant stack of paperwork correctly, whether there was anyone to help her around the building, whether her parents got rid of her beloved green Beetle the minute they arrived home from dropping her to the airport. They'd been threatening to sell the car all summer, and now they had a reason even Faye couldn't argue with: she couldn't ship a car over to her new school in Japan.
She was still getting used to the idea.
"Could you, um, you repeat that please?" she asked in cautious Japanese.
"Late on your first day, I see," the woman tutted, then continued, enunciating slowly: "Meds, as in medication. If you're one of the students with asthma, epilepsy etc., this is where you go to get your dosage."
"All right." Faye felt her stomach heave. "Meds."
She'd been off meds for years now. After the accident last summer, Dr. Browne, her specialist in Dublin - and the reason she's jumped at the chance to finish her education all the way in Japan - had wanted to consider medicating her again. Though she'd finally convinced him of her semi-stability, it had taken an extra month of analysis on her part just to stay off those bloody awful anti-psychotics.
Which was why she was enrolling in her year at Azumano High a full month after the Japanese academic year had begun. Being a new student was bad enough, and Faye had been really nervous about having to jump into classes where everyone else was already settled. But from the looks of this tour, she wasn't the only new kid arriving today.
She peeked at the three other students standing in a half circle around her. At her last school, St. Angela's, the tour on the first day was where she'd met her best friend, Rowan. In a campus where all the other students had practically been weaned together, it would have been enough that Faye and Rowan were the only out-of-county kids. But it didn't take long for the two girls to realize they also had the exact same obsession with the exact same movies - especially where Disney was concerned. After their discovery in first year while watching the entire series of Gargoyles, Rowan and Faye hadn't left each other's sides. Until...until they'd had to.
At Faye's sides today were three girls. The first seemed easy enough to figure out, commercial pretty, with manicured nails that matched her bright pink hair.
"I'm Sakura," she drawled, flashing Faye a big smile that disappeared as quickly as it had surfaced, before Faye could even offer her own name. The girl's waning interest reminded her of an Asian version of the girls at St. Angela's. She couldn't decide whether this was comforting or not.
To her right was a girl with short brown hair, brown eyes, and a smattering of freckles across her nose. But the way she wouldn't even meet Faye's eyes, just kept stabbing at her mobile phone with her thumb, gave her the impression that she was not really that bothered.
The girl to her left, on the other hand, was tall and thin, with pale-brown hair, and large, deep-set grey eyes. Her lips were thin and her skin pale. At the back of her neck, a black tattoo in the shape of a cloud seemed almost to glow on her ivory skin, rising up from the edge of her grey kimono dress.
Unlike the other two, when this girl turned to meet her gaze, she held it and didn't let go. Her mouth was set in a straight line, her eyes were cold and glittering. She gazed at Faye, standing as still as a sculpture, which made Faye feel rooted to her spot, too. She sucked in a breath. Those eyes were intense, and a little bit disarming.
With some loud throat-clearing noises, the attendant interrupted the girl's trance-like stare. Faye blushed and pretended to be very busy fiddling with her nails.
"Those of you who've learned the rules are free to go after you've dropped your hazards. And when I say free, Akria"—she clamped a hand down on the freckled girl's shoulder, making her jump—"I mean garden-bound to meet your guides. You"—she pointed at Faye—"stay with me."
The four of them shuffled toward the box and Faye watched, baffled, as the other students began to empty their pockets. Sakura pulled out a three-inch Army knife. The grey-eyed girl reluctantly dumped a box cutter. Even Akira let loose several books of matches and a small container of lighter fluid. Faye felt almost stupid that she wasn't concealing a hazard of her own - but when she saw the other kids reach into their pockets and chuck their mobiles into the box, she froze. Leaning forward to read the Prohibited Materials sign a little more closely, she saw that mobiles, pagers, and all two-way radio devices were strictly forbidden. It was bad enough that she couldn't have her car! Faye clamped a sweaty hand around the mobile phone in her pocket, her only connection to home. When the house mother saw the look on her face, Faye received a tap on the shoulder.
"Don't be such a drama queen. Besides, you get one phone call once a week."
One phone call ...once a week? But...
She looked down at her phone one last time and saw that she'd received two new text messages. It didn't seem possible that these would be her two last text messages. The first one was from Rowan.
Call ASAP! Will be by the phone 24/7 so be ready to spill. And don't forget - You'll survive! BTW, for what it's worth, I think everyone's forgotten about ...
In typical Rowan fashion, she'd gone on so long that Faye's crappy phone cut the message off a few lines in. In a way, Faye was almost relieved. She didn't want to read about how everyone from her old school had already forgotten what had happened to her. She sighed and scrolled down to her second message. It was from her mum, who'd only just gotten the hang of texting, and who surely hadn't known about this one-call-once-a-week thing or she would never have agreed to this. Right?
Darling, we are always thinking of you. Be good. We'll talk when we can.
With a sigh, Faye realized her parents must have known. How else to explain their pinched faces when she'd waved goodbye at the terminal gates yesterday morning, rucksack in hand? Now she understood: they were already mourning the loss of contact with their daughter.
"We're still waiting on one person," the house mother sang. "I wonder who it is?"
Faye's attention snapped back to the Hazard Box, which was now brimming with junk she didn't even recognize. She could feel the tall girl's grey eyes staring at her. She looked up and noticed that everyone was staring. Her turn. She closed her eyes and slowly opened her fingers, letting her phone slip from her grasp and land with a sad thunk on top of the heap. The first two girls headed for the door without so much as a look in Faye's direction, but the third turned to the attendant.
"I can fill her in," she said, nodding at Faye. "Us newbies have to stick together."
"No thank you," the attendant replied automatically, as if she'd been expecting this dialogue. "You're a new boarder here - you couldn't possibly know your way around after an hour."
The girl stood motionless, expressionless, as the attendant tugged Faye - who'd shrugged at the other girl helplessly - toward the end of a cream-coloured hall.
"Moving on," she said, as if nothing had just happened. "Beds." The attendant looked down at a chart, flipping through Faye's file. "You're in the Airi room, aka, the Jasmine room. Put your bags in my office for now. You can unpack this afternoon."
Faye dragged her cases and her deep blue rucksack toward three other nondescript black trunks. Then she reached reflexively for her phone, where she usually typed in things she needed to remember. But as her hand searched her pocket, she sighed, pulled out a pen, and scribbled the information on her hand instead.
"And what about, what did you say...reds?" she asked, more than ready to be released from the tour.
"Reds," the house mother said, pointing toward a small wired device hanging from the ceiling: a tiny lens with a flashing red light. Faye hadn't seen it before.
"Very good," the house mother said, voice dripping sarcasm. "So don't cause trouble - that is, if you can help yourself."
Every time someone talked to Faye like she was a total psychopath, she came that much closer to believing it was true.
All summer, the memories had haunted her, in her dreams and in the rare moments her parents left her alone. Something had happened in that cabin, and everyone (including Faye) was dying to know exactly what. The police, the judge, the social worker had all tried to pry the truth out of her, but she was as clueless about it all as they were. She and David had been joking around the whole evening, chasing each other down to the row of cabins on the lake, away from the rest of the party. She'd tried to explain that it had been one of the best nights of her life, until it turned into the worst.
She'd spent so much time replaying that night in her head, hearing David's laugh, feeling his hands close around her waist, and trying to reconcile her gut instinct that she really was innocent. But now, every rule and regulation here seemed to work against that notion, seemed to suggest that she was, in fact dangerous and needed to be controlled.
Faye felt a firm hand on her shoulder.
"Okay, orientation's over," the woman said. "You're on your own now. Here's a map if you need to find anything else." She gave Faye a photocopy of a hand-drawn map, then glanced at her watch.
"You've got an hour before dinner, but my opera comes on in five, so-" she waved her hand at Faye "-make yourself scarce. And don't forget," she said, pointing up at the cameras one last time. "The reds are watching you."
Before Faye could reply, a girl appeared in front of her, wagging her long fingers in Faye's face.
"Get out of here, Kalinda, before I have you lobotomised," the house mother said, though it was clear from her first brief (but genuine) smile that she had some affection for the girl. It was also clear that Kalinda did not reciprocate the love. She mimed a jerking-off motion at said woman, then stared at Faye, her eyes bright and mischievous.
"And just for that," the house mother said, jotting a furious note in her book, "you've earned yourself the task of showing this little ray of sunshine around today."
She pointed at Faye, who looked anything but sunny in her black jeans, black boots, and black jumper. Kalinda sized her up, tapping one finger against her tanned cheek.
"Perfect," she said, stepping forward to loop her arm through Faye's. "I was just thinking I could really use a new slave."
Faye blinked, hoping she hadn't heard what she'd thought she had, when the door to the lobby swung open and in walked the tall girl with grey eyes. She shook her head and said to Faye, "If you're packing any other hazards" - she raised an eyebrow and dumped a handful of something in the box - "save yourself the trouble. They will do a strip-search if they have to"
Behind Faye, Kalinda laughed under her breath. The girl's head shot up, and when her eyes landed on Kalinda, she opened her mouth, then closed it, like she was unsure how to proceed.
"Kalinda," she said evenly.
"Haya," Kalinda returned.
"You know her?" Faye asked curiously.
"By reputation," Kalinda said vaguely, dragging Faye down the corridor and up the stairs.
"Wake up Daisuke! You've got school, remember?" a feminine voice called up the stairs. A red-haired boy groaned half-heartedly and turned over.
"Dai, up!" the woman called again. The boy called Daisuke merely groaned again. His mother sure was persistent. He cuddled up to a big, warm shape in the bed, most likely his mother. She often did that, called him and then got in and hugged him until he got up of his own free will. Her hugs were scary.
"Thanks for the hug; I didn't know you felt that way," a rich voice said cockily. Daisuke's eyes snapped open. Staring back at him were a pair of sharp, amethyst eyes.
"AHHHHHH!" he yelled as he leapt about three feet in the air and fell on the floor. "Ouch..." he groaned, rubbing his back.
"Should've got up when Emiko called you," the purple-haired man lounging on his bed drawled.
"You didn't have to do that Dark!" Daisuke complained, standing up slowly, "How did last night go?"
The man named Dark shrugged, leaning back against the pillow with his hand behind his head.
"Easy enough. Hiwatari played around a bit, as usual, but nothing I couldn't handle."
"And the Swan Vase?"
"Sealed and stored."
"That's good," Daisuke sighed, before starting to change into his uniform.
"Yeah?" Daisuke said as he buttoned up his shirt.
"Talk to Risa later, would you?"
Daisuke sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose between his thumb and forefinger.
"She was following you again?"
"I'll try, but she doesn't listen to me any more. I'll ask Hiwatari; she kind of listens to him," he answered as he moved towards the door. "I can't promise anything."
"Fine. One last thing; something weird is in town."
"Huh?" Daisuke paused; one hand resting on the door frame.
"A powerful force has settled here. It seems peaceful, but just be on your guard," he warned.
"Wow; Phantom Thief Dark, the King of Carelessness is giving me advise on how to stay safe?" Daisuke teased. Dark frowned.
"Shut it! Just go to school, I want to sleep!" he growled as he dived under the covers.
"Fine. Have a nice rest."
Dark stayed hunched under the covers as the sounds of Daisuke heading downstairs and out the front door drifted into his makeshift cave. Violet eyes opened, and his brow pinched slightly.
I mean it Daisuke; be careful.
Diary Entry 1.
Dr. Browne gave me this journal and said I should write my feelings down. But she's given that speech a thousand times to a thousand other crazies. I don't want to write, but my new social worker will check, and if I write depressing poems and drafts of a suicide note, I'll be back on those god-awful psychotics. Then again, if I'm a ball of mother-fucking-sunshine, I'll have to go to counselling AND take the meds. So I guess the best thing is to just write as I think. Then this notebook might help me.
Good fucking luck.
Faye Alexandra Clarke