It had been a long, long day at school for me, and I was starting to get very sick of it.
As I flicked a part of my long red fringe out of my eyes, I tried desperately to ignore the leering, crude comments of my classmates that were being directed at me. I had both of my iPod headphones in, and while I was trying to block them out, I couldn’t really turn my music up much louder without getting screamed at by the teacher. As if I needed my teacher to start yelling at me for yet another small triviality. She yelled at me for pretty much everything, including the giant blue bow that I had clipped into the back of my hair.
I winced as a crumpled piece of paper hit me in the side of the head, and tried to keep my tears back as I heard the jeering laughter. I hated my classmates immensely, but I’d learned very early on that all they wanted from me was a reaction, one that I was not to give them no matter what. I’d thought that it would make them leave me alone, but they still continued to torment me. And unfortunately for me, I still had to survive this year of school. Not that it mattered to me; this was my last year of being tormented by my jerk classmates, going home and crying in my bedroom while my older sister comforted me, and generally not having any friends.
The bell for the end of the day rang, and I had to suppress the urge to get up, rapidly gather my things, and run out of the room. Instead, I slowly packed all of my things up and stood before walking calmly out of the door, being one of the last people (other than the gaggle of bullies) to leave the classroom. As I did this, I ignored the hooting guffaws of my classmates, and the burning glare of hatred that came from my teacher as I departed.
I walked down the hallway, keeping my head down and trying to ignore the whispers and stares from the other students of the school. I had no idea why I was always picked on and excluded like this, but I took a small amount of comfort in the fact that I wasn’t the only one treated like this. My sister got the same treatment from everyone, although to a lesser extent, since she had proven the rumours about her wrong. Me? I couldn’t do that. I was a boring girl who had very little talent. I depended on my sister – seven years my senior – to take care of me, and I hated the fact that I couldn’t take care of myself.
My phone, nestled in the pocket of my light grey jeans, started to buzz, and I sighed as I pulled it out and checked what it was going off about. I noticed that my sister was trying to call me, and I sighed again before answering, pressing the phone to my ear and saying, “Hey. What’s up?”
“Just wanted to check on you,” Alice replied, and I smiled sadly even though she couldn’t see. She knew what I went through, and she hated it. Having gone through a similar sequence of events during her own school years, she knew exactly what I was going through, and once or twice I’d heard her lamenting on how she didn’t want me to suffer the same way that she had. “You coming straight home?” she asked, snapping me from my thoughts.
I nodded. “Of course I am. I don’t have anywhere else to go,” I said as I walked into the locker bay and over to my locker. I ignored the people that looked in my direction as I got my bag out and whatever else I needed to do – which was a lot of Maths homework – then slammed my locker shut and walked out. “Do you need me to pick up anything for you on the way home?” I asked as I walked down the hallway and out of the front door of Jasper High. I hated this little town that Alice and I lived in, but at least we didn’t live with our parents, who hated us immensely and wanted us – for some reason or another – to drop dead. In fact, it was them who had made both Alice’s and my life a living hell. They had contacts everywhere, and I knew that some of Jasper High’s students were related to those contacts… hence the rumours floating around the ‘Entertainment Capital of the World’.
“Oh, no, that’s fine sweetie,” Alice said, and I nodded again. “I’ll see you when you get home. Bye!” she exclaimed cheerfully before hanging up. I sighed before putting my phone back in my pocket, then I watched as a group of three – a tallish boy in the year level under me with black hair and blue eyes, a girl with black and pink-streaked hair that was two years under me, and a young boy with hair that reminded me a little of Vegeta from Dragon Ball Z – jump into a pretty cool yellow sports car with black stripes. I sighed; it must have been nice to have friends. As the car drove away, I walked towards my house, which looked identical to all of the other houses in the residential area of Jasper. It took me all of ten minutes to get home, and as I opened the door, I was greeted by my sister, who had her white hair – caused by a genetic defect – tied into a messy bun.
“Hey Ali,” I said, dumping my school bag on a nearby chair. As a contrast to me, who wore singlets and showed my shoulders all the time (even in the cold), Alice was completely covered from the chin to the feet. Of course, there was a reason for that… or so I’d been informed. I didn’t actually know the reason. “You been cleaning the house all day?”
Alice nodded and grinned. “Of course,” she said, wiping her forehead. “Anyway, how was school?” She already knew the answer to that but she always asked me. And I always gave her the exact same answer.
“Terrible,” I said, rolling my eyes and walking over to my bag. Then I pulled out my Maths homework and glared at it. “I have so much Maths work to do. Ew.”
Alice chuckled. “Don’t worry about doing homework,” she said, confusing me. Usually she was needling me to do my homework, especially my Math work because I hated it so damn much, so her telling me to not do my homework was really weird. “I got paid a bit more because I worked a few shifts extra. We’re going out.”
I frowned. “Is that a good idea?” I asked, and Alice laughed as I walked over and set my homework and my pencil case on the nearby table. “I mean, as much as you got paid a little extra, I still have my doubts—”
“I’ve paid off all the bills and the rest of your tuition fees for this year,” Alice interrupted. “We have enough money to get Chinese tonight.” Her tone indicated that there was no room for argument, and I sighed before nodding. Alice grabbed her car keys and her handbag while I ran upstairs to get my own, then I ran down and transferred my purse – kept in my school bag just in case I needed identification – into it before slinging it onto my shoulder. Alice looked over at me and grinned as I did so, saying, “Oh, good, you’re ready to go!”
I nodded. “Yep,” I said as Alice slung her own handbag on her shoulder. Then we left the house, with Alice locking up behind us, before I opened the door of the car, jumped into the passenger seat, closed the door and deftly put my seatbelt on, a process that took me two minutes. She did the same, just on the other side, and put the key in the ignition before turning it. The car revved as it came to life, and without letting it warm up, she threw the vehicle into reverse before backing out of the driveway. Then she changed it into 1st gear – she had a manual car, whereas I wanted an auto – before driving into the CBD, changing gears when necessary.
We drove to the Chinese place, pulling into a nearby car park. However, Alice didn’t immediately get out, and I noticed that her face was pinched in pain. I wondered why, but then she turned to me and said, “Oh, don’t worry, just a nerve pinch in the back of my leg,” with a smile on her face. I nodded, accepting the answer even though I was certain that what she’d said wasn’t the truth, before getting out. Alice followed suit a few minutes later, locking her car before turning to find that I was crossing without her.
As I was crossing the road, I heard Alice scream at me to watch out, and I stopped before looking around… and noticing the red Peterbilt moments before it hit me. The driver of the truck had clearly tried to brake, because I didn’t actually get too hurt; at most I was winded, and I fell onto my side. I heard an ugly snapping sound that came from my left wrist, and pain snaked up my arm rapidly as I hit the ground, but otherwise I was fine.
“Mackenzie!” I heard Alice say before I looked up and saw the door of the truck open. A young man – probably in his late twenties – got out. His vibrant blue eyes immediately met mine as he jumped down and ran over to me, kneeling down and looking quite distressed.
“Are you alright?” he asked, desperation in his voice. “I’m really sorry, I didn’t see you!”
Alice walked over, frowning in horror and concern, as I said to the truck driver, “I’m fine. My wrist is broken, I think.” I winced as a small pulse of pain went through my arm. “But I’m not seriously injured.” I grinned up at him before getting to my feet, cradling my wrist. “Don’t fret.”
“Well, at least you’re not seriously injured,” the man said, his voice still miserable. “I couldn’t live with myself if you’d been hurt more than you are.” He looked down at the ground, biting his lip, before he looked up at me. “Do you need me to take you to the hospital?” he asked.
I looked over at Alice. “Do you mind taking me to the hospital?” I asked her, and she shook her head, so I nodded before looking back at the man before smiling politely and saying, “Nah, it’s all good. Just continue on your way, and don’t worry, I won’t sue you.”
The man nodded, then turned to Alice. “I’m sorry for bothering the both of you,” he said politely, before getting back into the truck and waiting for Alice and I to get off of the road before he drove off. I could see that he looked utterly miserable, and I sighed before telling Alice that I’d just walk to the hospital, seeing as it was just down the road, while she went to get food. Of course, she refused to allow this, so we walked to the hospital instead of getting food.
We spent about three hours in there, and after I walked out with a cast on my arm and my arm in a sling, we got the Chinese that we’d been thinking of getting before I’d been hit by the truck. I kind of felt bad for him; he was clearly extremely guilt-ridden over the fact that he’d hit me. But there wasn’t much more I could do; I didn’t know who he was – he didn’t seem like a local – and I’d failed to get his name.
As we headed home, Alice asked, “So, what’d you think of that guy?” as she looked over at me. I glanced curiously at her, wondering what she meant, until she winked at me and said, “He was kind of cute, eh?”
My eyes widened as I yelled, “Alice!” with a condescending tone. “You’re disgusting!”
Alice laughed. “Oh come on, you can’t disagree! He was totally hot!”
I stuck my tongue out at her. “You’re gross, you really are. Also, you have a boyfriend, stop oogling other guys!” I grumbled and turned away, wincing as my arm pained me, and then I sighed as Alice pulled up at home. She got out, then closed her door and walked over to my side of the car, opening the door for me and grabbing the Chinese from my lap. “Dude, I’m not useless,” I said softly as I closed the door behind me and followed her as she walked over to the house, unlocked the door, and headed inside. I followed, closing the door behind me, and helped her prepare dinner before we both went out into the lounge room; Alice turned the television on, then sat down on the couch. I sat down next to her – it was the only chair in our small lounge room, but that was fine by us, considering it was only Alice and I – and we fell silent as we ate, our eyes trained on the news.
After dinner, however, Alice decided to call it a night, and that was a little confusing considering that it was only seven thirty. I could see the pained expression on her face, and while I didn’t ask – she’d just tell me it was another nerve pinch or something – I was incredibly worried for my sister. She didn’t do this often, but when she did… It was alarming, to say the least.
I spent the next three hours doing homework, or attempting to, in any case, before finally turning off the lights and going to bed. It was a Friday, which meant I could stay up as long as I wanted to. Considering that I had insomnia, I usually stayed up until two in the morning, but tonight my insomnia was particularly bad. My arm was burning and itching, and I couldn’t scratch it, either, which annoyed me to no end. Even reading Assassin’s Creed: Revelations – books were supposed to tire your eyes out, which helped a person to sleep… or so I’d read on the internet – didn’t help and I ended up just lying awake, looking up at the roof in utter boredom.
I eventually fell asleep at six in the morning, and slept until four in the afternoon. When I awoke, Alice was out, as I expected; she was either at work or with her boyfriend. I didn’t care, either way.
At least she had a boyfriend; I was alone, and while that should have annoyed me, it really didn’t. After all, I had no time for that sort of crap, not with school, work, and now my injury (which reminded me that I needed to call work and tell them that I wouldn’t be able to come in for about four weeks until my arm healed). I went downstairs and ended up doing the remainder of my demonic Math work (I really, REALLY hate Maths), which took about two hours, and then ended up playing a video game, which was actually really hard with a broken arm.
After a few more hours of me trying to play Pokémon with my broken arm, the phone rang, startling me out of my game and causing me to lose. I quickly leapt over and grabbed the phone, pressing it to my ear and saying, “Mackenzie speaking.”
“Dude, seriously, do you not check the caller ID?” Alice asked, and I sniggered to myself. Yes, I had checked it, but that wasn’t going to change how I answered the phone. “Anyway, I’m coming home really late tonight… There should be some chicken nuggets or some macaroni and cheese that you can cook up for dinner tonight.”
I sighed sadly. “I see.”
I couldn’t keep my misery from my tone, and Alice sighed on the other end. “Sorry… but work demands.” I could just imagine her shrugging. “I’ll see you tomorrow. Bye,” she said, hanging up before I had the chance to reciprocate the farewell. The second I put the phone back on its little receiver thingy, however, I heard a knock on the door, and I frowned before walking over and, stupidly enough, just opening the door without looking into the peephole.The only thing I saw before I got socked in the face was the smirking face of a young man with red hair like my own and red, malevolent eyes.