Ace

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Chapter 3

Have you ever fallen madly in love with someone the moment that you saw them? Well, I haven’t, not even when the new kid took my seat on Monday morning. He is painfully new to the school because he apparently thinks that he can sit wherever he pleases. I stalk over to him and slam, a bit aggressively, my book in front of him, he looks up at me with green eyes. Not normal grass-green but an electric, unnatural shade that catch my breath in my lungs. As he adorns his face with a sly smile I realize just how unimpressive he is, aside from his eyes. His nose is a bit large and his smile is crooked but he radiates this cool warmth. Not the kind that burns but the kind that warms you after a long cold day.

“I am in your seat.” The new kid states this rather than asks. He gives me a curt nod and rises—moving to a new seat both back and to the left of mine.

The period is moving remarkably fast mostly because I cannot will my brain to stop churning. Every thought of mine revolves around the kid who took my seat and I don’t know why. He is average looking, maybe even borderline ugly and yet I’m riveted to his every flaw. The bell rings and I sprint out of the classroom. My cheeks burn the color of Saint Valentine as I rush to my car. I nearly trip when I see who is standing by my brown shit mobile: the new kid is standing beside my trunk holding a parcel.

“How did you but you were” I sputter as I point widely to the building behind us.

He smiles, bemused at the game of twister occurring in my mouth and with a wink of his eye he says “You sped out of there so fast you left your very loud book behind.”

The allusion to my overreaction isn’t lost on me as the blood leaves my brain and floods my cheeks. He hands me the book I slammed down and walks away. He calls back “I’m Adryan by the way.”

I go to say my name but he cuts me off.

“See you later Chrys.”

Shock courses through me as I watch him and his admittedly cute backside walk away. How does he know my name? That and a million other questions rattle in my head as I drive home alone: Ky and Amber are both busy after school today. Thankfully, my coach canceled our practice because of the Jewish holiday.

I cut the engine to my car the second I pull into my driveway. The only thing that stops me from flinging myself through my front door and onto my bed is the buzz of my phone. I grab it from the cup holder and read the message Amber sent me:

“Practice ending early drive in latr??”

One of the few cool things about my town is that we still have an operational drive-in movie theater. As the sole relic of a bygone generation, people flock to our town to experience the feeling of being a teen in the fifties. Two things make this place a local teen hangout: if you show them a student ID they cut the price per car down to five dollars and two most people get hammered before going. I text her back a quick sounds good and I begin to mourn the death of my night in.

My father slams his car door in the driveway, his Mercedes makes a distinctive heavy thud every time he closes the door. Nothing seems amiss, my dad is always in a hurry… he always slams his car door; however, when the front door slams shut I sense an issue. His voice carries up to my bedroom like a manager over a store PA system.

“You can’t just skip therapy! We agreed to work things out.” He sounds exasperated and ready to explode. I can safely assume who is on the other end this phone call.

“Well, I don’t know what to fucking tell you. We said for better and for worse, well guess what this is?” I hear a loud sigh and then an audible crash. I rip open my door so I can see what happened. From the railing, I can see my Dad’s shattered phone and his slumped sobbing figure in the foyer below. I don’t know what to do or how to help. I grip the wrought iron banister which we put up more for decoration than anything else. My fingers turn white around it— it’s cool to the touch. My mind is racing, trying to find answers to questions it shouldn’t even know to ask. I am getting the same results as an astronomer during a full moon, I have never been in a relationship longer than a few weeks how should I know how to fix a marriage? They say that love and hate are balanced on a razor blade and that they are two sides to the same coin. Often times someone’s worst enemy was once their best friend. I don’t know if my dad knows or has ever known the full truth to what his wife, and now his children are; I’m sure he has always had his suspicions. He lost one child to death and now, it must feel as if, he is losing his other two to a reality he is too afraid to acknowledge exists. The form starts to rattle as if a train is rolling through and at this very moment I realize how intimate this scene is. A fragile man is mourning the literal death of his son but also the figurative death of his family: a wife that is no more and children whose relationship with him exists about as much as a word that rhymes with purple.

I turn away from the pitiful sight and close the door to my room, sometimes a smile can act as a kick to a dog when it is down. Sitting in front of my mirror I examine myself before getting ready. My hair is a cross between ginger and brunette, which is about the only remarkable thing about me. My eyes are brown, dull but warm and my teeth are straight white sentinels.

I apply concealer to cover the few blemishes I have and a slight contour to define my features. My eyes pop with a smoky bronze eye shadow and my lips look supple with a sultry brown lipstick. I curl my hair and put on a slinky high-waisted denim skirt and I pair that with a very cropped cream sweater. I finish doing my eyebrows in one swift motion, just as my phone buzzes with a text from an unknown number.

“Hi…”

What a detailed introduction.

“Um hey Im sorry but I don’t have this num in my contacts who is this?”

The three bubbles appear and disappear more times than a game of whack-a-mole. I resign myself to never knowing the identity of my mystery texter.

“Adryan”

How the fuck did he get my number?

“Oh hey!! You grabbed my book for me right?”

Instantly replies:

“Yeah, that was me.”

Punctuation?? Who texts like a teacher?

“Thanks again for that you saved my life”

“It was just a book.” Adryan replies.

“I was joking but for real you saved my GPA” I send back.

“I was joking as well.”

Why is this kid so awkward? It’s like I’m texting my grandpa.

“Oh okay then, how did u get my number?”

“You wrote it inside your book.”

Before I can even read his message he sends another.

“Will you be at the drive-in tonight?”

I text back:

“Yeah why?”

Hopefully, he’ll get the hint that I don’t want to be talking to him.

He takes a long time to reply and when he does it is curt.

“New to town, looking to make new friends.”

I’m done texting him, not because he is weird—which he is— but because I’m tired. I find myself growing restless with my life with each passing day. The same people, the same weekend plans, the same trendy clothes, the same, the same, the same. My life is one giant yawn. It’s like this prophecy is casting a shadow over my life and yet I feel as though a veil has been lifted. I have never been normal nor do I care to be but a weapon is not the first word that comes to mind when I have to describe myself. My thoughts shift from my life to Adryan’s, who transfers in their senior year? Who copies down and texts a number that they find inside a textbook? Talking to him, the few times I have done it that is, feels like he is ignorant on the rules of being a teenager in a small town.

I’m not talking about how to dress or what to say but how to act. Forget cliques and cliches, the things that you do define you as normal or abstract. I cannot interpret anyone right now, my life is too busy and I am too lazy.

I have exactly one hour and twenty-three minutes left until Amber says she will be here. I doubt that she will be on time, it would be the first time that she was punctual since leaving the womb. Flipping through the channels I see a bunch of trash tv. I am a teenager, I have time to kill, therefore I crave bad tv. Not everything in life needs to stimulate whatever part of the brain is responsible for higher level thinking, sometimes you need trashy tv to bring down the swelling inside our ever-changing minds.

The scene of Kim crying on the tv makes me happy not because she is unhappy but because it reminds me that people have normal problems. Music is blasting from the garage it— sounds like AC/DC but I can’t tell because of the interference. Anytime someone uses the punching bag in the basement the sound of thud thud rumbles through the pipes. Today my dad is hitting the bag hard enough to simulate the sound of gunfire BANG BANG.

For whatever reason guys, stereotypically, can’t express their emotions. My dad may be a pansy when it comes to me but when he gets angry it is like a different personality takes over. If you hear gunshots why the hell would you stand in the crosshairs? I sit on the couch knowing that any involvement in this very adult situation could mean instant death. As the minutes tick by the weight of my eyelids increase ten fold.

Drool has been pooling on the armrest of my couch for some time now. I only wake up because Amber’s messages turn my phone into a taser. Apparently being late makes you a criminal, the Red Cross should come and rescue me as a result of the flood of angry messages barraging my sleepy mind.

I stretch and walk out the door— not bothering to say goodbye to my dad. He is gone, mentally anyways. I could go in slap him in the face and get nothing more than a grunt in return.

Amber is waiting in her powder blue punch buggy, she is drumming impatiently. I open the door and the look she gives me makes me think that I might as well have opened the door to a walk-in freezer.

“Where have you been? I called you like a psycho-ex amount of times.” Amber asks me as she legitimately whips the car out of my driveway.

Not wanting to say that I was napping I say “Sorry I was erm fixing my brows.” She takes a glance at my eyebrows and accepts my blatant lie. The drive-in is on the other side of town, a whole four minutes away. For some, undisclosed reason an awkward silence befalls us, like an iceberg between two moors. Not one for silence I tune the radio by hand until I find the top forty station. Using the presents would have been faster but then I would have nothing to do with my hands.

Finally, after taking on the appearance of a two-week old pimple, Amber pops “Have you seen any more creatures?” she rushes out.

Caught off guard I stammer and finish lamely “I uh what?”

“You know, creatures?” I can’t pretend like what happened in the car never happened but I don’t have to acknowledge any of the information surrounding the event. When Amber asked about the trip I told her it was fine, that it was uneventful and boring as always. She doesn’t need to know about the uncertainty of my future nor the prophecy that I am fulfilling.

“Oh those? Yeah, no I haven’t seen any since I drove you home.” When did lying become so easy? Nonetheless, the lies pour out of me like water from a tap. Amber can’t know about the gravity of my situation— I refuse. It’s senior year, everything is changing in everyone else’s normal lives. She doesn’t need paranormal changes in her life as well, a weird roommate would suffice.

Not entirely convinced Amber continues to drive, it is silent apart from the radio. Four days feel as though they have been condensed into these four minutes. Then as if my mind willed it to be so, the screen of the drive-in looms above the tree line. A movie, approximately fifteen minutes in, is already playing.

“Great, we missed the pre-game.” Amber grudgingly proclaims. The pre-game is when most of the drinking occurs— before the families turn up. We might be getting drunk at the movies but we have some semblance of class.

We have to park all the way in the back of the lot near the concession stand. The unspoken rule about our drive-in is that families stick to the back and teenagers party in the front. I don’t really know what this accomplishes but that is how it is. She cuts the engine and gets out of the car. She doesn’t even tell me where she is going as she stalks away. Probably looking for liquor or a guy, probably both. I do drink but only at parties, drinking at the drive-in feels like eating by yourself in a crowded restaurant. I slump back into the passenger seat pissed at the world.

I know that I shouldn’t have been late but I fell asleep on accident, it wasn’t like I was in my bed wearing pajamas. If we weren’t going to watch the movie together why did she ask me to come? She could have easily come here by herself if she wanted to get drunk. What am I supposed to do? Wait around for her to be obliterated and graciously drive her to her house AND THEN walk back to mine? It isn’t like I can call my parents to pick me up places, given their situation.

My mind isn’t running, it is stampeding in all directions. I’m angry about Amber, I’m upset about my parents and I am beyond stressed about this prophecy. Basically, whichever side turns me into one of them first gets to use me as a weapon to kill the other side. What can I do about it? How can I fight what most people can’t see; I’m reasonably sure that abracadabra won’t cut it.

I have lost any notion of my surroundings: the movie screen, the scent of stale artificial butter and the feeling of the cloth seats underneath my back. I am so completely transfixed on my thoughts that I flinch spastically hard, at the sound of someone knocking on the car door, causing me to hit my head on the ceiling. I look over and see that Adryan is looking at me with a mix of shock and amusement. I beacon him to come in and sit, before me doing so he stood there as if not wanting to intrude on my, what I hope was, internal rant. He sits down nervously in the driver’s seat, like a child petting a new dog.

“Hello.” He says stiffly.

“Hey. . . what’s up?” Talking to him is like trying to defrost Alaska. Some people have chemistry together, maybe we do but it has always been my worst subject.

He glances around at the families surrounding us “Not much.”

I interpret not much to mean not a lot of partying in this section of the drive-in.

“Yeah, I know. It is a bit dead around here— if you want to go up front and drink you can.” I say to Adryan for no particular reason.

“Is that something you would like to do?” He asks me.

“No, not really. I don’t drink much.” Although this conversation is making me want to do a keg stand for eternity.

“Oh yeah me either.” I have got the feeling that if I said yes he would have agreed with enthusiasm to rival that of a school girl getting asked to the dance. Well, I am sorry to disappoint but I am no Princess Charming.

“So. . . are you enjoying the movie?” God, I can’t take any more of this, he has the personality of a spoon. Yes, a spoon. I encourage anyone to reach into their silverware drawer and carry out a conversation with its inhabitants. I think they will have the same results as I.

“Do you want to go for a walk?” I ask him this not because I want to be in an even more secluded place with him but because we need something to do. To put space between us seems to be something quite vital to my mental health.

He lights up like a lightbulb and nods too vigorously. God, he is pathetic but he is kind of cute, in a three-legged dog sort of way. We get out of the car slink, side by side to the woods that encircle the drive-in.

As we pass the snack shack a group of boys begin to hoot and holler at us. Boys seems like too generous of a term, these are compassionless imbeciles with the intelligence of a jock strap who happen to have a penis.

“Ay Kenny, looky here; New Kid is getting with mummy already. That took you how long again? Oh wait, we are still waiting aren’t we?” A roar of laughter erupts from his hype men. Kenny looks positively scarlet.

I got the nickname mummy in a weird string of events. It is only known, or should I say remembered by a select few. It was the first day of kindergarten and Kenny was shaking like a leaf in a breeze. He kept saying “I want mommy. I want mommy” over and over again. Children can be some of the most ruthless, predatory creatures in existence. The bullies who now stand as his friends descended on him “Aw poor baby, crying for his mommy.” They wouldn’t stop so I, armed with a Crayola marker, stood between Kenny and the bullies and said “He isn’t saying mommy, he is saying mummy fart for brains. My name is ChrysantheMUM. Some people call me mummy because it is easier to say.” They eased off of him from that moment onward. To hear that name being used against me feels like a gun owner being shot by their own gun.

“You leave her the fuck alone.” It wasn’t Kenny, my friend from kindergarten, who defended me. No, it was Adryan the boy I’ve been basically ignoring for the entire night.

“Oh, he speaks.” Rosco—an unimportant lackey— says. Another goon clucks his tongue in mock sympathy.

Jack, who spoke first says “Maybe you would do better to keep your mouth shut, I would hate for anything to happen to you.” He flips open a switch blade “The thing is, no matter how sharp a tongue is this blade will always be sharper.”

In a blur of popcorn and bodies, Adryan moves like water across an oiled surface. He is faster than anything I’ve seen and more powerful too. It feels like only a second has gone by but who knows if ten have. Adryan stands before me in a sea of crumpled bodies, all with chests rising and falling steadily. He has a wild look in his eyes, he just took on six of our school’s toughest guys and won. He takes off in another blur and disappears. I don’t know where he just went but I do know that I have never been more attracted to anyone in my life.

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