Chapter 1. Senior Year
Everything was dark as the moon covered behind the black clouds. The sky blurred and turned into the white ceiling in her bedroom. She screamed out and coughed painfully. It got worse once she realized that a warm hand had been patting her shoulder.
“Hey, wake up!” Her mom worried. “What happened?”
She tried to sit steady and woke up with her messy brown-mahogany hair and bad eye-bags.
Her mom sat worriedly beside her, bewildering. “It seems you have a bad dream.”
“I did,” she stared back at her mom’s brown eyes that looked deep and sharp. “The same dream almost every night. I told you.”
Her mom kissed her head, and went to open the curtains. “Come downstairs after you take a shower, the breakfast is ready.”
She already pushed the door open, but she held still when she could feel her daughter’s restless feeling.
“She’s calling me Kathleen for million times,” her voice was hoarse. “Precisely, my name is Cathy, short for Catherine.”
“You had been consuming too much fairy tale in the past few months, it might manifest into a dream.”
“Those books and this dream are not the same—”
“If you want to discuss the superstition with me, you should stop and hurry to take a shower.”
Cathy annoyed when her mom slammed the door. It was useless to tell her about what happened in those strange recurring dreams. Her mom wasn’t the type who believed in any kind of metaphysical stories.
But what more absurd at this time, she felt waking up as if she had not slept at all since it happened. Although it was hard to ignore, she had to rise from bed.
When she took her cell phone, Josh had sent her a picture—the one that was taken with his grandmother in Austria.
He was her best friend, the best man who had been her closest friend since they were in elementary school. She smiled, looking at their happiness. She missed the good holiday, and there was just no time for the family trip since her dad was super busied with his work. At least, she enjoyed spending last month school holiday with reading books. Nevertheless, she finally felt ready to welcome her senior year.
The rain just stopped when she turned downstairs, and the delicious smell of food emerged from the kitchen, making her hungry. She saw her mom in there, serving the omelets on the dining table, while her dad already sat down, looking neat in his dark suit.
He paused from reading the newspaper as he stared up at Cathy. “Is this the right time to spill the beans?”
“Be silent, darling,” her mom bulged out her eyes at him and giggled.
Cathy dragged the chair oppositely from him, while feeling curious at their secretive manner. “What is it?”
“Oh, Cathy, look at my little baby,” her dad looked relieved somehow “—she will finally attend her last year of school.”
“The time has passed so fast, hasn’t it?” Her mom added and smiled cheerfully as she sat beside him.
“What’s the surprise?” Cathy rephrased.
“Should we tell her a little earlier, darling?” He looked at his wife mischievously, but she sighed in annoyance. “Will you wait for tomorrow, then?”
Cathy shrugged, showing her whatever-vibe to them.
“Anyway, why are you dressed up, mom?” She bewildered since her mom always dressed in pajama in the morning, followed by her routine of maintaining the front yard garden. “Are you two wanted to go somewhere?”
“We want to visit Mr. Burk,” her mom answered. “He’s going to celebrate the annual party for his restaurant.”
“Oh, right. Can I come?” She begged.
“Of course, we’re just going to have a little talk with him this morning. His party will be held tomorrow afternoon,” her dad shouted while chewing the omelet.
She nodded, relieved.
As soon as the breakfast had finished, they went to ride with his car—white Ford Fusion.
The morning sight had the slippery road for the walkers, although most people here felt glad with the temporary rain. This place had always been in a state of dryness, also as part of more than five thousand populations in this small town Bisbee, Arizona.
Her dad stopped the car in front of the white building that placed with a single wooden board written; Welcome to Bisbee High School.
She cringed at the idea of stepping her feet in there, and the thought of crossing with random crowds was somewhat terrifying for her.
“Be good at school,” her dad smiled.
“Don’t worry, we’ll be at home soon before you return. We love you,” her mom kissed her forehead at the car windowsill.
Although they smiled at each other, Cathy couldn’t hide her anxious expression in front of her mom. Before her dad drove the car, her mom held her arm and whispered to her quickly, “High school will only last for a year. Be fear of nothing, my love.”
The faith her mom gave, making her less nervous to walk through this nightmare. There should be nothing to fear in here, but her mind kept on playing a trick whenever she saw people. If the bad vibe was presence, it could make her body felt weary.
There weren’t many students at seven o’clock. She walked anxiously toward the administration room to meet a middle-aged woman in red uniform, who sat behind a desk.
“Excuse me, can I get my class schedule?” Cathy asked. “My name’s Cathy Charlotte.”
The woman raised her chin with a frustrated look, and there was no energy on her pale face. It must have been a burden to sit like that all day long. She lazily took a piece of paper for her. Apparently, it was her everyday attitude as the school administrative.
“Thanks,” Cathy walked away immediately before it could turn awkward.
The first class she had was English course. The classroom door was opened, and Mr. Stalensky had arrived earlier than the others. He always wore eyeglasses and formal suit like a university professor. Everyone always wondered why he looked a bit strange like a scientist when he was in this class.
He glanced at her arrival silently, and then he busied again, snugging up some papers on his desk.
Cathy sat down in the first row next to the windowsill. She ignored him as well while taking out a notebook from her brown satchel bag. She just got bored and had no idea besides doodling on the notebook. She had always loved drawing since she was a little kid. But this one, it came out like some random wavy lines. It wasn’t a good one, she thought.
Monday felt like a lazy day. She didn’t know what today would be like. Until she saw someone with blue sneakers appeared.
“I saw it all,” the good-looking boy said. He was Josh Kingsley.
He was a boy with bright-brown hair, white skin, and body height of one-hundred-seventy-eight cm, while she was only one-hundred-sixty-five cm. His figure resembled those fashion models on the city billboards. In fact, many girls in school adored him, but he was always being ignorance as if nobody was interesting enough to look at.
No one here really knew that he was the hard thinker type, but he actually very friendly and introvert. Cathy was the closest who had heard all of his thoughts—happy or sad. They were best friend to each other, but Cathy had not yet realized the truth that he fell for her heart. Everyone thought they were lovers, but people knew nothing.
She stared up at him, uncomfortably. “What?”
“That sketch is a mess, just like your hair,” he grinned, teasing her. “Alright, I’m kidding. I mean, look at your worried face. Just tell me if anyone picks a fight with you, I’ll handle them.”
“No, it’s not,” she sighed, while holding her laugh. “It just feels like starting all over again—high school.”
The fact that they were connected, he could tell what she felt immediately.
“You want to graduate, sooner? Me too,” he smiled. “If I can win this baseball game for the scholarship, Martha will be glad to know it.”
“Oh right, how is she these days?” Cathy worried about his grandmother.
“She’s better. The Doctor said she has been enduring Cardiac Sarcoma very well. You know, it’s a heart disease.”
“Can I see her after school?”
He smiled, “As you wish, Ma’am.”
The awkwardness went in the air when Mr. Stalensky peeped at them secretly, but Josh ignored him while taking out something from his bag once he sat next to her.
“Here you go—a gift I got you from Austria,” he gave her a white charm bracelet, and then he started mumbling like usual. “FYI, my grandmother always mumbled about junk-food I ate in there, how upsetting—”
Cathy cut him off quickly as she was annoyed, “Hey, she was just worried about you like you’re always worried about her,” she couldn’t help but to admonish him. “Anyway, thanks for the bracelet.”
He sighed. “I got it. I just want her to take a rest all day long. Enough for thinking about me, and just bother the knitting and tea time routine. I want my grandma to stay healthy.”
Cathy looked at him empathically.
During the class, Josh continued mumbling next to her. She got annoyed whenever he wouldn’t stop talking about unnecessary stuff.
Finally, the bell rang at the same time there was a noise outside the classroom. Everyone astonished to witness two boys who brutally flung at the doorsill when a student opened the door. They were fighting each other aggressively.
The blonde one had a muscular body as he attacked the skinny boy who had so many bruises on his jaundice face. He was King of Bully—everyone called him that way. Cathy didn’t remember his real name though, and she won’t bother with it.
Everyone rose up from their chairs to record the fight scene with their cellphones, until Mr. Stalensky had to come down by himself to dismiss them.
“Both of you—go to the detention room, now!”
Every last of the student surprised to see Mr. Stalensky yelled out with a serious look, especially when he dragged the boys to the headmaster by himself.
“Did you see that?” Josh chuckled. “Nobody has ever yelled out like Mr. Stalensky at the blonde.”
They headed toward the canteen as having the conversation, but then Cathy got dizzy as soon as she saw the crowded space. He noticed her phobia with the crowd—it was like her thing.
Josh tried to calm her, patting her shoulder empathically, but he kept mumbling again, “I heard that Scott receives a warning without a serious punishment. What the heck?” He peeved. “He has been bullying people for many times.”
“C’mon, it’s not like he bother us,” she said and stopped in front of the food queue. “We should concern about what we’re about to eat rather than minding his business.”
“And right, I’m hungry,” he mumbled.
“Staring at the hamburgers reminds me of the Burk’s Resto. I’ve heard they’ll celebrate a small party tomorrow. Do you want to come?” Cathy asked.
“I’d love to—if all the Viking girls wouldn’t be there,” he pointed secretly at the clique group of girls.
The reason he called them with a silly nickname was because those girls had muscle in their arms. The girls were the most popular in school, empowering the school cheerleaders, and they were in the same grade as Cathy and Josh.
“They’re just doing a good sport and, they look fashionable,” she said awkwardly while staring at them “—and you have a heart of stone.”
Josh narrowed his eyes peevishly at her. “What a compliment. Don’t you think it is you? Thanks.”
She patted his arm quickly. “They’re coming—your fans.”
The clique was led by Liliana Rocha inherited Spanish descent and described by most boys as a noisy girl, gossiper, rumormonger, and she had a flirty attitude, also she was a short girl with one-hundred-fifty-five cm. Different from her sidekick, Stella Laurance, half French girl who was the tallest girl in school with one-hundred-seventy-five cm.
Liliana had a curly brown hair that looked like a puffy cake, and she had a tan skin, while Stella had short red hair, light skin, and thick freckles on her cheeks. However, they shared mutual interest as they had crush on Josh since the first year of high school. Everyone knew that Liliana didn’t always show her true feeling because she didn’t want to ruin her friendship with Stella, who was dealing with acute personality of shyness.
“Hi, Josh,” Liliana said flirtatiously to him, but squinted fiercely at Cathy. “Have you felt sick by having a hamburger every afternoon?”
Josh tried to finish his hamburger quickly. He was eating harshly, making the girls stared bewilderingly at him. Soon, he rose from the chair and said, “I suddenly feel a bad stomachache. I need to go to the bathroom!”
He also dragged Cathy hurriedly to run away from the girls.
As soon as the school time had finished, they went home together with his blue bicycle. She suddenly tapped his shoulder alertly. He pushed the brake as they stopped in front of the small white house. However, his house was just a couple blocks away from this spot, instead they ended up in front of Cathy’s house.
She peeped secretly behind the green fence, making him bewildered alone.
He followed to see what saw, and he asked, “I thought we’re going to visit my grandma. What happened?”
“Wait, there’s someone in my house,” she muttered while staring at a stranger in her terrace house.
“You have a guest?”
Cathy ignored him as she walked into the front yard. He followed her quickly from behind.
The stranger was a beautiful girl, sitting alone while caressing the fluffy white cat. The girl had a fair skin, long-straight white hair, and she wore a floral dress.
The girl smiled innocently at their arrival.
“Your new friend likes to play with a cat, huh?” Josh murmured.
Cathy stood pondering, and she got astonished to remember clearly the strange existence of a familiar girl who owned a pair of emerald green eyes. Her head felt confused since her mind got mixed up with random visions from the last three months. The flashbacks didn’t exactly haunting her, but they were terrifying visions, and for a second, they started playing again on her mind.
It was as if she lived in another old era, and a tranquil place. It was very different from her reality. The presence of this new girl had reminded her with everything, and it was like an elastic magnet.
A vision came to her; of a woman that was riding a dark horse, and accompanied along with the warriors. They wore gold chain-mail clothes like royal armors. The flashes recorded clearly on her mind, of those memories that reflected vividly against her sleepy brown eyes.
Nevertheless, Cathy had a depth on her eyes, which was rare for someone with dark eyes.
“You’ve come home,” her mom shouted from the door while bringing a box filled with garden tools. “It’s time for a hot chocolate, won’t you join us, Josh?”
The visions were gone as soon as she stared back at her mom.
“Thank you Mrs. Charlotte, I’d be happy to be your guest,” Josh said politely.
As soon as he walked into the house, the white hair girl followed him from behind, looking cheerful.
Cathy confronted her mom, while she was placing the box next to the beautiful lavenders and lilies in the garden. “Mom, who is she?”
Her mom seemed conflicted to answer her, as if she wasn’t prepared. “I’ll explain inside.”
The phone rang when everyone already gathered at the dining table, her mom hurriedly ran to answer the phone that was placed adjacently behind the dining room. It was her dad, asking what food her mom had cooked today, which was a smoked tuna.
Cathy couldn’t wait any longer and left Josh alone with the girl. She confronted her mom directly, even her mom was in the middle of answering her dad on the phone.
“I need you to tell me, who is she?”
“Cathy, my love—”
“Please,” she begged, distinctly.
Nevertheless, her mom seemed like she was in the never-ending confliction about something, and she looked worried every time Cathy came to her for a clear answer.
“She is our distant relative. She will stay here for vacation.”
“We have a relative, but you’ve never told me?” Her rage was boiled up and ready to explode, but she had to endure it. “You’ve never told me anything about your family—the Aloise.”
“It’s hard to tell you right now.”
They stared intensely to one another.
“Mom, she’s exactly the girl I’ve seen in my recurring dreams!” Cathy muttered in a low voice.
“Just give it a rest,” her mom sounded bluntly, and they returned to the dining room.
The girl, she looked a bit older than Cathy and Josh. She had the fairest white skin, almost like the color of snow. She also possessed a very bright pair of emerald green eyes. Her body type was slender, with body height of one-hundred-seventy-five cm, making Cathy as the shortest person in the room, since her mom was a few centimeters taller.
All that perfection didn’t make her looked like human. Moreover, it was odd that she looked physically nothing like Cathy or her mom who inherited Eurasian look.
“Hello there,” the girl started speaking with a firm voice.
Cathy trembled with the feeling of those haunting dreams, because it felt exactly like this moment. The girl had such intimidating eyes, making Josh felt the same thing too.
However, he could break the ice. “The marshmallow taste good in this hot chocolate. Don’t you all think so?”
“Well—” Cathy’s mom started the real conversation, “let me introduce our distant relative, this is Sylvia Elle.”
“I prefer to be called as Elle,” she emphasized her name distinctly.
Cathy was nervous to say a word, but she had to pretend to look normal for a second. “My name’s Cathy Charlotte. And this is my best friend, Josh Kingsley.”
“I know,” she smiled. “We’ve met before.”
Cathy bewildered when Elle responded with such an odd statement. She kept on thinking where they met before this encounter—or was it in the dreams. The girl in her dreams looked exactly like Elle, the difference was with the dress, but that old style of fashion gave her the creeps. Elle was mysterious and unreadable.
Her mom suddenly exhaled heavily, along with the environment that felt tensed for the last few minutes. Elle didn’t even touch her cup of chocolate. It was even weirder.
“Josh, I think it’s time for you to go home.”
Cathy stared back at her mom.
He also looked taken aback with Cathy’s mom sudden attitude. “It’s okay, thanks Mrs. Charlotte,” and he stared at Cathy to calm her, “—Martha is waiting for me. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
Through the kitchen window, Cathy saw him in the yard, walking away.
Afterward, Cathy followed her mom into the family room, and as she stood up on the wooden floor covered with a Native American red rug in there, she confronted, “Mom, what’s going on?”
Her mom was sitting on the red sofa, where above it hung a painting of blue butterflies on top of flowers in a glass vase. Next to the sofa, Elle was observing the wooden bookshelves.
“We need to visit Austria.”
“What do you mean?” Cathy squinted bewilderingly at her. “The school already starts, the holiday is over.”
“We’re not going for vacation. We’ll meet a relative for a family matter,” her mom explained.
“What kind of family matter?” She peeved. “You’ve never told me any detail regarding your family, or even about Aunt Sarah. So, please tell me the truth!”
“Everything takes a process,” Elle shouted while her fingers randomly flipping the pages in a book. “The truth is something everyone afraid to hear. Shouldn’t you be ready for that?”
Cathy surprised that Elle didn’t talk like a girl at her age.
“She’s right,” her mom rose from the chair, looking depressed. “Time’s running, whatever will happen is getting closer. We should get ready.”
“Remember that I never like lies, Haile.”
Cathy squinted astonishingly when Elle just called her mom by first name.
“I know. I just need the right moment for this. She’s my only child,” her mom murmured and started walking back and forth restlessly.
“What?” Cathy confused. “I won’t go until you tell me the real deal.”
“It’s about the Aloise, but we’re not going to visit them. It’s just our distant relative, for telling you the history.”
“Why don’t you tell me by yourself?” Cathy confronted.
Haile stopped, and her eyes glossed when she looked into her daughter’s eyes. “You need to see the proofs physically—the manuscripts.”
“Your royal family who lives in Austria,” Elle snapped, making Haile agitated.
Cathy had her eyes popped out, and heart pounded unstably. She almost couldn’t hold her rage as she gazed at her mom with a disappointed look.
“You need to stop,” her mom warned Elle. “Let everything happen in time, this isn’t quite right.”
“Does dad know—about you being part of a royal?”
“No, I don’t want to involve him in my matters.”
“I just want to know, why did you hide the story from us?”
Haile swallowed her own saliva, feeling agitated.
On the other side, Elle felt that the situation didn’t look conducive between them, and so she took over the conversation, “She doesn’t want to lose you. Your mom wants to protect you from the malevolent ones. So, for the excessive atmosphere we have here, please calm down first.”
Cathy hated it when Elle stared keenly at her, as if she was the guilty one in here. However, she still needed explanation, “Why?”
“You can’t get through all of this without peace. Your fear might vanish as you understand the things,” Elle said.
Haile caressed her shoulder. Cathy thanked her mom for calming her.
Afterward, they went upstairs together, Elle smiled cheerfully at her. She was sarcastic a minute ago, but her mood had just changed drastically. She walked like a happy little girl, although she was probably in her early twenties.
“For momentary time, I’ll stay next to your bedroom,” Elle said before they separated.
Cathy wanted to relate her dream with this situation, but her curiosity began to learn what that strange girl supposed to be. This shouldn’t be a nightmare.