Death of a rose garden

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The deadly truth

I woke up on the floor with a bolt that nearly sent my head into the frame of the bed. While I was trying to get my bearings straight and my shirt back to where it would be in a decent position for the public eye I crawled back up onto my bed like a crippled spider monkey and sleepily eyed the alarm clock and nearly fell right back off the bed again. I had half an hour to get to school and I was practically still zombified. If I got to school on time today it would be a freaking miracle, so I scrambled out of bed again, knocking my head on the floor as I got myself even more tangled in my blanket cocoon as it trailed along with me out my bedroom. I started striping along the way to the bathroom leaving an awkward line of underwear and boxers that I was praying I would remember to pick up in case Ricky decided to pitch up to my house later and find the evidence, which would end just as badly as the last time it happened. So I jumped into the shower and was further rudely awoken when I was blasted in the face with ice cold water and I quickly wrestled with the taps to get it under control while I caught my breath from the shock. Well at least I was fully awake now.

After having the quickest shower of my life I ran back along the path of discarded clothing and swept them up in the process. I chucked them under the bed for safe measures while I eyed my cupboard wearily, knowing that the worst part of my day was finding an outfit that wouldn't completely embarrass me. I suddenly felt very jealous of Mattie and her immaculate fashion sense and how amazing she looked in everything she wore, from a little black number and heels to a messy bun and sweat pants. As I was thinking of other things to be envious about I was suddenly taken aback by the memory of her death as a wave of hysterical sobs threatened at the back of my throat. I was trying to control the brim of tears that were trying to fall when my phone suddenly perked up with the familiar message tone, proving to be the perfect distraction for my overwhelming sadness. I scanned the room for it and realised that it might take me forever and a lifetime to find it in the devastation that consumed my room, so I opted to kick over a few clothes piles to hopefully uncover it while I got dressed to try and save some time. I had just managed to pull a comb through my hair when I found my phone siting neatly on a book I didn't recognise at all next to my bedside lamp. I jammed my phone into my backpack and picked up the book that had been neatly sitting underneath it and realised there was no writing on its cover at all.It was just a plain looking leather bound book that was accessorised with a dainty looking lock in the center of it. I mentally shook myself back to reality when I started to become fixated on the book. I rushed out my room, and with fumbling fingers unlocked the front door and carefully locked everything back up and picked up Black Lightning from the cosy resting spot I rudely dumped her on last night.

I cycled as fast as my rust bucket would safely allow and made my way down the few blocks to my own personal piece of hell and skidded into the grounds just in time for the warning bell. I quickly fumbled with the lock at the bicycle parking stands and sprinted along the slippery corridors, blending in with the few late comers that walked their Sunday stroll walk to their classrooms. I ducked into my free period classroom and felt my heart do a little skip when I saw that Miss Franklin hadn't made an appearance to class yet either which meant register hadn't taken place. With a small sigh of relief that my perfect attendance record was still intact, I slipped into the desk in the left hand corner at the back of the class. I carefully took out the homework I never managed to finish last night and began scribbling answers down as I tuned out the annoying chit chat of people around me, most of it being gossip anyway that I really don't care about.

It took me half an hour to finish everything and I found myself sitting there with nothing to do but pack my things up and wait for the bell to go for first period. I started putting my books away when my hand brushed over an unfamiliar book snuggly positioned between my maths and science textbooks, staring up at me from its alcove of books. I carefully pulled the book out as if it was a bomb ready to go off but dropped it almost immediately as if it had literally shocked me. I recognised the unfamiliar leather bound book with a single lock at its center. It fell to the floor with a significant thud that caused a few disgruntled and annoyed faces looking in my direction. I quickly disregarded them as I reached for the book again, giving them reason to turn their heads back to their work or the idle and meaningless chit chat that I 'rudely' interrupted. I held the book with gentle hands that tried and lightly fumbled with the lock, trying to figure out how on earth to open it. Flipping it over, I tried pulling at the straps that ran across the back of the book and forcing me to notice the book's cover and making me almost gasp out loud enough to bring attention to me again. Neatly, almost with unearthly precision, intricate swirls of jade presented themselves on the back of the book in such a beautiful engraved style that mesmorised me for a moment. While I was still trying to admire it in private the annoying bell went off and the steady stream of people filed out of the class, instinct forcing me to my feet as I matched the shuffle of feet out the class and on to the next one. I decided to put the book in my locker on the way to Biology to try and distance myself from it so that I wouldn't be too preoccupied with it in class instead of concentrating on the lesson. I did the very awkward half-walk-half-jog thing to my next class so I wouldn't be late, again.

It was just my luck that Ariana would be in an even better mood than ever when I saw her making her way to the same class as me, and in her usual way (which I deemed inhuman) seemed to get even happier when she saw me. As she ran up to me as fast as her little legs would carry her I braced myself against the impact that already felt like second nature to me. With her head wedged into my stomach and our arms wrapped around each other we laughed a while and I found myself grateful that I had befriended this socially awkward person when I had three years ago, otherwise I wouldn't have anyone to make me smile and forget about life's issues for even a while.

"Lucy! Dude! I've missed you so much!"

"Arrow, I saw you not even a whole day ago." Yes, I nicknamed her according to her weird hugging issues.

"But I still missed you!"

Oh how I knew her all too well, "You want to copy my homework for English don't you?"

"Maybe. But come on, you're like the best student ever! No one can read Henry like you do." She added with her 'innocent' smile.

"Yeah, because I'm the only student that has actually tried reading Henry. Actually scrap that, the only student that has opened it further than the title."

Feeling satisfied with my awfully lame come-back I walked into class and took my place, threw my English work at Ariana and sat back patiently waiting for class to start. I was just about to throw something at Ariana's head when Mrs Smith walked into the classroom and bellowed out in her usual old lady voice, "Good Mornings Students!" emphasising every single word, giving me my cue to faze out of the lesson. It really irritated me so much that she seems so perky for such a grumpy person, and I really had no intention of listening to her 'happy' complaining again about her cat that won't stop scratching the door to somewhere in her house.

My eyes wandered out the window, focusing on nothing particular, enjoying the serenity of the peaceful late spring scene outside. I reverted my eyes back to my table to make as if I was paying attention, just to ensure my lack of attention wouldn't get me detention or an embarrassing confrontation in front of the class. I had looked at my desk, but hadn't really realised what I was looking at. It took a few seconds to recognise the same leather bound book I had found early this morning and in free period. Luckily I didn't squeak this time around when it clicked, but I probably had the best 'what the hell?' look on my face in the history of confused expressions ever. Very bad move.

"What is it Miss McCartney?" Shoot. What the hell should I say?

"Ahhhh, nothing ma'am. Absolutely nothing." Topping it all off with what I hoped was an innocent expression. For some odd reason it didn't seem to work.

"Seems to me that you aren't paying attention. Do you mind telling me what you were doing?" Mrs Smith's infamous smirk, matching her annoying voice pattern. Guess I'm in trouble now.

"I was, uhm..." I couldn't think of a good enough excuse, which was obvious enough for the class to pick up and send a few snickers around. "I was contemplating the reasons of the differentiation in cellular respiration in different plant species." Wow, that was lame and probably made no sense, and it was apparent on Mrs Smith's face, but she chose to ignore me and carry on with the lesson instead of picking on her prized student any further. The other slackers in the class took note of it and sent a few glares and 'nerd' coughs in my direction. Great, just what I needed to keep my spirits up and going.

With time dragging at snail's pace, the lesson finally came to an end and I found myself once again following the flow of students out the classroom. I walked straight to my locker to throw the leather book in it only to find out it had disappeared again. "Yeah, that's not weird in anyway." I mumbled to myself. "What isn't?" Came the annoying chirp of Joey as he sauntered up next to my locker and seemed to try do a sexy lean on the one next to mine. Oh what an idiot.

"Speak up Lu-Lu, I didn't quite hear your death threat this time." Added with a smirk, I was on the verge of slapping it off.

"Not in the mood Joey." I said all without looking at him.

"Aww come on Lu-Lu, I love hearing the sweet sound of your doom-and-gloom accent." Puppy dog eyes added to that and I was ready to head-butt him as well.

"Joey, please just shut up. I really don't want to fill my head with weird and wonderful ways to torture you so early in the day." I was so down trodden with emotion that welled up from being called the nickname Matty used to call me that it didn't even sound threatening in any way.

"Are you okay?" Joey finally got the hint that something was up, but I wasn't about to trust him with the burden of the world.

"Yeah, I'm fine." I added a small smile to which obviously was a shock to Joey as I never smiled around him.

"Woah! You smiled! Something is seriously up." I really had surprised him as he looked genuinely shocked, and I didn't really care. I still didn't feel like being nice to him all of a sudden.

"Just go away Joey." I said with an annoyed glare that seemed to do the trick.

"There's my Lu-Lu. Well cool then, I won't bother you anymore. For now anyway." He walked away with that boy-charm laugh filling the corridor. Eugh. He was so annoyingly cute, but he was more the type of guy for Ricky when I thought about it. I liked the actual 'bad-boy' like Markus, but someone with slightly more IQ points and that didn't flirt with me under the conditions of gaining something out of it for himself.

Boys are such a nuisance and a pain in the ass, but you know what the say, you can't live with them and you can't live without them.

As I was still brooding over the idiocies of guys into my locker and having my own private sarcastic conversation with myself I suddenly felt someone way too close for comfort behind me. I instinctively slammed my locker closed to keep its secrets safe and turned quickly to face the offender with a stern look only to find myself staring into the face of Markus. All the thoughts of him being a stupid jerk suddenly vanished, very much like most of the blood in my face as it drained to match my shock of being so close to him, but just as quickly as the blood vanished it came flooding back and I could feel myself blushing fire red. For the second time this week I felt like a total dork in front of him with my antics. I decided to keep my mouth shut just in case it quivered and gave my embarrassed status away, so I just stared at him waiting for him to say something. "Hey beautiful." He said with a slight smirk, "How are you this fine morning?"

Reality hit me back as I remembered his party he wanted to host at my place. "You know very well that this is not where Mattie's locker is." I leaned back on my locker to get some space between us so I wouldn't be intoxicated by his amazing cologne.

"Hey, why so negative Lucy? I came here for you, not your sister." Another smooth smile, I was beginning to feel my defenses melt away.

I reprimanded myself mentally and carried on, "You're such a bad liar Markus, what do you really want?"

He pulled back slightly with a small crease on his forehead that showed he was getting annoyed with me. Good, let it irritate him. Like I cared.

"Ok then, I need to talk to you. It's quite serious." He looked down at his feet as if embarrassed by something. "Meet me at park at lunch time, alone." And with that he whisked off down the corridor without warning. A few people glanced in my direction to find out why the most popular guy in school was talking to someone so low down on the social chain, and luckily for me, they lost interest very quickly. I grabbed my books and hurried to my next class before I encountered anymore confrontations.

I couldn't focus for the rest of the day as my mind lulled over three major problems that faced me. One: Mattie's death, that I feared still hadn't taken its full course of grievance on me yet. Two: what Markus could possibly want to talk to me about, and privately for that matter. Three: where the hell that leather book was and when it was going to decide to show up again. I was so happy when lunch finally arrived and I was able to sit quietly and listen to the banter of our group, occasionally adding input to the argument Joey and Gecko were having about whether or not school days should be shortened.

"Dude you don't get it, having so many hours of school is a waste! Most people don't even concentrate for most of the lessons, having longer days would just mean less homework time." Joey said triumphantly.

"Not that you do homework anyway." Gecko added with a snort that sent the rest of the table into a wave of hysterical laughter and leaving Joey sulking.

I got so wrapped up in the conversation that I almost forgot about my arrangements I had with Markus. "Got to run guys, I'll catch up with you all later." I tried bolting from the table to avoid anymore questions when Ariana grabbed me by the arm and jerked me back to my seat.

"Where do you think you're going? You had to help me with homework and stuff." She said with a fake quivering lip.

"Arrow, I will swing by your house later to help, like I promised. Cool?" I jumped up and walked away briskly before she could protest any further.

When I was out of sight I ran as fast as I could to Black Lightning and pedaled to the park. I somehow managed to ride a ten minute trip in five, leaving me a proper excuse for why I was out of breath when Markus came into view. I slowed down when he looked my way to try make as if I wasn't making a big deal of the whole situation and how impossibly fast my heart started beating when our eyes met.

He gave a hint of a smile showing his relief of my arrival. "Hey Lucy, was expecting you not to show up."

"Yeah well, I managed to squeeze you into my busy schedule. You should be happy I came." A little too snotty, but it was my best defense mechanism for this moment.

He gave a bigger smile accompanied by an arched eyebrow. "I'm assuming that schedule is filled with nerd related tasks and nothing social."

I could practically feel the flames on my cheeks "Don't kill my vibe Markus." I tried being sarcastic but it was so difficult not to mimic his smile. "Now, back to business. What was it you so desperately need to talk to me about?" He went quiet for a moment and adopted a very serious face. I thought he was trying to avoid the question. I was about to nudge a response out of him when he said something that made my skin crawl.

"I know how Mattie died."


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