I woke up in the darkness. There were strange noises outside my window that did not seem to go away. I threw back the blanket and got to my feet, and I fumbled my way to the window to check out the weird scratching noise. Darkness had claimed the street, and not even the lamps were on, which was strange because they annoyed the hell out of me. The other houses across the street were dark too. Not a single light lit within the buildings. I opened my bedroom window to find where the annoying noise was coming from. I tried to look out into the darkness, but there was no use. Ignoring the sound, I turned away from the window and my heart started beating rapidly within my chest.
Standing in my doorway was something not of this earth. It took the form of a tall man, but it with no facial features, no eyes, and thin slits for a nose. The only thing it had was a mouth with sharp teeth. It faced me, grinning a horrifying smile. I stood there rooted to the spot while the monster faced my direction.
How can it see me, it has no eyes? I thought.
I tried to scream, or to move, but something was stopping me from doing so. The faceless creature glided smoothly towards me. My heart pounded in my chest and my hands shook. Was I about to die? The creature was now within arm’s length from me. The faceless monster gave off a foul stench, smelling of rotten eggs combined with raw sewage. It nearly made me gag. My eyes and throat burned with the strong fumes. He lifted its worn, bony arm and tried to grab hold of me with his putrid fingers along its sharp black fingernails. The creature grabbed at my throat, his skeleton claws burned into my flesh. I tried to scream out, but the pain was too much.
The disgusting creature’s smile grew wider and more terrifying. Tears ran down my face as the pain intensified. It tightened its grip on my throat until I finally found enough strength to scream. The monster released its hold and disappeared back into the darkness. I fell to the floor gasping for air, and my throat burned with every fresh breath I took. I closed my eyes just for a second when I felt the darkness take me.
I opened my eyes to the bright, warm sun shining on my face. I lay in my bed, all tucked up. I shot up, throwing the sheets off me, and headed straight for the mirror. I checked frantically for marks around my neck, but there wasn’t any. I remembered the agonising burning pain of last night’s attack, but there were no signs, no bruises, nothing.
While looking for the marks on my neck, I caught a glimpse of my face. I had deep black circles under my emerald eyes, and my face was deadly pale and my brown natural wavy curls were a total mess. I jumped in my en suite shower (god; I love my en suite) and put the water on full blast. The warm water felt good against my cold, clammy skin, I took some of my favourite strawberry body wash and lathered myself up. I stepped back into the blast of the refreshing water and washed it all away. I took some silky shine shampoo and massaged it into my hair slowly, finally finishing I stepped out of the shower shivering.
I quickly grabbed a towel and wrapped it around myself. In my bedroom I opened one of my desk draws, inside was my hair dryer, a girl’s best friend. I made sure my hands were dry as I plugged it into the socket. A blast of warm air shot out through the hair dryer. It was a godsend. My wet tangled hair blew playfully around my face as I tried to brush out the tangles. (Ouch, why did I have long hair?) I opened my small wardrobe, taking my clean uniform from the rail. Not that bad of a uniform, and I had seen worse. It was a white blazer with a black skirt along with a light blue t-shirt. I didn’t mind wearing the skirts, but on a windy day, it was hell.
I changed into my uniform quickly, then ran back into the bathroom to brush my teeth. I slapped some simple makeup on (not the ho-ish’ type like some people). I put some concealer on my dark bags and a bit of blush on my cheeks to get rid of that grey. I covered my bags without having to make my face orange.
I grabbed a hair band from the bedside table and quickly tied my hair up into a ponytail. I threw some of my important books into my backpack and ran down the stairs. I wanted to grab something easy to eat from the kitchen when I stopped dead. Sitting in the kitchen eating toast was my favourite Aunty in the whole wide world. I dropped my bag on the kitchen floor and ran over to her and gave her an enormous hug.
Hugging Aunt Kate seemed to shut entire world out, I felt safe in her arms. I inhaled her sweet strawberry scent on her clothes; I love so much. Kate slowly stroked my hair (I loved it when she did that). She took a step back and looked at me from top to bottom. Kate looks a lot like my Dad, and you could tell they were related. They had the same nose, and both had the same shade of emerald eyes. She had short shoulder ebony hair that was perfectly straight. Kate wasn’t a tall woman, and she knew it, but she was the woman who would let nothing stop her and I loved her for it.
“You’ve grown again, haven’t you?” Kate turned to look at my Dad and he nodded.
“Have I?” I smiled. “Kate, why are you here?”
Kate laughed. “Do I need a reason to see my lovely niece?”
I just stood and stared at her. “Are you buying any of this?” she asked.
I shook my head. “Fine, I’m here to take you to school,” she finished with a warm-hearted smile.
“Dad, do you need to monitor me? I’m fine, really.” I said.
“Your Father has told me a few things about what’s been going on and, to be honest, I agree with him.” Kate said.
“Agree with what?” I asked.
“That, from now on, Kate will take to school and bring you back. I’m getting worried about you, Ellie. Are you OK with this?” Dad asked.
I didn’t have a choice in the matter. “Fine,” I agreed.
I took some fruit for the road (It’s good for you) and said a quick goodbye to Dad before we headed out the door. We jumped into Kate’s car. It wasn’t a big flashy car, but it still did the job. I did not understand what make it was since I have no clue with cars but it had three doors two at the side and one in the back. I buckled my seat belt and Kate drove away from the house. As soon as the car was away from the house, Kate talked.
“Right, what’s going on then.” she blurted out.
With problems, Kate didn’t mess about. She liked to get to the root of the problem straight away, and with me she wasted no time to sort it out.
“Don’t know what you mean,” I said shyly.
“Ellie, this is me you are talking to now.” she said.
“I know, I know. I’ve been having these weird dreams and this woman just turned up out of nowhere yesterday and asked me things. She even knew my name which was weird.” I said all at once.
“Was she one of your Dad’s friends?” Kate asked.
“No, he said, he’s never seen her before,” I replied. “She freaked me out a little, though.”
“Well, if you ever see that woman again, tell me and I will sort her out.” Kate laughed.
Hearing Kate, laughter was bliss it lifted some of my worries off my shoulders.
The car came to a complete stop and Kate turned from the wheel and gave me a bright smile.
“Do you want me to come and pick you up later? Your Dad says I have to, but...” Kate waited for my answer.
I took a moment to think it over. “Better had or he’ll be mad at us,” I said. I opened the car door and was about to say my goodbyes when Kate leant her head out of the window.
“Ellie,” Kate talked and her face grew solemn. “Please be careful, OK?” she finally said.
I just stood, staring at Kate. Her face fixed with worry. But why was Kate worried about me suddenly? I gave her a quick reassuring smile and walked away from the car. I heard her pull away from the kerb and beep as I walked through the school grounds. Walking towards the building, I went over in my mind what lessons I had today. Double English, I was not looking forward to that. Science, I liked, but sometimes it was annoying. I could always talk it over it over with the girls. They’d always make me feel better. I didn’t realise it at first, but I was way past the school’s primary entrance and there was no sign of Lilly or Becky anywhere.
They should’ve been here already. We always meet up around here. I checked my phone to see if they left any messages, but there were none. I kept looking around when I heard the vilest voice I knew, Beth.
She trudged her way towards me with her rolled up skirt that showed her thighs and her light blue shirt with a few buttons undone, giving us a show of her cleavage. Without knowing, my teeth clenched tightly like a vice, and nothing could pry them apart.
“Where are your girlfriends today then, Ellie?” When she spoke my name, I felt my sick.
Beth had on thick mascara, and heavy foundation slapped to her face. To finish her skanky look, she wore her four-inch heeled boots.
“I asked you a question, Ellie.” her voice was patronising.
“Leave me alone, Beth.” I asked her.
“Or what?” Beth waited for her answer.
My jaw ached as I clenched my teeth together. I stayed silent and stared down at the floor.
“You could, at least, look at me while saying that,” she waited. “That’s what I thought.” she laughed.
“Please, just go away,” I asked her again.
She ignored my pleas and continued to talk. “I saw your mother drop you off just now, how sweet,” Beth’s smile grew. “Oh, wait isn’t your mum DEAD!”
Pain shot through my stomach, I had to catch my breath. Beth saw her words slice through me like a hot knife. She loved inflicting pain with her horrible words. Beth walked straight up to me, forcing me up against the wall. My back slammed against the school’s building, and I stood there waiting for her insults. She stared into my eyes with such deep hatred. Something wasn’t right with this girl. She loved to torment people. But why? Beth came closer until I could smell her sickly pungent perfume. She leant in beside my ear and for a second I thought she would bite it off, then she whispered into my ear.
“Don’t piss me off, bitch, you are nothing to nobody. Just seeing your face makes me want to hurt you deeply.” Beth’s whispers cut deep.
“See ya.” she said with a wave and a fake smile.
I wanted to cry, to scream, anything to show my anger towards her, but nothing came out, I just stayed silent. I hated Beth. She’d always find an opportunity to bully me. Maybe I’m just an easy target for her. I took in a long deep breath and tried to calm myself as if nothing had happened. I tried to find the girls quickly. It didn’t take long to find them as Becky and Lilly were talking together in one corridor. I quickly waved to both of them, hoping that they would see me. Becky was the first to spot me and her face lit up, as did Lilly’s.
“Morning, Ellie.” Becky and Lilly said. They seem to be full of vigour today.
“You look happy today,” Lilly said sarcastically.
“I just had a talk with Beth.” I replied.
“She’s such a bitch, what did she say?” asked Becky.
“Just the usual crap,” I replied.
“To get your mind off it, I’ve got something to tell you.” Becky said.
Becky and Lilly were giggling to each other. “What, what’s wrong?” I asked the giggling girls.
Becky suddenly blurted, “Matthew asked me out just now.” she screamed in such a high-pitched voice that she could almost break glass.
“Really?” I replied. “That’s amazing.” I said.
“Yeah, it was, well, not at the beginning.” Lilly said.
“Why? What happened?” I waited for their answer.
“It was so funny, Ellie. Becky was just staring at him like an idiot, and she just started mumbling. It was so funny.” laughed Lilly.
“It wasn’t,” Becky shouted. “And I wasn’t staring at him, at all. I was just thinking.”
“Sorry, Becky, but it was kinda’ funny.” said Lilly.
Laughing lifted a vast weight off of me. It was a release, and for a second, my troubles had gone. Lilly and I were still laughing while Becky was fighting to urge not to join us. Then the happy feeling shattered like broken glass as the school bell buzzed throughout the halls. The smile had fallen from my face and it threw me back into the normality of school life. The girls knew it too.
We started walking to our first class of the day when Lilly murmured. “You’ve got Mr Drop dead gorgeous today, haven’t you?”
I knew what Lilly was talking about and I wanted to forget about what happened yesterday, but the feelings came rushing back and I felt my stomach tie itself in knots.
“Uh yeah I do, but I’m just going to put it at the back of my mind for now.” I replied.
“I thought you could speak to him about it, you know, put things straight.” said Lilly.
“There’s nothing to put straight.” Becky commented.
“But even if I did, wouldn’t that make things more awkward between us?” I asked.
“Yeah, maybe.” replied Lilly.
I didn’t want to continue the conversation, so I said my goodbyes to the girls and stepped into my first lesson, Science. It wasn’t bad and I kind of’ like science. My teacher was a stout-looking woman in her late fifties with a gentle soul. Mrs Donavan wore a long skirt and a comfy-looking cardigan, with short greying hair that flowed freely down.
I sat at my usual seat next to an average-looking girl called, Leah. She never talked to me and just kept to herself, just like myself.
As the lesson began, I pulled out my book and started taking notes from Mrs Donavan. I jotted everything down that I thought was worth writing, and Mrs Donavan liked to talk, though. I was writing information when my pen had faded; I shuffled through my bag hoping to find another working pen, but there were none. I whispered to Leah, who was jotting down her notes.
“Uh, Leah, can I borrow a pen, please?” I whispered.
Leah rolled her eyes at me and grabbed a pen from her bag and slammed it down on my desk.
“Thanks, Leah. Normally I’ve got loads of pens but don’t know where they’ve gone.” I said.
“Freak,” Leah whispered under her breath as she continued to write.
Her words tore through me like a bullet. I ignored her comment and continued writing. Many of the students here called me names, and I just ignored them as best as I could. Each fresh day came and an alternative name to call me by. Why do people have to be horrible all the time? I tried to listen to the teacher, but all I could hear was the word freak. I repeated it several times until the word lost all its meaning.
I remembered back when I first came to this school. It was in the middle of the school year. Everyone had their routine, and along came to me. A fresh face to the school, Becky and Lilly took to me quickly, but not all of them. The first few days of being in a new school, I had a guy come up to me. He wanted to ask me out. (I think). He touched my hand; he went crazy and tore at my clothes. Before it got any serious, I ran away from him screaming down the hall, and that’s when it all began, between him and the teacher I had gotten fired, no wonder they called me names. Ever since then, few people would come near me, and I’m ok with that.
I tried to push back those feelings deep down and tried to focus on the teacher’s ramblings while I wrote into my book. The small bell mounted on the wall buzzed, making me jump a little. I shoved my books straight into my bag and turned around to Leah to give her pen back, but she had already gone. I threw my backpack over my shoulder and hurried off to my next class. It caught me off guard as Becky stood next to the classroom door, waiting for me with her arms folded.
“You ready?” Becky asked.
I gave her a slow nod and took a deep breath. English class was below us. We both descended the old stairs (it could use a fresh coat of paint) and entered Mr Thomas’s classroom. Both of us sat in our usual seats, two rows from the front. I turned in my chair and grabbed my books, carefully making sure not to look at Mr Thomas. Grabbing my book, I placed it on the table with my head slumped down. He stood in front of us clasping the book labelled, Romeo and Juliet.
“Right then, shall we continue from yesterday?” he said.
He paced up and down the aisle, giving out the books. Today he was wearing a peach shirt that fit snugly around his sturdy arms with a pair of grey trousers, and I didn’t realise I was checking him out until he finally he stopped in front of me, holding the book out. With my hand clasped at my sides, I refused to take it. Becky could see my unwillingness and reached out and grabbed the book instead. I mouthed Becky a thank you.
Mr Thomas read from the book. Every girl in the class clung onto his every word, his voice, pure ecstasy. His eyes seemed to glow with passion with every word that left his lips. Taking my eyes off the book, I turned to Becky, who had become enthralled by him. I swore I could see her drooling. While he was reading his eye caught mine, and, for a moment, it felt like he was reading the words only to me and not to a room full of kids. I knew then why everyone adored him. He had a twinkle in his eye that could turn your entire body to jelly. I tore my eyes away from his and looked straight down at the book.
As Mr Thomas read, there was a knock on the door. The entire class raised their heads up like a pack of excited dogs. A youthful woman came into the classroom and asked for him. She was old to be a student, but too young to be a teacher. Maybe she was a teacher’s aide. Mr Thomas excused himself and left the room. The room then burst into chaos. Becky and I talked amongst ourselves, and that’s when I could hear sniggering from behind us.
“No, you do it.” a voice said.
“Fine, but you owe me,” She started. “Ellie.”
Uh oh, I didn’t want any trouble. I ignored her and wished for the teacher to enter at that moment.
“Are you a virgin, Ellie?” Embarrassment washed over me, and I could feel my face getting warmer. Thank god my back was to them.
“Well, are you?” the voice pestered me.
“I bet she’s not, I heard that she did it with the entire football team.” another voice added.
“Why don’t you shut your mouth, plus don’t you have to some jobs to give out at the back of the school?” Becky made an inappropriate mouth gesture and turned her back on them.
Before the girl could think of a comeback, Mr Thomas entered the room, and the class was silent.
I gave my thanks to Becky, and she replied with a cheeky wink.
I breathed a sigh of relief when the teacher finally re-entered the classroom and continued to read from the book.
Finally, the bell went, and as fast as I could, I threw everything into my backpack and left with Becky in tow before I could reach the door Mr Thomas called my name from behind. My body came to a complete stop, and I slowly turned to face him and saw that he was smiling at me.
“I’ll just be outside if you need me, Ellie.” Becky said.
“I just want to apologise about yesterday, if I offended you, I’m sorry.” he cooed.
“Uh no, not really, it’s OK,” I lied. “Things haven’t been going well for me lately.”
“Do you want to talk about it?” he asked.
I was so tempted to tell him everything about what’s happening theses past few days but I decided not to and what would he say if I told him he would think I was crazy. He waited for my answer with his sparkling eyes upon me.
“No, it’s nothing. But thank you.” I said and headed straight out the door. Becky followed behind me.
We planned to meet up with Lilly and eat together, but we were late. We both rushed down to the hall to find Lilly sitting beside herself looking lonely. Down in the massive dining room, seated at a table, was Beth. She faced the entrance as if she was waiting for someone. She sat with a group of girls, laughing and giggling amongst themselves. The three of us knew those girls very well, and we tried to stay well clear of them. I didn’t want to look at her anymore so Becky and I bought our sandwiches and sat down with Lilly, but before I could eat my food Becky was the first one to speak.
“What Mr Drop Dead Gorgeous said was nice.” Becky said as she took a sizeable chunk out of her sandwich.
“You were listening?!” I asked.
“What are you talking about?” asked Lilly.
“Just about Mr Drop Dead Gorgeous.” replied Becky.
“Did you say anything to him?” Lilly asked eagerly.
“No, he talked to me as we were coming out of the class and he was OK with it. He even said sorry about it, thinking it was his fault.” I said.
“That was sweet of him.” Lilly said.
“I think I may like him even more.” Becky swooned.
I just stared down at the unappealing sandwich I held in my hand. Maybe I had been making a tremendous fuss about things lately. I just had to relax and try not to get worked up about things.
“O.M.G, Ellie, I totally forgot what the hell happened last night?” Lilly asked.
“Oh yeah, that was scary, Ellie.” said Becky.
I looked up from my food. I didn’t realise what they were talking about until it hit me.
“Oh, you mean when we were chatting last night?”
Lilly and Becky looked straight at me with intense looks on their face.
“I just didn’t feel well that’s all.” I replied.
“Bullshit.” Lilly said.
“Lilly!” Becky shouted.
“Come on, Ellie, tell us.” Lilly added.
“I don’t know what’s wrong with me; honestly, I don’t.” I said.
“Come on, Ellie. Tell you what’s going on, we’re your friends.” Lilly pestered.
“I don’t, I-I can’t.” I hesitated.
I jumped to my feet and left the girls sitting on the table. I needed a moment to myself. I ran into the nearest toilet, knocking aside one or two students were in my path.
An overpowering bleach smell lingered around the toilets and burned my nostrils once inhaled. I ran into one stall and slammed the door closed that shook the surrounding stalls. I sat on the toilet seat lid, (wiping it first yuck) I nearly cried, I could feel it building up when I decided that I didn’t want to feel like this anymore. I wanted things to get better and moaning or crying about it won’t make it happen. Hearing Lilly react like that was weird. Normally she was the calm one, but was she only just watching out for me? I would have thought Becky would say something like that, but it felt wrong for it to come from Lilly. Maybe she was getting fed up with my crap. I tore off some toilet paper and dabbed at my eyes, trying not to smudge my make-up.
I walked to my last lesson of the day, art. I loved art very much, and it was my favourite lesson. It made me feel calm and I could sort out my thoughts quickly, with no hassle, and sometimes we could listen to our headphones. My teacher, Miss. Days was a lovely welsh woman. She was a tall, fair woman with a colourful dress sense. Sometimes she had her hair in a bun with pencils woven into it and also had paint of clay stained to her clothes. Miss. Days were always helpful when you needed it, and would listen to you if you had any problems. I sat down in my usual seat and she greeted me with a heartfelt smile. Her smile was warm, a mother’s smile. I don’t remember my mum’s smile, but I would like to think it could be like that.
I sought to show her my brightest smile I could, but only a fraction of it came out. Miss. Days started talking about colour wheels and giving tips on how to get the most out of your paints and our brushstrokes. She gave out our workbooks and with my sharp pencil I drew onto the paper. I styled thin delicate patterns of swirls onto the paper, making sure they were of equal proportions and soon filled in with more detail, making the picture come alive. I grabbed the eraser to rub out some mistakes when I noticed something.
Looking around the class, the students were sitting close to each other. The tables were not that big, but there were more students crammed around a table than there should have been. I was alone, and there was no one sitting on my table. I didn’t think anyone would even consider sitting next to me. Were they scared or just repulsed by me? By their standards, they considered me a freak, and sometimes I think they were right. Thinking deeply about it, I completely ignored the voice behind me.
“How’s it coming along?” the teacher asked me.
She peered over my shoulder to see my work; she looked pleased.
“It’s coming along nicely, Ellie. Keep it up,” she said, “but maybe you could add more detail here and here,” she said pointing to my work.
I nodded and smiled at her. Going with her advice, I added more detail to where it needed. That compliment gave me a little boost, and I continued my work in silence. Drawing and re-drawing until the bell rang.
“Thank god this day is over.” I said.
I grabbed my things and dropped them into my bag. I left the classroom, but not before giving a wave goodbye to Miss. Days.
As I walked out of the school building my phone beeped. I dug my phone out of my bag and read the message on the screen.
I’m running late, will be outside soon X.
It was from Aunt Kate.
Great, I hate waiting around. Outside of the school gates, the other students were saying their goodbyes to each other and heading off home and some onto the school bus while I waited around for Kate to pick me up. I paced back and forth waiting impatiently for her, checking my phone now and then. While walking up and down, I could hear two familiar voices behind me. I saw Lilly and Becky walking towards me while waving. Lilly broke into a jog and stopped in front of me, panting heavily.
“I’m so sorry, Ellie. Can you forgive me?” she said with a little breath. “I’ve been feeling guilty ever since this afternoon.”
To be honest, I wasn’t mad at her, how could I be. I was angry at the situation I was in. Nothing made sense anymore, and now my friends were a part of it. They were just confused as much as I was. I wanted to give Lilly a hug, but I knew that was out of the question.
She waited for my answer with puppy dog eyes. I gave her a reassuring smile, Lilly’s face burst into glee. Becky slowly crept up behind her with her head down in shame.
“I’m sorry too, Ellie.” she said.
“That’s ok. I know I’m not the easiest person to be friends with, but I’m glad it’s you two.” I said to both of them. Lilly’s eyes watered, but she quickly wiped it away.
“Do you want us to walk you home, Ellie?” asked Becky.
“No thanks, I’ve got my aunt to pick me up in a bit, Dad insisted.” I said.
“Oh, ok then we’ll see you tomorrow.” said Becky, “give Kate our love.”
They both waved goodbye and set off down the road together. I took my phone out and checked to see if I had any more messages, but there were none.
“Come on, Kate, where are you?” I said out loud.
“Waiting for someone?” a voice full of confidence called to me.