It was a Thursday afternoon when Alex Kay inherited the world.
Alex walked home from school, his backpack slung on his shoulder as he walked not home but to a small coffee shop not that far away. He always had done this when, after his day at Jacksonville High School as a freshman, his mother had texted him. Always something along the lines of ‘I have to work a little late’ or ‘my shift won’t end until around 5’. And so, he would in response wait for her to come pick him up at ‘The Bean’, a coffee shop not five or so blocks away.
The walk was always the hardest part, in Alex’s opinion. His backpack always stuffed with books, pencils, sketchbooks and the occasional textbook he had to take home, it felt like he was carrying a fridge on his shoulders.
In addition, it certainly didn’t help that he wasn’t particularly muscular. He was certainly able, but he was on the….average side. And to couple with that, he wasn’t like he was very lanky either. Standing at 5’10 in 9th grade, he felt most certainly…average.
Though, he considered to himself, that average wasn’t an insult, average was normal. He was certainly better off than some, he wasn’t short, yet not tall, not idiotic, but not a human encyclopedia like some people he knew. He considered being average wasn’t a bad thing, so his self-esteem, for the time being, was intact.
Besides his height and his muscles, Alex was somewhat different in appearance. Standing out as a more notable feature were his eyes; shining blue like ‘the azure sky’ as his mom had always compared, his eyes were brighter, lighter even, and contrasted with his dark black hair. Grown out to a degree he kept his hair shaggy and longer than most, curled and messy was his preference, no matter how it seemed dirty to most. His features were his pride and joy, due to the fact that he felt that he stood out from others, and he didn’t feel so average…he felt…different.
As average as he was, Alex also had friends. He had a slightly large variety of those whom he grew familiar and friendly with over the years of middle and high school. Among them, one of the most notable characters was Marcus. Marcus was actually similar to Alex, he was average in appearance but had a certainly louder personality. Often expressive and using his hands to extend his verbal opinions, he was daring and more challenging to accept or like than anyone Alex knew, which was very different than Alex’s more quiet, composed, yet friendly nature.
Alex and Marcus had met two years prior in 7th grade. Marcus remained still quite the same while Alex was slightly quieter, more fearful to speak. And almost, it was as if Marcus had chosen Alex to be his best friend. Marcus had been new that year, arrived out of the blue to Alex’s middle school and he automatically fit in, like he’d known everyone and everyone had already liked him. His extravagant and daring nature made Alex look up to him amongst…other feelings.
Soon afterwards, they started to stick together, they met after school, hung around each other a good deal in school, and texted constantly.
Alex soon arrived at ‘The Bean’ and sat down at one of their vacant seats by the window, watching other people walk by calmly in the town of Mercy, Pennsylvania. He took his phone out from his jacket pocket, looking at it and seeing no incoming texts from Marcus or his mother, so he decided to simply order.
Waiting in line he kept his phone and headphones in his pockets, holding them close as to avoid them getting stolen while also keeping an eye on his backpack placed in his seat to save it- not as if anyone would steal it anyway- and then faced forward as the man in front of him began his order.
Suddenly, his phone vibrated quickly. Picking it up he saw a text from Marcus, suspecting it to be nothing but a simple ‘hey’, he read ‘Turn Around’. He turned his head and saw Marcus, to which he jumped slightly.
“God man! You’re going to give me a heart attack.” Alex said, calming down.
“Calm down, man. I just wanted to surprise you.” Marcus replied with his usual, warm chuckle.
Marcus, besides his difference in personality, differed from Alex in appearance as well. Marcus was slightly taller, about an inch or two to be exact, about the same muscularly, If not more so, and also had tan skin, especially compared to Alex’ more porcelain appeal. And in addition to it all, Marcus had locks of brown, autumn colored hair cut in a similar yet much lighter and more appealing style then Alex. Also instead of blue, azure eyes, Marcus had evergreen colored ones that reminded Alex of spring or a meadow in the summer.
So, basically, to Alex, Marcus was just a more appealing, more beautiful version of himself who was also better with people and much, much braver.
And he couldn’t have envied him more.
“So what are you doing here?” asked Alex.
“I decided to keep you company while you waited, I saw you didn’t get on the bus today so I figured you’d come here.” He said gesturing to their surroundings.
“Don’t you have art club or something today?”
“I felt like it. I’ll wait over there.” He said with a cocky grin, walking away from him and striding over to Alex’ seat by the window and grabbing a chair from nearby to sit across from him.
Alex nearly scoffed, Marcus was bold yet sometimes…too bold, annoying even. He faced forward yet again and saw that it was now his turn in line. Walking forward, the girl across the counter nodded at him when he requested two lemonades and turned around to make them.
Alex pulled out his wallet and looked inside. Seeing nothing he nearly froze and turned frantically, looking at Marcus who turned to him and blinked.
‘Do you have any money?’ Alex mouthed.
‘No.’ he returned.
Alex faced the girl across the counter and smiled sheepishly.
“Um…sorry, it doesn’t seem like I have any money.” He said with a chuckle.
The girl gave him a frown and then rolled her eyes. “Fine.” She replied, taking the lemonades away and Alex turned around, sulking back to his seat.
“Well that was embarrassing.” He muttered as he sat down.
“It wasn’t that bad.” Marcus replied, now on his phone playing some kind of game.
”How does a guy at my age have no money? I’m relying way too much on allowance and having people buy things for me.” He scolded himself.
“Get a job.” Marcus replied, not taking his eyes away from the screen of his phone.
“Where are they hiring?” he asked.
“I’ve heard worse.”
Alex nearly laughed at that, if he wasn’t so bothered by his financial ‘crisis’ of sorts. He turned and saw people hurriedly walking to the nearest awning they could find amongst the layered brick buildings as it had begun to rain.
People scattered like ants. Umbrellas, equipped by those who were well prepared, sprung open and the sky above turned much more gray than it already had. Others who were less than prepared covered their heads with hoods or items to shield themselves from the rain as cars drove by on the small intersection right next to the coffee shop.
Then, Alex had noticed her.
Standing amongst the umbrellas and black raincoats that shuffled past her unmoving body, was a girl, her hair reminding Alex of the sun, she wore all white, a blouse and frilly skirt, her top half covered by a white wool cardigan, and she smiled at him once their eyes met and even waved. Her hair was a mixture, unlike anything Alex had ever seen before, of red, orange and yellow intertwining and fading amongst themselves to compose her long, down to her waist, locks of hair.
However, the most striking feature was her eyes.
Shining bright, brighter than his own eyes or any Alex had ever seen, the girl’s eyes were colored gold and were so radiant and light it’s like they were a flashlight, illuminating the gray around everyone.
Alex looked at her strangely as she gestured for him to come out, yet, no one else seemed to pay her any mind, just walking past and not even giving her a glance.
Alex turned to Marcus, still preoccupied with his game and tapped his shoulder.
“Hey!” Alex spoke.
“What?” he asked irritably, not looking at him still.
“Do you see that girl? She’s outside, in the rain, and gesturing to me.”
“Lucky you, getting attention from a stranger. Go talk to her.” He replied with a shrug, still watching the screen of his phone.
“So you see her too?”
Marcus looked up from his phone for the first time in a while and then looked straight at the girl, then he looked to her right, then her left and even the sidewalks across the road where cars zoomed past.
“No. Where is she?” he asked as he looked for her again, looked straight at her, then turned away and kept staring.
“You just saw her, don’t mess with me man.”
“Mess with you? Man what are you…you’re playing a joke on me huh? I have bad news Alex, but you’re not funny. It was a good try though.” He admitted as he went back to his game, rolling his eyes.
“No Marcus! I saw her! I’m not kidding! Come on!” he said gesturing a hand at the girl, who had seemingly gotten tired of Alex not getting up and started to walk forward, towards the road of cars.
Alex opened his mouth, ready to convince Marcus of the mystery girl’s existence. But then stood up. He grabbed his phone and headphones and pushed in his chair.
“I’m going after her.” He said as he walked away and opened the door.
Marcus didn’t even bother looking up from his phone. “Fine man, see if you fool me, I’m not playing along.” He said as he kept his eyes down.
The girl had kept walking, rather slowly, towards the road and soon she reached the main group of people waiting for the light to turn red at the intersection so they could cross.
Alex started walking towards the girl as she passed by the group of five people and continued her pace towards the road. Alex picked up his pace, now concerned as he grew closer to the girl.
Soon she made a step forward and the cars continued their pace and Alex started running towards her, soon barging past the group of people and earning from them looks of annoyance and he even yelled a loud ‘STOP’ as she continued walking.
Soon, a large truck started to drive past, and Alex, deciding he had no other option, leaped forward and went to push the girl out of the way, but when he touched her, she slipped through his fingers like vapor. Her white clothing disappearing and passing through his hands like mist as he looked up at her, falling to the ground as she smiled, raising a finger to her lips.
Alex then looked to his right and saw the truck’s headlights before him, terrified as he braced for the impact.