We stumbled through the door and we were in front of the school, people mulling through the streets as if four ash covered teens with some blood on them wasn’t a really weird sight. Actually, I retract that last sentence.
Gram lead us through the building and brought us to our room where she grabbed a drink of water from the sink and eyed us all, her soft features turning sharp in the sun that lashed out through one of the high-placed windows.
She was tapping her foot and looking around in deep thought. The room wasn’t messy, hardly at all to be honest. Most everything was how we left it and I realized how nice it felt to be back in this room and area.
I sighed, running a hand through my messy hair. Griffin jumped up, claiming the shower and that caused a hubba-baloo, even though no one really had the energy to argue. Griffin won the shower privileges and Gram looked around, waiting for us to get settled before she headed out the door that was slightly floating behind her. She closed it quickly and my ears reared back from the violin-sharp noise.
J stretched, saying she was not going to go wait for Griffin to get out of the shower, saying he seemed like someone that would shower for a long time and honestly, he really did. But that’s none of my business.
She trotted on over to the rainbow door across from us with a towel, strawberry 2-in-1 shampoo and bodywash in hand as she happily greeted a tall, ruby eyed girl who grinned widely at the sight of J.
Sully washed his hands in the sink, the dirt and blood that was caked on them making a big glop in the shiny outer shell of the basin. The dirt became muddy, sticking about as the blood stained the mud; the dirty red was slightly disturbing as it swirled about down the drain like a whirlpool.
His hair was slightly dirty, contrasting strongly against the bright blue that had spread like weeds once J had left. It was bright and seemed to shine a little bit against the dark part of the room.
Sully sighed, drying off his hands and smiling at me. I smiled back, feeling the dirt pasted on my arm begin to feel irritating and the ash make my lungs burn. The cut along my leg was almost healed, thanks to J but I still wanted to wash it off with water.
If only Griffin didn’t act like he had an entire lake to shower in. If only.
My wings were taking up a smallish chunk of room but I curled them around me, wanting to try and wash them off in the shower as well. And my tail. It wouldn’t feel right if I didn’t.
Griffin came out of the shower, grinning with fresh clothing on but still no form. He was clean and smelled like cool mint. He pointed at me and threw a towel at my face, saying it was my turn to hop in the shower.
Sully looked at Griffin, defeated but did not argue as I told him he was guaranteed to get the home-installed waterfall next. That made him smile.
After softly closing the door out of habit and I gently folded my towel, setting in on the top of the sink. The bathroom was very clean, to my surprise. Some dust was here and there but the shower was pristine and looked rather inviting.
I turned the knob, letting the water grow warmer and got undressed; this proved very difficult, let me tell you.
I ended up easily slipping my tail out of my pants, my underwear completely unharmed in the process. My wings, on the other hand, were a completely different story. I couldn’t find the right way to angle them and ended up, at one point, knocking over one of the cups that held toothpaste and accessories. Eventually, I gave up and just cut the shirt with one of my claws. Talons? I dunno, one of those.
The water was wonderfully hot and my muscles relaxed right away, the tension melting like cheese in a fondue pot. It felt heavenly. My hair became soaked, water washing out small bits of dirt and ash that spotted it. My wings managed to barely fit in the shower and when I wasn’t washing one I had to lift the other up or tuck it in. It was not an easy process. Obviously.
The water felt odd on my scales, but once I had washed off dirt and ash that caked them, I felt a million times better; the mud and dusty ash washed down the drain in whirlpool of muck that made my nose scrunch up.
Turning the water off, I dried off the best I could. It felt wonderful to be clean, like a fresh fruit. Made me feel a bit more relaxed, as well.
I sighed, rubbing my shoulders. Soon, after might trifle, I felt the weight on my back disappear and the scales on my face just ink upon my skin.
I plopped on a sweatshirt and jeans, looking in the mirror. My face was clean, pimples here and there. It wasn’t the prettiest face on the block but that was ok.
Scooping up my clothes and throwing them in the hamper set aside the shower, I brushed my teeth with a lime green toothbrush that was stored in the cabinets below.
It felt nice to be clean again, you know?
I spit out the foamy paste, rinsing out my mouth and taking the toothbrush with me to hopefully claim it as my own.
J was back by this time, her hair damp as she started making a pot of coffee. The red-haired girl was lounging on the sofa and Griffin was sitting on the floor, seemingly upset by the seating arrangements. Sully was chilling on his bed, bopping his head to music.
Everything was calm, for the moment.
I quietly walked over to Sully and tapped him on the shoulder. He looked up, slightly startled but I pointed to one of the markers he had laying on his bed and he handed it to me and I quickly scribbled my name on the toothbrush. He took it back, looking at the tip but otherwise smiled softly at me.
After returning the toothbrush I plopped myself on one of the bar chairs that lined the small counter. These were rather nice rooms, I guess. I had looked at a few colleges so I guess this was better than what most had to offer. Even though this wasn’t even really a college.
I laid my head down, eyes level with the coffee maker. It was bubbling with bean juice as J picked it up and poured herself a glass. She rubbed her eyes and smiled tiresomely at me, her hair a bit dryer.
The girl with the crimson hair got up from couch and Griffin quickly took her spot as she practically sauntered over beside me. Her eyes sparked with danger but I could tell she was more interested in me at the moment than danger.
J handed the girl her coffee and she took a long sip, handing it back. She grinned at me and I smiled back, unsure of what to do. She was just sitting there, looking at me.
“You know, words already spread about you. Kinda like you though,” She said, poking me in the ribs. I moved over a chair, tapping my fingers against the countertop. “You seem feisty. Maybe a bit angry. What’da say, J?” She said, turning to the blonde. She frowned in response.
The red-haired girl turned back to me and managed to lounge about in the bar chair. She seemed suave. Her smile was cocky but her eyes seemed soft. She seemed confusing.
She hopped out of the chair and J perked up as the red-head moved about. She was short with a plump build, unbothered by the fact that I was staring at her in wonder.
“Class start early tomorrow. Eight, instead of nine. Here, one of the snakes sent up some fresh schedules,” J told me, staring at hers as she handed me mine. The same classes and room numbers. I frowned, confused on how I would get there.
I lightly tapped J on the shoulder as she walked toward Griffin. She looked at me, her lips in a small smile and head cocked. “Whatcha’ need? You don’t normally use non-verbal communication, not from what I can tell.” She stated as the red haired lass took another slug from J’s coffee.
I pointed to my schedule as I leaned on the balls of my feet. My tongue felt fat and dry, a caterpillar wrapped in bloody webs of a spider. The thought of classes after… After what had happened. It felt surreal. All of it and yet I was still here.
J looked at me, confused. “Where they are? Well, tomorrow is Monday. So you’ve got class with Auggie. Don’t call him that during class either but I’ll assume you already knew that. His room is beside that statue of Julius Caesar. Don’t worry, he won’t stab you. He’s actually quite helpful.” She blabbered and stopped when she saw my face.
“Oh, yeah. Some people take on a profession called Zau Masons. They specialize in giving life to statues. But only statues. Otherwise, they’d have too much power. Most make statues for schools or businesses. Really cool profession but difficult as heck.”
So that’s why some of the statues looked alive earlier, or close to it. But Julius Caesar hopefully wouldn’t be too hard to find. I hoped that he was friendly, or maybe even similar to his once alive counter-part that’s been made into salad. That’d be weird though.
I just stared at my schedule for a few minutes. My eyes felt glassy and I couldn’t really focus on anything. My blood felt like it was boiling and skin itchy.
Taking a deep breath, I set my schedule down on the counter and ran cool water over my arms from the sink. Cool water always makes things feel a bit better, even if it takes a bit.
Griffin was complaining about having training tomorrow with Mr. Fowler but he didn’t say much anything else after realising he got to end the week in World Painting with Sully. This made he relatively compliant of starting with training as the red haired lass finished off J’s coffee.
I cocked my head at her, wondering why she was here and where her tattoo was. She saw me looking and grinned, winking.
“My, my, Nayleth. Can you even talk? I though Sully was the mute one!” She exclaimed and proceeded to have her hair yanked by J. Sully was behind her, glaring and his eyes met mine but he looked away almost immediately.
I glared at the girl. “Yes, I can talk but that’s no reason to make Sully feel…” But I drifted off, not thinking of the word. “Anywho, what are you even doing here? I have no idea who you are!”
“Briar, fo you information. J’s girlfriend.” She replied hastily and looked at her wristwatch. Her brow furrowed and she gave J a quick kiss. “Gotta go, love you Jelly!” And she headed out the door, leaving me feeling more confused and in wonder. Queer people were normally the best kinds of people.
J smiled at me, handing me a cup of coffee that I gladly drank. “Don’t mind her, she’s just excited for new students. And she’s always loved your story.” She said, pausing with an empty breath.
“Buttum... not to give you false hope but she thinks your father is still alive. Most people who think that normally just get teased, beat up or worse. People don’t take kindly to your father for reasons Auggie can tell you.” She told me, her eyes falling to stare at her coffee.
But my eyes stayed locked on hers. A headache was growing behind my eyes and my skin was boiling again as the words she said echoed through my ears. I shoved my hands in a pair of pockets that my pants had to keep from scratching the palm of my hands.
“What?” I told her, my voice shaking. My brain was running hundreds of miles an hour and I couldn’t think.
J looked at me, cocking her head. Sully had stopped drawing at this point, looking at me with pointed interest. His hair had little blue in it but I could see it spreading slowly as his interest peaked.
I looked at him and my fists softened in my pockets. He heard. He already knew. Then Griffin looked up and he seemed startled.
“Nayleth, what’s wrong?” Griffin asked, tapping a pencil back and forth against his thighs.
I looked at the three of them, muscles tense and unsure of what to say. Sully knew what was happening already but I didn’t want to tell them. I couldn’t. Even with Quinn also thinking something had been off with my father’s case.
“Nothing,” I said and shrugged my shoulders, plopping myself on my bed. The quilt felt cool and comforting against my cheek as I had squished my face against it.
“Nothing! Well, it’s obviously something, considering how you’re acting!” J exclaimed and I saw Griffin glare at me from the angle I had. He crossed his arms, giving me one of those looks.
“I said nothing, alright?” I retorted and buried myself under the covers. My eyelids feel heavy then and soon my muscles began to remember just what torture they had to endure the past week.
I heard J scoff but she walked away, the sound of the room door closing. I could hear Sully sigh, his footsteps confused as to where to go but he followed J out the door and a weight appeared at the end of my bed.
“I think you upset J. Just saying.” Griffin told me, a slight chuckle in his voice. I could hear that pencil tapping against his thighs again.
I peaked out from under my quilt and he grinned at me. “Seriously, what’s up with Briar believing that your father isn’t dead? Everyone knows something was covered up in his case. That’s why it was made a case in the first place!” Griffin explained as he waved his hands about while he spoke.
Everyone knew about the case. My father’s case. About how he died. But what made it odd was that there was one witness; not a complete witness, mind you. Just someone who was there in his last few minutes.
The judge was kind to me, when we were in court. Many people thought it was a murder, how the knife laid against the floor and how the blood spilled. But they ruled it out as a suicide.
I think about that day a lot. How it smelled of sharpened pencils and fresh paper; how the seats seemed to roll back like the whites of a person’s eyes; how no one would shut up and it made me panic; how they only one that would seem to listen to me was my Gram and a young couple in the audience with odd tattoos.
I shot up, eyes wide. Griffin, being startled, fell off my bed and looked at me with raised eyebrows. “What’s up? No need to push me off the bed though.” He told me and got up, rubbing his neck.
“Nothing. I need to talk to your parents. I’ll be right back.” I told him and ran out of the room, my bare feet smacking against the cold hallway floors. I could hear Griffin running after me but I ignored him.
Passing J and Sully, both wide-eyed at me running down the hall in pajamas, I stopped. Not sure where I was going, I turned to the nearest human statue I could find. J and Sully were behind me, both in confusion.
“Mark’s office?” I ask the statue of Albert Einstein who smiled at me and pointed down the hall and to the right. I thanked him and shot back down the hall as he took a puff of his pipe, legs and back aching from the weeks past “adventure”, hoping I would get some sort of answer.