“Wait, so, this guy threatened you, chased you, and then went after your younger siblings?” Claire asked me again.
“Yeah, that’s what happened.”
“Why would he do something like that? What did you do?”
“That’s the thing—I don’t know what I did. It’s like he’s got me confused with someone else.” I grabbed a lunch tray from the line and stood in front of the lunch lady for her to plop the slop on my plate and continued down the lunch line. The food looked like it was moving, so I held it as far as possible from me as I grabbed my apple juice from the bin. After handing the lunch lady my school ID, I waited for Claire to get her grub. She stepped from the line and gave me the same disgusted look, so we both dumped our trays, only keeping our juices, in the trash and went to the only private place during lunch—the math hallway.
On the way there, Claire broke the silence, “So, he didn’t tell you why you were in ‘trouble’?”
“No—it just, kinda—happened.”
“Wow, what a nut job.”
“Yeah, well, Liam is looking into it, so we shouldn’t worry too much.”
“Oh, well, in that case, consider him dead.” She joked.
I gave her a light smile and sat down in our usual spot in the deserted hallway.
“At least you’re okay. I mean, if he got to you, I mean, really got to you, who knows what—”
“Claire, stop right there. I don’t want to imagine what would have happened, and I doubt you want to, either.” I glanced over at my best friend, who had tears in her eyes and shifted so I was sitting in front of her. “I’m sorry, are you okay?”
Claire wiped her eyes with the back of her hand, “Yeah, sorry, that’s just scary. I can’t bear to lose you.”
I encompassed her hand in mine. “And you won’t. Remember, I have big bad brother going after him.”
Claire burst out a short laugh. When I first met Claire, Liam was still worried she would hurt me, but then she met him and totally ticked him off. She showed him up—probably the only person that has ever done that. I instantly liked her even more for being the only person not afraid of my brother. She wiped her eyes again and glared at her hands. “Great, now my mascara is everywhere. I’m gonna run to the bathroom and fix it, ’kay? See you in sixth period?” She jumped up from her spot and looked down at me expectantly.
I smiled at her instant mood change. “You bet. See ya!” She spun, her newly dyed black hair swaying on her back. She’s just one of those people who is friends with everyone, but I knew she was my best friend by the way she stuck to my side all the time and consistently spoke to me about all her problems.
I chugged my juice and thought some more how grateful I was to have the people I did in my life. My mother left us five years ago—right after she had my twin siblings, Shawn and Lucy. There wasn’t really much warning, and she didn’t leave a note. She is the real reason we left our house in Idaho, and came here to Nevada. I felt the closest I had ever been to my brother, though, as we toughed it out and was there for our other siblings. Not long after, my oldest brother, Johnathan, told us he wanted nothing else to do with us and cut us off. Claire came into my life then. And was a huge help, her filling in some of the empty space left behind in my heart.
Knowing the bell will ring soon, I headed towards my locker to get my things for my next class. Turning the last corner, I got a dreadful feeling knotted in my stomach. But before I got a chance to think about it, I reached my locker. A yellow piece of parchment stuck out of the top vent, looking like it’ll turn into dust if I even breathe on it. Carefully reaching towards the paper, I plucked it from the vent with a couple fingers and opened it so gently you would have thought I was operating on a baby.
I hope you have taken my words into consideration. I won’t warn you again. If I find out that you are still a problem, I will terminate you for good. And you know what I mean.
P.S. leave my keys in your locker tonight so I can get them. Don’t bother trying to find out who I am, you will never find out.
My hands trembled and the fragile parchment ripped a little in protest. Unable to hold anything so evil anymore, I released the paper and sent it sailing to the tile. How did he know my school? My locker? Heck—my name?! Is anywhere even safe anymore?
With questions sailing through my mind faster than I could even think, I headed to the bathroom. Splashing water on my face, I again reviewed all the events of macho man chasing me down, once again coming in empty on how he knew me.
Not knowing what else to do, I called Liam. I would have him take me home and I could think it through later. There was no way I could make it the rest of the day and I wasn’t about to walk home alone again after what happened yesterday.
I’m lucky my brother has study hall. I settled myself. Slowly coming out of the bathroom, I flipped my phone open and scrolled until I saw Liam’s name. I thought he wasn’t going to pick up, but then his voice sent calming waves through me.
“I know, I have my math book, I’m working on my homework as we’re speaking. Now stop worrying and get yourself to class.”
“Liam, can you take me home? I don’t feel too well.”
I heard the sliding of a chair in the background and papers shuffling around before he spoke again, nearly yelling. “Are you okay? What’s wrong?”
“I just have a nasty headache I haven’t been able to get rid of all day and it’s starting to get worse. Would you mind taking me home?” I hated lying to my brother, but I didn’t even know if it was safe to tell him what this stalker was saying. The last thing I wanted was to get him hurt.
“Yeah, of course. Meet me at the car in a few.” I heard the soft click of the phone as the line went dead and I scurried my way to the parking lot.
Three days later, I still haven’t told anybody about the letter. The next day at school, I brought his lanyard and hung it from one of the hooks in my locker. By the next morning, it was gone.
Today is like any other day of school, except it’s Friday, so it’s, thank goodness, the weekend starting tomorrow.
“Guess what’s coming up!” Claire bounded down the hall towards me at lunchtime and linked her arm with mine.
“The weekend!” I answered, trying to match her enthusiasm.
“Okay, let’s try this again. What is going on this weekend?”
I raked my brain, trying to figure out if it was a celebrity’s birthday, holiday, or any party that might be happening, but I came up blank.
Claire must have taken my blank stare as her answer because she continued. “The full moon is on Sunday!”
The full moon was in two nights. That wouldn’t really matter to anybody else, though—unless they were some sort of werewolf thing—but from the time I moved in here, I learned that Claire has an obsession with the sky. So as a result, every full moon we go and sleep on her trampoline, star-gazing all night.
“You are free, right?” Claire’s voice trembled, obviously taking my silence the wrong way.
“Yes, of course! I would never spend your favorite day with anyone else,” I assured her and watched her squeal in delight.
We opted out of lunch, deciding it was best for both our health that we didn’t try to gulp down the grub they were feeding us today and made our way down to our usual spot in the math hallway.
“So, guess what happened yesterday.” Claire suggested, breaking the comfortable silence we had between us.
“You went shopping.”
“Well, that too. Guess what else.”
“I heated the stove.”
“Wow. All by yourself? I’m so proud of you.” I said, coating each word thick with sarcasm.
“No—I mean with my hands. You know how they’re always warm? Well, I left them on the stove for a while when I was talking, and I took them off to boil some water, but the second I put the pot on the stove, the water boiled like crazy. My mom checked it out and said something else turned it on and burnt the burner to the core.”
“So, it’s either you’re fire-proof or your hands got too sweaty from talking.”
“El, I’m serious.”
“So am I. I mean, what else could it be?”
“You don’t see it?”
Claire ducked her head and grabbed my arm, bringing my body closer to hers. She looked around us, as if looking for others before whispering, “Now your dream makes total sense. Maybe I can somehow heat things with my hands. That would fit into everything else that’s been happening lately.”
“No, that dream was just—”
“Seriously! Think about it! Something else has to be happening here.”
The bell sounded as my mind was trying to find a good comeback. “Saved by the bell,” I muttered as I pulled away from her and headed towards my next class. A warm hand yanked on my arm and turned me around before I could make it far, though.
“El, just promise me you will think about it. That’s all I’m asking. I promise I’m not just some lunatic.”
I sighed, still not believing a word she said. I turned and saw the plead in her eyes and knew I couldn’t tell her that. “Okay, I’ll think about it,” I promised, not wanting to shoot her down right now.
Walking to my next class, I started thinking over the conversation I just had with Claire. Gosh. There’s no way she’s right. I mean, I’ve had crazy things happen before to me, but, really? Not possible. Right? Ugh, I’m so confused! Well, it would kinda make sense of some things—
I was yanked from my thoughts as a loud buzzing noise came over the building. Not knowing I’d even made it to class, I stood from my desk and followed the wave of students out the side doors. The stupid fire drills happen all the time. We just had one last week, so I don’t know why they have to do it again. Mrs. Kirkwood’s gray curly hair caught my attention behind me. I always pretended she was on the other side of the school, but I have no such luck. She burst between the kids, shoving me unnecessarily hard into one of the neighboring lockers lining the school. Wonder what that was about.
“Move it! Now!” The other teachers shouted from behind me. Jeez, give us a break. We’re moving. Due to my own thoughts circling my head, I was one of the last few slacking kids that hung near the back and waited for everybody else to leave. I guess this is just what it was like.
I finally made it out the door and looked around to see a worried Liam standing by the exit. He ran over to me, squeezed my hand tightly, and dragged me from the crowd forming across the street. That’s strange—we never go across the street in the other drills—maybe they changed the routine.
“Thank goodness you’re alright. Do you understand how worried I was?!” Liam screamed into my face as soon as we had made it past all the stalled cars waiting for us to cross.
“Well, you’re always worried, so that doesn’t surprise me,” I answered sarcastically.
Liam shifted his hands to my shoulders and swung me around to the school building. Flames burst from the top of the cafeteria and were quickly gritting to other parts of the old building.
Oh, no. it’s happening.