I woke to a white ceiling and a bright light burning my eyes. I closed my eyes immediately regretting opening them in the first place. I opened my eyes again, this time shielding them with my arm. Confusion hit me. Where was I? I scanned my surroundings. Just like the ceiling, the walls were white and very bright due to the added effect of the light bulb that shone above me. A weak sunlight shone through the window on my left, not bright enough to light up the room.
The warm smell of roses lingered in the air. A clock ticking sounded from my right. It was sitting on top of a small wooden side table, along with a banquet of red roses and a glass of water. Perspiration surrounded the glass, creating a small pool of water on the table. Two pills sat next to the pool of water, barely escaping from getting drowned.
My back was involuntarily painful. I was lying on an uncomfortable, springy bed. I slowly sat up on the bed stretching my stiff back. A brown chair rested in the corner on my left. I had visited this place before, when Joanne, from my English class was sick. It was the sickbay. Now the springs from the bed insulted my buttocks with their painful pressure. I understood why Joanne complained as soon as she got out of the sickbay. The bed was painful to rest on.
I stood up facing the window. I could see the Amoris mountain, small from a distance. It mocked me as it stood tall without any worries in the world.
“Oh, you’re awake!” A voice jerked me from my thoughts.
I whirled my head towards the voice clutching my chest. Miss Turner, the school nurse, walked gracefully through the entrance and made her way towards me. She was wearing a black pencil skirt accompanied by a light blue blouse. I couldn’t comprehend how one could walk that graceful in a pencil skirt. Her dark brown hair was tied up in a high ponytail, showing more of her round face. She was a beautiful woman in her late twenties but she didn’t look it. Boys were always swooning over her. Some even faked being sick as an excuse to see her. Silly boys.
I was surprised when she placed her warm hand on my head but I didn’t react back. "I’m sorry to scare you dear. How are you feeling?"
I felt a little dizzy, but the need to throw up was gone.
"I'm fine." I lied. I did not want to stay in here or lie on that bed any longer. I didn’t want to be in the same building as that man from last night. Was he stalking me now? To make sure that I did not tell anyone?
I sighed and placed my hand on my forehead. I willed myself not to think too much or else I was going to faint again, meaning a longer stay in this atrocious place. I smiled at Miss Turner as she watched me curiously.
“Those are interesting bruises on your shoulders.” She spoke after a few seconds of awkward silence.
Panicked and unconsciously, I grazed my fingers over the bruises before lifting my shirt over them. They were not burning anymore. I opened my mouth to speak but I closed it immediately. I had to formulate a reasonable answer.
“Is someone bullying you Mary-Kate?” Miss Turner softly spoke taking a few steps towards me.
I took a few steps backwards as well and dropped my gaze to the ground. Yes! I wanted to shout, but the man’s words rang in my ears.
“You can tell me anything and whatever you tell me will remain only between us.” She spoke when I didn’t reply. “You don’t have to tell me, make sure you tell someone though before it becomes too violent. I wouldn’t want to see you hurt.”
I sure hoped it wasn’t going to become more violent. I glanced up at her face. Her face moulded into a worried expression.
“So, do you have a headache or pain anywhere else?” She asked retrieving a pack of painkillers from her baby blue dress shirt pocket. She picked up the nearly drowning tablets off the side table and threw them into the small bin positioned next to the door.
I shook my head as I followed her every move. A thought came in my head when she glanced my way. How long had I been in the sickbay anyway?
"You have been out for about an hour." Miss Turner said, as if she read my mind.
One hour? I had never fainted before in my life. This was really new to me. What was happening to me?Maybe I was getting a cold or maybe I had low iron. No, my iron couldn’t be the reason. I donated blood about two months ago and everything was fine. All the possibilities I was making up made my head spin even more. I decided to sit back on the springy bed. This time however, I didn’t feel the springs digging into my buttocks.
"Did Tina bring me here?" I asked. Miss Turner looked down at me with her grey-caring eyes as she sauntered to the other side of the bed.
"Yes, she left though, to go to class. But your boyfriend stayed." Miss Turner smiled, scrapping some dried flower petals off the side table.
"My boyfriend?" I asked in disbelief.
I had never had a boyfriend and I was certain I didn’t have a boyfriend before I fainted. Had I been asleep for a long time? Or even worse, was I in another universe? I shook my head at my thoughts. My imagination was running wild again.
"Yes. What was his name again?" Miss Turner whispered tapping her chin. “Ah, his name is Jason.” She continued detaching the perspiring glass from the side table top leaving an even bigger pool of water than before.
"Who?" I asked the name not ringing a bell.
"Judging by your expression, he is not your boyfriend.” She paused, I shook my head. “I assumed he is your boyfriend, since he is the one who carried you here." She informed me making her way out of the room. I could hear the running of the water from the other room.
Wow, that Jason kid must have been pretty amazing. He carried me all the way here from the cafeteria despite my thick thighs? I had to meet this Jason kid and thank him.
“By the way, I’ve called your mother to pick you up. School finishes in about twenty minutes so I didn’t see the point of you staying here.” Me neither. “She should be here in the next five minutes or so.” She stated making her way back into the room with a fresh glass in her hand.
“Ok.” I replied and then a thought came in my head, “You didn’t tell her about this, did you?” I asked motioning to my shoulders.
Miss Turner smiled before reassuring me with a quick No. I returned her smile and picked myself up from the bed.
“Thank you.” I whispered before making my way out of the sickbay. I picked my bag, which was perched on one of the chairs by the sickbay door but outside the room I was just in.
I searched my memory for anyone named Jason in my school as I waited for my mother to come and pick me up. But, no one came in mind.
That night I was awaken by scrapping sounds coming from my window. It was really windy and I could hear the whistling of the wind as it squeezed through the window. However, it wasn’t the whistling of the window that made my heart skip a beat. The scrapping sound continued. There was a tree behind my room but I was sure its branches weren’t long enough to scrap my bedroom window.
I lifted the duvet off my body and hesitantly made my way towards the window. I could see the silhouette of the dancing branches outside my window. It was full moon, hence why I could see the dark profile of the branches. I grazed my hand over the curtain, my heartbeat picked up. I questioned my usual calm manner. I took a deep breath before taking a handful of curtain and yanking it to the left. There was nothing there. The branches were far away from my bedroom window. I sighed in relief. I must have imagined it. A soft chuckle escaped my lips. However, it was short lived when I saw something move in my vision. A shadow was plastered below the tree. It wasn’t the tree’s shadow. I followed the shadow until I saw a dark figure by the tree trunk. I squinted my eyes to get a better look. The figure wasn’t well blended with the tree trunk. Panic settled in my stomach. Was it that man again? Was he stalking me? I glanced at my bedroom door before turning my attention back to the dark figure.
It was gone.
I gasped before closing the curtains behind me. Had I imagined the whole thing? I clutched my racing heart in hope to slow it down. I made it back to my bed and slid underneath the duvet eyeing the window scared the dark figure was going to pop up behind the curtains. I closed my eyes hoping the image would go away.
When I arrived at school the next day I was keen to find out who this Jason kid was. I sprinted towards Tina when I saw her by her locker.
“Tina.” I blurted, out of breath when I arrived at her locker.
"Mary!” She boomed before embracing me into a tight hug. She checked me over for wounds, cuts or anything that could have been out of place and finally my face. "How are you feeling babe?"
"I'm feeling fine." I reassured before she crushed the breath out of me again.
"You know you scared me! You just fell in front of my face, and I didn’t even know what to do. And when I went to the sickbay to check on you after school, the nurse told me you already went home. How come you didn’t call me, or text me at least?" Tina finished, breathing heavily from the monologue she just performed.
"I'm sorry." I apologised with a pout on my lips.
"It's fine. As long as you're fine, I'm happy with that."
I opened my mouth to speak but was interrupted by Craig’s voice calling my name. I turned around and Craig was taking long strides towards me, his face masked with worry. Before I could say hi to him, he embraced me into a tight hug nearly knocking me off my feet. I tensed a bit at this sudden closeness. He immediately released me and scanned every inch of my body just like Tina, before speaking again.
“What happened? Are you ok?” Craig asked question after question. “I’m sorry I wasn’t there to catch you. I was worried the whole night wondering how you were. Never do that again, promise me.” He finished breathing heavily.
I smiled at him, “I promise.”
It was a good feeling having someone worry about me. I turned towards Tina, the same question still burning my insides.
"What happened yesterday after I fainted?" I queried Tina and waited impatiently for her answer.
She glanced at Craig then back at me before whispering, "You collapsed and Mr yummy-some caught you before you hit the ground." Tina winked at me with a smirk on her face.
"Mr yummy-some?" Craig and I asked in unison. I guess she didn’t really whisper.
"Yeah. The guy I told you about yesterday during lunch. Jason."
I felt Craig tense next to me. However, I ignored him and concentrated on Tina’s story.
"Oh yes, I remember. The guy you said is from Romania or something like that?" I asked remembering.
"Yes!" Tina squealed smiling really big.
“And his name is Jason?" I questioned desperate for answers.
Before she could reply, Craig announced, “I have to go.” He whirled around before we could protest.
“What’s wrong with him?” Tina questioned eyeing Craig retreating away from us. However, something seemed to have slowed him down. He came to a halt before lifting his head. I glanced at Tina and she shared the same confused expression.
“Isn’t that Jason coming from the crowd?” Tina pointed towards the crowd of students who were slowly retreating to the sides making way for the Jason. Curious I moved closer to the crowd to glance at the boy that had made Amoris High worship him.
A boy with dark hair that was styled in the most beautiful way I have ever seen – long in front but wavy towards the right and shorter at the sides – walked towards us. This hairstyle suited him very well unlike other guys that I had seen with a similar hairstyle. He walked with purpose, never flattering in his steps. How come I didn’t notice the night he attacked me?
Then realisation hit me. Was HE Jason? My smile immediately disappeared. The closer he got to me the more I became nervous. He lifted his head when he saw Craig standing in front of him motionless. He slowed down and smiled mischievously. I thought he was going to hit him or start a fight but he cropped Craig’s shoulder and continued on his way. However, Craig grabbed his hand and dragged my pursuer back into his sight. I could see annoyance taking over my pursuer’s face. Did these two know each other from somewhere? How did a guy like Craig keep company such as that man in his life?
Craig turned his head towards my stalker’s ear and said something. I saw my stalker’s lips mould into a smile before locking his eyes on me. My heart skipped a beat. I felt like turning away and running for my dear life, but just like that night, my feet were glued to the ground. Instead, I just stood there watching him jerk his arm free from Craig before continuing towards us in slow-motion.
He held my brown eyes with his deep and icy blue ones. My heartbeat increased. His smirk doubled as if he sensed the increase in my heartbeat. He probably could see it considering the way he was looking at me. I willed myself to turn away but I couldn’t. I hoped that he wasn’t walking towards me. However, he got closer and closer, still holding my gaze.
I praised the Lord when he passed by me and didn’t stop. As soon as he was out of my view, I felt myself take a huge breath. I coughed as the air burned my throat. Craig quickly whirled around and he was by my side in a second.
“What was that?” Tina gestured pinching me on the arm. “You just let him pass.”
“What?” I asked out of breath trying to make my bearings.
“That is Jason, stupid.” Tina said pointing behind her. “You just stood there drooling like some fan girl.”
If only she knew.
“That guy is the one who caught Mary-Kate and carried her to the sickbay?” Craig interrogated Tina.
“Yes.” Tina glanced at Craig then at me with a confused expression on her face. “What’s going on?” She questioned probably seeing our facial expressions.
I’m sure terror was written all over my face. I didn’t know what Craig’s deal with that man, Jason, was but he held an expression of anger. I feared he was going to turn into an incredible hulk any minute.
I peeked over Tina’s shoulder at the man, Jason. He was putting books into his locker, looking like any normal teenage kid. His hair fell over his eyes and he flipped it back into place. I bit my lip. That would have stirred a lot of impish thoughts in my head if I didn’t fear him. He looked like a model in the middle of a school themed photo-shoot. Why did God give beautiful looks to those who had wicked thoughts? His black t-shirt and faded jeans radiated player as well as a big sign that shouted at me to not even think about getting myself involved with him any further.
“Since none of you are replying me, I’m guessing both of you have either fallen for his looks or you share something that I don’t know.” Tina’s words brought me back to reality.
“What? No.” I cried shaking her. “Please, tell me that’s not the person who caught me and carried me to the sickbay. Please, tell me he isn’t Jason.” I whispered the last sentence, desperate to hear sweet news in my eyes.
Tina glanced at me then at Craig as if to say put some sense back into her. I gazed at Craig, he was still eyeing Jason. I could see that he was clenching his teeth because of the tense in his jaw muscles. The furry in his eyes was terrifying. His usual amber eyes had a tint of red in them.
“Craig.” I shook him out of his trance. He casted his eyes down at me. “Are you ok?”
He cleared his throat before excusing himself. I traced him until he disappeared at the end of the hallway.
“What’s wrong with him?” Tina asked again eyeing Craig as he retreated away from us.
I shook my head before turning my gaze towards Jason. I still couldn’t believe my eyes. How could the guy who attacked me no longer than forty-eight hours be standing only a few metres away from me looking like a normal teenage boy. Was it just me that he had frightened? Because everyone else looked at him in admiration.
Jason turned his head towards me as if he felt my gaze. His smirk tripled. He was enjoying terrorising me. His vivacious eyes and smile made me swallow the lump that I hadn’t realised had formed in my throat. I looked away from him, scared of what he could do to me just with that gaze. I rubbed my shoulders involuntarily. They weren’t burning like yesterday, but I’m sure they were glowing.
“I don’t care what Craig shares with Mr Yummy-some but you have to thank him.” I didn’t respond. “What are you waiting for?” Tina shook me out of my trance. “You should go and thank him.” Tina nudged me towards Jason’s locker.
“No!” I shouted making heads turn my way. “No.” I repeated in a hushed tone.
“Look, you’re making a fool out of yourself.” Tina criticized. “You should thank him. If it wasn’t for him your head would’ve cracked open in the middle of the cafeteria and I wouldn’t have been able to carry you all the way to the sick bay. No offence.”
A little voice spoke in my head; He should’ve let me crack my head open rather than terrorising me.
Was this his way of gaining my affection? Did he think such a simple act of saving my head from cracking open would instantly make me become fond of him?
I scoffed before turning towards Tina. She stood frozen, her mouth gaped and gaze towards Jason. I turned my head where her scrutiny was directed. I too mirrored her expression. Brittany the school head cheerleader was all over Jason. She twirled her perfectly manicured finger around her golden blonde hair. She slapped his chest playfully giggling at something. He seemed to be enjoying this act of flirting because he grinned before whispering something in her ear making her giggle even more.
Tina scoffed next to me. I knew what she was thinking. New meat in town is what Brittany lived for. How come she didn’t have the same intuition with Craig? Had he rejected her?
The first bell rang. I didn’t react still shocked at the revelation before me. I watched Jason snake his hand around Brittany’s waist before turning away from us.
"C'mon, let's go." Tina said pulling my hand. I could hear the venom in her words.
I internally thanked her act because I could have stayed there until they were out of my sight. Some part of me worried about Brittany’s safety but my seventh grade self made me think otherwise. We went for cheerleading tryouts together and she had made sure I knew that every part of my body wasn’t cut out to be on the cheerleading team. Ever since she had been reminding me almost everyday. Therefore, she didn’t deserve my pity.
I followed Tina. I was glad she chose the opposite way to which Brittany and her new toy were going. Unfortunately, Tina had Health and I had Chemistry. We parted our ways when we were at the end of the hallway.
I picked up my pace and arrived at my class just before the second bell went. Everyone was already in their seats but still chatting to their friends. I scanned the familiar faces in front of me until my eyes landed on a face that has haunted me for the past two days. Fear struck me in my heart. There was Jason sitting on a chair behind mine, relaxed as if he owned the place. When he saw me he beamed. It was as if to say, I am watching your every move.