I unlocked the car door and waved at her. "See you later, mom!"
I was awestruck by the bustling atmosphere of Aebercreek High. The sound of footsteps and students shuffling about the long corridor merged into a raucous cacophony. Much like my old school, I was in the middle of a nervous breakdown. I gripped my backpack and trudged down the narrow corridor toward my classroom.
Despite the feeling of my heart clawing its way out my chest, I felt a strange calmness wash over me. You're safe here, Audrey! I whispered.
Lindsey, the girl I met the other day. Happened to pass by and tugged onto my arm. "Hey, Audrey, let me just get you inside." She said. I could tell that she knew I was nervous.
I tried to avoid the look of bewilderment from my classmates and strode through the commotion of an ongoing conversation. I took a seat next to a red-haired girl.
"Hey, Tessa, meet Audrey, my new neighbor," Lindsey said to her.
"Nice to meet you, Audrey!" She offered me her hand.
"Dalton! Glad to make your acquaintance." A tall boy with dark brown hair and deep blue eyes towered over me. "You never told me your neighbor was so beautiful?" He asked Lindsey. My cheeks flushed a deep rosy red as I tried to hide a smile.
"Dalton? Can you please..."
"Alright, Lindsey. I'll keep my crappy attitude to myself. Did you know that Mr. Bert went missing last night? It's all over the news. Maybe that dude is off skulking in the woods."
"Shut your mouth, Dalton." Lindsey rasped. "Don't listen to that creep Audrey."
"Focus students! I'm not going to repeat once again." We were so lost in our conversation and didn't realize Mr. Bert had just walked in.
Professor Bert was a stern-looking man with greying hair. There was a fresh scar on his cheek.
"Hah! Told you so." Dalton elbowed Tessa.
"Shut up man we're gonna get in trouble." She whispered back to him.
He straightened his glasses and squinted slightly towards us. His piercing gaze cut right through my skin. It was like he could stare right into my soul. "Audrey Palmer?" He asked.
"Yes!" I awkwardly stood.
"Welcome to Aebercreek High." He said to me.
Dalton snickered. "Maybe he's not so bad after all, as long as he doesn't bother me." He whispered to us.
The rest of the day was a bit overwhelming. I had trouble finding my stats classroom and ended up being late.
"Oh! You must be Audrey, the transfer student? Welcome to my class." A young woman around her mid-twenties patted on my shoulder and ushered me in. "Help yourself to find an empty seat." She said.
I quickly scanned for a place to sit and ended up taking the one in the middle. I should say that I'm not particularly fond of stats because I suck at it.
Lindsey and Tessa joined me for lunch in the school cafeteria. Upon their insistence, I had to sit with them.
"So tell me about yourself, Audrey? What do you think of this town?"
"Hmm, it's good to be here. I mean, New Jersey, there isn't much for me over there. My family settled in Aebercreek except for my mother, who was an attorney."
"Your family?" She asked.
"Yes, grandma and my aunt."
"Ladies, this convo seems fascinating, but would you please excuse me? The bagel has done a number on my innards. I like to hit the restroom for a quick stop!"
"Whoa! Gross man." Lindsey snorted.
I don't have many friends, to begin with, but Lindsey and Tessa seem like good company. They wanted to take me on a tour around the town square. Mom and I had a lot of unpacking to do, so I politely declined their invitation. Honestly, I didn't feel like going.
"Can I at least give you a ride back home after school?"
"Sure, that would be nice of you, Lindsey."
"Hey girls, look over there." I followed her gaze to a boy who was having lunch all by himself. He had a perfectly chiseled jawline, and his dark brown hair was brushed back, much like those teenage TV show icons I admire.
"That's Adam. He doesn't hang around with the other kids." She said to me.
"Alright, I can relate to that."
"Aww, come on Audrey, don't you have us, girls, to keep you company? Plus he's a creep. I wonder why he's so...frigid?! Kinda had trouble finding the exact word."
I could tell that Lindsey had a crush on him. She seemed to behave as though he's a jerk, but deep down, she had a crush on him. Tessa and I chuckled to ourselves and hid it as best as we could.
"She's in love," Tessa whispered to me.
Adam fished his phone out of his pocket and pinched the bridge of his nose in a cute little gesture. I didn't come here from New Jersey to start a relationship. Mom would kill me. I muttered.
"Well, girls. I should get going. We have cheerleading practice in a few minutes."
"Don't you know? We have an inter-school basketball competition in a week."
"Oh right! Break a leg, Lis" Tessa winked at her.
After going home, I spent the last couple of hours unboxing stuff and cleaning the patio. Our backyard was a complete mess. Garbage strewn alongside the wooden fences and thick green ivy blanketed the roof of our tool shed.
"I guess this is going to take a while?" Mom shrugged.
"Mom, you should take a break."
"No honey, I can't. Grandma is visiting tomorrow. You know how she is."
"Maybe I'll stay up a little late, we can work on this together."
"Nah, that's fine honey. It's a school night you should get some shut-eye." Mom said to me.
I couldn't sleep well and spent the rest of the night tossing and turning until I drifted into a deep slumber. Just minutes after falling asleep, I was jerked awake by a loud thud. "Mom, is everything alright?" I asked. There was no reply.
I glanced at my alarm clock, and it was half-past three. I slowly descended the staircase. The silence that followed was deafening.
"Mom?" I called out, but there was no answer.
Cautiously I tiptoed towards her bedroom and peered into the deep dark abyss, at least, that's what it felt like without her lamp turned on.
"Audrey, did you need something?" She asked me. I didn't do a good job with my stealth skills.
"Mom, I... No, I'm ok. I just wanted to make sure you were asleep."
I swear that I saw something outside the window that instant. My worst fear had followed me here.
Thank you for reading
"The Crimson Daughter."