Death and all His Friends

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Imma freak magnet.

"I'm sorry what?"

"Well, not exactly die but you'll be closer to death."

"You're a freak. Did you escape from some sort of mental institute or something?"

"Can we not talk about this here? "

"Where else then? My house? Ha! Like I'd ever let you go inside my house you strange, perverted, creepy, insane, hot freak!"

"Did you just call me hot?"

I blanched.

"Maybe. Just…just get lost."

And with those words, I stomped past him, noting how he moved slightly so that I didn't touch him at all.

Wow he must be truly out of it if he thought I was going to believe some insane story like that.

And yet…

I turned around but, to my surprise, I found that I was alone.

Where did he go? That was just a little creepy.

I spun again, almost expecting him to be in front of me.

Nope. Nothing.

Huh ok. Did I just dream up that little encounter then?

No. Even I'm not that crazy. He probably left the footpath to go home or something. Yes, that must be it.

Nevertheless, I sprinted home as fast as I could, ignoring the pain in my feet, and locked the door behind me, leaning back against it and taking deep breaths. When I was sure no one was going to come knocking, I fell face first onto the couch and lay there.

It was around five o'clock before I remembered that I had a huge gash across my face from falling down on the pavement.

"Ah damn it!" I hissed, jumping up from the couch and scrambling into the bathroom. I sifted through the medicines in the cupboard beneath the sink, my thoughts still drifting to Raith, if that was even his real name. It was a strange name. I wonder if he had an equally odd last name.

I pulled out some antiseptic and rubbed it on my cut, flinching at the pain. It wasn't deep but it still stung. Then I slapped on a Hello Kitty bandaid and glared at my reflection.

I looked like a dork.

Staring at the mirror, I was reminded of the whole ceiling-falling-in fiasco. So according to Raith, that actually happened. But then how did everything repair itself?

Thinking back to the girls' bathroom, I guess he could have been the blood drenched boy. I had been panicking so much that I hadn't really paid attention to what the boy looked like.

Okay, so assuming that that encounter really did happen, what did I do now? I didn't know what ring he was talking about.

Unless he was referring to that pretty ring I saw on the ground that I left lying there. Could that really be more than a coincidence?

"Hey sis?"

I watched as Jess appeared behind me, looking as immaculate as ever. She smiled at her reflection and started fixing her hair and make up.

"What Jess?" I said before she forgot I was there.

"I'm going to a party tonight. You better make up an excuse for mum and dad, otherwise I'll-"

"Yea yea, I know." I snapped.

She glared at my reflection in the mirror before her eyes widened.

"Oh my God what happened to your face?"

"Gee thanks."

"No seriously. And what happened to your neck? You never told me!"

She started to pull off my scarf but I stopped her quickly, shooting her a serious look.

"I got an allergic reaction from something."

"And your face?"

"I fell down today."

Jess gave me a suspicious glare and I was surprised that she was worrying so much about me.

"You need to take more care of yourself Tegan. You're actually quite pretty. Though of course I'm heaps hotter." And with a wink, Jess disappeared off somewhere.

Quite pretty eh? I ran a hand through my straight, auburn hair, my hazel eyes staring intensely at my reflection.

I guess little sisters weren't that bad.

Smile was beckoning me towards the forest.

I moved to follow him but something was holding me back. I looked down at my feet. There was a rope around my left ankle.

I tugged at it before I realised what I was wearing.

I started to shake, tugging not at the rope but at my shoes. I needed to take them off; I wasn't meant to be wearing those shoes.

Smile stood beside me now, staring at me quizzically as I crumbled to the ground, my fingers digging at the pink ribbon, trying to untie the knots that held the shoes so securely to my feet.

I started the scream but no sound came out. And then I heard music, music that I hadn't heard for five years.

I woke up screaming, the sound burning my throat raw.

I was sweating, my whole body quivering as my heart pounded in my chest.

I realised I was crying when I felt a tear drop run down my cheek.

I hadn't had one of these dreams for years.

Gulping down air like I'd been drowning, I sat up and lay my head against the window next to me. I looked out into the deep black of the night, letting the cool air wash over me and dry my tears.

I shouldn't be having these dreams anymore. After years in therapy, the doctor said I should be fine.

I just needed to distract myself.

The next day I wandered into the girls' bathroom, thoughts of Raith driving the nightmare temporarily from my mind. After a careful search under the hand dryer, I wasn't surprised to find that the ring had disappeared. Maybe Raith had come back to get it. Or maybe someone else picked it up.

It didn't matter. It wasn't my problem anymore. I had my own issues to deal with now. Like my dreams. Or my missing sparkly pink pencil case. Or how confused my mum would be when she discovered that another one of her steak knives had gone missing from the kitchen.

The music showcase was an event that was held every year at Kensington High. It was usually a pretty good night filled with tears, laughter and raw talent.

However, I wasn't exactly looking forward to it this year and that was all thanks to Jess, who planned on auditioning. Oh, and did I mention that she wanted to do a singing and dancing routine?

I think the embarrassment may just be enough to destroy me.

"Why are you always putting down my dreams?" Jess screamed at me.

We were both on either end of the staircase in the middle of my house; Jess at the top and me at the bottom.

"What dreams?" I yelled. "You don't aspire to do anything!"

"Like hell I don't! It's my dream to be a rock star! Or a model! Or a-"

"Those aren't real dreams! You haven't even thought any of it through! You can't be a rock star if you can't sing or-"

"I can sing!"

"-play an instrument! And honestly, you're not pretty enough to be a model!"

"Shut up! You're the ugly one! I'm not ugly! I hate you!"

Jess ran off and I was left feeling deflated. Even though we fought like this all the time, I still got exhausted from it.

I groaned as I heard the doorbell. If it was one of Jess' annoying friends, I was going to tell them she had mono.

Grumbling under my breath, I walked over to the door and pulled it open, yelling "What?"

The person I saw on the other side of that door was not who I was expecting. No it wasn't Raith, thank God. It was Cory, Stacy's younger brother. He was in my grade but I'd never spoken to him before. I'd ogled him, maybe even stalked him a little but never spoken to him. Could you blame me? Who wouldn't want to stare at this incredibly fine looking, tall, athletic blond boy?

He gave me a shy smile and cleared his throat while I tried not to melt from how adorable he was.

"Hey, um…Terry?"

"Tegan. But good try."

He smiled even more and my inner fan girl went crazy, screaming and cheering and jumping up and down like a spastic cheerleader. Despite the shock of seeing him, I couldn't help but notice how his blue eyes were rimmed with red, and I immediately felt sad. Even though a week had passed, the school was still in deep mourning. We just had a memorial assembly the other day.

Stacy and Cory had been really close.

"I'm sorry to bother you…"

"Oh it's ok."

"I just…well, ok this may sound weird but…I overheard your friend saying you saw what happened that night…"

I assumed he meant the accident that killed his sister, so I nodded. I had given a witness statement to the police after the accident happened.

"Could…could you tell me about it?"

Right, I wasn't expecting that. What?

"I'm sorry. I know you probably don't want to talk about it but…I had been out that night and so I wasn't there …and my parents don't like talking about it…and I never really understood what happened. It doesn't feel real. Things like this don't happen in real life and…and…I just need to know…to get some closure…"

Oh my gosh Cory was crying. The love of my life (okay, maybe not), was on my doorstep crying.

Why was he crying? Boys weren't meant to cry! They were meant to bottle up their emotions and deal with it through aggression and violent behaviour. Like punching someone hard in the face. Or kicking a puppy. What was I supposed to do now?

Hesitating a little since I had horribly retarded social skills, I reached out and grabbed his arm, pulling him into the house.

Oh wow, that felt really weird.

"I'm really sorry. I must be making this really awkward." He gasped, rubbing his eyes with his sleeve.

Yes. "No! It's fine, honestly. It happens all the time."

He gave me a weird look and I want to face-palm myself. Yea, of course it happens all the time. Everyone shows up on my doorstep crying, seeking information about their dead siblings.

Knowing my parents would be home soon, I took him up to my bedroom, suddenly nervous. Was it weird bringing a boy into my bedroom? What if he got the wrong message? Why was my life suddenly so complicated?

I locked the door behind me once we were in the room just in case Jess burst in and jumped to conclusions. Cory looked around, appearing to have regained some composure.

"Ugh…you could sit down…um…" I was sure I had a chair somewhere beneath all those clothes.

"On the bed." I finished. The awkwardness was painful.

With a nod, he sat down and I took a seat next to him, hoping that he didn't realise that I was hyperventilating just a little bit. He looked so frail and vulnerable that I felt really bad. What did he want me to do? What do I do? My mind was blank. The awkwardness was so thick that it had probably materialised into some grotesque monster with big fangs and yellow spit.

"Uh…" What the flip was he waiting for? He came to my house after all. I could feel my face going hotter and hotter, probably as red as a baboon's butt.

Cory looked equally as uncomfortable.

"Could you tell me how it happened? No one gives me a straight answer." He finally said.

"Oh…" I had forgotten that that was the purpose of his visit.

Now knowing what he wanted to hear, I opened my mouth and began.

"I don't really know how to say this." I swallowed and continued. "It was late at night and I was looking out my window…"

And so I told him about how I saw the darkness of the neighbourhood illuminated by bright headlights as a truck came skidding from around the corner, gravel flying everywhere as the vehicle spun out of control.

I told him how the car hurtled straight into his house with a massive crashing noise.

I felt sick as I described the impact that killed his sister.
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