The day was exhausting and halfway through it, my mind became a puddle. I had to catch up on so many new things and had serious doubt about making it through the year. Luckily, Lilith had been there to help me navigate around school.
After classes were over, she left to hang out with her friends while I studied and tried to make sense of this mess. I had one subject down already when I decided to call it quits and went to bed early after I started to develop a headache.
I was asleep by the time Lilith came back, but I heard her come in a bit before lights out. She was loud enough to wake me but I rolled over and tried to fall asleep again. Unfortunately, I was unable to close my eyes for one more minute. For a while, I stared at the ceiling and tried to get as comfortable as I could, but the darkness stared right back at me until I couldn’t ignore it any longer.
Frustrated with myself, I got up and put on a sweater before going out of the room. I didn’t know where I was going but I couldn’t stay inside any longer. I was restless and awake. I walked without paying attention to where I was going. All I could think about was my family back home and everything I had left behind. It wasn’t easy for me - leaving.
Quite honestly, it was one of the hardest things I had done in my life. The craziest. But it made me feel alive if only for the short time I had been here.
I had hope.
It was colder than at home. New York was nothing like I imagined. It was different from California and different from home. But I guess no place on Earth was ever the same. Ten minutes later, I found myself going to the Great Hall. The closer I came to it, I heard hushed voices and that made me curious.
“Hurry,” somebody had said. “The guards might be doing rounds as we speak.”
“Shut up, Riley,” the other guy scolded him.
Curiosity getting the best of me, I decided I wanted to see what they were doing. I opened the door and walked in rather loudly. The four figures in front of me immediately froze and one even dropped whatever he was holding. Figuring out what they were doing was easy enough.
“Okay,” one of the guys had said. “This isn’t what it looks like.”
I felt the corners of my lips turn up. “So you’re not raiding the fridge?”
“We, uh... No, we’re totally doing that,” a blond, British guy told me before he shared a look with his friends. “Are you going to tell on us?”
“That depends,” I crossed my arms. “What’s in it for me?”
I was only teasing but the boys were quick to respond. “Chocolate?”
“Alright,” I nodded and closed the Great Hall door behind me. I walked over all the way to where they were standing to observe.
“You’re the new girl, aren’t you?” The blond guy asked as the other three took out a few things from the fridge. And they weren’t quiet about it either.
If he wanted to ask questions, I had a few of my own. “What do you plan on doing with all that food? Hoard it?”
He stepped closer to me and whispered teasingly, “If I told you I’d have to kill you.”
“So dramatic,” I rolled my eyes.
“I’m Abbott,” he offered me his hand to shake.
“That’s Riley,” he pointed at the first guy who spoke to me first. “Skye,” a guy with dark hair waved before grabbing milk from the fridge. “And that’s Ford.”
Ford was by far bigger, bulkier than all the three guys combined and he didn’t smile or offer any pleasant greeting when Abbott introduced him.
“So, I heard you’re Lilith Arwen’s roommate. How’s that going?” Abbott ran a hand through his hair and waited for an answer.
I shrugged, “Better than I expected.”
“So you two get along?” He asked.
“I think so. Why?”
“No reason,” Abbott replied. That’s when we heard footsteps.
“Everybody duck!” Ford instructed and both Abbott and I slid on the other side of the counter where the lunch ladies usually stood. Meanwhile, the guys hid the food in the cabinets and then dropped to the floor.
Abbott and I joined them and I even put a hand to my mouth so that my loud breaths wouldn’t make too much of a noise.
As the footsteps grew louder, my heart beat faster in response. I had never done anything as dangerous as this - except going on Kai’s motorcycle. But hiding from the guards could get me into some serious trouble and I knew my old self would seriously disapprove.
There were two guards making rounds that night and luckily for us, only one had a flashlight on. The other one whistled a lively tune as they took a look around and thankfully, completely missed us.
When they left, I felt my heart fall from my throat back down to its original place.
“That was close,” Riley whispered and lifted himself up to check the room.
“What do you say we get out of here and go to the roof? You coming, Astrid?” Abbott asked and I shrugged.
Feeling brave, I decided to say yes. I was already breaking the rules and I wouldn’t be able to fall asleep anytime soon so why the hell couldn’t I have at least a bit of fun, right?
We grabbed the food - snacks, mostly - and I followed them through the hallways and up some sets of stairs. We were careful not to be seen or heard but once we got up to the roof, my breath was taken away by the view.
Despite it being dark, the stars and the moon shone so brightly, I was able to make out most things without needing a light at all. It made walking that much easier.
Skye stopped in the middle of the roof where and sat down, dropping bags of chips and drinks on the ground. The others followed, making a circle, and I joined them.
“So, how come you’re not asleep like the rest of school?” Ford asked me and I really had no real explanation.
“I couldn’t sleep. I kept turning in my bed and it drove me crazy so I decided to go for a walk,” I sighed. “What about you guys?”
“We go food hunting whenever they bring all the best stuff from the city,” Riley explained. “Like these Hershey’s bars. Best thing that ever happened to me.”
“And here I thought that was me,” Abbott teased, bumping shoulders with Riley who grimaced.
“Nothing tops Hershey’s,” he said unapologetically.
“Not true,” I objected. “Oreos are better.”
Riley gasped dramatically and shook his head.
“Here we go,” Skye commented and opened a bag of popcorn.
“That is so not true. Oreos tend to leave a bittersweet taste in the mouth that even sugared milk cannot wash away,” Riley started and I knew he wanted to say more but he was rather rudely interrupted by Ford.
“Yes, yes, Riley. We know. Hershey’s the best,” Ford waved off his friend and rolled his eyes.
“I don’t know,” Abbott started, knowing he’d be stirring an argument if he didn’t stop talking. “Oreos are quite delicious. And the fact you can eat them with milk is so much better.”
The look Ford sent Abbott’s way made me fear for his life. Skye, however, seemed to be really enjoying the drama. He popped another popcorn into his mouth and made himself rather comfortable.
The discussion would have continued had I not decided to interrupt and change the subject.
“So, Ford, does your name have anything to do with the car?”
“Ha!” Skye couldn’t stop his outburst and grinned.
“Unfortunately, yes. My parents are awful at picking their kids’ names. I have a brother named Jaguar but we call him Jag and a sister Lexus. We call her Lex.”
“That’s unique,” I said, truly fascinated. I would have said more had I not heard footsteps coming from behind me. It was Lilith.
“I see you already stole my roommate,” she spoke to Abbott, her face clear she disapproved.
“She was actually the one who found us,” Skye pointed out.
“What were you doing out of your room in the middle of the night?” Lilith asked in confusion as she sat down next to me.
“Couldn’t sleep. You woke me up when you came in,” I told my roommate. Her hair was gathered up in a messy ponytail and she looked like she just woke up herself. “What are you doing up anyway?”
“I saw you weren’t in your room so I went looking for you. I could’ve known you were with my brother.”
“Don’t blame me. I happen to be a very likable person,” Abbott shrugged and that’s when the whole British accent started to make sense.
“Whatever,” Lilith rolled her eyes.
We chatted for another hour and a half before Lilith and I returned to our rooms. All I could think of the entire time was the fact that Abbott and Lilith were related. That was a surprise I didn’t see coming.
Lilith’s alarm clock woke me up. After she lazily turned it off, I rolled onto my other side and pulled the covers over my head. I wanted to fall back asleep but knew it would be impossible the minute Lilith jumped on my bed.
“Astrid, wake up,” Lilith’s voice annoyed me this early in the morning. I groaned but didn’t move a muscle. “Astrid, we need to get ready.”
She pulled the covers off me and I sat up in annoyance. “Just five more minutes.”
“We have an hour and a half to get ready then head to breakfast,” Lilith grabbed my hand and dragged me out of bed.
I knew there was no way I would be able to win in a fight against Lilith so I sucked it up, grabbed my clothes and went to the bathroom. I rubbed sleep from my eyes and deeply regretted staying up late.
I let the warm water calm down my nerves that started to appear. I wasn’t used to falling behind on my classes and every day proved to be a challenge here. After a rather long shower, I turned off the water and dried myself off.
The clothes I wore were nothing fancy. Just a velvet sweater and black ripped skinny jeans. One look at my hair sent me groaning in again. I needed a change - a haircut at least.
I pushed it back into a messy bun and straightened my shirt. I walked out of my bathroom only to find Lilith struggling into her jeans. She was just hopping on one leg, trying to get the other into the jeans. I couldn’t stop myself from laughing and I accidentally scared her so much she slipped and fell on her butt.
“Are you always this bad at getting dressed?”
“Only in the morning.” She said. I shook my head, trying to hide my smile as I searched for shoes to wear. “You have vocal lessons today with Jamie Saxon. He’s the best coach you could get. I won’t be there with you but you can always just text me if you need me.”
I nodded. Jamie was also going to be my uncle soon and the whole ordeal made me feel a bit nervous. I didn’t know the guy and Lilith wouldn’t be there with me.
I grabbed my bag and took a look around in case there was anything I forgot. Then, I followed Lilith out the door. She escorted me to the room I was supposed to be at and stopped in front of me.
“Good luck and I’ll see you at breakfast.”
She kissed my cheek and walked away. I felt my phone vibrate in my pocket and I took it out. The teacher wasn’t here yet anyway. It was just a meaningless Facebook notification. Under it, however, my eyes caught sight of Kai’s name.
Sighing, I tapped the message before I could change my mind and read it.