“So Al, that girl you were with. She gonna be okay?” Alex paused when lighting her cigarette to look at one of her friends, Will; he always wore that beanie hat regardless of weather or what else he had on. Everyone knew who he was since he was seen as “The guy with the beanie” and was able to be spotted in a crowd with ease.
She and three others were sitting near the front left corner of the gas station, some smoked, some didn’t but mainly they just sat there just to shoot the shit and talk about random things both relevant and not. It was a place that they would go too regardless of weather, even if it snowed heavily. Though as if now the rain that fell before had now stopped, leaving everything to look rather glossy from the glow of street lamps as the smell of rain water filled the night air.
Alex placed her unlit cigarette behind her ear as she looked up at the night sky. Even now there were so many stars. “She said she would be alright, you worried about her Will?”
Will still didn’t look convinced. “Well yeah, who wouldn’t freak if the new girl suddenly fainted out of nowhere like that? That’s not normal. Besides, you had that feeling she was the guy we saw the night before right?”
Alex was quite for a moment. “Hard to say really, but it might have been.”
“Dude, why do you think she was out there?”
“Looking around town?” another spoke, Jacob, a fellow classmate and someone who’d often skip class if he felt it was too boring. With his hair partly shaved on the right side into a Mohawk and dyed with dark red streaks in his dark brown hair along with having a tattoo of a butterfly on the back of his neck, making him stand out and labelled as a rebel even though he would often assist his older sister at the clothing store their parents run. “I mean she is new right?”
“Makes sense I guess,” Will said. “But why at night?”
This time Erin, the one who was normally quite spoke when he let out a puff of smoke. “Who knows, but a rumor has been going around about her.” out of all of them he was in his final year of high school and currently on a break from his job at the gas station that they hung out at all the time. With short dark hair and large glasses he wasn’t the type to stand out all that much not that he seemed to care.
Alex looked less than impressed. “What already? That was fast; don’t students have better things to do then cause rumors about others?”
“That’s high school for you,” Jacob said dully.
Erin continued on. “Yeah well, she’s part of the Liebert family right? You know, one of the founders of this town.”
“Dude,” Will said, completely unimpressed. “Everyone knows that.”
“And?” Alex said waiting for Erin to get to the point. “What of it?”
“Well, some people in school are saying that she was sent here because she did some weird shit at her old school or some crap like that. So her family sent her out the boonies so that she can be reformed and modeled into the newest head of her family.”
Alex burst out laughing. “Are you kidding me? Who the hell came up with that crap?”
Erin gave a peeved looking stare. “Look I’m not saying it’s true it’s a stupid rumor after all, people make up all kind of dumb shit.”
“Yeah well it really is dumb, she spoke to me about it, and she never did any of that kind of crap.” She then recalled the rather sad expression that Charla gave when explaining it. “If anything, she was just left alone no one at her old school seemed to care.”
Jacob glanced at her. “I heard she lost her brother a few years ago. And that it’s related to her coming here. Maybe she’s looking for a fresh start to move on? If you think of it like that it might make better sense then her causing something.”
Alex didn’t comment, she also had an assumption that Charla coming here might have been so that she could move on, she vaguely recalled that years ago a boy died who was from the Liebert family. With the town being as it was if something had happened to one of the founding families it was taken notice by everyone within the town. But now she knew the real reason for it at least she did mostly.
“Nah it’s nothing like that. But if you guys really want to know it was for safety, her father was worried about this killer in the city since the murderer was attacking in places that Charla has gone too.”
“Makes sense,” Jacob said. “If I had a kid I’d probably do the same thing.”
“Dude really?” Will jumped in with surprise then added. “Wow, hey wouldn’t it be messed up if Charla was the killer?”
Jacob then smacked Will lightly in the back of the head. “That’s not funny man; the girl has probably enough rumors to sink a ship. You don’t need to add to it.”
“Ow, okay geese, lighten up it was only a joke.” Will muttered softly as he quickly readjusted his beanie.
Then Erin’s watch beeped and he stood up with a sigh. “Okay that’s my que to go back to work, catch you lot tomorrow at school.”
“I should probably head home too.” Jacob said as he stood up as well then looked to Alex who remained sitting. “Al, want me to walk you back to your place?”
“Nah I’m good, I think I’ll stay here for a bit before heading home. Catch you guys later.”
“Alright then, see you at school.”
“Try not to get murdered.” Will added in a spooky voice and laughed only to be swatted again by Jacob. “Ow! Okay, I’ll stop just quit hitting me.”
When Alex was left alone she couldn’t help but scoff at what Will had said, she would have wondered about those rumors more if she hadn’t already met Charla, but that did make Alex frown at what he said. Who would be so dumb to come up with that on the girl’s first day?
Hell Charla didn’t seem the type to make rumors about herself so others would look at her, if anything she looked like the observing type, watching people as they go by not saying a word to anyone. Or listening to music to tune of the world when she was in crowds, though it did make her wonder why Charla always seemed to have those headphones on her.
But her thoughts came to a stop when someone walked towards her then stood a few feet away, Alex looked up and realized who it was. There, just a few feet away was Charla, wearing that same black hoodie and capris with those headphones resting on her shoulders as the hood was left up.
“Yo,” Alex said with a smile. “You know, this might sound nuts but I had a feeling you might show up again. Want to sit with me Charla?”
Charla moved and sat down next to her, elbows resting on knees, not saying a word. And after a moment of silence she spoke. “You knew I would come here?”
“More of a guess, after talking to you about seeing you that night I had a feeling you might try and approach.” With a glance Alex looked at Charla, who remained staring out at the dark empty road. “So…” Alex began and looked to Charla who remained looking straight ahead. “Mind if I ask you something?”
She merely shrugged.
“Why are you wandering around at night? If it’s to look around the town wouldn’t day time be better?”
Charla clasped her hands together, her left thumb rubbing the other before she spoke. “I feel better doing it at this time; the night makes me feel calm much like how the day makes her calm too.”
Her? “Who are you talking about?”
Charla didn’t say she merely looked to Alex. “What were you and those three guys talking about?”
“Oh you saw them huh? Nothing really, well they were wondering if you were okay since you did faint on your first day.”
“You should tell them not to worry,” she said as she looked back out on to the street. “It’s just something that happens at times.”
“Yeah you told me that,” Alex said as she lit another cigarette. “Back at school you mentioned about your head injury.”
Charla was quite.
“Say,” Alex blew out a puff of smoke. “Will you even remember this conversation at all?”
Again Charla was quite for a long moment. “Why are you doing this?”
“Huh? Doing what?”
Charla merely looked at her “This, trying to befriend me, what’s your reason for it?”
Alex just looked at her. “Should there be a reason? I mean, you’re new, trying to know the ropes of this school and town. Not to mention I think you’re pretty cool.”
“Cool?” she repeated blandly.
“Yeah, you’re awkward but you seem like a genuinely good person, at least to me. There’s no other reason behind it. I don’t have any ulterior motive if that’s what you’re wondering, but if anything I’d like to get to know you better.”
“That’s it? That’s the sole reason for this, for talking to me?”
“Yup, pretty much. Why? Is that weird to you?”
Charla was silent again.
Alex lit her cigarette and let out a breath of smoke into the air. “We did talk about another thing, there were some rumors going around you already. About why you came here and the like, like you did something bad or some crap.”
“And what if I did?” Charla said suddenly causing Alex to go still. “Would you look at me or even her differently if you knew the reason?”
Who’s she talking about? “I’ll be the judge of that, so what’d you do?”
Charla removed the hood and then placed a hand on her headphones. “You know about the accident right, the car crash?”
“You told me that too,”
She seemed to give a half almost smug smile. “Huh, I see. Regardless this little prick at that damn school decided it’d be fun to have a laugh at the expense of both the injury and death that took place a few years ago, and the trauma of the after affects that came with it. This little shit thought it was soooo funny. That was until I threw a chair at him then flipped him to the floor. He was crying from both, the big wuss that he was.”
Alex frowned slightly, something about this conversation felt off to her. “Flipped as in figurative or literal?”
“Literal, after certain events at fourteen the best thought that came to mind was self-defence training so people like him would never try anything again. Then the bastard’s parents wanted to sue but good old Dad called them out on all the crap they let their son do and said that if Johan had his way he’d run them to the ground for it.”
Alex looked almost impressed. “You’re Dad sounds insanely protective, you know that?”
She merely shrugged. “In his defence he only had one kid left he had no intention of letting die. And that woman wasn’t about having any more kids. Which I see for the best, don’t need anyone else screwed up by her…”
“You mean your Mom?”
A cold scoff came. “As if, that bitch isn’t what I’d call a mother. Even though she’s her mother I don’t have to like it nor agree, then again I never did. That woman can rot for all I care.”
Again with that. “Hey, who do you mean by that?” Charla looked at her. “You keep going on about her and she things like that, so who are you talking about.”
Charla became quite, she merely looked up at the sky and said. “When you see the stars, what is it that you feel when looking at them?”
“The stars?” she looked at the sky. “Fire I guess, a light that may never go away.”
Tilting her head back Alex saw Charla smile, and yet it looked so bittersweet. “I see it’s something different for me, I see them as worlds.” Her hand stretched out to the sky as if trying to reach those stars. “Worlds so far away that I may never be able to return but now as I am I know that I can never reach them.” Her hand clenched into a fist before falling back to her lap almost as if it was dead. “But if you were to ask her the answer might be different.”
Alex looked back to the sky. “I can see it that way I guess…” she said as she blew out more smoke and was about to ask again what she was talking about before Charla took it from her as she stood.
And to Alex’s surprise Charla took a drag and let out a puff of smoke. “This isn’t the best habit you know.” she said. “Anyway, regardless of what you see me as I am glad that I got to speak with you. He was right about this place being different, I’m happy he wasn’t wrong.” she then turned and left the gas station. “Nice meeting you.”
Alex stood up and watched as Charla left. What the heck was that about? Didn’t Charla decline the cig from before so what changed? Then again Charla seemed real different right now; she frowned at the figure now in the distance. Something about this seemed off; maybe if she spoke to Charla in the morning it might give her some better clues?
Stopping, Charla looked back to the gas station and scoffed. “A good person huh, If only you knew…” she said before dropping the cigarette and stomping it out before pulling the hood back up and then turned on her MP3 and continued down the road with only the music to accompany her through the silence of the sleeping town.
The next morning Charla headed to the school a bit earlier than before, but not before Nina gave Charla her key so that she wouldn’t have to wait outside the house like before.
Charla silently accepted it but couldn’t help but feel about doing so, like she was robbing a kid for the house key like a bully. Though Nina didn’t seem to mind in the slightest, children these days were so mature.
“Hey!” drawing her out of her thoughts Charla saw Alex in the same spot where they first met yesterday waving at her. “I figured you’d head the same way so I thought to meet you here.”
“Oh, um… good morning.”
Alex grinned. “Morning, you look a lot better than yesterday.”
“Sleep tends to help with that, though I don’t think mine was all that good.” She merely stared at Charla, almost as if she were examining her. “Is something wrong?”
Alex quickly shook her head. “No, everything’s fine. But I do need to speak to you about something in private.” She then glanced around before lowering her voice. “It’s about something last night.” She then pointed in the direction of the school and spoke normally. “Let’s head to that spot from before okay?”
“Sure,” Charla said wondering what she was going to say but had a feeling she knew what it was about.
When they reached the spot Alex went into some details about how she and Charla had spoken when three of Alex’s friends had left.
“Do you remember talking to me then?” Alex asked.
Charla shook her head. “No, I… I don’t.” she frowned as if silently trying to figure out what might have happened last night. “What did I say?”
“We talked about some of the rumors that apparently started when you came to the school and some stuff like that.”
“Yeah some real stupid shit, you’ll probably hear someone talking about it soon.”
And the one thing I hope to avoid ends up happening great, I hate you life. She thought to herself. “People are such jerks, it’s not like I’m an alien or anything.”
“Tell me about it.” Alex said before eyeing her then asking. “Although, last night you did say something, you told me you hurt some guy that was pestering you.”
“Hitting me with a blunt object isn’t pestering.” Charla said her voice almost devoid of any forms of emotion as she brought her hand up to the back of her head. “That student always seemed to have it out for me and I blacked out from it, but my Dad told me that I got right back up, threw a chair at him before throwing him to the ground dislocating his shoulder at the same time. But that…”
Charla made the motion with her arms, like in act from a shadow play. “After he was on the ground, I apparently twisted his arm like this.” She said making the motion. “As if on purpose, but I have no memory of it or doing those things.”
That explains why this guy’s parents wanted to sue and probably why her Dad is so protective of her but still… “Hey, Charla tell me, when you look up at the sky and see the stars what do you see?”
Charla looked at her with a slight confused expression. “That’s a weird question, why are you asking me that?”
“Just answer it…” she said feeling almost stupid with her cheeks heated with slight embarrassment. As if her answer would be any different.
Charla thought about it for a moment. “Hmm well, if I had to say something, I’d probably say that they’re thoughts.”
“Thoughts?” Alex repeated almost shocked.
“Yeah,” she said with a nervous laugh. “I know it sounds dumb, but as a kid I always thought of the stars as thoughts or ideas that people have, and when one goes out it means an idea is forgotten, an idea of your dream that you had to let go. But you know… my brother always said it was different for him.”
“What would he say if he was here I mean?”
Her smile became sad. “He’d say that for him the stars are worlds, places that he’d like to go too, places so far he would never return here if he could go. He’d often make music about it.” Charla then looked at her watch. “Anyway, I have to go the school’s nurse said he wanted to make sure that I’m alright and I have a feeling if I don’t go he’d be pretty mad. But I’ll see you in class and I promise I won’t faint ether.”
Alex was left alone behind the school, in her head she was crossing over the encounters with Charla on the first day and now mixed with that of last night and noting the differences, something about this seemed really bothersome to her. And she felt like she knew where to look if she wanted answers.