Porcelain Skin

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It's Time

I wake up to a rather violent sneezing attack, and I’m wondering if this is the beginning of a cold or just the dirt from my bed lodging itself in my sinuses. Usually I’m pretty good at keeping the sneezes to a sequence of two or three, but I just beat my record with eight. My lungs hurt and I’m actually getting angry at the incessant violent expulsions of air from my tight nasal ducts.

“Shuddup!” a muffled groan sounds from across the room. As if I want to be sneezing my brains out.

In between sneezing, I look over to see a tangle of hair, limbs, and sheets. It’s actually a bit disturbing how the girl sleeps that way. It reminds me of those possessed children in horror movies with arms and legs bent and twisted unnaturally as they crawl across the ceiling. The only difference is that Mercy isn’t actually on the ceiling.

I’m just trying to figure out how she got her leg that high and how the hay she could possibly find it comfortable. She’s gotta be struggling to breathe with the way her body’s folded in half, but you’d never know with the power erupting from her mouth with each lung-shriveling snore. And she thinks I’m an ugly sleeper.

I sneeze my way to the bathroom, sneeze my way through a shower, sneeze my way into getting dressed, and then throw myself onto Mercy’s bed where I continue sneezing next to her pillow-smothered head until her deranged foot kicks me to the floor. I’m impressed that her foot is able to find me without the help of her vision. Another indication that she’s possessed.

The sneezes finally subside just in time for me to head to class, which is unfortunate because I was so hoping I was coming down with something contagious and would have to skip. Great news, though... it’s Thursday, which is basically Friday for me since I have no classes tomorrow. Oh, life is good.

Class goes by quickly as Ms. Garrison introduces us to Freud and all his barbaric ideas. I’m a bit spacey though because my mind is swarming with plans. I have to get Mercy back somehow. This war has just started. She will not win. I’ll fight ’til my final breath, and then I’ll come back and haunt her until her final breath, just so we can continue this battle in the afterlife. The fight will live on.

“... and then we filled balloons up with baby oil and dropped them from the roof.”

I blink, snapping back into the present. Trevor’s sitting casually in his chair, twirling a pencil between his fingers.

“Thought that’d get your attention,” he remarks with an arrogant smirk.

“That’s a fantastic idea!” I gush, still not one hundred percent focused on him, as he has just sparked a whole heap of new ideas. “We could totally use that. Like, I dunno, fill her shoes with baby oil, or her shampoo bottles, or... Baha!” I laugh as another idea pops out my mouth. “What if...” I’m laughing too hard at my idiotic plan to even get it out, and it’s not even funny. “What if we, like, fill her toothpaste tube with lotion, or...” It’s then I see the look on Trevor’s face and come to a halt. “What? You don’t think those are good ideas?”

“Well, I might if I knew what the heck you’re talking about,” he states.

“My roommate,” I respond, as if he should already know this. “We’re in the midst of a full-fledged war, and you, my man, have just stepped right into the heart of it.” I snicker wickedly, going so far as to throw my head back and laugh at the ceiling.

Looks like becoming friends with Trevor has opened up a whole new level of stupid on my part. I’m guessing by the look on his face that he’s thinking the same thing. I probably look something similar to a werewolf wailing at the moon.

“You’re weird.” His expression doesn’t change.

I sigh, fully disappointed that he hasn’t caught on.

“Okay,” I say, as if I’m speaking to an earless three-year-old alien. “My roommate has been destroying my bed by peeing on it and putting...” I stop. “Wait, no...”

“Peeing on it? She peed on it?” He looks genuinely worried about her level of sanity.

“No!” I’m going to combust.

Guys blame their stupidity on the fact that they can’t multi-task. Well, newsflash, most girls can’t either. Or at least, I can’t. Not at all. I can’t even sing and shower at the same time because I end up washing my hair about three times. So, Trevor’s already ahead of me there with his Katy Perry fetish.

He’s trying to grasp what I’m talking about, but he doesn’t understand that I can’t catch him up to speed on where my mind is going while simultaneously planning my retaliation on Mercy. I decide to put my scheming on hold a moment for his benefit and begin explaining the pee situation in agonizing detail. I need to get a step ahead.

“Hmmm.” He appears thoughtful once I’ve finished.

I’m heaving air into my lungs because I literally tried to enlighten him of the situation all in one breath, and it was nearly fatal.

“Okay,” he says. “So, your ideas are a bit juvenile.”


“After class, you’re coming with me.”

“Oh. Goody!” I sound like a child. “Where we going?”


“Your communication skills are impressive,” I tell him. “So descriptive and enlightening.”

Trevor doesn’t respond or even look at me as he turns his attention down to a paper on his desk.

“Whatcha doing?” I inquire.

“Same thing you should be doing,” he replies without lifting his head.

“Uh...” I’m scanning the paper as the word dies slowly into a whisper. I don’t even know what I’m looking at. It’s like I’m reading a different language. On top of the dirt in my sheets, I’m wondering if Mercy may have drugged me too because the way I’m acting today is just not normal.

“Fine,” Trevor exhales dramatically.

I eye him as if he’s just transformed into Kangaroo Jack. I’m waiting for him to elaborate but he just continues on with his worksheet.

“Fine what?” I don’t handle suspense well, especially in movies. It’s like my mouth runs away from my brain, and I just start spouting question after question. Unfortunately, this tactic didn’t work on Trevor last night because he’d already seen the movie and said he’d tie my hands to my feet, glue my mouth shut, and then mummify my head with tape if I asked one more question.

“Fine, I’ll share my brilliant plan with you.” He shifts in his seat to face me. “But, you must not tell a soul.”

I mime zipping my lips shut.

“It involves plastic wrap,” he whispers.

“How original,” I snort.

“What?” He sounds more shocked than offended.

“We’re not putting it on the toilet seat,” I groan, unimpressed by his lack of creativity.

“Oh, ye of little faith.” He reaches over to rub the top of my head as if I’m a Pomeranian pup.

I slap him in the back of the head. “Don’t touch the hair unless you want to meet my alter ego,” I warn. “Maddie is not nice.”

He pulls his hand away as if my hair just burst into flames. I smile victoriously.

“She’s got soft hair,” he fawns.

“Compliments will not win her over.”

After class Trevor bid me farewell, saying he’d changed his mind about taking me with him, and he’d just meet up with me later with all the necessary ammunition. But now I’m bored. Lindsey’s got class, and it doesn’t feel right getting too friendly with Mercy since I’m preparing to demolish her tonight. My other option is to go for a run. I slip on my tenni’s and appropriate clothing and head out. I take off in the same direction as Merv—that’s what I’ve named my barn—but that’d be nearly ten miles round trip, and I’m just not up for that.

I’m sweating like a hippo by the time I stumble back to Samantha Hall. Actually, let’s be realistic, I was sweating like a hippo three minutes into my run. I wipe my overflowing forehead, finally understanding why I was never one of the girls that got ‘hottie honked’ at while running. I looked more like a dude with massive pit stains and obvious swass—an embarrassment to the female population.

I stroll through the entrance, into the elevator, and down the hall to my room. As I slip through the door I can sense a change. Have you ever walked into a room and immediately known something was off? It could be something as small as a missing rug, or a crooked painting, and though you don’t actually notice what it is, you can feel it. Well, that’s the feeling I got the moment I walked through the door.

I freeze in place, scanning my surroundings, but can’t pinpoint what is making me feel uneasy until it walks out of my bathroom. I nearly wet myself.

“Urmegurd, son of a bitten fudgemuffin!” I’m doubled over clutching my petrified little heart while Trevor scans my reaction, looking as innocent as a baby snow monkey.

“Uh... boo?” He quirks a brow, and I fall into a sloppy heap on the floor.

He makes his way to my bed and falls into it. He doesn’t know there’s dirt in it yet because I didn’t get around to that part of the story while in class, but now that he’s in my room, on said bed, there’s no way I’m telling him. I don’t want to explain that I’d slept in it like that.

“You kinda look like a homeless dude right now,” Trevor informs me casually. I pry an eye open to glare at him.

“I think I’m more offended by the ‘dude’ part of that statement,” I gripe as I roll onto my knees and grunt my way into a standing position.

“Can’t say I’m digging the Medusa look,” he says, as he flicks a small patch of dirt off my bed where it’s escaped from hiding.

I am painfully aware of my appearance. Thanks.

He suddenly gets an ‘uh oh’ look on his face, and freezes. “Maddie’s not gonna be pissed that I insulted her is she?”

I sigh pitifully before grabbing all the stray hairs away from my face to redo my ponytail.

“Well, seeing as how Maddie is short for Medusa... no, I think you’ll survive this time.”

“You’re weird.”

“Okay, first of all, you need to find a new adjective to describe me. ‘Weird’ is getting old,” I preach. “Secondly, why?”

“’Cuz, you name your alter ego after your hair. That’s like naming my alter ego Spike, or Cocoa, or—”

“Shaggy?” I supply.

He stops mid-sentence and looks at me like I’ve just launched bunnies out of a cannon and into a brick wall.

“You think it’s shaggy?” He starts tugging at the strands with an adorable sense of insecurity, and, dagnabit, I feel like I just stole money from a homeless child.

I sit next to him, rubbing his arm tenderly. It wreaks all kinds of havoc on my nervous system as needles shoot into every inch of epidermis that comes into contact with his velvety skin. No, he wasn’t kidding about that.

“I didn’t mean it in a bad way,” I console as if speaking to a sobbing child. “It’s shaggy in a manly, hunky kinda way.” I’m looking at his profile, so I immediately recognize the smirk tugging his lips upwards. “It’s seductive with the appearance of silk dipped in coffee,” I continue. His smirk is slowly dying. “Like Zac Efron, or Chris Hemsworth, or Jared Le—”

“Enough!” He’s cringing away from me now.

I pat him lovingly on the shoulder and then fall back onto the bed.

“So, what’s your plan?” I ask.

“Muah ha ha,” he snickers while rubbing his hands together like an evil mad scientist.

I can’t help but be slightly in awe of how high his voice can go at times. It’s creepy.

“By the way,” I finally ask, “Did you really drop baby oil filled balloons from the roof?”

“Yep,” he answers, shifting positions on the bed. “Now I have a question for you.” He squints with one eye while raising the brow of the other. I motion with my hand for him to continue. “Is this dirt in your sheets?” He pinches some between his fingers and lets it fall slowly.

“Uh, that’s all Mercy’s doing from last night,” I quickly explain.

“I assume you sleep in your bed, right?” He waits for me to answer, but I don’t. I have no response. I look at the ceiling. “Emma?... Did you sleep here last night?”

“Hmmm?” I mumble, still looking at the ceiling.

He starts laughing and it jolts the whole bed. I glare at the back of his head, and then dart my eyes back up when he turns back to face me with a wicked grin plastered to his lips.

“You did.” It’s not a question. He sighs as if concerned for my mental stability. “You’re—”

“Don’t say it—”


“So how did you find my dorm room?” I ask Trevor.

Due to the nature of our plan, we had to evacuate the premises of my dorm room until the time arrived for us to divide and conquer. So, now I’m lying on my back on his bed with my head hanging over the side, staring at his upside-down form as he lounges in his old recliner. He’s sitting in it sideways with one leg propped up against the back of it.

“I tracked down Lindsey, who tracked down your roommate, and she let me in.” He stops flipping through his iPod to glance up at me. “She’s scary by the way, your roommate.”

“Yeah, I know,” I sigh, not the least bit surprised by his admission.

“She said that if I hurt you in any way she’d pluck each hair from my head while I slept and superglue them to my butt.”

“Aw, she said that?” I feel so touched by her loyalty.

The look on Trevor’s face says he doesn’t agree. You’d think that I just grew a ponytail from my eyelashes by the way he’s staring at me in concern.

I flip from my back to my stomach as Trevor returns to his iPod. He picks a song, and we sit in silence as Agnes Obel rasps out a sweet melody. I could drift off into a very happy sleep right about now. This is basically all we do for the next five hours: chat about nonsense and listen to music. Strangely, it’s about the most excitement I’ve had in a while. Sad, I know. I’m not a huge people-person I guess.

“It’s time,” Trevor announces, as he pushes himself up from his seat.

“Yay,” I moan. I lost my excitement a few hours ago when weariness set in.

We make the ten-minute walk to my dorm, arms filled with rolls of Saran wrap. There’s no denying we’re about to do some major pranking if someone were to catch us. Fortunately for us, it’s midnight, so most students are probably in bed. I know Mercy is because she never goes to bed after ten. She’s one of those people.

“Okay, pull yourself together,” Trevor orders.

I’m hanging onto his arm to keep myself from falling to the floor in a fit of giggles.

“I’m gonna pee.” I giggle again. It’s not the normal giggles of insecurity that girls bring out when they’re trying to be cute. No, these are the ugly giggles that erupt from the deepest part of your gut. Like the belly-rolling giggles that are uncontrollable and completely embarrassing. The giggles that bring out the snorts and the farts.

Trevor eyes me without amusement like I’m some nine-year-old tag-a-long.

“You’re one of those girls who pees their pants when they play hide-and-seek, aren’t you?” He sounds like he already knows the answer.

“Pfft... What? No.” Yeah. Yeah, I totally am.

Man, I need to do some bladder control. And by the look on his face, he knows.

“What?” I defend. “When I’m nervous and excited my abdominal muscles, and all the surrounding muscles, get a little weak. I don’t wet my pants or anything. Gosh, darn it. Leave me alone.”

“Okay, well you’re gonna have to shut it or you’ll ruin this whole operation.” He’s so serious that I start giggling even harder. He makes it sound like we’re part of the military on some secret mission.

“Operation,” I gasp as I hold my stomach. It’s beginning to feel the effects of too much laughter.

“Stop, or I’ll make you stop,” Trevor warns, and I catch a glimpse of the look on his face. The heat in his shimmering eyes instantly sobers me. What did he mean by that? My eyes flicker to his lips, where they twitch to reveal a satisfied grin. “Thought that might work.”

Well, that just soured my mood. Thanks.

“Let’s do this, Lieutenant Trev,” I announce.

Trevor shakes his head and then places a finger to his lips as he carefully opens the door to my dorm.

It’s dark, but the vibrating walls are a clear sign that Mercy is unconscious. That level of snoring would be impressive even if she were a dude. We stealthily glide across the floor, and I only trip once. We get to the side of the bed where Mercy is sleeping soundly, and I catch Trevor making some strange hand signals out of the corner of my eye. I just gape at him in response, but I’m not sure if he can see my blank expression in this lighting since I can barely see him.

He sighs and then leans down towards my face. My breath vanishes from my body as I feel his body heat mix with my own. I don’t even care if this is not the time or place. I will sacrifice this operation for one chance to know if my dream kiss was accurate at all. When I feel him bypass my lips and head towards my ear I nearly cry.

“You go under the bed, and I’ll pass the Saran wrap over her body so we can wrap it more easily.” His breath tickles the hairs around my ear and I nearly start giggling again.

I push my fist to my mouth and nod.

I didn’t realize what I was getting myself into because there is literally no breathing space under her bed. I think her entire childhood is packed under here. I push crap aside as I maneuver my way into the dark, tight space. I poke my hand out of the crack between the bed and the wall to give Trevor an okay sign. Seconds later I feel plastic hit my fingers, and I grab the roll, passing it along my body towards where my feet stick out. I can’t move well enough to hand the roll to Trevor, so he has to get on his hands and knees and reach under the bed for it.

We continue wrapping Mercy into her bed for nearly thirty minutes. It’s a good thing she sleeps like a dead bear or we’d never get away with this. Trevor made sure that her head was clear from any possible suffocation accidents, and then we bolt from the room. I’m giggling all over again at our clever and successful plan as we stumble into the dimly lit corridor.

“I could kiss you right now with how brilliant that was,” I say as I double over to catch my breath. I’m still laughing.

“What’s stopping you?” he questions suggestively, the hint of a smile on his lips.

My gaze shoots to his instantly. “Uh,” I pause. “The desire to live?” I reply, but I sound anything but confident because his expression is confusing me.

Seconds pass before the look leaves his face.

We walk in silence to the elevators and continue in silence until we reach the main entrance. I push the door open and wait for Trevor to pass through. The awkwardness is unsettling, but I don’t know how to break it, so I do the next stupidest thing. I hug him. Yep, I pulled his stone-like frame into my arms and squeezed.

I don’t give him a chance to hug me back because I don’t want to be humiliated if he doesn’t. I catch a brief scent of cinnamon lingering on his skin before I pull away, and something about it has warmth shooting through my chest.

“Thanks, Trev,” I whisper.

He smiles with a nod before turning and strolling away.

I’m kicking myself the whole way up the elevator because I hate that I hugged him, but I also hate that I didn’t take him up on his offer to kiss him. He may have been joking, but it sure didn’t appear that way, unless he was messing with me. In that case, I’m glad I didn’t take him up on the offer. That would have been embarrassing.

As I slide between the sheets of my dirty bed once again, all thoughts of Trevor vanish as I recall what we’d done to Mercy, and a genuine smile spreads across my face. A giddy excitement births inside my chest because I Just. Can’t. Wait. Until. Tomorrow. I’ve never been more excited to watch someone wake up before in all my life.

That sounds a lot creepier than it should.

The smile doesn’t leave my face until I drift off to sleep, which just adds a bit to my creep-factor. Who falls asleep smiling? Emma White! That’s who. And I’ll still be smiling tomorrow when I watch Mercy struggle in her plastic trap.

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