This novel is limited to 100 free copies due to its part in Inkitt’s Novel Contest.
Words are meaningless little things. The letters they make up are just symbols that represent something else. When you read the word flower you don’t just see the word or the letters it’s made up of - you see what it symbolises and you picture a flower, whatever type it may be and whichever connotations that come with it. Whether you think of something colourful in a beautiful garden or something wilting in a vase depends on your experiences and your mood and substance. The way you are you.”
I’m watching Autumn eat up every word Ms. Rossiter has to say. As if languages weren’t enough up her alley, this is what makes her, this is Autumn’s substance.
She’s taking a lock of her light auburn hair and twirling it around her index finger once or twice and then pulling on it softly, slowly going down its length as her mouth is agape, her blue eyes bright - taking in each and every word and processing it in her beautiful mind.
She’s one of those gifted kind of people who have brains and looks, but she just doesn’t accept how damn beautiful she is. She may have the ability to trip whilst walking on flat surfaces, but she also has the ability to smile and make a total stranger trip right then and there.
As her name (and hair) would imply she’s got a warm soul that any man would have the privilege of carrying on his sleeve. She has to have one of the purest hearts left in this corrupt world we live in. How she maintains it leaves me totally stumped.
The way I romanticize her would make you think I’m totally crushing on her, but that would basically be incest I’m afraid.
We have one if those functional dysfunctional friendships where when we have midnight munchies we raid the kitchen of whatever there is that looks good but we can also fight like toddlers over the most stupid things, most recently about how you pronounce the wordy “breathy”.
She’s at least a head shorter than I am, which is tall for a girl considering I’m close to 6ft.
Her auburn hair is almost too light to be called auburn, but she prefers labelling it auburn over ginger. I still think she’s ginger enough to not have a totally whole soul, but that could be due to other reasons as well.
For someone of that hair colour she’s not that pale. Fair, maybe, her skin has a glow to it that prevents it from being that luminescent type of pale.
Blessed with an excellent facial structure, I’d swear she has royal blood. All she needs is a crown to be a princess.
A small face but its’ features are very distinct and well defined. A nose that starts high at her subtle brow ridge blessed with naturally well shaped brows that angle up just a bit at the end before going down to the edged off ends.
The bridge of the nose travels down with an ever so slight dip in the middle and a pointy tip at the end that raises a little with symmetrical nostrils of an oval shape. She definitely has a snobby nose.
Her jaw is angled enough to prevent her from ever having to worry about a double chin, but not too strong that it would scare off men who have a minority complex - not that I’d let her date someone anything less than a solid 9.8 out of ten on the “overall scale”.
Whilst walking through public spaces our favourite past-time is rating people.
We have different types of scales we like to use. The “Hell-oh scale” measures appearance only - the louder and more emphasized the “hell” the higher the babeness factor the person possesses.
The “Overall-scale” covers perceived personality as well as “Hell-oh” factor, it works on a nominal scale with no set key. This scale can include anything from a dragged out “yes” to a “now that can work.”
Needless to say we’re a fun time going out.
Autumn and I have a deal going on, a bet of the sorts.
It’s only been around ten hours - most of which I’ve slept, but Autumn and I are dating.
I am not completely sure how we decided this, but it started late last night when she messaged me to inform me that her woman crush Emelia Clarke won some hottest woman alive award or whatever other ‘position’ that degrades women and furthers men’s ideas that they’re an object used for sex.
Now don’t get me wrong, Emelia is beautiful… but is she the most beautiful? Certainly not. No offense Emelia.
I didn’t feel like arguing with her so I instead bombarded her with dozens of pictures of pretty much anyone I thought was hotter than Emelia Clarke. It didn’t take long for her to give in and admit her loss - commenting on a picture of some unknown woman in a bikini “I’ve seen enough of this woman to hate myself forever.”
This isn’t an irregular occurrence. Autumn quite honestly just doesn’t see what everyone else sees. It’s also beautiful in the sense that she can see something everyone else overlooks and gather some mundane words and put them together into a poem that could send you on a one way trip to recontemplate-my-life-ville.
But knowing she’s lying in her bed feeling anything less than she deserves to feel leaves me angry at the world we live in.
Looking at the picture, there is no question as to whether the image is photoshopped to the point of unattainability, yet we still want to look like it. We want the impossible in all the wrong ways.
Autumn doesn’t deserve that. No one does.
Now back to our supposed unofficial relationship we now have, I told her she could have anyone wrapped around her fingers in seconds – which is true for the most part.
The problem arose when she said “prove it.”
Now Autumn doesn’t have impossible standards at all, if you’ve got personality and won’t be a detriment to her children’s genes one day you’ve already got your foot in the door.
The thing is how do you prove that to someone?
“I’ll date you.”
Why I said it I honestly don’t know. My heart pounded as I impulsively sent it. It was racing in-part because I knew it would be one hell of an adventure to date her, but also because she’ll be a challenge to date. It’s hard to love someone who can’t even love themselves.
I try to pay attention to the class. Ms. Rossiter is very flamboyant in her explanatory movements which matches her dramatic loud personality. She has way too much energy for a Monday morning.
Her platinum hair shines radiantly under the fluorescent lights as her hipster glasses cast a shadow onto her face. I don’t know much about makeup, but from what I can tell she wears way too much blush. Other than that her freckles shine through on her rounded cheeks and she looks a lot younger than she really is. The little lines on each side of her always-red lips give it away along with the crinkles at her eyes that give her wisdom.
I place my hands into fists and put them together under my chin looking down at my table making out shapes in the lines of the wood grain. I look up to see Autumn chattering with Ronwyn seated to her right. Ronwyn is an exchange student from South America who’s going to be here for the year.
She spent the first few months drifting between friend circles around the school and in the end recently settled with us, the posy.
The reason why I call us a Posy is because it means “small bunch of flowers.” It’s something like a bouquet from an era long before my own.
Being referred to as a bunch of flowers has some nice symbolic meaning to it for me. Not only are flowers beautiful, but they’re often used as a gift to someone. I like the idea of being a gift to the world – whether I am… well that’s debatable.
Ronwyn has green eyes like that of a serpent and the personality to match. Never quite knowing where I stand with her I fear her poisonous bite but am yet to experience it. Fortunately the feeling I have for her isn’t shared. She seems to like me more than I like me. She tries changing the way she uses her words to be considerably nicer to me than she is to most people.
I won’t lie - there is something alluring to her. Her exotic look makes it hard not to look at her when you first meet her, I’ve noticed that much when introducing her to people that their eyes examine every element of her face, well that when they’re not outright eyeing her rack.
Her two front teeth face each other ever so slightly, but the rest of her teeth are otherwise straight. Her tanned appearance with the black hair provides for an interesting contrast.
As if she already wasn’t a total goddess she has full lips with high cheekbones that just add to that ‘desirable x-factor’ most guys want in a girl.
With those looks she’d definitely fit in with a more in-crowd, but her personality isn’t easy to work with. She’s a bit sneaky and sly and doesn’t have the type of soul you’d find easy to trust. I don’t want to make deductions, but I think she’s had her fair share of heartbreaks down the line that have made her hard and her heart impenetrable.
Good looking ‘perks’ I guess. I wouldn’t know.
Having never dated a soul since I was around ten with that Saska girl who was a total badass for someone only a decade old. I couldn’t help but be attracted to her adventurous livelihood.
I wonder where she is in the world and what she’s up to. I hope she’s doing well and managed to keep her adventurous spirit alive in this cruel, dream-crushing existence we find ourselves in.
The bell rings and it’s time for Biology.
I hold Autumns’ brown leather sling bag up for her to put her arm through and she smiles at me as she takes it with a sarcastic “thank you dear sir” and I respond with a “you’re welcome milady” in a similar tone. Keshi just looks at us shaking her head hiding her smirk by pressing her left fist against her lips, her wrist adorned with a red string which symbolises allegiance to her Hindu faith.
Keshi is my best friend and basically my own little private diary who keeps a log of all my secrets and happenings.
Keshi could probably be explained like her hair. It appears soft and silky and nice to touch and hold, but it’s also damn strong. You don’t mess with her.
Her tongue is sharp like the scissors used to cut her locks and is wielded like a true hair cutting pro. She’ll chop your ego in half with a single sentence - a paragraph will make you contemplate your entire existence.
I don’t stress about that though. It’ll only happen if you cross her. She’s extremely loyal and expects you to be as well.
Appearance wise Keshi is short, I mean like she’s short. When I hug her she basically holds me at my waist with her head just below my chest.
The first thing you’d notice about her face are her cheeks. It’s like her entire face was designed around them, and when she smiles they lift up lighting her up. Her jaw is soft, giving her a friendly and approachable look, but her shy demeanor and avoidance for groups of more than five people say otherwise.
Her eyes are large and dark brown in colour, they’re emphasised well with her long lashes and thick brows.
Her nose has a straight bridge giving her an excellent facial profile, it ends wide at the bottom with her nostrils flattening as they reach toward her cheeks ending with a rounded arch.
Due to her shy nature she has a soft heart that you’ll never see or know exists unless you’re one of the few people who possess the key, those people currently being me and herself.
The key I have is one of my most treasured possessions and one of the things I’ve worked the hardest for but have definitely earned. I love this woman to bits.
Keshi, being the vault I keep my secrets in is skeptical about how Autumn and I’s dare-lationship is going to function. Keshi knows things about me no one else does and might ever will. The question is what role these things will have in how this plays out...
Now in Biology, I’m greeted by the beautiful lighting this class has. The light streams through the high windows fitted against the slanted roof that travels from the one side of the building slowly descending down to the other side.
Sitting near the back I can see the rays travel through the air, the little specks of dust swimming in it like the stars floating in space.
It’s a good thing this class has windows placed so high up against the walls, I’d spend all my time staring into the distance looking for nothing specific, hoping for something profound.
Mr. Dickens whom I’d prefer to call Mr. Dick (because that’s exactly what he is) enters from the class side door which opens to a small store room stocking all the utensils and goodies needed for a practical lesson.
“Today we’ll be dissecting some lungs” he announces with a smile whilst carrying a steel tray with bowls on it, lungs in it I presume.
In comes Malakai, better known just as Kai. Resident bad boy. A package deal with the sex appeal and all.
I have all my classes with him but only see him in half of them because most of the time he just doesn’t pitch. Teachers leave him be - partly because he’s a hopeless case, partly because despite his absence in class he gets good grades. Excellent to be honest. Top ten every term. The bastard.
His style of dress and way of acting screams 21st century James Dean. Almost always wearing well fitting white shirts with leather or denim jackets, and his signature skinny black jeans with a slit at the knee to add some rugged appeal. He’s always found wearing converse high-tops or black boots. He’s a bad-boy-bad-ass of note.
What surprises me most of him is his lack of arm candy. Looking like he does I’ve always thought he’d rake in the ladies - but he’s never interested. Maybe it’s to preserve his appeal. Whenever someone gets into a relationship they seem to be less desirable because they’re not available anymore and off the market.
Marketing strategy? Heck, I don’t know.
Because he’s the last person to enter he sits at the only spot left right in the front. From where I am sitting I have a good view of him. He’s a lanky guy actually – probably my build, but he has actual muscle in his arms.
I can see he’s a little nervous. His right hand is scratching at the side of his face going down to his impeccable jaw.
He has a jawline that might just cut his finger - squarely angled and starting out flat below his cleft chin featuring a very subtle indent in the bottom middle, and then his jaw stretches out in a V to the sides of his face where it reaches its widest point below his earlobes.
If you look at him from the front you’d notice how his square forehead has little dents just to the outer side of each eyebrow creating a subtle indent, and how just below his slightly dark and pigmented eyes his protruding cheekbones are sharp and provide a dominant stand-out feature to his face making every bit of him seem chiseled out of a very light marble.
His eyes are a vulnerable blue but remain piercing, perhaps due to the darkness around them which may be genetics or late nights, I can’t tell. It’s hard to keep eye contact with him in conversation because of how much he looks around, not that I’ve had many conversations that long with him.
Mr. Dick calls us to the hexagonal island tables that seem to be nonchalantly placed around the one side of the room by someone who has zero sense of spacing.
We move like a herd of sheep and group around the table to see how we’re supposed to dissect them and label each part. This should be an easy task if I end up in a good co-operative group.
I don’t have any preferences. Because of the way the subjects are grouped I don’t have any of the Posy here, so I don’t have much of a choice but to go with the flow.
Mr. Dick looks up and divides us based on absolutely no basis other than “you with you, you and you” seeing as he doesn’t know many of our names.
Fate has its’ way with me and I’m grouped with Kai.
I’m not particularly concerned with this other than the fact that I don’t like being surrounded by men more attractive than I am. I’m average looking enough – I don’t need to be surrounded by someone who’d definitely be all-caps on the “HELL-OH” scale.
I’m watching him look at how air-head Emma manhandles the poor lung. Her friend is making gagging noises thinking she’s a lot funnier than she really is.
Emma and her friend may be pretty, but they’re mostly pretty dumb. No offense. At least they have something going for them, right?
I near her smiling - my hands out in front of me in a bowl to show her to give it to me. She drops it in my hand and it lands with a squishy noise. Of course her and her friend giggle. I’m tempted to name them the “giggle-gaggle group” because they giggle at everything and just like baby geese walk aimlessly in little lines when they don’t have a mother to guide them. The mother being Brittany. Dare call her Britney and she’ll stab you with a plastic fork. That’s experience talking.
I feel nauseas at the thought of there being grandmothers one day named Brittany or Ashley.
I lay it flat on the table for us to get an actual look at it. We start labelling it – Emma offering ‘insight’ as we go through and actually getting one of the five past things she mentioned right – that being that it’s a lung. Nice.
There is some aesthetic to this organ. Maybe it’s the way it looks like a tree – and that it is essentially the tree of our body that provide us with oxygen. Maybe it is how the lungs trap in the heart with one on each side.
“I’ve never been surrounded by someone so annoying” I hear. The voice is a bit hoarse, I smell an air of smoke to his breath. Kai.
I feel caught off my guard.
“I don’t know how anyone can stand being around her” I comment, not really sure if that’s what I wanted to say.
“I don’t know how she can stand being around herself” he says giving a chuckle.
I don’t reply, he doesn’t say anything else.
At lunch we all meet where we usually do. A secluded spot on the side of the main building under the now nearly leafless oak trees.
We like it here because its quiet and in summer there’s a lovely patch of green grass you can lay on and use your bag as a pillow.
We’ve shared moments here that I’ll treasure forever. To remember this spot as ours we carved our names on the planks of the benches, but we did it underneath that you’d have to lie on your back and shift under the bench to make them out.
Jeremy is the last to join us, greeting us with a wide grin.
He’s the resident clown who doesn’t even need balloon animals or a red nose to bring a smile to your face.
I press my lips together. Majority of the most cheerful people I know, Jeremy included, are usually the most broken up on the inside.
He comes in, arms wide about to attack Autumn and I with a bear hug. I go in for it with Autumn following suite. You can’t deny the love he brings to the atmosphere.
I pull out of the hug to sit on the bench and look at him. I can’t describe him as anything other than a pink-faced cutie.
His well rounded face has two blue-green eyes that always add an element of innocence and sincerity to his being.
His demeanor is enough to show you he’s the nicest guy around, that to the point where if you matter enough to him he’ll put you before himself any day of the week.
I’ve warned him how unhealthy it is for him to be the way he is, but he can’t help to leave open his soul for those he loves.
I wouldn’t be able to stand being so vulnerable.
We discuss plans for the afternoon as if we don’t have studying to do or universities to apply for.
We announced on the group chat that Autumn and I are an item to get bombarded with all sorts of messages varying from “haven’t you always been?” to “I don’t see it happening.”
I think everyone just assumed it’s a joke. I did not expect them to hold it against me as much.
Autumn was sitting on the end of the bench with her legs curled up under her. I was on the other end.
“Broken up already?” Jeremy teases.
“Yeah not much going on there” Ronwyn adds, her green eyes glaring at me.
“I’ll just have to keep up my end of the bargain then. Come over here” I say gesturing to Autumn to sit with me.
She scoots in tight next to me and I place my arms around her body, holding her tightly.
“Oh, this actually works for the cold” she says smiling, staring at me clearly enjoying the fun this game brings.
“Sorry, I won’t make it for coffee” Keshi adds. I dial in to pick up on the details.
Jeremy gives a goofy smile in agreement shouting “café mocha!” in my direction.
Café mocha’s are our drink of choice at Jacob’s.
Ronwyn and Keshi are seated on the grass doing some or other Accounting homework which Autumn and I don’t have to worry about because we were smart enough to not take the class. We’re still grateful for that.
I think of weird incident with Kai. I shouldn’t find it strange but I do. He doesn’t talk to anyone. Why me?
I wonder why he is the way he is. It’s frightening but exciting to think that there are people I see nearly everyday that have lives I don’t know anything about.
“Isn’t it scary to think that every single person at this school has a life just like our own?” I ask. Not really sure why I’d share my moment with people who are obviously absorbed in something else.
“Pshht. People wish they had a life like ours” Jeremy says giving me a wink. I give a smile to show my amusement with his sentiment, but continue explaining.
“I mean that in the same way we experience everything around us, so does everyone else. The pain and the joy we have other people have too. We all have a family somewhere we all have our own battles we all have…” I say as I nod my head with each concept, processing them as I go just to be interrupted.
I look at autumn, her well defined lips slightly open with the word lingering on her lips.
Keshi and Ronwyn look up from their books and face Autumn.
She repeats declaratively. “Sonder. The realisation that everyone around you has a life just as complex as your own.”
There is a brief silence.
“Why are there so many words that describe things so perfectly that we never learn in school” Ronwyn asks. She does have a point.
The word kind of stayed with me for the rest of the day. Every time I saw someone smiling or frowning or showing any form of emotion it had me wondering what their life was all about. Everyone has their things they’re going through – and it frightens me a little how complex existence is.
LouiseJ2: I enjoyed the detail you went into with regards to the case. It made the UNSUB appear believable. The crisis in the middle of the story was my favorite part, very dramatic but not over the top. I feel like sometimes pairings can be overdone but I liked that some of the relationships were a little...
Fashakin Michael: I have looked for the right word to describe this piece of Art but I concluded with "Wow!" Every chapter held me glue till the last and the book is just the reflection of our environment with its reaction. Though the writeup is not far from what happens in home but the writer was able to hold me ...
Ben Gauger: Kudos go to wordworrywill, author of Kings and Things, an otherwise imaginative tale set against the trappings of the royal set, but then again I don't imagine there'd be many authors who invoked the names of Oprah Winfrey, Vladimir Putin, Jeff Bezos, Beyonce and Steven Spielberg, As for the plot...
FreakyPoet: "you made me laugh, made me cry, both are hard to do. I spent most of the night reading your story, captivated. This is why you get full stars from me. Thanks for the great story!"
Sara Joy Bailey: "Full of depth and life. The plot was thrilling. The author's style flows naturally and the reader can easily slip into the pages of the story. Very well done."