Archive

Posts Tagged ‘teenagers’

Day Forty-seven: A Farewell Kiss

Lily raced through the sweltering July heat. The sun was high in the sky but it felt like it was perched right above her head. Her hair was sticking to her, her clothes were beginning to chafe, and she could feel sweat running down her face. She ran faster.

The sound of her sneakers slapping against the pavement was far too loud, and breathing was beginning to hurt. Lily knew she was a lot of things, but a runner wasn’t one of them. She wasn’t a jogger, swimmer or even dancer, either. She was one of those girls who sat out gym class whenever possible, read a book and tried to get through the day with her head down.

She turned the corner and nearly twisted her ankle. Marla’s house was just down the street, and she dreaded what she would find when she got there. Marla’s text had come in less than an hour ago: “I’m moving. Today. Packing up. Come soon.” She didn’t answer her phone, didn’t send any more information, so Lily put on her least impractical shoes and started running.

Her brain started feeding her images of what she’d find, and most of them were an empty house. Their minivan gone, a moving company shoving furniture and boxes into a truck, and no indication of where the Zane family had gone. She would never see Marla again, and just the possibility of that happening made her run faster.

When she came in sight of the house, there was indeed a moving van, and she cried out as she stumbled to a halt in their driveway. Spots danced in front of her eyes and she had to lean over in order to catch her breath. For a moment, she thought she’d throw up, but that was eclipsed by the looming terror of not knowing what had happened, where they had gone.

“Lily? Is that you?”

Mrs. Zane came out of the house, carrying a small cardboard box. She handed it to one of the movers and swiftly came to Lily’s side. “Oh, my, you look terrible,” she said. “Just terrible. Come on in and I’ll get you some water.’

Lily felt tears running down her face, and hoped Marla’s mother would think it was just sweat. Once in the house, Mrs. Zane dug a glass out of a box, rinsed it out, and then handed her some water. Lily drank it down quickly. “You poor thing,” Mrs. Zane said. She took the glass back and poured another, which Lily sipped at. Mrs. Zane smiled. It was a sympathetic, yet powerless smile. “I suppose this is coming as a surprise to you too, isn’t it?”

Lily nodded, but couldn’t yet speak.

“Well, Marla’s father’s job is…” She pursed her lips. “Volatile. And this won’t be the first time.” She took the empty glass away. “More?”

Lily shook her head. “Marla?” she managed to say.

“She’s upstairs, packing up. She’ll be so happy to see you.” Mrs. Zane blinked a few times, and smiled a tight, sad smile. “You’ve been such a good friend to her.”

Her legs were shaky and she knew how horrible she must look. Hair plastered to her head, face red and sweaty. She wasn’t sure, but she probably was starting to smell. Lily went up the stairs as fast as she was able, turned into the hallway and went to Marla’s room. When she opened the door, her heart broke.

She had spent many hours here, listening to music, playing YouTube videos, talking about life and school and what they were going to be someday. They became friends almost instantly at the beginning of freshman year, and the two years that followed only deepened that friendship. They thought that they’d be graduating together, going off to college and becoming trendy city girls. They expected so many things.

Falling in love, however, was not one of them.

Lily dropped to her knees when she got in the room. The pictures and posters were gone from the walls. The bookshelves were empty, the desk had been cleared off, and there were boxes everywhere. Marla was there in an instant. She said Lily’s name over and over and held her close on the floor. Lily finally burst into the tears that she’d been holding back, and let herself sag into Marla’s arms.

She wasn’t sure how much time passed, but when she finally raised her head and was able to breathe deeply, they were sitting on the bed. She blinked tears out of her eyes and asked simply, “Why?” She couldn’t look at her.

Marla hugged her again. “My dad,” she said. “We found out last night, and I was only able to get a text to you today.” Lily could hear her smile, and she knew which smile it was. It was the sad smile, the downcast smile that always went with the things that couldn’t change. “I would never leave without seeing you again, though.”

“But I don’t want you to go!” Lily hated the whine in her voice, but couldn’t stop it.

“And I don’t want to go either,” Marla said. “But I don’t have a lot of choice.” She hugged her close. “You think this is bad, see what happens when I tell them that a) I’m not going with them because b) I have a girlfriend.” She laughed. “Remember that time my mom caught us smoking pot out back?” Lily let out a quick laugh as well. “Imagine that about a thousand million times worse.”

“Yikes.”

“No kidding.”

They sat in silence for a little while. Lily’s sniffing subsided, and she rested her head on Marla’s shoulder. “Promise you’ll Skype?” she asked, in a small voice.

“Promise. And Tweet. And Facebook and everything else.” She lifted Lily’s face upwards and brushed away a lock of hair. “This is the internet age, girlfriend,” she said. “Trust me. I’m not really going anywhere.”

Then she kissed her. It wasn’t passionate, like those first few weeks, or playful, like the weeks before that. It was a farewell kiss, and even though neither of them had done it before, they both knew what it was.

They sat for a while longer, neither one wanting to be the first to move.

But, in the end, they did.

Day Thirty-eight: A Friend in Need

June 28, 2011 4 comments

As my cast list grows, every now and then I’ll randomly choose two characters and see what happens when I put them together. Insofar as there is a canon to any of these stories, these are not canon. Or maybe they are. We’ll see.

This week features Rachael Decker, the ill-fated Girl Next Door from day 9, Reunion and Evelyn Pierce (AKA Botanica, a former metahuman) from story 36, Interviews. Let’s watch and see what happens…

————————

Green hair isn’t something you can hide easily in high school. Evelyn Pierce certainly tried, but she found that trying to go from a deep, mossy green back to her normal blonde was asking for more than modern cosmetics could offer. The new tint ignored the bleach utterly, and she knew she wasn’t goth enough to pull off dyeing her hair black. So green it was.

She got complaints from teachers, who called her parents, who said they had no idea what was going on. There was no history of green hair in the family, of course, and they were as concerned as anyone.

Compared to what else was happening, though, green hair was the least of Evelyn’s problems.

The real trouble started in biology class, as it so often does. The project was simple: clone a plant. Take a cutting, put it in some agar in a tube and try to cultivate cells from it. Each student pair did just that – plant, cutting, agar, incubate. Evelyn was paired with Rachael Decker, which made life easier. Rachael was a rarity in high school – someone who was incredibly popular, but at the same time genuinely nice. She didn’t care who you were, but rather treated everyone with basic human decency.

No one knew how she managed. But if there was any better person to have to work with when your hair was turning green, Evelyn didn’t know her. All Rachael said when she saw it for the first time was, “Wow! That looks nice!” And that was it. From anyone else, Evelyn would have suspected sarcasm. But not Rachael Decker.

The results of the experiment were, for most of the pairs, fairly ordinary. Lots of fungal infections from improperly cleaned equipment, a few that showed some sign of growth.

Evelyn’s had exploded. It broke through its glass tube and sent blind tendrils all through the incubator, infiltrating other experiments and completely ruining half the class’ work. Mr. Peters, the bio teacher, was amused, if anything. “Looks like we have a success,” he said, carefully disentangling the thing from all the others. He handed it to Evelyn and Rachael. “What’re you going to name it?”

Rachael laughed, but Evelyn didn’t even hear him. She was too busy listening to the horrible thing she was holding in her hands as it screamed at her. It was… crying. Like a horrible, twisted baby. And no one seemed to notice.

She dropped it and ran out of the bio lab. She went to the nurse, who called her parents, who took her home. As they drove, the whispering voice of that thing tickled her mind, and wherever she looked she felt like she was being watched.

She missed school the next day, and the day after. She wouldn’t leave her room – going to the living room with her mother’s potted plants was painful enough, and when her father mowed the lawn she nearly went mad. The grass screamed at her. The begonias begged for their freedom. She couldn’t even take a shower – as scrupulous as her mother was about cleaning, there was still mold somewhere, and it spoke to her in a horrible black voice that made her teeth hurt.

After a few days, her mother poked her head into the bedroom. “Evey, honey? You have a visitor?” Everything her mother said sounded like a question. It always had, and it always bugged Evelyn, but not now,

“I can’t, mom,” she said.

“She says it’s important? It’s your friend Rachael?”

The thought that Rachael could make everything better was stupid, she knew. Childish. No one could make things better, not ever. But it planted itself in her, and took hold. If she could talk to anyone, it would be Rachael. “I’ll… I’ll come down,” she said.

She brushed her hair and changed her clothes for the first time in two days. Rachael wouldn’t mind if she smelled a little.

She heard them as she walked down the stairs. Her mother was a big believer in houseplants and kept them all over the place. Every room had green, growing things in it and until this week Evelyn thought they were nice. That they added some life and some freshness to the house. Now she could hear their voices as they strained for sunlight, called for water and ached in the pots that were provided for them. They wanted to be outside, to have their roots in deep soil and to be able to feel the breeze, to host insects and to be wild again. All of that in a cacophony of noise in her head that was so very loud. By the time she was in the living room, she was whimpering, and didn’t even notice that Rachael was there.

“Evey?” Rachael asked, putting her hands on her Evelyn’s shoulders. “Evey, are you okay?”

All Evelyn could do was shake her head. She wanted to speak, but she couldn’t unclench her mouth.

“I’ll leave you two alone?” he mother said. “If you want anything…?” She left, looking worried.

Rachael guided Evelyn over to the sofa, next to a sprawling philodendron on the side table that was singing, of all things. Singing! Evelyn whimpered as she sat. Rachael sat next to her, her hand on Evelyn’s knee. There was a rubber plant on the other side of the sofa that was growling something Evelyn couldn’t make out. “I know what you’re going through,” Rachael said.

Evelyn wanted to laugh, but that seemed like a very bad idea. What had Rachael gone through that was like this? What had she had to endure? The pitch of the plant noise ebbed for a moment, and she could sense a change in the room. An attention that wasn’t there before. A quiet, definite attention.

They were listening to her.

“Sometimes, life just gets weird, y’know?” Rachael continued. “But I want you to know I’m here if you need anything.” She leaned in. “Is it those guys from the swim team? Because they’re just assholes, and you know it.”

Evelyn shook her head again, but thinking of the laughter and the taunts she got when her hair changed just made it worse. She could feel something uncoiling inside her, something horrible and deadly. The plants had fallen utterly silent. Except for one of the spider plants hanging in the large bay window. It was laughing.

“But in order for me to help you, I need to know what’s wrong.” Rachael tilted Evelyn’s face up to look her in the eyes, and she smiled. She had such a pretty smile. She had red hair that set off gold-brown eyes, and those eyes just looked so honest. So sincere. Evelyn heard her own voice in her head, cutting through the silence. You can tell her, she thought. She’ll believe you.

Evelyn relaxed, and the thing inside her lashed out. The plants in the living room burst into life, their tendrils and leaves exploding outwards with a sound no human ear had ever heard before. Under that quiet roar was a louder one in her mind, a cry of freedom and rage. They had been given a horrible vitality that Evelyn knew was coming from her, flowing from her, but she couldn’t stop it. She didn’t know how it started, and stopping it was like trying to stop a river.

“What the hell?” Rachael stood up and started at the plants, then at Evelyn, who was rigid on the couch. “Evelyn, what’s-” She was cut off as the long stems of a large porthos plant whipped around her neck, cutting off her breathing. The long, grassy leaves of the spider plant whipped around, binding her hand and foot and lifting her, twisting and writing, off the floor. The great, stiff branches of a jade plant held her up, lifting her nearly to the ceiling.

From the couch, Evelyn was helpless. She saw her friend in the air, wrapped in twisting, choking green, and she couldn’t speak, couldn’t move. She tried yelling in her head for the plants to stop, to let her friend down, but they couldn’t hear her – or wouldn’t.

Please, she implored them. Please let her go!

The mad chorus of voices surged, voicing primitive, needy thoughts. The room was filled with the sound of rustling leaves and the smell of steaming, living soil. The plants were happy, she realized. Happy for the first time in their lives. They were calling out – sun, water, soil – over and over again, like a chant, like a ritual – sun, water, soil – getting louder and louder and ignoring the screams in Evelyn’s head to stop, to put down her friend, to please just stop!

There was a loud snap.

The plants went quiet. For a moment, Evelyn thought that maybe one of the branches had broken, that they had pushed too far, too fast. But she heard the plants and knew that wasn’t so. They were murmuring, whispering, quiet. The leaves and vines and tendrils, so alive and vicious just a moment ago, went limp, and Rachael’s body fell to the floor. There were cuts all over her arms and neck where the leaves and vines had sliced into her skin. Her head lolled on a broken neck and rested awkwardly on her shoulder.

Finally, Evelyn was able to move. She dropped down beside her friend and begged and pleaded and sobbed.

The plants watched, and whispered.