I glanced down at the small, delicate butterfly design on my left hand; it appeared as if I had a professional tattoo, but it was one of my own creations, drawn with Sharpie. I had spent my entire mathematics class sketching it across my pale skin, without Mrs. Bonn so much as glancing over at the back of the room, where I was gladly seated between two idiots tossing paper planes over my head. I suppose it was an upgrade from listening to Amanda Penrose - the most popular girl in school - complain about her history of dating.
The bell rang.
Time for 3rd Period.
I rose to my feet, snapping shut my blank textbooks. I flinched as the corner of the page slit the end of my finger, briefly shaking my hand as if I could shake away the pain in the process. I was at the door when I heard Mrs. Bonn, but I only stopped when I realised she was addressing me.
I didn't turn to face her.
"Don't think I failed to notice your lack of attention today, Ms. Chase".
"I've found myself distracted lately, Mrs. Bonn. What I miss, I will make up for next week".
"I'll see you in my office after school".
"I'm afraid I'll be busy at that time; my Mum will need me to babysit Aaron".
Aaron - my baby brother.
I hoped I'd get home in time before my Mum missed her appointment. She had been so secretive about it, especially since I noticed a sticky-post on the refrigerator and realised it wasn't a dentist appointment. Then again, she had always been secretive. My Dad, on the other hand, was only home between 12 and 6am, which meant I only really saw him very briefly in the morning.
I slowly turned to face Mrs. Bonn, my textbooks pressed against my chest.
"My office, Ms. Chase. After school".
* * *
"Detention? With Mrs. Bonn?"
I avoided eye contact with my best friend, Alexandra Evelyn, although I was mostly avoiding the question. I stacked my textbooks into my crammed locker, which was decorated with a large collection of my drawings and designs, resembling Alexandra's locker quite perfectly. Before 10th grade, when I first met Alexandra, I had never had a true friend, or anyone that shared my common interests. Neither of us fit into any clique or group, which was what made us work so well together.
I finally settled my gaze on her, swiftly closing my locker door.
"Straight after school. The same time I'm supposed to be babysitting Aaron".
She bit her bottom lip. Her medium-blonde braids dangled in her face, while the rest was tied back in a loose ponytail that ended at her waist. One of her hands were rested on her left hip, where her own gorgeous designs were drawn in Sharpie around her thumb and knuckles. She was wearing floral-patterned skinny jeans featuring a mixtures of pinks, purples, aquas and violets, lit up on a black background, and a white spaghetti-strap tank top. A number of jewels and memories hung from the necklace around her neck, including a crescent moon, representing new beginnings and the making of dreams into reality, and an old, medieval-style, silver key, which I had given her for her 15th birthday. I knew how much that necklace meant to Alexandra, and I knew she wore it every minute of every day.
"I'll come over and help you later", she offered, closing her own locker door, which was conveniently beside mine. "Do you want something to eat in the cafeteria?" she shrugged, already anticipating my response.
I pursed my lips casually.
* * *
I sat opposite of Alexandra, a couple of stray apples, a Pepsi and a small fries sitting on my tray.
I could feel one of my braids unravelling, pulling them loose until my raven black hair was completely down and casual. Alexandra smiled widely, reaching across to my side of the table as she took a couple of the fries; we shared everything, so it didn't bother me. In fact, I barely even noticed.
What I did notice, was Alexandra staring at me.
"What? Did I drop a fry?"
She laughed, which made me feel a little better, and a little worse at the same time.
"Well? What's wrong?"
She hesitated, her blonde braids swaying gracefully.
"I saw your Dad today. I almost roller-skated into his G6".
I almost coughed up the fries ## ## #####.
My father was meant to be at work today.
According to him, he was meant to be at work every day, from 6:30 am to 11:30 pm. I had always thought the hours were a little long, but I had never expected this. If he had the day off, he would have told my mother, and she would have called me on my second-hand cell-phone; instead, he was driving around in a -
That was when it really hit me.
My Dad didn't own a G6.
* * *
I didn't have time to respond to the comment - not even in my own head; because before I knew it, Amanda Penrose had wandered over to our table.
"Hey, Annie", she smiled grimly.
My full name was Anastasia, and to be honest, I didn't enjoy the nickname that came with it, which of course, was why Amanda felt the need to use it.
"It's Anna, but that's okay", I responded, attempting to sound as polite as I possibly could around her.
"Alexander, the gir-"
"It's Alexandra. Don't worry, you'll get it right eventually".
I almost snorted with laughter.
Amanda didn't seem to care if she addressed us by the wrong names or even the wrong gender; she wanted to get straight to the point. With a flick of her straight blonde hair, she had the attention of every guy in the cafeteria. Although when they realised there was nothing to see, they went back to their fries again.
"The girls are really interested in checking this out", she finished, snapping away the necklace from around Alexandra's neck in a swift motion.
That. Was. A. Mistake.
"Give that back!" Alexandra's expression was replaced with something new. Hurt … fear … I couldn't exactly put my finger on it. I stared at the necklace dangling from Amanda's fist, holding some of the most important things to Alexandra, all tangled up into one big knot - the crescent moon, the silver key, a Sharpie, an amethyst stone, the emerald ring her mother gave her before her passing, and so much more. I had a similar necklace hanging around my own neck, which was why I was clutching onto it in my left fist, as if it possessed some sort of magical power.
Then I did what any friend would do.
I let go.
* * *
"Hand over the necklace, before this goes to the headmaster", I was surprised at the strength in my tone.
I unfurled my fingers from my fist, outstretching my hand for the necklace.
It was swung out of my grip almost immediately.
I watched the tears welling up in Alexandra's ocean blue eyes, the pain and familiar sense of loss, this time over all her memories, including the only one left of her mother.
Now I was angry.
I was about to give new meaning to "If you touch my friends, all hell breaks loose".
"How about, hand it over, and I won't do this this again!" I snapped, throwing a punch at her face.
As the impact of my knuckles hit her nose, every window in the room shattered.
The ##### alarms went off and the sprinklers started, soaking the hair and clothes of everyone in the room. The guys didn't seem to mind the water. The girls, however, were shrieking and screaming about their brand new shoes and hairstyles. Then I realised what the biggest deal was.
There was a fire, and not just any fire, but one forming on Amanda's cardigan. She threw it aside with a squeal as if it was coated with bugs and spiders, screaming bloody murder.
Flames of blues, reds, oranges and so many other hidden colours were alive on her clothing.
As I moved closer to it, stamping on it as to put it out, it prickled against my skin, like a faint version of "Pins 'n' Needles". I could feel my cheeks heating up, but I wasn't sure if it was the fire or the embarrassment; the sense that everyone was looking at me.
I picked up Alexandra's necklace from the floor, carefully laying it in her hand. Her tears had burned out, and her expression was now a mixture of fear and awe.
The sprinklers set the flames out.
This time, I did what I would do.