I’ve never really understood why mom never liked Aunt Vera. I mean, personally, I loved her. She was always so sweet and gave the BEST birthday presents. I had always wondered why she was never married, though. I mean, she was beautiful and friendly and one of the most successful lawyers around. If I was a guy, she’d certainly be a catch to me. I mean, I’m not saying a girl HAS to be married or anything, I just sometimes get curious. But most of that curiosity is fueled by the fact that she has a kid.
Now, I know you don’t have to be husband and wife to have a kid. I mean, my parents aren’t married yet, but they have three kids of their own, so I know there’s no law or rule or anything. I just sometimes wonder why Vera would’ve got with someone who bailed on her. She deserved better, and heck, you’d think a girl with her intelligence would’ve been capable of finding a better guy.
Anyways, one night, as we were preparing dinner, Vera called and said she wanted to drop by because she had someone for us to meet. Xenon, who had been playing with Belle, Vera’s daughter, looked up at us, a smirk slapped across that smug face of hers. “I bet she’s bringing her boy toy,” she said.
I wrinkled my nose in disgust at her, “Boys aren’t toys, Xenon. And don’t say that in front of the baby. Seriously, what’s wrong with you?” We didn’t exactly have the best sister relationship.
Xenon just rolled her eyes, “Whatever, Fluorine. Just because you have a boyfriend doesn’t mean you know everything.”
“Yeah, well, you’re too young to know everything.”
“I’m 14!” she mumbled, annoyance in her voice.
“And I’m 17, what exactly is your point?”
She glared at me, “Nothing, Fluorine. Nothing at all.”
Argon stood quietly to the corner. He hated it when Xenon and I would fight, because he always felt like we expected him to take a side. Xenon especially, though, since they were twins. She figured that since they shared the womb together for nine months, that they should always have each other’s backs. And I didn’t blame him for shying away from us, because we never really got along.
I heard the doorbell ring, and Argon was only all too happy to go get the door for us. My mother and father rushed down the stairs, tidying up the living room one last time. Vera walked in the door, and a petite yet beautiful pink girl entered behind her, a big smile on her face.
But I might have spoken too quickly. Because as Vera hugged my dad and mom, and shot the three of us kids a wave, she turned to the small female standing beside her. She smiled at us all, “Guys, this is Maybell.”
I turned to Xenon, dumping the foot into a pot, “See, Xe? No boy toy.”
Maybell smiled at us all, and a giggle escaped her lips, making her utterly and heartbreakingly adorable. “Maybell, this is everyone.”
Vera dropped her hand, wrapping her fingers around Maybell’s, who had a blush forming on her cheeks. Vera smiled lovingly at her, “Maybell… is my girlfriend.” So, not a boy toy, but a girl toy.
We all stopped what we were doing, stunned into silence. I guess that explains why she had never gotten married to the guy who knocked her up – she knew she couldn’t ever be really INTO him.
Surprisingly, it was my mother who broke the silence. The hard and protective wall she usually had up whenever Vera was around suddenly crumbled, and she hugged her like she was an old friend. My mother was laughing, “Oh goodness me! All this time I had been so mean towards you because I thought you were going to try and steal my Israel away!”
Vera’s eyes widened, but she winked at her, always a jokester, “Well, I did have my eye on him at one point.”
She turned to smile at Maybell, “But, my heart found its proper other half.”
I don’t necessarily think I’m in the ‘popular’ crowd at school. Sure, everyone knows my name and stuff, but that mainly due to Dublin. He’s an absolute wonder on the guitar, and his voice is like honey – he makes my knees get all wiggly and makes my heart turn to goo. But, I am a pretty friendly person, and I’m a great secret keeper and advice giver, so I am pretty well liked, which is how I end up on the guest list to pretty much every party. And, well, I don’t mean to brag, but come on. Dublin and I were the show-stoppers. We were literally THE couple in high school. Heck, we were even the running for the sweethearts of our graduation class, and my bets were on the fact that we’d get it. We’d been together a little over a year now, and I can honestly say I love him with all of my heart. Or however much love a teenage girl can manage.
Anyways, when we arrived at the party, it was the typical mess. People grinding, which made me sick. Since when did rubbing your privates against each other ever become an option for dancing? Whatever happened to waltzing?
Dublin shifted his eyes at me, his hand going to my lower back as his arm wrapped around my waist, pulling me towards him and into his lap. He gave me a kiss – he was always one for a bit of PDA. He had been drinking already, and his words were slurred, “Wanna dance, babe?”
If I lay here – if I just lay here, would you lie with me and just forget the world?
I choked back a disgusted cough, sober Dublin knew exactly how I felt about this type of thing. I stood up, and he stood with me. I rolled my eyes at him as he breathed on me, his entire body reeking of the scent of beer. “Sure, yeah. But hey, I’m gonna go to the restroom really quick, ok?”
He smiled at me, his eyes sloppily trying to focus on my face, “Sure, babe. I love ya.”
Those three words are said too much; they’re not enough.
I avoided the kiss he tried to plant on my lips, and walked away from the music that was blasting out of the speakers.
A person could hardly even hear their own thoughts in there. As I was heading towards the bathroom, I heard a small shriek, followed by a small, high pitch voice repeating only one word, ‘no’.
I glanced around the corner and saw Marley leaning up against the wall, her small frame offering her no protection from the giant man who leaned over her. There was no way that guy was in high school, I had never seen him around. Must’ve been some college kid trying to crash the party. He leaned towards her though, his hands on either side of her face. “Come on, baby, it’ll be fun.”
Her eyes were wide with fear, and she glanced my way, pleading with me to help her. The man leaned forward, kissing her cheek, and she hit his chest with her fists. “Get off me!” she screamed.
He laughed, a wicked and sick sound. I balled my hands up, my face crinkling in anger. Adrenaline pumped its way into my veins and I went up to him, tapping him on the shoulder. He turned to me, his eyes lazily going up and down my body. “Excuse me, but I think she said to get off her.”
He put an arm against Marley’s chest, pinning her to the wall. He turned to me, “Want me all to yourself, huh, pretty girl?”
I stood up straight, owning up to all five feet and four inches of myself. “Um, no. What I want is for you to go away, thanks.”
His face puckered, anger shooting through his eyes, which showed he had surpassed all levels of toxicity – but it caught me by surprise, looking him in the eye. Something was off, but I couldn’t tell what. It was almost as if his eyes weren’t quite human. His voice was low, though, and a whining escaped, “Aw, come on, now. I just want to have a little fun is all!”
He loosened his grip on Marley, and she slipped out of his grip, coming around to my side to stand on the defense with me. In a way, I was surprised she just didn’t escape when the chance was given to her. So many others would. But not Marley. Nope, she came and stood beside me. We weren’t friends in the slightest bit, but right now, we were both united in our fear, for he had us both backed up against the wall.
It was at that moment that I experienced true fear. I started gulping in deep breaths, because I knew what this type of guy could be capable of, and it terrified me. I screamed out for Dublin, but over the loud music, I doubted that he could hear me. Marley glanced at me, “I am so sorry, Fluorine.”
I gripped her hand tightly, when my eye caught onto another figure coming into the room.
Let’s waste time chasing cars around our heads.
He too, looked older than a high schooler, but his eyes weren’t lost and wandering like that of so many who had the infliction of the drink on them. His were clear, but still different, just like the man who was after us. And he walked with a purpose, as if nothing had or ever could harm him. He walked up to our attacker, his indigo hand colliding directly with the gut and then neck of the drunken party crasher. He turned to us, his hair covering up his face. “Go, girls. Go back to your party. I can handle him.”
I need your grace, to remind me: to find my own.
I swallowed, but the air got caught in my throat, “Is he – is he your friend, or something?”
If I lay here – if I just lay here, would you lie with me and just forget the world?
The attacker let out a hiss, showing displeasure, although whether the anger was towards me or this mystery man, I couldn’t be certain.
I don’t quite know; how to say: how I feel.
A dark chuckle escaped from the man, and he turned his attention away from me, “He’s something, alright.” Although I couldn’t be certain, I could’ve sworn he said, “Not… time, yet.” But he would’ve had to have whispered it, because it was so low that my ears strained to catch those few words.
All that I am, all that I ever was: is here in your perfect eyes, they’re all I can see.
Marley grabbed my hand, pulling me away from the scene. Back out where everyone else was, away from the fear, I noticed that I was shaking. Marley clutched onto me, her arms trembling, “Thank you, Fluorine. Thank you, thank you, thank you.”
“Yeah,” I said, dimly, my eyes focused in the direction in which the two strangers were. “No problem.”
Dublin found us at that moment, and he smiled at me, “Heeeyyyy!” He glanced at Marley, whom he knew I disliked, and his brow furrowed, “I thought you…”
I quickly interrupted him, “I changed my mind, Dubs. Marley and I are friends.”
“We are?” she asked, her eyes showing her doubt. I guess I wasn’t as good at hiding my displeasure in her as I thought I was.
I laughed nervously, “Yeah. I mean, after something like that, we gotta be.”
She smiled that award winning smile, and I turned to Dublin, trying to hide the panic and desperation in my voice, “Hey, babe, mind if we get outta here?”
He grinned at me coyly, his hands cupping my face as he pulled two fingers through my hair. “What you got in mind, Carrot?”
I leaned into him, fitting into his chest perfectly. I inhaled the familiar scent of him, letting it intoxicate my mind. I let out a deep sigh, because I knew what he wanted, and I knew that like many other times, he was going to get it. But I didn’t mind, really. Knowing he loved me was actually something I wanted after what just happened. Dublin made me feel safe and protected, like if I was in his arms, nothing could ever hurt me. Even if he wasn’t the knight in shining armor that came to my rescue, he was the only price I had.
I kissed him, letting my mind get lost within itself, “Why don’t we find out?”
“Run, little girl,” the voice purred, looking over the woman’s corpse at me.
I caught the man’s gaze, fear gluing my feet to the spot. My eyes were wide like a deer caught in head lights, knowing the inexplicable end is coming too soon to flee. My instincts were begging me to scream, to let the sound of utter terror escape my throat, as if that could be savoir. The man wiped his mouth on his sleeve, his face failing to mask his annoyance. He stepped closer to me, inching towards me, the hunter closing in on the prey. His face broke into a grin, but not one of joy. It was one of malice, of danger, of impending doom. He crouched before me, shrinking down to eye level. My breathing, which was already off beat, got caught in my throat. My heart was like a wild animal, beating away, hammering its way out of the cage of my ribs.
His eyes bore into mine, staring me down. He looked into them, not a word passing between us. I cringed under his gaze, but he stood firm. Finally, he brought his finger up to his lips, signaling to be quiet. The voice that reached my ears was low, like a predator, and was raspy from lack of air. “Go, little one. It is not your time, yet.”
I woke up screaming. My heart was racing, and I was sweating, my legs and back damp. Dublin, who was lying next to me, bolted up alongside me, his eyes wide from not being fully awake but startled. His arms found me and pulled me closer to him, and I trembled, burying my head in the crease of his neck. “Shhh,” he purred in my ear. “It was a just a dream, babe.”
I clutched onto him, my fingers digging into his shoulders. I felt him stiffen as my nails broke skin, but he held me all the same, for which I was grateful. “It just felt so real,” I moaned, trying to hide the embarrassment – I was almost 18, not a child, I shouldn’t be scared anymore.
Dublin pressed our noses together, “You’re safe with me now, babe. You’ll always be safe with me.”
He started rocking us back and forth, and hummed a low tune, his voice quickly taking place as he sung me a lullaby. My eyes were squeezed shut, my body trying to keep from shedding the tears that were begging to spill over. He pushed my hair away from my face, back into the knotted mess it was from all the twisting and turning. “Do you want to talk about it?” he asked.
I shook my head no. I didn’t want to talk about, I wanted to forget it. My dream wasn’t a fantasy my mind was making it up; it was a memory, one that I had been trying to suppress for a very, very long time. Dublin kissed me, “Let’s try going back to bed then, ok?”
I don’t know where, confused about how, as well.
“Okay,” I whispered, lying back down. Soft snores quickly broke free of Dublin’s mouth, as he tried to sleep off the liquor from earlier tonight.
Just know that these things will never change for us at all.
But I stayed awake. The fear from the man at the party tonight had put a large dent in the wall I had built. There was a nagging voice in my head, though, that said that wasn’t the only thing that was forcing these memories to surface. But try as I might, I couldn’t put a finger on what it was that triggered it.
If I lay here; if I just lay here, would you lie with me and just forget the world?
Lyrics by Snow Patrol; “Chasing Cars”