Here’s a not-so-short story that I wrote for a class. If you enjoy it, let me know!
It was a blustery afternoon with wind whipping over the vast expanse of lawn that belonged to Calton School for Girls. Our faded blue and white motorboat, docked at the small boathouse, slowly swayed back and forth in the navy, foam covered water. I stared out into the lake in front of me. I wasn’t looking for anything in particular; there was nothing to find. It was empty, just like my mind.
“Larkin,” my sister calls gently. When she tapped me on the shoulder, I reluctantly met her gaze. She can tell I’m unprepared for what’s about to happen.
“Not too chilly today,” she commented as we made our way back up to the school. “Maybe we can go out on the lake later!”
“Supposed to rain soon,” I said blandly, immediately shutting her cheer down.
I knew she wanted me to open up to her, but Piper was never one to pry, in other people’s feelings or life in general. We walked in an awkward silence to the towering front doors, which seemed more like a punishment than an invite.
“After you,” she offers. Instead, I walked side-by-side with her into the building and yanked her under the staircase.
“What are we going to do?” I demanded. Out of nowhere, fear and madness had taken hold of my body. It possessed every cell, every atom I had. My mind raced from scenario to scenario, finding no solution. I felt like a mouse in a dead-ended maze.
Piper didn’t answer my question. She grabbed my hand and pulled me into the meeting room, where I was greeted by the Dean and the Police Chief.
“Nice of you to join us, Ms. Trectorini.” Dean Williams deprecating tone couldn’t be missed. I tried to avert my eyes from the piercing stares, but the only two open seats were positioned in the middle of the room. Dean Williams began to talk, then the Chief Martin. Piper absorbed every word that was said, but I just sat their patiently, waiting for it to end.
“We are gathered here this evening to say our final goodbyes to a dearly departed friend. His kindness and friendship will be missed by all. The Lord has taken our dearly departed Joe to a better place,” the Reverend drones on in his repetitive, generic speech. If an audience had shown up, they’d be asleep by now. The church is much to big for a three person funeral; well, four if you count the stiff in the coffin.
Suicide, they said. Swallowed a bunch of pills and washed it down with a handle of Jack. Life was apparently “too hard to handle,” as it was put in the note. I never saw the note, but I know that none of it is true.
I look at my father in his open casket. His face is pale and lifeless, like you’d expect any dead person to look. I’m closer to my father than Piper is, which means that I get two calls a week instead of one. Despite a limited relationship, I love him more than anything else in my life. The news of his death rocked me into oblivion, I just didn’t let it reflect externally. In my mind, I’m crying, screaming, fighting, and dying all at the same time. I’m grasping at straws for any answer or indication foreshadowing his death. I comb through letters and phone calls and emails, but in all of them, he maintained his soft tone and polite disinterest. I scrutinize his body, looking for answers.
There’s a scratch on his cheek almost cover up by the mortician’s powder. The faint pink line reached from his right temple to his lips, which look fuller than normal. Even though he’s lifeless, blood still seems to be blowing up his lower lip. I look even closer… and a patch of his hair is missing by his ear.
“Piper!” I bark in the softest voice I can. Her gaze doesn’t leave the altar and she replies out of the side of her mouth.
“What? Pay attention!” I scoff at her manners.
“You know this is wrong.”
“What’s wrong?” She asks, with more interest this time.
“Why would dad kill himself? He just closed that new deal, we’re getting good grades, he even started talking to that waitress at the diner! What could have gone so wrong that he wanted to die?” A flicker of doubt burns in Piper’s hazel eyes. She tries to shake it off.
“We don’t know what he was thinking. He doesn’t tell us everything, you know.”
‘He doesn’t tell you everything’ I wanted to say, but I bit my tongue. I pressed on with my questions.
“Why would he have a scratch on his cheek then? A fat lip? And unless he started aging really quickly, I don’t remember him having a bald spot.” Piper ignored me until the ceremony was over. When we’re walking to our car in the deserted parking lot, I finally explode.
“Why are you acting like you don’t care?” I exclaim, letting my blood boil. “You’ve always been like this. You take things at face value and never question anything. It’s like you don’t even care that dad’s gone!”
Piper whips her head around, her eyes wide and mad with rage. It stops me in my tracks.
“You think I don’t care that dad’s gone? That we’re orphans? That we literally have nothing? I can’t believe you would accuse me of that. You didn’t even show up for half of the meeting yesterday! I was the one that found out first. They put all of the stress on me. They told me that dad went broke and never made a will, meaning we have nothing. They told me that they bank is taking the house as compensation for all of our debt. They told me that our tuition is going to run out after this semester.” Piper lowered her eyes to the ground.
“Larkin, they told me we have a half-sister.” My jaw drops to the cracked concrete.
“What? We have a sister?” I cry in disbelief. Piper still doesn’t look at me.
Her voice breaks when she answers. “She goes to Calton.”
We’re starting to attract an audience with our dramatic family problems, so hurriedly, we duck into the car and make the long drive back to Calton.
“Her name is Lissa, and she’s a grade lower than us. ” Piper starts. “They didn’t tell me any specifics, but I’m guessing dad’s business trips involved more than just business. Apparently, he started her at Calton when he started us.” A disgusted look spreads over my face. Betrayed! Lied to! I knew my father wasn’t a saint, but I didn’t think he was the devil.
“She doesn’t know either, though,” Piper finishes. “No one’s ever told her. She thinks her great aunt is paying for her tuition.”
Piper was calm now. Getting things off her chest always alleviates her stress. She turned some radio station on. Sound or static, it makes no difference to me. I know I have a problem that I need to fix, and her name is Lissa.
I’m not going to lie, I stalked her. I found her on social media and monitored her activity. Since I knew what she looked like, I found her in the dining hall and made notice of every time I bumped into her between classes and on free time. I even started making conversation with her. It took me a while, but I devised a plan that I put into action today.
Lissa walks out of dinner around 6:15, right when I get out of my class. I fall behind her in the hallway, carefully keeping her in my line of sight. I feigned tripping and fell right on top of her.
“Oh my goodness, I’m sorry!” I squeak in my most apologetic tone. “I’m such a klutz!”
Lissa doesn’t seem to mind at all and helps me off of the ground. “It’s no problem, really! I’m just glad you’re okay, it was a nasty spill!”
Her friendliness sickens me.
I fake a smile and brush myself off. “You’re Lissa, right?”
“Yes!” She grins. “I didn’t think someone like you would know who I was!”
“Like me?” I question.
“You and Piper! Everyone knows you guys. You’re like the most popular girls at Calton!” This surprises me, because Piper and I keep to ourselves almost all the time. Lissa persists.
“I mean sure, you guys don’t really talk to a lot of other people, but everyone notices you! You guys are always the first to answer in class, apparently. I’m a grade below you so I wouldn’t know because I’m not in your classes, but I have this friend that is in like all of your classes and she always talks about how you two are like the smartest and prettiest and you guys are both presidents of different clubs here and really involved so you’re successful too!” She takes a breath. “I just realized that was a very embarrassing spiel of praise. Sorry. I get over-excited very easily.”
Her ego-boost stuns me and I almost forget why I’m talking to her. I laugh and continue with my plan.
“It’s okay, really! It’s actually nice to talk to someone as a friend. Like you said, Piper and I don’t hang out with a lot of people.” I pause for effect, then stop to look at her. “Want to do something?”
Her eyes widen in excitement. “You mean, like, hang out? With me?” Internally, I laugh. She’s so naïve and dying to be seen with me. It’s comical.
“Yes!” I say. “It’s pretty nice outside, do you want to go for a boat ride?” She doesn’t even answer, she just sprints for the lake. Killing her is going to be easier than I thought.
I yell after her, “I’m going to get Piper!” I think she broke the sound barrier getting to the boat and inspecting every inch.
“Pipe!” I call into our room. She’s sitting on her bed doing homework, as usual. Our small eruption over the weekend has been all but forgotten, and she immediately jumps up when I invite her to a ride in the boat.
“I invited Lissa,” I announce while we’re walking down the staircase. Her questioning eyes examine me. “I thought we should meet her! Don’t worry, I haven’t told her anything. I’m waiting for you to do it, if you want to do it at all!” Piper nods her head and wraps herself in thought the entire walk down to the boathouse. Lissa is already making commotion.
“I can’t believe I’m in the Trectorini’s boat!” She squeals, jolting the boat every which way with her excitement. I untie it from the dock and rev up the engine as she tries to calm herself down.
Lissa chirps in a sing-songy voice, “I can’t believe I’m with the Trectorini Twins! Hanging out, doing girl stuff, being friends!” This girl has no filter. Her emotions are way too external. I see the thought dance in Piper’s mind too, “How are we related to her?”
Piper engages Lissa and some small talk, and really only has to say a few words before Lissa gets going. She gave us her entire life story, from birth until Calton. Since she’s more in the dark than we are, not a word of value is said.
We finally arrive at my desired location. The lake turns into a marsh and is covered by thick foliage, with a gaping hole in the side of a rock. The formation seems so ill-placed, but it’s been here since anyone can remember.
“Wow!” Lissa screeched, jumping out of the boat to go explore. I begin to anchor the boat to the mushy ground, but Piper takes over for me, thankfully. I need something to keep her busy. I grab my backpack, full with supplies and make my way over to Lissa, all fake happiness aside.
She’s already past the lip of the cave and I duck behind a tree to take out a brick that I’ve been saving for a very specific purpose. As quietly as I can, I sneak into the cave on her left and wait until she passes the stalactite that I wait behind. It gives me a strength to know I can fix what my father polluted. Suddenly, Piper appears next to Lissa. Spotting my eyes peeking out from the rocks, she pulls Lissa along and hides behind the formation with me. I immediately drop the brick behind my back, hoping they won’t notice it.
“What’s wrong?” Lissa asks loudly. Piper shushes her and I realize why she pulled Lissa under cover.
Voices begin to arise from the mouth of the cave. One is husky, and there’s an awful nasally one.
“Who are these girls anyways?” the nasally one asks in a perturbed tone. “Why are they so important?”
The husky one answers him, “Who cares? Da boss says dey need to be gone so we gone dem.” I roll my eyes at his moronic language. Piper and Lissa look more distressed over the fact that the idiots are looking for girls; presumably us. I think Lissa starts to cry.
A lot of good it did her, and us for that matter. We were discovered because she couldn’t keep her heinous sobs inside of her mouth. I’m presuming the husky one pulls us out of our hiding place. His burly hands grope at our necks and incite screams in Lissa. I roll my eyes and tell her to calm down.
We’re placed before a pair of men that couldn’t have been more different. The motley two consisted of a large, stereotypical guido who I earlier identified as the husky voice. His black mane drips hair gel, and the tracksuit he’s wearing seems to have experienced far too many meatball subs. There’s a tall gangly one, with hollow eyes and pale skin. It’s easy to identify him as the nasally voice, because his nose seems to be the largest part about him. The one who hasn’t spoken yet parts the previous two with his hands, making a grand entrance.
“Shut up you two,” he says in a playful tone, a smile dancing on his lips. “Someone might hear us.”
He’s awful. He’s awful and beautiful. His tone oozes douchebag. His head won’t even fit in this vast cave it’s so swollen by praise he probably didn’t deserve. I hate him. I hate him and his stupidly beautiful eyes, piercing ice blue that seem to look right into your heart. I hate his swooshy auburn hair that falls perfectly in his eyes and his freckles that accentuate his prominent cheek bones. He dons a smug grin that I’d love to wipe off with a punch… or a kiss.
“Well boys, it looks like we’ve found our prize!” His pompous strut around the three of us turns my insides.
“What do you want from us?” I bark at him. I try to appear as confident as him and saunter off, but Guido shoves his hand in my chest.
“Get your hand off of me!” I protest! The stupidly handsome one slides up close to my body, pressing his against mine while his arm supported his weight on the rocky wall. His sly grin and sparkling eyes almost make me feel something other than hate.
“C’mon,” he coos. “Don’t you want to play?” I stare back at his smolder with the iciest disgust I could muster.
“Get away from me,” I warn.
“Or what, you’re gonna hit him?” Nose-Boy chuckles from the sidelines. The look Handsome shoots him silences his laughter.
“I’m afraid I can’t do that, sweetheart. Your daddy owes my daddy a lot of money, and we’ve come to collect.”
“I don’t have any money to give you,” I say, my confidence faltering a little.
“I didn’t say we were here for money,” he whispered in my ear before seizing the back of my hair and pulling me down. “This one’s first. Once the feisty one’s gone, the other two will be a piece of cake.” Guido and Nose-Boy huddle around me and Handsome starts to undo his belt.
“This might hurt a little,” he laughed as the other two join in the sick joke.
Before I knew what was happening, Guido and Nose-Boy dropped to the ground, holding their heads. Lissa stares at me wide-eyed, with my brick in her hands. She knocks Handsome on the head, and I don’t even thank her before we start running. Since his two henchmen were recovering from the bump on their head and blocked the entry, we had no where to go but the back of the cave. Guido was agile for his size, and Nose-Boy was but an arm’s length away from be. I heard Handsome in the distance shrieking orders and trying to catch up. Then, I caught my foot on a rock and then a fall. I felt a slight naval pull; giving you that kind of feeling when you go down an unexpected hill. It felt like I was falling for just a second, and then darkness. It was night. My attention focused on the sky, who’s glittering blanket looked down on everything. Was it my sky? Where am I? What did it see, I wondered? Did it see what I had done? Does it see where I’m going? Or is its sight as limited as mine, and remain only in the present? I left all these questions for another time and drifted off to sleep.
I open my eyes to see thick trees surrounding me, making the yellow light that filtered in a deep green. A cool blue pool lays in front of me. I look to my left, and a soft grassy knoll broke Piper and Lissa’s fall. They’re sleeping peacefully, but I intend to wake them. Handsome, Guido and Nose-Boy are nowhere in sight, so I take the opportunity crawl to my sisters so we can escape.
“Tell me your name,” a voice asks softly from behind me. The melodic voice is guarded, but quiet and wondering. Alarmed, I turn around and see a woman in mid-flight. Her dress is a metallic, glittering blue-green, and its neckline looks like a tulip opening. The fabric is thin like silk, and has a delicate line of gold trimming the bottom. Her sheer wings shimmered blue when she passed through the light.
“Tell me your name,” I demand. “Who are you and where am I?” She fluttered away. “Wait!” I cry. “Wait! Where am I, please!”
“Prodos,” she says curtly.
“Prodos?” I question unbelievingly. “What is this, Lord of the Rings?” the winged woman looks back at me, confused.
“Prodos is our land. Where did you come from?” I hardly believe she’s in the position to be asking the questions, but so many run through my mind that I defeatedly answer all of hers.
“My name is Larkin. The brown haired one over there is my sister Piper.” I don’t mention Lissa until she asks who it is. “We were running from these men in a cave by our school. I fell on a rock and I literally have no idea what is going on in my life anymore.” We talked for what seemed like hours. I learned the woman’s name, Ansley. She told me Prodos is the large forest land in this freaking Game of Thrones-themed hell. From what she told me, I felt like I was in a different dimension. Piper and Lissa woke up, and were brought up to speed.
The men who chased us fell closer to civilization than we did. Ansley and the rest of her people tried to take care of them, but Guido tried to incite a fight, so they were all tied up in a secret part of the woods and drugged to stay asleep for most of the day.
“Can you take us to them?” I ask, excited. Piper and Lissa look horrified at my suggestion.
“Why would we want to be close to them? They tried to kill us!” Piper exclaims. Nods of agreement from Lissa follow.
“That’s exactly my point,” I say. “It’s eat or be eaten, and I’m hungry.”
Piper and I fought over what we were going to do for days. Ansley and her people were kind enough to take us in, but their way of living wasn’t up to the 21st century standards at all. Wiping my butt with a coarse leaf was probably the most humiliating thing I’ve done yet.
“Piper, I don’t understand your objections. I understand they tried to hurt and kill us, but doesn’t that make you want to kill them?” I try to reason with her.
“Larkin, you’re acting like killing someone is no big deal. Like you’re not taking a life from someone who has a family and friends and a future. It’s a mortal sin!” I rolled my eyes at her Catholicism crap.
“Where’d you get that moral streak, Pipe? Dad sure didn’t have that.” I shot a look at Lissa, who was fiddling with her thumbs in a corner. Her opinions had been booted out of the conversation almost as soon as she made them known.
“Grow up. Get over yourself and try to think about the consequences of your actions a little bit.” She breezed past me in a silky dress Ansley’s friends had bestowed on her. I want to scream at her what I thought she should do, but then I remember my manners. A simple hand gesture let her back know exactly what I’m thinking.
More days passed and the prisoners were getting weaker by the second. Their small diet of roots and berries did nothing to satisfy the intense hunger for meat or something with substance. When I could, I would sneak onto the highest branch I could find and watch them as they withered away. Most of the day they slept, but in the waking hours, they lived a disgusting life in a pit of their own urine, feces, and vomit. Tears were spilt, especially by Nose-Boy. Handsome seemed to be doing fine though, unfortunately. Though drowned slightly by the pee, a quiet confidence helped him keep his head high. He knew not to be cocky here. He possessed the lower hand and only expert bluffing would keep him alive. One day, Handsome spotted me spying on a tree limb. He said nothing, but I saw that smug grin inch minimally on his face. He thought he had caught me in his spell, and sometimes during the night, I feared the exact same thing.
I finally decide to take matters into my own hands. By the way Ansley’s people are starving the trio, they’ll waste away to nothing by the end of the week. Piper champions for their release; blindfolding them and dropping them off somewhere in this land. I’m not denying it wouldn’t work, it’s just not enough. We know they’re bad men, some sort of modern gangsters. No one would miss them. No one cares about them! They’re completely expendable. At every turn, I tell everyone how horrible they are, even though most of the stories I weave are utter lies.
The fighting only gets worse with Piper; we pretend like we don’t know each other. Hateful glances were passed every time we saw each other, and I begin to spread rumors about her in the small forest community. Piper keeps the good in me, so without her, my murderous plan only flourished. The night before I leave to kill the Handsome, Guido and Nose-Boy, I hear mummers outside of Lissa’s hut. Curious, I stay outside to eavesdrop.
“I don’t know Piper… I thought things would be different after we came here. I thought we could grow as friends, and become whole again.” Lissa’s depressed tone can’t be missed.
“That’s not what fate saw. Fate saw us breaking apart, piece by piece.” Piper cries. I could envision the tears oozing from her eyes down her face. “Its tearing our relationship apart and destroying our self images… Killing off the good in our mind and letting the weakness shoulder the brunt of the hate.” I knew she was talking about me. Without each other, Piper and I were two ends of a spectrum that couldn’t find a happy medium.
“We suffer the consequences of the casualties.” Lissa says, as if she’s finishing Piper’s thought.
I’ve never heard a more profound conversation, and I almost interject. Before I step into the faint light emitting from the hut, I hear movement in the room. My courage swiftly vanishes, and I continue on my cowardly chore.
My backpack, weathered from the dirty terrain I’ve been a part of, weighed on my back like a ton of bricks, probably because that’s what it held. In the past few hours, I struggled by a riverbed to find jagged, heavy rocks to do the job. I didn’t know how many I’d need, so I packed as many as I could fit in my backpack. Unfortunately, I didn’t anticipate how this weight would affect my climbing abilities.
Halfway up my usual tree, I began to feel my backpack getting lighter. Looking down to the ground, I realized why. One-third of my rocks had tumbled out and injured most of the guards, leaving wings pinned or torn, and heads bashed in. When I looked down, there was only one body in the pit instead of three. Instead of continuing my climb, I decide to slide down and confront the enemy face-to-face.
That stupid sly grin slides on Handsome’s face as soon as he saw my figure. I can’t miss his signature wink, even from yards away. I do get pleasure in his expression when I swing my backpack around, curl my fingers around a rock, and aim. He doesn’t look scared, just angry.
“You know why my dad killed your dad?” he shouts. The exclamation stops my heart. I haven’t thought about my father since the funeral. I sprint to his tethered body and yank his stained shirt until he’s in pain. A sickening smile grows on his lips; he knows he’s under my skin. I slap him as hard as I can, making his pale cheek shine bright crimson.
“You’re dad’s a coward!” he spats in my face. “He was never anything but a dirty, rotten coward who made backhanded deals and paid my father to clean up the messes. My father kept your father’s secrets. We’ve known every secret about the Trectorini’s for hundreds of years. Your father was the first to never pay up though. That new deal he scored? My father led him right to it. Your dad was too greedy to share the profits though. That’s why we came for you. We might not have gotten the money back, but we would have scored something even more valuable.” He’s so smug, seeing the pain in my eyes. The rock that was ready to meet flesh falls to the grass as my fingers shake uncontrollably.
“You’re in denial. You’re in denial about your entire life, and you refuse to even believe that! I saw how much you hated that girl, the shorter one with the blonde hair. It’s not a mystery to anyone… all three of you have the same slender nose. You know she’s as much your sister as the other one, and you hate that you know it’s true. That’s why you hate her. That’s why there’s so much hate in you. You deny your feelings to everyone, especially yourself.”
“Shut up!” I scream. “Shut up!”
“You think you hate me. You hate my voice, you hate my face, you hate the way I smile just at you. But what you don’t know is, you don’t hate me at all. You love that I give you a special smile. You can’t help looking into my eyes just a little deeper. And at night, I’d bet you all the money and power in the world that my face is the last thing you see.” Tears had been spilling down my face for a while now. His words, so goddamn true, pierce my heart and sting me in places I didn’t even know could hurt.
I wanted to kill him when I came here, but now all I want to do die myself. I let him savor his triumphant moment because he’ll be gone soon anyways. If not from the hunger, the snakes and spiders that started infesting the pit will make his last momentous torture. I’m sure even in this alternate reality there’s another poison than hate.
Empty in every sense, I begin to walk back to the huts and I stop where all of our problems started. The blue pool looked like a shining black abyss in the dark night, and frothed softly at the edges. The glow of the pond keeps my gaze, but my ears hear everything around me. Ambient noise floats around my head; the swaying of the trees, the water lapping at the ground, even the soft murmur of activities going on not so far away. Even fainter than the whispers of nature around me, I hear my sisters’ laughs; saw their smiles in my head.
My attention turns back to the immediate environment when I hear the wispy green tree branches sway stronger than before. I can feel it… a storm is coming. Instead of seeking shelter in the rock formation to my right, I remain sprawled out in the fresh grass. The thunder grumbles in the distance. Not long after the third roll, I feel a dot of moisture hit me, dripping off my left cheek. More starts to pelt my face, and I smile as the steady rhythm begins. Pat-pat-pat.