Catrina BillowsonK. Weikel / Fantasy
For my parents and my family…
Copyright © 2014 by K Weikel
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.
Printed in the United States of America
by K. Weikel
Over the course of my human life, I have learned many lessons: everything I can and can’t do, what I can help with, what I must let be, and what I can change. Of course, I still have a lot to learn as the years progress and blur by me, but I know that absolutely nothing—nothing could prepare me for the path fate would soon take me down.
“I wanted to reward you with a certificate to that one smoothie place. It’s for the third quarter attendance. Perfect and punctual as usual.” My uncle smiled proudly up at me, holding out a certificate to Juicy J’s. He was my late mother’s brother—a man so nice could never be related to my father. He’s a fat man, with permanent sweat stains soaking the material beneath his armpits and trailing down by his bellybutton. He stunk, yes, but I had to love him. Mostly because he was the principal at my school.
I stifled an eye-roll as I took the certificate from him.
I’ll just add it to my collection.
I was “Goody-Two-Shoes of the Year” (unofficially). I smiled sheepishly as I rocked onto my heels and stuffed the paper into the backpack slung around my shoulder.
“Thanks,” I said, trying to seem the least bit excited.
His eyes softened as he placed his hands in his lap and nodded. “You’re welcome, Catrina. Tell your dad I’ve been praying for him while he’s in this… situation.”
I bit my cheek and nodded, turning away from my uncle as my stomach churned and my nerves crackled. I made my way out of the office and headed toward my next class, distracting myself from exactly what he had brought up. My dad.
So I made room for complaints as they filled my head. Calculus’ door was directly in front of me, and I dreaded every moment I spent in that classroom, wishing I was in English. But the worst thing about that class was a boy named Harvey Allen.
He knew every answer to every question asked in class, Mister Smart-butt, and he smelled. Bad. Worse than my uncle. It’s like he never put on deodorant, and, trust me, sitting directly beside him in calculus when he raises his hand is the place you never want to be. Ever.
I was sent to the nurse after one day of going over the answers of a test because the smell of his body odor was nauseating and making me sick to my stomach. I’d hoped I could just go home, or maybe get transferred out of that particular class, but the nurse sent me back with nothing but a hall pass because I was “fine”. Whatever.
I didn’t have the guts to ask the teacher to move because it would’ve hurt Harvey’s feelings, and I would have felt increasingly bad as the days went on and someone else had to smell him. He seemed to have this fixation on wearing plaid shirts, stained at the pits, which made it even worse. He kept them neatly tucked into his high-wasted high-waters, and he wore broken glasses held together at the nosepiece with blue duct tape. The look was finished off with hair like Alfalfa.
Not that I wasn’t, because I was, just not as much of one as he was.
I sound so mean.
A deep breath of air stretched my lungs as I walked through the threshold and to my desk, the floor holding my attention. The energy of the room seemed off… weird. Whispers circled around the student’s heads and I couldn’t help but look around. It wasn’t because of me, was it?
I sat down at my table, my brow furrowed, showing my confusion. People’s eyes were darting over to me, and… Harvey? I turned my attention to my tablemate and…
He resembled the main guys in Grease, slicked-back hair to match. His face was missing the presence of his glasses, but he seemed to have no trouble without them. The jacket he wore was taught with the muscles that had mysteriously grown overnight, and they were big muscles. They weren’t like ‘go to the gym for two days straight’ muscles. They were Taylor Lautner muscles.
My jaw almost dropped, but I kept it in its place.
He looked directly at me and smiled. It was one of the prettiest smiles I’d ever seen. How had he changed so drastically and so suddenly? Yesterday, he was the exact opposite of what he was at that moment. I can’t…
His eyes were a dark color, almost a deep red. His skin was flawless. No blackheads, whiteheads, or blemishes whatsoever.
He looked nothing like he did the day before.
He said hi to me, and I caught a whiff his breath. It was the sweetest scent I’d ever smelt in my entire life. He doesn’t stink. I froze, and gave me a strange, amused look.
I stuttered for a moment. “Uh, um… hi back at you.”
I scorned myself. I was acting stupid.
It was just Harvey. The boy who sent me to the nurse’s office because he stank.
How did he stumble upon this sudden change?
He chuckled and I felt my heart flutter.
Okay, he may’ve been Harvey on the inside, but on the outside he was magnificent! What did he do to make himself look so… gorgeous?
“Wh-what happened to your glasses?” I asked, still dumbfounded.
“Didn’t need them anymore.” His voice was as soft as velvet, maybe softer. Puberty doesn’t work like this. Nope. If it did, all boys would look like him—like they’d stepped out of a modeling shoot.
I stared at the table before me, my eyes boring into a sharpie dot that had bled onto the surface of the desk. I nodded, trying to act as if I were paying attention to the conversation rather than his change overnight. What did he do and why can’t I duplicate it?
“What kind of face cream did you use?” I asked him, and then kicked myself again. I let my hair fall around my face so he wouldn’t see me blushing from embarrassment. Good going, Catrina. Now he thinks you’re a dork, like the rest of the school. Stop talking.
It’s not like you cared about him before his transformation.
His voice was different then, rough. I glanced over at him, afraid he was mad at me but… it wasn’t anger that covered his face. It was something resembling pain.
“Are you okay, Harvey?”
He clenched his jaw and shut his eyes tight. He looked as if he was stabbed in the throat with a torch or something. I turned away from him and became familiar with the sharpie dot all over again. What did I do? And why in the world do I care?
When the teacher asked a calculus question, Harvey didn’t answer, and whispering started to circle in the room. What happened to him? And why is he acting so strange?
“Are you alright, Harvey?” Miss Cole called across the room, noticing his lack of hand-raising. A worried look crossed her face as everyone turned to stare at the boy who changed overnight. “Do you need to go to the nurse?”
No intelligent answer with flawless English grammar or long words that even I couldn’t understand flitted off his tongue. He just shook his head. Stood.
“I need some air, is all.”
“You can step outside if you would like,” she offered.
He nodded and sped out the door before she could change her mind. When he didn’t return to the classroom ten minutes later, Miss Cole sent me out looking for him. Me. Of all people. Because I sat by him.
I pulled the hood up over my head as I exited the hallway and pushed open the doors. I stepped outside into the cold wind, freezing mist splattering onto my face. He was walking away from the woods behind the school, like he’d been in there.
As he came closer, I shouted, “Are you crazy? You could get expelled from going off school property into the woods—”
I was cut short when I saw his eyes. They were a bright crimson red.
“Whoa,” I gaped. “Where’d you get the contact lenses?”
“These are not contact lenses.”
“Um…” I shook my head. “But…”
He grabbed me by the shoulders, squeezing harder than I’d like him to. “I could show you a whole new world, Catrina. A brand new life with no defects, and with faultless beings. No rules and no mistakes. Just you and me in the realm with those like us. Say yes now, and I’ll transform you before someone else gets the… opportunity.”
I shuddered, a knot rising in my throat and a bag of bricks sinking in my stomach. It was like he was handing me a creepy riddle and expecting me to solve it.
“Harvey, you’re hurting me,” I whimpered, my entire being beginning to tremble.
He let go, looking at me as if I was his new fascination. It creeped me out. I began to back away, but he met my pace. My heart thundered in my chest.
“Meet me at the water fountain at the front of the school when the final bell rings, and I will elucidate everything. Go back to the classroom,” he said, grabbing my hand and pulling me closer. “I’ll see you there.”
I nodded cautiously as a mischievous grin stretched between his cheeks. He took off, walking fast, and I lingered down by the steps, collecting myself. What had I just gotten myself into?
We returned to the classroom and Miss Cole glanced at us and said, “Sit down. I hope you had enough air, Harvey.”
He only nodded as he took his seat. I couldn’t focus for the rest of the afternoon, debating on whether I should meet this boy or not. Something inside of him had changed too… and it wasn’t good.
The end of school came. The words Harvey had said frightened me to a level I couldn’t explain, and his sudden change in appearance didn’t help any. I couldn’t help but feel if I didn’t show up, something bad would happen. But if I did… what would he do to me? He was speaking like a lunatic… the last place I want to be is around him, no matter how handsome he looks now. Shallow, but true.
I slowly made my way to the front of the building, dreading seeing his face. The fountain appeared before me and my breath caught in my chest as I saw him standing there, combing back his hair some more, just as the greasers did in Grease. And somewhat in Back to the Future. Finally realizing I’d halted in the middle of the walkway, I took a big breath and started heading his way. He noticed me almost immediately as he turned around and smiled wide. His teeth looked as white as pearls. Through the sickening feeling, there was this sense of “I don’t care” and “He’s Probably Harmless, I’m Just Overreacting”.
I halted before him, his face growing serious. The scent wafting through the air was his—I just knew—and it made my head feel light and eased some of the tension I felt toward him.
My heart thumped a thousand times faster in my chest as he touched a loose lock of my hair, the strands slipping through his fingers. He stared at it, but his eyes were distant. What was this mess inside me, emotions raging like stormy seas? It wasn’t love, nor was it lust… I couldn’t place the concoction.
“There’s a world,” he began as he leaned up against one of the poles surrounding the fountain. I wanted to laugh at the cheesiness of the moment, but I couldn’t. My eyes were caught on his, and I wasn’t able to look away. I was mesmerized. By what, I’ve no idea. But I was. “It’s dissimilar from the one you perceive. You are a great force in this world of weakness, and there is little that can overpower you, but many still attempt. And the look you’re giving me now is one I never received before I escaped from my painful cocoon; no one would give me the time of day. Now even you want to converse with me. Nothing is more marvelous than this life I’m existing in, Catrina.” He dropped his hand and looked into my eyes. “And since you are the one I’ve chosen, since you are the one that I had at least called a familiar acquaintance, I have decided to ask you this question of a lifetime.”
He pushed his fingers through his hair, seeming almost nervous as I tried to comprehend what these words meant. More riddles. Harvey reached forward and touched my arm, running his hand down to my elbow. I stood there, marveled, and confused, chills running down my body from his cool touch.
“Would you like to be a part of this new world, Catrina?”
I blinked and shook my head, throwing myself out of the daze his face, his voice, and his scent had tossed me into. I took a deep breath and looked around me. The hallways were clearing out and eyes were boring into our bodies with questions I couldn’t answer.
“Even if I knew what you were talking about exactly, I don’t think I’d want to,” I told him gently, remembering how mad he got earlier. “I don’t need anyone else’s approval to be happy. And, last I remembered, neither did you. What happened to you, Harvey?”
He shrugged and glared at me, suddenly angry as he lifted his chin higher and clenched his fists. “It doesn’t matter anymore. Go live your simple and fragile life. One day you’ll return to me, transformed just as I am.”
My breath caught in my throat as the words he said sunk in. Is he threatening me?
“I’ve got to get home, Harvey,” I told him as I slid past him. “Um…” I turned back toward him to say something, but thought better of it and returned to my walking path to my bike. As I pedaled home, I started to worry about Harvey, and then I started to worry about myself. But maybe he was joking… maybe this was a phase, and he needed to change the direction of how he handled rejection. Maybe it wasn’t really a threat. Perhaps I was safe.