Cursed, p.3
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       Cursed, p.3

         Part #1 of The Devils Roses series by Tara Brown
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Page 3


  Where I was shy and withdrawn, Alise had always been outgoing, or slutty, as the truly brave referred to her.

  Our father, like myself, mourned alone in the quiet of his mind. He preferred to withdraw to his office, where he pretended to work. We knew he sat there surrounded by a million reminders of her. I tried not to judge him too harshly. I, too, had my own reminders of my mom, like the stolen nightgown and a few other key items. I had locked them away in Ziploc bags and smelled them like a serial killer. I had kept them under the bed for eight months without anyone seeing. I couldn’t explain my need to smell them, even to myself. So I tried not to think about how creepy it was.

  Alise blathered on with her friend Giselle while I watched out the window waiting for it to start feeling like a regular day again. In eight months, I hadn’t been able to get that feeling back.

  “Ok girl, peace out. ” Alise looked at me as she clicked the phone off. “Can you believe that? Jaime's going to freak when she hears that shit. ”

  "I don’t like wasting the brain cells I have on Giselle or Jaime. " I shrugged. I had no idea what she was talking about and I didn’t care to know.

  Alise groaned as we pulled into the school parking lot. “Aimee, if you don’t try to be normal again, well, your nerdy normal anyway, they’re going to lock you away for depression. It's going to be in one of those places where the girls don’t shower and all become lesbians. ”

  I stifled a laugh as she ranted.

  “Like a week ago, I heard Mrs. Sinclair talking to the guidance counselor about you. She said some shit about how they are noticing your inability to find happiness again or something like that. Dude, no one said you have to forget Mom, but you need to try to still be alive. Besides, it's embarrassing having the Emo-angst queen as my sister. ”

  I ignored her, and instead focused on the asylums full of unkempt lesbians around the country. It made me smile, even if it was just a tiny bit.

  I crossed the courtyard from her car to my first class, knowing my body rejected her reasoning from head to toe. My greatest fear was becoming a happy kid again and forgetting how badly it hurt to lose my mom. Some days when I didn’t fight it hard enough, I would catch myself distracted by something that made me smile. I knew it would be the end of my depression, sooner than later.

  I coasted through my classes doodling, thinking about the dream I’d had. It had been a repeat, I was certain. I remembered seeing the look on my father's face—it had been fear.

  I knew my dad was worried about me, but he wasn’t one to be pointing fingers. He had been in a rough patch and hadn’t come out of his office, except to ground Alise every other day. She swore up and down that she had caught him sitting in his walk-in closet under Mom's dresses and clothes. He sat there crying and touching the bottoms of them.

  The bell rang for lunch before I realized I had even gone to a second period class. I looked down at the homework assignment I had written, amazed it was a coherent sentence. I picked up my books and slipped from the class, not making eye contact with anyone.

  “Aimes, wait up,” a voice called me from down the hall. It was a sound that warmed my heart. I turned to see Blake coming towards me. He was the only person who seemed to be able to see me past my sadness. I knew one day I would snap out of it and resurface because Blake still saw me. I was confident that if I ever got too lost in my pool of despair, he would reach his hand in and pull me out of it.

  I almost laughed as he stumbled up the stairs near my locker. He was not handsome in a traditional way. He was tall and thin, but not skinny. His blue eyes stood out against his dark hair. However, thick glasses and constant looking down muted the color of his eyes. He was always stuck in a book, iPhone, iTouch, or chess game.

  It was rare for him to make eye contact with other people, except me. Being his best friend and the only person able to beat him in chess earned me at least a bit of eye contact. Well, me and Mr. Mac, our chem teacher, who held the chess club meetings.

  “Hey, Blake. ” The words left my mouth in a low mutter. I thought for certain he hadn’t been able to hear them.

  He smiled at me, barely looking up from his iPhone. “You look like shit today, Aimee. Enough with the black already. ”

  He was the only person who could be mean to me and make a smile cross my lips.

  “I like black. ” I tried to be serious. I closed my locker and we started to walk.

  He shook his head, as he looked me straight in the eyes. “No, you don’t, and you're starting to look like one of the Goths. It’s hard to hang in the nerd crowd when you scare the nerds. We scare easily. ” He walked forward and opened the door to the cafeteria for me.

  I shook my head. “I’m in mourning, Blake, and it’s a full year before we wear colors again. ”

  “That’s for widows in the eighteen hundreds. I miss you in spring colors and shorts. I miss you having color on your skin. I miss your eyes, and how they used to sparkle. Now they’re dull, like fish eyes. When that Aimee comes back, I think I’ll have a party. ”

  Us at a party? He was the only boy in the world who I could actually imagine myself with. We matched. The idea of it made me wonder. Wondering made me forget how sad I was. It was a vicious cycle.

  I walked through the door laughing. “Who will come?”

  “The chess club, matheletes, obviously us science geeks, and I like the kids at the newspaper. They’re not as smart as we are, but they know politics and a lot of them believe the CT’s, Aimes. I have to respect that. ”

  I laughed again, even though it hurt my sides to do so. My laughing muscles had grown soft and weak over the past winter. Blake believed in CT’s, Conspiracy Theories. He believed nothing the media wrote. Well, unless university students or someone working for some low budget paper wrote it. The kind that relied on a mailing list as opposed to general publication for the masses.

  He smacked me in the arm, frowning. “Dude, did you see the Facebook posts coming off my mom lately?” I shook my head as he took off on a tangent.

  “Clearly people don’t get the whole—it's for connecting or reconnecting with people—it's not Twitter. My mom has what she ate for lunch yesterday, she has that she went to her yoga class, she has that she bought a new bra, and for her friends to check that store out. What the hell? I told her that from now on, I’m posting everything I do in a day. ”

  His face was red as he ranted. I loved his rants.

  “I told her tomorrow my Facebook status is going to read, 'Blake McGinnis had a great shit today, came out with very little pushing. I just want to thank Kellogg’s for upping the fiber count in the cereal. ”

  I started to laugh again as we walked to the nerd table, where the other nerds raised eyebrows at me laughing.

  He continued, “I think then about three hours later I will put, 'Blake McGinnis just held his cat Chuck down and sniffed his neck fur. ”

  I couldn’t even stop myself if I wanted to. The laughing started to get quite painful.

  His arms flailed about now. “Then I think at around seven I will post, ‘Blake McGinnis is questioning his humanity and had a bad thought about his neighbors. ’ Then at least my mom will have something to think about. Jesus, I get tired of reading this crap. ”

  I enjoyed thinking about something other than myself.

  On that day, in that moment, I felt like the Grinch. My chest expanded and my heart seemed to shake off its icy winter coat and let in the spring sunlight. I didn’t know what to do with the new sense of freedom I was having, but in that instant, the school looked brighter. I noticed the other kids talking and making movements. Before, I would have ignored it to the point of obsession.

  After lunch we walked into class and I felt peaceful. Mr. Mac smiled at the class, explaining how to get ready for the experiment. The sunlight shone in the windows and the air sparkled with dust and inspiration.

  For the first time, witho
ut feeling like I had betrayed my mom, I looked forward to something. Chemistry was my favorite class and not for the same reasons as all the other girls. Unfortunately for Mr. Mac, every girl in school had a crush on him. He looked much more like a student than a teacher, having only just graduated with his master's. It earned him hottie teacher status, which he seemed oblivious to.

  He was handsome, but I only noticed it after my sister pointed it out to me. Something about his face didn’t do it for me. He was not my type. My type hadn’t changed in ten years. The only problem with ‘my type’ was his current status as my sister's boyfriend. I shook my thoughts back to my schoolwork.

  It was easy to do in chem. For me, chemistry was simple. The reaction was caused by the chemicals or elements involved. No surprises and no guessing. I loved the reaction of chemicals and the predictability that came with knowing the elements. It was a controlled environment. Blake loved chem too, but it was because Mr. Mac was his hero; he held three degrees and a master’s by the time he was twenty-four.

  On the way home from school, I took a detour instead of the bus or a ride with Satan, a. k. a. Alise. I felt a small sense of serenity as I saw the spot and smiled. I always imagined my mom waited for me there. The wind blew my long blonde hair up—like a tornado, it sucked it up into the air. I ran to her spot and sat down on the roadside. I tried not to shiver as the cold concrete froze my legs the moment I sat.

  I had gathered the new dandelions of the year in my pocket on the way and made myself a crown as I sat there talking.

  “So then Mr. Mac said that I could just do my own project, since my partner wasn’t there, again. God, I don’t know what’s up with her, but it’s been like four classes and she’s still sick. Maybe it’s the plague. I like Mr. Mac; he treats us like people, not students. He is an actual chemist too, not a gym teacher filling in a spot. ”

  I finished my crown and placed it on my head, as a tear rolled down my cheek. “There, just like you made. ” I pushed back my pain and smiled; my mom didn’t need to see me sad like that all the time.

  Just as I needed it to be, it was there—the warm wind.
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