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Of Nyx and Kou Lior
My eyes snapped open as the soft guitar opening of Misguided Ghosts began playing lazily through my cell phone’s speakers. I yawned and stretched until all my bones popped and my vision had cleared. Grabbing the edge of my bed I swung down, careful to land softly enough not to wake my little sister. Yes, I share a room with her and its times like these that make me loathe having to because of my bunk bed. When we first got one, I was constantly bumping my head on the ceiling and knocking the popcorn pieces off. Now, I was used to it, but it still agitated me to have to climb down the stairs that stab my feet on the vertical wooden steps. So I resorted to jumping, which usually ended with bruised legs and winces first things in the morning. Today, I was lucky and landed without any pain at all. It must be some kind of first-day-of school luck or something. I plodded over to my closet and flung it open, ecstatic that I had actually picked something to wear today for the first day of school instead of just grabbing the first pair of jeans and a t-shirt that I saw. My outfit consisted of frayed, cuffed shorts, which my dad believed were too short, and a turquoise shirt with intricate lace on the bottom. I grabbed them and stumbled off to the bathroom, grateful to find it organized and clean. I tossed them on the counter and stumbled into the shower, savoring the feeling of the steamy water burning my skin.
After I’d gotten dressed, I ran a brush through my hair and parted it to perfection. Oh yeah, on important thing about me; my hair is the reason for my existence. My hair is the most important part of my daily routine. Making sure I’d evenly distributed the gel throughout my hair with a comb, I stepped back from the mirror and slowly walked out to my mom’s bed in the room next door. You see, I can style my hair very well all by myself, but on special occasions, such as the first day of school, I had my mom do my hair and my make up so I could look perfect. I tapped her shoulder and whispered, “Mom” quietly until her eyes cracked open. She gave me a dazed look as if she wasn’t where she was, then her eyes cleared, but not before I noticed a color change. You see, my mom has beautiful eyes, a deep brown with an explosion of green tendrils striking out to the edge of the brown. For a minute, it looked as though her eyes were pure gold, not even a pupil or to compete with the color. Then she blinked and it was gone. I shook my head and thought it must have been a trick of the light or something…I let my mind wander aimlessly for a minute before my mom said, “Okay honey, and let’s go fix your hair.” I walked forward slowly, still shaking the last of my thoughts from my head, which was wait, what light?
Once my mom had finished my hairspray with finesse, I turned to look at myself in the mirror and a smile broke out on my face. Since I’d cut my hair to just above shoulder length this summer, I’d liked it better, but this just made me flood with excitement. She’d done it perfectly in a style I liked to call controlled chaos and had finished with a perfect amount of eye make up. I beamed and saw my mom smile behind me because of my reaction. I gave her a big hug and said with a little more life in my voice, “Thank you so much mom.” She smiled, “Your welcome sweetie. Huh, I wonder where your brother is.” I shrugged and headed for the door, “I don’t know, but he better hurry up; I want to catch Briar and Cass at the bus stop.” I opened the door, shoving it with a newfound excitement and heard a bang and a pained groan. I winced and pushed the door more slowly and the shape of my brother Ethan began to take place. He was lying with his hands crossed over his groin and had a look of genuine surprise plastered on his face. I reached a hand down to help him up and said meekly, “Sorry Ethan” as if I was afraid that of my voice reached pass a certain number of decibels it would cause him greater pain.
My sympathy dropped down a few notches when he responded sarcastically with, “Oh yeah Bryn, I just love getting hit in the balls first thing in the morning.” I was about to make my own witty remark when he looked at me more closely and said, “You look very pretty today.” My mouth formed a small o in surprise because never before had my brother ever said something like that. My brother stumbled into the bathroom and held his head upside down while he ran a brush through his hair, flipped it up, and shook it out. Though when he shook it out I noticed that gold speckles rained from his hair and on to the floor. Definite that I was fully awake, I watched them float all the way down and touch the ground, to which they vanished. I blinked and bent down, certain maybe a draft had blown them under the counter room. I heard a growl above me, “What are you doing?” I looked up into the eyes of my brother that seemed suspiciously full of worry but sighed, “Nothing. Now come on lets go.” He nodded and headed to the living room and grabbed our backpacks. Opening the door we cried, “By Mom, I love you” and jumped down the deck steps. We cut through the middle of the neighborhood until we reached the big brick wall that was covered blocks of wood spelling out Meadow Mobile Homes. We stood and waited for the bus when suddenly Briar and Cass appeared next to us. I jumped in surprise and exclaimed, “Whoa! When did you guys get here?” Ethan gave me a weird look; “They’ve been standing here for a long time now.”
I turned to notice similar looks on their faces and also noticed something different about Briar, particularly his teeth, but his mouth closed before I could really focus. I shook my head, “Wow, I must be more tired then I thought.” Briar shook my left shoulder, “Well, you better wake up girl because it’s the first day of high school. And if you don’t maybe the lake will help you.” I rolled my eyes at him; the old story that seniors of Oddwood High through unsuspecting freshman in the lake was a complete myth and has never been proven before. Still, it made for interesting idle conversation between classes and during lunch. Briar still had a sly grin on his face when the bus pulled up. We were the first ones on, but we decided to sit in the middle because if we sat in the back, stoners and gangsters, wannabes and real ones would surround us. Although if we sat in the front, we’d have to deal with the endless immaturity of middle school kids. So, the middle seemed the best. I turned to say something to him, but froze.
His teeth seemed to be coated in a thin film of pure gold. Looking closer I could see that it appeared not to be a thin film, but as if each tooth was made of gold. He shut his mouth suddenly, “What are you looking at?” His voice was caked with suspicion and it frightened me some so I leaned back and said, “Yeah something about your teeth.” He shrugged and smiled at me. His teeth were back to normal. I furrowed my eyebrows and though hard, “Hm…it must have been something else.” He nodded excitedly and said, “Yeah didn’t you notice? I got my braces off.” I had never remembered Briar having braces and I’d known him my whole life. I looked at him funny and asked, “What braces?” Suddenly I felt a terrible migraine rack my brain that caused me to have to stifle a scream. After what felt like hours, I looked up at Briar. He had a concerned look on his face. He grabbed one of my hands and said cautiously, “Are you okay?” I nodded at him, “Yeah, just a headache.” He nodded and I noticed something different. Something about his teeth… “Hey you got your braces off.” He nodded, “Yeah I did.” The bus lurched to a stop, causing the new sixth graders to fall forward. I let out a deep sigh and slid my backpack strap over my shoulder and stepped off the bus. Briar looked at me and we froze for a minute, staring at the building. Like most schools, it was made of cheap bricks and was spread out all on two levels across the campus. The football fields were to the north and were filled with returning senior and junior jocks, each one complete with their arm around a cheerleader’s shoulder.
To the way south was the lake, where every rumor-containing senior pranks and punishments began. It was covered in a thin layer of moss that was had thin slivers of lake showing through because of the yearlong ducks and geese. I saw a bubbling at the surface of the lake and something appeared to be rising out of it, but Briar dragged me off to the auditorium before I could actually watch. We were herded along with the rest of the freshman who quickly divided into groups, and then subdivided into more. Briar and me had never really belonged to a group, and mostly just hung out by ourselves. Everybody seemed to like us though, and we got smiles form almost every group, albeit the Jocks. Suddenly, a grainy film began playing through an old projector on the wall and the room fell to a hush. Basically, all it did was tell us what we’d heard from older siblings and friends about high school. After that was over, we headed off to our classes and I was pleased to find out that Briar was in that class. Actually it turned out he was in all of my classes all the way up to lunch.
Lunch was always a time to socialize and right when we stepped into the lunchroom, Briar dragged me off to meet some people. His eyes seemed to gleam and a lazy smile napped on his lips as he dragged me over to another group of freshman. They were all sitting in a circle in the grass far away from everyone else. As we got closer, I could see that there were two boys and two girls. They smiled when they saw Briar, but didn’t even glance at me; they did make room for both of us though. As I sat down, I could more clearly see all of the features. The boy to the right of me was tall, lean, and very white. He had long black hair that fell to just above his shoulders and had electric blue blazing on his bangs. He was wearing skinny jeans and a The Letter Black band t-shirt. I resisted the urge to roll my eyes, I really hoped this wasn’t one of those kids that think that life sucks and only wears black. When he looked up though, I witnessed a stunning surprise. He had sea lily green eyes that were barley darker then the whites, which really contrasted, with his pupils. He seemed bright and full of life and I soon noticed a notebook lying open in his hands, filled with a beautiful black and white drawing.
The girl next to him had her long, wispy blonde hair pulled back in a loose twisted bun and she had a simple shade of brown eyes. She was wearing jeans and a plain red tee that hung loosely on her skinny body. She appeared to be medium height but I couldn’t tell for sure. The boy next to her I could describe in one word; squirrel. He had platinum blonde crew cut hair and was currently trying to dislodge some sticks and grass from it. His green eyes were darker then the artist next to me, but they seemed to be bright, curious, and awake, like those of a squirrel. He had on baggy jeans and a plaid jacket that he had opened so he was bare-chested and very tan. I looked up at the girl across from me and saw that she looked like the type her wore their caramel hair back in a clip or a bobby pin, but wore it free today. With a white pair of shorts and a bright pink cami, she was wearing the brightest clothing out of the entire group.
The silence stretched on for a minute before the girl in pink said in a cutesy voice, “Hey Briar, aren’tcha gonna introduce us to your friend?” It was obvious she had a crush and Briar, but he seemed oblivious to it, “Yeah Dawn. Okay everyone, this is Bryn. Bryn this is” he started at the boy to the right of me “Jet, then Katie, Eamon, and Dawn.” Everyone waved at me and smiled, but Jet’s smile seemed to linger a little longer than everyone else. I decided to break the silence again with a casual question, “So how do you all know Briar?” Briar decided to answer for them, “Oh, okay. Katie is my cousin from California and Eamon’s family is housing with her until his dad finds a job. Dawn I met at the orientation thing and we hit it right off.” Dawn blushed and nodded. I pointed to the last one and said, “What about Jet?” His tongue peeked from the corner of his mouth and he stared p at the sky like he does when he’s thinking until he said, “Oh yeah, he’s Dawn’s stepbrother. He nodded and said jokingly, “Yes, it is so unfortunate.” We all laughed as Dawn threw her math binder at him, which he dodged artfully. Dawn stuck her tongue out at him, “Unfortunate for you? You’re not the one who has some crazy artist rooming next to you that doesn’t understand that music is meant to listen enjoyably to, not to deafen you in the first minute of the song.” He shook his head and answered in a mock serious tone, “No, but it would be an improvement.” We all laughed again and Eamon exclaimed loudly in a thick Irish accent, “Hey we’re all going down to the Uke Café tonight if you wish to join us.”
I thought about it, “Sure, but I’d have to check with my parents first.” They nodded understandingly. I glanced at Jet and asked curiously, “Hey what are you drawing?” He carefully pulled the cover up on his book and smirked at me, “You’ll see later, perhaps this evening.” I narrowed my eyes at him in suspicion, but smiled all the while. He smiled back and quietly resumed what he was drawing, but this time he had the cover tilted up at an angle so I couldn’t even glimpse at what he was drawing. The bell rang and we all got up at the same time and for some odd reason I turned to look back at the lake. Hiding behind the branches of a sagging willow tree, a figure stared at me with bright blue eyes. The rest of him appeared to be wrapped up in some dark material. It flashed out an icy white hand, beckoned to me and mouthed something I couldn’t decipher. I gazed out at it and as I did, I could feel the blood seep from my face, leaving a frozen expression of fear and worry. I appeared to laugh, and even from this distance it sent icicles prickling on my spine. Suddenly there was a small pop in my ears and it was gone, vanished from my line of sight. My vision swam as the blood rushed back up to my head and the icicles melted from my back, but decided to leave a lingering chill on their departure. I shivered, shook my head, and walked back through the cafeteria doors.
The rest of school passed without incident, but it was different because now I had friends to talk to. Jet and Katie were in my sixth period science class and Dawn and Eamon were in my seventh period history class. I noticed that they all had some sort of tattoo on their left shoulder, depicting bare hands pressed to a tangle of thorns across the top of a cross and some kind of small, white bird whose wing tips brushed the sleeves of the arms. All the images were white with blue where the shadows would be and had a black background. Except for the bird, which had an unearthly white glow shining behind it. I thought it was illegal to get tattoos until your eighteen, but then maybe they were those henna tattoos that faded after a week or two. I was going to ask Jet about it, but he had a grim expression on his face and appeared to be glaring at the whiteboard, as if he was pissed that it dare list the homework for tonight so he wouldn’t have an excuse if he didn’t do it later.
I boarded the bus without any major mishaps accept for some jerky senior who thought it’d be funny if he whistled low at me while his buddies laughed. I turned and glared at him and was going to yell at him for being a pig, but I was frozen with surprise. They all had the same electric blue eyes, like the dye in Jet’s hair, and spiked, ice white hair that chilled me just by looking at it. They seem to hypnotize me for a second before Briar came up, muttered something under his breath, and pulled me away. We sat in the middle again and let the drone of other high schoolers wash over us as they babbled about their first day of school. Out of boredom, I listened to parts of different conversations and was mildly surprised to find that apparently there was just as much drama and idiocy in high school as there was in middle school. The conversation went like this: “And I was like omigod, I mean how could he pick her over me, I mean she’s just so ew, you know?” and “I had a few bowls of Mary at the amphitheatre today, and was almost caught but hid it under the broken stone in the corner. God, cops are so stupid no wonder I’ve never got caught.” And my favorite, “Dude that was some killer concert last night I mean that singer is just so wow. What? Yeah so I didn’t listen to the words; she was hot.” I fought the urge to punch these people, especially the speaker of the second example.
The world outside was a blur of teenagers walking, boarding, or biking home and I suddenly yawned, unaware of how tired I was. Briar was asking me something, but I missed it and he had to ask it again, “So are you going to the café tonight?” I shrugged my shoulders and answered groggily, “I don’t know, I’m going to have to ask my mom when I get home.” I yawned again and Briar smirked at me, “What’s up Bryn, I thought the lake was supposed to wake up unsuspecting and tired freshman.” I opened my mouth, a witty retort on my tongue, when a memory flashed in my brain. That thing at the lake, its eyes, its body enveloped in darkness, and I shivered. Briar could tell something was up and he looked at me concerned, “Hey, I was just kidding. What, nobody really did throw you in the lake did they? Why, I’m going to find those stupid pigs and…” I stopped him mid sentence and sighed, “No Briar it was nothing lake that it was just…well I saw something at the lake today.” He must’ve thought I was still kidding because he answered in a mock creepy tone, “Oooo, it was a ghost huh? I mean seriously Bryn, you’ve been watching too many horror flicks with me.”
I glared at him and said angrily, “I’m serious Briar. It was really creepy.” A look of concern seemed to start to creep onto his face, but he pushed to backed and asked seriously, “Bryn, describe exactly what you saw.” I was going to answer him, but every time I tried to think about it a weird haze would cover up the memory and obscure the image completely. I tried a few more times, but only got the same result so I groaned in frustration, “I don’t know. For some reason it’s like a haze comes over the memory every time I try to remember it.” He nodded grimly and muttered something that sounded like, “The Nyx are stirring.”