Now

Red. That is the color of everything. Blue and green are irrelevant, only red remains. The hate, the fire, the blood; all are red. Like me. I’m sure that if anyone were to see me, I would be red, too. A burning ball of animosity just waiting to strike at the nearest victim. The crowded hall parts for me to pass, like Moses parting the seas. Eyes widen, mouths gape, conversations hush. This is a new occurrence; Lydia Rivera is angry. The pet of all teachers, the queen bee, is actually showing some emotion.

For the last few months, I’ve been withdrawn, I’ve been impartial, I haven’t cared about anyone, but that doesn’t seem to have any effect on them. They still see the straight A, petite, sweet, naive little freshman who walked through those doors years ago. They haven’t seen my dark side, my demons, they’re too smitten with an old image of me that somehow became implanted in their tiny little brains. I’m angry at all of them for not seeing past this facade and I’m tired of all of them for being so stupid. I don’t know why they are stupid, they just are. I know it, but I don’t know how.

By the time I get to my locker, the whispers have started up again, but more urgently, more seriously. They’re looking now, their questioning glances pierce me, burden me. It makes me want to cry. Then my irrational anger is gone. Now, I am just tired and weak. What is happening?

“Lydia!” shouts a deep voice, a dark voice.

Something grabs my arm, tight and warm, a constriction of some kind. They aren’t here with good intentions, my mind knows it and screams it. I scream with it, twisting away from this cuff until its hold is pulled away and I fall to the ground, shaking.
Only now do I see it was simply Marcus. Only now do I see it was simply a false alarm. Only now do I see it was simply a foreshadowing message. Only now do I see it wasn’t so simple at all.

It’s dark by the time I finally submit to sleep. The owls hoot, the branches clow, the stars twinkle; a flawless night. Except one thing. Sometimes you are impossibly tired, so tired you feel that if you can’t go to sleep right this minute, you may die. Sometimes you long for the down mattress, the warm comforter, the peaceful silence. That is not tonight. Too many thoughts flood my mind, I don’t want to submit to them. I don’t want to relive my day in hell.
But it’s not up to me, is it? Eyelids slide closed and my day becomes a nightmare.

***

People mill around in the crowded hallway even though the second bell has already rung. They circle the sobbing heap lying in the middle of the floor, the broken remains of a broken girl. A friend is sitting beside her, questioning and questioning in a futile attempt to gain an insight into her recent outbreak. A nurse comes, a counselor after her, transporting the girl from room to room as she silently sobs, never running out of water for her tears.
Her parents are brought in and questioned, her sister is pardoned from school as well as. They make a dreary car ride back to a quiet home, full of curious looks and scared expressions as the girl goes up to bed wondering how she hasn’t drowned in her own tears.

***

Eyelids shoot open. There are footsteps, tiny footsteps, in the hall. Too small for my family, too small for a normal sized human being, but there they are. Footsteps. Creaks.
“Don’t look!” my brain says, “If they see you you’re dead!”
“Just look!” says my heart, “We all die at some point why not-”
“NOW.”

I bolt up in bed. The footsteps are gone, the owls are quiet. Complete silence fills the room. But that voice, something was wrong with it. It wasn’t natural, it didn’t come from anything. I have never heard it before.

“Why not ‘Now’?” it coaxes, the low bass rattling through my skull; warm, but full of sin and secrets, “Have some FUN! Fun! Fun. Fun. Fun.”

I am wide awake now, sitting on the bed, shivering all over because something is not right. Something is not right at all. I jump off my bed and run across the hall as quickly as I can, slamming my sister’s door and locking it, causing her to start.
“What the heck, Lydia! What’s wrong with you?!”

“Did you hear him?” I whisper, wishing I couldn’t already tell the answer by the look on her face.

“Hear what?” she whines, “Get out of here, go back to bed, you’re just tired.”
No, I’m not, but I obey quickly as to not be completely inconsiderate. She is my reason for continuing.

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