I was comfortably sitting on a sofa, smoking a cheeky cigarette – that I wasn’t allowed to smoke officially – while I distractedly listened to some of my friends discussing the score of the match they watched the day before.
I smiled catching some people’s disapproving stares at my lit cigarette, they could stare and complain as much as they wanted, no one would ever even dream of saying a thing to me, I had something they didn’t have: power.
I, William, had the power to shut everyone up with my money or simply by saying my own name. My name, like a feared brand to bow from.
The famous Black family.
Generations and generations of perfectly reckless rich human beings who owned the city we built centuries ago.
From father to son, our legacy of money and power didn’t go to waste.
We were an utopian species, genetically programmed to rule.
Every Black family member had two purposes in life: to keep the business – ergo the money – running and find a worthy wealthy wife to breed other Black offsprings who would one day do the same. No room for mistakes.
My father, as the perfect Black, was a legend, one of the richest and most powerful bank owners in the UK and soon-to-be mayor of that shithole they called a city.
As for me, I was just uninterested with all that crap. I would eventually comply with what was expected of me but I was just totally and utterly disinterested in the meantime.
Too bored not to have another drink, I stood up and went downstairs, ignoring the alarmed stares from my mates.
“I’m thirsty,” I simply said. I knew that without me they’d be kicked out of the bar for they were all underage.
I almost smiled, my father’s bank gave a mortgage to the owner of the place, so I was treated better than a God in there as one word from me and the place might fall in ruin.
What did I say? Yeah, power.
I sat down on the stool at the main counter; a skinny bartender saw me and asked me what I wanted to drink.
“I want a Bloody Mary. Drown me in gin.”
I smirked, the guy didn’t even bother to ask for my age, I liked him already.
You earned a good tip, mate.
I looked around me, the place was packed, the particularity of it was that it was mostly dark. Like the only lights were in the dance floor, all the rest, the bar and the tables were in semi-darkness, only lit by the f luorescent glasses full of alcohol. I loved it.
With the corner of my eye, I saw a movement; a girl sat a few feet from me. With little interest, I tried to look at her but it was too dark to see her face.
“Can I have a tonic, please?” she ordered.
Her voice was nice but I couldn’t quite place the accent she had, it was like a weird mix. I was curious now.
“She’s having gin with her tonic,” I said imperious, just to catch her attention. Girls those days were so easy to get a hold on that I liked to try new ways every now and then.
She turned to look at me, surprised and vexed. “No, I shall stick with my tonic.” She looked at the bartender. “No ice,
The girl was ignoring me. I was almost amused, she was clearly from somewhere far away to have the guts to contradict me. Or, most likely, it was too dark to recognize the features of my face.
“Why are you in a bar if you are not drinking?”
“I’m underage,” she simply said, clearly meant to end the conversation there, but she had no idea who she was dealing with.
“So am I.” I raised my newly arrived drink to make a point.
“I don’t drink alcohol.”
“Why, are you a nun?” I didn’t even know why I kept on talking to her, she seemed to be a know-it-all self-righteous kind of girl.
“Yes, I am. Now, enjoy your illegal drinking.” She faked a smile and grabbing her drink, she turned to leave.
Not quite ready to let you leave, babe.
I was surprised by my own thought; I usually avoided any kind of interaction with girls who seemed to be frigid to death. I grabbed her wrist. I could touch the shape of a bracelet, a spiral themed bracelet. “What if I wanted you to stay?” I was taunting her.
“You could go to hell. Now let me go.” She seemed to be calm.
I couldn’t even see her face properly, I couldn’t tell whether she was attractive or not, her body was concealed by what seemed to be a huge jacket. So why was I playing with her, now?
“Make me.” I was definitely amused.
In the darkness, I could detect a look of anger but then all of a sudden she smiled; in a second I felt wet and sticky. She had splashed her tonic – all over my face. Everything fell silent, with the corner of my eye I saw the bouncer flinch but not make a move. With just a look, I intimated everyone to keep on doing what they were doing; apparently she was the only one who didn’t know who she was dealing with.
Then I turned back to her, my own eyes like flames.
“How dare you, you little lousy girl?” I was still holding her wrist. I could easily break it if I only gave in to the rage, just a tiny bit of pressure and her bone would be in pieces. She felt so fragile in my hands, just like a doll. I’d never hit a girl. I thought I was better than that, but that little savage horse deserved to learn a lesson; she had to be tamed.
“You do not touch me,” she hissed. A cat ready to attack.
“You’re gonna apologize now.” I articulated the sentence like I was speaking to someone with mental problems.
“What if I don’t?” She was being dangerously cheeky.
“Then you’re having the worst five minutes of your life.”
“Let me go or I…” She seemed to be strangely calm.
“Or you what?” I faked a laugh; it sounded too phoney even to my own ears. I was still too enraged.
I slightly increased the pressure on her wrist, I wanted to scare her just because I knew I could, make her bow like everyone else always did.
And then chaos exploded, it all happened in less than a blink, with the fluorescent light of my glass, I saw her close her eyes and murmur something I didn’t get. Behind me the cracking noise of broken glass. I instantly let go of her and checked what happened. Hundreds of bottles were broken on the floor, I turned back to face her but she was simply gone. Disappeared into thin air.
What happened to those bottles? Why did she look kind of pleased before closing her eyes? And most important of all, where was she?
“What happened here?” I interrogated the skinny bartender.
“I don’t know, sir. One moment I was shaking a drink, the moment after, the disaster happened.”
“Have you seen the girl that was with me not long ago?”
“The girl who ordered the tonic with no ice.”
He gave me a weird look. “Sir, no one has ordered a neat tonic for years in this place.”
New school, new life
I looked around me, the big hall was empty, I had to admit I liked that school; it had something about it that was elegant and Spartan at the same time.
I knew though I’d better not get attached or even used to it, I might be on my way soon. That was my golden rule, my lifestyle, never to get attached to places or people for I was destined to live my life as a hermit without resting.
“Honey, whenever you travel, you don’t let anything touch you deeply, it’s less painful if you consider them as transitory,” my mum always said.
Not that I ever had the chance to get close to people, Mum.
I never had real friends, boyfriends or a family even, because of what I was. And in the end, it almost didn’t hurt anymore, the wall I painfully raised between myself and the world was stronger than ever.
I would not let anyone in, I would always stand tall and alone, I learnt that I didn’t need anyone else but myself. Not those hypocritical and mean people, not a lousy home not anything. I just didn’t get why I had to always try and pretend to be normal when I was clearly not.
I checked the paper the principal gave me that morning, my first class was Art and I was already late. I sighed before knocking on the door. I felt a bit nervous at first, but then I remembered how many times I’d done that before so I pushed the door open.
“Guys, here’s our transfer student from Aberdeen, Scotland,” he smiled, “Jayne Frost.”
I half smiled nervously. Everyone was staring curiously, and even though I’d done it a million times before I still hated the attention, I was far too used to it. I walked to an empty desk and smiled politely to everyone, until the teacher caught everybody’s attention to the daily lesson again.
I wasn’t particularly interested in the subject but I tried to pay attention anyways, enjoying those few moments of normality I could have. He was explaining something about the Mona Lisa, nothing new to me as I had seen the painting myself during the brief period I spent in France.
Eventually, the bell rang so I collected my stuff and went to leave the classroom, when the teacher held me in a moment. “I expect you to keep up with your classmates, Miss Frost. I expect nothing but the best by my students.”
“I will try my best indeed.”
“Here are some chapters you have to catch up with in the next couple of weeks.” He passed a book full of bookmarks.
“But, sir, those must be like three hundred pages!” I was truly horrified.
“Then you better get started.” He winked at me. Winked. That’s what I hate about normality: school.
“Right.” I surrendered.
“Oh, Miss Frost?” I turned to look at him. “Welcome to Nostradamus High School,” and I left with a forced smile.
Let’s try and survive the second class, this time if they try and give me stuff to catch up with… I will probably explode!
I was on time for this class, Ancient Latin, so I didn’t have to be introduced that formally. The teacher just mentioned my name distractedly and then started with his teaching.
That’s the way I like it.
I knew Latin like I knew English, I grew up with it. My parents taught me that old language when I was only a toddler. It was part of who I was. Since the professor wasn’t saying anything I didn’t already know by heart, I let my mind drift. My eyes check the classroom and my new classmates.
I looked around and noticed that I had caught many people’s attention. A great part of the class was in fact staring at me for some reason. When I met a dark blond guy’s eyes, he smiled softly while I turned away uncomfortably.
You wouldn’t smile like that if you only knew.
Next class was French, easy peasy as I knew it already. Foreign languages were my strong point as I’d travelled everywhere in Europe and outside my whole life. I’d always liked learning new languages, it helped me camouflage myself and become accustomed to the new culture. The only thing I found hard about that class was finding the classroom. That school was way too big for my tastes and, after finding myself in the same spot for the second time, I knew I’d got lost. I sighed and checked again the little map the headmaster had given me that morning, trying to find a sense of orientation I hardly ever had, when all of a sudden I bumped into something.
“Look where you’re going!” Or someone, judging by the irritated voice of a guy.
“I’m sorry, I…” I looked at him and I couldn’t quite finish my sentence. Words just refused to come out.
The guy I’d bumped into mustn’t have been a student, he must have been a model or a Hollywood actor. He was tall, perfect alabaster skin, dark-haired which seemed to be messy on his head on purpose, just to give him the “I just got out of bed” sexy look. But what truly enchanted – and I gotta admit kinda startled – me really were his eyes, his big grey eyes that seemed to pierce my very soul.
I realized he was the most handsome person I’d ever met. I blushed. He smiled, pretending to adjust the fancy clothes he was wearing. He seemed to be aware of the effect he had on girls, – are you gonna get out of my way any time soon or wanna still stare for a bit? I can give you an autographed picture if you want. He had such a cheeky smile that I cursed myself mentally for being that silly.
Apparently, he didn’t only look like a hot model but he also had the attitude of one.
“I didn’t see you,” I said collecting my books from the floor.
To take my eyes off him required more effort than I dared to admit.
“Clearly.” He was amused, he walked passed me with a grin.
I glared at him while he disappeared in the hall, he hadn’t even bothered to help me.
What an idiot.
Eventually I found my class. The lesson went smoothly; I already knew half of the stuff I had to catch up with my classmates so I felt a bit more relaxed.
At least being a stupid hermit who travels continuously pays off.
On lunch break, I hurried to buy some food – a slice of pizza and an apple – to find a nice empty table to sit in peace. I usually chose the most isolated one and I didn’t make an exception this time.
The pizza didn’t look nice, it seemed one of those frozen ones you keep in the fridge till the end of time and it tasted like an old boot. Disgusted, I let it drop on the plate.
I thought this was a posh school.
“Hey, may I sit?” A friendly voice.
I turned and faced the dark blond boy who’d smiled at me during Latin class, I was quite surprised he had found me there.
“Yeah, sure,” even though I wasn’t very convinced.
“My name’s Gabe Benson.” He took a seat just in front of me.
I shook his hand. “Jayne Frost.”
“How do you find it here?”
I watched him biting his pizza; he didn’t seem disgusted by it like I was. I wondered if it was just me.
“It’s still early to have an opinion.” I smiled and thought of the guy I’d bumped into earlier that day, and I hoped not all of the students were like him. Gabe didn’t seem like it.
“Hope we made a good impression, though. If you need anything, I’m here for you.” He winked at me, and I thought he was really handsome with his young features.
“Right.” I forced a smile uncomfortably, I knew that kindness would disappear as soon as he found out what I was.
“Would you like a tour? This school is quite big so you might get lost.” He smiled.
I hesitated and he smiled reassuringly. “Sure, thank you.”
In all fairness, I only accepted as I thought I might really need a tour as I didn’t want to get lost again before a lesson; it’s not nice to be scolded by a teacher on your first day. After a bit, I decided I liked Gabe, he seemed to be an easygoing person so it wouldn’t hurt anyone if I came out of my Fortress of Solitude for once, would it?
He showed me a great part of the school, the auditorium, the garden, classrooms and so on, then, as a great finale, he brought me to the library. It had loads and loads of shelves full of books, all divided by topic, author in alphabetical order. I must admit I totally loved it. I had always imagined my own dream house with a big massive library.
On the left there was a light wooden counter, behind it an elderly lady with white-grey hair and little glasses was having a nap.
“She’s snoring,” I thought out loud, amused.
He smiled and took a picture of her with his phone. “This will be of use next time I take a book and forget to bring it back after three days,” he explained.
I laughed. “Do you usually do that?”
“It happens.” He smiled. “She’s very annoying, when you don’t bring it back after three days she goes to the principal and there’s disciplinary action.”
“She sounds evil.” I nodded.
“She is indeed!” He laughed. “So when you borrow a book from here, you better bring it back right away or she’ll have you gutted!”
I’m not planning on staying here for long anyways.
I forced a smile and after waving at him, I walked to my next class.
THIS EERIE STRANGER
“William, are you listening to me?”
“Yes, you were talking about the food in the cafeteria,” he answered bored.
“Yeah! It sucks! We should sign a petition or something to make it right.”
I nodded distractedly, I wasn’t really interested. I had to admit I hardly cared about anything lately, everything bored me to death. I really hoped I wasn’t becoming like that amoeba I called a father. In fact, I had never seen William Jonathan Black I being bothered about anything or anyone that wasn’t work or his good name.
Not his money, not his cars, not his houses, not his family. He seemed to be born for his job, a stupid Stakhanovite that was only living when he was in the off ice and just surviving when at home with his wife and kid. Maybe that was even a torture to him.
I had always promised myself that if I ever became like my beloved parent, I would point a gun at my temple and pull the trigger without hesitating. Actually, I would do it if I became like either of my parents.
“This girl is proper hot though.”
Those words brought me back to reality, curious to know what my friends were talking about.
“The transfer student, she’s in my Art class, she’s hot.”
“What are you on about?” I asked horrified. The only transfer student who was in his class was an ugly duckling.
“Check her out!” He pointed at the yard, where a girl was focused on her studying.
I immediately recognized the girl I bumped into a couple of days ago, and I was gutted to admit she was hot indeed.
I’d noticed she had a nice face on a good body, but looking at her now… there was something about her, something beautiful and charming I couldn’t quite catch before. She was focused on her reading, her face was thin and she didn’t wear too much make up like all the other girls in school. She seemed to be from another world.