Popularity

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Private Blog

Like Erin, I've been feeling the need to make sure that my stuff isn't available to the whole wide world. Only problem is, that was kind of my point in the first place, to make my stuff easily accessible to anybody who wanted to read it. But considering how there is a fairly good chance that Crimson is going to a publisher because of the scholarship I'm entering, I've decided that a private blog is probably best. People can get samples from this blog and contact me if they want more. If you want to be invited, send me an email at mela_7_12@hotmail.com. And Shannon, if you're reading this, I'm dying to know what happens next in Princess Rivalee. Please post more.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

(Crimson) Chapter 1 [revised]

I hate the one I've been writing. I always cringe whenever I think about it. It was always completely different from the direction I wanted to go. So I started over. I Prologue was perfect so I left it alone. I love this version a lot more. Have the new chapter 1.




Snow fell softly. The day had yet to wake. This was always my favorite part of the day. It was the time when nobody was yet awake to spread their ugly stain over the dying world. Sorry, the “healing” world. At least, it was temporarily healing. It would continue to heal until our pathetic little point on the globe passed under The Burn Zone. Then everything would die. It would happen. I knew it. If it had happened before, it would happen again. It was only a matter of time.
The snow covered the death, that’s what I liked best about it. As long as there was a layer of snow, the world looked pretty. However, the gleaming sparkles would soon be the color of the gray death they covered. The plows would roll through, and the pretty would be gone. But that time was not yet. Until then I would enjoy this respite from my dreary existence.

Behind me I could hear the deep breathing of seventeen other girls. Not one of them had ever said more than maybe two words to me. I could say that it didn’t bother me. I could say that I liked the loneliness. I could say that listening to them talk about this boy or that boy or the fabulous life associated with doing this or that job. I could say that I never wanted them to include me in their meaningless conversations. I could say all of that, but I’d be lying.

My bed was the closest to the window. In most living situations, that would be the best place to sleep. But this wasn’t most situations. This was an orphanage. I’m sure that back before The First Burning, orphanages were well funded. They were probably stocked with blankets and pillows and four square meals a day for the children who weren’t old enough to go to their Glimpses. But that was in the before time. This is now. I shivered and tugged my thin blanket tighter around my shoulders. The chill coming through the window was enough to rattle teeth. Yes, this was the worst place in the room to sleep. If it wasn’t, I wouldn’t be there. In coming days, the other girls would push their beds together and huddle under piles of blankets as they attempted to go to sleep. They would use each other’s body heat to stave off the biting cold. I would be stuck on my own by the window.

My hand dropped absentmindedly to my foot before I had a chance to stop it. Under four layers of socks, one would find my small right toe dead and blackened from one of the horrible winters a few years ago. I’d cried for day, but nobody had bothered to check and see what was wrong with me until it was too late to save my small digit. After that, the caretakers had given me extra socks, red like all my other clothes, but nothing more. I’d taken to sleeping in a sitting position after that, with my feet tucked under me and my body curled into a ball over my legs. It had taken a while for me to get used to that position, but I’m sure it was the salvation of quite a few of my other toes. I could say I’m glad that none of the other girls ever ask me to share a bed with them, but I’d be lying. As I child I used to cry myself to sleep at night, but that stopped when winter hit and I’d wake up with frozen crystals on my cheeks.

Despite the horrors associated with the window bed, I did find a bit of joy. It came from looking out the window. If I didn’t sleep where I did, I would have forgotten long ago that sometimes, the world could be beautiful.

I heard a plow’s rumble from down the street. The fantasy was over. I laid back down on my bed and squeezed my eyes shut. I didn’t want to see the destruction of my perfect world. The roar of the plow grew louder and louder and softer and softer. It was over. Time to wake up and face another day.

On cue, the door opened and the overhead florescent light burned my retinas. Groans erupted from my formerly sleeping roommates.

“Up girls! Wake up! It’s time to make memories of another glorious day!” Ms. Whitley skipped around the room, checking to make sure all the girls were indeed up. Right before she reached my bed, she swirled around and skipped back down the row of beds the way she’d come. I can’t ever recall a time when she met my eyes.

I rolled off my bed and landed with a thump on my hands and knees. I pulled my small trunk of clothes from its place under the bed. I could say that I’m glad all my clothes are the same so I don’t have to make a choice in the morning, but I’d be lying. Back when I was still newly red, I’d asked one of the caretakers why, if my trunk could fit five tightly packed jumpsuits and four sets of night clothes, did it only have two of each. That was before I’d learned being a thinker was not a good thing. I shed one of my two sets of night clothes and dawned one of my two jumpsuits. I kicked it back under the bed and stood.

I wasn’t exactly tall, but I wouldn’t consider myself short either. Other people probably did consider me short, but that was a matter of opinion. The only description I could give my hair was brown. I gathered it up in one hand and pulled it over my shoulder. As I crossed the room of groaning, stretching girls, I ran my fingers through the snags a few times before weaving the strands into a braid. When I let my braid fall down my back, it reached my lower back. I would need to find something at the plant sometime and hack a good portion off. It was at the point where it was always in the way. Life would get simpler with it gone.

In the dining area, I downed a cup of something in one go. I struggled not to let it come back up. I think this slop used to be called breakfast, but most times I would rather continue to fast than choke it down. However, I’d missed dinner the night before and I’d need some strength to make it through the day. I rinsed my mouth of the awful lingering taste of the slop mixed with morning breath. And just like that, I was done with my morning routine, ready to face the day.

I walked out the front door the orphanage. Nobody said goodbye to me. Very few days did people in the orphanage actually acknowledge my existence. They would all be happy if I disappeared forever. To tell the truth, so would I.

I kicked up snow as I waded down the sidewalk. In a half hour, a bus would arrive to take the other girls into the district for their respective Glimpses. My job was in another sector, and the bus wouldn’t be heading in that direction. Jack Frost was on my heal, urging me forward more quickly. I apologize for my use of an allusion that you probably don’t understand. Back before The First Burning, people used to say that there was a man named Jack Frost who brought the winter chill every year. When I said that he was on my heal, I was referring to the fact that I’m freezing cold and the sooner I reach the plant, the sooner I’ll be warm.

My red jumpsuit stuck out starkly against the gray white sludgy snow that the plow had cleared out of the road. I didn’t bump shoulders with anyone though sidewalks were crowded. Back before, everyone used to drive to get anywhere. Now, the dwindling gas supply was kept in close reserve and only officials and the rich were still driving. I suppose it’s a good thing not as many people drive now. Burning fossil fuels is one of the key reasons we are living in the messed up world that we are. Our ancestors destroyed the ozone and started the burnings. Anyway, nobody brushed shoulders with me. Nobody ever did. The crowded sidewalk parted for me the like Moses parted the Red Sea. Sorry, that was another old allusion that you probably don’t understand. I’ll try harder to avoid those. One day they I’ll say one of them aloud and get in trouble.

The streets were wide. With so few cars, as many people walked in the streets as did on the sidewalks. Tall buildings loomed up around us, their purposes long since forgotten. The One commanded us to stay out of them, so we did. As I got closer and closer to the plant, the crowds became thin. Soon, there were very few people still about me. Nobody was walking in my same direction.

I was alone.

The plant loomed up in front of me like a giant blot against the gloomy sky. In front of me was the rest of my life. My moment of pause that I always took before entering the building was over. I climbed up the giant steps to find out what new surprises today had in store.

The plant was giant. Though it was shoved off to the side of the compound, it was the heart that made our society run. Below the floors was a massive storage empire. Food, clothes, gas, whatever, anything that had to be stockpiled, was stored here. Under that labyrinth of mazes and rooms, was the giant electric turbine that lit our world. The turbine ran twenty five hours a day eight days a week. In other words, it was always going. That is, always unless we were hit with a burning.

I arrived at the elevator and rode it down. Nothing was on the first floor except offices. I was headed to The Crimson Room. From there, I would get my assignments for the day. I breathed deeply through my nose. I was claustrophobic, thanks to a mishap I’d had before my evaluation day. The elevator ride down was bad, but the ride back up, when it would be choked with other bodies aside from my own, would be worse. The only thing that made the trip up better was my continued reminder to myself that I was heading to the outside.

I forced my breathing to remain even as I stepped out of the elevator and walked down the narrow hallway to The Crimson Room. My feet vibrated with the energy of the turbine on the floor below. There was one good thing about the plant: I wasn’t cold anymore. I wiped a bead of sweat off my forehead and pushed open the door to the room. I was, as usual, the first one to arrive for the day shift. Back when I was still a thinker, I would purposefully make sure I arrived long before anyone else. That way, I’d be able to gauge the other Crimson from them that day. Now, I only arrived early out of force of habit.

On one wall of The Crimson Room was a giant screen. The names of all the Crimson were organized into categories of what they would be doing that day. My name was under mechanics. I walked over to the corner where all the tool belts were stored. I always used the same one. It gave me the feeling that something was actually mine. I searched through the disorganized pile until I found mine. I secured it around my waist with a smile. The fact that I was on a team today and not doing a special job was a good thing. Because of my size, I was always assigned the special jobs that required a small person. Any day I wasn’t forced into further seclusion was a great day. I leaned up against the back wall of the room where I wouldn’t be readily visible to those walking in the room. I waited.

I didn’t have to wait long before me “coworkers” began to arrive. I’d been working with all of them for just over eight years. I didn’t know a single one of them by name. We weren’t a very sociable group. We weren’t allowed to be. For the most part, my fellow Crimson were men. There was two other women, but they were nearly as severe looking as the men. Our lot in life didn’t make us the most friendly people, as if someone would want to be friends with us. Back when I used to think, I knew a few of these criminal’s names. I had memorized the group of assignments as well which face went where. Each day, the probable names for each individual would get smaller as the teams changed until there was only one option left. Knowing their names was a stupid, pointless task, and since then, I’d worked hard to forget them. It was better this way. The Crimson had almost all arrived. We would soon be put to our respective tasks.

It had taken me at least a year to discover what about me the evaluators had deemed bad enough to destroy my life. I puzzled it out until I realized, no normal child would be able to do what I did. I was supposed to fail the evaluation. Instead, I’d passed and, by doing so, failed. Fail to pass and pass to fail. I should have realized before it was too late, but that’s the glory of hindsight. After this revelation that thinking was bad, I’d stopped. Now I was living life one day at a time.

The last Crimson arrived. The room was filled with our red presence. The white walls held us all in together. Red jumpsuits against the white walls like a drop of blood against newly fallen snow. We were the scourge of society, the ones that didn’t quite fit the mold. We are the Crimson.

Monday, December 19, 2011

(Crimson) Chapter 3

I couldn’t find words I wanted to express the emotions I was going through. Shock? Hurt? Anger? Longing? “Your son is a Crimson?” My breath escaped from me in a whisper.

“No.”

My head jerked away from the picture to gape at her. “What?”

“I said no.” She set the picture down gently, lovingly, on the desktop.

“What do you mean he’s not?”

“He’s not.”

“I don’t understand.”

She smiled at my confusion. “Kya, my son is not now, nor has he ever been a Crimson. He’s a red shirt, yes. But he is not a Crimson.”

The truth smacked me in the face. Sam saw the comprehension on my face, but chose to let me say it. She understood that I would never truly understand until I said it out loud. “You didn’t give him up?”

“No.”

I sat back in my chair. The small picture expanded before my eyes until it filled my whole frame of vision. The people in the picture changed. I saw my parents laughing and smiling, holding me tight in their arms. I saw their love for me shining in their faces. I saw my life that would never be.

Sam stepped in front of the picture, breaking my trance. I gasped for breath. I had stopped breathing. Tears carved silent paths down my cheeks.

Sam took my hands and pulled me to my feet. “I don’t want to sound like an insensitive monster, Ky, but you need to stop crying. If people think you’ve been crying, there will be no end to what you’ll have to suffer through until the end of the day.” She wiped a tear away.

I nodded. I knew she was right. I pulled my hands out of hers and rubbed the final tears away. I am Kya. I am strong.

Sam pulled a small bag from one of her drawers. Makeup? She had me sit down on the desk. “Let’s get rid of the evidence shall we?”

I almost laughed. She still sounded exactly like the Sam I remembered.

She started the operation, though I’m not sure it could do much to help.

I had questions. “So why didn’t you . . .” I couldn’t finish the question without making it sound mean.

She understood what I was failing to ask. “If The Society thinks that they can breed a hate strong enough in me that I will turn away my own son, they are sadly mistaken.”

I nodded, pretending I knew what she was talking about. In all honesty, I was more lost and confused than ever. What was so different about Sam that she wouldn’t give up her son? Every parent of every red shirt always gave up their child. Why was Sam so different?

I’d have to try to brooch that subject again on another day.

Next question. “Everybody hates me, right?”

Her mouth turned into a hard line. “In a manner of speaking.”

“Then why were those boy all hitting on me? Why didn’t they shun me like the girls at my old school used to?”

Sam applied a last touch to my eye. She stepped back and handed me a small hand mirror. The effect was stunning. If I hadn’t known, I would’ve never known I’d been bawling like a little baby.

I looked up at her and waited for her to answer my question.

She sighed. “This isn’t something I want to talk about, but it’s something you need to know. Kya, in the mind of the species we call boy, Crimson is synonymous with bad. The television has played with the red shirt girls for far too long. In those shows, the crim girl always plays the part of the seductress.” She didn’t look like she wanted to continue. “Do you understand what I’m trying to say, Ky?”

I nodded. It was perfectly clear. All those boys’ comments made sense. They thought my purpose in life was to sleep in their beds. My cheeks flushed in embarrassment. I wish I hadn’t asked. Some things were better left unsaid. I didn’t want to ask any more questions. Even if I did, I wouldn’t be able to remember any of them.

I pushed myself off of the desk. “I should go.”

I turned but Sam snagged my arm. “Kya, feel free to spend any lunch in here.”

I heard her unspoken message. You don’t have to face them. It was the easy way out, and I was grateful for it.

Outside, the halls were chaotic. I checked my bag to make sure nothing was sticking out that could be easily nabbed. I pushed my way through the seething mass of people.

“Little red!”

Someone behind me was attempting to get my attention. I press forward.

“Crim!”

A hand landed on my shoulder. I spun around and found myself staring into Ethan’s cocky smile. In his hand that wasn’t latched onto my shoulder was a piece of paper. I made out the familiar numbers of an address.

“I thought I’d give this to you since the last one was destroyed.” He pushed the paper at me.

Really? REALLY?! I regret to say that I lost control of my emotions. Actually, I don’t regret it at all.

My hand met his cheek in a resounding slap. The look of shock on his face was priceless. He was at a complete loss for how to respond. The halls around us instantly silenced.

“Don’t you ever touch me again!” My words were quiet, but I had no doubt that every student in the hall heard.

As I continued my walk down the hall, a pathway opened up for me. My classmates pressed to the walls to let me by. I felt something I was walked through them: fear. I smiled on the inside. A little fear could go a long way.

I stepped out in front of the school where buses were waiting to take the students to their respective apprenticeships. Very few students were outside yet. The ones who were, didn’t know of my parole violation yet.

“That was stupid.” Scott was leaning against a tree a few feet away. “Bold, but stupid.”

Why was he talking to me?

“You know what’s going to happen now, don’t you?”

I nodded. Nodding seemed to be my thing today.

He took a step toward me. “I underestimated you. Perhaps it would be to my advantage to stick with you. What’s your name?”

I didn’t respond.

“Here, I’ll start.” This conversation felt eerily similar to the one I’d had with Ethan earlier. “I’m Scott Bentley. You are . . .”

Did everybody think that they had a right to my personal details?

My eyes narrowed at him. “Look Scott, I’m a Crimson. You’re a Crimson. All we will ever be is the scum of the streets. I’m just trying to live life one day at a time, and I suggest you do the same.” He was a jerk. I didn’t want anything to do with him. “Why don’t you stick with your initial rule? ‘Just because we’re in the same boat doesn’t mean I’m not eager to throw you to the sharks. Don’t talk to me. Don’t eat lunch with me. Don’t even look at me. To you, I don’t even exist.’”

I saw anger flare in his eyes as quoted back to him what he’d said this morning. “Fine.” His words were clipped. “I guess I was right. They did get to you. And for a second I was crazy enough to believe that you were like me.”

The sound of police sirens pierced the air. They were coming for me.

He glared at me one last time. “My mistake. I won’t make it again.” He stormed to the buses and climbed on. No apprenticeships for the Crimson. He would be going on the bus that would take him closest to his home in the orphanage.

The police cars screeched to a stop in front of the school. Behind me, students were pressing their faces to the glass to watch.

Police spilled from their vehicles and surrounded me. Cold cuffs shackled my hands together behind me. They pushed me roughly to the line of cars with flashing lights. “Crimson 42693, you are under arrest for violation of your parole by assaulting a fellow-student. Two week solitary confinement to be affected immediately.”

They pushed my head down, forcing me into one of the cars. I looked at my gaping classmates. I picked out Ethan’s face from among them. His features were still painted with shock. I gave him a smile before they closed the door in my face. I didn’t regret it at all.

* * * * *

Ethan watched in shock as the flashing lights disappeared into the distance.

Two weeks solitary confinement because he couldn’t lay off. He couldn’t stop the worm of guilt from curling in his stomach.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

(Crimson) Chapter 2

If you've read this story and there was a boy named Austin, it is important to note that his name has changed to Scott. If you've read this story and there was no boy named Austin, please ignore this message :D



Chapter 2

As luck went, my next class was Literature. This had always been my favorite class I could forget myself and every other stupid thing I dealt with daily.

Though I was assigned a locker, a red locker, I never used it. As always, the sooner I was seated in class, the better. I walked through the door and took a quick survey of the seating arrangements. The desks were divided down the middle and faced each other. My best option would be the opposite corner of the room from the door. There was only one problem with that. The seat was already taken.

Scott looked up when he felt my eyes on him. His gaze narrowed and he gave a very subtle shake of the head. I was to sit nowhere near him. I opted for a different corner, and waited to see what other surprises the class would bring. Not surprisingly, they weren’t pleasant.

The dark haired boy walked in with some of his posse tailing nosily along behind him. They didn’t see me at first as I wasn’t in direct sight from the door. Scott, however, was.

When the dark haired boy opened his mouth, his friends shut up. “Well, well, well, if it ain’t high and mighty Mr. Crim. Long time no see, crim boy. Did you have a nice summer? You were doing an internship at the dump, right?”

Scott didn’t lift his head to acknowledge him. He was drawing something. He finished some shading with one of his red colored pencils, and closed the cover of his notebook. He met the dark haired boy’s eyes steadily. “It’s sad that you really don’t have anything better to do with your time, Newman.”

Newman’s eyebrows drew closer together. “Shut your mouth, Crimson!”

Scott smiled challengingly at him. “Surely that’s not the best you can do?”

Newman sought for anything to say. “I met your girlfriend this morning. She’s a pretty little thing.”

Scott leaned back in his chair. “I’m afraid you’ll have to try harder than that. I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“I’m sure you do.” Newman warmed to his theme. “I invited her over to my house tonight to spend some time with a real man.”

My cheeks flushed. I knew exactly who he was talking about.

“She seemed interested. I didn’t have a chance to catch her first name, but I do believe her last name was . . .” He paused for dramatic effect. My breath hitched in my throat. Where was the stupid teacher?! “. . . Crimson.”

My face flushed a violent shade of red. Why did he pull me into this boy ego thing? I didn’t even know these people. A sudden thought struck me. How many conversations was I in in that I wasn’t aware of? I watched Scott to see how he reacted to Newman.

His eyes didn’t even flick to me. “The new crimy doesn’t have any association with me. You can have her to your heart’s content.”

My jaw dropped open. I knew that he wasn’t fond of me for whatever reason. But how could sell me out like that? Weren’t we on the same side?!

The sound of my complete disbelief must have been audible. Newman’s head turned in my direction. His words were directed at Scott, but his eyes were trained on me. “Oh, don’t worry. I will.”

The teacher entered the classroom from her adjoining office. “Alright class, please take your seats!”

There was a smattering of empty seats all around me for the usual reasons. Newman took the spot next to me with a wide grin that made me cold. His cronies filled the empty desks around us. Newman was way too close for personal comfort.

The teacher looked young, probably only a few years beyond higher education. She had to be exceptional or the government wouldn’t have allowed her to teach at senior high. “My name is Ms. Mason, and you will address me as such.”

Mason, that name sounded familiar.

She proceeded to do some beginning-of-class business. I wanted to listen. I really did. There was only one problem: Newman. He didn’t look at Ms. Mason. He stared directly at me. He leaned closer to me.

“So,” he started, “what’s your name sweetheart.”

My cheeks burned. I was completely out of my element. I didn’t know what I needed to say to get him to leave me alone. I didn’t say anything.

“Ah, don’t be like that.” A smug look was splattered across his face. “Here, I’ll start. My name is Ethan Newman. I’m the current backup quarterback for the football team, though that little mistake will be remedied any day now. I’m an all-around heartthrob, and my dad owns half the city. And you are . . .?”

In my mind, his word had processed as, I’m Ethan. I’m a self-conceited pompous jerk with a rich daddy. I hated people. They were overall very predictable. My impression of the mysterious race known as boy was not very good. They could go fall in a pit for all I cared. In fact, that seemed like a very good solution to my problem. Yes, they should definitely go fall in a pit, especially Scott . . .

Ethan’s eyes were still riveted on my face. Did he really expect me to answer?

“This is the part where you tell me about you.”

Apparently, that’s exactly what he expected.

“If you didn’t want me to talk to you, why is my note sticking out of your pocket?”

My head jerked to look at my pocket. Sure enough, the tip of the paper was poking out of the top. I’d forgotten about it in the flood of first-day-of-school madness. I ripped it out of my pocket and tore it to pieces. The shredded flakes littered my desk. My face burned. A mantra roiled on in my head. I will not cry. I will not cry. I will not cry . . .

“Ah, that wasn’t very nice, sweetheart. Now I’ll have to write it for you again and that’ll waste paper. Think about the poor trees.”

“Mister Newman!” Ms. Mason’s voice shocked him out of his tormenting. She continued. Every eye in the room was trained on us. I will not cry. “Since you find it too difficult to pay attention to me while sitting next to Miss Crimson, I’m going to have to ask you to move to the empty seat in the front.” She tapped her fingers lightly on the indicated desk.

Ethan grumbled something under his breath. For a moment I thought he would refuse, but he slung his backpack over his shoulder and made his way to the front.

Ms. Mason continued talking and I felt the tension ease out of my body. The students eyes eventually returned to her. I still felt one pair drilling into me, and I looked up. The instant my eyes met his, Scott looked away. His body must have acted like a sponge, sucking up all my tension from the floor. A rock would have bounced off of him quite nicely.

I made myself pay attention to Ms. Mason.

“As I was saying, Crime and Punishment, while lending one small idea to how we deal with crime, is nothing like our society. Because of the effectiveness of that one small idea, people have come to view the book as what made us us. This, however, is a completely inaccurate statement. You can always tell if someone has read the book or not by how they use it in context. For example, if you hear someone praising Raskolnikov’s character, you know that they have not even opened the book.”

A girl on the other side of the room raised her hand. “Isn’t Raskolnikov a great man? It was his idea of extraordinary and ordinary that gave life to the idea of Crimsons.”

Ms. Mason smiled at her. “You have not read the book, have you Miss Ashcraft?”

The girl looked down and shook her head.

“Raskolnikov was not a good man. He killed an old woman because he believed that he was one of the extraordinary. He believed that he had a right to do it because he was above the laws of society. If he lived in The Society, he would have been named Crimson. If you remember correctly from your Modern History lessons, Porfiry is the one who comes up with the idea.” For a second, I think she wanted to say more, but she moved on.

“Crime and Punishment will be our first read of the year. As class is almost over, I will distribute your books next time. I will not allow you to make inaccurate references anymore.”

The bell rang, signaling the start of lunch. The class rose to their feet as a single body.

“You will have a seating chart next time,” Ms. Mason called as my classmates disappeared out the door. There was an audible groan. My groan was silent.

I stayed seated while the students filed out. I would be able to gather my things with peace of mind that they weren’t going to be stolen as soon as there was nobody around me. No luck. Ethan sauntered over to me.

“Anyway, like I was saying before we were so rudely interrupted―”

“Mister Newman, you have my permission to go to lunch. I have no idea why else you would be loitering in my classroom after class is over.”

He scowled and left the room. I hurried to gather my things to do the same.

“No, Miss Crimson. If you could stay, I’d like to speak with you.”

Great now I was going to hear it. Teachers did that sometimes. I was a red shirt, therefore I was a bad child and they did not want me causing problems in their class. I noticed Scott was still sitting in his seat. She’s probably asked him to stay as well.

Ms. Mason turned and saw Scott. “Is there something you wished to ask me, Scott?”

His eyes flicked to me for a moment. Then he stood and left the room.

So the Crimson disturbance thing wasn’t what she wanted to talk about. She probably wanted to reprimand me for helping Ethan cause a disruption. “Follow me.”

She closed the door to her room and walked into her office.

I followed apprehensively.

Her office wasn’t large, but it had a small desk and a mini-fridge. She took a seat behind the desk and indicated for me to sit in the opposite chair.

I poised on the very edge.

She gave me a knowing look. It made me feel uncomfortable.

She spoke suddenly. “You don’t remember me do you?”

Was I supposed to? I shook my head.

“Let me give you a hint. I used to spend every Friday night at your house.”

Memories slammed into me. My parents had a traditional date night every Friday. The Carters who lived down the street had a daughter who would always come babysit me.

“Sam?”

Her smile widened.

I didn’t know what to say

She walked around the desk and wrapped me in her arms. My vision blurred. I hadn’t seen anyone from my past in so long.

She held my head in her hand. When she pulled back, I could see that her eyes were glistening as well. “Oh Kya, you look so beautiful! You’ve grown so much!”

I was still in shock. “Sam?”

She laughed.

I pushed her away. “Why don’t you hate me? I disappointed everyone when I failed.’

“I never hated you Kya.” She reached into one of the drawers and pulled out a picture. She turned it so it was away from me. “Do you remember that I got married?”

I nodded. I remembered that vaguely. “Didn’t you have a little boy?”

She flipped the picture over so I could see.

It was a picture of her small family. She and her husband were hugging and laughing. Their son was laughing between them. He was dressed from head to toe in red.