I had the idea at a sleepover with my friends.
Who Loves Who?
I munched my burger, garnished with some curly fries for the extra crunch and flavour.
Valish had one with loads of sautéed bugs on it. Crispy and slimy.
‘Yum, I love insects!’
‘I hate them when there on my burger; I keep thinking they will wriggle in my mouth. I only trust them as chips, but they’re so cute I feel bad eating them.’
‘Yeah, me too sometimes. But they are tasty as.’
‘I know. Why couldn’t they taste like crap?’
‘Ha ha, that’d be gross.’
‘That’s my point.’
We arrived back at the alcove to meet the others.
‘What was the go with before, Kurlz?’ Quex asked.
‘I know. You are so feral, and have such foul thoughts.’
‘I didn’t think anything gross!’
‘Suuuure, whatever Quex.’
I sat next to Regal and Abcde.
‘Nothing much,’ Abcde replied. ‘You?’
‘I got a burger,’ I notified, holding it up. ‘Wanna bite? It’s fantastic with these chips.’
‘Uh... no thanks.’
‘Yeah, I wouldn’t wanna give you some anyway. It’s too good for your mouth.’
I took another leisurely bite, slowly chewing the food, savouring the delicious flavour.
Regal had seemed a bit awkward. I wondered what was going on. It seemed to have been brought about by my appearance. Did he have a grudge against me or something?
I subtly crossed the threshold of his mind, filtering through the years of memory, sound and thought.
It was then that I came upon the fact that, just recently, Regal had fallen in love with Abcde. Very recently.
He’d got over Zanza fast, hadn’t he?
I groaned internally. Not another lovey-dovey situation. I was getting sick of it, this infectious bug. If anyone else fell in love this year I would kill them. If I fell in love, I would kill myself.
Abcde... did you know Regal is in love with you?
What? He is?
Yes. Does that have anything to do with you?
Are you sure? Maybe even by accident? You can check this stuff right?
Yeah... I’ll check.
I waited for a minute before Abcde replied.
It seems that it was going to happen, but...
I have speeded up the process. That was what was wrong before.
So... he doesn’t love you against his will?
No. Just sooner than he would have. And, let’s face it, who wants to wait all that time? We’re gonna end up together anyway. I might have gotten over him by the time he was interested in me.
Fair enough, but don’t tell me all the details of your love-fest okay? I’m barely keeping my lunch with all this putrid atmosphere.
Abcde didn’t blush or even reply, but started talking animatedly to Regal again. More enthusiastically before.
I rolled my eyes and stood up, strolling over towards Quex, sitting next to him.
‘What is it?’ he asked.
‘Nothing,’ I muttered.
Quex and I were the only ones without the complicated and, quite frankly, annoying infatuation with someone else. What if he started fluttering eyes at someone? I would be the only sane person left in the group. Why couldn’t people just be friends? It was possible.
‘Is it Regal or Abcde?’
‘No, it’s everyone but us,’ I blurted.
I sighed. ‘Everyone is in the tangle of love, except us. We and our compos mentis heads and all. Maybe it’s a werewolf thing.’
‘What do you mean?’
‘I’d tell you everything, but I believe I would be bashed up by everyone. Like a gang bash.’
Quex shrugged and didn’t press the subject which I was grateful for; I didn’t want to talk about it. But he seemed somewhat quiet afterwards, wondering what I meant.
‘Please stop raiding my mind,’ he said, vexed.
‘And I mean ever,’ he added to my surprise. ‘I want secrets you know. People deserve them.’
‘Why, are you trying to keep a secret? You know how curious I am about confidences. I hate when I don’t know them, and love when I do.’
‘I just... please just stop. For a while at least. I want to know that you aren’t skulking in my head, rummaging through all the things in there; all my stuff.’
I shrugged. ‘I’ll try,’ I said. ‘But I can’t promise.’
‘Promise,’ he said, his emerald eyes intense.
For some reason I thought I should, but would probably regret it later when I was insane with curiosity.
‘Promise,’ I relented.
‘Thanks you,’ he sighed with relief. ‘I can be at ease for now. Not always trying to block thoughts, you know?’
I was already regretting my words. Maybe just a peek later. Or maybe not.
‘Sure whatever. We can still talk in our minds right?’
‘Yeah, I just don’t want you to know what’s in my head all the freaking time.’
Hey Quex. Why are you keeping secrets from me? Is it about me? You hate me! I knew it.
I don’t hate you, you’re my best friend.
Aw, how sweet. I think I might puke. Ha ha, just kidding, I have a strong stomach.
Now, are you keeping any secrets?
And they are?
Obviously I am not going to tell you. I just made you promise not to read my mind so you couldn’t find them out!
Yeah I know. Are they about me.
I’m not saying.
Is it that you’re gay?
Oh my gosh! You have a crush on a guy in our group! Holy crap! I’m gonna tell everyone!
I AM NOT GAY!
Is it Regal? You get caught in his fiery eyes, huh?
I DON’T LIKE REGAL!
You seem a bit loud. Is it that you do like some guy? I always thought of you as the gay type.
For the last time, I’m not gay!
So... you’re staying in the closet?
No, I’m not.
Whatever, I know your gay.
Quex rolled his eyes, shaking his head.
I laughed softly to myself.
You have wet dreams about Marn, don’t you? You love the way he sits there quietly. You love the feel of his silky brown hair. You get lost in his sparkly amber eyes. Oooh!
Kurlz, if you don’t shut up, I will kill you.
Cool, thanks, I’ve been meaning to do that myself. Haven’t had the time for it you see.
Uh, yeah. That’s me all over. Haven’t you seen all the depressing posters in my dorm?
I thought you just thought they were cool.
Quex grinned. I smiled back.
‘What are you two talking about?’ Denim asked suddenly as she appeared from nowhere.
‘You know, when you do that, it makes me wish you were decapitated,’ I remarked.
To make it clear, I was angry with Denim at the time for saying I was embarrassing her in front of Jimone, and I was not just starting stuff. We’d both get over it afterwards, but how could she say that? As if Jimone cares! He’s known me longer than her, and he fine with my personality.
‘I could try that,’ she replied, her head disappearing.
‘How about you get lost, and mind your own business you dirty little scumbag?’ I suggested all but cheerily.
‘Shut up.’ Her face rematerialize.
‘At least I’m not a try-hard. Trying to fit it. What’s wrong with being different? Everyone here is a freak, and you don’t want me around because I’m “retarded”.’
‘Stop it. I hate it when you do that.’
‘Then go far away so I don’t have to hear all your disgusting thoughts about Jimone and all the other people you feel like taking to your dorm for a private tour.’
At this, Denim tried to strike me, but I was too quick, grabbing her arm and bending it behind her back.
‘Don’t you dare,’ I scolded. ‘Just because you know it’s true and you have no come back, doesn’t mean you have to resort to violence. You know you’ll never win.’
I let her go.
We had been silently fighting for a while. Now it was all out in the open.
She took one last death-stare at me, then stalked away, her straight blonde hair like a cape for her foul-minded head.
I sat down again.
‘What’s the go with that?’ Quex asked.
‘Denim is being a douche. She is always being silently hostile. I never know what her problem is, and I freaking hate it when she does that. Why am I friends with her?’
Quex shrugged. ‘Yeah, she is pretty annoying when she acts like this.’
I know. What the hell is wrong with her?
I wish we could drop kick her, but unfortunately, I don’t have great kicking skills.
Me too. I hate those faces she makes, like she’s talking to a retard the freaking spaz. I just want to burry my fist into her face, but I can control myself, unlike herself.
Just ignore her.
She’ll try and get everyone against me. She always does.
It never works. Everyone knows what she’s like, the manipulative little scum. It’s all good.
I’m so glad you feel the same way. Everyone else would be saying, just stop.
Quex nodded, looking disgusted in Denim’s direction, then laughing to shake of the bad mood. I knew he was really her friend, he was just doing this for me.
If she talks to you again, I will drop kick her.
Ha ha. Thanks, you’re the best.
You’re freaking welcome.
Denim. The only one of my friends I feel annoyed at basically fifty per cent of the time. I would never talk about any of my other friends like that. Just her, because she seemed constantly annoyed at everything that was not “her” type of normal.
‘Wanna go for a walk? Just in case you-know-who comes back.’
I roamed around my dorm, unable to sleep. There was no reason for it that I knew of, I was just wide awake.
I looked out the window to the dark night, cold, windy and clear. I leaned out for a second to catch the refreshing breeze, then shut the window and locked it.
I sat by the fire on a plush red chair, staring into the crackling flames, fixated as it caressed the wood and stone as though it was a lover.
Valish tip-toed into the room, and she sat near me on a fluffy chocolate lounge.
‘Hey, why are you up?’ she whispered the question as though anything louder would be wrong in the hush of night.
‘Can’t sleep,’ I murmured.
‘Dunno. Just can’t. Restless, I guess. Why are you up?’
‘Seeing what you’re up to. What happened with you and Denim today?’
‘That isn’t why I’m up. And I don’t know why she’s being a braticus, she was the one who hates being a freak and takes it out on me, so I don’t want to talk about it.’
Valish was quiet for a second.
‘So... how about Regal and Abcde, huh?’
‘Yeah, whatever,’ I muttered. I didn’t want to talk about that either. Valish was probably gonna get with Marn soon, the traitor.
She hesitated again. ‘Do you like Regal?’
That question made me gape at the witch in horror.
‘No! I do not like Regal! Why the hell would you think that?’
‘I don’t know. You didn’t like the idea of Regal and Zanza making out, and now you’re acting weird about him and Abcde having a thing for each other.’
‘Okay, first of all, you didn’t like the idea of the two making out either. The reason - because Zanza was fragile and wasn’t ready for another relationship. Now for the second part. I’m not acting weird, I’m just irritated that everyone is being stupid in love, it’s ridiculous! And you’re one of them!’
‘I am not!’ Valish cried, indignant.
‘I may not be able to read your mind that well, but I see the way you look at him and you’re always asking for him.’
‘I don’t always ask for Marn!’
‘Oh, how did you know I was talking about Marn then? I didn’t say his name.’
Valish’s cheeks flushed a light pink hue.
‘Why are you so angry about this?’
‘I’m not! You said I like Regal, and I’m just explaining why the hell I don’t. I’m not mad at you for liking Marn. You can like whoever. But I don’t have to be in love with someone too.’
‘Okay, I’m sorry for asking. I just thought maybe, and I wanted to know. Because you seem upset, and I can’t read your mind with that obstruction. You’ve practiced the mind-blocking so well; I bet no one could pry it open if you didn’t want them too.’
My lips tweaked a bit as I gazed back into the fire.
I blinked a few times and yawned.
‘I guess I’m tired after all.’
‘Must be all the yelling. ’Night.’
She eased from the lounge and waddled to her bedroom, fighting off sleep until she reached her comfy bed.
I sat curled in my chair for a second, then reluctantly got up and shambled to my room where I collapsed onto my four-poster, falling asleep immediately.
The next day is was sunny. Not my favourite weather at all. It was a nasty annoyance, belting with whips of hot rays. So, I decided I would ask Valish if she would alter the thrumming heat.
‘Can we have snow, please? We haven’t had that in a while,’ I suggested.
‘Hmm... yeah, I feel like some icy weather.’
She paused for a second, not bothering with the usually antics, then the first flakes of snow drifted to the ground, and after a while, the whole field was covered in it, pure white like an arctic fox taking its winter fur, so beautiful.
I snuggled into my soft green jacket, then ran across the ice land towards Jimone and Zanza who were playing some kind of ball game. Maybe soccer.
‘Hey,’ I greeted, my voice escaping with white puffs in the cold air. ‘Can we play too?’
‘Sure thing,’ Jimone said, throwing the ball to me.
I dropped it onto the ground and kicked it to Valish.
We took part in the match, which was soccer, and it warmed us up in the frigidness.
I scored a goal, so did Valish. Jimone and Zanza won of course, with five goals between them. Zanza had scored four, being a little lightning fast freak.
‘Why do I play these games with you? You’ll always win!’ I exasperated to Zanza.
‘Can’t help it, I was born like this,’ she shrugged then beamed, delighted with herself.
‘Whatever, where is someone with normal speed around here?’ I looked around. ‘Where is Quex, or Regal? Probably with Abcde. Anyway, who wants to make snow angels?’
‘Oooh! Yeah!’ Valish agreed excitedly.
We flopped down on our backs and started moving our legs and arms in the ice. My mind drifted to a poem I once sang when I was a little girl:
My snow-twined angel, my heaven’s ice.
With ubiquitous chill, with ghostly sigh.
Our pallid wings, we glide azure.
My snow-twined angel, our soul is pure.
I jumped up to admire my work.
‘That’s skill,’ I said, not that it was in any way special.
Jimone gazed at his, nodded, then abruptly grabbed a handful of snow and threw it at me, hitting me straight in the chest. ‘Snowball fight!’ he bellowed.
I fell to the ground, a puff of air erupting from my lips.
‘You idiot!’ I cried, rising to my feet, scooping some ice with me, moulding it into a ball and pegging it at the boy.
It caught him in the stomach and he swayed, stretching more than a normal human being should.
I laughed at him as he finally managed to catch his balance awkwardly with a whole lot of bending included, and chucked another globe of snow at his face.
He brushed the ice from his eyes, beaming, grabbing another. Before he could hurl it at me, Valish hit him with one right on the ear.
Zanza fell over laughing, and Jimone decided to aim the one in his hand at her instead.
She scowled at him, spooned some snow, then threw about a dozen spheres at him in barely two seconds.
I started running. It’s pretty hard when you’re almost doubled-over with hysterics, but I managed a sort of gallop.
Zanza got me, and I fell over, rolling into a pile of snow.
I stood up and started to sprint again while the others flogged each other with balls of ice.
Puffing, I reached the alcove where our entire group was.
‘Hey,’ I breathed, grinning and red in the face. ‘Snowball fight! Come join!’
I walked into the room my hair dripping with thawed ice.
Not only had our group joined, but pretty much all of our friends, and their friends, close or not, and began pelting freezing white spheres at one another. It was crazy.
At one point a boy had been ganged up on by a group of kids, and he was piled with snow.
He was a fire-wielder and had melted it coming out soaking and smiling. He had to use his fire to dry himself; otherwise the water would have frozen him after a while.
Zanza was ecstatic in her element, and she was so quick she was nothing more than a blur that was rarely hit. If anyone got her, they would cheer.
And the ice. She loved ice; she could form balls of it on her hand, which was one of her powers. She could also endure it, being able to stay in a snowdrift for a few days without getting chilly, let alone getting frostbite and even dying.
In fact, she would be perfect for climbing Mount Everest. Enduring the cold and being super-fast up the mountain.
I had only hit her with a ball once, and had hi-fived with Valish, roaring with excitement.
During this game, Denim and I had gotten over our little argument, and had slogged a random guy with ice.
I now slumped on the bed, feeling refreshed from the cool and rosy in the cheeks.
I bet this snowball fight would be talked about for a while.
It was dark and probably past midnight, but I couldn’t sleep. It was happening more often lately. At this rate, I would soon become nocturnal.
Shutting my eyes tight, I tried to get some rest, but sleep just wouldn’t come.
Opening my eyes again, I leaned up gazing around. I slid my leg off the bed and slipped off the sheets silently, tip-toeing down the stairs to the lounge room, as I like to call it, the area with the fire place.
I was still in my pyjamas and fuzzy slippers, not bothering to change my clothes, but I did replace my soft shoes for some well-worn joggers.
I inched the dorm door ajar and peeked out. No one was down the hall. I turned around to see if the girls had woken up and spotted me, and seeing as though they hadn’t, I edged out of the room without a scuffle or peep, and stalked down the corridor.
I located the boys’ dormitory and tapped on it, using our special knock so they would know that it was me or at least one of the people in our group. Tap, tap, tap, rat-a-tat, tap, rat-a-tat, tap.
I waited a minute, wondering if they were all asleep, and if I should just return to my dorm, then someone swung the door open and stared at me.
It was Quex.
‘What are you doing here?’ he asked, his eyes wide with surprise.
‘I was wondering if I could sell some cookies. Would you like some sir? They’re ten dollars each, good deal, huh?’
Quex smiled and rolled his eyes. ‘Come in.’
‘Little forward, but I’m up for it.’
I pushed passed him into the lime lounge room, and dropped down on a black velvet couch.
He gazed at me for a second; probably wondering what the hell I was doing here at two in the morning. What I was wondering was why was Quex up too.
He sat down beside me.
‘Is Jimone or Regal up?’
‘No. They were out at twelve.’
‘How come you’re awake?’
‘Can’t sleep, you?’
‘Same here. The others are sleeping too, so I came here hoping someone was up that I could talk to. Not that I really expected anyone to be.’
‘Well, you can talk to me, what did you want to talk about?’
‘I don’t know, stuff. Could you tell me a story?’
Quex laughed. ‘Sure, I guess. What story would you like me to tell you?’
‘Just make up some junk. Like fantasy crap or sci-fi.’
He shrugged. ‘Okay.’
I leaned back on the sofa and listened to Quex as he spun a strange tale about a girl with a pet dragon. It was a pretty weird story. The dragon burnt down a village by accident, how, neither of us knew, and the king ordered it to be killed. I thought he would have died in the fire, as well as his soldiers, but Quex informed me that by village he meant the crops in the village. I gave him a look which he promptly ignored and continued on. The dragon flew away, so the girl was put in gaol. Why she had to go, I didn’t understand. After a while the dragon came back and saved the girl, and they lived in a cave for the rest of their lives.
‘That was demented,’ I said when he finished.
‘You’re welcome,’ he replied sarcastically. ‘Why don’t you tell me one now?’
‘Nah, let’s just talk now.’
‘Whatever. How fun was today?’
‘Yeah, pretty spectacular,’ I yawned. ‘Even though it’s only been two or so hours of today so far.’
‘You tired now?’
‘No,’ I mumbled adding another yawn.
‘Sure you’re not. So you hit Zanza, well done. I didn’t catch her myself but I think Jimone did, or Regal. Did you see? Kurlz? You awake?’
I hadn’t heard the last part. I was asleep obviously.