The Storm Begins
Mortas returned to school seemingly unfazed, and less troubled-seeming than before. His eyes still held a broiling storm, but he wasn’t quite as tortured as usual when he came back after his werewolf bouts.
He remembered the time we’d spent together, lying there together. And he started to look at me…differently after that. I think he suspected that I was falling for him. Maybe he felt the same way. I don’t know. I could never tell. Although he was genuinely honest with me, when we weren’t alone, he was a master of hiding his emotions. One thing was for sure: his mannerisms towards me were different, although not drastically. He smiled more now. He wasn’t at all bothered when my foot accidentally (or “accidentally”) bumped his when we sat together. Once he even started playing with my hand (although when I noticed, he immediately pretended that he hadn’t been).
And then, it rained for the first time that school year.
I was sitting down with Rip at our usual spot during the tutorial period when Mortas came loping down the hallway. To my amazement, he was roaring with laughter. Slightly mocking, as if he was having a laugh at someone else’s expense. But not really harming.
He sat down next to me, still laughing.
“What’s so funny?” Rip asked.
He stopped laughing for a second.
“You Americans are so weak!” he crowed, and then burst into snorts of laughter again.
“Wait, hold on,” I said, “Backtrack a little.”
“Just a bit of rain, and it’s the apocalypse! I saw someone this morning with a massive umbrella, probably bigger than I am tall! We just went around our daily business with torrents of rain, and here, at the slightest bit of it, you people all act like it’s the end of the world!”
I looked out at the rain falling from the stretch of sky we could see from the hallway. It was raining buckets. I don’t know what kind of rain Mortas’s little village (which he told me he grew up in) got, but if he thought this was “light rain,” he must’ve lived through a literal hurricane.
Rip seemed to be having the same thoughts.
“What the heck are you talking about? It’s pouring!”
“Well, now it is. But this morning—ha! It was barely even cloudy.”
He was right about that one, albeit a bit exaggerated. It had barely been sprinkling this morning. And, I’ll admit it, I was among those who toted umbrellas to school and wore a massive jacket. But I had an excuse. I carried my laptop to school every day, and I really didn’t want to ruin it.
The whole day was miserable. As the rain got worse and worse, Mortas got more and more nervous. Finally, it came the time where he proclaimed that a hurricane must’ve been on the way.
“You don’t get hurricanes in this part of the country, do you?”
“No,” I replied, “That’s in the East. We get earthquakes, though. And nasty wildfires.”
▒ ▒ ▒
That night, the rain got even worse. It was pounding on the rooftop. While I normally enjoy the sound, tonight it was unbearably loud. I was starting to see where Mortas’s fear was coming from. It sounded like the roof was about to fall in. To make matters worse, I began to sight lightning at around 7:30PM. Thunder quickly followed suit.
So I lay in bed, fearful and unable to sleep. It was now about 11:00 at night, and I still couldn’t sleep.
And then, as the lightning flashed, I saw it. A dark silhouette at the window.
I sat up, terrified. A murderer? A burglar?
Or perhaps just an optical illusion?
The lightning flashed again, and I started to see details of the person’s body. Dark hair, with a few tufts sticking up, despite the rain. Big hands with long nails. Big feet.
My eyes widened as I realized who it was. Or hopefully was.
I flung myself out of bed and ran to the window.
I recognized him even in the dark. His eyes peered back at me.
He wanted to come in. It was obvious. Why else would he be up against the window like that?
Moving as quietly as I could, I wound the window open and carefully removed the bug screen.
And then he stepped in. He was soaking wet, but I quietly went to get a towel.
Then I remembered. My parents were out of the house. Them and my brother. They said they’d wanted to “get me ready for college” by spending the night alone in the house. Well, that and my dad had been called in for an “emergency” at work. Why was I trying to be so quiet? I could be as loud as I wanted.
I ran back to my room, where Mortas had managed to close the window. He gratefully accepted the towel and kicked off his shoes.
He was panting, and about to cry.
“My dad’s got a random woman in his bed again,” he sighed, “I can’t stand it. He always tries to make me get with them, too.”
He smiled mischievously, nervously, sadly. “I’ve escaped. Just this once.”
And then, to my surprise, Mortas kicked off his soaked jeans and pulled off his drenched shirt and hoodie. I tried not to let out any noises. Great. I was literally standing there, in front of my crush, who was nearly naked.
He noticed my expression. “What else can I do? It’s not like I brought anything with me.”
My heart was pounding. I didn’t quite know what to do. I wanted to tell him so badly that I loved him, but I was afraid that we’d go overboard if I said anything, and we’d just end up losing everything.
Finally, hurriedly, I made my mind up.
He was staring at me.
I rested my hand on his chest. I figured that was okay, with what I was about to say.
“You know something, Mortas? I love you.”
As soon as the words came out, I saw a brilliant, magical smile extend across his lips. His eyes exploded into an emotion that I’d never seen in them before. I couldn’t quite describe it. Everything about him just seemed to light up all of a sudden, without comparison. He was radiant like I’d never seen him before. Truly happy.
And then he burst into tears. He threw his arms around me and crumpled.
“You don’t know how long I’ve been trying to tell you that! You don’t know!”
I rested my hands on his back.
Finally, he grabbed my shoulders, eyes wide.
And then he closed his eyes again and began to cry again.
“I love you, too.”
Then he shuffled over to my bed, where I’d left my sheets open.
“Promise me you won’t…” He struggled for a moment. The gears turned in his head. “Promise me you won’t have sex with me…That was…what I was trying to escape from.”
I laughed and touched his hair. “I won’t.”
“You won’t…touch me, though…in those places…right?”
“Not unless you want me to.”
He grinned slyly. “I kind of want you to, if I’m honest.”
I quickly learned how dirty Mortas could get. And, to be honest, it wasn’t bothersome at all. It was actually kind of attractive in a very odd, creepy way. I felt like he was one of those guys who should not be attractive, but was. Like, it all just worked. He just was attractive. Extremely attractive. And, truthfully, I learned how dirty I could get.
By the end of it, both of us were just lying there, exhausted but craving for more. He’d unbuttoned my pajamas at one point, and so my chest was still exposed. And he had his arm around me, curled up behind me in his underwear. I could feel his warm breath on my neck. We hadn’t gone all the way, but I was sure we would get there. And frankly, I wasn’t nervous. It could’ve been in the next few seconds, and I wouldn’t have cared.
Then, the morning came, and my alarm went off.
Mortas awoke with a start.
“What time is it?”
He climbed over me and out of the bed, throwing the sheets off.
“I’ve got to get home! I’ve got to prepare for school!”
My heart began to pound as I realized what 6:00 meant.
“My parents will be home soon! Shoot. You’ve got to get out of here!”
He ran to the window and threw his clothes on. I yanked the screen off the window and wound it open as fast as I could.
“I wish you could stay forever,” I whispered without thinking.
He turned. He’d just been about to leave.
He climbed back down into my room and rested his hands on my hips.
“I wish I could, too.”
We kissed. It was a long one, very long, like the world had revolved seventy years before we were done. I wished it would never end.
But then it ended. I looked at him as he climbed out the window, saying that all that had been everything perfect. He weaved a short poem as he departed, letting it spill out on his tongue for me.
And then I had to close the window.
I went back to my dark, empty bed and sobbed into the pillow where we lay for so long. So long, but too long ago. A moment without him now was like an eternity.
The rain started again with a roar of sorrow.
▒ ▒ ▒
Outside, I tried to hide it, but inside, I was a storm.
Last night—every time we were together and alone—alone together—it was everything perfect. My life came to life then, and the dead sorrow that Father had built for me was gone. Reality was the monster, then—the only escape was Avril.
It was Friday, a tutorial day. Excellent. Three breaks—tutorial, brunch, lunch. I’d get to see her three times today.
They called me to the office during first period. They had a slip of blue paper with my name on it. My teacher had to look around and remember who Mortas Wayworde was. There—of course—the wolfish monster with devil eyes. That was him.
I went to the office, where they told me that the class I’d requested—Intro Engineering—was finally available. One of the Poddar children that Avril and Rip had told me about was in that class, and they had left, their space behind them.
“Thank you,” I said.
I looked at my new schedule, went back to class, ran around, got all the signatures of my teachers, informing them that I was switching classes.
At tutorial, I made it to our spot first from my new second period class—Japanese (which I’d been taking before, but I just had to switch class periods). As soon as Avril arrived from her Literature class, I told her about my new schedule.
“What do you have first?” she asked.
“That class I was asking for at the beginning of the year. Intro Engineering.”
Her eyes widened. She smiled her gorgeous smile before leaping onto me and smothering me with a long, passionate kiss.
“I have the same class first period! We’ll be together!”
I took out my schedule, eager to see if we shared any other classes.
Avril was off like a shot after I took it out.
“Look! We have the same history class—and the same physics class, too! We’ll be together for half our day!” She thrust her finger at the bottom of the schedule. “And a free seventh—just like me!”
I smiled at her. “Perfect.” And I leaned over and kissed her back.
Avril’s eyes widened again. “Wait. We can’t be too…romantic. Rip sits here, too.”
Oh, yeah. I couldn’t imagine what Rip would think if he saw us like this.
“Rip. He’s the third wheel,” said Avril.
“He won’t be too pleased.”
Avril patted my back. “I’m gonna have to tell you sooner than later. My history teacher—he’s the worst.”
“What, Mr. Sherwood?”
She nodded. “He’s the worst of them all. From what I’ve heard, anyways.”
I groaned. I was already having trouble in US History class in the first place. In the tiny village where I’d grown up, we didn’t exactly learn about American history. Or any sort of history, in fact, other than British history. More like propaganda, really. In other words, I’d had no exposure to US history before this year. I was good at every other subject, though, other than the art class I’d been taking. Which was because the engineering class hadn’t had any space. The only other real problem was that my English teacher had taken off three points on every writing I’d done for him so far because I’d used British English, and not American English, to write.
“You’ll be fine,” she said, “You’re the smart one.”
“The only class I have trouble with is history.”
“You’ll get it.”
“What are we doing in history today? I’m starting in your class today.”
“World War I. Our one day of it.”
“World War I? Did the US even do anything in World War I?”
“Well, to some extent.”
“We learned that you guys did nothing. Or nearly nothing.”
“Somewhat true, but we did some stuff.”
“Well, that’s what we’re learning about today.”
“Well, I don’t know.”
I chuckled. “Well, I guess I’ll find out.”
She had her head resting on my chest now. I kissed her head and ran my hand through her long, silky black hair. Her hand climbed up and began to stroke my abdomen. Last night she’d done the same thing. She said touching my muscles felt good.
Suddenly, I heard a familiar voice.
“Guys, I’ve—uh…what the heck are you guys doing?”
Avril straightened up, quickly taking her head off my chest. I sat up straight and crossed my fingers. Busted.
Rip stood there, holding a massive manila folder in his left hand.
“Uh…okay,” I said.
“What’s the folder for?” asked Avril.
“Exactly what I was about to get to.”
Rip sat down and opened the folder, clamping one hand over the papers in an attempt to keep them from flying everywhere.
“Okay. I’ve been tracking this thing for a while now.”
“What thing?” asked Avril.
“Just a moment. Okay. So there’s a strange light that I’ve been seeing in the sky every night.”
“I think it’s some sort of air or spacecraft. Whatever it is, the craft has a blinking blue light. I’m assuming military-related, considering its consistency.”
Rip had tackled the entire ordeal with military-like dedication. Every single page in his manila folder was tediously annotated with red, green, and blue pen. Many pages were typed up. Almost all his references were cited with footnotes and a full bibliography. He’d practically written a research paper. Dozens of pages referred to recently-declassified government documents. The entire folder was stuffed with nearly four hundred pages worth of information.
But it seemed very strange. Rip, totally obsessed with this odd blue light. I mean, I acknowledged his immense dedication, but why? It just seemed very odd. Very, unnervingly odd.
But I couldn’t concentrate. All I could think about was Avril. She took up every crevice of my mind. With every second that passed, I craved her more and more. And with the way she was looking at me, I think she felt the same.
My brain became a storm. Monstrous. All day long, I felt like an empty shell of a person. Myself was with her.
Well, at least until history class, when by some miracle, I approached Mr. Sherwood, and he pointed me to the only empty seat in the class. Which, miraculously, was right next to Avril.
It was soon after I left school that day that I realized why exactly I loved her so much. It was an escape. She was my escape. I had a life of torture waiting for me at home, but with her, it was all different. She wanted me around. She liked having me around.
As soon as I realized, I knew I needed it. It wasn’t that I wanted her; I needed her. So I started going to her house every night, standing by the window and sleeping in her bed. Nothing sexual happened or anything, I just wanted to be with her, and away from my father. She was everything good, and I was leaving everything bad.
And then, everything good fell to pieces.
Edited by: Jeoffrey Henry