• 4 •
– Anna’s POV –
In the end, you always go back to the people that were there in the beginning.
It doesn’t matter if these people were good or bad. Wrong or right. Kind or cold. They always come back to haunt you. You will one day remember them in your mind, see them in person, or just think of the particular name in general. The past always repeats itself.
That phrase, “the past always repeats itself,” terrifies me. Because I don’t ever want my past to repeat itself. That can be left where it was two years ago. I prefer my miserable life now over the grueling one I had seven hundred and twenty-eight days ago.
Yet it once again, proves itself to be true. Because my father left this guitar in my next foster home. Again. He left something that reminds him of me again. It’s taunting. It’s a threat.
But every time he does leave something, it’s harmless, empty. There’s nothing that happens afterwards. His face has never shown itself to me in the events that he’s brought items to me. Still, I can’t prevent the chills that crawl up my arms and spine. I can’t stop my brain from running off of the dock and jumping into this black cesspool of assumed conclusions.
What if he does come to me? What if he takes me back to the basement? What if he hurts me again? What if-
What if. What if. What if. It’s vain to even use the two words together. It makes you sound ignorant and presumptuous. I need to keep on a firm head atop these shoulders.
I shake my head and release a breath. Common sense leads to good results. I just need to be calm. What is my father going to do to me when I have law and foster care on my side? I’m protected here. I have to be. And on top of that, I’ve been taking self defense classes for a year. They’ve become less rigorous training sessions, and less frequent since I’ve learned enough. But that was made on one condition: I have to be in a gym at least twice a week, practicing with someone or by myself. Staying in shape, sparring, and all that other good stuff is what needs to be muscle memory for me. An instinct. Second nature.
And it has been. I stay committed to working out and going over the moves my different instructors have taught me. But the one thing that concerns me is the lack of reality they insert into their training methods.
Any self-defense trainer will teach you what to do. They will tell you what moves to use in the variety of situations you can be caught in. They will demonstrate the different techniques you can use and how to throw a punch with your left and right hand. But what they cannot teach you, is human emotion.
What I mean by that, is in a life or death situation, the human brain goes haywire. Anything you learn in those classes goes straight down a memory fire pit. You’re scared and will do anything to save yourself. These trainers can’t teach you human emotion.
My reflection stares back at me in the mirror. I quickly shift my gaze away, not enjoying the view, and turn off the faucet. My fingers shake into the sink before I walk over to the paper towel dispenser and pull two brown sheets out. I dry my hands, dispose of the dryers, and leave the bathroom to join Hayley back in the booth.
She’s slurping on a chocolate milkshake with crushed Oreos on top when I come back, my own beverage I ordered sitting on the table as well. When Hayley sees me, though, she stops drinking and looks up at me, eyes alight. I watch her throat as it intakes the content of the diner glass.
“You’re back,” she comments. “Good.”
I take a sip of my water and set it back down.
“Did you like the bowling alley? I mean, do you even like the sport in general? I thought you’d like to do something like that.” My foster sister finishes her short ramble and brushes a piece of dirty blonde hair out of her eyes.
I shrug. “It’s alright.”
She nods. “It is alright.”
The corners of my lips twitch upwards after she mimics me, and I shake my head, biting my straw when I pick up my cup of water and lean back into the booth again.
“What?” she asks, grinning too. “What’s so funny?”
I snort. “You don’t have to try and appease me.”
Her eyebrows form together in confusion. She frowns, but not seriously enough to be a negative expression. “What do you mean?”
“I mean, you can have your own opinion.” I set my cup down and cross my arms. “I get you want to connect and whatever, but to do that, I need to hear what you enjoy.”
Hayley’s teeth flash on display, as if she were delighted to hear this. And I bet she was. I bet she’d been hoping that I was somewhat understanding of her hyperactive personality that’s always all over the place. And I guess I can tolerate it, to say the most. It’s expected of her to have multiple opinions and different perspectives on one subject. I infer this because of how happy she is all the time. I’ve never met anyone as sweet and innocent as her. We contrast on so many levels.
“In that case,” she sighs through a soft laugh, “I hate bowling.”
Her eyes flit up to mine again and I release a small chuckle too. “Same.”
A dramatic groan emits from her throat. “Good, because I never wanna throw a heavy ball into a bunch of white pins ever again.”
I point at her. “Technically you didn’t actually throw the ball into them.”
She playfully glares at me. “The gutter deserves attention too.”
I roll my eyes, but the smallest smile graces my lips. Maybe Hayley isn’t so bad once you understand her point of view on things. She’s probably one of those girls who sees nothing negative in anything, and if she does, then she changes it. It’s like she’s just a big ball of sunshine exploding onto everything and everyone.
It’s too bad I don’t like to tan.
After a long day with Hayley, I’d decided that I never wanted to go bowling, shopping, or walking around Main Street ever again.
My feet hurt like Hell, and my head ached from exhaustion. I’d told her I wanted to go home after the diner. Bowling and eating out (even though I technically didn’t eat) was enough for me, a girl who never does anything. But no. Apparently that wasn’t enough for Ms. Happy-Go-Lucky. And since she had the keys to the car, I was stuck with her until she said otherwise. Unless, of course, I somehow walked back to the house. But then, I haven’t memorized the directions to the place yet.
Now I’m in my room, getting ready for dinner with Ms. Morgan and Hayley.
I go into the bathroom, flicking on the light. I kind of felt sticky and sweaty, my face flushed from the long day I had. I turn on the shower, flipping the handle toward the red area that indicated hot water. But after I undressed while waiting for it to warm up and stick my hand into the shower, I hiss and yank it right back out.
Way too hot.
I turn the handle a little more to the blue side, somewhat in the middle of both colors. But even then when I tested the waters – no pun intended – it was still burning my skin. I sigh in annoyance and just turn the handle into the blue. My body feels heated anyway. I can go for a cold shower.
I step in face-first and allow the cool water to splash heavily into my eyes, nose, and even into my mouth. It feels pretty good, but I’m still hot.
Rolling my eyes, I turn around so the shower-head can release the dropped temperatures onto my head and back. It soaks my hair, matting it to my skull.
After a few moments, though, my back begins to tingle. Like a weird, prickly sensation along my upper portion. The feeling travels my back from shoulder to shoulder, intensifying when I reach up and grip the left side with four fingers reaching over.
Now it feels like it’s stinging. Three bees are attacking my back continuously. So I guess they’re not bees. But wasps. Three wasps shoving their needles into my skin at a rapid speed.
I let out a sort of abrupt, coughed breath and turn off the shower, thinking that maybe I was having a weird reaction to something in the city water system. But as soon as the trickle of the content coming from the head stops, the stinging does the opposite. It has transferred into burning, and positioned itself specifically onto my left shoulder.
On my mark.
My eyes widen and I step out of the shower, throwing my hair up into a towel nearby. I’m afraid that if I dry my body off, the heat will only intensify. So instead, I carefully slide on a sports bra and leave my shoulder exposed, followed by a pair of grey sweatpants that I pull onto my legs.
I go into my room and look into the full body mirror Hayley gave me as a welcoming gift. The bathroom one is all steamed up.
I turn myself around and look at my devil wing. The small horn is still at the top, perched stiffly in place. The red and deep purple colors still swirl around to create a veiny and daunting image. The dimension and height of the shape is still the same. But it has an enormous shade of frustration around the edges of it. An irritated rash has seemed to coat the tattoo. And it burns.
“No, no, no,” I whimper weakly, running over to my bedroom door. I open it and trot down the stairs before entering the kitchen. The towel falls from my hair and lands on one of the stair steps, acting as a potential tripping hazard.
But when I see both Ms. Morgan and Hayley are down here with me, that fades from my mind. No one else can fall if it’s only us three inhabitants living here.
Ms. Morgan looks at me curiously and Hayley looks worried, stopping herself in the mid-sentence during a phone call. I’m breathing hard, all sorts of emotions out in the open right now. But I’m not out of breath because I ran. It’s because I’m terrified.
The only question that runs through my mind is: Who? Who am I supposed to belong with? What person that I saw or walked by today is supposed to be my soulmate? It could be anyone. I just had to be within a mile radius of him or her for this side effect to be put into place.
“I’ll call you later, Nico,” Hayley eventually says, pressing the screen with her thumb. She leaves her cell phone on the counter next to the stove and speed-walks over to me. When her arms try to encircle me into a hug, I back away and shake my head, eyes hard and glaring.
My moment of vulnerability was over. Now I just needed something to make this pain stop before I cracked again out of panic.
Just be calm.
Hayley sighs, but doesn’t try to touch me again as her mom comes to stand by her side. “What happened? Are you okay?” Hayley fires off questions in a soft tone.
I try to swallow, but my mouth is dry. Come to think of it, my body has now dried too. But it shouldn’t have. I just got out of the coldest shower of my life, and the towel dropped from my head, meaning my hair should be soaking my clothes right about now. Except, it’s only slightly damp.
I can’t form a reply, so instead, I turn around and move my hair over my left shoulder, exposing my skin-frustrated tattoo. Gasps are heard from both women simultaneously.
“It hurts,” I say in the toughest tone I can muster. I think I sell it. On the inside I’m screaming and writhing in pain. It’s like a stove turned to three hundred degrees is continuously giving me burn blisters. It’s like someone is branding me with a hot iron as if I’m their cow.
When I turn around, Ms. Morgan says she’ll be right back with some cream that’s supposed to completely stop the burning. Hayley is offering a sympathetic smile.
“Do you know who it is?” She asks quietly.
I look down at the floor, trying to ignore the heat wave that spreads through my core and then vanishes, staying stuck onto my mark again. I don’t care who it is. I don’t need to know who it is. I doubt I’ll find the person anyway. These side effects take place hours – sometimes days – after you meet, see, or walk near or past them. I could’ve been by them at the bowling alley or passing by them on the car ride into New York. It doesn’t matter. I don’t care.
I mean, I’m feeling spontaneous and literally had nothing to do all day, so here’s a bunch of writing. LOLZ.
I think it’s because Shawn Peter Raul Mendes is releasing a single tonight called In My Blood and I am PUMPED. I freaking love him so much and I am so excited.
My point is with that: I may have written just to distract myself until 12:00 a.m EST.