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Cuts and Kisses [chapter one]

The sisters got out of the car and walked to the entrance of Bernhard High.

"You have cheer and French club today, right Stace?" Annabel asked.

"Yeah, if you need a ride home, I can get you one."

"No, it's alright. I can walk."

"It's freezing outside Anne!"

"We don't live that far Stace. And I have a jacket in my locker."

Stacie sighed. "At least get someone to walk with you."

"I'll do it." A voice volunteered and Jesse Hurley appeared, walking next to the two girls. Annabel glared at him and Stacie smiled.

"Thanks Jesse. It'll really help."

"I don't want him walking with me. It'll just be a bother," Annabel growled.

"Oh come on Bell!" Jesse put an arm around her shoulders and gave it a little squeeze. "I swear that I won't say a word. I'll just walk by your side."

Annabel shrugged off his arm and gave him an icy glare. "My name is Annabel, Jesse, Ah-nuh-bell. And please don't touch me. Got it?"

Jesse winced. "A bit stingy today, aren't ya Bell?"

Stacie laughed. "I'll leave you two alone to settle this matter." She winked at Jesse and mouthed a silent 'good luck.'

He grinned and waved bye to Stacie, looking back at Annabel. "So I'll take that as a yes?"

"Go to hell." Annabel opened her locker, grabbed her books, and stocked off, leaving an amused Jesse alone in the hall.

******

Classes passed by very quickly for Annabel, who was only thinking of the near future. Before she knew it, the last bell rung and she was at her locker, packing her books to leave.

"You ready Bell?" Jesse appeared, leaning on the next locker with a smile on his face.

Annabel let out a sigh. "If you're gonna be following me around, you might as well make yourself useful." She shoved a giant pile of books at him.

"Whoa!" Jesse blinked, surprised. "Damn Bell! What the hell are you bringing all these books home for?!"

"I have a lot of homework that I need to finish. Some are reference books for a project, others have homework in them, and most of those are notebooks that are completely filled up."

Jesse slipped off his backpack and stuck some of the books in there. Annabel raised an eyebrow.

"My backpack's just about empty. I don't have that much homework," he explained, "This'll make it a lot easier."

She shrugged. "As long as you remember that they're in there, I don't care. Now let's go." Annabel slugged on her backpack and headed for the door, Jesse following right behind her.

******

"So...." Jesse began. The two were walking to Annabel's house and it started snowing again. "How come you and your sister are so different?"

"I don't know. Parents raised us differently? I thought you promised me that you weren't going to talk."

"I lied. So is there any reason why you always wear black?"

"I like it. It's a nice color."

"Technically, it isn't a color. White isn't either."

"I really don't care Jesse."

"Are you emo Bell?"

Annabel stopped in her tracks and looked at Jesse, startled. "No... Why?"

"You always seem to cover your wrist. Is it cuz there are cuts and scars there?"

"Of course not..."

"You're lying."

"No."

"Then prove it."

"I'm not pulling my sleeve up in this weather Jesse."

"When we get to your house then."

"..." Annabel stared off into the distance, looking anywhere but at him.

"Bell..." He put a hand on her shoulder.

"Stop calling me that!" she snapped and began walking ahead.

He caught up to her. "Bell, are you okay? I'm sorry, you don't have to do anything you don't want to do."

"It's fine. I'm fine..."

He put a hand on her shoulder again. "Are you sure?"

"Yeah," she answered. "Come on, we're here." Annabel turned up her driveway and unlocked the door, letting Jesse in. "Mom, I'm home!"

There was no answer, but she found a note in the kitchen that read: At the store. I'll be back soon. Watch over Howie, he's asleep in his room. Thanks Anne ~Mom :)

"I'm going to go check on Howie and see if my room isn't a mess. Go help yourself to whatever's in the fridge if you like. Come up when I call you," Annabel told Jesse and headed upstairs.

Her room was clean enough, just a few clothes on the floor, which she threw into her closet. She also had some things for her plans later that she didn't want Jesse, or anyone to see, for that matter; she quickly shoved those into her bedside drawer. Everything else was neat and organized, so she went down the hall to check on how her little brother was doing.

Howie was sound asleep when Annabel walked into the room. She leaned against the edge of the crib, staring at the small child with a loving smile.

"You're a very lucky boy Howie," she whispered, gently stroking the baby's arm, "Luckier than me anyways. I hope you grow up to be whatever your heart desires, with nothing you can't beat getting in your way. I promise I'll watch over you wherever I may be, little bro..." She kissed him on the forehead; he stirred, but did not wake.

"You really love your little brother, don't you Bell?" Jesse was leaning against the doorway, gently smiling at her.

"Yes, he's a very lucky kid...." she replied, giving a short glance back at the sleeping toddler. "Now, what are you doing here? I thought I told you to wait until I've called you."

He shrugged, amused. "I got bored by myself."

Annabel sighed and walked through the doorway. "You really aggravate me, you know that? Oh, and softly close that door, will you?"

He laughed, but did as she said and followed her to her room.

"Oh wow...." Jesse murmured.

"What's wrong?"

"You're room is very...."

"Yes?"

"Uh... I don't know. Dark? Eerie feeling?"

Annabel shrugged. "I like it. It's very calming." She took a seat on her bed and watched Jesse wander about her room, touching and looking at the many dolls, trinkets, books, and posters she had around. Finally, he took a seat on the bed by Annabel.

"Those are some interesting books you have," he finally stated.

"They're actually very addicting once you get started," she smirked. "That is, if you don't mind bloody romances with kinky plot lines."

He laughed. "So I'm guessing you like to write a lot?"

"With all these posters and notebooks I have, only a complete idiot wouldn't come to that conclusion."

"So you write stories or ?"

"Poetry, lyrics, maybe a short little story every once in a while."

"May I read some?"

She shrugged and laid back on the bed. "Help yourself."

Jesse got up and grabbed one of the many notebooks on Annabel's desk then came back to the bed, reading through the pages of the purple spiral.

"Which one did you grab?" she asked after a while.

"Purple one all the way on the bottom," he answered.

"Hm.... I filled that one up quite a while ago. I think it has a story all the way in the back...."

"It's very good too."

Annabel sat up. "You like it?"

Jesse nodded. "It has a sad ending though. I never knew you were such an incredible writer."

"Thanks."

"Even these poems are amazing. They have so much feeling and depth to them, it's unbelievable."

"They really aren't that good...."

He ignored that comment. "Where'd you learn to write like this Bell?"

She shrugged. "I just write whatever I feel at that moment; sometimes it's an emotion and others, it's an idea or train of thought."

"Has anyone else read these?"

"No, I like to keep these notebooks in my room."

"Well are you going to major in writing when you get older?"

"When I get older..." Annabel gave a small little laugh at that; if you listened carefully, you could find that there was a tinge of sadness in it.

"What's so funny?" Jesse's head tilted to the side in confusion.

"Oh nothing...."

At that moment, Howie woke and began to cry. Annabel got off her bed and hurried to her brother's room, lifting him up into her arms. He quickly quieted down and began to doze off on her shoulder.

"Well someone's good with children," Jesse stated. He had followed her to Howie's room.

"Not really," she replied, "Howie just happens to fall asleep quickly when someone's holding him."

He smiled. "I think I'll start heading home now."

"Bye."

"See ya tomorrow."

"Yeah, tomorrow..."

Jesse went down the stairs and out the door just as Annabel's mother came back in with the groceries. Annabel gently put Howie back into his crib, ruffling the little hair on his head, and headed downstairs to the kitchen.

"Who was that young man I saw walking out when I came in Anne?" her mothered asked when she saw her.

"That's Jesse," she answered, "He's a junior from school. Stace said that she wouldn't let me walk home unless I had someone with me so he volunteered."

"Alright dear. Now can you help me put some of these things away?"

"Sure mom." Annabel grabbed food and snacks out of the many plastic bags and placed them where they belonged in the cupboards and drawers of the kitchen.

"So how's Howie?"

"Still asleep; you should wake him to eat soon."

"Can you get him for me? I'll start making a snack for him."

"Okay." Annabel went up the stairs, and grabbed something from her room before carrying her little brother down the stairs and placing him into his booster seat at the table.

"I'm gonna be out back mom."

"Alright dear. Thank you for bringing Howie down."

"Welcome," she replied as she went out the back door into the cold, snowy backyard.

"So today's the day..." Annabel sighed to herself. "It's finally come and I'm ready for it. I always have been... I wonder why I didn't do it sooner...."

She crouched onto the ground and wrote seven letters into the soft, white flakes. She then pulled the sleeve of her left arm up and took the razor blade from her pocket, pausing a moment to look back at the house she has lived in for the past 16 years of her life. The blade was hovering threateningly over her wrist.

'Well, I guess now's the time I'm suppose to say my goodbyes, but I don't believe I have any. My life sucks anyways, might as well go on with it....' she thought.

The sharp razor pierced the soft flesh of Annabel's wrist as she slowly pulled the knife up her forearm, cutting deep into her vein. The crimson liquid slowly, but surely, spilled out of her gash as she stood there, watching, as she bled herself to death.

Almost three minutes passed before Annabel dropped into the snow, constantly falling in and out of consciousness. By her rested the 7 letters she had inscribed into the snow only minutes before.

******
GOODBYE





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