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He was the most beautiful boy I had ever seen. His eyes speckled ebony and his light brown hair dusted his the top of his eyebrows, a perfect contrast to the white around us. He smiled at me. My heart fluttered, then I jumped back. I had to leave.
I was damned here, to this godforsaken place we call Earth. Already dead, nothing was a danger to me. I was afraid, though. Afraid of the ice that choked this town. Afraid of the fate that I was sure would befall me. What that fate was, I wasn’t sure. All I knew was that I wasn’t alive, but people could see me. That’s what scared me the most.
“Hi,” he said, taking a step towards me. I stared at the boy. “I’m Ben.”
I nodded. I knew his name. He went to my school, I thought. Ben DeRusse, period three social studies.
“Holly.” I hesitated. I knew I had to disappear, or they would take me. The bad people. The people with wings.
My mind flashed back to Ben.
“Nice to meet you, Holly. Hey, you wouldn’t by any chance be in per-”
“Period three social studies, Mr. Burgess? Yeah,” I interrupted.
“Fiesty. I like that.” He grinned. I watched him with a gaze that was patient, unearthly. I suppose I was unearthly, though, being an angel as I was. Or a vampire. However you prefer to think of it.
I spun on my heel and moved away.
“Hey, Holly, wait up!” Ben ran to catch up with me, and slid on the icy sidewalk. I caught him just before he could fall.
“I was just kidding,” he said, steadying himself.
“I know, Ben.” I think I knew most things, at age fourteen. I was always smart. It became increasingly difficult to shield my intelligence from the world, however. I was sure that people began to suspect something when my end-of-the-year test came back with a 112%, though maybe my teachers just assumed I cheated and didn’t really care. It doesn’t matter anymore.
Penny Cornwell came huffing up the side of the road, her rather plump frame ripe tomato red, shivering.
“I was so worried about you!” She called. “I walked past your house and there you were outside, all alone, just screaming! I was, like, super scared, cause you were screaming and stuff!”
I resisted the urge to roll my eyes.
“Screaming?” I asked, my voice teeming with mock-concern.
“Umm...Yeah! Your mouth was, like, wide open and you were screaming. Your voice was all choked and bloody and gross! What the heck, Holls?”
“I dunno, Penny,” I snapped. “Maybe you need to stop worrying about my problems and concentrate on dissipating your delusions.”
Her brow furrowed. Penny was no doubt attempting to contemplate (unsuccessfully) what I had just said, when her eyes darted to Ben.
“Oh...I get it! So are you guys pretty much, like, going out now! Aww! That’s so cute and stuff! Wow,” she said, allowing it to sink in.
“No, Penny, we are not going out. We are discussing the social studies project we have due on Tuesday. Or, rather, we were discussing the project. I have to go now.”
I turned and tried to make my escape without Penny or Ben noticing that I was ditching them.
“Oh, by the way, Holly,” Penny shouted back at me. “You look kinda pale. Like you’re dead or something.”
A smile played on my face as I trod down the cement, towards the woods. I assumed I would be able to hide there, albeit coldly, in an empty cabin or makeshift shack, at least.
The trees sparkled with snow crystals and dangling icicles hung precariously from spindly branches.
I quickly realized that the safest place for miles was probably right there on the dirt path, so I sat down. Snap! A twig cracked behind me.
Without even glancing back, I could tell who it was.
“Benjamin DeRusse, could you please stop stalking me? I know I am radiantly beautiful, but save some for the paparazzi.”
Ben stepped out from behind a tree, his face flushed.
“I wasn’t stalking you. I just don’t think that it’s very safe for a girl like you to be out in the woods alone,” he defended.
I raised my eyebrows, unphased.
“Oh, really? And what exactly did you mean by ‘a girl like me’?” I was amused, just then. I’m not sure why. It was probably his ability to remain completely insolent yet ridiculously cocky at the same time.
“Well, I dunno. You’re short and stuff.” He walked closer, stuffed his freezing hands in his pockets.
“Mmm hmm. You sound like Penny. Stop it.” I patted the dirt beside me, motioning for him to sit down. If he wanted to know about me, he could know.
Ben crouched down, and we sat in silence for a while.
“So what was that all about?” He asked. “I mean, was what that Penny girl said about you screaming and all true?”
I nodded as my gaze fell upon my feet. Ugg boots. Thanks, Mom. It’s great that you bought my love with clothes. That was real nice of you.
“So why did you do it? It’s not like people go around screaming all the time...”
“Who are you to judge people? You, a scrawny teenage boy from some unimportant midwestern town. And as for why I did it...I’m not entirely sure.”
I sighed, and my breath clouded the air.
“Okay, Ben DeRusse. You want to know the truth? It’s scary. It’s horrifying. You wanna know the truth, Ben?”
I saw the fear in his eyes. I knew that he wasn’t ready. I knew that I wasn’t ready. I lay down in the snow, and there I slept, damned to this planet for the rest of eternity.