“Eeeek!” I squealed as I twirled in my adorable white and black dress. I looked in my mirror; my long, brown, wavy hair laid perfectly down my shoulders. I looked perfect for the absolute perfect night.
“Calm down, Silly.” My best friend in the whole wide world, Ami, sat behind me on my bed. “Are you sure you want to go out tonight, Natalie? I know it’s your eighteenth birthday, but you know all the stories of things that have happened on previous Halloweens. Are you sure you want to risk it?” Ami was very laid back, but she always worried too much about me. Her warm brown eyes watched me as I danced around my room.
“It’s my eighteenth birthday and Aaron promised me the best night of my life! I really don’t care whether there are myths of spooky things that go on during Halloween. Those are just scary stories people make up to freak out their little siblings.” I grabbed my purse, jacket, and shoes, and ran downstairs to get the door. Ami followed hesitantly. I could tell she wasn’t convinced that the things that people said were just myths.
“Hey, Aaron, I’ll be ready in a sec.”
Ami slipped out the door without so much as a goodbye. I hoped that I hadn’t offended her by ignoring her warnings, but it was my day and I wasn’t going to be scared off by some stupid pranks that happened every year. I brushed my concerns away and fumbled to grab the rest of my stuff.
“Are you ready?” Aaron held out his hand to me. I nodded and took his hand. I swore that every time we touched a shot of heat ran through my veins. After two years of dating, I’d think that would’ve gone away. “I have the perfect evening planned. Happy Birthday, Natalie.” Aaron pecked me on the lips and held the door open for me.
Aaron was the sweetest guy I had ever met. He was athletic, adorable, and had the most gorgeous blue eyes I had ever seen. I thought I truly loved him, and with the way I felt, I thought I was going to spend the rest of my life with him.
“How’s your birthday been so far?” Aaron asked from the driver’s seat of his Shelby GT500.
“My birthday just feels like Halloween like every other year. There is nothing particularly special about my eighteenth one other than hanging out with you.” My birthday was always insignificant; no one ever paid attention to my birthday. Who would pay attention to the birthday of just another foster child? My mom died the day of my birth and my dad left me the day I turned seven. Birthdays were always a reminder for me so I did not care for them.
“I’m sorry. Hopefully I can change your mind on the whole birthday thing.” Aaron shot me a crooked smile and squeezed my leg encouragingly.
“Where are we going, anyway?” It was driving me crazy not knowing where we were going. “If you are leading me to some wild surprise party then turn around now!”
He chuckled and shook his head at me. “We aren’t going to a party. I’m taking you to the carnival, silly.” I saw that he was telling the truth as we pulled up to the colorful gates. Dark clouds intruded in on the deep blueness of the skies. Kids and teens in costumes filled the carnival. A monstrous Ferris wheel in the background filled the busy scene. “What do you think?”
“I think...I think I am so going to beat you at the games!” I teased and jumped out of the car. Aaron laughed and chased behind me as we ran into the carnival.
“No chance, missy! Get your butt back here!” Aaron finally caught up to me and grabbed me from around the waist. “There is absolutely no way you are beating me!” Aaron laughed and kissed my cheek.
We spent the next few hours playing games and riding the different rides. Aaron won me a giant teddy bear. It was the cutest teddy bear I had ever seen! As time went on, the sky got darker and the carnival became less and less crowded. It was such a wonderful date that I completely lost track of time. It was nearly ten, and an eerie darkness had crept in on the colors of the attractions.
“What do you want to do now, birthday girl?” Aaron teased as we walked through the nearly abandoned carnival.
“Let’s go on the Ferris wheel! Please?” I begged as I dragged Aaron in the direction of the Ferris wheel. He followed willingly. I loved Ferris wheels. Being able to see for miles and to see all the lights of Chicago was purely magical. Everything about Ferris wheels was romantic and beautiful. Unfortunately, it was a spooky, dark night; plus, the edge of Halloween hung over the night.
“I love you, Natalie. Happy birthday!” I was curled up against Aaron’s chest in the car of the Ferris wheel. Aaron whispered and handed me a black velvet box. I opened it, and my face lit up. He had given me a silver charm bracelet and the only charm was a single red rose. The gem of the rose was a ruby. This bracelet must have cost a fortune! I sat there, breathless, staring at the bracelet. “Do you like it?”
“Huh? Oh. I love it! It’s gorgeous! Thank you so much!” I hugged Aaron as tightly as I could. He was the one person who hadn’t dropped out of my life. He was always there for me.
“You’re welcome.” Aaron smiled and took my hand and put the bracelet around my wrist. He touched the rose lightly and kissed my hand. “I will always think of you as a beautiful, bright rose.”
A light blush rose on my cheeks. “I love you, Aaron.”
The ride finally came to an end; although, I had to admit I didn’t want to get off. “Do you want something to eat?” Aaron asked.
“Yes! I am so starved, but I have to run to the little girls’ room. I’ll meet you there?”
Aaron nodded and we walked off in opposite directions. I found the bathroom and then quickly went to find Aaron. I roamed around the park trying to find him since he wasn’t at the concession stand. His phone was either turned off or in his car because he wasn’t answering. The grounds were nearly deserted. It was amazing how hard it was to find someone in a place where no one else was around.
I turned around the corner, and behind the stand I found Aaron. He was kissing another girl. She was dressed in a skimpy cheerleader’s outfit and was locked around Aaron’s neck. Seeing the two of them in such an embrace sent a knife through my heart and left it there. I couldn’t believe my eyes.
Aaron suddenly pulled back and pushed the girl away as if my voice brought him out of some kind of trance that seduced him into kissing the cheerleader. “Natalie.” Aaron took a step toward me and the cheerleader ran off. “This isn’t what it looks like! I don’t know what came over me! Please, let me explain.” Aaron held his arms out to me and took another step.
“I can’t believe you cheated on me. You are just the same as everyone else in my life. I can’t believe I trusted you. I should’ve known you would hurt me!” I backed away and ran off, leaving Aaron and my love for him behind. The pain and rage stuck with me no matter how quickly I tried to outrun it. Tears streamed down my face and stung as I ran. I couldn’t escape the pain. I hated him. I hated him for making me love him so much. It wasn’t fair that so much pain could be thrown at me.
“NATALIE!” I could hear Aaron yelling after me in the night. He was following me. The sound of his voice made the pain tear open my heart. I managed to run all the way to the park. I leaned against one of the ancient oaks. The eerie, cool night crept in on me. I shivered and pulled my knees in close. It was the only thing I could think to do to keep myself from falling apart. My heart had been torn open and heartbreak seeped out. I had never felt so alone in a world that had been nothing but cruel to me.
“Natalie, please talk to me. I know you’re here. I love you and I’m sorry. You have to believe me.”
That was it. Rage flooded my mind. “I don’t have to do anything! You cheated on me! You cheated on me on my BIRTHDAY!” It was another birthday to add to the history books. It was like my birthday was cursed to be a tragedy. I couldn’t escape the wrath that filled me. I had never felt so angry before. The feel of all the betrayals of my life flooded me.
“Natalie, I’m sorry. I am so sorry…” Aaron sound completely defeated. I could see the guilt in his eyes but I didn’t care. I couldn’t care. He betrayed me.
“Go. Away. I am done with you.” I couldn’t handle the pain or the anger. I was losing control and falling into my rage.
“Natalie. Listen to me, please. I beg of you. Forgive me?” Aaron crumbled to his knees. He hit my last nerve. I almost jumped off the ground where I was sitting.
“Forgive you?!? You are asking me to forgive you? How could you possibly ask me to do such a thing?! You cheated with some random girl! The first time I turned my back you were off kissing someone else! How could I ever trust you again when you broke me this time? You can’t get a second chance on this one. I’m done.” I turned to walk away.
“Natalie. Stop.” Aaron grabbed my shoulder and spun me around.
“Don’t. Touch. Me.” I slapped him across the face. He broke me. “Never touch me. You will never touch me again. You will never kiss me again.”
Everything went black, as if I had fallen asleep.
I woke up what felt like minutes later. I looked around to see an absolutely horrendous sight. The trees in the park were on fire, and my dress was torn and bloody. Deep red stained my hands and arms. On the ground in front of me Aaron’s dead body laid crumpled and destroyed. I wouldn’t have recognized him if it weren’t for the familiar chain around the body’s neck. It was such an awful sight. It was as if hell had opened in this park.
“Ow!” I yelped in response to a fiery pain that originated from my wrist. The silver of my charm bracelet burned my skin. I hurried to get it off my wrist but every touch stung. I left it on the ground amongst the horrific scene and ran.
“What did I do?” I mumbled. I could feel some sort of darkness in me. I ran faster. I didn’t know what else to do. I ran toward my house with all my might, but a reflective surface caught my attention. I looked at the car mirror and what I saw scared me more than anything else I had witnessed that night.
My eyes were black. They were entirely black. Blood was smeared across my face and my hair was completely wild with blood red streaks but I couldn’t get away from the sight of my eyes. It was such an evil black that seemed to take any light from my face away.
We did this, and now we don’t have to wait another year to do it again. We are free forever.