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“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.
“Class, we have a new student. Natalie, why don’t you stand up and tell us a little bit about you?” The little, old, English teacher made a gesture toward me and everyone turned and stared.
I stood, quietly, “Hi, I’m Natalie. I’m eighteen, and I moved here from Chicago.” I sat as silently as I stood up; some heads turned to look back at the teacher, but some gazes lingered on me.
English was always my worst subject and it dragged on for ages. The old woman was trying so hard to be engaging, but everyone sat there, half asleep.
The bell finally rang and I gathered my things. “Hey, there, it’s Natalie, right?” I turned to face the person that the voice belonged to and he was right there. He towered over me, and his shaggy blonde hair hid his eyes from me.
I took a step back just to collect my thoughts. “Depends. Who’s asking?” I grabbed my last book.
“I’m Kyle.” He held his hand out to me with a goofy smile on his face. I turned away, ignoring his attempt to befriend me, and walked to my next class. He walked quickly behind me and finally caught up. “You know, you won’t make many friends if you walk away from everyone who tries.”
“Who said I was trying to make friends?” A bitter harshness rang through my voice.
“Oh….Well, anyway, what’s your next class?” Kyle was like a lost puppy that decided to follow me home. “I can show you how to get there.”
“AP Chem. with Smith.”
“Me too!” Kyle was way too enthusiastic about this whole thing.
“Yay,” I said, sarcastically.
“You can sit with me and my friends.”
I shrugged, surrendering. Kyle was way too perky, but there was something vaguely familiar about him, and it didn’t quite sit right with me. Kyle and I walked into the chemistry room and I followed him to the table that three others were already seated at.
“Hey, guys, this is Natalie. Natalie, this is Evelyn, Darien, and Mike.” Kyle pulled out the chair for me and I quietly sat down.
“Dude! She’s hot!” Mike high-fived Kyle and they both laughed. Evelyn glared, annoyed, at Mike and kicked him in the shin.
“Don’t mind them. It’s nice to have another girl around. Where are you from?” Evelyn smiled, sweetly at me. She looked so innocent and pure but there was a tough edge to her. Her nails were painted in chipped black, and her hair was died various colors, but her clothes fell into a completely different style. Her eyes were big, green, and curious.
“The Windy City? What brings you to New York then? Did your parents get a new job or something?” Evelyn was trying so hard to be my friend and start a conversation with me while the three guys fooled around and laughed about the most absurd jokes.
“Actually, my mom died when I was born, and my dad left on my seventh birthday.” I played with the pen on my desk, sheepishly. I didn’t like thinking of my parents, “I moved here on my own just for a change.”
Why do you lie? Why do you hide what we are? You know what we want; why don’t you let us take it?
“Oh. I am so sorry.” Evelyn shot me an apologetic look. “So do you live by yourself?”
“Yeah, pretty much.”
“Damn! We should throw parties at your place from now on!” Darien jumped into the conversation. Everyone at the table turned their attention to me. I shrugged, opened my chemistry book, and pretended to read.
“Students, we have a new face among us. Natalie, you will need to go over what we have already covered in class. You seem to already be acquainted with Kyle so he will help you. We have a test next Friday and I expect you to be ready.” The teacher looked so stern and dull. He clearly did not want to be here but regardless, Kyle nodded happily beside me in agreement to help.
Chemistry was always my best subject so it shouldn’t be hard to get caught up. I already knew today’s topic so I just doodled on my notebook throughout the class.
Natalie, let’s have some fun. Stop trying to control me. I am who you are and you can’t hide me forever. Come on, let’s play. Let’s shut up that perky Kyle kid for good. I know you want to. You can’t hide your thoughts from me.
I closed my eyes to hide any chance of the black showing. I focused on pushing my own demon back down. I would not let it break free again.
“Are you okay?” Kyle whispered as Mr. Smith continued lecturing. I looked at Kyle and finally saw his eyes. They were such a dark brown that they almost seemed black. They were so dark but there was something strangely inviting about them.
“Um, yeah, I’m fine.” I was so lost in his familiar eyes. “It’s just a headache.”
“So when do you want to get together to go over the chem. stuff?” Kyle looked up toward the board and I was freed from his gaze.
“You can just give me the notes.” I didn’t need his help nor did I want it. I didn’t want anything to do with him. People just cause trouble.
“Not a chance. I was told to help and I am going to help.” Kyle was entirely serious about this. I sighed. I did not have the patience to argue with him.
“Okay, whatever. You can come over to my place after school. Meet me out front of the school and I can show you the way. It isn’t a far walk.” I really didn’t want anyone here to know where I lived but it just seemed like the easiest place to deal with all of this.
“Sounds good, except I’m driving and there is no way of getting out of it.” He shot me a sly grin and went back to listening to the lecture.
Chemistry and English were the only classes that I had with Kyle, but his friend Mike was in my Trig class. The entire class he failingly tried to flirt with me and constantly used sexual innuendoes on me. I ignored him with ease but it just seemed to come off as a challenge and he tried harder. Other than that, people avoided me and that was the way I wanted it.
“Hey, Natalie,” Evelyn came up behind me as I waited for Kyle outside of the school. I waved but said nothing more. “Who are you waiting for?”
“Kyle, he is helping me with the chemistry stuff against my wishes.” I shrugged. Evelyn’s mood seemed to drop a little when I said I was waiting for Kyle.
“Are you guys only doing chemistry stuff? Where? I can help.” Evelyn clearly didn’t want me alone with Kyle.
“I don’t want Kyle to help let alone you. Sorry.” I didn’t want to offend her, but I really didn’t need help, and I definitely didn’t want more people in my house.
“Okay.” She walked away and didn’t look back.
“You coming?” Kyle held out a helmet to me. He was seated on the back of black motorcycle. I looked down at my heels and tight skirt and looked at him as if he were crazy. He shrugged. Now I understood the grin he gave me.
I sighed, and handed my bag to Kyle. I took the fabric of my skirt in my hands. I tore it with ease up to the highest part of my thigh and did the same to the other side.
Kyle’s eyes widened and he looked up and down my body, hungrily. I sighed, took the helmet, and got on the back of his motorcycle.
“I own the apartment building on 5th Avenue.” As soon as the words escaped my lips, Kyle was off. As far as motorcycle drivers went, Kyle was definitely not careful.
“This is it.” I opened the door to my penthouse apartment. “Make yourself at home. There is plenty of food in the kitchen. I am going to go change.” I glared at Kyle.
I went and threw on a black tank top and jean shorts. When I came back out, Kyle was raiding my fridge.
“See anything you like?” Kyle jumped at my voice and faced me. Once again, he eyed my body with a bit of need in his eyes.
“Yea, I think I do.”
“You’re sooo funny.” I glared at him, “So, you want to start this now?” I walked into the living room and sat on the couch. Kyle sat on the other end of the couch and looked at me.
“Why did you move here? I mean really. I know you didn’t just move here for a ‘change.’”
Tell him. Show him who you are. You know you want to. Show him what will be the last thing he ever sees.
I shut my eyes and buried my face in the armrest of the couch. “Go away!” I mumbled under my breath.
“Natalie? Are you okay?” Kyle scooted closer to me on the couch, and put his hand on my shoulder.
“Don’t touch me!” I hissed with such wrath that Kyle stumbled back. Gah! My head burned with such fiery pain. “I’m sorry. You need to go.” I look Kyle in the eyes for just a moment; tears rolled down my face. “I’m sorry.”
“Natalie, what’s wrong? You should go to the hospital.” Kyle stood up and grabbed my arm.
“You need to go. Now.” I pulled my arm from his grip, and looked away.