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All I could hear were the siren, but I could see the people speaking in front of me. I could see the sympathy and pity in their eyes as they spoke to me. It was fake. That much was obvious. It was always fake.
Someone's hands were on my shoulders. My feet were moving of their own, clumsily. They were leading me away. Away from the scene, away from the people, away from the stares. Those stares of sympathy. Those stares of pity. Those stares were all fake.
And the hands kept leading me away and I kept stumbling. Why was I such a klutz around all these people? Why was I being stared at again? I suddenly became highly aware of all those stares and all the people they belonged to. I became highly aware of myself. I was stumbling over my feet, my usual clean shoes were coated in mud. My clothes hung limp on me as my shoulders were slumped, my hair was no doubt a frizzy mess. How was my makeup? My face felt tight, I could taste old tears on my lips. I'd been crying and my eyeliner was not waterproof. It was most likely smeared, making me look like a complete mess. And it was all in front of these people. I probably looked like a wreck and it was all in front of these people. I dropped my gaze to the ground, my frizzy hair falling to cover my face.
And the noise hit, time sped up. My knees buckled under me as if the sudden noise had slammed into me from behind. The hands of my leader gripped me tightly, yanking me back to my feet. My shoulders suddenly ached where the hands had gripped me. There were voices everywhere, moving feet, but no sirens. They had been shut off. The voices, they were loud though. High pitched in my ears.
Couldn't they just shut up? Couldn't they just leave all of it alone? The instant anything were to happen, people were suddenly a swarm of flies, covering over you. It was worse when you could see them staring at you though and luckily, I couldn't see their stares. A hand was pushing down on my head, my body lowered itself as I slid into the car, leather seats squelching underneath my bottom. The door was slammed and I jumped, whipping my head around to it. The window was tinted, inside and out. I could only make out the shadow of the person in the outside. No doubt it was the same for them on the other side looking in I could seem reflection though. I indeed was a mess. My hair stood up in strange places, black streaks ran down my cheeks, and my eyes were looking sunk in. Was it me or was the black of the window making my skin turn pale?
No wonder those people were all looking at me. I was a complete wreck. It looked as though I had died. Or was dying. Either way, I looked horrible. Tearing my gaze away from my reflection wasn't hard. What my eyes landed on though, was. My hands and up to my elbows were coated in red my clothes had splotches of the red here and there and one giant splat on my stomach are of my shirt. They were looking at me because of my face or my hair or how I was dead looking. No. They were looking at the red. They were looking at the blood. They knew it wasn't mine. Of course they knew. Everyone always seemed to find these sort of things out when a whisper was spoken.
The ground underneath my feet was moving now. The car was moving. Someone was speaking. To who? My name on the lips. I turned to the voice. A man. Was facing me from the front passenger seat. He was speaking to me.
"Huh?" I asked in confusion.
"We're taking you to the station downtown. We have some questions for you."
"But I didn't do anything."
I couldn't say anything this time. My mouth just wouldn't work. I hadn't done anything. But I knew I was about to be blamed for everything.
I looked even worse in the actual mirror. Oh how I looked even worse. I dropped my gaze to the table. It was polished, shining under the fluorescent lights above me. My image shimmered on the surface. A door unlocked and squeaked open. A pair of heavy feet made their way to the chair across mine. I sat back, my nails scraped the wooden top. I looked up as a folder was thrown onto the table.
"You were the only one there. So how are we supposed to believe it wasn't you?" His voice was tired and he looked at me with hallow eyes.
I only stared at him.
He gave me a small, kind smile. Why was he smiling at me? He was questioning me. We were in an interrogating room. Other then what was already wrong with my appearance, was there anything else? Was he smiling because I had something stuck in my teeth? I ran my tongue over my teeth and found nothing. So what was it? Did I stink?
He was seriously making me uncomfortable. Could I get him in troubled for that?
"We know you didn't do anything." He finally said.
Good, so why was I here in this interrogation room? I was innocent, I should've been gone.
"You see, the blood from your father wasn't all his. So we did a test and your DNA did not show up. At all. Whoever did this to your father was cut pretty bad as well. That's why there was another's blood. We'll find the killer, but you have to be patient, alright?"
Who was this guy kidding? What was he telling me all this for? I just didn't care.
"Your going to stay here until your brother comes to get you."
Excuse me? I had only my father as family. This was some joke, right? I sat back fully in my chair, tilting in back onto one leg.
"Are you going to speak?"
Are you going to be quiet? I drew my lips into a smile, not saying a word.
"Of course you aren't." The man stood, gathering his folders, and left the way he had come.
I dropped the chair, feeling it rattle under me, as it clanged on the linoleum floor. I turned my gaze back to the mirror. I could only see myself, but I knew I could be seen front the other side. They were watching me, every little flaw about me. They could see every single wrong with me. I dropped my gaze. Them being able to see me made me sick to my stomach.
In the middle of the table sat an empty notebook, a pen lay atop it.
I reaches forward, dragging the two items back to me.
They were watching me. They were watching every little move I made.
I picked the own up, knowing they were watching.
'She stood in the window, looking down the tower. The drought had killed the grass and made a shimmering heat haze across the ground. She could've been Rapunzel, but her locks weren't right. She could've been Sleeping Beauty, but there was no magical princely to prick her finger on and cast her asleep. She could've been Cinderella, but her shoes were to plain, no glass slippers. She could've been any Princess, but she had no Prince Charming to save her from whatever disastrous date awaited her own date. She was no Princess, but she was stuck in this tower. No key for the locked door, no way down on the outside. She was locked in. And no dragon was guarding her tower. She was forever locked in.
The creaking hinges reached my ears. I slammed the notebook over and looked up. The man was back. He was holding the door open, beckoning me out. The notebook refused to leave my fingers as I followed him out. We went back to the main floor. When we had entered, just hours ago or so it seemed, the lobby area had mostly been empty. Now it seemed packed. A group of teenagers surrounded a tired little woman. A small group of kids no more then the age of eleven sat on benches against the wall, none making a sound. Even though the woman looked exhausted, she was still beautiful. There was not a flaw about her.
I envied her. I wanted to be her. I didn't want to be this ugly looking rag that stood awkwardly in front of this beautiful stranger.
This beautiful stranger who had now spotted me. Spotted the mess that I was.
The teenagers drew from her as she stepped forward. It was as if she was a magical Goddess and the one who departed around her were here soldiers, keeping her safe.
God, she was magnificent.
And she was coming towards me.
And she was smiling kindly at me. At the ugly me.
She stood in front of me now, smiling brilliantly. "Astria."
Oh God, she knew my name.
I stared at the woman, mouth partially open. Who was she? Who were any of these people?
"Come on dear, we have a long ride ahead of us. Liam will be waiting for is at home."
I couldn't stop staring and I still wouldn't speak.
"She looks shocked mom. Do you think she even knows who we are?" One of the teenage boys surrounding the woman asked.
"Don't be silly Ian. I'm sure you father told her about us."
"Excuse me, but I'm right here. No need to speak about me in third person." I finally spoke up.
"So you can talk?" The man was still next to me and sounding amused.
The teenager looked at me. "Do you know who we are?"
I ignored the man at my side. I still didn't catch his name. "No. Who are you?"
"I'm your mother dear." The woman smiled at me again.
Now was a great time to faint. To bad I didn't.
"Dad said you were gone, wanted nothing to do with me." I said flatly.
"Oh honey, that's not true." She sweetly said.
It was true. She was only here because there was no one else to pawn me off on, was there? She had to make a good impression. Had to step up and be there to look good. Right? Was I right?
"We should be going." Ian spoke up.
The group turned, the kids stood, and all but me and the woman walked away. Even the man whose name I never caught was gone.
"Let's go home sweetie." The woman turned following the group.
How big was this family? I moved forward, following them quietly.
"I am so sorry about your father. He was such a good man. It's a tragedy that he had a heart attack and died. We'll set up funeral arrangements starting tomorrow. We'll get all this out if the way. We'll get on with our lives."
My stomach rolled. I could just vomit. I wanted to vomit. Was this woman serious? Sure, she been lied to on the cause of death, but to blow it off like this? It wasn't right. I felt ill.
'It beat down on the tower, an unbearable haze. But there was nothing she could do. Nothing to cover the window. She was stuck in this tower, with no way down.'
They were laughing, being cheery. How could anyone be so happy at the kind of news? This was wrong, this wasn't right. They shouldn't be so happy. My stomach dropped. I wanted to vomit so badly. Why couldn't I just vomit?
"See you guys at school. Thanks for driving here with us. Have a good Spring Break with your family." Ian said, patting one of the teenagers shoulders.
So this wasn't all of the family. It wasn't really this big. They were friends, hitched for the ride. By the sounds of it, they wouldn't be returning with us, but we would see them later.
"Astria?" The woman was speaking to me, looking worried. "I was trying to ask you dear, would you like us to take you to get your items?"
I instantly shook my head. "No. I'm not going back there. At all."
She flinched at the bitterness in my voice. She turned back to the boys that were left. It was the end of our conversation.
"Mom, she's just upset that dad's dead is all. Let's just get her home." Ian said gently, putting an arm around the woman's shoulder.
I drew back from the group, walking several feet away from them. My head felt heavy and I still wanted to vomit.
"She was a mess the whole drive here, you know. She's really torn up about dad's death." A gentle male voice said besides me making me jump.
I didn't look at him. "Who're you?"
"Avary. I'm a year older then you."
"What does our age difference have to do with anything?"
"Well, I am your brother. So I thought it would matter."
My head felt as thought it was about to explode. "What're you talking about?"
"Do you not know?"
My throat became tight. "What're you talking about?" I repeated around a lump.
"Don't you know about us?"
I could only shake my head. I had no clue what this Avary guy was talking about. At all.
"Did Dad never mention mom and us?"
I stopped dead in my tracks, my knees buckling. My head felt heavy again and the vomit was turning my stomach inside out. I knew if I were to open my mouth, if wouldn't be words spilling out.
"Hey, you okay?" His voice sounded to far away.
The ground beneath me was coming up fast and my stomach heaved.
"Astria! Mom, mom, something's wrong!" Avary shouted in the distance.
Colors were spinning in front of my eyes. I felt cold ground under my palms, my stomach was still heaving.
'If only she were a beautiful Princess. Would she have been saved by this time? Would she have been out of this smoldering tower? If only she were a beautiful Princess. Would it be different?'
I opened my eyes. They all swam above me. My stomach was still, but my head still pounded. I pushed myself up onto my feet.
Walk it off. Just walk it off. That's all I had to do. I just had to walk it off.
"Let's go." I muttered.
They were all silent now. For the moment.
"I didn't know you could vomit and pass out at the same time." A little boys voice snickered.
I just kept walking with no clue where I was headed.
"Astria, the cars are this way!" Ian shouted, some distance from behind me.
I just ignored the shout. I didn't want to go anywhere with these people, with these strangers. They called themselves my family, but where were they for the past sixteen years? Where were they when I went home from school crying because I had yet again been the latest prank target? Where were they when I was handed a scholarship due to my art? Where were they when I had constant nightmares, tearing me inside and out?
They were here, not there with me and my father.
They were here.
I stopped dead in my tracks, standing in the middle of the parking lot, and looked around.
'And the door appeared, as if summoned by an invisible force. But there was no doorknob and no way to open the magically summoned door.'
Where was here exactly?