His face was stoned. But his dark brown eyes showed profound regret. He was just looking at me, long and hard. I tried to reach for him but all I caught was thin air. I dint know who he was or where he had come from, all I knew was that I wanted to stay near him. As soon as I tried to reach for him again something started pulling me. It wasn’t a gentle tug.o no…it was like fighting gravity..it was as if someone was trying to rip me apart. My foot was firmly stuck to the ground but the upper-half of my body was being pulled sideways with immense force .It was excruciating. With every pull some part of my body started bleeding. When he had almost disappeared from my sight I heard him say one word, which for no reason stung my heart. It caused me much more pain than my bleeding body. The word was ‘sorry’. Even with that distance I could hear the regret and grief in his tone. Before he completely disappeared I saw tears glisten in his eyes.
It was the first time I was shifting in 15years.. I had spent my entire life in las Vegas and now I was leaving my home town because my dad had a job transfer. My mom had died when I was just 3 years old and since then I have lived with Jerry Wood Hamilton III -my father. We lived a couple of streets away from the ‘strip’. We had a nice little house with one bathroom and two bedrooms. It wasn’t what people would call luxurious, but I called it home. We (the Hamilton’s) had been millionaires once….but now it was a totally different story.
We were supposed to move the next day. We would be moving to Reno, Nevada. A quite, little city in America.
I would miss my friends, my school and my next door neighbors dogs nacho-and –cheese!... whenever mrs.white was busy I would look after nacho and cheese. They had become like my best buds. I would really miss my frnds from ‘LV high’. I was lucky to have spent 15years of my life at LV high. At that school there were hardly any differences within the students. The jocks were friends with the nerds, the cheerleaders dated the geeks, etc. there was hardly any irrational behavior displayed by the students and we were actually like one big family. There was hardly any other school on the whole of the west coast which had history as our school, which had a family like our school. I was proud to be a LV-ite but sadly fate decided to change my life. Forever.
Reno was like everything I had expected. A very quiet little town, with no hint of excitement on its streets. In Las Vegas every street had a different party going on at all times of day, there was something interesting happening every minute. But here it would be a totally different story. Watching a movie with friends and then going out 4 dinners was the definition of ‘fun’. Well! People were different so were places. I had never been the party-hard type person, but I dint completely loath it. It would take some time to get used to this.
We were in the car going to our new ‘house and home’. I had never been there, fearing that it would cause me much more pain than I was going through. It was a medium sized house. It had three bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. A small dining area which led to the drawing room. A small backyard and a front porch. It looked decent from the outside but from the inside it was…..marvelous!
I would have been much more glum if this house was not the way it was. It had an ancient touch to it with the winding staircase, the brown-cream color scheme, the ethnic patterns on some of the walls, a few circular pillars adorning the living room, and there were ancient looking paintings hanging on the walls .But it looked like a modern-ancient fusion with a laptop sitting on the mahogany table, the large flat screen, the couch ,the speakers, other stuff owned by us and the modern furniture. I could not wait to see my room.
The walls were light blue, and the ceiling looked as silvery as the mist when sunlight entered the room, there was a huge window on both the sides allowing the fresh cool sea breeze and the salubrious winds from the neighboring forest to enchant my room. There was a grey colored bed sheet on my bed, which smelt like lavenders and there were about a gazillion pillows on that queen sized bed…just the way I liked it! It had a walk in wardrobe and an attached bathroom. The view of the landscape was incredible! There was the never ending green and brown of the forest from the east window, it was so relaxing to see that, there were white seagulls flying over the green horizon, it nearly took my breath away! And from the west window I could see the vast stretches of the various shades of blue merging with the golden sand it looked as if I was watching a movie. I also discovered that this part of the beach was private property and only the residencies surrounding could use it. So basically it would be as good as empty, because there were less than 5 families staying in this area. My dad had given me the best room in the house.
But suddenly I was realized something -this was a house we could not afford. Not wanting to spin fantasies of living in this house I went straight to dad. “Dad this house is way above our budget? How did you…erm …could we afford this house”?
“Give yourself a break…you should learn how to enjoy and not worry about the ‘cost of this-and-cost of that’ all the time…”
“Dad you r deviating from the point. I want to know how were we able to afford this house? ...”…I dint know why he was being so cryptic with me ? He looked at me and then half-smiled… “You won’t let this go? Will u…?” He paused, waiting for me to respond, unsuccessfully trying to change the topic.
I was still staring at him.. “Annie….Don’t put your old man under so much of pressure…..”
This time with slow deliberation and a stern voice “dad. You can’t hide it forever ….can you?... you will have to tell me one day. So let that day be today....okay.”
With a skeptical look he finally cracked … “well! You asked for it” he muttered under his breath. “I knew that you would be very upset to move from LV. You have spent your childhood and a couple of your teenage years there and I wanted to do everything that would make the move easier for you. I knew I did not do much…but..I came across this house while searching about houses in Reno and I thought that it might not completely heal the pain but it will help soothing it . I knew you like these ancient kinds of buildings and all…there were also the amazing views from your room…. I declined the offer of the house we were getting free from the company.” He paused to measure my reaction. I was frowning a little bit.
“But you were right this house did cost a fortune. So I borrowed a little money from Ben.” While saying this to me he turned to hide his face from me.
I was appalled to hear this. Mr. Ben Kenzincta’un had been an old family friend. He and my dad often had dinner together. They went clubbing, fishing and all sorts of sports were done together. It happened so, one fine night while a party was going on, Mr. Kenzincta’un and my father had an argument. The verbal contradiction was soon led into a physical dispute. They needed 10 people to pull them apart. That was the last night I had heard of Mr. Kenzincta’un. Despite my father’s constant explaining, I believed that it was all uncle bens fault. And I had hated him ever since. A little taken aback and a lot angry I asked my father “DAD! HOW COULD YOU? THAT MAN HUMILIATED YOU IN FRONT OF EVERY ONE, CALLED YOU NAMES, HIT YOU AND WHAT NOT! STILL.YOU WENT TO APOLOGISE TO HIM …WHILE HE WAS THE ONE WHO WAS WRONG...”
He remained calm and composed. He told me “ Annie I have told u thousands of times that it was not only his fault. It was mine too. It always takes two hands to clap. And see, what a nice man he is, even after all these years of sourness between us he was willing to forget it and start anew. He loaned me 25,000$ with no interest and no time limit to repay!... so Annie don’t be upset!. Think of it as a new beginning..ok?"
I did not want to upset my father. I could sense that he was already under a lot of pressure. So I solemnly nodded my head and went and lied down on the couch.
A beam spread across. “Finally! U understood..By the way I enrolled u in Reno High School. “
I knew I had to start school again. So I nodded.
“and school starts on Monday”..
“WHAT…DAD I can’t start school in just 2days!!?”…I knew I had to start school but not in two days. I had just reached this place for like 2-3 hours. And I already had to start school in 2 days.! “Annie! ….i can’t help it! I spoke to the principle…and he said that the semester starts on Monday and u had to get enrolled as soon as possible. And well there’s nothing much to do at home so..You could go to school and make some new friends.”
“Dad” I wailed like a four year old. “I’m just going to go to my room and relax. I’ve had a lot of things to take in today”….with that I went to my room. It was going to be hard next week.... new place, new school and no friends. Yeah! My time here would rock!
I woke u in frenzy. My eyes were blood shot, I was breathless and my throat was as dry as a desert. I frantically switched on the bed side lamp. Had a big gulp of water and then I tried to calm myself down. Still breathing hard, I tried to remember what happened. I was dreaming about how would I want my first day at school to be when suddenly I was at the edge of a cliff, I was about to fall down 100’s of feet! It felt so real I was a split second away from death when, suddenly two strong arms caught me. I looked up to see who it was, and I recognized the face. He was the guy I was dreaming about for the past few weeks. Who was he?...and why did he show up in my dreams?.. For the first time in days I saw his face clearly. It was so beautiful that it knocked the air out of me. He had tussled black hair that was till the edge of his neck. It looked so silky that it had been taken out of a hair softener commercial. He a strong face and a square jaw, even though he looked around the age of 16-17 his face showed the opposite. He looked so serious, experienced, somber …I had never seen a 17year old so grave. He had glistening blackish-brown eyes that reflected pain and suffering. It was like I could see into his soul! With broad shoulders and a towering height of almost 6’5 he looked no less than any prince charming.
After making sure I was nowhere near danger he started walking away. I tried to stop him, run after him, call him, and do something. But, my feet were firmly rooted to the ground, I could not move. I screamed my lungs out.. “Stop! Don’t go away….Don’t! Please!” at this time I was hysterical! I don’t know what got into me. All I wanted was him. He turned once… just to say.. “Stop it” and then he walked away. I felt like I had been punched. His words were harsh but his voice was magical, clear as water and sweet like the sound of bells.
Just because he’d abandoned me I woke up in a sad condition? There was something wrong with me. Annie Wood Hamilton never ever had as much as shed a tear for a boy, being hysterical was beyond imagination. I bet Reno was the reason for these wild, and weird ‘night mares’. I had been getting these nightmares since one week was left for us to shift. Thinking about the whole situation I drifted off in a confused and disturbed sleep.
The dreaded day arrived! I was going to attend Reno high today!.... dad said he would drop me off to school as it was on the way to work.
When I saw myself in the mirror I gasped! There were dark rims around my eyes(because of the lack of sleep I was getting these nights. His visits became rarer. He would come for a few minutes and then disappear into thin air. That’s when I would wake up with hysteresis), my hair looked like a mass of a dull ebony mess, there were red patches on my face which clashed with my olive toned skin. to sum it up I looked like sleepless and ragged. I had a lot of work to do on myself. I had a nice long warm shower. The shampoo helped a lot in taking out the tangles. Luckily the red patches were faintly visible and the rims circling my eyes were hidden by the consealer. I fished out a pair of black slim fits, a white t-shirt, a black fedora hat, a black waist coat and my prized black converse (just the way I used to dress in LV). When I looked in the mirror I was pleased. I dint look like any beauty diva or something, but I looked simple and sweet. Dad was cooking sizzling bacon and eggs-sunny side up. (The only things he can cook without getting the house burnt) I dint realize I was so hungry until I smelt the eggs and bacon. My stomach rumbled at the smell of food. I was pretty sure he heard that! I had finished off my breakfast even before dad was half-way through it! Was I nervous and scared or just too hungry?
I had asked my dad to drop me off at the parking lot. With a brief goodbye he left. I turned around to face my prison for the next 4 years. It was a magnificent building. 4 storey’s high, with beige and a navy blue color scheme it looked like it very modernized from the outside. With big windows and a commanding structure. I would be sophomore over here and who knew how many and what kinds of boring people infested this school…who knew that would I get along or not with them! With a lot of courage I walked through the large grey, metallic doors of Reno high to face hell. The corridors were long and wide with lockers running parallel on each side. The flooring was of textured white marble and the walls were painted white with designs made of terracotta on them. The school looked elegant and pretty. There were a few people chatting around their locker. As soon as I passed them they quit talking and started starring at me. Most of the students there wore subtle colors-like pale blue, sensitive pink, and definitely no blacks, not much funky stuff and definitely none of them wore a hat. My dressing sense made it clear that I was an outcast! I kept my head down and walked as quickly as I could to the school office for my locker number and daily schedule. The office was at the end of the corridor. When I went inside I was greeted by a lady who examined me with confused eyes. “Well! Hello dear. I’m Mrs. Whitney. You are?”…she looked at me as if I was some physco weirdo! “Annie wood Hamilton” I prompted her.
Her eyes went a little wide in amazement. She looked at me from head to toe, and then she took out a piece of paper and smiled. She was middle aged with coffee colored skin and red hair. She was short and had a plump figure. She had a very kind look on her face and her voice was very welcoming. For a moment I imagined my mother in her! That warmth, the kindness in her eyes, and the look of understanding on her face!...that thought made my heart ache. Quickly shoving that thought out of mind before I would start crying I manipulated my emotions, so that my face displayed excitement and a bit of fear.
“Oh! Well we’re happy to have you at Reno high. Your grades are quite impressive and so are your records! Hmm….there you go, your class schedule, a map of the school and your locker keys. And. It has been cleaned out for you”…. She added with another warm smile.
“Thank you so much…Mrs.…um…Whitney.” I added with a smile that I’m sure made me look constipated.
“You’re welcome dear. The pleasure is all ours. Now, off you go, classes are about to start in five minutes and you have Mr. Emeralds! And he hates it when students come late to class.”
With another smile I left the office and then groaned. My first class in this school was biology. I hated biology. And to top that all the biology teacher was a scary guy.
Yeah!’ I said to myself. My first day at Reno high would be tremendous! I went searching for my locker. It was right next to the large notice board. SO basically it was almost isolated. At least something good happened to me today. I shoved the books and my sketch pad inside my locker still keeping my head down I followed the map to my class 9-s(science). It was down the hallway rounding in at the corner. There were students outside the classroom trying to end their conversations as quickly as possible before Mr. Emeralds came. Their reaction to had been just as the others. When I passed them to get into class they brusquely stopped talking and started looking at me. Wanting to ignore them I kept my head down till I reached the last seat in the class room. Safely in my seat I buried my head in my biology book, shielding myself from my classmates. It felt like almost ages had passed before Mr. Emeralds finally entered the classroom. His booming voice silenced the whole classroom and by the way every one fell quite I was quite sure that he was a really strict teacher. Though he was quite short his attitude towered all of us. He had dusty brown hair and a protruding belly. It was his voice that freaked every one out!
When he entered the classroom I checked the time, it was exactly 9.00am!.. So he was punctual.strict.and.scary!.What a combination! Totally opposite me!
“Annie wood Hamilton?” he read out from a scrap piece of paper. Mrs. Whitney must have given it to him. He dint seem displeased when he read out my name, he dint look happy either.
I raised my hand slightly so that he knew I was present. By some miracle he dint call me to the front of the class or he introduced me or something. Though it was bad enough-everyone turned around and started looking at me. Again, I dug my head inside my biology book.
“I hope all of u’ll have finished your biology assignment, of course pardoning you miss Annie. I want them on my desk by the end of this period. You all can make your last minute changes now”….
Saying this he went to his desk grabbed a copy of some novel out of his bag and he began reading it, as if he was totally free now!..As of the people around me, were in a kind of frenzy. Every one making last minute changes, sticking stuff, removing stuff,etc. did none of these students finish their work at home?..How negligent of them!
As if some how she had read my face, the girl beside me turned towards me and said “you must be thinking how irresponsible we must be? But u should know Mr. Emeralds expects us to finish 20-25 paged assignments in 2-3days! He rarely gives such assignments but when he does we all are doomed. Two days ago we all received detailed emails about our biology project. His projects are sudden and unexpected. It doesn’t matter if your net connection sucks our not”…
I was just sitting there staring at her with curious eyes. “And! By the way I’m Ryanah…..u can call me Ryan.”. She added with a genuine smile.
I smiled back. She was pretty and quite tall, almost 5’7. Cherokee features highlighted her chalky white face. With a cascade of red ripples adorning it. She wore on light blue colored jeans and a pale yellow striped jacket. A pair of rusty colored shoes just added to her classy look. She wore nothing special just normal clothes and it made her look amazing imagine her dressed in a red mini dress and a pair of black pumps. Without makeup her looks would look killer!....
“as u must have heard I’m Annie…”
She giggled. “Nice to meet u Annie.”
“The pleasures mutual”….I added with a smile that was real.
“What say? During study period I show you around school, introduce you to people, n all?”
I could do that. It wasn’t like I was actually going to study! So some people here did break the rules!
“Yeah that’d be nice”
And that was the end of our conversation because Mr. Emeralds could not bear any one else except him having fun! He walked up to our desks and said…
“So Miss. Ryanah, by the rate of chitter chatter that you’re doing I presume you’ve completed your assignment.”
“Mr. Emeralds I’m almost done I was just telling Annie how we love our biology teacher and how nice he is.” She added a 30,000 wt. smile to justify herself.
“You know ms. Ryanah I’m not deaf. But because Ms.Annie has joined us today you BOTH are forgiven….just today. And remember no talking in my class without my permission.”
With a final glare he settled down to reading again. Ryanah looked at me with apologetic eyes and gave me a it happens, relax smile. I was so scared that I’m pretty sure I must have turned white. The result that Mr. Emeralds voice had. …was scary and freaky!
I settled back down to going read some boring chapter about the nucleus and some other membrane thing. Biology confused me to the core!
The periods rolled on. Each one more boring than the other. None of the teachers bothered to introduce me to the class. Just droning on and on! by recess I was so sleepy the I had almost dozed off during English!. Mrs. Lola our English teacher was eyeing me suspiciously. I must have looked like a mess.
Due to those ‘almost’ nightmares was lagging behind in my sleep. Without a good 6-7 hr sleep a day I would pass out almost anywhere if not kept busy. When I’m in a deep sleep, I neither stir nor move a single limb. The sound of my breathing is also inaudible. So Ryanah must have thought I was dead. Ryanah shook me hard the second time. And with a voice that was full of concern she said “ANNIE! ARE YOU ALRIGHT? ANNIE?”
I woke up with an enormous yawn and rubbed my groggy eyes. This was the first time in weeks since I had a peaceful nap. I was reluctant to wake up. It was hard for a ‘sleep-o-holic’ like me to give up even 5 minutes of tranquil sleep.
Ryanah breathed a sigh of relief when I forced myself to move. I mumbled something that must have sounded like gibberish. And retired back to sleeping. This time Ryanah yanked my arm causing my head to bob up like one of those bobbing-up-and-down dolls. This caused her to giggle hard. “Wake up sleeping beauty. We have lunch now. If we’re late there’ll be no place left to sit!”
With a final sigh I lifted myself of my seat and had a big gulp of water from my sipper. Then I splashed some water on my face causing a spill on my desk and the floor. Ryanah laughed again. “I’m glad I amuse you”…I said in a semi teasing semi sarcastic tone.
She playfully nudged me and started pulling me towards the door. That’s when I realized we two were the only people left in the classroom. Gosh!... this was my first day in school and teachers here must be thinking that I was such a ‘jug head’.
“Here goes nothing”….I murmured before leaving the classroom.
The cafeteria was a large room with metallic tables and wooden benches. Each set could serve around 8-10 students. Here the meaning of lunch was something exquisite. There was a wide selection of food ranging from burgar&fries, to steaks & some other chicken or something’s meat to omelets and sunny side up eggs! What WAS with the people over here? They all were so subtle in nature, clothing and their food was well…..like royalty! But a good part was that group ism was not favored here. Everyone mixed with everyone. That thought brought tears to my eyes; it reminded me of my old school. Jeesh! What was up with me? This was the second time in the day I was on the verge of tears!
Ryanah lead me to the starting of the never ending food counter. I took a strawberry tart, a chocolate muffin, thumbs up and a small yogurt. We were walking towards the last table in the hall. The short walk was pleasing as well as distressful. Everyone else waved and smiled at Ryanah but all I got were questioning looks and confused eyes. To shield myself from their gazes I increased my speed and almost bumped into Ryanah. With a knowing smile she too increased her speed and we reached our destination. They were sitting and talking to each other, laughing and smiling. The guys were going on and on about how strong they were and in turn they were receiving annoyed glances from the girls. When Ryanah joined the table everyone waved and greeted her. But as soon as I came into the scene they all fell silent. Ryanah smiled and said “relax people! She not an alien! Just shifted from LV”. That’s when everyone gave each other understanding nods and glances. Was I really that weird looking?
Every one waved and greeted me and scooted over to make space. I smiled. Lunch passed away in a breeze. I had made new friends and they actually weren’t that boring. We giggled, cracked jokes, talked about our past. 30 minutes had passed but it felt like 3minutes. We left our table and walked to the door. Everyone had to go different classes. We bid goodbye and promised to meet up in study period.
Ryanah had gym now and I had vernacular. A girl called Shasha had the same class. We talked about the school on our way to class. On the way there I stumbled and fell down. She tried to help me up but as class had already started I told her to carry on and that I would be there in a min. she reluctantly agreed and went on. It took me more than a min to stabilize myself and my things as I walked on towards class. I opened the door and what I saw made my blood run cold.