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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 8 (v.1) - Optimism

Submitted: July 06, 2008

Reads: 418

Comments: 14

A A A | A A A

Submitted: July 06, 2008




My dad grabbed a thick, cream-colored envelope off the coffee table. I shuffled over to his outstretched arm and reluctantly grabbed the paper. I looked at the front. In the upper left-hand corner, there was the name of the school—and no address— along with, what looked to be, the Arborson coat of arms. It wasn’t the normal, split-in-four shield that most medieval or family coat of arms was, though. It was a circle, with only one picture on it. At the top, there was one cloud, off to the left side, with five stars next to it. Then near the bottom, there was a puff of smoke coming from the right, and eight flames, licking their way up toward the cloud and stars, covering parts of each. I didn’t have a clue what it was supposed to mean.

I broke the seal—which was red wax, indented with the same symbol as the outside of the envelope, and carefully slid the letter out. It was on thick, ivory-colored paper. I unfolded it. Once again, I was faced with the Arborson coat of arms, only this time, it was in the center of the top of the paper. My eyes wandered away from the curious symbol to the actual letter. It read:

Dear Miss Emma Garett,

We proudly welcome you to join our first-class finishing school, Arborson Academy. We have found you to be an acceptable candidate to attend Arborson, based on your school performance, overall work ethic, diligency, academic performance, grades, advanced skill level, talent, and personality.

Arborson is not your normal finishing school. We are a co-ed school that teaches students advanced academic courses, life skills, and much more. There is a packet included with this letter, informing you of the other services Arborson offers.

Arborson and several high schools around the country, including yours, work together to pick out the best overall students to attend our finishing school each year. There are only a few students chosen from each state every year to attend Arborson, so the class sizes are rather small. You should feel very honored to attend Arborson. We are the most elite finishing school in the country. There are, of course, other branches of our school in different countries, so students around the world can experience life and learning to their highest potential, as well.

If you decide to attend Arborson, here are a few things you need to know, in list form.

-Arborson is a boarding school, so you will be sleeping, eating, learning, and living here.

-At Arborson, you will learn all of the skills you could possibly need to know in life.

-There are advanced placement classes at Arborson, so you will be able to continue your education, learning more than would be possible at your current high school, or any high school in the world.

We want you to know that this is quite literally a once in a lifetime opportunity. You are one of approximately one hundred students in the country, being asked to attend Arborson this year. An opportunity like this (if you choose to decline it) will absolutely, without a doubt, never come upon you again. Think carefully before making your decision. We would love to have you at Arborson, but if you do not think it would be in your best interest, do not attend. However, we at Arborson, think it would definitely be in your best interest. Once you graduate Arborson, you will have so many more opportunities to succeed in this world. Choosing to attend will be the best decision of your life—and the most rewarding. Choosing not to attend will be the most regretted decision of your life.

Be sure to read the packet included. It will tell you much more about Arborson, including information about highly successful Arborson alumni, special services offered at Arborson, pictures of our campus, information about our classes and professors, the history of Arborson, and much more.

If you choose to attend Arborson, you will need to be ready to leave, this Tuesday morning at ten o’clock. There will be a bus coming to pick up you and your belongings, to take to Arborson. You need to bring everything that you will need for one year. You are not required to bring any school supplies. Arborson provides every student with proper supplies. More information is in the packet. We hope to see you soon, Miss Garett.


Rosella Marricia Lunding

Rosella Marricia Lunding,


I looked in the envelope for the information packet. It was shaped like a brochure, but with several detailed pages regarding professors, services, etc.

“What’s the letter about?” asked my dad.

I handed it to him. He read it, a look of shock forming on his face. When he finished, he asked for the information packet. I gave it to him, without having time to read much of it myself—not that it made much of a difference. He sat down on the couch, hastily scanning over the packet. I sat down on the recliner. I watched my dad’s every movement and facial expression, looking for signs of disagreement or anger. I hoped he wouldn’t make this difficult; I wasn’t sure what would happen if he did.

When he finished scanning through the packet, he asked, “Do you want to go?”

I was shocked. I thought my dad, of all people, would put up a fight and refuse to let me leave. He was so stuck in his ways; I had partially thought that persuading him to let me go would be nearly impossible.

“Well, yes,” I said, not quite honestly. “I think going would be the smart decision.”

“It is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” he said, trying to convince himself that he should let me go.

“Exactly,” I agreed. “Dad, the letter said that I was one of only about one hundred students in the whole country chosen. That has to mean something.”

“The credentials are extraordinary,” he pointed out. “This place seems pretty legitimate.” He sat there, pondering over his decision for a couple of minutes. Finally, he said, “I suppose if you want to go, you can go.”

I breathed a sigh of relief. “Yes, dad, I do. Thank you so much.” I got up and went over to the couch to give him a hug.

“Here,” he said, when our embrace ended. He handed me the letter and the brochure. “You’d better read over this packet.”

“Okay, dad,” I said sweetly, and took the two pieces of paper. I was still holding the envelope. I turned around and headed for the stairs.

“Emma?” my dad called.

“Yeah?” I said, turning around.

“I’m proud of you.”

“Thanks, dad,” I said, a little embarrassed. Those words usually never came out of his mouth. He grinned sheepishly and turned back to the TV.

I walked up the stairs, and into my room, closing the door behind me. I turned around and nearly jumped out of my skin.


Ryan, sitting on the edge of my bed, smirked. “Sorry I scared you,” he apologized.

“It’s fine,” I said.

He patted a section of bed on his right. I walked over and sat down. I looked into his eyes. “What are you doing here?” I asked.

“Does that mean you don’t want me here?” he asked.

I began to panic. “No, no! It’s just, well, I wasn’t expecting you to be here.”

“I wanted to see how it went with your dad,” he explained.

“Oh. It went fine, I guess. He didn’t react at all like I thought he would have.”

“And how did you think he would react?” Ryan asked.

“Well, I was sure that he’d at least bust a vein or something.”

Ryan chuckled.

“I’m serious. My dad is very set in his ways. He’s a teacher, so he likes things to go his way, and for students to be taught the way he thinks is right,” I explained.

“Ah,” Ryan muttered, understanding.

“It was really weird. He was surprisingly cool with it. The letter and packet sounded really legit. I didn’t think it’d be that convincing.”

“Really?” asked Ryan, skeptically. “What kind of secret Vampire-training school do you think we’re running here?” he asked, jokingly.

I glared at him. “Ha ha, very funny,” I muttered.

“Come on, Emma, lighten up!” Ryan teased. “At least he’s letting you go. Well, you’d be going whether he wanted you to or not—but that’s beside the point. At least he agrees with this. That makes things easier.”

I sighed, looking away. “I guess,” I muttered.

“Don’t worry,” Ryan soothed. “You’ll be fine. I’ll be there with you.”

“So we don’t have to worry about the no-contact rule anymore?” I asked, optimistic.

“My better judgment is trying to force me to say yes, but no. It’s kind of pointless, now, I suppose.”

I grinned.

“But we can’t let anyone know that we’re not worrying about it,” he warned. “Do you know how much trouble we’d be in if the headmistress or any of the other adult Vampires found out what we did? They’d separate us forever, and would probably never let either of us change a human ever again. So we’d both have to live off of human blood for the rest of our lives. And let me tell you, Emma, Vampires— if they’re not killed, that is—have long lives.”

This was news. “How long do Vampires usually live?” I asked.

Ryan grimaced. It appeared that he was regretting mentioning anything. I sat, waiting.

“It depends,” he began.

“On?” I asked, when he didn’t say anything else.

“On the strength of the Vampire originally, the strength of the creator, and several other factors—much like human aging.”

I suppose my feeling of confusion showed through onto my face, because he sat still, concentrating—thinking of a different way to explain it.

“Let’s use you and me as an example, shall we?”

I nodded.

“Say that I was naturally a somewhat weak Vampire, because my creator was weak. Since I transferred my venom into you, that would make you weak too. And vice versa; if my creator had been extremely strong, that would make me extremely strong, and, in turn, make you extremely strong. It’s like human genetics. Except there’s only one gene pool instead of two. Say everyone on both sides of your family has brown hair. There’s a high chance that you’ll have brown hair. But, there’s also a chance that you won’t have brown hair. If a gene mutates, then you could end up with blonde hair, or red hair.”

He looked at me hopefully, wishing I would understand and he wouldn’t have to explain more. I was still a little confused.

“What I mean to say is,” he continued. “It’s not set in stone. If my creator was strong because his creator was strong, and so on, then it’s highly likely that you’ll be strong. But there’s also a chance that something will change, and you won’t be. Does that make sense?”

“Yeah, I guess. But what does that have to do with aging?”

“Since everything isn’t set in stone—things are subject to change—you can’t really predict how long a certain Vampire is going to live. And strength has a lot to do with it; strength, in general, potency of venom, etcetera. The average Vampire’s life-span is generally longer than the average human’s, however—at least one hundred years from the time when you are changed. But if a Vampire was weaker, they wouldn’t live as long, and if the Vampire was stronger, they’d live longer.”

“Oh. That makes sense then, I guess.”

“Sorry,” Ryan apologized. “There’s really no better way I can think to explain it. But, once you’re at Arborson, you’ll have a class on Vampire physiology and genealogy. You’ll learn everything you want to know then.”

“Okay. So it’s not just all fighting?”

“No. You learn about your own makeup—your strengths, weaknesses, and abilities. And, on the plus-side, it helps you fight a better fight if you know about these things. You also learn about the history of the War for Dominance. Plus, you get one period a day that you get to choose. You can do something different every day, if you like.”

“Like what?” I asked, intrigued.

“Reading, poetry, art, creative writing, mathematics, sciences, music, craftwork—pretty much anything you can think of.”

“That’s good,” I sighed, relieved.

I looked out my window, noticing it was getting darker. I looked at my clock. It said: 6:42 PM

I sighed. “Hey, Ryan?” I asked.


“What time are you coming tonight?”

He looked away, somehow reluctant to tell me. He looked back at me. “Well, technically, I’m not coming tonight.”

“What?!” I interrupted.

“Emma, chill out,” he demanded. “What I was going to say was that I’ll be coming tomorrow.”

I opened my mouth to interrupt again, but he put a finger over my lips, not letting me.

“Just listen,” he urged. “I’m going to be coming tomorrow morning at two A.M. That’s the same time I always come.”

Then he took his finger off my lips, so I asked, “Why?”

“That’s just the rule,” he said.

“Why two o’clock, though?” I asked, again.

“It’s just the rule,” he snapped.

I flinched.

Ryan sighed. “I’m sorry.”

I looked away.

“Truly, I am,” he continued. “It’s just that, there’s really no specific reason. That’s just the time that works the best.”

“Why does it work the best?” I asked hesitantly.

“Nobody knows. People used to be changed into Vampires any time during the night, but sometimes, during certain times, it wouldn’t work out so well.”

I had a confused look on my face, so he added, “Something would go wrong.”

Realization struck me like a brick wall. So, people would die if they weren’t changed at the right time? That’s weird, I thought. Why would the time effect the transformation? However, I decided not to ask, because I had a feeling that Ryan didn’t know either; I doubted that any Vampire knew.

“Are you okay?” Ryan asked.


“Emma, are you alright?” he asked again, worry tinting his tone.

“Yeah, yeah, I’m fine.”

“So, what do you want to do until you have to go to bed?” he asked, changing the subject.

“I don’t know.” Then butterflies erupted in my stomach. “Are you staying?” I asked, hopefully.

“If you want me to,” he replied.

YES! YES! YES! Of course I do! I thought. “Well, do you want to?”

“I wouldn’t mind,” he said, then leaned over and kissed me gently on the lips.

I smiled, butterflies taking over the rest of my body. “I wouldn’t mind, either,” I said, flirty.

He grinned. “So, what do you want to do?” he asked again.

Hmmm. What could I do with Ryan, the drop-dead gorgeous Vampire who I was absolutely obsessed with, who liked me as much as I liked him? Uh, what couldn’t I do?

“I don’t care,” I said, simply. And I didn’t. If Ryan and I were together, I would probably be up for just about anything. “What do you usually do this time of day?”

“Oh, this and that,” he replied. “Usually I just wander around. Normally, I’d be at Arborson, remember.”

“Where have you been staying the past few nights?” I asked.

“Well, I haven’t slept—except for today—so it’s not like I’ve needed a place for that. I’ve become accustomed to wandering around the old theater at night—you know, just seeing what’s still up there. That’s been quite fascinating.”

“That sounds fun,” I said, truthfully.

“Yeah, except for the fact that it can get excruciatingly boring after four or five hours. That’s usually when I come over here.”

“What? You come to my house?”

“Well, yeah, I have to check on you,” he said, as if this fact should be obvious.

I sighed.

“Well, I won’t have to do it again,” he said. “This is the last night of your transformation, so tomorrow I’ll be out of here.”

My heart sank. “You’re not staying?”

“Emma, I can’t. Normally, the creators come on the fourth day, tell the created what they need to know, then leave and return to Arborson the next day. It would cause suspicion if I didn’t arrive back at Arborson soon enough.”

“Oh,” I sighed.

“Emma, I’ll complete your transformation at two A.M. then I’ll stay nearby in case anything goes wrong. I’ll have to leave by tomorrow afternoon, though. I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay. Don’t worry about it.”

“But I will worry about it. I won’t be able to help it. That’s the problem,” he said, frustrated, turning his face away, over his left shoulder.

“Ryan,” I said, placing my hand on his shoulder. “I’ll be fine. Don’t worry about me. You did your job. Nothing will go wrong.” I hated saying these words. I wanted to complain and tell him I wouldn’t be alright and that he should stay. But I couldn’t force myself to be that selfish.

He turned his head back around so he faced me. “Emma, I know nothing will go wrong—if nothing goes wrong tonight, that is. That’s why it’s a problem. I know there’s nothing to worry about, yet, I can’t help but worry about you.”

I looked down, blushing.

“I care about you, Emma,” he continued. “Whenever I’m not around you, I can’t help but think something will go wrong, and, since I’m not around, I won’t be able to save you. Even though I’m not supposed to be around you, I can’t help but want to—despite everything I know could happen, despite what’s already happened…”he trailed off.

“Do you regret getting closer to me?” I asked, knowing I probably didn’t want to hear the answer.

He sighed. “Of course not. It’s just that…it shouldn’t be this way. You know it, and I know it.”

“But it is this way,” I argued. “There’s nothing we can do about it now.”

“But maybe,” he said, thoughtfully. “Maybe if we ceased seeing each other now, then”—

“No!” I interrupted, before I could stop myself. He looked at me, a look on his face, somewhere between shock and disapproval. “I mean, I don’t think that would be such a good idea,” I corrected.

“Why not?” he asked.

Now what are you supposed to say, genius? I silently asked myself.

“Um, well,” I began. He continued staring at me. “I might need you, you know? Being a new Vampire and all—especially since I’m changing the way I am. You never know,” I lied convincingly—or, at least, that’s what I thought.

Ryan sighed…again. “Emma,” he said slowly, somewhat condescendingly. “I can’t stay. If other Vampires knew about what’s been happening…Trust me, it’s better this way.”

I looked down, feeling rejected. Ryan reached over and grabbed my chin—gently, but firmly, pulling my gaze toward him.

“I won’t leave you for long. We’ll be together at Arborson. Of course, no one will be able to know, but that’s not the point. The point is, we will be together. We just have to wait a little while.” He leaned in and gently kissed my forehead.

“Fine,” I grumbled.

“Just so we’re clear on a few things,” he began, pulling back and staring into my eyes. “No one can know that we’ve broken the rules. We’d be in a lot of trouble. And, Emma, no one can know that you’re progressing the way you are. Although,” he pondered. “If the adult Vampires knew about what was happening, then maybe that would give us an excuse for being together. Hmmm.”

I sat—watching him as he turned his head away, thinking—anxiously awaiting his decision.

“No,” he decided. “I think it would be best if no one knew. Is that okay with you?” he asked.

Personally, whatever Ryan wanted me to do, I was likely to do it. “Yeah, I don’t care.”

“Okay,” he said, simply. “So, now that we’re done being serious, what do you want to do?” Ryan asked, trying to lighten the mood a bit. It worked.

“I don’t care,” I told him.

“Well, I don’t know what you like to do, so why don’t you pick something.”

Great, I thought. I was terrible at making decisions—especially under this kind of pressure.

“Ummm.” I contemplated things like watching a movie and going for a walk, but neither of those sounded particularly appealing.

“How about we just relax and talk,” Ryan suggested.

Huh. “Works for me.”

“Can I ask you a question, then?”


“Is it okay if we talk about nonVampire-related things?” he asked, shyly.

“Whatever you want to talk about is fine,” I answered.

“Good.” He suddenly got a very serious look on his face. “Emma, what’s your favorite color?”

Huh? Why does that matter? I answered anyway. “Green.”


“I don’t know. Green is fresh. Green is life. It just makes me happy.” He looked pleased at that. “Why does it matter?” I asked.

“No reason. I was just looking around your room, noticing what you wear, and it was bothering me. Usually people wear their favorite color more than anything else, but I really didn’t see a pattern anywhere. That’s all.”
“Oh, okay. How about you?”

“Hmm,” he pondered. “Probably red.”

“Why?” I asked.

“Red’s the color of passion—of romance. It’s the color of determination, of fire. Red is a strong color, but sweet at the same time.”

I looked down blushing.

“It’s also the color of blood,” he continued. I could feel his eyes boring into my cheek, so, naturally, I blushed even harder.

My hair had fallen over my shoulder and was partially covering my face. I was still looking down, so I didn’t see him moving, but I felt his touch. Ryan gently brushed my hair away, back over my shoulder. Then I saw him—out of the corner of my eye, leaning in toward me. Then I felt his smooth lips on my cheek. I blushed even more fiercely. I felt his cool breath on my skin. His lips traveled down my cheek, arriving at my neck. I stayed perfectly still, not breathing.

Ryan reached over me with his left hand and placed it on my neck, opposite of where his lips were. I tuned my head toward him and he looked up and stared me in the eyes. His were blazing, molten emerald swirling around like fire. The gold flecks in his eyes were like leaves floating gently in a pool of jade. The light brown ring around the edge of his irises seemed to shimmer and twist, just as much on fire as the rest of his eyes.

“Your eyes are blazing,” he murmured.

“Mine?” I asked, stupidly.

“Like liquid gold, swirling through molten emerald.”

“So are yours,” I whispered.

Then, Ryan leaned into me, pushing me flat against the bed, kissing me in earnest as he was doing so. My lips parted and I inhaled his intoxicating scent, so potent that I could taste it. My blood—what was left of it—boiled. My heart beat faster than a hummingbird’s. The butterflies in my stomach caught fire. A burning hot desire was racing through my body. I gripped Ryan’s shoulders, pulling him against me, getting him as close as I could without his entire body being parallel to mine, not that I would have minded that so much at the moment. Ryan’s left hand left my neck and traveled down my side, settling itself on my waist. His right hand was cupping my face. My lips moved hot and fast against his cold ones. I felt like I was going to explode.

Abruptly, Ryan pulled away, jumping off the bed and out the window. I lied there, confused as to what was happening.

“Sit up!” he hissed from outside. I did so. “Get your packet!” I grabbed my Arborson informational packet and opened it, not sure why I was doing so.

“Your dad’s coming!” he hissed.

Knock. Knock.

I tried to regain enough composure to walk over to the door, couldn’t, and just yelled, “Come on in!”

My dad opened the door slowly and peeked in. “I was just making sure you read the packet,” he explained. I waved it at him. He nodded in approval. “You should probably get a head-start on packing, just to make sure you remember everythi—”

“Kay,” I answered, cutting him off a little bit.

He was silent for a minute, then asked. “Are you okay, Ems?”

“Huh?” I asked, flustered, looking over at him. “Yeah, I’m fine. Why?”

“You seem kind of jumpy.”

“What? No, I’m fine—just excited, and a little nervous, I guess.”

“Okay,” he said, dubiously.

“I’m fine, Dad,” I assured him.

“Okay. Well, you’d better start packing,” he said, again.

“Kay, Dad. Will do.”

“See ya, Em.” Then he ducked out and shut the door behind him.

I breathed a sigh of relief as Ryan hopped back through the window.

“That was close,” he admitted, chuckling slightly.

“Yeah, too close for my taste,” I agreed.

Spllllsssshhhh –the sound of the shower turning on.

“If he’d only decided to take a shower a few minutes sooner…” I suggested, irritated.

“Oh well.” Ryan shrugged his shoulders. We didn’t get caught, though.”

“Yeah, that’s a plus,” I muttered.

Ryan walked over and sat down beside me. “You probably should start packing, he suggested.

“Fine,” I groaned, as I got up off the bed. I walked over to my closet and pulled out the dark blue suitcase that I stored at the top. I plopped it on my bed. “How much do I need to bring?” I asked.

“Pretty much everything,” Ryan informed me.

“Great,” I mumbled.

“You’re probably going to need another suitcase.”

“Yeah, I know. I’ll get another one from my dad later.” I looked around my room, thinking about what I wanted to pack. I figured I’d pack things other than clothes now, since I wouldn’t forget about clothes. Hmmm. I walked over to my bedside table and grabbed my alarm clock. I could use the alarm on my cell phone tomorrow, even though I hated using my phone because I couldn’t just slam my hand down on it to shut it up. I tossed my clock in the suitcase.

I opened my desk drawers and stuffed, first Ryan’s three letters, then some random poem’s I’d written, and finally some loose leaf, into the pockets of a folder. I grabbed a spiral that I sometimes wrote random things in, like quotes, to-do lists, and schedules, and tossed them both on top of the alarm clock.

Ryan was watching me, an amused look on his face.

“What?” I asked.

“Nothing,” he said, shaking his head.

After I finished packing all my knick-knacks, the suitcase wasn’t entirely full, so I grabbed my favorite hoodie—the red one with the little pictures on the pocket—and laid that in the suitcase on top of everything. I couldn’t help but blush a little at the color. I knew I’d never see the color red the same way again. I looked at the clock on my cell. By now, It was a little after seven forty—Ryan had slowed down the packing process somewhat by asking a ton of questions about nearly everything I put in the suitcase. Questions like, “Where did you get that?” “Why do you like that so much?” “What makes that special to you?” etc., etc. I didn’t mind, though. I was kind of flattered that he cared so much about my life and the things that were in it.

I stood with my hands on my hips, surveying my room, making sure I hadn’t forgotten to pack anything that I would need or want. Finally, I decided I had packed it all, so I walked over and sat next to Ryan, who was perched on the edge of my bed near my bedside table. He put both of his arms around me and I leaned into his chest. We just sat there like that for a few minutes until he finally broke the silence.

“You should probably pack the rest now, too, while you’re at it,” he suggested.

I sighed. Yeah, I should. But I didn’t want to move from where I was, wrapped up in Ryan’s arms. “Kay,” I sighed.

He released me and I stumbled to my door. I opened it and walked down the hall, into my dad’s bedroom. I knocked.

“Hey Dad?”

“Yeah Em? Come on in.”

He was lying in his bed with the bedside lamp on, reading a book. From where I was standing in the doorway, I couldn’t tell what the title was.

“Um, do you know where the other suitcase is?” I asked.

“Uh, I think there’s a couple in the hall closet—somewhere near the top,” he answered, not taking his eyes away from his book.

“Okay. Thanks, Dad.”

“No problem, kiddo.”

I sighed and walked back out, heading for the hall closet. This will be fun, I thought, sarcastically. The hall closet was a mess. When I got there, I opened the door, half-expecting the entire contents of the closet to come spilling out on top of me. But, to my great pleasure, they didn’t. After deciding that it was somewhat safe, I reached up as high as I could, trying to reach the luggage I’d seen tucked away at the back of the closet. I stretched, but I couldn’t reach.

A pale hand appeared out of nowhere and snatched the luggage I couldn’t quite grasp. I gasped and turned around as Ryan lifted the suitcase over my head.

“You scared the crap out of me,” I admitted, breathless.

He chucked under his breath. “Sorry.”

I sighed. “Could you get the other one that’s up there, too?” I asked.

He looked me in the eye as he reached up again and grabbed the other suitcase, never breaking eye contact. He pulled me out of the way of the closet door and shut it. He started walking back toward my room—which was right next to the hall closet—luggage in hand. I quickly followed after him and shut my door behind me.

He plopped the two suitcases on the bed, then turned around and faced me.

“Would you like some help?” he asked.

“No, that’s okay. You don’t have to.”

He frowned.

“I mean, if you want to, you can,” I corrected quickly. “But you don’t have to if you don’t want to.”

His frown curled into a grin. “What can I do?” he asked, overly cheerful.

“Uhh,” I tried to think of what he could grab without it being too personal. Yeah, you can just go over and grab my bras out of my dresser—top drawer, I thought, dry humor seeping through me. “You can grab all my pants out of my closet,” I decided. He walked over to my closet, which was directly opposite the window he usually climbed in through, slid the door open and began searching for my pants.

I unzipped both suitcases, then, deciding Ryan was good where he was for a while, I walked over to my dresser, which was close to the closet, turned my back to Ryan and opened the top drawer, pulling out most of my bras and underwear, leaving a few of each for the next couple days. I returned to the bed and placed them in the smaller of the two suitcases. Then I walked back over to my dresser and opened the next drawer, pulling out my socks. I placed them on top of the bras. I made two more roundtrips to my dresser and back to my bed, grabbing first, my pajamas, then my tank tops, and smashing them into the suitcase. When that was done, I opened up the larger suitcase and walked over to my closet where Ryan had most of my jeans and sweatpants draped over his arm. I took them from him and walked over to my bed, where I folded and put them all in the larger suitcase. I passed him as I walked back over to my closet. He had a couple pairs of dress pants in his hands. I started pulling things off the hangers, sweaters first, then T-shirts, followed by nicer blouses, then dress shirts, tossing them all at Ryan, who obediently folded them and put them in the suitcase on top of the pants.

It took about twenty-five minutes to pack nearly everything—I left out pjs for tonight and tomorrow night, and two outfits, one for tomorrow, and one for Tuesday, tossing them on top of my dresser. Before zipping up both suitcases, I grabbed my shoes (most of which were Converse, so they fit nicely) and stuffed them into the large suitcase. I zipped up the luggage and hauled it off my bed, propping it up against the wall next to my door.

I looked around my room at my vacant closet, open and empty dresser drawers, and ransacked shelves, a feeling of accomplishment spreading throughout my body. But the feeling didn’t last long. It was soon replaced by an overwhelming feeling of loneliness, of detachment. This might be the second-to-last night I was going to spend in my room, with all my things, all my memories. I knew it was silly to be sad over losing material things, but I couldn’t help but feel a little forlorn.

I felt two cold arms wrap around my waist, pulling me against an ice-cold body.

“Emma, what’s the matter?” Ryan asked, compassion dripping from his tongue.

“It’s just,” I began. “It’s just that I’ve lived in this house my whole life, you know. I’ve never left this city, even. And to think, I’ll be leaving it all behind in a few days time—possibly for good. It’s just a little overwhelming.”

“I know,” Ryan soothed. “That’s exactly how it was for me. I had never left my hometown until I was changed. I know what it’s like.”

I was glad Ryan could empathize with me. It made me feel closer to him. “What city did you live in?” I asked, genuinely curious.

He hesitated. “Uh, I lived here,” he said, finally.

WHAT?! “What do you mean?” I asked.

He sighed, resigned. “I lived here. In Gunnison.”

“What? Well, how come I never saw you?”

“My family and I…” He paused. “We kept to ourselves.”

“Oh.” It suddenly got very awkward very fast. I felt like my waist—where his arms were touching it—was burning. He seemed strangely uncomfortable talking about his family, and I didn’t want things to get weird, so I changed the subject.

“What time is it?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” he replied, still seeming to be a little shaken from mentioning his family.

I slipped out of his arms and searched for my cell phone. I found it on my bedside table and flipped it open.

“It’s about eight-twenty. I guess I’m going to go take a shower,” I informed him. The atmosphere was still just a little tense and I wanted to escape.

“Okay,” Ryan said, simply.

I walked over and grabbed a pair of underwear and pajamas that I had left on top of my dresser and walked past Ryan, heading for the door. Before closing it, I sneaked a final peek at Ryan, still standing in the same spot.

I shut the door and walked across the hallway into my bathroom. I set my pjs on the counter next to the sink, undressed, turned the water on and stepped into a steamy, mind-clearing oasis. I tried to calm myself, and to not think about what would be happening at two o’clock, or what would be happening less than two days from now. I absent-mindedly wondered if Ryan was still standing in my room, or if he had left. I wondered if he’d be there when I came back, or if I would have to wait until two to see him again. I wondered why he had clammed up when I’d mentioned his family.

The hot water sprayed my face and I let myself absorb the serenity of the moment, forgetting all my worries and dilemmas for the next twenty minutes.

© Copyright 2018 Catherine . All rights reserved.


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