A Bit of a Make-Out Session
Would you kindly stop drumming your pencil? It’s disrupting the entire class.”
The pencil fell from between her fingers and rolled onto the floor with a clink.
The noise seemed foreign within the sterile boundaries of Mr. Oda’s classroom. The white-wash walls glowed under the harsh gaze of the fluorescent lights overhead; the windows were barred with blinds to keep distractions of the outside world in their proper place.
The teacher continued.
“I want it in by the 23rd. I will not take it late—even with excused absences.”
Rory interjected as she sat up suddenly.
“The project I was discussing with the rest of the class while you were off in your own world, Cauthon.”
A soft snickering fluttered through the air hesitantly– for any sort of merriment such as laughter felt inherently forbidden in Mr. Oda’s classroom. The buzz of the florescent lights soon regained its dominance, playing like a soundtrack in the background.
“Really, Cauthon. I thought this year was going to be the year you finally passed a science class,” The teacher abruptly smirked. His thin, white lips appearing like slices of paper folded precisely into sharp corners. “Or do you really enjoy the remedial summer school course that much?”
Rory squirmed under the sharpness of his gaze. Suddenly she began to regret ever speaking out at all.
She didn’t usually mind being singled out, she could certainly handle being scolded – it was unusual if it didn’t happen at least once a day, but Mr. Oda’s scolding was more pointed and slick. It burrowed to the deepest part of her and made her cold all over.
“Because your defective mind cannot absorb anything I say, and Lord knows I don’t want to teach you again in summer school, I’ll repeat myself for your benefit. You are each going to be assigned a biological process necessary for life; cellular respiration, glycolysis, aging…”
And like a light parched for watts, Rory was out.
Rory Cauthon had always known she was just a little bit different. No memory stuck out as painfully as the day she’d first started Bridgeport High. All laughter and happy chat had ceased as every eye turned and abruptly landed on her. It had taken several moments for the numb silence to be overturned, and that was just the start of a long line of similar days.
It wasn’t as if she had a weird disposition; she’d always worn completely normal clothing and her IQ was average (with only a couple of failing grades). There was nothing wrong with her, and nothing particularly special about her, either. Rory was absolutely stumped as to why it seemed there was an imaginary barrier erected between her and other people.
He knew everything about Rory, but she knew virtually nothing about him.
Actually, if there was one thing she did know about Asa, it was that he typically slept throughout class. Yet despite this, he was always able to answer any question thrown at him. How he managed to do that, Rory had no idea.
Of course, his selective narcolepsy was aggravating because that meant there was no one that she could copy notes from. Rory didn’t have much of an aptitude for academics, especially when it came to science. Failing the baneful subject had become somewhat of a ritual for her, so this semester she was determined to pass.
Keeping her head out of the clouds was so difficult, though. Sometimes she had to just move something to make sure she wasn’t totally paralyzed with boredom, but drumming your pencil could only be done for so long before your hand cramped or the teacher snapped.
There were not many people on the walk home. Rory didn’t have money for the subway and she figured Asa didn’t either.
“What’s the point?”
“I’m pretty sure I already know enough about aging to write a crappy little paper. I mean, I made it all the way to 16!”
“Rory, do you even know any old people?”
“How about the man who runs the coffee shop?”
“He’s middle-aged, Rory. I mean old.”
“Hey, old is old! He’s got grey hairs!”
Asa heaved a heavy sigh. “Yes, but do you know why his hair is grey?”
“Erm, because that’s what old people do? They just get skinny and grey.”
“But why do they get grey and skinny now that they’re old?”
“Jeez, I dunno— maybe because their hair got bored with being the same colour all those years and it’s too much of a hassle for them to walk to the kitchen or something!”
“All I need to do is just write a bit about puberty, then shift to getting old and having to wear nappies whenever you leave the house.”
“There is always a process in doing things, Rory— nothing just magically appears without energy being spent.”
“So what?!” Rory snapped.
“Why does everything have to have a damn reason? Why can’t some things just be because they are?!”
Her companion crossed his arms over his chest. It was an action Asa only partook in when he was particularly annoyed.
“This is exactly why you are failing science, Rory.”
The library was the physical embodiment of everything in this world Rory despised: learning and silence. Ironically, although she hated to read (her limited attention span simply would not warrant it), she had always found the thick, coarse scent of books comforting.
Sometimes, Rory could imagine herself as a toddler, crawling carefully in between stacks of vivid books, piled like haphazard skyscrapers puncturing the air.
In her mind’s eye, she could almost witness her mother reading a book, a look of intense focus icing her eyes over.
Then, she would notice Rory’s stare and look up, vibrant tendrils of hair swinging wildly, and smile pleasantly down at her. Not a beautiful smile – just an ordinary, kind one. Of course, Rory had no idea if this memory was fictitious or not.
In truth, she wasn’t even sure what her mother looked like. Rory had only ever seen one picture of her real family. It had been a black and white wedding photo and in it her mother had not been smiling at all.
“For me. I have a project to do too, you know. Besides, even though it’s a pain, I need to set a good example for you to follow.”
“That’s what you said about last week’s Simlish paper.”
“No. You didn’t. All you did was write some lame excuse about a radioactive sumo wrestler breathing fire on your paper and eating all your pencils.”
“She totally bought it.”
Rory tossed a rather heated scowl at her companion, which went distinctly unheeded.
Seeing as Asa was so adamantly set on studying, it was too cold outside and there was simply nothing else to do, Rory began to venture aimlessly through the sea of books on either side of her, refusing to use the library as its founders had intended.
All libraries should be burned to the ground.
She paused when she realised she had wondered further into the library than she had originally intended. She glanced around, noticing the decoration had changed quite significantly. It seemed… older somehow, like the sort of thing one might see in those period dramas on tv.
She walked around a little longer trying to spy a door or the reception desk, but after several more desperate searches she only came across a seemingly endless sea of books. At first she didn’t panic— the library wasn’t that big.
This was was only the third largest library in Simerica, after all.
Suddenly, she recalled a story in the newspaper that a hobo had once lived here for an entire 3 months before being plucked out by irate librarians; and just two weeks ago, a boy had been reported missing only to be found hours later, wandering fruitlessly through the shelves.
That was when she read some of the titles.
Halting Cell Death.
Then, on the fading, red spine of the next book:
Aging: A process.
Her eyes widened. Sometimes the world was a frighteningly convenient place, but Rory Cauthon was not complaining in the least. Her key to passing science and finally breaking that dastardly tradition was mere inches from her finger tips….!
Her hand fell limply as she watched a pair of black converse begin to stalk carelessly away.
“Hey, you asshole, that’s my damn book!”
The black shoes then turned around cautiously.
—when the bandit bolted.
A long string of curses rowdily sang out through the quiet, stillness of the library in her wake.
—the type of skin one only develops from never going outside, or employing too much suncream.
Obviously the elusive boy was a geek who couldn’t handle confrontations without peeing in his pants.
Somehow, she knew that boy was in there. It was like instinct. He’s in there.
“Okay! The jig is up! I’ve got you now, you little geek, so hand it over right—“
Even though it was Rory’s first time ever meeting this boy she could tell that his voice was pained – constricted.
The intensity of that mere word was enough to lapse Rory into a bout of silence. She simply stood there dumbly, staring at the quivering back of the formerly-known-ass. Rory was struck by the sudden realisation that he was not ‘little’ by any means—or even a boy for that matter.
It seemed to command the very essence of time.
Glancing down at the floor, she found her book lying there pointlessly, as if warning her to run.
“Didn’t you just hear me, idiot? I said leave.”
“Like hell! You stole my book and made me get lost in this damn library again! I demand an apology—a really freaking good one, too!”
“I don’t owe you—haaa—anythin—mmm.”
The fury inside of Rory ebbed away as she realised this boy was in serious pain, then she grew alarmed as the boy suddenly dropped to the ground. She could even make out the stark blue veins beneath his skin.
“Hey— are you okay?”
The boy choked.
“Don’t come any closer—!”
In those next few moments something very strange and unordinary occurred. Rory was drawn to his boy, her legs no longer her’s to control. They followed a path entirely of their own accord. It was like her limbs were guided by tiny, invisible strings—
The boy’s words made no sense as they collected ineffectively in Rory’s ears. She only half noted that the boy had stood up to face her. She couldn’t for the life of her focus on the boy’s face; she sensed it was sharp and pale but—
She was repulsed by the fact that she didn’t possess any control over herself.
Pale hands assertively grabbed her cheeks, slamming their faces together with what seemed to be another force entirely.
Her legs, now two vindictive columns of jelly, stumbled backward. She was nothing more than a lump of fleshy putty that could not so much as even murmur a weak protest against the mouth that was overwhelming her, as if to consume her completely.
Why couldn’t she bite the offending appendage in her mouth? Why couldn’t she move, damn it?
A chorus of panting filled the small, silent closet.
“Who—” She wheezed, almost flinching at the frailty of her voice. “—what—why?”
I believe we’ve just engaged in a bit of a make-out session.”
I’m cursed and now so are you.
And, with another mordant smirk, the boy simply exited the closet with nothing more then a flimsy wave.
Rory was absolutely elated to feel a rush of anger sweep through her veins. She attempted to chase after him, but found her legs were just too wobbly to do anything.
Suddenly a ghastly ache seized her entire body. Every time she moved, a terrible pain raced through her limbs. It was unbearable. Rory had never in her life experienced anything so incredibly painful.
And to top it all off…!
“You bastard! You took my book!!!”
A/N: … yeah, despite the fact that this is a sequel to Suitor -which is still not finished!- I decided to publish the first chapter of Cursed ;P Whatever, right?