The Innocents – Novel Excerpt

posted in: young adult urban fantasy | 0

Just realized my novel excerpt is not on my blog! Here’s the excerpt of The Innocents, a young adult urban fantasy novel.  Selected in the top 5% at the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest 2010.  Completed manuscript currently looking for representation.  Enjoy!

The Innocents
Chapter One – Irresponsible
I always knew it all, or at least I thought I did. But nothing could have prepared me for the next twenty-four hours.
***
      “Will you guys please, just leave me alone?” I said jumping into my bed and hoping they would close the door on their way out.
     “Myla, you cannot continue skipping school and acting as if you are emancipated. You are throwing your life away. Your mother and I are not going to have this.”  He wasn’t yelling. He never did no matter how much I tested them. But I knew dad was at his end with me. “If you continue to disrespect our house rules, your mother and I will have no choice but to send you to boarding school.”  I stared out the window. I didn’t want to look at them. I had seen this picture a billion times: Dad reprimanding while mom cried. She never said much except that she loved me, and if I would just focus my energy on something positive I could get far in life, be anything I wanted. I was focusing on being left alone, but apparently, it wasn’t working. I knew I was being difficult, and that I was probably wrong in all of this, but who cared?  I didn’t. My parents couldn’t control me no matter how hard they tried. I did what I wanted. Even though it had been a couple of days from the incident, my head was still pounding.
     Unfortunately for them, cutting school had become a habit, just like cigarettes and the occasional cocktail. Poor attendance never jeopardized my ability to “get by” with decent enough grades. Mom and dad didn’t understand that sticking around school every day was unbearable. Besides, I wasn’t good at being boring.
     “You will come straight home from school every day for the next two weeks. No coffee shops and absolutely no poetry readings.”  Okay. Sure. Whatever. What could I say to that?  Sorry guys, bad timing.
      One of my favorite bands, Until the End of the World, was headlining at a new club tonight and I was not going to miss it. I was almost seventeen with a fake ID that begged to differ; Melissa Mathews- twenty-one. I purchased the ID from Ziggy, a guy at school who sold pot and gulp.
     Dad stood in the doorway waiting patiently for my response, “Myla, do you understand?”  Their stupid rhetorical questions bothered me the most.
     “I’m not deaf, right?” I said and he gently pulled my mother back into the hallway and shut the door. Boarding school. Ha! The classic parent line. I laughed every time because I knew they’d never do it. I was their only kid. Besides, the suits at the boarding school would lock their gates if they saw me coming with my pierced nose and combat boots.
      I wish my parents understood it was all Celeste’s fault. Or mostly, anyways.
     Celeste was sort of pretty; a blonde, blue-eyed, cheerleader – if that’s your thing.  She was going steady with Nick, one of the most popular boys in school; he was on the football team and all that jazz. I talked to Nick a few times and she spread the rumor that I “came on” to her in the locker room. Being gay was far from being boring, but I was not gay. Celeste and her best friend Denise, the official Willow’s High Blogger Demon, decided that making my life a living hell would be their new hobby.
     It got tiresome. Every freaking Monday morning, Denise’s Willows High Blog had something nasty to say about me. Will Myla wear her combat boots or her Converse? Here’s a tip Myla: get more shoes. Myla: Tampon or pad girl? Vote now!   Seriously? My menstrual cycle? Is that they best they could do? 
     I didn’t care. I had my other life outside of school and behind everyone’s back. Clubbing, drinking, cigarettes and poetry, not necessarily in that order. That’s all I ever wanted to do. I usually did okay. I’d have a few drinks, watch a show or write in my journal, and take the bus back home. But this time I couldn’t remember what had happened. Two nights ago I had gone to a bar near Ocean Beach. Somewhere between my third drink and a Persian guy asking me to slow dance I had blacked out and lost track of time. By the time I had made it home it was close to five in the morning and the only clue I had to piece the night together were some scratches on my legs.
     My parents were talking in their bedroom. I couldn’t make out the words, but whatever it was it probably involved me and a new form of punishment. I let myself fall back into bed and I when I saw the light bulb directly over me, a lost image of last night popped into my head. I had been walking down the street when a rushing light headed straight towards me. Tonight I had to be more careful. I couldn’t mix liquors again. That’s what got me into trouble in the first place. My plan was simple. Stick to vodka.
     I grabbed the Gothic Poets book from my nightstand and randomly opened it landing on Percy Bysshe Shelley’s poem “Night.” Swiftly walk o’er the western waves, Spirit of the Night…. The words tickled my brain, activating the part that made me want to cut loose every time. I am going to walk over the western waves, and down the concrete streets, and all the way across town and into the club, Mr. Shelley. He was definitely one of my favorites. Maybe because he was smart enough to marry Mary Shelley – the author of one of my favorite books ever, Frankenstein. Sometimes, I’d light a candle in my bedroom and recite their poetry in front of the mirror, hoping maybe, I’d summon dead poets’ spirits and they’d write through me. Or I’d be magically transported into their world, into the past. I was always looking for ways to get away from my current vapid reality.   
     My parents’ voices had stopped which meant it was time for me to go. Escaping was easy because my parents were predictable. They’d set their bedroom TV on sleep mode and at 10:45 p.m. it would shut off. After fifteen minutes of silence, I was free to go.
     Getting ready was simple. Blotchy eyeliner and nude lips were my scene. The black eyelet short bloomers I’d found thrifting looked perfect with my tank and broken fishnet stockings. I used electrical tape for accessorizing, especially for bracelets. I refused to purchase any “custom jewelry” it was a cop out. The only real jewelry I wore was my silver chain. I never took it off.
     I grabbed my white faux fur and slipped out the back hoping Mrs. Doppler from next door wouldn’t see me. The woman smoked like five packs a day. And although I loved the smell of her cigarettes, I didn’t like her ginormous blabber mouth. Ms. Doppler’s loose lips had sunk my ship in the past, but not tonight – this ship was sailing. Ha!
     I made it past my mom’s petunias to the back gate with no Mrs. Doppler sightings. Sweet freedom.        
     It was a cold August night. Summer seemed to skip us here in San Francisco. So did the rest of the seasons for that matter. It was always cold enough for a sweater no matter what time of year.
     The nearest bus stop was three blocks from my house. In this city, public transportation was the norm. I’d been riding the bus by myself since I was twelve; not something my parents were thrilled about. But they both worked, and I was pretty independent. I loved it. They thought I’d only learn the route to school and back but that hadn’t been the case. Instead I’d learned the bus routes everywhere via Market Street.
     Market Street was the heart of the city. It was the central place where all the buses and trolleys ran through. It was dirty and busy – full of tourists, locals, and homeless the same. There were high rise offices next to shady theatres next to huge department stores next to vegetarian restaurants next to crack motels.
     The best dance clubs were south of Market Street. I had enough cash for a roundtrip bus pass ticket, the entrance fee, and a vodka tonic.
***
     The Bottomless Pit Pub n Club looked like a warehouse front. If it hadn’t been for the line of punks and emos waiting outside to get in, I might have missed it.
     Lately I was more distracted than usual. I think the recurring dream I’d been having for the past two months, which creeped me out like a giant bag of shiny cockroaches, had a lot to do with it. The dream was simple. I am in a room wearing a hospital gown. A blonde guy with hair slicked back, heavy eyeliner and a silver tailored suit comes in and asks me if I am ready to receive the visitors. He is androgynous, thin, stunning. He wears a chain with a charm I can’t make out.  I nod yes and when he opens the door to the room, there is a long line of people waiting to see me. I don’t recognize any of them but they are all crying and calling out my name. Then I wake up. That’s it.
     I handed the bouncer my ID and he didn’t give it a second look. Totally scene.
     “Seven dollars, he said in a monotone voice. I pulled a ten out of my pocket and handed it to him.
     “Enjoy.” He gave me change and stamped my hand Hell in bright red ink.
     If it wasn’t for these late night escapades I wouldn’t know how to cope with my life. It wasn’t that there was anything wrong with it, but that was exactly it. There was nothing wrong with it. It was boring.
     The place was cloudy from the dry ice, and the music was so loud by the stage it could wake up three thousand year old corpse. One of the opening bands was playing. People pushed and shoved as I made my way through the crowd. The walls were decorated with paintings of demons and some amateur artist’s depiction of hell; heavy in orange flames and disfigured humans resembling condemned souls.
     Hot guys were always at the top of my list, but first things first. I needed a cig.
     There was a cigarette machine by the bathrooms. Fabulous, these were not easy to find. You weren’t supposed to smoke in bars, but when it was this packed, it was hard to control the anarchists. I held the match steady with my hands, and as I lit the cigarette and inhaled, everything got ten times better.
     I side stepped through the crowd towards my objective; the bar. I scanned the faces looking for “the spout”. The spout is an out-of-place old man who is always looking for some naïve girl to believe his BS story that he’s a band manager, model agent, film director, or photographer, whatever. I call them “spouts” because all I have to do is listen and pretend to like him and the spout opens up—free alcohol!
     Suddenly, someone grabbed my wrist – my hand still holding the cigarette. A male voice with a lazy sway said in my ear, “Those things will kill you.” I turned, and standing there holding my arm was a tall guy with olive skin and black knowing eyes. His hair was in a loose pompadour, a stray strand rested on his forehead.
     He took the cigarette from my hand, dropped it on the floor and stepped on it. Black vertigo swirl tattoos decorated both his hands. Other tattoos traveled up his wrists and arms but hid under his jacket sleeves.
     “Excuse me,” I said, “do I know you?”  
     “You do now…Myla.” He sat on the stool next to me. His lips were full without being pouty. He wore a slight grin. Definitely not spout material.
     “Ok, did you just say my name?” I said, doing a double take.
     He smiled and nodded his response.
     “Do you go to Willows High?” I asked.
     “I’m too old for high school,” he said and took a drink from his water bottle. Of course he wasn’t in high school, none of the Willows High geeks dressed that cool. He wore black flat fronts, a black army jacket and a red button down shirt.
     He looked like he was in his early twenties. I could totally handle that.
     His hands stroked the exposed grain wood at the bar and he said, “I came here tonight looking for you.” Nice line. Cute and interesting. However, there were two things rotten with this picture. One: The Bitches, Celeste and Denise, probably had something to do with this, and Two: guys that confident had girls handing it to them on a silver platter. Well, not this girl.
     “Whatever,” I said. “Is this some kind of existential game you’re playing?” I looked away, pretending not to care. The bass from the music pulsed through my body and the crowd by the stage swayed back and forth like one entity.
     He leaned in a little closer. “Let’s just say I’ve known you for a long time.”
     This had to be another prank. It just had to. “Whatever Camus, you’re a freak or you’re being coy. I don’t like either,” I said and started for the bathroom knowing eventually I’d run into The Bitches.
     He grabbed my arm and pulled me towards him. “I’m neither,” he said winking. His strong arm locked me in a half embrace.
     I shook his hand off me. “Listen, you can’t always believe what you hear, especially from those two bitches.” 
     “Bitches? I do not know who you are referring to but it seems you don’t have very good acquaintances.”  He laughed.
     “Are you going to tell me where you know me from?” I asked raising an eyebrow, wondering if maybe I had met before. But I don’t think I would’ve forgotten this guy that easily.
     “Let me keep the mystery alive a while longer,” he said sweetly. “We will know each other for a long time.”  Ha!  I bet he handed that line to every cute girl. “I told you, I came here looking for you.” He grabbed my chin “I know it is earlier than I am supposed to, but I just had to see you.” I had to hand it to this guy, whatever it was that he was doing, it was working. But I had met his type before. All talk and all play. This could be dangerous. I could easily fall for this trap. It had been a while since the Nick encounter and I was ready for some action.
     “Suit yourself,” I said, “but whatever you’re after you’re not going to find here.” I pulled out another cigarette but he took it and tossed it behind the bar before I could even think to light it.
     “Geez, what’s your problem anyways?” I gave him a slight push on the shoulder.
     “You wouldn’t believe me.” He seemed amused by my shove.
     “Why don’t you buy me a drink and see if I do?” I asked.
     Leaning into me he whispered, “I don’t buy poison for friends.”  Poison? Was he serious?  Ha!  I should’ve known better, spouts were never handsome. No alcohol. This was enough news to end our conversation.
      “Don’t drink. Don’t smoke. What do you do?” I said, doing what I did best, rolling my eyes.
     “Oh, I do plenty.” He smiled, this time a dimple forming on his left cheek. “But my favorite thing to do…is to look after Myla.”
     He had got to be kidding me. He was good at this. I had to be better.
     “It sounds to me like you’re good at being boring.” I said, shifting my weight away from him.
     “Being boring?” he asked and laughed to himself. “That’s right,” he tucked my hair behind my ear, “you are still very young. I forgot. You don’t know what living is.”
     “What? That’s a big statement for someone who only knows my name,” I said getting right in his face. “And you know what else buddy?  You are not that much older.” I was ready to pull out my fake ID at any time – not that this guy would buy it. He stared at my eyes for what seemed like a lifetime but it was probably only five seconds. I felt like he was saying something to me, but I couldn’t hear him, I couldn’t understand. He broke the stare by grabbing my arm. His tender smile thrust me back into reality as he pulled a calligraphy pen from his shirt pocket.
      “Here,” he said, “let me make it up to you. I ink for a living. I bet I can guess what kind of tattoo you would get. I’ll draw it on you.” Before I could even agree to his game, both his hands were examining my arm. He smoothed the surface of my forearm with his fingers as if he were stretching out a canvas to get it ready for a masterpiece. Chills ran up my arms and into my head.
     A tattoo artist.  Mom and dad were going to love this guy. Never.
     I was only at the club for twenty minutes and the hottest guy here was practically wrapped around my little finger – okay, my arm. But who cares about semantics? Ha! Who’s winning now Bitches?
     “Hmmm,” he said, looking at me, trying to guess what I’d get inked.
     Stars. Black. Five pointed black stars. That’s all I ever wanted to get tattooed on me. I don’t know why five pointed black stars made me feel the way they did. They were like a suit of armor; they made me feel complete, strong…grandiose. One day I would have them.
     “Do you mind?” He asked before sliding his hand up my arm and holding the pen ready. “You are not allowed to watch, you will have to wait a few minutes until I am finished.”  He smiled and I turned away.
     When the pen touched my skin the music became louder and the club lights brighter. The tickling of his pen enhanced all my senses. It would be cool to show up with my temporary tattoo at school tomorrow. For Peter’s sake, I hoped he didn’t draw a butterfly or a flower – that would be totally unscene. I’d take that off in the bathroom with the quickness.
     While the pen moved swiftly and rhythmically, I scanned the room for Celeste and Denise. If they saw this scene they probably thought I was falling for their trap, but as long as I didn’t let this guy take a compromising picture of me, there would be no proof their “guy bait” had worked.
     Oh no. What if he was drawing something stupid like “Myla sucks, for real, she sucks.”  I jerked my arm but he held it still.
     “Wait,” he said with a concentrated look, “I am almost finished, do you mind if I fill it in? It may tickle a little.” 
     Well, I guessed it was too late now. “Sure,” I said.
     He looked up at me a couple of times before finishing the drawing. Strands of his jet black hair were stacked one on top of another. The corners of his mouth turned up in a suppressed smile. He let go of my arm and put the calligraphy pen back in his pocket. “So how did I do, did I guess correctly?”
     I turned to look expecting to see the worst but instead, there it was. A black five pointed star. The lines were so perfect the drawing looked like it would pop out of my arm. It was fantastic. And frightening. How the hell did he know?
      “Sort of,” I said. I was an expert at hiding true my emotions.
      “Sort of?” he asked and I could tell he was having a hard time believing me. “You know you’ve always wanted stars.” He was looking at me as if I was supposed to have some kind of great reaction to the drawing he’d just given me. He seemed puzzled. Confused. I was confused that he was acting this way. Why was he acting this way? How did he even know?
      “I’m not really in the market for a tattoo, so I don’t know what I would get.” I said, trying to diffuse the tension of the situation while I tried to figure out what was going on. Had I said something in school The Bitches overheard about getting a black star tattoo?  I searched my brain for answers. “Listen, this was fun,” I said standing up, “but I need to go to the ladies’.”  This was getting strange. I needed five.
     “Please come back.” He said, grabbing both my hands. His lazy sway more noticeable. “I’ll be here waiting for you.”
     “You don’t have to.” I pushed myself off the barstool; my leg brushed his.
     “I do,” he said.
     I headed to the bathroom. He was definitely not from around here. Had a hint of the South. Definitely from the South.
     I walked around the club looking for Celeste and Denise but they were nowhere. I went outside to the patio area, and nothing. I started to feel like maybe I was being paranoid.
     A long line of girls stretched out the dark velvet lined hallway, all of them waited for the bathroom. As usual, no one was waiting to use the men’s room. I passed the girls and walked into the guys’ bathroom, past someone at the urinal and into the stall.
     After what happened with Nick, Celeste would go to any lengths to get me back good: 
     “Is it true that you’re gay?” Nick had asked me, referring to the rumors.
     “Meet me in the parking lot,” I had whispered in his ear, “and find out for yourself.”
      That afternoon, Nick and I got to first, second and third base in the backseat of his jeep. Just that one time in the backseat, on school premises in the middle of the day. It felt good, it was dangerous. It was fun getting what I wanted. But it was even more fun getting back at Celeste and company. And yes, I had my own condom, even though Nick didn’t hit a home run. Just in case. You can’t depend on guys to think about those things.
     When Celeste found out she broke up with Nick. They dated on and off after that, but I remained enemy number one. The comments in the hallways and the notes in my locker got ridiculous: Myla, why don’t you meet me in the parking lot…hey, how bout’ the bathroom? I became the girl that “put out”. Whatever. High school guys get so stupid around sex. Sex is sex. Who cares anyways? 
     Even though Nick belonged to Celeste, Denise was on me about it even worse. She was always all up in my shit. I didn’t get it. I guess the happier she made Celeste the higher her cool status became.
     Now these two Bitches thought they could catch me off guard, on my own turf, with guy bait.
     Heading back to the bar I expected him be gone. I’d taken long enough. But true to his word, he was still waiting for me. Although the place was crowded, he managed to keep the stool next to him unoccupied. He patted the seat, signaling me to sit down. And untrue to my persona, I obeyed.
      There was nothing better to do, so I played along. I was curious. I had to get to the bottom of this. I could handle him. I could handle The Bitches. “What’s your name?”
     “Christian Luna.” He said it quickly.
     “Luna? That’s pretty.”
     “You’re pretty.” He brushed a strand hair from my face and for a second I didn’t know how to react to his sudden humbleness. So I stuck with the obvious.
     “I’m Myla Blackbird, but of course, you already know that.” 
     “I do,” he said.
     The bartender came over and asked if we needed anything. Christian signaled that we were fine for the time being. And it was official; he wasn’t buying me a drink. And still, I wanted to stay with him.
     “I have to tell you something very important.”  He got serious and here it was. The thing that would make me want to leave. What I’d been waiting to hear all night. I cut him off thinking I had guessed it.
     “Which one did you meet first, Denise or Celeste?” I asked, “and how long was it before they asked you to play a prank on me?” There was pride in my voice; I had caught The Bitches at their stupid little game.
     “Excuse me,” he said confused, “I do not know what you are talking about.” His face was straight, no funny looks. He looked honest. But most great liars did.
      “Of course you’re going to say that,” I said and looked away, because the more I looked in his eyes the less I cared if he was telling the truth.
     “This is about you and only you.” He was intoxicating; it was hard to play it scene. I was dying for a cigarette but knew how that would end. Another unsmoked soldier. “Myla, this is serious, I have something very important to tell you.”  
     I loved when he said my name. Say it again. Say it again. “Well you gotta do better than this to convince me otherwise,” I said acting uninterested, the key word there being “acting.”  He rested his arm on my shoulders, leaned in close until his lips were near my ear and whispered, “Swiftly walk over the western waves…Spirit of the Night.”
     It took me only a second. Percy Bysshe Shelley. Okay, so that was kind of an eerie coincidence. I had just read that same poem before I left the house. But more importantly, no one knew I was reading gothic poetry; especially not The Bitches. Besides, they and their crew were not literary types. For Peter’s sake, I teased them about being able to read the bathroom signs.
      My name. The star. The poem. Where they all coincidences? Or was I that easy to read?
     “Okay, you got my attention. So what do you have to tell me,” I asked, “that I’m going to die or something?” He paused. A concerned look appeared in his eyes.
     “Your life…as you know it is about to disappear,” he said it as though he were reciting a well-known fact, like “your hair is black,” or “San Francisco is a popular tourist destination.” He swiveled the stool around and my legs were in between his. He stared into my eyes intently, daring me to stare back. I thought he was moving in for a kiss, but he didn’t.
     His eyes were crystal black pools; like smoky mirrors, I saw my reflection in them. For a fraction of a second, I saw a vision of myself; I pointed a gun at someone. I shook my head, and took a deep breath. My hands got numb. Not the panic attack. Please not the panic attack. This was totally unscene. I controlled my breath and rubbed my hands together, but then things got a little worse.
     A blonde girl, with boobs falling out of her leather bustier, interrupted us. “Baby, I’ve been looking for you,” she said embracing Christian from behind. What? What the hell was this?  “Is this your little sister,” she said smiling at me. She was obviously drunk, and obviously slutty.
     I felt like I was in the twilight zone. I kept my composure and shifted my attention to Christian. This was going to be rich. I couldn’t believe this guy had been hitting on me and he had a girlfriend on site. I smiled at Christian and waited for his response.
     Christian turned to the girl and slid his fingers from her temple down to her chin, “Sweetheart, I will be right with you. I know we are late but Itsy’s party is not going anywhere.”
     The girl pouted and leaned into Christian. “Don’t take long ok,” she said and gave him a quick kiss on the lips.
     What a jerk. Did he really think he was that cute that he could be hitting on me while his girlfriend was right there?  What sucked even more was that apparently I wasn’t threatening enough for his girlfriend to even worry about it. His little sister? Now I knew The Bitches had nothing to do with him, this was even worse than I could’ve imagined. He was just another player on the prowl. I felt like an idiot.
     “Now,” he said looking back at me, “where were we? This is important.”
     “You’re an asshole,” I said getting up. I clenched my fists starting to feel my hands again. Between the vision I thought I’d seen in his eyes, and the girlfriend revelation, it was too much for me to deal with. I was out. “I gotta go,” I said, standing up.
     “Wait,” he said, following me. The blonde girl sat on his stool.
     “No,” I said, “you got Itsy’s party to go to, don’t want to leave your girlfriend waiting.” I headed for the door. Who the hell calls themselves Itsy anyways? Like the freaking spider?
     “She’s just a friend,” he said, grabbing my hand and pulling me close.
     Of course she is.” I yelled at him the same way I yelled at my parents, “that’s why you kissed her right in front of me.”  I jerked my hand away, “You’re an asshole, and you are sadly mistaken if you think you are so hot that I would even waste another nanosecond talking to you!”
     “Myla,” he yelled back and grabbed my hand again, “I heal the broken ones,” he pointed to the blonde girl.
     “What?” I said. What the hell did that mean?
     “The broken ones,” he said, this time looking directly into my eyes. I was feeling light headed. I couldn’t believe I was having a screaming out fight with a guy I had just met. A small crowd started forming around us. It was insane. Until the End of the World was just getting on stage and people were starting to push against each other. I pushed Christian off and walked fast to the exit door. “Myla, please don’t go. Please…please wait.” I heard him say but when I looked back the crowd had pushed between us.
****
     I steadied my pace to the trolley stop. I had a few blocks to go. I looked back to see if he followed, but he didn’t. What the hell was that vision I had seen in his eyes? Was that even real? Keeping a double life was not easy. Maybe I had lied to my parents so much that the line between truth and fiction blurred. Sometimes it seemed like I imagined things.
     As I crossed the street I saw a skinny redheaded girl sitting on the sidewalk. Her back was leaning against the brick industrial building. She looked drunk. I slowed down and saw she had track marks on her arms. Junkie. She whimpered and suddenly I remembered I too had cried over something on the blackout night. A cat. A black cat had pushed itself around my legs meowing but then it started shrieking. And then it convulsed, right at my feet, scratching my legs until it passed out, dead. I doubled over him in tears. And then there was a lapse after that. My heart started racing because I realized then that something important had happened to me and I couldn’t remember what the hell it was.
      The Market Street trolley arrived as I got to the stop. The cheerful driver sang a happy tune and it annoyed the hell out of me. When I sat down, I instinctively reached up to touch my silver necklace and remembered the name charm that hung from it. Myla. What an idiot I was. That’s how he knew my name. How could I have forgotten about my name charm?  This is what I meant when I said my mind hadn’t been working quite right.
     The fog had settled over the city and I couldn’t see the stars or moon in the sky.
     The rainbow flags on the light posts were my cue to get off. Instead of waiting for another bus, I walked up the hill past the jumping gay bars into Noe Valley.
     I looked at the star on my arm and tried rubbing it off. I was going to wash it off as soon as I got home. What an asshole that guy was. Christian. Jerk. To top it all off, my big night out was diminished to two hits of a cigarette, no drink and no favorite band. Obscenely unscene.
     When I made it home everything seemed to be in order. My parents were still asleep, unaware I’d left. I was good at escaping. It was the only way to feed the hole inside me that craved attention and adventure. No matter the cost.
***
     It was eight o’clock and I was late for school. Mom was letting me sleep in on a school day? That was weird. I thought I had made it back unscathed from my late night but maybe I was wrong. Which meant a long speech was coming.
     I was so over the speeches. Leave me alone. Couldn’t my parents realize that I was excessively mature for my age? That I needed freedom? That nothing they’d say or do would make me behave any differently?
     I had to face the unavoidable eventually, so I got dressed and went downstairs.
     “Mom, where are you?” I said. “I’m late for school!” There was no cereal box on the table, and the coffee pot, which mom always programmed to go off in the mornings, was full.
      “Mom” I called as I went back upstairs. I reached my parents bedroom door. I slowly turned the knob and pushed the door open. My parents lay in bed asleep, which was weird because my Dad rarely missed work. Dad’s eyes were open and he looked at the ceiling. This was not good. Maybe I was in big trouble. When they were really mad they would shut down on me. I think they were doing the dreadful silent treatment. I never knew what kind of punishment came after all the silence.
     “You know, I am going to be late for school if I take the bus now.” I said walking towards them, making pretend there was nothing to talk about or be mad at. Their bedroom always weirded me out. It was the place where all the “let’s discipline Myla” plans took place.
     “Mom,” I shook her shoulder. She was on her stomach. I pushed her shoulder again, this time attempting to turn her, but she was so heavy my wrist strained. “Ouch,” I said grabbing my wrist, “will you guys wake up already, what is with you anyways?”  As I turned and drew the drapes, my dad’s arm fell out from under the sheets and hit the floor. Without a second thought, I walked up to my dad, and when I grabbed the hand that lingered on the floor, his skin was ice cold. Then I realized the house had never been so quiet. There was only one person breathing now.
     My parents were dead.    
     I jumped back and heard myself scream in a way I had never heard before. It was a mix of sorrow, chilling fear, and desperation. I ran out of the room and out the back door until I got to the garden gate.
     Mrs. Doppler found me in the yard in a hysterical state surrounded by my mom’s potted petunias.
     I heard sirens and people talking.
     The rest was a blur.

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