August 3, 2016 by Lyn
This story takes place on Monday night, the first week of the 5th Year of the Addergoole School (after Chapter 4)
Shahin slept; wrapped in the new-smelling blankets in this strange, airless place, she dreamed.
She dreamt of Aelgifu, dreaming:
She dreamt of a dance, her in a dress Jerri and Eve had picked out, a cornflower-blue sundress that looked pretty but left her feeling exposed. She was supposed to be having fun, so she put on her smile, threw back her shoulders, and laughed when Allan told his jokes, as stupid as most of them were.
It was a school dance, so there wasn’t supposed to be any alcohol, but Allan and most of the other guys had pre-partied, and Eric had a cooler in his trunk. Allan smelled of cheap tequila as he faux-casually ran his hands over her shoulders.
“You look beautiful,” he slurred, “so beautiful tonight.”
“You’re just saying that,” she accused him, but she couldn’t get rid of the sour feeling his words brought forth.
“No, of course not, baby. You’re gorgeous.”
Of course she was. It had nothing to do with her, any more than being blonde did; half of it was genetics and the other half Jerri and Eve’s artifice. If she were smart, or clever, or interesting… but she was beautiful. And that made Allan want to touch her.
“I’m nothing special,” she tried, hoping he thought it was false modesty, hoping that no-one would hear the miserable truth of it. She was nothing, a pretty face with emptiness behind it.
“But you’re my nothing special.” He grabbed her, his fingers on her hips feeling as if they were holding right onto her bones. “My beautiful thing.”
It was as if his words defined her reality. She was a doll, a flower, a pretty plastic toy. She couldn’t move, couldn’t speak, could barely feel her breath moving in and out. She couldn’t stop him. She could barely think.
His hands were all over her, under her dress, no, he was ripping off her dress, in front of everyone, stripping her naked, more than naked – bare and revealed.
He pulled everything off of her, so that they could all see everything about her: they could see how bare and hollow and fake she was, nothing behind the pretty face; they could see that she was as shallow as they pretended to be. A fraud, a fake, a plastic mask.
If she could have moved, she would have covered herself, or run away, hidden somewhere. In a reality she tried not to remember, she had tried to run, but Allan had pinned her to the couch. In the dream, her joints were frozen. She was ripped open, her empty insides on display for the entire dance, and all she could do was stand there and let them stare.
“Pretty,” Eve laughed, running her hands over Ayla’s immobile arms. “Too bad you’re a fraud.”
“Gorgeous,” Allan belched, squeezing her ass. “Too bad you’re a cold fish.”
“Beautiful,” Jerri sniggered. “It’s a good thing, too. What else would you do?”
“You’re gorgeous, Ayla.” Shahin and Yngvi sized her up. “Why don’t you be a good accessory and sparkle more?”
Aelgifu woke shaking, her skin clammy with sweat. She didn’t want to sparkle. She didn’t want to shine, didn’t want to be pretty. If she faded into the background enough, let everyone look at brilliant Yngvi and slick, sleek, showy Shahin, no-one would look at her, and no-one would see how little there was beyond the pretty façade.
Dreams of Nothing and Everything: Part 2
This story takes place on Monday night, the second week of the 5th Year of the Addergoole School (after Chapter 16)
Shahin slept; comfortable in her dark nest of blankets, the scent of Emrys on her gloves, she dreamed.
She dreamt of Ayla, dreaming:
Dreaming of a kiss, a second kiss, Tammera’s delicious pink lips, her hair framing both of them, and the heady, wonderful sensation of doing something just because she wanted to.
There was, for a moment, no-one else in the room, just Tammera and Aelgifu, and their second kiss, and then their third. For a few endless heartbeats, there was bliss.
They smiled at each other, both giddy, catching their breaths. In a brief lucid moment, Ayla understood that it couldn’t last; this was a party, Tammera was a complete stranger (a college girl!), and Ayla was, at heart, a coward. She couldn’t face the looks on her friends’ faces, the whispers and giggles, if they found out she’d kissed a girl, that she’d kissed her again and again and wanted to keep on going.
Some treacherous little voice of reason, or perhaps merely of desire, asked what was so bad about this, a willing kiss from a beautiful girl? After what Allan had done to her, hadn’t they already said everything they could say? Didn’t they already know how barren she was, how empty?
The rest of her recoiled against the idea of new exposure. Being empty and shallow was one thing – look at Jerri, proud to be coasting through school on her looks without a thought in her head – but being queer? The word, in her mind, came out with Eve’s sneering drawl and an echo of tittering giggles: Some girls, I guess, just have to go that way. You know, if they can’t find a guy. Poor things.
It would have been funny, considering the musical-boyfriends the three of them played – it had been the four of them, but after the mess with Allan, Aelgifu had sworn off dating for a while.
They hadn’t called her queer then, her friends, but they’d teased her horribly about the whole thing. “It’s no big deal, Alfie, really. Allan got a little out of hand, so what?”
Easy for them to say, when it hadn’t been them naked and pinned down. But they were so blasé about it that she’d started to believe them. It hadn’t been any big deal, and yet she couldn’t get over it. Was there something wrong with her?
She kissed Tammera again, knowing that there was, that this was what was wrong with her. Queer. Sick. “Forget about Allan, Alfie.” Amy had been trying to be helpful, but it was clear she saw nothing to worry about. “You can get any guy you want – as long as you don’t want Eric,” she giggled. It was her month to be dating Eric, apparently.
Tammera’s soft hair turned into a bright-orange bob, and she was kissing the lovely, purple-eyed Ioanna, breathing in her warm cinnamon scent. Over the girl’s shoulder, she saw Yngvi, shaking his head in patrician disdain… and yet he was smiling. “Date-crazy,” he teased her, “you and Sheen both.”
She woke licking her lips, Ioanna’s taste still on her tongue. Date-crazy. It wasn’t that bad of a thing to be, was it? It wasn’t something wrong… it was just something, something beyond being an empty face.
Dreams of Nothing and Everything: Part 3
This story takes place on Wednesday night, the third week of the 5th Year of the Addergoole School (after Chapter 43)
Shahin slept; pressed against Emrys, his arm possessively draped over her shoulders, she dreamed.
She dreamt of Ayla, trying not to dream:
She’d grown to fear these dreams, brought forth from her least-pleasant memories, tainted by old fears, highlighting new insecurities, dreams so much more vivid here than they’d been at home.
There was so much more going on here – and her friends were so different than the friends she’d had in high school – that when she was awake, her old fears rarely bothered her. She could float in Shahin’s wake, fading behind Yngvi’s bright glow, and no-one would look too hard at her; even with supernatural sight, no-one seemed to see how empty she was.
But at night, there was no distraction; she was left alone with her fears and her hollow self. If Shahin hadn’t been preoccupied with Emrys, she might have asked her for a sleepover, but a sleepover that involved the red-eyed flame-thrower seemed a little too weird, even for Addergoole.
Yngvi would do it, if she asked, but that seemed even weirder than spending the night with Shahin and her (was boyfriend the right word?) lover. And Ioanna… even alone, in the darkness of her bedroom, Ayla blushed. She wasn’t quite ready to ask her to sleep over. She wasn’t quite ready to face Yngvi’s raised eyebrow in the morning; she was not entirely ready to own up to the face that she was dating (was dating the right word?) a girl.
That left her out of options. Melchior and Nikolai were nice enough, she supposed; Yngvi liked them, at least, but they gave off that vibe she was used to from high school – they looked at her and saw nothing but the shell, and were fine with that, because that was all they wanted, a pretty, empty shell. She wasn’t going to risk inviting them over; that went beyond “giving them the wrong idea” to “giving them an engraved invitation and being insulted when they accepted.” The same went for Anatoliy, even though he seemed almost as if he saw inside her when he looked her way, and Dysmas and Agatha were just scary.
She stared at her ceiling in the dim blue glow of her night-light and tried not to sleep, wishing it weren’t so quiet. She’d tried leaving the TV on, but that only made things worse – her dreams took on a crazy sitcom-ish quality with a laugh track from the depths of Hell. Caffeine eventually gave her a crash-sleep without dreams, but the nightmares were better than the skin-peeling way that left her feeling, and the soda left her twitchy and snappish for days.
The ceiling, with its non-pattern, eventually lulled her into real sleep, and with the sleep came more dreams.
She was walking through the halls, dim and flickering as they’d been on Hell Night, but this time, she walked not in the brilliant shadow of Shahin and Yngvi, but at Ioanna’s side, holding her hand.
She held her head high and proud, walking as if they owned the place, she and her girlfriend. Her girlfriend. She didn’t try to hide; there was nothing to hide, no need to dissemble or pretend that she was normal. This was Addergoole, where being a freak was the norm.
They looked at her, of course; people always looked at her. But they didn’t matter. They were freaks, barely human – some of them clearly less than human – what could they say about her? What room did a guy with wolf ears have to raise an eyebrow at her and relatively human-looking girlfriend?
And her emptiness? Well, at least the pretty shell was human. And, for all their vaunted magic, no-one here had seen past the shell. None of them could tell there was nothing inside her.
Shahin woke shivering and resisted the urge to curl against Emrys for warmth. She crawled out of bed and sat on the floor, crying silently. Ayla…