Kasin's Real, I Promise
Author: Kassandra

Chapter 1
Swirls and Smoke and Streaks

 THURSDAY

Rain splatters against my rooftop as thunder rumbles in the distance. I fasten the buttons on my bright red sweater and just finish pinning half of my hair up when my mom knocks on the door. “You’d better get out there; Jason’s going to have a fit. He’s not waiting all day.”

I swear under my breath and tear out the door, snatching my books and my purse on my way out into the chilly morning air. I hate rain. It’s cold and bleak and wet. My stupid brother honks the horn and I flip him off in my mind. I hop in the car and we’re off to school.

 

English class, I’m a zombie today.

I’m usually very active in English, what with the three smartest kids in the senior class lounging around, their giant brains always in motion. Apparently, their word is law. I’m usually that girl who sits in the back and voices her opinion, inevitably about to get torn apart by the smarty-pants trio.

But not today. Today I’m drained.

Last night I couldn’t sleep. I felt like there was someone in my room. This is the fourth day in a row this has happened. Now I lay my head on my desk and close my eyes, listening to the class discussion, led by the three kids I spoke about before. They always lead the debates.

“So, are you suggesting that the relationship with Janie and Logan Killicks was one of love? Because I’d have to disagree strongly.” The irritating voice of Andrea Nosrek.

“No, I was simply stating that Janie has been in love before Tea Cake, just not with a person but with an idea. Remember how she took to Joe Starks’ promises of ‘big ideas’ so quickly? My argument is that she fell in love with the idea of Joe and all he could do for her.” The patient, teacher-like voice of James Gillers. “Yes, but if you stop to think about it, is that really love?” I smirk slightly at the question posed by James Ricken, my best friend. He’s… he’s a different story altogether. We could never be more different, yet somehow we’ve got a lot in common; our fire-and-ice friendship has given us quite the colorful history from eighth grade, when I met him, to now. Like, for example, he-

“Rose, what do you think? You’re being awful quiet back there.” I groan. I don’t want to think; tomorrow is my last full day of school and we’re still doing work. This is ridiculous! I whip my head up and say the line that has saved me from unwanted class discussion many times.

“I agree with James.” Four words that always make you right. Whether you agree with Ricken or Gillers is not important – one of them is right. Mr. Dillary nods and says, “Alright, next question, ‘Is Tea Cake any different or similar to Joe Starks and Logan Killicks?’ Any thoughts?” That’s my cue to return my head to my desk.

 

“Rose. Rooose… Rose! Fricken wake up!” I open my eyes and see the toned down gray of my desk. “Wha… what?” I look up and his huge brown eyes overflow with concern.

“What’s been going on with you lately?” I shake my head and see that all of the students are making their way out of the door. Shit, I fell asleep.

“Nothing, James,” I mumble mindlessly as I scrape up all of my books and my purse. He follows me out the door. “Clearly something is wrong,” he presses in a singsong voice.

“Nothing, kay? Just skip it.” I try to walk faster but James jumps in front of me and stops dead, making me walk right into him.

“Tell me, Rose. Is it about your... dad?”

I roll my eyes and tell him to get bent; it’s none of his business. Plus, he wouldn’t believe me anyways. "No, it's not, just leave me alone."

James wraps his arms tightly around me. “You’re gonna tell me, Rosie.” I cringe - he knows I absolutely hate when he calls me Rosie - as I try to wrestle out of his irritating embrace. He grips tighter and I’m just tiring myself out. He knows I mean well and that I’m not just being a bitch - he’s just nosy and he likes to annoy me by getting in my space as much as possible.

“James, go away! I’m going to be late to class!” I yell, failing to mask my laughter. He laughs and releases me and I get my stuff from my locker. “Text me about it, Rose!”  He yells as he walks away. “I’ll think about it!” I yell back.

I sigh as I pull my massive history book out of my locker. It’s going to be a long, long day.

 

I suffer through three more classes of torture before I get to gym. I don’t really give a damn about what the stereotype is, I love gym class. It’s relaxing and takes little effort to get an A. We’re playing dodge ball when I feel it. It’s that feeling again. Like someone’s here but not here. I stop in the middle of throwing a rubber ball at someone. I drop my ball and look around frantically. BAM!

Someone launches a red ball straight at my face and it sends my glasses flying off. In fact, the force of the impact is so great that I am knocked on my ass. The whole right side of my face burns from the rubber, the rest of it from embarrassment. A boy named Gary seems to be the culprit. He runs over to me and yells, “Oh my God are you okay?!” I ignore the hand he holds out for me and roll onto my stomach. Everyone’s laughing at me.

“I’m just going to stay here for the remainder of my life.” He chuckles and scrapes me off the floor. I rub my face. “That really hurt, guy,” I complain. He covers his mouth, not quite hiding his smiling lips. Gary and I are really good friends, even though I met him sophomore year.

“Loch, you alright?” the gym teacher yells. I stick up a thumb while still nursing my sore face.

“Sontas! You’re out!” She yells at Gary. He goes to the sidelines, grumbling something about how it was an accident. That’s the rule: You hit someone in the face, you’re out.

I feel a faint coolness on my cheek amidst all the burning pain. My hand rockets to my face. It’s gone.

 

I love going home after a terrible day at school

I get into the car with my brother. Unlike other siblings who both have cars, we always travel to school together. He cranks the music, but I don’t hear it. I’m too spooked. I rest my head on the dripping window and look out it. He sings along to the music softly and drums his fingers on the wheel. After a few minutes, he asks me, “Dude, what’s up?” I keep looking outside at the cars and buildings whizzing by.

“Nothing, I’m just - a little tired,” I half-lie. I am tired. He shrugs and keeps driving. I’m getting nauseous looking out the window, really nauseous, so I squeeze my eyes shut. The hard techno music around me becomes white noise and multicolored stars dance around in the darkness behind my eyelids. Swirls and clouds and streaks until my eyes hurt. Then a smoky figure rushes at me, mouth gaping and claws at the ready to attack. I inhale sharply and open my eyes.

 

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