I’M DOOONE. I’M DONE, I’M DONE, I’M DONE.
Yesterday I had all of my last classes, took my one and only exam, and turned in my last two term papers–which means that fall semester 2013 is OVER for me! Including Spanish. It was bittersweet leaving the classroom yesterday, as all of us who have been stuck in Spanish for a thousand hours a week together for the past year and a half realized that it was over. The torture’s ended. We’re done. But it was also pretty fantastico, porque no puedo hacer más Español ahora. Es demasiado dificil para mí.
I don’t know what my grades will be like for this semester yet, but I’m pretty sure I at least passed all my classes (distribution requirements are hard, dude), and my creative writing prof has promised me an A, so that’s always good.
I registered for my winter semester classes a couple days ago, and unfortunately a couple of the ones I wanted were already full, so I am now on the wait list for one of those and hoping to take the other one sometime next year instead. In the meantime, because of not being able to get into that class, I’m now starting my literature classes this coming semester instead of over the summer or next fall like I’d planned. And the lit class I chose fulfills the hardest requirement for my major, so it’s not going to exactly be a fun one. Aaand it also happens to be a 400 level, and I have never taken a 400 level ANYTHING before, so please wish me luck, because I am terrified. (My goal remains to get all of the crappy classes out of the way now so I can take the ones I want to later, which means putting myself through torture all this year. But oh well.)
Anyway. This week’s Wordy Wednesday is Chapter Five of my NaNo this year, The End Where I Begin.
As always, a reminder that this has seen little to no editing and I’m still in the process of writing the novel, so there will be mistakes and inconsistencies and all that fun stuff throughout.
Read previous chapters:
I push myself into a sitting position so quickly the person hovering over me doesn’t have a chance to get out of the way, and my forehead smacks against his.
“Goodness, Alexa. Might want to warn someone before you do that.” Calvin rubs his temples and rocks back on his heels. He turns his head towards the doorway. “Dad, she’s awake!”
I look beyond him. I’m in my room. Scrubbed white walls and lilac curtains with a scuffed pine floor that leaves splinters in bare feet. My sheets cling to my bare arms, stuck with dried sweat. The lamp on my dresser reflects off the dark window—it must be night.
It’s difficult to move my jaw. I brush two fingers over it and wince as pain blossoms across the right side of my face. “Calvin?” The word is harsh against my sandpaper throat. “What time is it?”
“Just after twenty one hundred.” He leans against the open door and crosses his arms. The light turns his dark brown hair black.
“My jaw took a hit.” The swelling in my jaw slurs my words, makes them painful. I keep going anyway. “I should have only been out for a few minutes, not the better part of the day.”
Calvin offers a sympathetic smile. “After Ramsey knocked you out, she ran. They had us give you sedatives so you’d stay out until they’d caught her—wanted to minimalize the emotional trauma for you. The Clinic is holding her in a detention facility now until they can figure out why she attacked you, and why then.”
I laugh. The sound is like a bark. “I know why she attacked me. Ask anyone at New Capital High and they can tell you why she attacked me. The Ram is insane and hates me for breaking off our friendship.”
The words burn my tongue. I normally only call Ramsey “the Ram” around other students, because that’s the nickname everyone at NCH has called her since Ramsey got into her first spat with Amelia, back when Amelia’s family had first moved to North America year nine in order for her mom to act as the European representative at the Clinic, which is based here in New Capital.
But Calvin graduated before then—he’s a senior at the university now—so he still calls Ramsey by her real name.
He furrows his brow as he absorbs my words. “You realize Ramsey used to be your friend, Alexa. One of your only friends.”
“Yes.” I level my eyes at him. “Back before she went bonkers.”
My stomach twists, but I ignore it. Ramsey deserves what she gets, and it’s good she’s in a detention facility. She used to be calm and nice and, sure, a bit of a sarcastic twit sometimes, especially during our doubles tennis matches. But she had never hurt a soul before our argument four months ago, the day I left her behind to befriend Amelia. And now she attacks anyone who comes in her path.
The Ramsey who exists now is not the same Ramsey as the one who used to be my best friend. The Ramsey who exists now deserves whatever the Clinic does to her for hitting me during the Recruitment Assembly.
Head spinning, I fall back against my pillow. Calvin eyes me with dissipating distain.
I ask, “What all occurred after Ramsey knocked me out?”
“Don’t worry, you didn’t miss much drama.” He shrugs. “The recruiting officers from the Clinic want to talk to you, though. What’s that about?”
“I’m not even sure.” I rub the back of my hand over my eyes. When I open them, it’s to the sight of my Identiband flickering again to the non-color—still lit up, but a bizarre shade it should not be. I stare at it. “The Clinic offered to recruit me, which was strange since I’m only year eleven, you know? I should have another year still before that’s even an option.”
I turn the Identiband around my wrist and it flashes the other color for just a second longer. It reminds me of apples for some reason. “Plus, why would they pick me? It’s not like I’m a science nerd. I do all right in my classes. I play tennis and run cross country. That’s it.”
I let my arm drop back to rest on my bed and bite my lip. I look at Calvin. “I was confused, and I meant to say no—I don’t want to work for them—but yes slipped out instead. What do you think they’ll do? Can I back out?”
“I don’t know.” Calvin glances out the door, then back to me. “I think you’ll have to explain the situation to them and see. Generally, when people say yes, they mean it.”
“How’s my Alexa?” Dad’s deep voice booms from the hallway. His footsteps squeak against the old hardwood as he nears.
Calvin rolls his eyes and calls back, “As petulant as ever. Did you hear she’s messing with the Clinic now as well?”
“Playing with the big guns, are we, little girl?” Dad sweeps past Calvin to kiss my forehead. The whiskers above his upper lip tickle as he whispers a blessing into my skin, and I giggle, batting him away.
He grins and sits down on the edge of the bed. My father is tall and stocky, with skin much tanner than mine, even tanner than Calvin’s, and very little hair left on top of his head. “So you think you’re ready to play with the big guns?” He raises a bushy eyebrow.
I glare. “They made me. What do you think? Will they let me back out after saying yes? I don’t actually want to work for them. I don’t know what came over me. I was so nervous.”
My father sweeps my frizzy, sweated-out bangs off my forehead and smiles down at me. “I’m sure they will, little girl. Now, are you hungry? Would you like me to bring something up to you?”
“No, that’s okay.” I sit up and swing my legs over the side of the bed. The skirt of Sierra’s dress is bunched around my waist. Cheeks warming, I pull it down and stand. “I think I can get food on my own. You get back to work.”
Dad is an architect. He’s helping develop a new branch of our subdivision right now. Sometimes I wish Mom could see how successful he’s become—while our current house is certainly in need of renovations, it’s on a good street. Amelia’s family lives just around the block. Our old house, the one near both Ramsey and Eric, was in the area known as Portsmouth. Half the buildings were overcrowded, the other half abandoned. On the walk home from New Capital Elementary, our shoes crunched over broken glass and we picked dandelions from between the shards of concrete—all that was left of the roads.
Dad worked hard to bring us to the Riverhorn subdivision after Mom passed.
I tiptoe with my bare feet across the splintery floor and slip on my school shoes, which someone has left by the door.
Calvin smiles as I pass. “Want me to make you pancakes, just like old times?”
I smile, am about to reply that he’s only offering because he wants pancakes himself, when my Identiband beeps. I have an incoming message.
I expect it to be Amelia, ready to arm me with all the latest news about how the Recruitment Assembly ended. Or Eric, making sure I’m okay.
I click the button on the side of the bracelet and it projects the message in the air above my wrist, angled perfectly for me to be able to read it and no one else—a feature just added to the Identibands this generation. It is not one of my friends.
TO: Alexa Dylan, year eleven
FROM: Macy Pen, Secretary of Recruitment Affairs—the Clinic, New Capital division
MESSAGE: Miss Dylan, we must speak with you about what transpired at the New Capital High Recruitment Assembly today. Come to the Clinic tomorrow at 0800, office suite 4581. Thank you for your cooperation.
As I reread the message, my Identiband flickers again, and for half an instant, before I remember that the assumption is not right, I think it is the color of blood.