Chapter 22 – Suddenly A Star (2)

Suddenly A Star – Part 2

      In the changing room, I finally start to feel some semblance of unease as I realize that I’m being stared at by nearly everyone. When I slid my shirt off, exposing my naked torso and lace bra, Jamie spoke up.

      “Damn girl.”

      I can’t help but smile at her for being goofy. But I’m not sure what’s elicited the reaction. By now the rest of the room is staring at me. I nervously shift my weight from one hip to another.

      “What?”

      “Since when have you been that tone?”

      Her accusation makes me look down and take note. Down past my modest breast is a flat torso, lean, with a hint of muscle poking out.

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      “What are you talking about? You know I’ve always done some exercising.”

      She gives me a dubious look.

      “Yeah. Ok.” She turns around in a huff.

      The others all do the same. People confuse me. But the confusion grows by leaps and bounds when we start our activities for the class.

      Whether it’s running laps, high jumps, or any other manner of sport, I’m miles ahead of everyone else. My scores stay within what is acceptable for a human- a human being at their peak, like the ones who used to take part in those, “Olympic” games I’ve learned about.

      School ends with a strange buzz in the air. Jamie catches me and talks about going out to eat. Of course I oblige her. She’s one reason I came back to this world after all. I ask her what she’s wanting to eat. Much to my surprise, and anyone who knows her, she suggests I come over and she cooks us something.

      Our walk to her home is quiet. Jamie doesn’t throw a billion questions at me like I was prepared for. Maybe that’s why I let my guard down enough to not notice the men approaching us, and how sketchy they looked. The moment they step near us though, I’m at the ready. For what though? There’s no violence in my world, not really.

      “Hey girls,” they call out to us, a good four feet away.

      “What do you want?” Jamie’s quick to respond.

      “Gehenna is coming. Celebrate the end with us.” Their mouths devolve into twisted, disgusting smiles.

      “Let’s go Jamie,” I grab her by the arm and lead us away from the creeps.

      When we’re far enough away from them, I let her go. To my surprise, Jamie has trouble standing and uses my arm for support again.

      “You ok?” She just gives me a nod and, while sucking in a breath, lets go of me and steadies herself.

      “I never thought I’d see something so vile,” she whimpers.

      I hate myself for thinking for just a single moment, her weakness irritated me. But I shove that down deep. That’s not fair to her. Something like that just doesn’t happen.

      “What’s a Gehenna?” she asks.

      “Donno. Now, let’s put those creeps out of our minds and get us some food.” I offer her my arm. She looks at it in confusion. That makes sense. I want to smack myself right now.

      So I try to play it off like I’m stretching my arm or something, but man am I embarrassed right now.

      Her house is massive. That’s the first thing I notice when we arrive. I guess her parents are important. The building is the same sleek grey color as most, but has an extra floor by the looks of it. As she leads me through the doors, I catch a smell I’m unfamiliar with in this world, but one that I’d recognize in a heartbeat elsewhere.

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      “Lavender…” Jamie looks at me with a tilt of her head. She’s such a little puppy when she doesn’t talk. I shake my head at her.

      “You look sweet,” she tells me.

      “You’re not so bad yourself.”

      What? Did I just flirt with Jamie? Why the hell did I just flirt with Jamie? But she doesn’t seem to notice my inner turmoil at all and instead gives a little laugh.

      “Thanks. But I meant your face. You look like a lovesick puppy.”

      I’m absolutely certain that I’m blushing. This gets compounded by the look on Jamie’s face- pure wonder. Unfortunately, I didn’t notice anything on our way to her room due to all of this. But her room is mind blowing. It’s incredibly large, unnecessarily so. The walls are a special shade of light pink. Man, the favors her parents would have to of gone through to get that kind of permission…

      “Your room is nice. I like the walls. And these-” I approach the bed and pick up a little puppy plushie, “Is absolutely adorable.”

      “Chyea. Fido is the cutest.”

      “Fido?”

      “Apparently in the past humans actually kept animals as itty-bitty personal entertainment creatures, of all things. And that was a common name for them. Or so I’ve read.”

      “Well I’ll be, you can read,” I tease her.

      “Bitch,” she furrows her brow at me.

      “You love me,” I poke her forehead. “And are gonna get wrinkles.”

      She looks at me with a look that says she could kill me, but it’s ruined by the smile teasing her eyes.

      “Whatever. Since when are you so touchy? That was Rachel’s thing,” she chides me while swatting my hand away.

      “I miss her…” I can’t help but let that escape my thoughts and manifest into the air.

      “I do too. But being down because of it does no one a favor. I’m gonna go put the food on. Come down when I ping you later, ok?”

      I just stare at her. Honestly, she’s being weirdly accommodating, and it’s throwing me off my game. I wearily lay down on her bed, relax in the silk-like material of it all, and stare at the grey ceiling. Was my life as grey as this, before Arsea? Will I go back to being that way? Do I want to?

      Thoughts like that and more, assail me. But behind all of them, hidden just out of view, is a single thought dedicated to Rei. I miss her. She had less to do with me than any of the others, yet her words hung heaviest- her pressure wrote the beauty of a struggle I can’t even imagine. She was an enigma who was always with me.

      She was violent, never in person, but always just below. She wanted to hurt people so much. Yet she denied it strongly the one time I scolded her for it. Which was weird when you think about it. Why would she bother denying it? She was mysterious and left me without enough information, but she never directly lied to me. But then again, near the end, she was in a war against something, or someone.

      And all three of us were inside of me. Does that mean even further down than Rei, there lies another? How could that be possible? Hell, I suppose most of this stuff is impossible. Yet it’s real. So maybe I should try… to…

      I’m startled awake by a pinging sound. Oh, I fell asleep.

      “Rise and Shine. Food’s ready,” Jamie’s voice echoes around the room.

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